Rachel sped through the vastness of space and time, carrying those that had journeyed through time in her wake.
"Did it work?" Arsenal asked immediately once Rachel had released them all from her cloak and into the dark, cold and empty chamber of Trigon's manifestation room. A place that would never again be used to summon him.
Rachel cocked her head as she considered them. "Things would have changed," she said carefully. "But how much, I don't know."
"What about our memories?" Batman asked. "I still remember-"
"They should begin to shift soon," Rachel replied, with a dismissive wave of her hand. "We'll see things that will jog them, you'll get a sudden rush of memories. Eventually you'll forget the other future. I mean, you'll know it existed because your younger selves knew you came back to change it, but you won't remember clear details." None of them would remember clear details. Only she would retain that knowledge.
But had Beast Boy made it through the last twenty years? Had his DNA survived? There was a niggling concern that she had done something the past that meant they weren't together. Some fragment of a memory already appearing in her mind. And echo of the sound of his voice. Rae, all you need to do is ask yourself… am I worth the risk?
What had she replied? She couldn't remember.
Fear settled into her stomach.
Nightwing eyed her with concern, one of his hands leaving Starfire to touch her lightly on the shoulder. "Rae? You okay?"
Starfire twisted her head, her green eyes filled with worry. "Sister?"
Rachel nodded. More memories were surfacing. Planets aligning in her mind, ones that she's already visited. Why had she revisited them? "Just tired. It was all very draining."
Batman narrowed his eyes at her, and pulled out his Justice League communicator, pressing the button that would connect him to the Watchtower.
"Ahh," J'onn's voice said over the communicator. "You are all back. I trust the mission went well?"
"Yes," Batman replied dryly, looking around at everyone. "A success."
"Good," J'onn replied. "Stand by for transport. Everyone is waiting for you."
A tingling sensation engulfed Rachel's form and the world swirled and the welcoming pad of the Watchtower swum into view.
It seemed no different than when she was here earlier, but the crowd of people that beamed happily at them was certainly different that she was expecting.
"Grandpa!" a voice bellowed as a girl about eight threw herself at Batman. Her black hair was held up in a ponytail, her eyes were a sparkling and solid green. Batman instinctively scooped her up, sitting her on his hip and she wrapped her arms around his neck. "Alfred and I baked cookies today."
"Did you now?" Batman asked, his voice husky, staring at her in surprise, and Robin snickered behind him and Rachel saw him mouth 'Granddaddy' to Oracle.
"Uh-huh," the girl replied happily. "Gingerbread cookies, kitty shaped ones, I decorated them myself. Alfred said if I was really good, he'd let me back into his kitchen one day. And Mi'myca said that if Mom and Dad go away again, they are not allowed to leave the twins with her alone and Mi'onpa wants to teach me how to use a soral. Can I use a soral, Grandpa? He said I had to ask you, cause it might interfere with your training."
"Mar'i," a voice called as a red-haired Tamaranian man about twenty years old eased out of the crowd and winked at Starfire. "Let your Grandpa breathe. Onpa said you had to wait and ask your parents first."
Starfire's whole demeanor changed, her eyes shining with tears as she realised Galfore and Fyria still lived. Nightwing beamed at her happily, threading his fingers through hers.
Mar'i's face twisted. "Uncle Ryfore!" she complained instantly with the indignity only an eight-year-old could muster. "Shh!"
Nightwing chuckled. "Come here, Mar'i," he said, holding out his arms for her. "We'll talk about the soral later, just give your Dad a hug."
"Twins, Richard," Starfire said softly as Mar'i tackled her father and he swept her up in a hug. Starfire's eyes were shinning with tears as she added herself to the hug and Rachel felt incredibly happy for her sister.
"Where's my husband?" a voice called as a pink-haired and heavily pregnant woman waddled into view, her face brightening as she saw Flash. "Sweetie, I swear, this kid's as fast as you. J'onn said any day now."
Flash's whole face lit up with happiness. "Jinxy," he breathed, sweeping her up and devouring her mouth, one hand resting on her belly.
"C'mon, Babs," Cyborg said and Rachel nearly bust into tears at seeing him walking toward them, his face set in a happy smile. He leant down and gave a shocked Oracle a kiss. "Let's get that spinal inhibitor off you and get you outta that infernal contraption."
So many people, all of them happy and smiling. Old friends, new families. All of their lives looked to be working out for them and Rachel felt incredibly pleased for them all.
But where was her happy ending?
Rae, all you need to do is ask yourself… am I worth the risk? Yes, yes! He was worth the risk! A thousand times over. Hadn't she already shown that? By going back in time twenty years to ensure that he survived that day? What had her younger self answered? And what were these memories? Different planets, different dimensions, her mother's tearful gaze as she used Azarath as a springboard. Why did she feel like she'd run from everything and everyone? Could she have told him no?
Her eyes scanned through the crowd of people, desperately searching. She spotted someone that looked remarkably like Aqualad moving through the crowd to greet Arsenal. She spotted someone looking strikingly similar to Batgirl but with black hair and a completely black Batgirl outfit greet a flabbergasted Robin enthusiastically, but where was that green figure? That cheeky smile?
Cyborg turned and smiled at Rachel, enveloping her in a hug. "Hey there, baby doll, looking for your husband?" He jerked his head, indicating over his shoulder at a doorway hidden in the shadows beyond the crowd of people. "Benji's just through that door."
Rachel froze. Benji? Not Garfield?
Cyborg grinned, draped a hand across her shoulders, marched her across the room and propelled her through the door, quietly shutting it behind her.
The room was very faintly illuminated and cozy. A large window opposite the wall looked out into the starlight sky outside the Watchtower, while a lounge chair sat facing it. But that wasn't what captured her attention. It was the white wooden cot in the corner. A small musical mobile hung over it, its fluffy animals twisting as it sung 'Greensleeves'.
Rachel approached it hesitantly, peering in with trepidation.
A small baby was asleep in its depths, dressed in blue overalls with the name 'Benjamin' written across the front. His tiny face was peaceful as he slumbered and Rachel felt her heart catch. In the little light in the room she could make out small details. A shock of purple hair adorned his head. Grey toned skin.
She knew it in her soul. This was her child.
She reached into the cot, running her fingertips across his sleeping cheeks.
A fleeting thought crossed her mind as she wondered where his sister was but before the thought could take hold the baby let out a small mumble and turned his head in his sleep.
Rachel's other hand went fluttering to her mouth, her eyes clouding with tears, especially when the furry purple rope she'd believed to be a toy wiggled. "Oh!" she cried.
"If you wake Benji up," a voice whispered from behind her. "You're putting him back to sleep."
Rachel snatched her fingers away from her son, spinning around.
Green eyes locked on hers, that cheeky, toothy grin erupting on his face. "Hi, babe."
Author's Ending Note:
Cliché J.K Rowling ending. Yeah, yeah, I know.
First of all, I'd like to thank each and every one of you that took the time to review, especially those of you that reviewed every single chapter. You guys are the best!
The following people made it a pleasure to write for, in no particular order: IamOneOfThem, Eve Royal, ForeverLove, cartoonstar, StarryNightT, Stormy Midnight, SaoirseWaveglow, Spread-My-Wingz-and-Soar, BerryDrops, BeyShadow, Angel Falls8, sesshomari, ShadowDragonFire, peachykay, Skyler-A-Teloiv, Seredid, theredrobin, RasulaTasa, MiCkLE PicKLe, xOxSuchACalamityxOx, TheAceman, tennisgal456, lady Kcassandra, robxxstarxx3, sb1, RoseXxxXThorn, Loneywords, shinigami219, Otakurec.37 May Day, timkhj, whitexgodess, …
If I've missed anyone, I'm terribly sorry.
Extra special snuggles and kisses go to TheUltimateCokeBear, Royal Blue (who was Royalfire14 and changed her name) and Tekka Dark. You are the best!
And a huge tackle-glomp for Katergator for just being fricken awesome! Seriously Kater, you've rocked my world with your pictures and comments. It's bloody brilliant! -huggle Kater-
Thanks for letting me share my imagination with you!