The Diamond in the Ruff
After researching a bit on Terra and her history in the comics, my interest in animated series Teen Titans – and the earth-moving heroine – returned and after watching Terra's debut episode, I just had to write an adaption of that episode from both Terra's and Slade's perspectives. Their complex relationship was just so… complex, seeing Terra's constant struggle and inner conflict as well as Slade's growing interest in the destructive but powerful girl.
Teen Titans © DC Comics
This is my second Teen Titans fanficcy, so please enjoy!
He had watched her for some time, and from the moment he saw her he knew of one absolute thing: that child would become his apprentice.
Slade followed Terra's tracks like a hunter after prey. His eyes were always on her, always – her movements, her insecurities, and especially her power: her wickedly dangerous but wonderful and awestricken power. She would be his to tame and his to control, his to mold into a successor. Soon, was the word his mind would utter to ease his anticipation. Soon. Soon, this young girl would fall into his hands. Soon, this naïve, little marionette would only have him to rely on. He would be clever; he would find the moment and strike, test her abilities and be cruel, and then give her something to believe in and show her a glimpse of hope. He would crush and rebuild her as many times as it took for her to realize that in the end, she would have no one else but him.
He knew everything about Terra. He knew her favorite places to go and favorite things to do, from eating apple pies at Ben's Diner and going to an abandoned carnival which felt like home to her to watching the night sky along canyon sides. He knew how she spent time skidding rocks across waters deep in thought. He knew how much she was attached to a silver butterfly clip she found one day and thought it was a miraculous gift meant specifically for her; little did she know that it was, for it was Slade who left it there for her. That would be a token of hope, one of many he would present to her, and this glimmer of hope would be something he would give and take. And Slade knew of Terra's deep, dark secret: that she could not control her power.
Terra was growing closer; through his monitors, he discovered she was by the canyons in the outskirts of Jump City, home to the Teen Titans and a lair for himself. Her new home was a cave along the other side of a hill. He had waited for this day for quite some time. It had taken great patience, yes, but the results were fruitful. Slade was confident that he could have taken the girl and swayed her to his allegiance at any given time, but he restrained himself. He would be careful with Terra, for he was not willing to risk the loss of another apprentice. He watched her from the shadows again for days before he finally he decided to test her. He ordered his henchmen to release a large scorpion to attack Terra while she was out in the canyon side, swirling rocks in the air. Terra saw the scorpion racing towards her, and she threw the rocks at the creature but to no avail. When that failed, she ran. Slade narrowed his eyes, somewhat disappointed. Running, dear Terra? She tried helplessly to dodge the scorpion's attacks, but barely missed its stinger. Terra stumbled and fell, and her butterfly clip fell off. Before the little girl could reach for it, the scorpion attacked again, forcing Terra to run again. Slade glanced ahead to where the earth-moving girl was leading the scorpion to: a dead end. His eyes flickered ever so slightly, a realization sinking in; he chuckled, knowing then what her intentions were. She was really going to corner the beast and trap it. What quick thinking, child… She even turned her face to the side, mimicking that of a damsel in distress.
"Titans, go!" a familiar voice echoed in Slade's head. He flinched, noticing the arrival of Robin and his precious teammates. They were going to ruin his fun.
Terra's first impression caused the Titans' jaws to drop; to them, she soon appeared to be no damsel in distress by collapsing the scorpion under a bridge of earth, but Slade knew just how distressed the damsel truly was. Meanwhile, Terra smiled, satisfied with her victory.
"She was not in trouble," Robin's alien friend noticed.
"She was leading it into a trap," realized the cyborg.
Robin stared at her. "Question is…"
"… Who is she?" finished the green changeling.
Slade, however, looked on with a glare as he stepped out of the shadows. "Don't get too attached, my young friend… I saw her first," he murmured lowly, already claiming ownership on the girl.
The appearance of the Teen Titans had spoiled the show. Slade did not want Robin and his little playmates to steal what was rightfully his, but this new encounter was all the same intriguing. Between them and himself, whose influence would prove greater? Terra made her way up towards the Titans and greeted them, and the Titans seemingly welcomed the child in open arms; the alien girl curiously desired to know everything about her, the green changeling followed Terra around like a lovesick cur, and those two and the cyborg invited Terra to stay at Titans Tower. The only ones who held some decent suspicion, doubt, and concern was Robin and the cloaked one called Raven. They were too clever for their own good. Slade shrouded himself into the shadows and out of sight. He allowed for this minor setback to run its course. It did not matter whether Terra was among the Titans or in a cave.
Soon enough, Terra would have nowhere else to go. Soon enough, she will become both his apprentice and servant, and he would be both her mentor and master.
Soon enough… you shall be mine.
She could not remember the last time she ate a buffet of food from a refrigerator and even an Tamaranian food called glork instead of what she could manage to buy from cheap diners and fast-food restaurants, bathed in a bathtub from all the grime of earth that felt like one to her for so long, and washed her clothes from a sink rather than that of a river stream. Terra could not remember the last time she had been to a place that she could almost call "home" or been with people she could almost call "friends." The Teen Titans had given her friendship and kindness. They welcomed her and treated her like family. She could not remember the last time she felt so accepted and full of warmth. These were things she had desperately longed for and were once out of her reach. But not now. Terra relaxed and rested on the living room couch after a nice shower, listening to her music player.
This is such a good feeling…, Terra thought. The absolute best…
She opened her eyes and overheard the Titans' conversation. She did not mean to eavesdrop, and in seconds she regretted having done so.
They were debating whether or not to let Terra stay in Titans Tower. Beast Boy, Starfire, and Cyborg agreed, but Raven was reluctant to allow a sixth member. Robin pondered the idea over.
"Maybe. Let's ask her to train with us tomorrow," Robin finally decided, "We need to see what she can do."
The last thing she wanted was for them to find out her secret: that she could not control her powers. No matter what she did, no matter how hard she tried, her powers cursed her with the lack of obedience, unintentionally creating onslaughts of natural disasters wherever Terra went. If they knew her secret, the Titans would reject her and toss her aside just like every place she tried to belong in. Terra had felt so happy only moments ago, but now fear was tying knots in her stomach and causing her heart to race. If the Teen Titans knew, they would surely abandon her and Terra would be once again… alone.
Unable to bear such a thought and unable to sleep, Terra sat by the edge of the island surrounding Titans Tower and began zapping rocks, making them skid across the moonlit ocean. This was a tendency of Terra's whenever her insecurities would get the better of her. She was found by Beast Boy, who joined her and sat down. "So, I guess the couch was too lumpy?" he asked.
She liked Beast Boy. Out of all the Titans, Beast Boy was the nicest to her and could always make her laugh. He was a good friend. Terra smiled at the green shape shifter and zapped another rock. Beast Boy tried to do the same, but the rock ended up sinking instead. Terra giggled and Beast Boy frowned in embarrassment, but quickly smiled at the fact that he made her laugh. She levitated a lighter rock in his hand, and Beast Boy gave it another shot. It skidded this time. Terra and Beast Boy began making faces at one another and ended up laughing. A shared glance between them led to the two looking away hastily; he blushed and she smiled. Having the company of Beast Boy almost made her want to stay, almost made her want to keep her eyes shut and stay in this wonderful dream. Almost.
Terra wrapped her hands around her knees. "I can't stay," she finally said.
"Places to go, people to see."
Beast Boy tried to convince her to stay, listing cable, indoor pluming, and all the tofu she could eat as reasons for her to stay. Terra couldn't help but agree for at least another day. It was an offer too charming to resist from her new friend. Beast Boy grinned. "Awesome!" he exclaimed and jumped. He landed back and held onto his shoes with a smile. "We're gonna have so much fun! And I can't wait to see what your powers do when you really cut 'em loose!"
Terra's eyes glowed and tossed Beast Boy aside from the earth that he once was sitting on and into the water. Beast Boy was drenched and spat out some water in confusion. Terra stood up, startled by what she had done. No… "Sorry! I'm sorry! I'm so stupid! Please don't tell!" Terra begged him.
"Terra, it's okay," Beast Boy tried to reassure her, "You can't totally control your powers. So what?"
So what? Y-You don't understand! "Promise you won't tell anyone. Ever," she insisted.
"Okay, okay! I promise!" Beast Boy gave his word to Terra, "But really, it's no big deal. If my friends knew, they'd still like you."
"You just don't understand…"
But Slade did.
He understood that Terra's little Titan friend could never truly fulfill any of Terra's wishes. Only Slade could. He knew just how destructive and just how lost the little girl truly was. And he knew she was doubtful of her newfound friends. Good. It would make things all the more easier for Slade. Terra would just have to break a little bit more. Slade decided to watch her training the next day through his monitors.
"Don't lose control, don't lose control…," she told herself painfully, "Don't…"
Terra was scared and sloppy. Her movements were fickle minded and quick thinking, and she destroyed most – if not all – of the obstacle course. But even so, Slade was still impressed with the girl and her skill. He agreed with what Robin had told Terra after she finished the obstacle course – that she was rough around the edges. But Slade knew that this impression could and would change. The potential from the first time he saw her was still there, and he knew that with some molding, she would become even more powerful.
He would not allow for the Titans to influence Terra any longer. It was time to strike.
"Bad guy, way bad."
That was all Terra knew about Slade from Beast Boy before the Titans and she infiltrated a mine that Slade and his minions were attacking. From Slade's picture on the Titans' monitor, Terra could tell the guy looked bad, and from the tense reaction of the Titans – especially Robin – Terra knew he must've been way bad. His henchmen attacked, and everyone was scattered. Terra knew this was the real deal. The henchmen proved to be difficult foe, but everything was putting their all into this. She had to prove to the Titans that she belonged and at the same time control her powers. She would not risk this.
But like always… it was a futile effort.
Terra had lost control of her powers again, and in the process she accidently caused an earthquake that sank Beast Boy and several of Slade's henchmen, caving her in from the rest of the Titans. No… No… Not again… Not him… No! "Beast Boy!" Terra yelled, her scream echoing to all the Titans. The henchmen managed to crawl out from the rubble, some sliced in half and others barely damaged. No… No… No! Terra's eyes glowed and she smashed each of them under pillars of earth.
Ashamed of herself and what she had done, Terra ran. There was nowhere else to go. Her footsteps eventually began to slow either because she felt she was far enough from the battlefield or because she grew exhausted. She couldn't tell which one it was. Maybe it was both. Terra leaned and fell to her knees with her hands against her head. She had hurt her comrade, and she was alone again. Terra shut her eyes. She didn't even wait to see if Beast Boy was all right; she couldn't dare to. What if everyone found out about her secret? That would be the last straw.
"Why can't I do this…?" she whispered in frustration.
Footsteps awakened Terra from her thought. She glanced and saw a person running from the other side of the cave. It was a familiar face, a face she had only seen once but felt as though she had seen him before. Terra narrowed her eyes.
"Slade…," Terra realized.
She ran after him. He was a bad guy; she remembered Beast Boy's words. He was way bad. If she caught up to him, if she defeated him, maybe she could reclaim some kind of dignity from her past actions. But even if she proved herself to the Titans, would they still accept her? Terra shook the thought away and kept running.
But Terra had no idea of Slade's plans for her. He planned for her to follow him, and like the scorpion in the canyons, Slade would corner Terra and have her all to himself.
Terra caused a cave-in before Slade could run anymore. She was a little tense, trapping a big villain like Slade all on her own, but she tried to look cool and be strong. "Looks like I've got you," she sneered.
You think you're such a clever girl, don't you? Slade jumped and appeared right behind Terra, who flinched at such a feat. He slid down and tripped her. But I will always be one step behind you watching… and one step ahead of you waiting. Slade raised a small, circular bomb in his hand. "Actually, Terra… I've got you," he said and threw it up to the ceiling.
It exploded and caused another cave-in from where Terra was once standing. Terra closed her eyes from the rocks and debris. She opened her eyes and realized what had happened. She was the one trapped, not Slade. She was barricaded in with the enemy. Lighting along the cave floor lit as Slade slowly walked over to Terra. Terra backed away, jumped onto her feet, and continued to stagger away from Slade. But with the avalanched wall of earth behind her, there was nowhere else to go.
"Now, Terra, you walked right into a trap. Another mistake you of all people should know better," Slade murmured, who brought out an extended, grey pipe stick and barred Terra from the very spot she could not move from. Terra would have caught onto the irony of the situation and Slade's words if fear had not consumed her thoughts. "But at least you and I are finally getting a chance… to talk." He lifted up his pipe stick and slammed it down. Terra was conscious enough to dodge the attack and tried throwing a chunk of rock at Slade, but it missed. Slade glanced at where the rock had landed in amusement. "Mm… I see we have much to talk about."
Terra glared. "Mind if I talk with my hands?" she sarcastically grunted as her hands glowed and she tried pinning Slade between two snake-like cylinders that raced towards him, but Slade jumped and dodged this with perfect ease.
He landed in front of her. "Good, Terra," he said, "But not good enough."
Slade turned on the offense, swinging his pipe stick at Terra, who frantically began dodging these attacks and finally cowered with her back facing Slade. No… Go away! Before he could attack her again, Terra launched a boulder above that pushed Slade across the cave. He stumbled back and began pacing to his right. Terra turned and moved the boulder towards him, but Slade jumped and made a flip using his pipe stick as balance and only half of his weapon got damaged instead.
"Impressive. Unless, of course, you were aiming for me," Slade taunted and dropped what remained of his weapon.
Slade took slow steps walking over to Terra, who backed away and shot rocks towards him, but no matter what, Slade managed to get through by punching several rocks aside, including one that was too close to Terra and caused her to crash into a wall. She fell, but hastily got back onto her feet. Jeez, what is this guy's deal…? she wondered.
"Back off! I'm with the Titans!" Terra warned him, "They'll be coming to–"
"–You don't belong with the Titans," Slade interjected.
"You don't know anything about me!"
"On the contrary, Terra, I know everything about you."
Terra flinched in horror at the sight of her favorite silver butterfly clip in the clutches of Slade. Terra didn't know Slade had found the clip in the canyon side after she went with the Teen Titans to Titans Tower; Slade found it, dusted the dirt off of it, and conveniently decided to return it to its rightful owner.
"I've been watching you for some time. I know why you're always running away," Slade told her as Terra grew cornered and frightened. Her eyes were shaking and her mind was racing. "I know your secret, little girl."
She was silent and confused for only seconds before anger and frustration settled in. "No!" Terra yelled and ran towards Slade, trying to retrieve her clip, but Slade overpowered her by grabbing onto her wrist and slammed her against the wall, and Terra was once more cornered, once more frightened, and once more weakened by intimidating presence of Slade that was overshadowing her.
"Earthquakes, avalanches, mudslides… Everywhere you go, you try to do good… and everywhere you fail," he told her, releasing her wrist. Terra shut her eyes and winced, clutching onto her wrist in pain. "So everyone turns against you. You lack control." Slade placed his hand against Terra's head and she flinched at his very touch, afraid that he would harm her. "And when you lose control you are more dangerous than anything I've ever seen." He smoothed his hand against her hair slightly, and when he removed his hand, Terra, distraught and confused, opened her eyes to find her silver butterfly clip keeping her hair away from her face.
Just as Slade promised himself he would, he was beginning to break and rebuild her. He turned his back on the girl. "But it doesn't have to be this way," he said softly, "I can help you… child."
Terra stared at Slade, her face lighting up for a second at the glimpse of hope. "You can…?" she hesitantly asked, raising an eyebrow.
He picked up a coal in the ground. "Right now, you are… rough around the edges," Slade explained, turning to face her. Terra glanced at the rock. "You need more than obstacle courses to overcome your problem." Slade began crumbling the coal between his hands as she carefully watched him. "You need a teacher, a mentor. Come with me, Terra, and I can teach you… to shine." In Slade's hand revealed the result of his molding: a diamond in the ruff.
Terra stared at him with fear, confusion, and reluctance, but Slade could see a glimmer of hope in those eyes of hers. Terra turned and walked away from Slade. "But…," she began, "My friends told me you're–"
Slade looked on at Terra. "–You don't really believe they're your friends, do you, Terra…?" he spoke to her gently, trying to reason with her thoughts and manipulate her fragile mind.
"They took me in… gave me a home…"
"And when they find out what's wrong with you, they'll reject you like everyone else."
"–can't keep his mouth shut forever. He'll tell them."
He was fueling her anger and mixed emotions, and it was working. Terra glared as her hands curled into fists and glowed. "He promised…," she gritted her teeth.
"… He lied."
Terra shut her eyes and spun around, a tornado of earth and rock surrounding her. "Shut up!" she yelled, "Just shut up, and leave me alone!"
I've angered her quite too much. Perhaps an error in my judgment, Slade thought, watching Terra's power flood around her. It seems I was too hasty with the girl… But her power is as impressive as always…
She gasped as her eyes flashed. Realizing the extent of her power flowing within her that was out of her reach to stop, Terra fell to her knees and clutched her head with both of her hands. "Don't lose control, don't lose control…," she whispered in vain.
Terra raised her head and looked at Slade. Did she look at him for guidance, for some sense of hope she had once seen before? Slade did not know, but he had already given her hope and built her up. Now he would once again shatter this hope with cruelty and break her down.
"How can you lose something you've never had…?" Slade mocked her with open arms.
The tragic heroine screamed and floated into the air, the tornado that was protecting her and surrounding her was, like her power, consuming her. Slade watched this destructive child, lusted with power-hungry eyes. Terra's powers only grew and were even more out of control, breaking down the mine in the process, including one of the walls that had trapped Terra with Slade.
"No one else can understand you, Terra. No one else can help you," he reminded her. Terra raised her head once more with tears rolling down her cheeks. Soon, she would be his apprentice. But not now. Not yet. "I'll be waiting…," were Slade's last words to Terra before backing away and leaving the scene.
Slade had been too hasty with her. He had Terra in his clever hands, but he had triggered both her anger and her powers. Slade was unable to retrieve Terra this time, but he would have more time to do so, more chances and more opportunities to bring Terra to his side of things. Terra would soon join him, he was confident of that thought. As Slade ran off, he could hear echoes of the voice of the green changeling. He narrowed his eyes.
You can be her knight in shining armor for now, boy. But not for long…, Slade silently warned him.
"Terra, Terra!" Beast Boy called after her. He leaped into her vortex of earth and wind and managed to reach Terra by grabbing onto her shoulder.
Terra flinched, remembering this kind touch. She turned and stared at Beast Boy in confusion. Beast Boy? He came…? He was reaching out for her, and Terra reluctantly took hold of his hand. He came… for me?
"It's okay Terra. I'm here, I'm here," Beast Boy reassured her, in sight of this comfort, she broke down in his arms and wept.
Beast Boy's presence was enough to calm both Terra and her powers. They descended to the ground as the tornado ceased to be. The two were on their knees, Terra bitterly crying and Beast Boy embracing her.
"–I'm not going to tell anybody. I promised."
And with those words, her doubt in him disappeared.
Terra was packed up and ready to leave. Even though Beast Boy promised to keep her secret, she couldn't allow herself to stay any longer. She would not endanger the Teen Titans – her new friends – and make that same mistake again. I'll miss everyone… especially you, Beast Boy, but… I probably wouldn't have made a great Titan anyway…, she thought.
"Well, guys. Ah, it's been real. Seriously, thanks for everything. But I should–"
She turned to find Cyborg blocking the entrance. "–Don't even think about it," he said.
Confused, Terra turned around and stared at the Titans, who circled her with smiles all around. "Okay, what's going on?" she asked, sensing a hidden agenda within her friends.
"Well…," Raven began.
"We talked about it, and…," Cyborg continued.
"… We wish for you to stay here with us!" Starfire finished, giggling.
"We think you'd make a great addition to our team," Robin agreed with them.
Beast Boy nervously smiled. "So… Wanna be a Titan?" he asked as Robin revealed a Titan communicator in his hand just for Terra.
A smile slowly but surely grew on Terra's face, mixed with surprise and joy. "Me? Really?" she whispered in disbelief. Me… A Teen Titan…
"Of course, you will need more training," Robin mentioned as Terra blushed with slight embarrassment, "I know you have trouble controlling your powers, and we can help–"
The communicator fell on the floor… just as Terra's faith in Beast Boy shattered.
"–can't keep his mouth shut forever. He'll tell them."
"You told him…?" Terra demanded, her eyes shaking.
"I didn't!" Beast Boy tried to explain.
"… He lied."
"You promised! You lied to me! You lied!"
Terra dashed off without a second thought. Slade… H-He was right… He was right! She stumbled off to the edge of the island and fell on her knees. Beast Boy… really did… lie… Terra wiped away her tears and clutched her head with both her hands again. She felt her silver butterfly clip in her hair. Slade… Terra closed her eyes, ripped the clip from her hair, and tossed it aside. Her eyes glowed as the earth beneath her was raised and became her pillar. She flew off in the evening sky, leaving Titans Tower – and Beast Boy – for good.
Her muddled mind continuously distracted her and caused the rock she was using to crash into the canyon side. Terra rolled onto the ground, but quickly got back on her feet. Run, was what her mind told her. Run. And so she did. She didn't know where she was going. She didn't know where the wind would take her this time, and she didn't care. All she knew were two things: Beast Boy lied to her and Slade was right.
And like always, Slade's eyes were always on Terra. He watched her through his monitor with anticipated eyes. Soon, he told himself. He would be clever, but he would also be patient, because he already knew that he had won Terra.
"Run all you like because no matter where you go, every step brings you closer to me…"
Chapter 1 end.
Chapter 1 end.
I wrote this in about two hours while multi-tasking by watching the episode on my DVR and eating a Hot Pocket (and running back and forth between rooms, *sigh*). I was actually surprised how long (or short…?) this took. I'm not sure whether or not I want to make this a one-shot or continue adapting the rest of the Terra episodes, but I might do the latter instead. If I do, I might do the next chapter on how Terra comes to join Slade and becomes his apprentice rather than jump to Terra's return to the Titans, but everything is still debatable in my mind at the moment.
I summed up Terra's introduction scene and her training day only because I wanted to focus more on her interaction with Slade, especially in the encounter scene, but I am definitely looking forward to developing their complex relationship.