A/N: Hello everyone!! I'm really sorry it's been so long! (Dodges flying objects) I was planning on having this up a while ago, but it just didn't work out that way. I have many different excuses, but I won't waste your time with them.
Thank you so much to everyone who reviewed! I really appreciate all the encouragement, and thus feel really bad that this didn't get produced sooner. Thanks for all your support and it's finally over! (Not that it's a good thing…)
I haven't decided yet if a sequel is in order or not, but I would like to hear everyone's thoughts. So drop me a review or a pm (or both) and tell me what you think about the idea and what you thought of the story as a whole.
So sit back, relax and enjoy the last chapter!
Ch.17 The Brink of Insanity
Ch.17 The Brink of Insanity
Robin stood frozen, as though time had stopped just to torture him. No specific feeling ran through him at that particular moment, in fact he couldn't feel anything. His whole body was numb in front of his best friend and worst enemy. He couldn't fathom what was happening. "Stay here? With…him?"
Nodding reluctantly, Raven couldn't recall a single time that she felt the same heavy tension and overbearing awkwardness as she did in that single moment. Taking a step forward, she touched her palm to the Boy Wonder's cheek. "Robin- I know it's a lot to ask."
Letting out a breath, Cyborg knit his eyebrows together. "A lot? Hell no! There's no way. It can't happen!" Cy kept a fixed glare on Slade, his mouth drawn tight and eyes untrusting. "He's just using you, Rae. Don't you see that?"
Slade glared at the half metal boy standing before him, this was hard enough with out his ignorant comments. The thought of Raven remaining a Titan irked him, but he realized that it was the price to pay if he wanted her to stay with him. It would be both or none at all. He finally understood exactly how much she would give up if it didn't work out. Slade once again felt foolish.
Violet eyes softening a bit, Raven looked to whom she had long ago appointed her 'older brother'. "You may be right." She paused as Cyborg opened his mouth to say something, but then continued. "But…I know that even if I stay a Titan for now, some day we'll have to separate. Today we're Titan's…but who knows what will happen tomorrow, or two years from now. Someday Jump city won't need us, and we'll have to find somewhere else where we belong."
The Titan's all looked to the floor, knowing every word Raven spoke was filled with more truth than they could handle. She was right, it wouldn't last forever.
Letting her hand slip away from Robin's face, Raven took on a slightly harsher tone. "So who are you to say that I can't be content in a place that will be there when you won't! Why can't I cant I hold on to the small bit of happiness that I've found, even if it doesn't last? I didn't expect you all to be so…goddamn selfish!"
The room was still, and the teen's eyes were wide. Raven had never said things like that, no one ever did. They were a team, the Titans…forever, right?
Small salty droplets leaked out of the corner of Starfire's bright green eyes. She wiped them away, but fresh ones quickly replaced them. In a matter of minutes, she was sitting on the ground with her shoulders shaking and tears streaming down her face. She leaned into Beast Boy as he put an arm around her.
Raven wanted to go to Starfire and apologize. She ached to, but she couldn't move. Her insides had hardened, as the realization dawned on her that she had been completely correct, yet extremely hurtful. She let out a slow breath and tensed as Slade put an arm around her center as if she would collapse any minute. "Star-"
The redheaded girl looked up with blurry vision, sniffling and wiping some more at her eyes. "We are sorry for making you think that we will not always be friends. Even if we will not always be Titans, we will always have friendship with each other and care for each other. We did not understand your needs, but they have become obvious and we should be willing to accept them. That is what friends do."
Tightening his hold on Starfire, Beast Boy looked up at Raven. "I agree. If you're happy, I'm happy. Sorta."
Raven couldn't help but let a small smile pull at the edges of her mouth as Beast Boy's face contorted at Slade. "Thank you, Starfire, BB."
Cyborg took a step past Robin and pulled Raven from Slade and into a tight hug. Planting a kiss on her forehead, right above her jewel, Cy moved away just enough to look at her. "Even if we disband someday, we'll always be right…" Pointing a finger at her heart, he smiled. "here."
Finger dropping, he crossed his arms over his chest. "But until then, I expect we'll be needing you to bust up some criminals with us, understand?"
Nodding, Raven couldn't help but let her smile grow slightly larger. The urge to hug him again was strong, but she kept her reserve for the sake of her being…well…Raven.
Teeth grinding and nostrils flaring, Cyborg pointed his index finger in Slade's face. "You break her heart; I break your neck."
Swallowing, Slade opened his mouth to say 'you can try', but quickly thought better of it. "Noted."
Cyborg finally let his arm drop, and moved behind Robin. Giving the leader a slight push, he nodded towards Raven. "Go on, Rob."
Robin stumbled forward, looking at Raven with hurt eyes. At first he didn't know what to say, there was so much he wanted to say. Everything that had happened between them lead up to this moment. "I don't think I'll ever understand why or what happened for you to turn to him. I don't think I'll ever want to understand. In some ways I thought I could protect you from him, I didn't want what happened to me…to happen to you. Apparently I didn't do a very good job. I lost what was most important to me, to Slade." Robin couldn't look at her anymore, he couldn't see past the pain. "I lost you. I-will never accept that!"
Raven's smile had disappeared completely, her insides twisting with guilt. Wrapping her arms around her shaking friend, she stroked a careful hand down his back as if to calm him. "You never lost me, Robin."
Standing away from the two, Slade rolled his one good eye. He felt like saying, 'cause you never had her', and sticking his tongue out, but he bit down on it instead. He was never one for friendship speeches and pouring one's guts out to try and sway the other into liking them, it just wasn't his style. Even though he felt like vomiting at the mere mention of friendship, he knew that's exactly what he had with Wintergreen and then with Raven. Sighing, he shook his head at the two birds and the rest of the group behind them. Sometimes he was such a hypocrite.
Raven pulled away from Robin and began to speak as though she was the leader and not him. "You will call me when needed, and I will come. We'll take on the villains and still have movie night. The only difference is that I'll stay here… if Slade permits." Glancing back to Slade she earned a slight nod. Smirking, she took a step backward. "So suck it up Boy Wonder, I'm not dead."
Letting out a long sigh Robin seemed to finally come to terms. "I still don't like it."
Moving so he was next to Raven, a light smirk crossed his features under his mask. Slade had decided it was his turn to talk. "She didn't say you would."
Robin scowled and stood defiantly to Slade. "I hope you know that as long as you're a villain, I'm the hero that stops you."
Head craning upward, Slade looked down his nose at Robin, a low chuckle emitting from behind the two-toned mask. "I wouldn't have it any other way, Boy Blunder."
Giving a "hmph", Robin looked back to Raven and shook his head…smiling. "Titans! Let's go."
Each filed out of the warehouse except Beast Boy. Turning into a dog, he jumped on Raven and licked her with his long, wet tongue.
"Get--ew--off Beast Boy!" Raven staggered backward, almost tripping on her cape. Pushing his face away from her, she gagged as his dog breath polluted her nostrils. Finally getting him off, she couldn't help but grin as he growled at Slade and earned a middle finger in return. It was good to know that the people she loved still loved her in return. Watching as Beast Boy bounded to the door and then changed back, she leaned against Slade as her long time friend left.
Slinging an arm around the girl, Slade took off his mask with the other. "So I guess this means I'm out of an apprentice."
"Yea, sorry. We all have to make sacrifices you know." Raven Looked up and brushed back a few strands of violet hair.
"Well then, I'll just have to get another one." He smirked, as her face scrunched up and her eyes darkened. "You know, that Jinx girl is pretty cute."
Standing in front of Raven's open door to her room, Robin's eyes raked over every object as if it would all disappear in front of him. Leaning heavily against to doorframe, he gave a long sigh, recalling the events of earlier that day. Having not heard any footsteps, Robin jumped slightly as Starfire appeared next to him. "You think we did the right thing, Star?"
Floating next to her captain and friend, Starfire looked on into Raven's empty room. "I know we did."
Robin lingered in the doorframe as Starfire made her exit. Walking into the room, Robin sat on the bed, imagining Raven sitting next to him. Eyes finding the floor, Robin spotted something sticking out from underneath the bed. Picking it up off the carpeting, his jaw clenched at the sight of a Slade action figure. Hand turning into a fist, he held the Slade replica tightly.
"You think you've won, but it's not over Slade. Not until I say it is."
Back at the Warehouse, Raven and Slade stood in front of an extremely uncomfortable Wintergreen. Bending the bars backward with a stream of black energy, Raven helped him out of the seat. "I'm really sorry I had to do that."
Dusting himself out, Wintergreen stretched out his arms. "I understood the situation, Miss Raven. Next time, just allow for a little more arm movement."
Slade raised an eyebrow at the two. "You tied him up? And here I was, thinking of how to punish you for disobeying me, Wintergreen."
Bowing, a small twinkle surfaced in Wintergreen's dark eyes. "Never, sir."
"Of course not." Slade smiled, finally beginning to understand why Raven was so protective of her friends.
Facing the two older men, Raven let a small grin pass her lips. "Thanks, both of you."
Wintergreen put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You did all of this on your own, no need to thank us. You made the decision, but you'll always have us to back you up."
Slade pulled at the hem of his gloves, eye examining them closely. "He's right, except the needing to apologize part. I definitely feel used."
Scowling, Raven punched him in the arm. "You're such a big baby."
Smirking, Slade gripped the girl's chin. "You'll tuck me in, won't you?"
Lifting her hand next to Slade's, she let dark energy form around it. "Not after that comment."
Feeling as though he was intruding on something, Wintergreen slipped out the door to get some much needed rest.
Noting the butler's exit, Slade kicked the bent staffs off to the side and sat down in his tall, plush chair. Swiveling so he was facing Raven, he regarded her meditative pose in the corner. "Shouldn't we be discussing what just happened?"
Opening an eye, Raven shook her head at Slade. "Stress relief first. Besides, there's nothing to discuss."
Running a gloved hand over his bottom lip, Slade watched as her eyelid fluttered closed and she lifted from the tile floor. "I especially like the part when you agreed with Metal Head that I was using you."
Dropping to the floor with a groan, Raven decided she would deal with the cranky man in the chair before she levitated something through his head out of sheer annoyance. Giving her full attention to Slade, Raven ran a hand through her short hair. "Well it's not like you weren't when this first started."
Eye narrowing, Slade's insides began to tighten. "Do you honestly think that I would go to this much trouble for you if I was only interested in using you?"
Raven shifted uncomfortably, wanting to say something but throat clenching so she could barely swallow. She knew that they had gone over this before, and Slade continued to prove himself. But in the back of her mind there was always a little voice pointing out that Slade would always be Slade. "No, I know that now."
Relaxing a little, Slade leaned back in his chair. "And…?"
Looking up at the unmasked man, Raven let a small smile flutter across her lips. "I trust you…" mostly.
Crossing his arms, Slade gave a half frown. "Well, start acting like it."
Earning a glare from Raven his lip upturned into a smirk. "You have been a little ungrateful lately."
Soon Slade was fixed with an intense glare and felt his skin heat up. "Of course I haven't been as thankful as I should have been either."
Easing up on the death glare, Raven had to admit he wasn't giving himself nearly enough credit. He had put up with more of her nonsense than anyone else's, and she should be the one apologizing. Realizing this, Raven sheepishly wrung her hands and nibbled at her bottom lip. "Sorry."
Not quite catching what the girl, who now appeared quite a bit smaller than before, had just mumbled, Slade's eyebrow arched.
Clearing her throat, Raven gave a sigh. "I'm sorry."
Smirk slowly turning into a smile, Slade didn't have to ask what for.
Finally, they were getting somewhere.
Within the following few days, Raven had officially moved out of the Titan Tower, and into the Warehouse. Having only a few books and a closet full of clothes, there wasn't much to move. Like she had promised, Raven continued to fight criminals alongside the Titans whenever possible. Surprisingly, her teammates had been more understanding than she had expected. Sometimes however, Slade would get to her first.
Delicate fingers gripping light sheets in a fist, Raven groaned as light poured through the sheer curtains hanging over the window. Attempting to roll to her other side, she was halted by a hardened body pressed to her back, and a heavy arm wrapped around her center.
Fingers releasing the bed sheets, they moved slowly down to the hand covering her stomach. Raven traced each one of the fingers carefully along the contours of the hand, stopping only when feeling the body behind her shift and the hand move to her waist.
Finally allowed some space, Raven turned and was immediately caught in Slade's gaze.
He was propped on his other arm on top of his pillow, a ghost of a smile present. Hand lifting from his lover's stomach, he brushed back a few strands of hair from her face. "Morning."
Dark violet eyes memorized each line on his body, just until the cream sheets covered him. Feeling him lift up her chin, she tried harder this time not to get so dazed by the mere sight of him. "Apparently."
Rising up on his arm, Slade rolled over so he was positioned above her. Eye as menacing as ever, he was careful to catch when her breath hitched in her throat. "Sometimes I wonder if you'll ever loose the sarcasm, but then again I don't think I'd like you nearly as much."
Bringing a hand behind her head, Raven gave a small shrug. "Well then you better not ever loose that sense of humor, because then we're both in trouble."
Swooping down like a hawk, Slade brushed his lips against ear. "I can't make any promises."
Placing light kisses on her earlobe and down the curve of her neck, Slade planted a small kiss on the edge of Raven's mouth, which she quickly took advantage of.
Arms reaching up and wrapping themselves around Slade's neck, they traced gentle circles along his spine. Eyes closing, Raven pulled him closer to her, as if he would vanish any second.
Suddenly a beeping noise was heard, and the two stopped abruptly. Quickly evaluating the source of the noise, Raven bit down on her bottom lip. "It's my communicator…I have to go."
Still positioned over the violet haired girl, Slade shook his head. "Stay here."
"I'm really sorry, but…" Left hand dropping onto the bed, Raven's other hand trailed softly down Slade's face. "They need me."
Eyes rolling, Slade gripped the bed sheets under his palm. "I need you."
Raven attempted to hold back a laugh, but couldn't help as it slipped out. "You know, that sounded so cheesy I almost believe you."
"Well you should." Dropping down to capture her lips once again, Slade was halted by Raven's finger as her communicator went off again. "Ignore it."
Groaning, Raven pushed Slade from on top of her and rolled off the side of the bed. Taking her communicator off the nightstand, she looked at it apprehensively. Chancing a glance toward a very unhappy Slade, she immediately felt guilt settling in. Pushing the button on the side of the yellow device, Raven let out a small sigh as the beeping noise stopped. Looking over at Slade, she rolled her eyes as he lightly patted the spot next to him.
Leaning against the headboard, the sheets pooled messily at Slade's waist.
His short hair was in disarray, and his eye-patch had been discarded the previous night. "I hope you know that you've compromised me greatly."
Taking in just how captivating he looked this particular morning, her eyes scanned him appreciatively. Inching toward the bed, Raven sat down on the edge and raked her hands through her hair as if to tame it. "How so?"
Slade stretched out his stiff legs beneath the sheets, letting out a yawn. Moving behind Raven, he took her shoulder blades in his palms and began to massage them. Appreciating the small noises she emitted, Slade trailed his fingertips down the curve of her back. "Well, now what are we going to do in Italy?"
Stiffening, Raven turned so she was facing Slade. Mouth opening slightly; she shot the older man a confused look. "We're going to Italy?"
"I can't very well take on the Mafia without an apprentice, now can I?" Pausing, he took his time drinking in Raven's dark skin against the pale sheets. "I suppose we'll just be tourists then for a couple weeks, a honeymoon of sorts."
Eyes widening, Raven poked a finger into the center of his chest. "You're not proposing anything crazy like marriage…are you?"
Giving a slight chuckle, Slade's fingers lightly ran across the flesh covering where his eye used to be. "No, no my dear. All marriage leads to is arguments and missing body parts. To tell you the truth, I rather like my other eye and would like to keep it as long as possible."
Letting out a grateful sigh; Raven's hand dropped to the bed. She supposed that she would never ask that of him, or him of her, but right now was definitely not the time for that discussion.
Not startled by his arms pulling her closer, Raven obliged and ran a hand through his light hair. "So, Italy."
A smile played lightly across his lips as they found their way to Raven's. "Yes, Italy."
Pulling back, Raven raised a delicate eyebrow, her lips barely an inch away from his. "Just to get away? You're not going to pull anything stupid, right?"
Slade feigned hurt for a mere moment before his impish smirk reappeared. "Stupid, no."
Capturing Raven's mouth, he teased her a touch before pulling back. Staring into the curious eyes of his once apprentice, he wondered when it was that they had dove off the brink of Insanity.
"Satisfyingly Slade, yes."