Sgt. Alicia Dinsmore of the Jump City Police got out of her car to walk into the station and start her day. She stretched and yawned and was surprised when there was a heavy boom from behind her and a voice said "Evening, Ma'am" in a polite, southern accented voice. She spun, pulling her firearm, and saw in a moment of literal horror who it was. She had been at the waterfront fight when the Titans had fought this man. She had helped with Robin and remembered how helpless and thrashed he was, so much smaller then she expected, and she remembered what this man had done to them. Her gun fell from nerveless fingers. She was so surprised and frightened she didn't notice at first that Mike was carrying someone. "Don't worry. I'm leaving." He dropped his burden and simply jumped away and out of sight.

She carefully pulled open the blanket wrapping whoever it was. It was a big man with grey hair and a trimmed beard. The side of his face was smashed and all but destroyed but he was alive. A note was pinned to him. It read:


Can I at least get a head start?



The emergency alert that both Gar and Rae had been dreading came on the fifth day of their sojourn in the wilderness. They instantly teleported back to the tower to be greeted by all three of the other Titans looking grim. Robin began the briefing by starting what was clearly security camera footage on the main monitor. "This is the outside of Mike's cell about twenty minutes ago." It looked like a vault door in a bank guarded by two SWAT members. A third guard entered frame and with two quick blows dropped them both. He took their keys and opened the door to enter the cell. A moment later, Mike left with him. "That was Slade."

A chill went through the room. No one spoke for a long moment. The harsh reality of what could be happening fell on them. In the silence, the phone rang. Cyborg stepped away to answer it. Robin went on. "We're on lockdown. This is bad as it gets. With Slade's leadership…"

Cyborg rejoined the group, looking bemused, and interrupted, "So, that was the police. Apparently Mike dropped Slade off with them." The other four all looked at him quizzically. "He left us a note."

"He left us a note?" Robin asked.

Cyborg nodded, shrugged, and repeated the content as it had been reported to him. "Apparently he thinks he's doing us a favor."

"It will make no difference!" Starfire cried and they quite literally leapt into action.

Unfortunately, a very long day of intense searching turned up nothing but the theft of a large selection of high quality camping gear. Robin called off the search, it being fundamentally difficult to track someone that can jump for miles and run faster than a car once they make it to the trees. After the search was called on account of the bad guy got away, they all headed straight for bed. Raven's room was the first in the hall and when they came to it, Rae and Gar turned and went in. Neither gave it a thought.

Their three teammates all stopped in mid-stride and gaped in surprise as the door closed. There was a long moment of silence where no one moved or breathed. Finally, Robin spoke very seriously. "The way I see it, we have a few options. One, we can be adults about this."

"We could just not mention it," Cyborg said speculatively. "You know, just be like… it's no big deal."

"Or we could be sure our friends know how joyous we are at how their love is progressing!" Starfire said in a dreamy voice. It made Robin glance quickly at her. It was the first appearance of happy Starfire since the fight and it made a knot in his stomach loosen.

"Be supportive," Robin agreed. "Offer to help BB move?"

Cyborg nodded sagely. "We could. A housewarming present maybe? Something nice they could hang on the wall."

"I think you are both not being nice again," Starfire said with an ominous tone, "we discussed this."

"But Staaaaarr," Cyborg said stretching out her name in a high, whining tone.

The door opened. Beast Boy stood squarely in it, glaring at them. "I can hear you," he said. The other three fled like naughty school children who had been caught at their mischief, Cyborg actually giggling. Shaking his head, Gar closed the door and flopped in one of the chairs as he called over his shoulder to Raven, who had just gotten out of the shower, "Things are back to normal."

She emerged, pulling a short robe into place and drying her hair with a towel. "How so?"

"The guys were having some fun." He started for the bathroom but stopped. "I need to get some clothes."

"You have those two outfits that ended up in my laundry," she said, "but you should bring some more things from your room. You can have a drawer."

He chuckled. "A drawer for my drawers." She did not deign to take notice of so feeble an effort. "Tomorrow. Feeling lazy now."

"Get cleaned up," she said with a shooing motion. He didn't move. "What was the Algonquin Round Table holding forth on out there?"

"The what?" he asked.

"The Algonquin Round Table? A bunch of famously funny people that met every so often in order to cleverly insult each other. Dorothy Parker, Harpo Marx, some other people."

"Oh. Sarcasm… the grumpy woman's wit." That got a brief grin out of her. "The fact that I just came in here like it was no big deal." He stretched and went in to bathe.

Raven flipped down the covers and got in. "It really wasn't," she said.

"What?" He had turned on the water.

"I said it really wasn't a big deal," she called louder.

"Rae, I can't hear you."

She growled in exasperation, irritably and got out of bed. "He could hear them but not me?" she grumbled. With a determined stride, she walked into the bathroom, tossed her robe on the floor, pulled open the shower door, and as she stepped in spoke loudly and deliberately, "I said 'It really wasn't a big deal'."

Gar was not entirely correct that things were back to normal. There was a new normal. The two of them had been changed, as was obvious and inevitable, by their relationship. They had matured and were the stronger for it, especially him. He had learned that he was not just the comic relief. His nearly crippling insecurity was ameliorated by Rae's unflagging support. It wasn't that she told him, it was that she simply believed deeply and seriously in his power, his competence, and his goodness. Being told that you are worthwhile is all well and good but being treated so as a matter of course is far more potent.

Rae had spent so much of her life in the hopeless certainty that she would eventually be the helpless tool that brought on apocalypse that she had been twisted by it. It made her cynical, closed off and angry. It left her in many ways empty. Even after that load was lifted, the damage it had done lingered and colored her whole world. Her friends continued acceptance after the invasion of Trigon was the first crack. Slowly, she began to get better. Eventually when, with great trepidation and no small amazement, she admitted to herself what those small internal whispers about Gar were and approached him, one truth was revealed to her. She had always told herself that she fought so hard to control all her emotions because of the danger of her powers becoming uncontrolled but she was deceiving herself. She didn't want to face those feelings not just because they were dangerous because it all just hurt so much. For every moment of joy or laughter that she let in, there were long, sleepless hours of pain. It was just easier to throw out the baby with the bath water. Taking that first step with Gar; with his stupid jokes and (she now knew) largely feigned clownishness; his calm acceptance and gentleness with her had been like an infection lanced. The poison was finally drawn and real healing could begin.

The team as a whole had been changed also. The terrible power they had faced in Mike and the upheaval and injury it had brought had hardened them. It was made utterly clear when next they faced their nearly mirror opposites from Hive. The team had responded to what appeared to be a hostage situation that turned into an ambush. The five villans had surrounded the Titans and Gizmo had started his typical obscene trash talk when Robin had barked "Go!"

Starfire launched herself at See-more, throwing repeated blasts at him as she flew. He made a desperate attempt at defense that worked the first few times but failed utterly when she flew past him. She simply ripped his high tech helmet off and turned in the air to throw it. It struck him full in the stomach and he went down.

Robin engaged Kid Wykkid, not giving the silent youth a chance to teleport. Robin kept him off balance; they whirled and dueled for a few exchanges for a moment before disengaging. He was able to teleport away, to a nearby roof, but realized the Robin had applied a small explosive to his belt about a second before it went off. It wasn't large enough to kill but it certainly ended the fight.

Gizmo had frozen for a second, stunned at the suddenness at ferocity of the attack. That had allowed Cyborg to take aim and simply hit him with repeated sonic cannon blasts. The villain was brilliant and his devices potent, but physically he was weak. He was quickly incapacitated.

Raven had faced Jinx and risen into the air, her dark wings forming around her. Part of her healing had allowed her to summon the full power of the Raven with less fear and Jinx had only an instant to be afraid before the huge dark claw grasped her and slammed her twice into the ground.

Beast Boy had dove on Mammoth as a hawk and at the last second turned into his enormous ape form. As he had with Mike, he hurled Mammoth through the air and darted to where the larger youth landed, changing to the dinosaur form that had served him so well before. The anklyosaurs massive bone tail smashed down two, then three times. Mammoth finally managed to grab it and Beast Boy became a snake and writhed away. In the time it took Mammoth to strand, Gar went into his usual tyrannosaur form and snapped up his opponent, grinding his teeth and smashing Mammoth into the pavement, then repeatedly stomping on his enemy as if he were doing a lunatic dance. It took him a bit longer to finish Mammoth then it took his teammates to win their fights but he got there.

It had taken less then thirty seconds and announced to the world at large that these were not the Titans you used to know. There was no celebration or even any comment on the crushing victory over enemies that had once made so much trouble for them. It was the new normal.

That night, Rae was thoughtfully watching Gar playing a game in their room. She was a bit troubled. "Gar?"


"I've been thinking..." she began but he interrupted her.

"Bad idea," he said. "I had an Uncle who was thinking one time and didn't notice..."

"Stop it," she said, interrupting in her turn, "I'm serious." He paused his game, put down the controller, and gestured for her to go on. "I think you need to pick a new name."

He looked confused. "Garfield is a little weird but it is the name my parents gave me."

"Not that, you goof. 'Beast boy'. You need a new nom de guerre."

"What's that?" he said with a hint of a smile, "and what does it have to do with my superhero name?"

Rae smiled and stood. "You need a new hero name," she said. She stood and walked to him, spun the desk chair he was in and sat on his lap, astride and facing him. She put her arms around him and rested her forehead against his, "because it has become painfully obvious that you are not a boy."

Epilogue: Years Later

There was enough power in the room to crack open the world. Gods and heroes who could shake the pillars of heaven stood talking in small groups, trying to pretend it was all very normal. A man in garish blue and red approached a man in somber gray and black and was amused by the incongruity of his old friend in bright light and holding a flute of champagne. They nodded a greeting and after a moment, Clark said "We don't go to nearly enough of these."

"We do not," Bruce agreed. He glanced over to where a young man that was a son to him stood arm in arm with a beautiful woman from another world and wondered if they would ever find their way to a place like this. "We most certainly do not but I think that will change in our old age."

"They're getting it right," Clark said. "We were the first and all these kids are learning from our mistakes. You can't live with just the fight. You have to..." he trailed off, uncertain of what he wanted to say.

"Live?" Bruce suggested. Clark nodded.

They didn't get the chance to say anything else just then because music rose around them with and someone announced, "And now, for their first dance as husband and wife, Garfield Logan and Raven."

The End