A/N: The conclusion is here...Enjoy!
"And we lived…"
"…Ever after." I finished.
"Aw, come on." Richard said. "It wasn't that bad of an ending, all things considered."
"Yeah, all things considered." I relented as I ate another grape. I was sitting on the kitchen island with Robin beside me, leaning instead of sitting in the cottage. It was a peaceful, beautiful evening. Everything was calm as Richard and I recounted the tall tale of our final year in high school, like we did every year.
I turned the story over and over in my mind. It was hard to believe that all that had happened seven years ago, it seemed like a lifetime ago. It seemed even harder to imagine that it was real. I wasn't sure why we told did. It sounded more like a modern Shakespearean tragedy than what actually happened.
But it was true. And I had the scar to prove it. And maybe we told it to each other to remember that.
"I mean, think about it." Richard continued. "You finally confronted Jinx." I nodded, thinking of that particular task.
"Yeah," I said, sarcasm dripping into my voice. "Like that wasn't difficult."
About four years ago, I decided to get closure with Jinx. I had pulled a couple of strings and found her address before packing up for a mini road trip. I then drove hours to Illinois, where she lived now, just thinking what I would do when I saw her again. Even though three years had passed and life was going good for me, my stomach still burned when I thought about that last stand in Gotham when she visited me in the hospital. Every time I thought of the steely leader, I wanted to shoot something.
Not punch. Shoot, so I could know it hurt.
I sighed, trying to push away the violent thoughts. I wasn't going there to hurt her. I was going there to get my own peace of mind from the situation, not to kill her. Unless I needed to, I thought, ignoring the part me that was hoping that she would give me a reason to.
I pulled into a driveway, spotting a car in the driveway. I took a deep breath before unbuckling my seat belt and exiting the car. I walked up to the door, looking around. It wasn't the worst of neighborhoods but it definitely not the best. It seemed like it was only a couple of steps up from the projects. The suburbs of the ghetto.
I knocked on the door. I heard a voice behind the door saying "just a sec." A few seconds later, the door opened and Jinx was standing in front of me.
She looked a little older, not much but some. Her body changed some, making her curvier than she was before. There were some tired lines around her eyes but other than that, she seemed almost the same. She sneered at me but I saw the wariness in her eyes.
"What are you doing here?" She asked. I looked at her for a moment, crossing my arms as all the hatred I harbored for her rose inside me. I narrowed my eyes as everything she ever did to me flashed through my mind.
"Trying to find reasons why I shouldn't kill you." I told her, sharper than I intended. She sneered at me.
"That's nice." She said sardonically. "Why don't you come in?" She moved away from the door and I walked inside. She led me to the living room. I looked around quickly. There were a couple pictures of her and a child, a TV in the corner, and a couple of armchairs. I walked closer to Jinx so that when she turned around, she didn't see the punch I threw at her. She let out a pained cry as she doubled over. I stepped back with smirk.
"Ow!" she exclaimed. "What the hell was that for? I didn't even do anything to you."
"Well, it was a lot better than what I thought about doing to you. Besides, it beats a gun wound any day, remember?" She narrowed her eyes at me, subtly looking at my arm, where my wound was hidden under my shirt.
"Touché," She said. "Bitch." I chuckled at her.
"Still the same girl, I see."
"Not completely." She said as she walked over to the armchair near her, rubbing the side I hit her. "A few things have changed." I sat down in the armchair across from her. We were quiet for a couple of moments, comparing the person in front of us with the person we use to know.
"So I heard you got married to some Japanese billionaire. Or that's the last I heard." She commented.
"Well, then you are very late." I said. "That engagement ended 3 years ago. But I did get married." I lifted my finger to show her my engagement ring and wedding band. Separately, the two were fairly simple with a lace like design, the engagement ring holding a light blue sapphire. But when combined the lace became a braided design, intertwining the rings into one. Jinx rolled her eyes, despite the slight awe in her eyes. I bit back a smug look.
"Should've known you would've married lover boy." I shrugged.
"We make it work." I said.
"So I guess Romeo and Juliet would've made it had they been smart." Jinx said with a casual wave of the hand.
"Nope," I told her. "Romeo and Juliet were blinded by love. Me and Robin are way past that point."
"Yea, yea, yea," Jinx dismissed. I laughed lightly, surprised by how comfortable I was with it. How much I didn't care what she said or thought. She looked at me with a serious look in her eyes before letting out a quiet sigh.
"I'm sorry." She said. I raised an eyebrow at her. She rolled her eyes before explaining. "For everything. For shooting you and trying to ruin your life. I never thought I would be saying that but karma is a very, very funny thing."
"And what karma did you get?" I asked. "A shot in the ass?"
"Ha ha, not funny." She said. I just smirked but it fell from my face as she picked up one of the pictures on the windowsill behind her and held it out to me. I looked down at it carefully. Jinx and the child smiled at me. The child had dimples and looked so sweet and innocent, I did a mental 'aw.' But then I looked closer and started to see similarities between the two, among other things…
"He's my son." Jinx explained.
"And he has Down syndrome." I said. She nodded gravely.
"Too much drinking and smoking at the beginning of the pregnancy." She told me quietly. "I was so caught up in my grief over Royal that I didn't realize I was destroying the child or than I was even pregnant." She shook her head in self-disgust. "By the time I found out, it was too late. I was lucky he didn't die already.
"Honestly, thinking of how close I was to losing him reminded me of you, surprisingly. I thought of how you almost lost everything and I was the one who took it. Or at least one of them. And I had to wonder…did I not deserve this? Did I not deserve to have a life so precious to me taken away when I took or ruin so many others? I knew that, in a way, this was my punishment for everything I've done. But it was also a gift.
"In a world of ugly, something from somewhere, gave me something beautiful. He may be weird or hard to understand to everybody else but to me…" She gazed at the picture with so much love, the kind you only see in mothers, a deeper love than any other person can understand. "He's everything. I love him more than my own life, just like Royal would too if he was alive. Or at least I'd like to think so."
"I think her would." I said. We were quiet for a moment when I heard something from the backyard. I stood up and looked out the window. Outside a small boy, Jinx's son played with a woman in a wheelchair. The woman smiled at him before spotting me in the window. She froze in shock and we stared at each other. I was baffled again. The last time I saw Terra, she was shooting Robin in an alley. Seeing her like this, I couldn't even force myself to be mad at her.
Karma if nothing else is very thorough.
"Car accident," Jinx explained. I broke my gaze and looked at Jinx. She was staring out the window. "It happened a couple of years ago. She's paralyzed from the waist-down for life. I'm her caretaker now."
"Explains why you got out the city." I said. She shrugged.
"It was time for me to leave anyway." She said, glancing at me. "You know this doesn't mean we're friends, right?" I scoffed.
"Please, I can barely stand you now." I said. "But I will say this is a truce."
"Truce." Jinx agreed. We both looked back at the two playing in the back.
"So, what's his name?" I asked not looking at her but I still caught a glimpse of her reflection in the glass. Her eyes softened as she watched her son.
"King," she told me, a smirk coming to her face, "so that he'll always know he's a part of royalty."
"The fact that I made it through that day without doing any damage-"
"You punched her in the stomach."
"-Is a miracle within itself. Don't jinx it yet. Pun intended." Richard laughed at my explanation. I just rolled my eyes before chuckling a bit myself. Robin stepped in front of me, my knees touching his sides as he leaned forward to rest his arms right outside my thighs. I automatically ran my hands though his hair. He closed his eyes, relaxing against me.
"And what about your parents? They're reconciling." He mumbled. I looked down at him with a raised eyebrow. He smiled sheepishly. "Well, sort of."
"I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!" My mom exclaimed as she slammed the phone onto the counter. I jumped, almost falling out my chair but she didn't notice as she began to rant.
"I mean, the nerve of that man to call me and tell me that I'm in the clear, all happy go lucky. Then he wanted to invite me to lunch tomorrow to celebrate. Then he wants to sound all humble, if he ever was, with 'I mean, if you want to. You-you don't have to. I-I just thought that maybe you would enjoy a nice lunch and stuff…' A good lunch is one without him. Now I have to change my number before that fool starts calling me every other day, trying to change my mind. I just…ugh! Take a damn hint already!" I looked at my mom in shock as she stiffly made tea.
It had been about a year after the disaster of my rehearsal dinner or "The Bloody Masquerade" as the press liked to call it. My mom was arrested that night, in a thousand dollar gown and diamonds. About an hour later, she was released on $10,000 bail and it was the start of a vicious trial for the next ten months with the burning question: was she a murder or a good mother?
The lawyer and prosecutor went back and forth, scrutinizing every detail of what happened that night, the months were engaged and our first engagement. I felt helpless across the country as I went to college (Georgia Tech: good school for automotive engineering and a good city), It was only when I asked my dad if telling the court about the abuse would help, did he consent in me telling them. It strange for me to see the concern in his eyes when he asked me, "Are you sure?"
Maybe it was because, for once, I could tell he wasn't asking to protect his reputation. He was asking if I could handle the public knowing and being seen as a battered woman. But it didn't stop me from saying yes and testifying. When asked why I didn't say anything, I simply said I was scared and that he was going to jail anyway so why did it matter?
After even more scrutinizing, the jury and judge finally made a decision: Mom was not guilty on any charges. No probation, no jail time. She was able to move into her new loft without the press at her door.
And she was fuming.
"He thinks just because he got me out of some trouble that he caused, he's my knight in shining amour." She spat.
"He saved you from a life sentence." I reminded her. She just rolled her eyes as she looked for her teacups.
"If I had to count the number of times I had to save that man, I'd own my own business empire." She said, her mouth stuck in a frown.
"Which you have access to anytime you want it." I pointed out. She gave me an annoyed looked before narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
"Why are you taking his side?" she asked me. I rolled my eyes.
"I'm not." I said. "I'm just pointing out the facts. I mean, seriously mom, he got you out of jail scot-free, saving you and, while I hate to admit it, redeems himself a little bit. You guys have been married for twenty years. You honestly expected him to go back to the silent treatment without a fight." My mom stopped everything she was doing and looked at me with a serious, grave look, her face suddenly becoming hard lines.
"Your father doesn't fight for anything but a check." She told me. "You knew it. You tried to tell me. And I had to find out the hard way." An awkward silence fell over us. Mom turned away after a moment to pour the now-ready tea.
"…he fought for you." I said feebly. Mom sighed, closing her eyes and set the pot down softly. "I was kind of jealous of that. How he would always make sure you that you were okay, that you had what you needed. I know it's weird to hear me say this but…he really did love you, mom. That much I knew."
"And again I ask, why are you saying all this?" She said, her eyes opening. I shrugged and looked down at my cup of tea.
"When I was trying out the dress for my wedding, I guess you could say that me and him had a heart-to-heart." I told her. "He told me that he couldn't be the man he was before. That being the good guy wasn't getting him, getting us, anywhere…that he regrets what happened as he worked to get to the top. And honestly, it makes sense. So much sense that I can't even be mad at him anymore."
"So you're telling me that you forgave him." I chuckled before shaking my head.
"No. I'm saying I no longer care." I said, "He did everything he needed to do to get me to a good point in my life. What's done is done between us. Whether or not I decide to talk to him or try to form a relationship with him again, it doesn't matter. Pretty much everything between us is settled for now. Plus, I think he had something to do with the contract getting broken." My mom looked away, drumming her fingers. I sipped my tea, as she was lost in her thoughts.
"So you're saying that I should go to lunch tomorrow." She said. I stood up and placed my hand on her shoulder. She raised an eyebrow at the gesture. I just smiled at her bemused face.
"I'm saying that for once, I'm not trying to affect your decision and I don't think he is either. No ones pushing you to say yes or no. For once, this decision is completely yours."
My mom was speechless as I grabbed my tea and walked out to the balcony of the loft. She followed a few minutes later. We talked for a while but the thoughtful look never let as we did.
"Yep and now they're…I don't even know. All I know is that mom is talking to him again and dad is ecstatic." Richard laughed before nodding.
"I'm sure," He said. "You know, I don't think that your dad would move on to someone else. He just has that look in his eyes that kind of says 'It's her or nothing, so you better make it work.'" I nodded in agreement. He did have that look.
"You think they'll ever get back together for real?" Richard asked.
"Probably if they're not already. He already sold the mansion." I said. Richard looked at me with a smile.
"Looks like everything is finally coming together." I smiled down at his before kissing his forehead.
"Finally," I said. We laughed in sweet relief, not for the first time these past seven years.
To fill in the blank of what's happened to me since I left, I'll start with this: we didn't run off to get married instantly.
Instead we went back to Charleston. Some of my clothes were there already so I immediately changed out of my horridly gorgeous dress to some pajamas and went to sleep. The next morning I woke up to the sounds of the ocean and the smell of breakfast. I smiled softly at Robin as I sat on the counter. Robin automatically placed a plate of bacon and eggs next to me before softly kissing my cheek. We moved to the table and spoke quietly to each other, almost afraid to speak too loud just in case this was a dream. And during this quiet moment, I told him how I felt.
"So you don't want to get married…" Robin said slowly. I nodded.
"It's just too soon." I said. "The whole thing with X and…" I shivered. He stood up, moving to the seat right next to me. He wrapped his arms around me and I relaxed, closing my eyes.
"I understand." Robin said gently. "Now the real question is, what are we going to do next?"
And that's when the real work began.
By real work, I meant really working on trying to make it work. Because there was something about moving to a whole new city for college and only being eighteen. At first, it was great. Our schools were close to each others (Me at Georgia Tech studying automotive engineering, him at Emory studying business) and we found an apartment right in the middle of both. We relived the honeymoon stage of our relationship, truly starting over for the most part. But the thing about switching to a normal relationship is the fact that normal problems are almost worst than the problems before.
They were the schedule issues, financial issues, and of course the jealousy. We got to the point of not only were we out of the honeymoon stage but we didn't like each other. He was too eager. I was too realistic. At one point, we couldn't help but be at each others throats. Yet, eventually, we worked it out. Somehow-one way or another-we stayed together. We worked it out and…actually became normal. And happy. Now when I think about my relationship, the beginning doesn't seem so real.
And I like that.
And two years later, two things happened: I started a car company with my crew-
"You want jus to help you make a car brand?" Karen asked with excitement. I nodded wearily and she jumped up. "Oh my gosh! We can redo all the cars and have all new designs! Oh, I have these designs I've been dying to try. Hey the garage can be the headquarters! Wait, what's the name?"
I looked at her for a moment before realizing that she was done. Roy looked at her and shook his head.
"I still don't understand how she does all that in one breath." He mumbled before turning to me. "But seriously what would the name be? And how are we going to do it?"
"Well, I was thinking about how our whole operation is a secret…and how maybe we should keep it that way." Roy raised an eyebrow.
"I'm not following."
"I want our name, and our arrival into this business, Encrypted. That way, we'll be such a mystery that they'll have to pay attention." I told them. A thoughtful look fell over everybody's face. Wally was the first to smile.
"I think…I think that could work." He said. "Especially when considering what we've been doing over the years. I mean, think about it, who better to judge road performance that drag racers?"
"Not to mention the tech we've done on our cars for years." One of the twins added. "We could break into this field easy, if only for make-up of the cars."
"All we would need is a cool design." Karen said distractedly. She picked up one of her sketchbooks nearby and quickly flipped to a blank page. Roy looked around at our hopeful faces with a blank expression. He observed us, knowing the power of his decision would truly decide if we do this or not. He turned to me warily.
"Are you sure we can do this?" He asked. I looked him straight in the eye before nodding firmly. He sighed before smiling a little bit. "Then I guess I'm in too." I grinned and hugged him. He reluctantly hugged me back but I felt the hope he was feeling all the same.
"Hey, what do you think of this?" Karen asked, showing u the quick sketch of a logo. The word encrypted was designed in a way that was half Greek lettering and half technological. It created a sleek, intricate design where the words seemed to overlap, almost hiding themselves. I looked around to the vibrant faces of my crew, seeing them, not for the first time, as more than my team. They were my family.
"It's perfect." I said.
And it was.
We worked a year on our first car, the Encrypted Satellite, before sneaking it over into the Geneva Auto Show (which is another story for another time). Despite the illegal entry, the reception went over well. So well that we were offered a Super Bowl Commercial deal. And overnight we were a sensation-
Oh, before I forget, the second big thing that happened: I got married.
It wasn't a huge wedding. Mainly my crew, my aunt and uncle, my mom, Bruce, and Alfred were present. It took place on a beach in Florida on September 5.
"The first day we met," Robin said as explanation when we were first deciding the date. I looked at him in shock. He couldn't be serious. He remembered that?
"You remember what the first day we met?" I asked skeptically. Robin shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, technically, we didn't meet that day." He said looking into his drink. I tilted my head in confusion. I tried to think back to my first days in Gotham. I knew he wasn't referring to the time when we first talked on the street when Sienna caught us talking. It had to be before that. But the only time I saw him before that was…a smile automatically spread across my face.
"The first you saw me."
"And the first day you saw me." He added.
"You remember that?" I asked surprised.
"You'd be surprise what I remember." He said. "But yes, I do remember. I'm sure why but I just remember this-and don't call me cheesy for saying this-but I felt a…spark when I saw you. I don't know. The world seemed to stop turning for just one second and you were the only thing I saw, that existed for that one moment. Even when I left, something told me 'Remember this day.' So the first thing I did when I got home was look at calendar and I've remembered ever since." I moved over to him and sat down in his lap. I kissed him deeply before pulling back.
"That was cheesy." I said. He rolled his eyes but smiled down at me, pushing my hair back.
"You say cheesy," He said. "I say love at first sight."
"You really think that?" Robin bit his lip before nodding. I rest my head on his chest. He wrapped his arms around me automatically to steady me. I snuggled further into his chest, savoring the warmth and comfort of him.
"September 5," I mumbled. "That sounds like a nice date." I felt Robin laugh and he started stroking my hair.
"It sure does." He said. "And someone seems to be a little sleepy."
"Whatever." I said, sitting up. We stared at each other for a moment, not speaking, just…feeling. Remembering. It was times like this, I reminded myself how it wasn't too long ago I couldn't have him and how tomorrow he could be gone somehow. And every time, I would lean forward and kiss him. And he would kiss my forehead and wrap his arms tight around me. Then we would just stay there and hold each other for the rest of the night.
"You know, it almost seems like we weren't suppose to meet." Richard said, bringing me back to the present. I looked at him in confusion.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean…" He got a distant look in his eye. "Maybe we weren't suppose to see each other that day. What if your parents didn't send you to Gotham? Or if I wasn't walking through town that morning? What if I did shot you that day you came to Southside? What if I did die in the street that night?
"I mean think about it. We are lucky. Everything that happened between us seems so surreal. What if it wasn't suppose to even happen like that. We defied all odds by being together…maybe in a way we weren't suppose to be together. I mean all the factors…they all seem too coincidental." He told me thoughtfully. I shrugged.
"Maybe we just at the right place at the right time." I said.
"Yeah…maybe we were suppose to be a crazy, beautiful mess in the beginning." He said. "But it worked out all that same."
"True." I agreed. Richard smiled at me before clearing his throat. He made a fist and held it close to his mouth like a microphone.
"Now, Mrs. Richard Grayson, after five years of marriage and two kids later," I laughed at Richard's sports announcer imitation. Richard wiggled his eyebrows playfully before holding out his hand out to me. "People often wonder what happened to Romeo and Juliet. But we heard you have the answers."
"Perfect! So, Romeo and Juliet are now…"
"Dead and gone." I answered. "Raven and Richard, well, that's a whole new love story." Richard beamed at me, dropping façade.
"I think that's the best answer I've heard yet." He said. He moved away from me, going into the kitchen. I looked out to the sunset and with a satisfied sigh. It amazes me that even after all these years, that sunset has never changed. It's the same stunning, serene scene. And this beach house is still Richard's and I safe haven. Our piece of peace in this crazy world. There were probably fifty things that I had to worry about at the moment-the kids, my business, my parents, how Bruce and Alfred were doing, what did we miss while we were gone-
But that can wait. At least for now.
Richard walked back to me with two glasses of champagne, the signature drink from our wedding. He held out one to me.
"Five years down," He said. "Forever to go." He smiled at me before leaning down and gently kissing me.
"Happy anniversary." I returned his smile, feeling nothing but elation and pure happiness.
"Happy anniversary." I told him. We clinked our glasses together before taking a sip, savoring every part of this moment.
The next morning, I woke up to the sounds of the beach closer than usual-the crashing waves, the seagulls, the sound of the breeze-and I sat up. I looked around and found that I was on the beach beside Richard under a blanket. Then I remembered how we had a midnight picnic last night and fell asleep outside. I smiled as I began to stretch my arms and look up at the sky. It was dawn and the sky only had the barest hint of color in it.
I looked down at Richard. I couldn't help but smile as I realized, again, that this man was my husband, my best friend, and, more than anything, mine. Truly and wholly mine. Just like I was his.
My mind went back to what Richard said yesterday, about how he felt like we weren't suppose to be together and how we were defying all odds by be together. It was strange to think about it like that but it seemed true. We did defied all odds and, even thinking about it now, maybe we weren't suppose to be together. Maybe our love was some crazy beautiful accident that just worked out in the end, despite what fate had to say. Or maybe…
Maybe we were suppose to meet. Maybe I was suppose to have the life I had and him the same so it could lead to this. Maybe if I hadn't found him in Gotham, I would've found him in Atlanta or London or even here in Charleston. Maybe, maybe, maybe…
Or maybe it didn't even matter.
Maybe it didn't matter the possibility that we would've met now or later or never. Maybe it didn't matter that there was some grand scheme by fate to bring us together or keep us apart. Maybe it didn't matter whether we were suppose to fall in love or not. Maybe fate didn't care at all if we fell in love or not.
Because we did meet. And we are together.
And we are in love.
And then I finally realized something.
Fate is fate. We'll never know what was suppose to happen or not. You can't control it or even know what could happen, no matter who you are or what you do or how much you try to avoid it. Good or bad. It won't matter. The only thing you can do is live. Breathe. Savor what you have. Because you'll never know when it's gone or when it has to change.
So as I laid back down, snuggling into Richard's chest once again, I took a deep breath and let myself live in that moment. I closed my eyes and felt the warm heartbeat that matched mine. I listened to sounds of my paradise. I watched the sky bloom into a new day.
I remembered yesterday, hoped for tomorrow, but savored today.
And maybe that's what fate was telling me to do right from the beginning.
A/N: I would like to take this time to thank everybody who read my story and bared with me these past few years. I know it wasn't easy waiting. Thank you to everybody who reviewed my story especially my loyal regulars: dcandthebirds112446, TheDreamChaser, EMELVEExo, crazynerd, Quoththeraven1103, Avalon's Wish, and purplefireforevermore. And I'm home [who was right about the ending way back in chapter 15 ;)] Your reviews were so encouraging and kept me going for the longest so thank you so much for that! I'm grateful for every piece of inspiration you guys gave me during the dark days of writing this.
I am going to miss writing for you guys so much! I'm going to go back and finally edit all the grammer mistakes but other than that, the story is done. The conclusion has finally come.
And I hope you have enjoyed.