Disclaimer- I don't own the TT, or any related characters. You know the deal.
Story By StormDancer
It is not light that we need, but fire; not the gentle shower but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.
Richard Grayson rolled out of bed and hit the floor with barely a noise, going immediately into his warm up routine. Well, an abbreviated one. He had a 7 am meeting with Bruce, and if there was one thing Bruce hated, it was latecomers. Richard may have been his foster son and heir, but when he was in the role as President of Jump City branch of Wayne Industries, Richard was just as susceptible to Bruce's cold rage as the next person. More so, even, because more was expected of him.
After a few hundred push ups, Richard stood and began a quick martial arts practice dance. No point in getting out of shape, even if his hero days were over. One never knew when a quick reflex saved a life. And Richard knew that if push came to shove, he was a hero, despite the JLA's decree.
He finished and hurried to shower the slight amount of sweat off. He could always do a heavier work out later, anyway. As he strode out of the bathroom of his penthouse home, drying his long dark hair gently - the days of too much gel were gone, but hair that good still needed work- with a towel, he tripped over the stack of folders sitting on the floor.
"Shit!" he swore as he knelt to pick them up. He wished he could keep this room as neat as Robin's had been, but he had a secret identity to keep up even if Robin was gone. The Boy Wonder still had enemies. So this room was a mess despite Richard's inherently OCD soul.
As he moved the stacks of papers to the side, a glint of yellow caught his eye. Buried underneath the papers, where he had thrown it the last time he had taken it out of his old uniform to wallow in nostalgia, was his old Titan's communicator. He picked it up as he rose. It had been too long since he had looked at it, too long since he had talked to any of them. For all he knew, they were dead, although he supposed he would have been notified of that. The last time he had seen one of them had been with Starfire, and that had been a year ago. They had both known that it hurt too much to see each other, to be reminded of the good old days that should have still been going. He figured the others had been in the same fix. Maybe they had gotten over it by now. Maybe they could all see each other without wanting to kill the JLA for separating them and keeping the Titans from doing their vocation.
A police siren blared outside his window. Before Richard knew what he was doing, he was across the room and the window was open, hand reaching for instinctively for a grappling hook that wasn't there.
Or maybe there hadn't been enough time. He knew, deep down, that there never would be enough time. The Titans were heroes to the end, and seeing each other would only remind them how they were forbidden from a part of themselves.
He glanced at his watch. 6:30 and he wasn't even dressed yet. Bruce was going to slaughter him.
Kori Anders floated down the hallway of her apartment, smiling sleepily as she flipped through her engagements book. A rising model had far more on her hands then she could ever have known back in the old days when her slang was far off and her contractions non existent. A lot had changed in 7 years, and now the woman was an earthling in all but name.
She drifted toward her closet, walking into the huge space. Her outfits filled the room, still mostly the pinks and purples she looked best in, although there were a few darker colours thrown into the mix. Most of them she had never worn, but had collected, magpie like.
She moved slowly around the room, attempting to choose an outfit for the luncheon that was her first stop. She bypassed a flowery sundress and a slinky violet number, remembering the latter for the premiere tonight, before pausing at a navy gown she never remembered seeing. Taking that one out of its bag, she spread it out on the dress stand in the middle of the room.
It would be too dark for her, she decided. It would wash out her skin. Only the really pale girls, those who could capitalize on white skin, could manage it. Kori sighed. Raven would have looked lovely in that dress. A few alterations and it could have fit her old friend to perfection. If only she knew how to contact Raven. It had been too long since Kori had talked to any of the Titans, although she kept up with the doings of Robin in the papers, and every once in a while an article on Cyborg's new technology would be featured. She didn't even remember Raven's civilian name. Kori dropped to the ground. She had almost forgotten the sadness that set in when thinking of the Titans. Of her earth family. Of Robin.
Maybe she should arrange a little get together, a reunion. By now the pain of what wasn't would have worn off, the hero instincts gone, and they could meet as old friends to reminisce about the past.
Kori smiled slyly. And of course, there would be a bit of drinking now that they were all of age, and if Robin had just a bit, maybe all those inhibitions would be gone. And she could see whether he would look as good in tights as he used to. From what she had glimpsed of him at public functions they both were at, he was just as hot as he had been at 18. The long hair didn't hurt, either. He looked like she remembered Nightwing looking.
That thought brought her up short. If he looked like Nightwing, who was to say Beast Boy wasn't caged in a zoo? Or Cyborg dying in the abandoned Tower? Or Raven going slowly insane for lack of friends?
That settled it, Kori decided as she put the blue dress back on its hanger and set it into the back corner of the closet, next to where a pinkish purple outfit that still fit hung, thigh high boots underneath it, she was going to find them all. Maybe their calling had been prohibited, but they should still be friends. And maybe she could get the Justice League to agree to let them go on one last patrol. For old times sake. And as a relief for the pain she went through when she saw an evil on TV she could have stopped, if only she had been there.
Victor Stone rubbed the ring on his right hand idly. It didn't chafe, per say, as it was made to fit perfectly onto the metal finger that couldn't grow, but he still was unused to the sensation wearing a ring morning, noon, and night produced. He hadn't thought he would have to deal with that until he got married, and even then, one could take their wedding ring off every once in a while. But his hologram ring had to stay on.
He strode through the morning crowd, people moving out of his way in fear of being crushed. He might look human, but he could still kick anyone on these streets butts, and apparently they knew that somehow. It might have been in his confident walk. Or perhaps it was the slight thud his feet made as the titanium connected with the pavement. It wasn't worth stepping lightly when there was no one to sneak up on.
The massive black man walked briskly through small side streets and even shady looking alleys, unafraid. He knew no one would mess with a 6'4 guy, no matter how desperate. He arrived at the bank just as it opened and got cheerfully in line, whistling. Today was the first day in 7 years he had gotten a full charge. Sure, sneaking into the tower was illegal, but he needed the power source. And the League wouldn't know. They didn't bother to look in on Jump City more than twice a week. As he walked out, latest paycheck cashed, he was feeling so optimistic that the shortcut to his work at STAR labs he usually avoided, as it went through the bad part of town, was just in order. No one would think to stop him, and he would be fine as long as no crime took place in front of his eyes. And really, what were the chances of that?
Victor ignored the voices in his head yelling at him to stop. Starfire's voice informing him that she had seen a documentary which stated that the chances were, in fact, quite high, Beast Boy telling him not to risk it, Raven's phantom voice dryly advising him that if he must torture himself, do it where there was less risk to identity, and Robin's screaming at him that he wasn't being cautious enough, and what if someone did!
Vic shook his head, stopping the voices. God, did he really miss them so much that his brain was making him a mini-team? Unfortunately, he knew the answer was yes. He missed his pseudo little siblings like hell, and his job, however fulfilling it might be, wasn't who he was. He may once have been Victor Stone, but the accident had made him Cyborg, and that's who he still was.
He was also too clever not to know that something deep inside of him was hoping someone would jump him so he could go hero on them. He needed that release. He needed people to look at him, the real him, without horror and maybe even with admiration. Because without that, all he was was a monster. A disguised one, to be sure, but a monster. Acting as a hero made him human. And a hero was who he was.
Garfield Logan dragged himself through the threshold of his small apartment building on the east side of Jump, not a bad neighbor hood, but not great either. He blinked sleepily as he collapsed onto the couch that took up most of the space in his living room, yanking off his holo-ring as he did so. He stretched, taking up the whole 6 feet of couch, finally.
Taking the night shift was not a good idea, he decided for the millionth time, staring up at the ceiling blankly. Oh, it had seemed so when he was applying for the job at the zoo. After 4 years on the Titans, he had finally become accustomed to living on little to no sleep, and the animals had to be quieter at night. Or at least, so he had assumed. How deceived he had been.
But after 7 odd years, he was used to it. Or at least, more used to it. Accustomed enough that he had slept through half his shift, letting the animals themselves do it for him. They were really quite nice and compliant, if you explained what you wanted them to do simply.
A lot like him, really, the ghost of Raven told him. He groaned. He had to stop reading her books before he went to sleep. Obviously, she was rubbing off on him that way as she hadn't in all their years as Titans.
As if his thought had summoned it, a package appeared on his table, dropping out of a black rift in the air above the table. Gar lunged, but like usual, the portal disappeared before he could reach it, cutting off the only link he had to Raven. Green head hanging, he grabbed the package and dropped back onto the couch. He wished that for once, Raven would let him see her. Cutting herself off from everybody couldn't be good for her. Or at least, cutting herself off from everyone who knew about her past.
Sure, he had done the same thing, but it was different for him. He had gone through it before, when he left the Doom Patrol. And Raven needed people who could respect why she wasn't exactly warm, and the Titans were the ones who could do that best. Or at least, he could. But maybe she had kept in touch with the others, and just not him. But then why would she send him her books? It didn't make any sense, and if there was one thing Gar knew, it was that Raven always made sense.
And anyway, he was nearly certain he was the only one who knew her civilian name. Everyone knew who Dick Grayson was, on the Titans at least, and Kori was far too distinctive to miss. Even Vic was conspicuous. There weren't that many people built like a tank. And after the Doom Patrol spilled his first name, he figured they all must know who he was. Garfield wasn't that common a first name. But how many people, even how many Titans, would have connected the retiring and macabre Raven to the serious but dramatic up and coming action writer Rachel Roth?
He certainly wouldn't have, if she hadn't spilled during one of their late night talks that her mother's last name, before she had fled, had been Roth. And if he hadn't been walking through the mall that day when there was a notice for her book signing. That had been the last time he saw her, but ever since he had bought one of those books, without even revealing himself to her, her newest book had dropped onto the table the day before it came out in stores. His co workers were in awe of his amazing ripping off the company skills. Gar had a feeling Raven would be more impressed by the fact that he was actually reading the books. They were lined up on the bookshelves, the sole books, all 7 of them, worn by use, but still in fairly decent condition.
Getting up to place the newest book in its spot, he happened to glance out the window facing the alley next to his street. A woman was standing there, pawing through her purse. An instant before the attacker in the shadows moved, Gar sensed him. He grasped the windowsill, claws digging into it as his body reacted to his state of mind and longed to shift. He watched as the attacker lunged for the women, grabbed her purse, and fled. The woman stared after him, obviously in shock. Gar retreated away from the window.
And that was why the Titans were out of touch, why Raven never contacted him though she obviously knew where he was. He was a coward, too afraid to fight the powers that be, namely the Justice League. He was so afraid that he denied the part of him that had longed to jump out and save that woman's purse, the part that was his entirety. The part that was a hero.
Rachel Roth blinked as she lifted her head off the manuscript that had been pillowing it. Gods, she was getting as bad as Robin had been with this working thing. No, Rachel corrected herself; no one could ever be as bad as Robin. But she was getting close. She always knew there was a reason they were soul-sibs. As her thoughts turned to him, the bond in her mind buzzed as Richard's mood rolled off it. He was hard at work, as usual. And he was angry. Right, Bruce Wayne was coming to town. The two, Batman and Robin, were as close as father and son, and just as prone to bickering.
With that in mind, Rachel glanced at her clock. 8:00 am. Gar would be up, then. She grabbed the book that had been sitting on her desk all evening and opened a portal underneath it, catching a quick glimpse of a wooden table before she closed the rift, making sure Gar couldn't catch her.
Sure, she had kept track of all her old teammates. None of the others really had, except maybe Robin as a cautionary method. She hadn't been in honest contact with them for over 6 years, not since she had glimpsed a hologramed Beast Boy at a book signing for her first book. But her powers were well suited for something like this. She had bonds with all of them, not just Robin. His was simply deepest because she had traversed it most often. But after living with them so long and intimately, the bonds had formed. Through them she kept appraised of their doings and feelings. She had sat with Gar through the night when his favorite panther had died, muttering words of comfort in his ear that he didn't remember the next day. She had gone to a few of Kori's shows. Dick was apparent enough. Just this morning she had chastised Victor for being an idiot and seeking out trouble.
Maybe it would have been better if she could talk to them, but she thought not. This way, there were no promises. She could keep an eye on them, and if they wanted to abandon her, so be it. Okay, to be fair, she hadn't made it easy for them to find her for the very reason that she didn't want people to find her.
If there was one thing Rachel knew, it was herself. She knew that the moment she talked to one of them and waxed nostalgic was the day she put the cloak back on. And she knew the others felt the same way. It wasn't safe to go out there as a hero now that the JLA could imprison them for it, but it was only by the skin of their teeth that they were holding onto civilian life. None of them were made for it, but the JLA had decided that they could adapt. Idiots, the lot of them. With the possible exception of Batman, who had told Robin that he had voted against it.
Rachel rose to look out the window of the spacious middle class apartment, top floor, of course. She needed the wind. Outside, it was a beautiful day, sun shining, warm for an early spring day, but not broiling, clouds puffing neatly across the sky.
Rachel didn't like it. Something was wrong. She glanced through her teammates bonds, but all was well there. There were the normal seeds of discontent, larger then usual, but nothing majorly bad. In fact, Cyborg was in a good mood. Nothing was wrong to any of her senses.
Still… She had an hour before she needed to get to the meeting with the MGM executives. That gave her a good half hour to meditate, to get the focus she felt she needed. In fact, her charka might be a good idea today, even if she rarely wore it anymore.
Raven had a bad feeling about this beautiful day. And her bad feelings tended to turn out correct.