A:N: here it is... quick enough? ;o)

Epilogue: Hopes of the Damned

Bruce watched his ward from across the room. It had been almost five months since the Tower fell. Robin was sitting in a stuffed chair, close to the fire, seemingly lost in thought. They were back at Wayne Manor. The councilors and psychologists that Bruce had hired to help not only Robin, but their whole little family, now often extended by Clark and Diana, had agreed that familiarity and safety was what Robin needed now, more than anything else.

Bruce had focused all his energy on his family, leaving the world in general to the rest of the team and their resources. The globe had been in quite a turmoil after the contract broke, with a lot of sharks wanting a piece of the pie. Many who had worked more actively for the regime had also been severely shocked, with breakdowns and numerous suicides as a result. Bruce knew that things would not just calm down after an apocalyptic event like this, but after these months he was starting to get his hopes up that, one day, things would return to normal. As normal as it could get.

The only thing missing was Slade. The man had vanished and although they had turned the city, the state and the whole country upside down, trying to hunt him down, they hadn't found as much as a trace. Bruce knew that if he ever got his hands on the man, there would be no question of turning him over to the justice system… he would kill the man with his own hands and enjoy every second of it.

But Robin had to be his number one priority now. Their life had changed completely. There were so many new rules to follow… Robin didn't want anyone to touch him, the last time Bruce had really held him was on the day of the rescue. The boy also rarely answered to the name Richard and had had a panic attack when Clark, in an attempt of being 'big brotherly' had called him 'Rob'. First no one understood why, but as the interrogations began, the picture had become clearer… clearer and more terrifying than Bruce had ever imagined in his worst nightmares.

The one being questioned was Chang. Yes. Chang had survived. He had been found unconscious next to Raven, and he had been very cooperative when it came to filling in the blanks about what the boy had been going through. Bruce had tried to be there on the first day of the hearings, to hear it first hand, but he had to leave the room soon enough, before he attacked the man and killed him. The son of a bitch had been there, not influenced by the magic at all, and seemed only fascinated with the physiological and physical aspects of Robin's imprisonment. Bruce had been forced to leave the details to the councilors, and was given only a briefing from the hearings with the facts he needed to know to help his ward. Bruce was glad for the information, though, as Chang was the only source they had.

The rest of the Titans, including Robin, could not be questioned. As the bond had snapped, Raven had become aware of the situation, and lost control. In the brief explosion of power it was like the young witch had burned out, leaving only a shell of a body behind. Worried about her powers and what she might do if she was to awake again, she had been sent back to Azarath, where they were better equipped to deal with her condition. There was no great hope of her ever waking up, though, and it was generally agreed that that might be the kindest thing for her.

Cyborg had died as the first wing had collapsed, but it was believed that he had been unconscious, due to an overload, long before that. Starfire had been found in the rubble, and, because of her body's amazing strength and resilience, she was, amazingly, still alive. She had been gravely injured, though, and for her own safety she too had been taken back to her origins, to Tamaran. Assumingly her family there, with the traditions of being warriors, might be able to help her work through the experience so she might find some peace of mind in the future.

Beast Boy had been lost earlier, but Robin still grieved for him, as well as for Cyborg, the rest of his team and… one other. Bruce had a hard time accepting it, but Robin grieved for his lost child. There had been many times that Bruce had caught him touching his stomach with a sad and almost anxious look on his face. He knew from the interrogations with Chang that the boy probably blamed himself for what was clearly an accident, and he hoped to talk to the boy about it one day soon.

The matter of the child and it's creation made Bruce felt nauseous, and he really wanted the boy to have surgery as soon as possible, to remove the organs Raven had created. He knew that Robin would probably panic if he brought it up, however. The boy didn't want anyone to comment about anything regarding his appearance. His stature, his hair, his clothes, any scars or bruises… if anyone mentioned the subject or seemed to look at him for too long, the boy was likely to flee. He didn't exactly run, though. He ducked his head, hunched his shoulders and if the situation was too much for him, quietly excused himself. Avoiding this had became part of the rules that included the name and how to approach him. Bruce had learned to make as much noise as he could when he walked and when he entered a room, after giving Robin several severe frights.

But the matter of Robin's situation was gnawing at Bruce's conscious. The man had toyed with the thought of having Robin sedated without his prior knowing, but the boy had been deceived enough. Chang had assured them that the 'extra parts' would do no harm if left for now, but he had informed them of something that might. And that matter Bruce was forced to tell Robin about. The man shuddered as he remembered that day, a little over a week after the rescue…

"Robin, I need to speak to you."

The boy shrank back, but nodded seriously. Bruce gestured to the chair across from himself and Robin carefully sat down. The man noticed Robin glancing at the door, though, always needing a way out.

"I am sorry," Bruce started "but I am afraid this will be a bit awkward for you, and you may feel embarrassed, but I need you to hear me out. If you don't, you might be very scared one day in the near future, and it's better to be prepared, is it not?"

Robin nodded curtly, but kept his eyes on the hands in his lap.

Bruce took a deep breath.

"It's about your… female components...". At this Robin's head shot up and he looked ready to bolt. "No, Robin, please calm down. You need to know this!" Bruce tried to calm him, but spoke more quickly now. "In the interrogations Chang told us that as Raven healed you after the… accident… Slade asked her to do… more. She also moved one of the eggs she had stored in your ovary and made sure it attached itself to the wall-lining of your womb. The plan was to impregnate you by artificial insemination as soon as possible after the escape, but there was no time to prepare any of Slade's… genetic material at that time." The boy's face alternated from flushed to deathly pale, but he stayed put, which Bruce took a s a good sign. "That brings me to my point… Chang wasn't sure how long the egg would stay put and what would happen to it after it… expired. In females the egg stay in the womb for about two weeks, before being pushed out along with the lining as they have their period… Chang didn't know if this would happen to you. I needed to tell you in case you have any… unusual pains, or… leavings… do you understand?" Bruce was extremely uncomfortable and embarrassed at this point, but Robin had only nodded again, his face carefully blank now. "Also, if the egg does not pass… naturally… it might cause an infection, and, I need you to understand that you will have to have surgery immediately if this should happen."

Robin had nodded again, and as Bruce carefully had addressed the subject of having the surgery now, the boy had half agreed. It wasn't to be, though, since Robin's immune system was very poor. Being isolated for so long, Robin had been hit hard by even the tiniest bug, and so far he had had two colds, the flu, the stomach flu and a throat infection, having to spend a lot of time in bed. The only one allowed to help him was Alfred, no doctors allowed, and even him Robin had started to keep his distance from as his health slowly improved. When confronted two weeks later, Robin told him that he had had blood in his stool for a few days, and Bruce drew a sigh of relief. At least they wouldn't have to risk the operation quite yet.

But that had been about four months ago. Actually, the more time progressed, the more withdrawn Robin became. Bruce thought back to the first month. He had really believed that Robin would recover quickly back then. The boy had run on pure determination, intent on helping out as much as he was allowed, and, when not working, he could often be found in the gym, working out. But as time passed, and it became clearer that they might not find Slade, that the man had gotten away, Robin slowly started to change. At first he had insisted on wearing part of his old costume when working, and Bruce had understood the need for familiarity. Again, it was poor Clark that had messed up as he had suggested that the boy might want a new set of clothes sewn up, to fit him better. Robin had looked up into the mirrors covering one wall in the gym and had frozen before rushing out. After that he only wore sweatshirts and pants. The psychologists had reminded Bruce that Robin had been repeatedly raped, and that he was probably having difficulties with looking at his own body. As a matter of fact, Bruce had noticed how the boy always averted his eyes when he noticed mirrors, and, discovering how snugly his tights fit him now, must have been a shock.

Bruce had looked down into his newspaper for a while, knowing how uncomfortable Robin would be if the boy caught him looking at him, but now he glanced up at the boy again. Robin was wearing some of Bruce's own old clothes, something that had worried the man before of the shrinks explained that this probably was Robin's way of reaching out to him, to touch him, as if were, without actually making the contact he wasn't quite ready for. Seeing how Robin almost appeared to drown in one of Bruce's old knitted sweaters, Bruce smiled at him. Robin caught the look and, for once, smiled weakly back, just the smallest of smiles, but it warmed Bruce more than any fire ever could. Maybe everything would be all right after all.

Later that evening, Robin was curled up in his new bed and let his eyes travel over his 'old-new' room. The bed was a narrow one, just like he had requested as they moved back to the manor, and besides it, there were a lot of things that one might expect to find in a teenagers room… a desk, a computer station, a TV, a closet. The last didn't have a door, though. Robin had had one too many nightmares of Slade stepping out of it, and one day he had simply removed the door. There were still the door to the en-suite bathroom, however, but that Robin left open if he wasn't using it. He was too glad it was there to remove that door as well. The door leading to the corridor had several locks, but none on the outside, and these Robin had put in himself as well. It felt good to do something. He wanted to be out there, helping people, but it was just that… the people… Robin found that he wanted nothing better than to avoid the looks and the, god forbid, touches that always came with being around others. He was afraid that he was starting to become an hermit, but he just couldn't deal. He knew he would have to soon, though.

Suddenly the computer in the corner buzzed into life and Robin made an irritated sound. He had forgotten to turn it off again… it had clearly gone into it's 'sleep' mode, but it activated itself every now and then, often scaring him. He was walking up to it to turn it off, when a face he hoped he would never see again, appeared on the screen.

"Hello, Robin."

To say the boy jumped was an understatement. He gasped and took several steps back until he fell onto his bed. As he scrabbled to get up, the man on the screen chuckled. He wasn't wearing his mask, actually he even looked to be wearing a regular shirt instead of his armor.

"So flustered, boy? Well it has been a long time, hasn't it?"

"What- what do you want, Slade?" Robin growled, but his voice shook so badly it sounded like a whimper. The boy's finger hovered over the alarm button by the side of his bed. Slade might only be on the screen, but there might be a way to track the transmission, even though Robin suspected that if there were it was because Slade wanted it tracked.

"I just wanted to tell you that I'm coming for you soon."

"No! No, leave me alone!" Robin yelled, his face having turned white. He wasn't even considering that he might be safe here, he knew Slade could get to him if the man said he could. Slade didn't lie. He was about to push the button as the man on the screen smiled and tilted his head to his side, letting his eyes roam over the boy's body until Robin thought that he could feel the man's hands as well.

"Oh, but you need me… don't you Robin?"

"No! I don't need you, Slade, I never have!" Robin snarled, but he was still shaking badly, clutching the bedspread until it tore.

"But I have watched you… how you roll up your comforter to hug at night, as you miss my body... how you touch your throat, wishing the collar was still there… how you scream out my name-"

"That was a dream! It was just a dream!" Robin had tears rolling down his cheeks now. Slade had been watching. He had been here all this time… they had told him that he was safe here… they had lied!

"Yes, but you seemed to enjoy it so much, pet… all that moaning and begging…"

"Stop it!"

Slade chuckled again.

"Don't worry, little one… you will experience it for real soon enough… I know what you need now…"

"What- what do you mean?" Robin's finger withdrew slightly from the button.

"Robin…I know all your little secrets…I have been watching you, remember…? You belong to me… you and the child you carry..."

The End (again)

A/N: soooo... I hoped that kicked you in the gut… -grin- And now, since I know you have questions about that last remark, let me explain… Do you remember when Slade asked Raven about natural conception and she told him that it was "possible, but not very plausible"? Well, those of us who reads Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels, knows that a million-to-one chance succeeds nine times out of ten. -smirk-

The blood Robin naturally lied about. He had just understood what was happening and he was too freaked to tell anyone… poor thing…

Ah, I love infuriating open endings like this… you ought to know that by now, eh?

As I have already been asked: no, I don't think there will be a sequel. There might be one or two "what if's" or drabbles based on "The Peace Contract" showing up in my "Delightful Drabbles", though, so check there… and if you have any ideas, don't hesitate to send me them… I'll save them and we'll see… as always you are very welcome to write something yourself, based on this, all I want is some credit for the "original" and that you tell me about it so I can read it…

I'm taking a LITTLE break from writing now, I think, but I WILL have something in my drabbles for you on the 16'th of July, since that is a rather special day… not my birthday, but you might want to prepare a present… -grin- If you don't know or can figure it out, you will find out on the 16:th… not sure what it will be yet, though… we'll see…

SO… hate the ending more now…? I think some might… but I couldn't help myself… it was too good…. –very evil laugh-

Again, I feel honored that you have read all this, and I'm still reeling from the support after the last chapter… if you miss me before my next update on FF, please come and visit me on Deviant Art! The link is (as usual) the homepage link in my bio…

All the love