Afterwards, they congregated at Cyborg's, which was the closest, taking shifts showering, eating, and changing out of their clothes, for those who had spares. It crowded, it was a place intended for one, not eight, but they managed. For the first time, they pieced together the story of how the Titans had fallen apart. Kori and Dick had been the first to skip out, having left the other three remaining team members confused and answerless. It was obvious now, sixteen years and some months down the road what had happened. Cyborg had calculated it out in his head when he met the twins for the first time. Star had been pregnant. Just a week before the two dropped off the map, she had gotten hurt in a fight. It had scared the both of them, enough to realize that they not only had to stop fighting crime, but they had to disappear. For the sake of their children, at that point yet unborn, they could not have enemies. It was a risk they weren't willing to take. So they stepped into the shadows of a civilian life and cut off all connections to their superhero identities. That, unfortunately, included there once teammates and friends.
"I am sorry," Kori said as there explanations came to an end. "I cannot tell you how much it tore me," her eyes cut over to her husband, "Tore us, apart."
Afterwards, it wasn't the same, Raven, Gar, and Vic would be soon to admit. They had been thrown off balance. They were adults by this time, and started to bring younger heroes under their wings, to fill in the gaps and for the sake of their heritage as the Teen Titans. Somewhere in that time Beast Boy and Raven started dating, and it turned more serious, and suddenly the tower felt too small, especially with a bunch of teenagers running about. Cyborg had become the third wheel already, but when they told him they wanted to move out, into an apartment in town, but they would still be working with the team. However, it just resulted in him feeling even more alienated. It turns out even the distance of a couple miles was far enough to sever the last of already strained bonds.
The couple of kids they had pulled into the tower were doing alright, and Raven and Beast Boy stopped assisting them for there was no need and were following their own cases. Victor had been becoming more reclusive himself. It was a sad part of life, that people sometimes just drifted apart, even once close friends, and eventually Cyborg left the younger, replacement Titans to move to a city that was in need of the help of a superhero and the couple moved elsewhere and neither entity was sure who were the ones to leave first.
Now here they are, again, sixteen years later. And where did they stand with each other now?
"Oh," Kori breathed as she entered through the front door of her home. She had forgotten that her house had been ransacked when she was kidnapped. She had hoped, now she saw, fruitlessly, that once her family had returned to their home the miserable ordeal would be behind them except for memories, ones she had hoped to tuck away and heal.
Dick's hand found its way onto her shoulder and he squeezed it in a comforting way. Alex and Halle slithered past their parents blocking the doorway and into the living room. They had seen this all before and it wasn't shocking or scary this time. Mom and Dad were home, everything was all right, the disaster scene that had been a harbinger of doom before was no longer. It had been resolved. Before either could get very far Kori reached out and grabbed them and pulled them back into her and held them tight to her. The twins usually would have complained, but they stayed silent.
It was actually fairly easily to clean up an apartment when you have two members who essentially have abilities equivalent to telekinesis. "But, Mom, we just got home," Kaden whined briefly.
"Think of it as training," she shot back coolly. "Plus, it's not worse when then your father's mess.
His elbow clinked against the counter at his computer. He put his chin in his hand. Cyborg couldn't believe it. He was bored. No, worse, he was lonely. He had gotten over lonely, years ago. But now that the too many people that inhabited his home had vacated it, it felt empty. It was never meant to hold anyone else but him, but now the whole place was just echoes and shadows.
It wasn't fair, really. The Titans had split up years ago. It was not like this entire incident, for there were no other word for it, was going to remake the team. He had never wished it so. But everyone else had something to go back to—family.
He didn't. And now that it had been displayed so vibrantly before his own eyes, it wasn't something he could ignore.
"Hey, Alex, uhh, can I talk to you?"
Halle was standing in her brother's doorway, wearing pajama shorts and a tank top. It had been five days since they had returned home, a week since they rescued their parents. They had gone back to school the day before. Neither twin had said anything, but neither had felt right there, anymore. Alex had always not exactly fit in. But bullies, who had once consumed his thoughts and worries were nothing more than the annoyance of a mosquito itch. Classes, one thing he used to practically enjoy, seemed dry and dead. For Halle, similar was happening. She still cared for her friends, but she had this slice of her life she had to keep from them, and that made it difficult. All the things she used to enjoy doing: shopping, parties, boys…no longer held their glamour.
If their parents had known their children were feeling this way, they would have been freaking out. Their offsprings' view on the world had been tainted; they could no longer appreciate the little pieces of their lives they used to. Not only had their home been breached, there family, there sense of safety, and now even their sense of how to live. No, her parents would not like that at all. So Halle only had only her brother to go to.
"Yeah, sure," he said, nodding to his bed. She came in his room and sat down on the edge of his bed. He was sitting at the swivel car at his computer desk. He scooted closer and propped his feet up on the pillows. "So?"
"I've been thinking, since this whole thing went down… it was the first time, god, this sounds stupid…"
"Go on," Alex urged genuinely. He felt suddenly weird. When was the last time he had a heart to heart with his sister. They had been at each other's throats for so long. Only recently had they called an unspoken truce to rescue their parents.
Halle sighed heavily, and her shoulders sunk with the action. "It was the first time I felt like I had a purpose."
"That's not stupid," Alex replied, almost instantly.
They sat there, each other stuck in the same wordless revelation. A shared unity they were not used to having together.
"So," Alex interrupted the quite. "What're we gonna do?"
"I have an idea."
It was ten minutes until midnight. The moon was the barest clipped fingernail of a crescent, but there was plenty of light in the city, from windows and streetlamps, to see by. Not that anyone could see the two of them standing there on the flat rooftop of the five story building.
"Are you sure he's coming?"
"He's coming. You should have heard him on the phone. He sounded like I told him Santa Claus would be here."
Alex snickered and then fell silent. The twins continued to wait.
Five minutes later, there was a muffled thud on the floor of the roof across from them. There standing was Kaden, in white trench coat and all. He walked up to them.
"I'm surprised at you guys. I thought for sure you would go back to living a normal, cushy life in that big ass house of yours."
"I'm glad you think so highly of us, Kaden," Halle retorted.
They stood in a little cluster on the rooftop.
"I see you guys got new uniforms," Kaden acknowledged with a nod.
"Yeah, well, a little charge on the emergence credit cards," Alex agreed. Halle had replaced her leggings and converse shorts with a short athletic skirt and high black boots that ended just below her knees. Her shirt, also black, was a v-cut tank top. Alex had a black and dark blue ensemble; the shirt was long-sleeved and made of a thin, knit-material and simple black jeans and black sneakers.
"So," said Kaden, tucking his hands into his coat pockets and scuffing his foot along the cement, "From what Halle said, we all got some similar ambitions."
"That's the idea," Alex said.
Halle took a deep breath. "I—we just want to do something significant with our lives, something that makes a difference. We have…gifts, and we need to use them."
"Mom and Dad won't be happy about it. They must think we are fragile or something. Ever since we got home…" Alex added.
Kaden was familiar with the feeling. "Yeah, my parents have been trying to keep me from it for years. Even though it is all I ever wanted."
"But they were all acting superheroes by the time they were our ages," Halle reasoned with a flick of her hair over her shoulder. "There are no legitimate excuses they can use to stop us without being complete hypocrites, no matter how unhappy they would be about it."
"No excuses: not mature enough, not trained enough, the world is scarier place than it was before, circumstances had forced them into the situation, it was unwise even when they did it…" The twins stared at the younger boy among them. "Things my mom's said," he clarified.
"We can keep it quiet for a while. Do our thing. Prove that we can," Halle suggested with a shrug.
"They'll find out eventually," said Alex.
"And probably try to stop us… We got to face it, they're our parents, they're gonna worry about us. They want us to be safe."
"That sounds very insightful coming from you, Kaden. I mean, you've been working with this superhero stuff a lot longer than either of us," Halle quipped.
"Yeah, well, it has given me more time to figure out all the complications involved."
"At some point," Alex said, "They'll just have to understand, accept that this is what they need to do. They might forbid us, might try to lock us in our rooms, but we'll do it anyway. Hopefully, eventually, they will be able to support it."
"That's it then. Let's go save the world."
Cyborg was getting ready to sign off for the night, plug in, shut off, charge. He would be back online in six hours but it would only seem like a second to him. Like a computer shut off and booting back up. He hadn't dreamed since he became half-machine. He missed it, sort of. Completely. All the time.
He had taken out a few robbers and muggers earlier this night. The streets were looking safe enough for the night. Dawn was in a few hours. But he was delaying. There was something horrible about losing hours of your life in the blink of an eye that was so disconcerting. He hadn't yet been able to get over it, even if had been going through this since his teenage years.
He should get over it. Particularly nowadays, really, what was he missing?
He reached out to shut off the main computer console that was used for monitoring the city and communication, one that ran on a separate circuit from the computer that he used for his charging and repairs. That was on an even more secure system than his computer monitoring system, and was hooked up to two separate backup generators in case the grid ever went down. Especially living by himself, he had to be careful to be keep charged and in good repair. His life depended on it.
Just then, a red box popped up in the corner of the screen, one he was unused to seeing. It was there to indicate that there was incoming transmition. From…
He reached out and struck a few keys that ended with him receiving the call and Gar's face filling up the screen.
"Hey, Cy. Its' me…obviously." He chuckled nervously , and scratched the back of his head in a tick Victor recognized. After all these years, some things don't change.
"Hey," he responded in like.
Neither spoke for a moment, just stared at the screens where the projected images of their past friend was.
"You— want something?" Cyborg eventually ventured.
"Yeah, um, well, Rae and I just got this new case we're working on. And it has some stuff to do with like cyber theft. And you know how us two are like with computers. So, we were thinking that maybe," he shrugged, "You might want to work on it…with us." The last two words were tentative, soft, unsure. Cyborg knew exactly what this was. It was an apology, an offer, a new start
"Yeah, I mean, I'd be glad to help." This was acceptance.
Gar, Beast Boy, smiled one of his big, toothy smiles. "Cool. Right. I will send you the info tomorrow… um, night."
Aki- Wow, finally done. Please drop me a line about what you think. I forgot to mention last chapter that Val is actually a real character in the comics.