A/N THE SUPER LONG EPILOGUE!! Yep, it's about the length of two good-size chapters. I just didn't know where to stop, or how it should go, or...well, yeah. And this will be the only epilogue, this story is finished after this. I'm a lot happier with this ending, and there's a bunch of stuff in here, hence the length. Oh, and chapter six has been fixed, too.
Thank you EVERYONE who has reviewed and/or read this story! Without you guys, there would be little point, and I hope to hear from all of you in the future!
For the last time in this story, I do not own Teen Titans...Or any other comic mentioned.
Raven couldn't sleep. She had barely been able to for the past year and a half. Tonight was nothing new to her. She had woken up in a cold sweat at a little past midnight, taken a shower, and slid on baggy sweatpants and a black shirt. She had walked to the living room, sat on the couch, and read a book. She never remembered what they were about. It had never changed. Every night. Same routine. Ever since the letters had stopped. They had come nearly every day, for six months, and then slowly trickled into barely coming at all. Now they just didn't. But she still checked the mail before anyone else, never bringing it in.
She jumped, lost in thought, looking back at the Boy Wonder. Well, he wasn't a boy anymore-he hadn't really been even when the team started, let alone now. He walked from the kitchen, a sliver of a black mask covering his face. He had changed so much over the past few years-he wasn't even Robin anymore. His new black suit showed that, with its little blue, along with harder changes in his face. He held a mug in each hand and sat next to her, holding one out to her. She gently took the drink, made just how she liked it, even in her favorite blue mug. Chamomile tea, the teabag still strengthening the brew, the mug warmed before the tea was even put in.
"Thanks." She said, taking a sip. A few moments of silence passed between them, comfortable. Or at least, she had thought it was. He placed his cup on the table, wringing his hands and shifting so much in his seat that she eventually gave in and asked, "What's wrong?"
"Actually, I should be asking you that." He said, looking at her. She raised her eyebrows, her expression bored. She did not like where this was going, annoyance sifting through her, not wanting to talk about what he was going to bring up. She didn't have to be psychic to figure it out.
"Nightwing, I just couldn't sleep." She assured him, her voice dry, long adjusted to his new name by now.
"That's the thing, you never sleep. I can tell, not only because I see you every day, but-"
"We have a bond." She supplied, honestly not wanting to hear any of this right now. She just wanted to do her routine. Read her book. Wait for the sun to rise. Return to her room. She placed her mug on the table, waiting for him to continue so she could return to her plan.
"Ever since Red X left-"
"Don't." Raven immediately interrupted. "I don't want to talk about it."
"I think you need to. It's been years. And I know you're still checking for letters-"
"That's none of your business."
"It is when it causes problems in the team."
"You're saying I'm causing problems." Raven clarified, utter disbelief clouding her face. Her eyes narrowed as she shot back, "do you even know what's going on, Nightwing?"
"No, I don't."
His response was blunt and cold, Raven overtaken with shock. He sighed, resting his elbows on his knees as he ran his hands through his hair. It had grown long, out of its spikes now, brushing the tops of his shoulders. His cheekbones were sharper, his body rigid, and for the first time for a long while Raven did not want to see how his eyes looked, not that she thought she would ever get this chance.
"Beast Boy is visiting the site every day." Raven said softly, picking up her cup once again. "Ever since you broke up with Starfire, she's been talking more and more with Bumblebee. Cyborg and Hecate have been seeing each other for over a year now."
"And what about you?" Nightwing asked, taking all of this as just pure facts. Raven pressed her lips together.
"You seem to know that already. What about you?"
"What? What's going on?"
"You're…just never around the tower. No one is."
"So I'm in trouble for being normal."
"You shouldn't be. What you went through-what we all went through-"
"Usually I'm the one giving lectures on this."
"Yeah, you were."
A grin formed on Nightwing's face, but slowly melted off. He leaned back on the couch and sighed. Raven just held her cup in her hands, enjoying the warmth on her slender fingers. She let her gaze wander to the windows, overlooking the dark city. Lights flickered among the stars from windows, almost interchangeable. It was so peaceful. It had been rather peaceful, lately, all the turmoil staying inside the team, rather than outside. He put a hand on her shoulder, her eyebrow rising.
"Raven, if you want to talk-"
"Not now, Nightwing." She said, taking his hand in hers and placing it off her shoulder. She looked down at her cup. "Maybe not ever."
He slowly nodded, and she took another sip of her tea. She placed it on the table, noticing he hadn't even touched his own drink.
"What's really bothering you?" She eventually asked. "The bond isn't what's keeping you awake."
He sighed, cracking his knuckles. She looked at his hands and bit her lip, reminded of one person, and he paused, staring at his own hands.
"Oh." She said simply and he shook his hands, as if erasing the action and grabbing his own cup, just to have something to hold. "None of us ever got to say goodbye to her, did we?"
"No." He shook his head. "Look, can we not talk about this now?"
"But I'd like to talk. I mean, if you don't mind, I know you don't-"
Before she could interrupt, the alarm went off. Red lights flashed and the noise echoed through the tower, and she sprang up from her spot to change without question into her costume. When returning back, Starfire was already leaning on the couch, Beast Boy beside her from what looked like force, since he was clearly not awake. Cyborg rushed in behind them, Nightwing at the front of the room and converting the wall-screen into computer mode. A map flashed onto the screen, almost entirely blue instead of the green map of the city.
"What are we looking at?" Starfire asked. Her English had greatly improved over the years; over more lip to lip contact, Raven knew well, and not from Nightwing. Their relationship hadn't been the same since…it happened, and she hadn't been the same, either. Her costume changed to the "of age" uniform of Tamaranians, a metal outfit that barely covered her, looking a bit like a one-piece bathing suit without sides or a complete center. "This isn't the city."
"Nope, it ain't." Cyborg said as Nightwing zoomed into the flashing red dot, onto a small island. "It's off the coast, in the Pacific."
"I didn't know we watched all the way out there!" Changeling exclaimed, having outgrown his mantle of "Beast Boy".
"We don't." Nightwing said grimly, pressing a few keys to switch to a long message. "It's from Japan."
"JAPAN!" The shape-shifter exclaimed.
"What do they want?" Raven asked.
"They're requesting help." Nightwing said as she stepped closer, scanning the message. "The island has research projects, and it's under attack. We're the fastest help they can get. Not only that, but after Tokyo incident, they trust us."
"And using us would be an ideal international connection." Cyborg said. "Tell everyone back here nothing's goin' on they need to worry 'bout."
"Ideally." Nightwing agreed.
"They don't mention what the project is, though." Raven pointed out dryly.
"Doesn't matter. We still need to get out there. Cyborg-"
"Don't tell me you're asking." Cyborg grinned. "Everyone get in the t-sub and we'll be there in a blink of an eye."
Raven didn't want to leave the t-sub. She hesitated as the rest of her team jumped into the fray, but she had a reason to. The screams and gunshots not only echoed in her ears, she could feel the pain as more and more people were hurt below her. She knew she still had to enter it, but she just needed a moment to pull herself together, not letting it take over her.
"Raven?" Nightwing asked. She turned to look at him. He was crouched, ready to jump, his hair whipping in his face as he looked at her. "Are you alright?"
"I'll be fine." She said and he nodded, jumping and running. She floated after him, staying above the ground. Smoke lifted into the night sky, the smell of blood burning her nose. She flew past as quick as she could, entering the building. The gunshots were far away, echoing around her in the silent halls. The flickering linoleum lights flashed upon fallen bodies, red trickling over skin and onto puddles on the floor. It smeared the walls and splashed the ceilings, but she continued on, resisting the urge to pause and lessen their pain-there was nothing else she could do for them, it was too late, and there were more people fighting ahead.
She followed the sounds, but even as she turned corner after corner, she couldn't catch up. She had no idea where she was going, so she couldn't teleport. Nothing stood in her way, everything she had come across had already been broken into and a path made. She pulled out her communicator, flipping on as she flew through.
"Nightwing, how far behind were we?" She asked, her leader clicking in.
"We weren't. The request was sent before this happened, they knew something was going to happen." Nightwing said.
"Then aren't we just walking into a trap?"
"With this many people down? I doubt it. What part of the building are you?"
"East. Where should I head?"
He clicked off, and Raven's brow furrowed. She looked back up at where she was flying and halted, skidding back in the air as he appeared from a side hallway. She let her feet rest on the ground, and instantly regretted it. It wasn't that he was over a head taller than her-when had he grown so much?-but it was the emotions, the vibrations through the ground. Nothing showed on her face as she looked up at her leader, expectantly.
"We need to stay together. Whatever hit this place, it knew what it was doing." He said, pointing to the destroyed security cameras, let alone the fallen men. "Cyborg, Starfire and Changeling are on the other side of the building, but they haven't found anything. Not even a trace of strong life, and we don't have any possible scents. Can you sense anything?"
Raven slowly nodded, closing her eyes. She reached out with her mind, trying to ignore the calls for help and the cries of suffering. Whoever made their way here clearly hadn't bothered to minimize pain of others as they made their way through. She winced, biting her lip, able to get a small sense of someone, or something. It was so soft, she wasn't sure.
"Up ahead." She said, focusing on it. "It's still moving. Wait-it's going down."
"I'll send for the others." Nightwing said, and the pair quickly followed Raven's sense. A layer of cold sweat covered her skin, and her eyes felt heavy, but she continued flying through the low-ceilinged halls. They made it to a set of stairs and she flew down, not looking behind her. The floor erupted below her, sending Nightwing falling as the explosion send steel flinging at her, the force knocking her against the wall. She hit it at a full-slam, rolling down and hitting the ground, the world fuzzy as she felt hot blood drip from her head. Her sides burned with pain, but she pushed herself up. She tried putting weight on her left leg, but it hurt far too much so she limped, pulling herself together mentally before she attempted to fly.
"NIGHTWING?" She shouted, peering down into the dark hole. The bomb had come from far below, layers of holes from the spiraling stairs going deep below. She floated into the air, taking a deep breath as she plunged into the darkness. Her eyes were alert, looking for any sign of the masked wonder, not seeing anything at all.
She found him. At the bottom. His grappling hook was still clutched in his hand, but his body was in the process of being crushed by a sheet of steel. Raven's eyes glowed white, it was encased with black, flying across the room, and he pushed himself up.
"I'm fine." He said before she even asked. "How far are we?"
"Straight from here. Strange, that blast just got us here quicker."
"But not better, we were lucky."
He didn't show any sign of pain, but Raven could feel it, and agreed. They raced down the hallway, until Raven crashed to the floor. She felt feet slam into her back, bringing her to the floor. A hand pulled at her hair, sending her neck arching back as they grabbed the back of her cloak. She was flung up, slammed against a wall, feeling bones snap at the impact. Dropped to the ground, she could only register pain, the whole event happening so quickly. Before she could consider moving, a cloth was shoved into her mouth, yanked back and almost suffocating. Her eyes were fuzzy, but not worsening, her head turning to Nightwing. Her neck hurt at the attempt, and he captor twisted her head back to look at the wall. Her arms were brought behind her, and she screeched through the gag as one of her arms snapped, before being tied against Nightwing's arms. She was forced up with a knee to her stomach, thrown into the air, held up by her captor as a second tied their legs together, twisting her ankle. The first let them go to crash to the floor, her eyes watering with pain, tilting her head back.
"You both interfere with official US Government business…" One said in clipped Japanese. Raven's eyes widened, having studied the language after their return from Tokyo.
"As in the United States?" Nightwing demanded, the captors not phased at the language switch. A light flashed on them, and they both shut their eyes and looked away.
"Oh. My. God."
The light was flashed off, and the gag was pulled out of Raven's mouth. She was shaking-not that she was injured, although she was enough to be, considering internal injuries, but at the voice. It was most definitely female. Her eyes adjusted, and the captors no longer obscuring themselves from view, she could see the form of one, confirming her as a slender woman in a black, armored suit. She ripped off the faceless mask, long, blonde hair cascading down her shoulders.
"Raven! I'm so sorry!" The young earth-manipulator sighed, her blue eyes wide as she scurried to take off the knots. She gingerly helped Raven lean against a wall, bandaging her wounds with practiced skill.
"Terra?" Raven asked in disbelief. The blond gave her a small smile.
"Yeah, been awhile, hasn't it? Oh, God, Raven, I'm so sorry. I had no idea who you were-"
"You did all of this?"
"No. Yes. Well-"
"Who are you?! Who do you really work for?!" Nightwing demanded. Terra's head whipped around, Raven staring in front of her. Nightwing had his captor pinned against the wall at the throat. His face was contorted with rage, his fingers tightening. With his other hand, he snatched off the mask. Raven's eyes widened, and he let go of his grip. Of course. If Terra was here, that also meant Tori would be.
"You." He said, stepping back. She crouched at the ground, rubbing her neck, before standing back up. The armor didn't cut off too much of her familiar, busty form, now that she could see her fully. Her eyes were eyes-not the bloody red that bore into Raven's memory, but complete with iris, pupil, and the white-part. The veins were still bright red and leaking into her pupils, through her irises, forming a second red pupil inside the black. A much better picture than the monster Raven remembered, with the blood trickling down her face...Tori gave a small smile as she coughed, her thick hair pulled back in a low ponytail.
"Long time no see, huh?" She said. She didn't make any move to approach him. "Look, Robin, I wanted to tell you-"
"But you were too busy killing people." Nightwing said dryly. Tori's eyes widened. "And it's Nightwing now."
"No! I mean, I-I didn't mean to. You can't have forgotten what Rebekah did. After Terra found me, she was able to stop me. We were able to return home, but you couldn't imagine what it was like there."
"Everything was controlled. Books were burned. People were taken away, never seen again. Small children, and the bombings-we think it was after an alternate World War Three, with only England remaining after nuclear warfare, somehow. The government, oh god, the government-"
"Tori, it's over." Terra said, her voice firm. Tori nodded, taking a deep breath. "By the time I jumped in, she had already been there three months. It was three years before found a way out."
"How long have you been back?" Nightwing asked, his voice ice.
"Six months! And you didn't tell us?"
"We wanted to! Rob-Nightwing, they threw me into Arkham!"
Raven watched Nightwing freeze, hostility slowly fading out of him.
"They thought I was crazy, Terra barely managed to escape them."
"Metropolis police, and, well…Him."
"Him? As in red-cape, blue-uniformed-"
"Yeah, it was all I could to get her away."
"Which I paid you back for!" Terra defended, the pair ignoring her comment.
"So they sent you to Arkham."
"Yeah. In there about three months. Then, well, the government called us back." Tori smiled, putting a hand on her hip. "You're looking at the newest members of Checkmate, the youngest Black Queen's and King's Knights."
"That's impossible. Checkmate-"
"-is trying to keep on the down- low."
"Great job, there."
"I'm just doing my job, alright?"
"Which involves killing people."
"Not everyone can afford to be nice."
"I'm not talking about being nice-"
"Do you have any idea what they're planning here? Kobra's here!"
"Kobra? You're kidding."
"Japan doesn't know it."
"Now you're really-"
"Tori, we have to go! Waller is going to kill us if we don't get this done!" Terra interrupted.
"Who's Waller?" Raven asked, not sure of what was going on. She had never heard of Checkmate, or if she had, she was not in the state to remember. Clearly, they had gone harder on her, and she guessed it was Tori who had done so, and Terra was just apologizing for her. Her head was clear enough to figure that out.
"I'll tell you later." Tori said, Nightwing's brows rising in surprise.
"No. I don't want to anywhere near my team." He said. Tori's smile froze, her face draining of color.
"My God. You really do hate me."
"TORI!" Terra snapped, not leaving Raven's side.
"Why, Nightwing?" She seethed, stepping forward. She was nearly his height, looking directly at him. "I'm a big girl, I can-"
"You ripped apart everyone!" He exclaimed. "The team has never been the same, you just wormed your way into everyone's life and then tore yourself out! Now you expect to come back and have everything be okay, after what you've done? Do you have any idea what we've been through?"
"What you've been through? Do you think I'm that stupid? Why do you think I haven't contacted you?"
"You honestly thought that would help?"
"Yeah, I did."
They were barely an inch apart, neither of them looking as if they were about to back down.
"You were wrong."
"Clearly. And now I've got to get my ass handed to me by my Queen, fight whatever Kobra's got, then get my ass handed to me by all of Checkmate. Terra will stay with you and get you out of the building."
"We're coming with you-"
"No, you're not. You're lucky I went as easy as I did with Raven-if I had known what her powers were, she'd be worse." She stepped back, snatching the masked from Nightwing. "And trust me, you do not want to get involved with Checkmate."
She dissolved right in front of their eyes, Nightwing glaring after her.
"So she still has her powers." He commented bitterly.
"Yep." Terra said. "Look, you have to go. She was right. Checkmate is not the Titans or the League."
"Why did you even get into Checkmate?"
"...when you've seen what we've seen, well, you want to keep this country running. Corny, but...Still, you have to go."
"No. You're telling me where Kobra is, and then taking Raven out of here."
"What, think you can threaten me?" Her eyes glowed gold. "I've had three years to control my powers, and Checkmate helped a hell of a lot more than you could image. Not that Fascism World didn't make you learn fast."
"Nightwing, I'm fine." Raven sighed. All of her bones were set in place, and she had rested enough to begin healing herself. Her hands glowed a transparent blue, the damage gone but the pain still in place. It would numb out quick enough, and she stood back up.
"You think she can handle Kobra alone?" Nightwing demanded.
"She has the Black Queen, so yeah, I do."
Concreted encased in gold circled them, and Raven let her eyes glow white, her fists pulsing with dark energy.
"You honestly want it to be this way?" Nightwing said. "We want to help."
"It's not that simple. Not anymore."
"Yes, it is Terra."
"I'm the Black King's Knight. I've earned that title."
"For how long? Until-"
"Who's Kobra?" Raven finally demanded. Terra didn't advert her attention from Nightwing, but answered her all the same.
"Terrorist. Believes in the Kali Yuga. That's all you need to know."
"'Age of Chaos'." Raven breathed in translation.
"Has countless followers. A lot of heroes that go bad go over to him." Nightwing elaborated. "So now he's Checkmate's target?"
Terra didn't say anything. A brick of concrete whirled for Nightwing's head, and he pulled out his bow-staff, breaking it in half. Without hesitation, Raven hurled a steel pipe at Terra, who simply jumped over it with agility she never had before. She jumped off it, lunging for the half-demon. Raven's head hopped against the floor at collision, stars erupting in her eyes. Terra pulled her off the floor, yanking her arms behind her, cuffs of stones encasing her hands as another held a stone dagger against her throat.
"Calm down, Terra. We're still your friends." Nightwing said. Raven's throat bounced against the dagger, close enough to know it was definitely sharp and not just rough stone.
"Azarath…" She mumbled. The dagger came closer, preventing her from saying anymore.
"You seriously are going to kill her?" Nightwing said darkly. "She's still your friend."
"Yeah. And I know a little flesh wound won't kill her. Especially when you're here to save her." Terra snapped back. Suddenly the dagger left and she shoved Raven at Nightwing, the goth girl stumbling into his arms. Terra had already jumped onto a platform of stone, and had set a bomb to the ceiling, flying back up through it. "You're not part of my mission-make sure it stays that way!"
Raven jumped into the air, going after her. Nightwing grabbed her ankle.
"Wait." He said, letting go, and she landed back on the ground. He pulled out a small box, about the size of an iPod shuffle. He pressed a button on the side and a hologram of the facility scanned out, a yellow dot moving through.
"Terra. You bugged her." Raven observed, her eyes narrowed.
"Think you're okay for this?"
"Yeah." Raven was angry, and she had every right to be. She had just been slammed around and used as a hostage, and she wanted a payback with Tori. For leaving them. For wrecking everything. Because, when it all came down to it, if Tori had never come, none of this would ever have happened.
The man fell to the ground with a cry, his head rolling away from his body. Tori stood over the body, the red x from the back of her hand dripping with blood. The Black Queen stared at the young woman, who had already jumped over to a computer to uplink it to where it needed to be.
"We are going to have a talk." She hissed.
"Sorry, Queen, just doing my job-"
"Not with that much pleasure-"
"Objection. For the record, it was frustration-"
"Patching into Black King's Knight. Come in, Terra-" the Queen sighed, glaring at her own Knight.
"She's unable to talk at the moment." Nightwing interjected, jumping into the room. He held Terra's thin body over his shoulder, unconscious, laying her down on the ground.
"The rest of the Titans are on their way, in case you were wondering." Raven added, her face contorting with disgust at the dead man. The Black Queen kept her composure, and Raven couldn't sense any emotion from her. Her attention shifted to Tori, who was positively reeking of anger and frustration. She stepped away from the computer without a word, looking at neither of them.
"And why are the Titans here?" The Black Queen asked, almost bored with the question.
"Japan asked for a favor." Nightwing said coldly.
"When it's a bloodbath, yes, of course." Raven interjected.
"Teen Titans…Were you one, Tori?"
"No, ma'am, can't say I was." Tori replied, glaring at Raven and Nightwing. There was no hatred in the motion, just frustration, and sadness she was hiding well that Raven could feel. Against her better judgment, Raven probed a little further. Too far, it turned out, since Tori's emotion weren't as well guarded as typical villains. Underneath her frustration and anger was an endless hole of loss and sadness, cold and dark. It chilled Raven to the bone, and she brushed memories-of small, dark rooms and long, dark hallways. Of watching the world burn and drowning beneath it, while everyone else believed and had faith in something no one from this world could possibly understand.
Not that Raven wasn't still angry with her. But another emotion she never thought she'd ever feel for the girl entered her heart-pity. And Tori knew, but she didn't say anything, standing beside her Queen. Now Raven had conflicting emotions, and she knew not to give into her anger, but it was just so easy. Especially at the fact that not only was Terra the only real relationship Tori had, but that she had never contacted Maddox. The man who raised her and loved her like the father Raven never had, with endless devotion.
"…and there's going to be a long evaluation of Checkmate's actions." Raven caught the end of Nightwing's ramble, lost in her own thoughts.
"Checkmate's been around since before you were in diapers. You honestly think no one knows what's going on?" Tori shot back, a hand on her hip.
"The mission's done. We're getting out of here." The Black Queen interrupted, clearly not caring much with what Nightwing had to say. Tori stayed behind her Queen, letting her lead towards the exit. Nightwing reached out for the Queen's arm, but Raven wasn't focused on that. She was focused on the fifth aura in the room, and the quiet whisper.
"Faith in the Kali Yuga."
Raven threw up a force field, the impact of the shot sending her skidding back and the energy surrounding them shuttering. She brought in it as soon as she could, her arms shaking with the effort it took to keep the field around them at the impact. She knew for sure now, they were playing for keeps.
Tori and Nightwing jumped to the other side of the room, Raven staying beside the Black Queen. A sixth aura entered the room, and her head whipped around as another shot boomed through the room. Raven threw up another force field, glancing Tori tackling Nightwing to the ground and rolling.
"IDIOT!" She screeched, then erupting into a coughing fit. Raven heard splattering off blood, and the Black Queen jumped around the field at the gunmen. Raven let it disappear, holding her hands out and encasing the guns with her glow, ripping them out of people's hands and crushing them with her energy. There were more coming, but the two that were here, the Black Queen made sure they didn't need to worry about.
"What did he do to my Knight?" She spat, Raven floating over. Nightwing was holding Tori up, blood trickling from her mouth. The armor around her stomach was gone, and if Raven had come a few moments earlier, she knew she could have been able to see right through without any trouble-not that she had too much now. The girl was unconscious, and Raven watched with muted fascination as her muscles stitched up before her very eyes.
".700 Nitro Express." Nightwing said blandly, swallowing hard.
"Elephant gun." The Black Queen said it like a swear.
"They're hunting us." Raven managed, the Queen snorted.
"Us? You could have gotten out of it. This is the big game, sweetie, not just some clumsy little villain anymore."
"She should be dead." Nightwing said, in silent shock as he held Tori.
"It'll take a hell of a lot more to kill that one."
"Duly noted. Raven, think you could-?"
Without a word Raven knelt beside Tori, her hands glowing blue over her stomach. The witch's eyes went wide as pain exploded in her gut, her head knocking back from the sudden feeling. She tightened her hands into fists, biting her lip.
"Azarath. Metrion. Zinthos." She muttered, stopping her voice from shaking as she repeated her mantra. The Black Queen watched with interest over her shoulder, the muscles and organs knitting together. With Raven's healing abilities and Tori's heightened regeneration, they were all back in a matter of minutes. Raven's head throbbed as she fell back onto her butt, closing her eyes and resting her head on her knees.
"No more." She said, her heart pounding and her chest heaving. The organs and muscles were back, but the skin was almost nonexistant. Tori's own body had slowed down in healing, using its energy rapidly to fix any fatal damage and clot the blood. Raven swallowed, shaking her head as Tori slowly opened her eyes. Coughing and spluttering, she looked to Raven and Nightwing.
"I would have been fine." She said weakly. "But thanks. I can't feel it much."
"Get up, we need to go." The Black Queen said. Tori nodded, pushing herself off Nightwing, before her legs shook beneath her. She leaned towards her Queen, but Nightwing caught her first. "You still can't run."
"And how's the witch?"
"Her name is Raven-" Nightwing interrupted.
"I'm fine." Raven said, standing up. Her own legs felt shaky and she hugged her stomach, telling herself there wasn't any pain nor was there a hole, that she had skin underneath while Tori was still raw and bloody. Her blood had instantly clotted, saving her from blood loss, but every time she moved it sent new skin splitting. Tori bent down, pulling a rolled-up white cloth from her thigh pocket.
"Never thought I'd need that." She said, the Black Queen quickly wrapping it around her middle.
"Think you can carry her?"
"I'm fine, look!" Tori stood up, and the Black Queen pushed her right back into Nightwing. She glared, but then looked at Nightwing. He just raised his eyebrows. "But I don't think he-"
"Shut up. We need to move. That's an order." The Black Queen snapped. Tori glared, pressing her lips together. Nightwing scooped her up and she wrapped an arm around his neck, securing herself as they ran into the hallway.
A red beam shot from Tori's outstretched hand, sending the woman flying back with a steaming hole in her chest.
"Dammit, Tori-" Nightwing and the Black Queen said at the same time, for entirely different reasons, before a screech erupted from the other side of the building.
"Starfire…?" Nightwing said out of habit, his brow furrowing.
"No. Terra." Raven corrected, the group back into a run. The Titans were encircled by Kobra agents, including Terra, who was still wearing her mask and had somehow left the room without any of them noticing. From what Raven could tell, the other Titans had no idea who she was, but were fighting alongside her anyhow. Namely, because Changeling wasn't clinging to her, or making a point to ignore her. Wise choice, since they were vastly outnumbered.
Starfire was already shooting, knocking the enemy out of the way, while Changeling charged and Cyborg kicked and punched. Terra's was shooting with a handgun, killing with one shot, while being yelled at by Cyborg and Changeling in turn. Clearly, she wasn't listening, and they were too busy trying not to get killed they couldn't do anything to stop her.
"Stay here." Nightwing said, laying Tori on the grown as the Black Queen jumped into the fight. Raven lingered beside Tori, looking down at her as she glared at Nightwing's retreating back.
"I want to hate him." She said, looking up at Raven. "Why can't I hate him?"
"I don't know. I'm having no problems." She replied coldly, flying into the battle, feeling Tori's hurt gaze on her back.
"Azarath Metrion ZINTHOS!" She cried, the guns flying out of a group of enemies' hands. Steel encased in dark magic headed for the enemy, and as much as Raven knew it was wrong, it still made her feel better. She looked over to Starfire, whose blasts were much stronger, and angry radiated from her, her blasts getting stronger from the moment. Nothing doubted Raven that the alien princess had seen Tori in the corner.
Raven's head whipped around, in time to get hit under the chin. She was flown back, watching Tori jump into the fray. The daggers had erupted from the back of her hands and she was moving like a whirlwind, but only in front of Terra. Terra sprinted out in the path, the Black Queen following, Tori keeping the path open.
"What are you doing?" Changeling yelled, watching Tori sprint away with the other two.
"Mission complete." Tori said grimly, sprinting behind her Queen, holding a handgun and shooting any followers. Changeling's eyes widened as the ground glowed yellow, a platform raising below the three and sending them shooting up through the floors of the building to the sky above.
"TERRA!" Changeling shouted, running after. Starfire floated in front of him, giving him a sharp kick and sending him back in the crowd.
"No, Changeling!" She snapped, returning to fighting the enemy.
"She's right. We need you here." Nightwing confirmed, twisting in mid-air as he kicked a man and hit another with his bo-staff.
"Nightwing, you know what's going on?" Cyborg asked, sending out another blue ray from his arm.
A red flash erupted in front of Raven, who threw up a wall of energy. The hoard of goons in front of her were instantly knocked unconscious, as were others across the room until the Titans were the only ones left standing.
"What just happened?" Cyborg asked.
"Tori." Starfire said with distaste as she landed on the ground.
"So she bails and then helps us?" Changeling cried. "And we have to go after Terra-"
"No." Raven said, Changeling eyes wide as he looked at her. "They're gone. Both of them. They don't want us anymore."
"Maybe not." Nightwing's grin was grim, but there all the same.
"You realize what you're doing is illegal on so many-" Terra began, struggling with her bonds. Raven held her in place, wrapped in heavy steel.
"Terra, you're back! Don't you remember us?" Changeling pleaded.
"Don't bother, Beast Boy." Raven said. "She's changed."
"Yeah, but-" Terra argued, her cries ignored by all by but Changeling.
"The government doesn't blackmail people to join." Starfire shot back.
"Still naïve as ever, aren't ya, Star?" Terra seethed, her eyes glowing yellow.
"Don't even try it." Cyborg said, pointing his cannon at her face.
"You wouldn't." She smirked.
"You've missed a lot, Terra." Nightwing said.
"Not enough to know you're still against killing."
"Knocking people unconscious is a different story."
With a grunt, Starfire hit Terra in the back of the head. Her blond hair shimmered in the moonlight, covering her face as her head lolled on her chest.
"…not that I'm that against it." Raven began, looking at the unconscious girl. "But why are we doing this again?"
"Hello! We just knocked Terra, our Terra, out!" Changeling interrupted, waving his arms. "We haven't seen her in years, and-"
"She attacked us." Nightwing said bluntly, silencing Changeling.
"So what are we going to do, kidnap her?" Cyborg asked, his face stone. Clearly, he wasn't agreeing to the situation.
"We can't afford to get any closer to Checkmate than we-"
"Whoa, man, you never said she was part of Checkmate." Cyborg said, anger quickly erupting on his face. "We should be out of here now, we shouldn't be here at all if this is Checkmate's game-"
"Too late for that." Raven said bluntly.
"So what are we going to do?" Changeling asked impatiently.
"Starfire, hold him back." Nightwing ordered, the Tamaranian following without hesitation.
"What are you-!"
Nightwing pulled out a small scalpel, along with a small round disk half the size of his pinky nail.
"That's not my design." Cyborg said.
"Or mine." Nightwing said, slicing into tender skin behind Terra's earlobe. He slid in the disk under her skin as she groaned, Changeling yelling and fighting to no avail against Starfire's grip. "It's Hecate."
"She never told me-"
"I asked her not to. Raven?"
He stepped back, allowing Raven to wave her hand over the wound. It was clean and done with as little cutting as possible, and compared to everything else she had done tonight, she could barely feel it. However, her eyes were sagging and her body was still incredibly sore, and she knew once they got back to the tower she would be in deep meditation for a few days. Her body was just warning off the pain to keep her conscious, knowing she couldn't afford to pass out now, and would hit full-force at the safe tower.
"What are you doing to her!" Changeling cried.
"It'll record whatever she sees, hears, and says." Nightwing explained. "Allowing us to keep an eye on Checkmate."
"This is not a good idea." Cyborg said, shaking his head.
"We're watching the watchmen." Nightwing retorted simply.
"Actually, watching those who watch the watchmen." Raven mused.
"You can't DO that! It's not right!" Changeling argued.
"But that also allows us to figure out what's really going on with her." Starfire suddenly picked up. "To understand why she is behaving this way."
"Exactly." Nightwing said. "And-"
"X'hal!" Starfire cried, letting go of Changeling. She sent a blast of green toward the sky, hitting her target. The target fell to the ground, before springing back up and pulling out a gun.
"Tori!" Cyborg announced, trying to aim his cannon at her.
"No, Kobra." Nightwing corrected, throwing a black bird-a-rang and knocking the weapon out of the woman's hand.
"Faith in the-"
"We GET it!" Changeling snapped, charging as a rhino.
"Nightwing, behind you!" Starfire shouted, another member kicking him off the roof. She tried to go after him, but they were surrounded.
"Where are they coming from?" Raven asked, the remaining Titans standing back-to back around Terra.
"Doesn't matter." Cyborg said, his cannon glowing.
"We jussst want the girl-"
"Not gonna happen." Cyborg leaped with a yell, his cannon knocking them down.
"Why do they want Terra?" Changeling asked.
"She's part of Checkmate." Starfire said, nervously looking at the side of the rooftop. Raven caught Nightwing's grappling hook flying over the side and hooking on, but so did one of the followers, cutting it without hesitation. "NO!"
Starfire flew forward, but the people tackled her to the ground, shooting even as she shot green energy from her eyes. Raven teleported to the rescue, the outdoors giving her few limits, just in time to see a black blur pass her by and catch the falling bird-boy.
"You need better grappling hooks."
Tori was grinning, attached to a rope that just seemed to appear out of the sky, no doubt a cloaking mechanism on their jet or whatever it was. She was holding the masked man against her with seemingly little effort.
"Why are you-" Nightwing began.
"Here? For Terra. Saving you? Well, Dick, you never got it, did you?"
"What are you-"
She pressed a button on her right hip, sending her flying back up towards the sky. She let go of Nightwing who landed back on the roof, then detached herself and joined into the fray. Raven followed as well, wondering why she was lingering behind and just watching while her friends were battling above. She swore, shaking her head, attacking the enemy with full-force.
"How do we stop them?" Cyborg asked Tori, who was silently teleporting around the roof and taking people out..
"You-" teleport. "Don't-" teleport. "This-" teleport. "Is not-" teleport. "A major-" teleport. "Base."
"They keep some information here, but not nearly everything, just enough to require a decent amount of security."
"This." Raven deadpanned, throwing mounds of concrete and steel with her mind. "Is decent?"
"If you're in Checkmate." Tori grinned. "Alright, everyone return to the middle."
No one listened, and she sighed, looking to Nightwing.
"What are you planning?"
"To get you guys back to the t-sub." He looked back over at her, and Raven narrowed her eyes. The t-sub was parked on the other side of the island, and Nightwing looked skeptical as well. "Got a better plan?"
"Move back!" He ordered, the team following as they circled around Terra. Tori ripped off the steel with a grunt and slight struggle. She was tired. They all were.
Ropes dropped again from the sky, but this time when Raven looked up, they weren't the only thing. The orange t-sub was above them, the ropes snaking around the side. Starfire grabbed Nightwing under the arms and flew him up, Changeling carrying Cyborg, Raven flying up on her own as Tori hooked Terra up to a rope, giving it a quick tug before jumping up to her own. However, instead of flying up into the invisible ship like Terra, she jumped off onto the t-sub.
"Go fast. They're sending more, hoping to take you guys out too."
"What about Terra?" Changeling interrupted.
"I don't know, you guys knocked her out."
Changeling shut his mouth and glared, the team looking away.
"Well, don't I get a thank you?" She asked.
"You! What have you done-" Nightwing demanded. "You attacked us, killed dozens of people, not to mention just coming out of nowhere and-"
"I saved your life, actually, all of your lives, do you know how much a .7200 through the stomach hurts? I bet Raven can tell you!"
"You're kidding." Cyborg interrupted, but Tori just sighed. Raven kept her eyes on Tori.
"Look. Never mind. But if it counts for anything…I'm sorry." Now Raven looked at each of the Titans, watching Changeling deflate, Cyborg's eyes soften, and Nightwing's tight posture lessen.
"And is that supposed to fix this?" Starfire demanded, approaching Tori. "Fix everything you've wrecked!"
"Starfire." Nightwing said. Tori eyes widened, her mouth opening and closing, Raven's brow furrowing with confusion as she looked at Nightwing. "Look...The Titans are here if you need us."
"WHAT?" Starfire cried, and Raven eventually nodded. Her own anger had been seeping away, and at Tori's sincere apology, it was sped a bit along.
"You mean you don't hate me?" Tori asked.
"No-Well, not all of us." Nightwing said, looking back to the outraged Starfire.
"But not you?"
She jumped, wrapping her legs around Nightwing and threading her hands through his hair, pressing her lips to his. Starfire erupted in angry green flames, while Raven was bombarded with unbridled emotion from the couple that not even Starfire's anger could diminish. Of passion and joy and sadness, longing from both of them that made Raven weak in the knees and her stomach flip as she remembered those feelings. She didn't move as Tori held him close, his hands wrapping around her waist, pulling her tighter into him. He looked as if he would break her, he held so tight, with roughish passion and urgency and haste. The passion unleashed from Nightwing shocked her-sending her almost shaking and she hand to buckle her knees to keep from falling to her knees, the sudden emotion from their stony leader shocking and unfamiliar. Tori held her legs tighter, pulling his face closer to hers, their bodies molding in the darkness until Raven could hardly tell them and their souls apart-they were so similar, Tori and Dick, Red X and Robin, now Nightwing and the Black Knight.
She pulled away, a smile on her face as she resting her forehead against Nightwing. They were both breathless, neither showing any sign to let go. Her voice was a low whisper, broken and sad. "Don't forget me, 'kay?"
She slid away, and Raven watched his muscles tightened not to let her go. Tori's eyes sparkled with unshed tears, but she just smiled and laughed, before looking at the mass below as she jumped onto one of the ropes.
"The moment my ships leaves, that neat little force-fields preventing the gunshots from hitting you guys will be gone too."
She tugged the rope and was pulled up instantaneously in a flash, but all their eyes were on Nightwing. He stared after her, his hands balling into fists, Starfire the first to jump into her ship's compartment. Changeling followed, then Cyborg as he called out he would not have gunshot holes in his ship.
"Nightwing…" Raven said, stepping closer. She felt the joy and the happiness seeping away from him, leaving her cold and empty as well. "Are you alright?"
"No." He said roughly, and it occurred to Raven that he probably hadn't heard her, his voice full of anger and remorce with dozens of emotion that hurt her heart and head. "I'll never forget this. Or you, or her."
They stood on the hull of the ship, the chaos below them, as the sun began to rise.