[A/N]This is my first fanfiction thing, so please bear with me while I try to get a hang of things. Thanks.
Constructive criticism is always welcome. Or if you just really feel the need to tell me how horrible I am let me know and I'll just pretend you have a stick in an unpleasant place and perhaps suggest that you remove it promptly.
Disclaimer: Like most people here, I only dream of owning the Teen Titans, or any of the DC characters. I don't though. *sigh*And that's probably for the best.
Not A Dream
His footsteps echoed in the still night, steel toes against the frozen ground of the docks. A chill trickled down his spine as the wind raked his gelled hair. He shivered and pulled his bright cape around his shoulders to no avail. The chill was already inside.
He spun around, searching for that voice.
It sounded so familiar. Who? Where?
"Over here, Robin."
There! He spotted a dark figure a block ahead of him and he took off, his boots clanging against the pavement. Subtlety was out of the question for now.
He reached a fork in the road. He looked both ways, but couldn't see the figure anywhere.
"Which way?" He panted, frustrated.
The storm that had been lurking on the edge of the horizon came in with a vengeance. Lightning flashed and lit up the docks. He spotted a moving shadow in the dancing light.
"There!" He took off. He knew these docks, and they way the figure was running was a dead end. He'd have him cornered.
"You have nowhere to go. Show yourself." He commanded. Pulling his bo-staff out, twirling it through his fingers, and positioning himself to attack.
The figure stepped out of the dark, revealing one bright eye set against copper plating. It glittered in the dark, taunting him with its very existence.
"Slade." Robin hissed.
Lightning flashed again, and the shadows Slade cast took on a darker form as the light faded away. Thunder sounded seconds later, almost drowning out the sound of screaming coming from behind the one-eyed man. Those screams..they were…familiar. Another scream broke the silence after the boom of thunder.
"Starfire!" He gasped. "What have you done to my friends?! Where are they?!"
"Your friends, Robin? Tsk, tsk." He shook his head. "You have no friends, my apprentice, only obstacles. Obstacles that I will help you overcome."
"I AM NOT YOUR APPRENTICE! I never will be!"
A smile curved the stony lips behind the black and copper mask. "Yes. You. Will." With that, he broke free from the darkness, and stepped into the dim light of the street lamp. His shadows tore themselves from him and rose up from the ground, forming four replicas of the assassin.
Robins jaw dropped for a second. He got control quickly and narrowed his eyes. What was this? Slade didn't have any abilities like this. What in the world was going on? Nothing good, he bet, raising his staff and putting some distance between himself and the five Slades.
"I'm not going to ask again, Slade. Where are they? What have you done with them?!"
A low chuckle emanated from beneath the mask, echoed by the shadow-Slades. The chill in Robin's spine grew, and an uneasy feeling turned his stomach.
"Dead, Robin. Your 'friends' are all dead."
No. No. "NO!" Robin almost dropped his staff, his eyes wide with shock. This couldn't be true…it just couldn't. His friends couldn't be dead. But why would Slade lie about that? Slade. His mind recoiled at the name. He was poison, the sickness that caused Robin to distance himself from his friends, to lose sleep, to push himself into obsession. If his friends were dead, it was Slade's fault, and he would pay.
Adrenaline coursed through his veins and anger ripped through his body, channeling itself into each strike of his staff as he lunged into the group of Slades. Hit. Kick. Punch. Block. Kick. Punch. He twisted through the air, his feet coming down on the final shadow-Slade's chest, knocking him to the ground. He flipped back and brought his staff down on the mask with a resounding *CLANG*. It splintered beneath his rage.
He stepped back, panting and surveyed the damage. Surrounding him were the bodies of the shadow-Slades, each broken and bleeding. But, he thought, there were only four of them. Where was…He looked up. Nothing. Behind him, no one. Where?
"Looking for me?" Slade asked, a hint of amusement had seeped its way into his voice.
"Tell me where they are! TELL ME!" He choked, his throat tight with emotion. He raised his staff once more, preparing to attack again, though he could feel the effects of the adrenaline wearing off, and his bones began to ache and drag his flesh down. While he had beaten the other Slades definitively, they had gotten in a few well placed hits.
"Next time pay attention when I am speaking, it's rude to ask me to repeat myself."
"SLADE!" He shouted.
"Fine, Robin, but don't think you're going to get away with that tone. As I said before, your friends are all…" Slade paused and motioned toward the shadow-Slades. "DEAD."
Lightning illuminated the docks once more, thunder crashing down around Robin's ears, and as he watched, a dark substance seeped off the bodies and slid back to form Slade's shadow once more, leaving behind familiar shapes. Robin stared at the forms left on the ground. They were his friends. Beast Boy. Cyborg. Raven. Starfire. All bloody, twisted shapes in the dark. Broken by his hands, beaten by his staff. He gasped. They were dead. He killed them. The rain poured down, turning the pools of blood into rivers and lakes around his feet.
"No. No…" He fell to his knees, splashing into the red liquid. "Please…no. I-I didn't mean to…I'm so sorry..so..sorry…" His staff clattered against the pavement. He felt numb. He stared at the closest body, Starfire. He couldn't help it. He looked at her face, stained with blood and grit. Her eyes. Her eyes…they were speaking to him. Calling out for help. Asking "why?". He had no answer.
A shadow cast itself over him, and he looked up, his eyes blank behind his mask. He didn't even feel the first blow to his head. Or the second to his chest, knocking him on his back. He had separated himself, but slowly the pain of Slades boot on his chest brought him back to his senses.
What? Was that him? Why was he talking to himself?
FIGHT. GET UP AND FIGHT.
Why? I killed them. There's no reason to fight anymore. I deserve this.
Slade will win if you don't fight.
SO?! Slade is a bad person. We can't let him win!
I'm a bad person too.
NO! We didn't know. WE DIDN'T KNOW. Slade tricked us. Slade needs to be stopped, preferably before he hurts anyone else. Namely us.
Robin knocked Slades foot off his chest and rolled out of the way as it came down a second time. He got to his feet and began to fight. The blows came fast, faster than normal. Slade wasn't holding back anymore. He had been just barely blocking the punches and kicks, but his foot slipped in the rain and he stumbled back, giving Slade the advantage. In seconds he was on the ground, his arms behind him at an awkward angle. Pain laced through his body.
Suddenly a new shadow appeared, dark against the black sky. A shadow with pointed ears. The new shadow tackled Slade, and by the time Robin had rolled over and managed to get to his feet, Slade was on the ground, tied up and motionless.
"Batman. I-" He looked around at his friends, too ashamed to even look at his mentor. He suddenly lost all his words. "I-I.."
He felt a hand on his shoulder. He raised his eyes..and felt the hand move down to his chest, where the R insignia rested. Batman ripped it from his uniform, and threw it to the ground, crunching it to pieces beneath his boots.
"Wha-" Robin started.
But Batman's hand was coming up again, this time stripping Robin of his mask. He stumbled backwards, suddenly feeling naked and alone.
"You are not worthy." Batman's voice was gravel to his ears.
Robin looked up again, this time seeing only the black flash of movement before he was backhanded across his now naked face. He fell to the ground, watching as a huge, black boot sped toward his face.
Just before it connected, Robin awoke, gasping for breath. He sat up in his bed, sweat dripping from his brow. Where was he? What was happening? Were his friends…? It was a…dream? But it was so real. He reached his hand up to his face and felt the familiar black mask stuck over his eyes. He had taken to sleeping with it on when Slade had re-emerged in Jump City. It was a dream then. He sighed and tried to calm down.
It took him a few minutes to slow his racing heart. But he still felt sticky and hot in this bed. His climbed out, his feet padding the cold floor to his door. He moved down the hall, and when he reached Beast Boy's room, he paused, listening outside the door. He heard what could have been mistaken as a lawnmower and a smile crept its way onto his face. They were okay.
The smile had faded and been replaced with a deep frown by the time he reached the kitchen and filled a glass with water. He drank, thinking about his dream. Slade he could understand. He was no stranger in Robin's dreams. Even his friends' deaths had been visitors of late. But he had never been so directly responsible. And Batman…why was Batman there? He shook his head. He knew. Wasn't his greatest fear disappointing Bruce so much that he would strip the identity of Robin away from him forever? Hadn't Bruce threatened that same action last year, before he left for the titans?
Robin sighed and set his now empty glass on the counter.
"Robin?" He turned as he heard a female voice call out to him.
"you've…you've been having nightmares." She wasn't asking, meaning she probably had seen a fair amount of his nightmare in her mind. After entering his mind a while ago when Slade had infected him with that hallucinogenic dust, Raven had formed a bond with Robin's mind, making it easier for her to see and feel what he was thinking.
"I'm sorry." He whispered. How much had she seen? Had she seen her own broken body beneath him?
"It's not your fault."
They stood there awkwardly, Robin not meeting her eyes.
"Besides," She continued. "I don't think we would go down that easily." A faint smile danced briefly across her lips.
"Heh. I don't doubt it."
Quiet for a moment. This time a more comfortable silence.
Then Raven spoke again.
"Maybe.." She hesitated, knowing that what she was about to suggest was not going to be taken well. "Maybe you should talk to someone about these nightmares."
"It doesn't have to be me" She added quickly. "Maybe another Titan. Speedy? Or Wally? Even Starfire. Or.."
"I'm not talking to Batman. Especially not about this." His tone was final.
"Fine. But someone."
"Maybe…" The nightmares were getting worse, and nothing he had done so far (burying the thoughts deeper and deeper) had done any good. Maybe Wally. Speedy would just make fun of him. Scratch that. Wally would too. Starfire..she might understand, if only he could get the image of her accusing, glassy eyes out of his head. Maybe…Alfred. He would know what to say. The only problem would be getting him to keep it from Bruce. But then, Bruce had his own issues to deal with and probably wouldn't be too concerned with Dick having nightmares. After all, they came with the territory.
Before he could make a decision, the alarm screamed trouble. He and Raven ran from the kitchen to the large computer console, currently displaying a map of the city with a red, pulsating dot coming from the docks.
The docks. Was this a coincidence?
Cyborg came up from behind them, Starfire close behind. Beast Boy stumbled forward, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
Robin felt a pang of guilt. Then he focused on the matter at hand.
"There's a disturbance at the docks. Looks like someone's trying to break into one of the warehouses." Robin stated. "Let's suit up and go."
"Ugh. Why can't people break into warehouses at a reasonable time?" Beast Boy whined. "It's three in the morning! Don't they have to sleep?!"
"Maybe they have just finished the hibernating, friend Beast Boy, and are looking for a snack?" Starfire had just finished watching a documentary on bears on the Discovery channel.
Beast Boy raised an eyebrow . "Uh…Star? Humans don't hibernate."
"Oh. Well, then what about-"
Robin had had enough. His guilt over killing them in his dream vanished and was replaced by annoyance. "TITANS!" He shouted. "GO!"
Less than a minute later they were speeding toward the docks.