I do not own anything relating to the Teen Titans.

Opening the Closet Door a Crack – Chapter 31

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With the disintegration of the focal locus, the concentrated forces that had been stored within the body of Randolph Carter exploded outward. There was no actual explosion per se, at least on this plane of existence. However, the pent up psychic forces, with nowhere directed to go, therefore went everywhere.

Starfire quickly turned to the tomb holding Cthulhu. What had moments before been a slowly opening door, began to accelerate as the forces crashed in on the tomb. The tsunami released by the princess's actions cascaded through the ether and the door was now halfway open.

Eyes widening in horror, the warrior from the stars watched as the door continued to swing open; until, at roughly 2/3rd of the way, the cascading force was spent and the door ceased moving for a moment.

Then, it came crashing closed, sealing Cthulhu in his dreaming death once again.

Starfire let out a long held breath and fell to her knees. Hunched over she began to breath heavily as the shock of the moment overwhelmed her.

However, there were other effects from the released chi forces.

For one, the Deep Ones had been so absorbed in their ritual, they had taken no notice of the titans. Instead, their concentration was solely on feeding their chi into the focal locus. With that avenue cut off due to the bodily disintegration of Randolph Carter, the feedback was sufficient to knock all of the Deep Ones off of their feet and rouse them from their dreamlike stupor. Slowly, the Deep Ones regained their footing and looked around, searching for the cause of the interruption of their ceremony to raise mighty Cthulhu.

Their gaze fell upon Starfire.

While they proceeded to regain their full faculties, there was a momentary diversion. A red and green clothed figure was running full bore through the crowds, screaming incoherently. Robin was racing towards Starfire as fast as she had ever seen him. Inwardly, she began to hope and a smile came to her face. With him, she had no doubts regarding their ability to take on the Deep Ones.

Robin reached the landing where Starfire was situated.

And ran past her.

The boy wonder reached the giant stone door and began pounding on it, "CTHULHU! CTHULHU!"

What little hope that had been kindled in Starfire's heart was extinguished. She would have to face them alone. Rising to her feet, head held high, she turned towards the massed forces of the Deep Ones.

There was another effect of the destruction of the focal locus. With the spillover of concentrated power extending everywhere, Raven, in the midst of her grief, was suddenly overwhelmed by these forces. Grabbing her head against the searing pain that was stabbing through her brain, she began to writhe in agony. Finally, with the passing of the spent wave, she let out a groan.

Moaning softly, she raised her head and stared around. The view that met her eyes was disturbing. Thousands of Deep Ones advancing on Starfire, Robin, pounding madly on the tomb door.

Her lover unconscious in front of her.

No, there was no time for that. Starfire was in trouble. There was at least ONE person she could try to help. She would think about Gar later. And hope there was a later. In any case, if it turned out that Gar was dying (or already dead?), then if she died fighting the Deep Ones, well, at least she could hope to see Gar again in the land beyond.

Floating up from her position, she flew over to Starfire's side.

"Need a hand?"

"I think, friend Raven, I need a thousand hands." Despite their predicament, Starfire was glad to see the grey girl come to her senses.

"Sorry, only have two."

"It will have to do. On to battle."

"Come on Starfire, this may be your only chance to say it."

Despite herself, Starfire let out a small chuckle. There were thousands of lumbering Deep Ones advancing on them, yet the forms must be maintained. "Very well, TITANS GO!"

With that, Starfire and Raven met the Deep Ones.

It was fortunate that the Deep Ones had not been expecting a fight. This ritual was simply to raise Cthulhu. The attack on the universe would follow his resurrection. Their weapons were not at hand. Still, there were rocks, clubs and other means to attack the two figures who had dared to stop the restoration of their god. They pelted the twain with rocks, advanced on them swinging clubs and at the end, began to simply swing their fists attempting to strike the pair.

For their part, each girl fought in their own inimitable fashion. Raven manipulated her black energy forces and began to shield the two of them from the various rocks and stones, although some did get through. With the rocks that had been deflected, she returned the throws.

The warrior princess from Tamaran fought as she had been taught all those years ago. With ferocity and with no quarter given. These were the servants of Great Cthulhu, they were not permitted to exist. Starbolt after starbolt shot from her hands through the ranks. When Raven saw what she was doing, she was taken aback.

"Starfire, what are you doing? YOU'RE KILLING THEM!"

"Yes, there is no longer a focal locus, so there is no need to hold back anymore."

"BUT YOU'RE KILLING THEM!"

"Raven, whether you like it or not, this is WAR! The victors are those who survive. Not those who fight nicely." With that, she turned once again to the hordes and began blasting.

The Azerathean stared at her friend for a moment. "Kill them? But we don't kill. But this is war." With that, she lifted a number of rocks, intending to speed them through the masses of Deep Ones, possibly killing them. "How easy it would be. It would be justified. They are trying to destroy us and the universe. They've hurt Gar. All I'd have to do is let my demon nature free." Somewhere, deep within her mind, rage began to stir, pent up, caged not by Raven's meditation, but by the displacement due to another, stronger emotion, love.

"No, I won't do it. I'm NOT A DEMON! I won't kill." She took a quick peek over at the prone form of Beast Boy. "Gar, you're right. It's too easy. It makes us less than who we are. If we die here, I want to be human." With that, she reduced the force she was going to use to something that would simply scatter them or possibly injure them. And the battle resumed.

Unfortunately, despite Starfire's starbolts and Raven's energy manipulation, there were too many of them. The rocks and stones that did make it through the shields eventually began to land on the two titans. While Starfire was strong, she was not indestructible, same with Raven. Bleeding from various cuts and bruised in numerous places, Raven finally landed, exhausted. Starfire continued to blast the Deep Ones in every direction, even though her starbolts were showing signs of weakening. There were simply too many of them. She may have killed dozens, if not hundreds. Raven may have injured or knocked out dozens or hundreds, but there were many hundreds, if not thousands more. They were being overwhelmed by sheer force of numbers.

It was then that the final effect of the death of Randolph Carter occurred.

A rumble was felt underneath their feet, knocking all of the adversaries to the ground. Without the continual flow of energy from the Deep Ones, R'yleh was returning to the ocean floor. It had remained at the surface for a period of time, until the energies already infused in the city were exhausted. Now, with no reserves left, the island began to sink once more.

The Deep Ones were slowly able to regain their footing, although it was difficult due to the constant vibrations underneath their feet. Almost as one, they turned about and began to scatter, each making their way to the shoreline and the safety of the ocean. While they did not by any means fear the oncoming water, the power of the waves could potentially batter them into the ruins that made up lost R'yleh. So, they departed.

Rising from the ground as well, Starfire hovered above the ground to avoid the vibrations. She stared at the retreating figures in confusion. "Why are they leaving, they were defeating us. They had already injured Raven." With that, her attention turned towards the sorceress. Flying to her side, Starfire attempted to revive her friend.

"Raven, Raven, are you all right? Can you speak?"

Slowly opening her eyes, the Azerathean looked at the Tamaranean. "Where are they? Did you kill them all? Why is the ground shaking?" Suddenly, Raven's eyes went wide as she felt the absence of the eldritch forces that had supported the island.

"AZAR, the island is sinking! Starfire, we've got to get off the island NOW!"

"That must be why the Deep Ones departed without defeating us. We need to get back to the ship for safety. Will you be able to fly?"

"I think so, I'm tired, but I think I can make it. GAR! I need to get him and bring him back." With that, the purple haired girl raced over to the unconscious changeling. Using her energy manipulation she lifted him onto one of her black platforms and together they began flying in the direction of the abandoned T-Jet.

Starfire looked at the doorway to the tomb of Great Cthulhu. There, on his knees, staring straight ahead, was Robin. Despite the shaking of the earth, he was unmoving, simply staring, unaware of his surroundings. The warrior princess flew over to the former leader of the titans and picked him up in her arms.

He did not respond.

Letting out a deep breath, Starfire began to fly after the others, towards the safety of the T-Jet. Originally, the ship had been left on the shore. However, with the sinking of the island, the shore had moved considerably. Water was rapidly reclaiming the island and over half the island was now covered by the sea. The T-Jet was several miles away, floating abandoned on the ocean.

Landing on the hull of the ship, Raven turned towards the orange girl. "We've got to lift off immediately, if we're still here when the island sinks, we'll be caught in the undertow and dragged to the bottom. Get in now."

Starfire deposited Robin in his usual compartment without comment. He still seemed to be in a state of shock. Raven kept Beast Boy in with her. She had no intention of letting him out of her sight. "Ready for takeoff," she said.

"All systems go," responded Starfire.

"Let's get out of here." With that, the T-Jet rose from the surface of the ocean. Rising up into the air, several hundred feet above the disappearing island, Starfire and Raven watched as the necropolis that was R'yleh, containing the remains of Cthulhu once more returned to the bottom of the ocean. Sunken R'yleh was sunken once more.

"Raven, we need to go back to the tower. Robin and Beast Boy need assistance. I cannot tell what is the matter with Robin, all he does is stare ahead without moving."

"It's called catatonia, Starfire, humans on occasion get it when something happens to them that their minds cannot handle, they simply shut down."

"How do we restart it then?"

"I don't know. We'll have to have psychological specialists look at him. Perhaps they will be able to bring him out of it. Once we get back to the tower, we'll start making some calls."

"How is Beast Boy?"

There was silence from the grey girl. After a few moments, she responded. "I don't know. He seems to be all right physically. Something happened in the tomb that shocked him, similarly to what Robin is like, except that Gar's unconscious while Robin is conscious. I've been trying to see into his mind and it almost seems like it's been shut down. Can you fly us home? I want to look deeper and see if there's anything of Gar left inside." Starfire could hear the trembling in Raven's voice, as if she were holding herself together by the merest hope that there would be some way to get her lover back.

With that, Starfire turned towards the northeast and began the flight back to the tower. It was mid afternoon. Although the distance was over 5000 miles, if she used a suborbital flight plan, she believed they could be back at the tower by early evening. They couldn't even radio ahead for weather forecasts, coordinates or to make arrangements for the two boys. There had been no time to repair the antenna before they landed and began their excursion into R'yleh. She would have to trust to luck.

For once, luck was with them. By early evening, the familiar skyline of Jump City, with its glittering lights and the tower of glass and steel was in their view. While the tower was dark, the dusk of a late September evening showed the titan's home was still standing, waiting for them. Starfire landed the T-Jet on the reinforced roof, as they could not open the T-Jet's bay doors without the antenna.

"Starfire, I'm taking Beast Boy to the infirmary to see what I can do. You need to contact someone to see about Robin." With that, Raven flew off without looking back, Beast Boy floating behind her. Starfire looked at the boy wonder, still staring straight ahead, acknowledging nothing.

"Find someone to help? How am I supposed to do that? Who could possibly help him? Think Koriand'r, who could help us. Wait…who was it he contacted at Arkham for help? Oh yes, his friend from his time with Batman." Starfire walked over to the main communications board and punched a seldom used button.

"Hello, hello. Is there anyone there?"

The visage of Alfred Pennyworth appeared on the screen. "Yes, Master….excuse me. Would you be Miss Starfire? I was expecting Master Richard."

"Mister Pennyworth? I'm sorry, but there is a problem with Richard." The butler's face turned stony, concerned.

"What has happened to Master Richard?"

"I'm not sure. Raven says that he has, uhhh, catatonia? He just stares straight ahead and doesn't speak."

"Is this related to the case he spoke of several weeks ago?"

"Yes, since then, many things have happened." She paused. "Our friend Victor, Cyborg is dead. Beast Boy is also seriously injured. Raven is trying to help him now."

Alfred's eyes widened at these revelations. "Let me look at our contacts in Jump City. I'm sure that there must be someone in the region who can temporarily look after Master Richard until Mr. Wayne and I can get there tomorrow." There was a pause. "Ahh, in nearby Conanicut there's a private hospital owned by Dr. Waite. We have utilized his services in the past. Currently, the establishment is run by Dr. Marinus Willett. As soon as we are finished, I will contact him. Miss Starfire, if you would please bring him there. Oh, and, I'm sorry to say, please remove his costume beforehand." The aged butler's eyes were troubled. "I realize that it may seem inconsequential in these circumstances, but we need to admit him as Richard Grayson, not as Robin."

"Very well, I will do so. You and the Batman will be there in the morning?"

"Yes Miss, Master Bruce is currently involved in rescuing a child from a kidnapping. He should be done in a few hours. We will be taking a private jet to Jump City. I expect we will be bringing Master Richard back to Gotham for, ahhh, specialized treatment."

Starfire looked troubled at the thought. "In that case, I will see you and the Batman in the morning at the hospital." With that, the princess of Tamaran broke off contact. She turned to Robin. Despite hearing the voice of one of his oldest, dearest friends, he remained staring straight ahead. Flying rapidly to his room, Starfire retrieved various casual clothes and returned to the Common Room.

Robin was still sitting where she had left him. Undressing and redressing him, she left him momentarily to return to the main communications panel to determine where Dr. Waite's private hospital was. Memorizing the directions, she picked up the boy detective and made the journey to the hospital. It took several hours to get there and back. There was no difficulty in admitting him. The cover story was that he had been kidnapped by cultists and brainwashed. During his rescue, he entered a catatonic state. In reality, this was not far off the mark and was something that could reasonably be expected to happen to a billionaire's heir.

While she had wanted to stay with Robin, Starfire realized there were still many things that needed attending to. She was at the communications board for most of the night. Finally, exhausted, she passed out in the chair in front of the board following one of her calls.

It was the next morning when, still asleep, Starfire heard a sound behind her. Waking instantly, she turned and was ready to fire a starbolt in the direction of the noise, nerves obviously hair-trigger after the events of the past several days. As it turned out, it was Raven making a cup of tea. She had not even noticed that Starfire had awoken.

The enchantress looked terrible. It was evident that she had gotten no sleep since the night before. The wounds, scratches, bruises that had been inflicted by the Deep Ones had not been attended to; they had not even been cleaned. There were deep circles under her eyes. Random items in the room were surrounded by black auras, showing that her emotional control was also slipping due to exhaustion. The fact she had not even noticed that she was almost attacked only added further to the concern Starfire had for her.

"Raven," the grey girl started at the sound. "Raven, please, why are you not resting? You need to heal."

"I just wanted a cup of tea. I can sleep later. Were you able to get Richard to the hospital?"

"Yes, Mr. Pennyworth was able to arrange everything so that I was able to have him taken in without question. He appears to be a very persuasive man." She paused. "I have been in touch with a number of people during the night. I called Dr. Phillips to inform him that Dr. Carter was deceased. He was very upset. They seem to have been good friends."

"We all seem to have lost good friends on this case." Silence fell once again on the two titans. "Did you contact Dr. Warren to let him know we have a replacement page for him?"

"Yes, even though I believe this page should be destroyed as well. Still, Robin promised him a copy. I feel honor bound to fulfill his wishes. Even if he appears unable to recognize it." The silence was even more pronounced this time as both girls seemed to want to avoid any upsetting subject. Finally, Starfire could bear it no longer. "How is Beast Boy?"

Raven sat down on the couch. She did not answer Starfire's question immediately. Then she took a deep breath. "I think I've found a way to help him. I've been trying to change him into a wolf. When the Necronomicon affected him before, he changed to a pack animal to fight the effects. It's not easy, his body doesn't seem to want to stay in wolf form. The first time I tried it, it took hours to get him to change, and he changed right back once I stopped. I've been working all night. Last time, he stayed a wolf for about ten minutes before changing back."

"Can you tell if it's helped?"

Raven closed her eyes for a moment. "I think so. The last time he switched back to human, I thought I felt a flicker of consciousness in his mind, but I'm not sure. Even if this works, it will take a considerable time before he's even partially better."

"When do you expect him to be able to rejoin the titans as an active member?"

The sorceress opened her eyes again and looked at Starfire. After a moment, she answered. "Actually, I don't believe he will ever be able to be a titan again. I think his mind has been too damaged by what he's seen. I'm just hoping to get him close to what he was before. I don't think he would be able to handle the stress of being a hero again." She leaned forward and pressed her hands against her face, slowly rubbing as much of the weariness away as she could. "Starfire, we're leaving the team."

The Tamaranean stared open mouthed at her friend. "But, where will you go?"

Again, a long pause, the weariness evident in every movement the purple-haired girl made. "I've learned a lot about Gar over the past couple of weeks. Far more than he's ever let any of us know. Did you know he spent his early life in Africa?" Starfire shook her head. "His parents were scientists there and both died in an accident when he was very young. He was adopted by a local tribe that they were friendly with. Despite the losses he's experienced, he has a great deal of love for the area and the people. I think I'm going to try to see if I can locate them. Maybe, just maybe, being back among settings that he's familiar with will help his recovery. At a minimum, just being in the wild, among the animals he loves may help."

"When will you go?"

"Not for a while, probably several weeks. I need to get him into a condition where he can travel. I'll take part of the T-Jet so we can get there more easily." She gave a rueful grin. "FIRST, though, I'm going to fix that antenna."

"So this is goodbye." Raven looked at the princess from the stars.

"What do you mean, we won't leave for a while yet."

"But I will be leaving." Raven's eyes opened wide at the statement.

"You're, you're not going home? Are you?"

The warrior maiden shook her head. "No, earth is my home now." She paused. "I have given this much thought through the night. I love you childish, foolish humans, one in particular. Someone needs to watch out for you. You are like small children playing in your nursery, afraid to open up the closet door for fear of monsters."

"You do not realize that the monsters are real, and are waiting outside your nursery. Not in the closet."

Raven considered this. Then she spoke, "Will you contact your Grand Council and evacuate the planet."

"I had originally thought to. But the events of the past several weeks have changed my mind. I do not believe humans could survive outside the earth. Both Richard and Victor, two strong willed humans fell prey to the influences that every galactic child learns to ignore. Even Beast Boy was only able to resist them because of his animal instincts. You only resisted because of your demon heritage."

"Just imagine billions of humans driven mad because of things and influences that are considered normal to the rest of the galaxy. It would be a crime to you kind, delightful, childish humans."

Raven stared at her friend. After a moment, "I can't say I'm not pleased. I would hate to have to leave earth. I had to leave Azerath, losing a second home will be difficult enough, but at least I'll have Gar with me. So, Cthulhu and R'yleh will remain hidden?"

"Oh no! I could not do that. I have oaths to keep. I have already contacted the Grand Council to explain the situation. They wanted to evacuate the planet as I originally did, but I was able to convince them not to. Actually, I had to order them not to. They are contacting many of the other races to inform them of the finding of R'yleh."

"I have also spoken with the Justice League about R'yleh and Great Cthulhu. Many of them did not know anything about it either."

"Many of them? That means some did."

"Oh yes, the Martian Manhunter turned pale when I mentioned R'yleh, as did Hawkman. Before I had even finished, the Green Lantern left to contact the Guardians and begin preparations to have permanent guards around the area where R'yleh is located."

The grey girl looked relieved. "So, we're safe, finally."

"SAFE? We are not SAFE. The Deep Ones are still there, biding their time. The Elder Things are still in the lost city. R'yleh is still there. Great Cthulhu is still dreaming in his sunken city. We have only delayed the inevitable. Somewhere, sometime, whether it be next year or a million years from now, Great Cthulhu WILL RISE. We will delay it as long as possible; as we have watched for Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos, so we will watch for Great Cthulhu. Do not delude yourself, the day WILL COME when the Outer Gods are brought back."

"We can only hope that it is not in our lifetime," she looked down at her abdomen and held it, "or our children's lifetime."

The silence that fell on Starfire's last pronouncement was like the toll of a great bell, signaling the change of all that had ever been and ever would be. After a few moments, Raven spoke again.

"You said you were leaving."

"Yes, I will be accompanying the Batman and Mr. Pennyworth to Gotham. I wish to stay with Richard."

"So, this is the end of the titans."

Starfire nodded, "At least, these particular titans. Titans East is still there. I have also contacted them to let them know of our troubles. I have also informed the mayor of Jump City that we would be unable to fulfill our obligations further. Once he heard of Victor's death, as well as Robin and Beast Boy's inflictions, he understood. I believe he will be in touch with Titans East to begin the process of finding a new team to guard Jump City."

Wearily, Raven got to her feet. On her face, between the cuts and bruises, her countenance was sad. "Never tell anyone this, but I'm going to miss you."

Starfire gave a small smile. The reappearance of the old, cantankerous Raven was welcome. "And I will miss you, my sister." At that Raven's eyes opened wide in surprise. "Yes, you have been far closer to me than a sister, this is the best I can do." Starfire moved over to the Azerathean and gave her a deep hug. Not a hard one, as she was still injured and delicate, but one that showed all of the love and affection she felt for her friend who was closer to her than a sister.

Voice thick with suppressed emotion, Raven said, "You better tell me when little Victor arrives, otherwise, I will NOT be happy. And you don't want me to be unhappy."

The orange girl gave a chuckle. "Never fear, I expect both of you at the birth. It will be, let's see, converting to your calendar," she stopped and closed her eyes. "April 5th, sometime between three and four in the afternoon."

Raven's eyes opened wide in shock this time. "Tamaraneans are THAT precise?" At that Starfire let out a peel of laughter, the first that had been heard from any of them in weeks.

"Take care my friend. I will miss you."

"I'll miss you too Starfire." And Raven turned away to return to the infirmary.

Starfire left Titans Tower for the last time. It was several miles to the north of Jump City to reach the small seaside town of Conanicut and it took the warrior princess roughly an hour to get there. By daylight, the region looked like a resort. Situated on an inlet was the private hospital owned by Dr. Waite. It looked like an old fashioned New England resort. Beautiful lush lawns, a large expansive porch and a number of buildings that resembled homes as opposed to institutions. The lawns led down to the sea, where the gently rolling waves sunk into the white sand.

Landing in front of the main building, Starfire walked up the steps and into the entrance. Recognizing her, the receptionist was extremely cordial. Once the princess asked if Mr. Pennyworth had arrived, the receptionist was most talkative.

"Oh yes, and Mr. Wayne too. It was extremely lucky for us he was here. I don't know what might have happened without him."

Puzzled, Starfire asked, "What do you mean?"

"Oh, well, Mr. Grayson came out of his catatonia this morning when the sun rose. How he got out of that straightjacket I'll never know, but he was racing along the lawn towards the beach as soon as he got out. Why, we had six of our attendants, good sized all of them, trying to subdue him. That young man was able to escape all of them, no matter what. Broke the nose of one, two others are unconscious. Then Mr. Wayne arrived. I've NEVER seen anyone run that fast before. He was over by Mr. Grayson in two seconds and was able to hold onto him long enough for the medics to give him a sedative. Mr. Grayson, you understand, not Mr. Wayne. We've got Mr. Grayson back in the straightjacket, don't know how a young man like him was able to get out of it in the first place, and he's now over in the Ward Cabin. Mr. Pennyworth is there now. Mr. Wayne is with the director, Mr. Willett, signing the transfer papers. I'm sure none of them would mind if you went to see the boy."

In a state of shock, Starfire thanked the receptionist and made her way to the designated cabin. Reaching it, she came upon an old man sitting on the porch outside the cabin. He was thin, balding, with a pencil thin mustache and a dignified air about him. The princess recognized him at once.

"Mr. Pennyworth? How is Richard?"

Rising to his feet with a dexterity that belied his apparent age, Alfred gave a courtly bow to the warrior princess. "Miss Starfire, what a pleasure to finally meet you in person. You are everything Master Richard ever said you were." His face then took on a somber tone. "I'm afraid Master Richard is not well at all. Are you aware of the events of this morning?" She nodded. "While the sedative has apparently prevented him from escaping his bonds, he has been raving, repeating gibberish since being placed in the cabin. I am here just in case something happens. If necessary I will call Master Bruce. I assume you are here to say goodbye?"

Shaking her head, Starfire replied, "No, at the moment I want to see him. I will be accompanying you to Gotham to be with Richard." At that, Alfred's eyebrows rose.

"Are you certain? What about your duties here?"

"I have certain duties to the father of my child, and Richard's heir."

A momentary shock appeared on the face of the aged butler. It was quickly masked. "Ah, I see. Well, that makes a bit of a difference. Of course, I would expect you to come with us. You will, of course, be staying with us as long as you wish."

"Mr. Wayne will not mind."

"Mr. Wayne will not mind." This was said with a hint of steel, signifying that Mr. Wayne would not object if he knew what was good for him.

"In that case, may I see Richard?" With that, Alfred saw Starfire to the door and she entered the cabin.

The cabin consisted of two rooms and a small bathroom. In the outer room, an attendant was standing next to an obviously locked door. Starfire went over to him and requested entrance to the remaining room. Seeing who it was, the attendant did not object or even speak, but opened the door.

Inside, the room was bare of objects. Everywhere there was padding to keep the occupant from injuring himself. The occupant, a young man of sixteen or so, with bright blue eyes and black spiked hair, was laying on the floor in a straightjacket, muttering to himself. Starfire was unable to hear what he was saying.

Moving over to his side, she said "Richard, Richard, can you hear me? Do you know who I am?"

The boy continued to stare ahead, muttering, this time Starfire could make out what he was saying. Then, because even the mightiest of warriors can reach a breaking point, Starfire sat down next to the young man she loved and began to weep silently, tears falling onto the straightjacket.

The young man continued to lay on the floor, bright blue eyes staring off unseeing or, perhaps, seeing something that only he could see, a rotting necropolis sitting on the ocean floor. All the while, muttering the same two words, the only words he had said since leaving that accursed island of R'yleh.

Cthulhu fhtagn

Cthulhu waits.

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And so at last, we come to the end. Unsatisfying? I hope not. In the world of Lovecraft, evil is never defeated, simply delayed. Madness and death are the norms for his works. I hope that I've entertained you and, perhaps, sent a small chill down your spine periodically. At a minimum, I hope my poor tribute to the master himself has encouraged you to seek out his actual works and explore one of the giants of horror (and American) literature. One final mention. Waite's private hospital, Dr. Marinus Willett and Conanicut are all from his novella 'The Case of Charles Dexter Ward', hence, Ward Cabin is where poor Richard is temporarily resident.

My apologies for the unseemly delay in getting this final chapter out. I had a serious family crisis that took up much if not all of my time. I even had to skip my turn at Ganguro. Therefore, publicly, I would like to apologize to my coauthors, ForceIsStrongWithThisOne, Novus Ordo Seclorum, Sir Alwick and TitanFan45, for their patience and understanding during this time. And I would also like to publicly state, I'm not done with Ganguro, I'll be resuming my partnership now that both my crisis and this story are done.

Wow, five months of writing, over 105,000 words. That's 5,570 hits, including an incredible 148 hits for the penultimate chapter. I am grateful to everyone who has been accompanying me on the extremely long journey.

I am most especially grateful for those generous individuals who have taken the time to review my not so little tale.

ForceIsStrongWithThisOne – As you can see, this was NOT a short chapter. And Starfire did make the correct choice. You have stuck with me throughout and I'm extremely grateful my friend. My thanks.

Ijpowers93 – Yes, even dead, Cthulhu is mighty. Poor Beast Boy was insignificant in comparison.

Soos the Moos – Welcome, better late than never as far as reviewing. I am glad you've enjoyed the story. As for moving beyond the Titans, I've considered it. However, some of the characters that would interest me are what I would consider inappropriate. How So? Let's take Harry Potter. I COULD write a story about him, but where would it fit in continuity? The 7 books are tightly plotted with resolutions all tied up at the end. The benefit of working with comics is that each story is standalone and nothing happens then that affects now (or now the future) and there is no neatly tied up ending. Hence, I'll stick to the titans for the moment.

Malconvoker – Yes, Starfire made the correct choice, but as you can see, it was a near thing. Is love enough in Lovecraft? Actually, Lovecraft almost NEVER mentions love (or women for that matter). He was married once, in what appears to be a relatively loveless marriage that ended in divorce. I would say his worldview did not include love much. Mine does.

SoulSeekerthe13th – I've always believed that even magic should obey as many physical laws as possible. Or at least act logically. If you accept that magic is simply the manipulation of the physical world using currently unknown forces (or geometry), then it hangs together. Who knows, I may change my mind later for a different story. That's the fun of fiction.

Anon- Glad you enjoy the story. Here's the ending.

Novus Ordo Seclorum – For want of the nail the shoe was lost. I fundamentally believe that small things matter and lead to larger consequences. I tried to leave a bit of hope left regarding Beast Boy's recovery. As you say, if anyone can do it, Raven can.

Shadowreploid – Welcome to the finale, glad you could make it. Sorry to keep you waiting.

Mors101 – Incapacitating Beast Boy early? If anything, I left it almost for the end. If you notice, everyone who is largely human suffered. Only Raven, because of her demonic heritage remained unaffected. And Starfire, of course.

The Dread One – Then I've done my job. Thank you.

With that, I bring this story to its conclusion. I will be taking a sabbatical for a while, probably for at least a month (excluding my Ganguro participation, of course). This took a lot out of me. My next story will definitely NOT be so long, probably only 12-15 chapters. I'm already scoping it out. The title is "Road to Nairobi". It will be an action/friendship tale starring Beast Boy (of course) and Robin (I've maligned the poor boy so much, I need to make it up to him). It will take a bit of time to plot out and, as I've said, I'm exhausted.

So until next time my dear friends, sleep well.

Cthulhu waits.