Disclaimer: I don't own the Titans.
Unlike Waiting, I know exactly what prompted the events that occur in this story. I strongly recommend reading that one first, even though its an M.
Katergator, Royal Blue – Don't. You've been warned. This is my serious face. Out now. Scat.
Star of Airdrie has been asking for a sequel to 'Waiting' for as long as I've known her. I'm not sure this is what she had in mind. Consolation prize, 'Prime' will be out shortly. Probably next weekend.
Broken Record Moment: Aussie, spelling, word usage, slang, all different.
Big fat warning: Some language. Angst. Sorry.
It seemed a lifetime ago when she was the one waiting. Now, he supposed, it was only fair that he'd have his turn.
He removed his hands from his pockets and lifted the collar of his black jacket to protect the suit he wore beneath. He hunched his shoulders against the chill of the wind and the icy spray of the rain. Just his luck, he thought to himself, the sky choosing today of all days to cry.
The gardens outside were pretty, rather serene. Lots of flowers arranged in their own little garden beds. Towering trees arranged in neat rows, paths that wound and twisted down secluded walkways, it was meant to give the feeling of tranquility. He supposed that it did, but it was far too cold and wet to view the scenery. There was mist on the mountains, the sky was filled with grey. Flowers dropped, overburdened by water, footprints embedded in the grass.
People brushed shoulders with him, shivering as the chilly wind gusted through. They moved around him like he wasn't there, lost in their own thoughts. He knew he was in the way, standing in the center of the large, open doorway, but no one dared ask him to move. Not today.
Sighing, he moved through the sea of black coats as people dusted off the rain, the icy wind following him, until he was standing by the step at the head of the room.
The podium before him was covered in all the flowers she loved. Orchids, roses, daffodils, carnations, she'd never been one to settle for a single flower. That was her, loving all things. He brushed his finger against one of the pink roses and smiled, remembering the time when she'd discovered the petals could be eaten. Oh, the look on her face, the concentration in her eyes as she munched on them. The sudden necessity of rose petal garnish in every meal.
Raven appeared beside him, her walk as quiet and mysterious as usual. "Is she as beautiful as ever?" she asked.
"Of course," he told her with a smile.
She clasped her white cane tightly. "Is she in white?"
"She picked the dress. White, lacy and covered in flowers. It looks gorgeous."
"It's good to hear your voice again, Dick."
He touched her shoulder and watched her shiver in the wind. "It's good to see you."
"Will you be staying long?"
"Long enough," he replied.
"Shame about the weather," Raven said, conversationally. "She would have loved to see the sun today."
"Well, you can't have everything."
Changeling linked arms with her, giving her a hand a pat at the same time. "Here you are," he said. "Be careful, there's a step just ahead of you."
"I know," Raven said tartly and rolled her unseeing eyes, an unfortunate result of a magical experiment gone wrong. Even Raven couldn't heal the extent of the damage done, but he knew she had other ways to see. "I may be blind, but my powers still work."
"Didn't say they weren't," Changeling said playfully. "Just looking out for my lovely wife."
Cyborg clomped up behind them to rest his hands on their shoulders. "C'mon. They're getting ready to start. The girls are saving you a seat."
Raven nodded and allowed them to steer her away.
"If Jeremy is flirting with Yasmina again, I'll throttle him," Changeling muttered as they left.
He nervously fixed his tie as music began to play, soft, sweet undertones, and people began to sit in the chairs facing the podium. Children who had been playing in the undercover area at the entrance of the building were ushered inside and directed to their seats.
He waited as the hall filled and listened to the quiet murmur of voices.
A woman entered, three young people walking sedately ahead of her. Two boys, one girl, one of them with a baby in his arms. The woman was tall, her head held high and proud. Her black hair fell to her waist, the same black hair echoed upon the brows of her children and her new grandchild. She was greeted at the door by others, people she'd grown up with, family and friends all gathered together.
All these people wait for her. He smiled as he saw them, his heart lifting, and he moved aside. It is her day, not his.
He walked, waiting at the very back of the room by the door, as the woman kissed her husband and moved to the front, stepping onto the podium.
The music changed, the people in the hall grew quiet.
"Greetings," she said into the microphone, her voice strong and containing that slight accent her mother always had. "My name is Mar'i Wayne. On behalf of my family, I'd like to welcome you today as we honour a wonderful woman, my mother, Kory -"
There wasn't any reason to listen anymore. He knew what she's going to say, he heard her practicing earlier, determined to make it through all the way. His eyes flicked to the polished wooden box which rested in the prominent place of honour on the podium. They lingered there a moment before he turned his gaze to those in the audience.
Friends and family. Flash and his twins, minus wife number four. Superman II and family. Red Robin and the remaining Bat Family. Cyborg and his son. Raven, Changeling and their brood.
Brood was the right word for Raven and Changeling's family. Raven, he thought, was the most surprised when her first pregnancy produced a triplets. Three girls, all at once. Changeling had been beside himself with happiness, Cyborg had been unsurprised that the grass stain had produced a litter. Nor had Cyborg been surprised when the next pregnancy had produced another batch of girls.
She'd been excited, so many nieces to love, especially since she'd just discovered she was pregnant, too.
He looked back at the podium. Mar'i. His pride and joy. She was opinionated, self reliant, a temper to match the glow in her eyes. They'd clashed over everything, including the man she'd married. But she was also so much like her mother, long hair, radiant green eyes. Kind to everyone, loved life, her family meant everything to her. She followed in their footsteps; Nightstar soared through the sky and protected the people.
He remembered when she'd had been pregnant with their daughter. So many different and odd cravings. He didn't think any man had been every forced to buy seafood, covered in ice cream and dipped in mustard to feed a hormonal pregnant woman in the middle of the night. He remembered waiting for hours for the trains, going around Gotham, around Bludhaven, around Jump City, in search for that perfect crib, or that pair of booties she simply had to have. He remembered the hours of foot rubs and back-rubs, and repainting Mar'i's room four times because it wasn't the correct shade.
Mar'i was his greatest achievement, and it was like a knife in his chest when he looked at her now. A constant reminder.
He dropped his eyes and swallowed heavily. There would be time enough for that later.
Mar'i was like her mother too. She'd made him wait. His daughter had been two weeks late and refused to be induced. When labour finally came, he'd been out on business. He remembered waiting in the damn elevator as it took an eternity to reach the floor of the maternity suite. And he remembered, even though it had taken him several hours to rush to her side, Mar'i still hadn't been in a hurry and had kept them both waiting.
He remembered –
Paris… Now, that was a place he didn't want to remember. Paris was the place she'd gone when she'd run from him, travelling half way across the world so she wouldn't have to see him. Even now, just thinking about it made his teeth clench and his hands fist.
He'd been stupid and hurt and young and hadn't seen that when she'd told him she loved him, she never lied to him. Not once had she ever hidden the truth from him. It had taken him months to see, longer to work up the courage to go after her and hope perhaps, maybe, if he was incredibly lucky, she might still be waiting.
He was there a week, watching, waiting, biding his time. He'd watched the man who lived down the hallway flirt with her. Maybe there had been something between them, but she never gave any clue. He watched as she went about her daily life. Modelling, working at the little café, flying above the city at night. He watched her walk the streets of Paris, feed the birds and gaze into the water of the Île de la Cité. For a brief moment he saw himself beside her, walking the streets and holding her hand, being part of her life.
But it was not to be.
She'd blossomed in Paris. So beautiful, so lovely, so sure of what she wanted. And it wasn't him. She'd given no indication, at all, that she'd missed him. There was nothing in her flat to remind her of him, he'd checked. Everything about her screamed she'd moved on, she'd found what she'd been looking for.
Silkie had been pleased to see him, at least, even if she would never know he'd been there. She was happy. He wanted to keep her that way.
Feeling very much like a stalker, he'd gone to her show, intending to have a last look, leave Paris and never return.
When she'd strutted down that runway, dressed in a tiger print bikini, fake ears and tail, swishing and a swaying her hips, fire in her eyes and oozing sex, all coherent thought fled his brain and he'd been mesmerised.
All that time lost. He was never going to get it back. He'd fucked up, badly, by letting her go, when he could have been bedding that every night.
But then, maybe she wouldn't have found herself. Perhaps it was a good thing. Maybe, if he talked to her, they could work something out. Anything. Seduction would come later, as long as she let him back in her life.
He sighed, mentally kicking himself for ever thinking with his dick instead of his head. After all, his old mentality was how everything had gone bad.
He'd managed to bribe his way into the dressing room and from there, worm his way into her life.
He just hadn't counted on her.
A Tamaranian princess who loved him still, after everything he'd done, she'd be easy to get into bed, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong.
She wasn't having a bar of his advances. She maintained all she wanted from him was friendship. For the moment.
Their relationship was a volatile one. She lived in the most romantic city in the world, but it was like having one of her teeth pulled to get her to go on a date with him. Even a trip down to the river to feed the ducks took ages to arrange. Dinner was even worse; she resisted allowing him to pay, just as much as she resisted the amount of times he wanted to visit her. There were 'discussions' about where they'd go together, how often he would be seen in Paris, whether her career would be influenced by his fame. There were 'discussions' about how appropriate it was for him to make an appearance every time she walked, or whether the suddenly funded Bruce Wayne Designs was secretly created for her to model for.
He understood she didn't want to be hurt again, but couldn't she give, just a little bit?
He understood because he was the famous son of Bruce Wayne, there would always be those tabloids. He understood she would be frustrated, hurt, and annoyed, just as he was whenever they appeared. He understood she would pull away from him, just for a while. She would ask the questions, even if it was only to herself, every time one of those reports appeared.
Just as there were those tabloids who questioned their relationship and whether she was a money grabber, or he was only into her for her looks. He hated those pieces-of-crap-on-paper even more. She would get into a righteous fury every time they appeared.
It hurt that she didn't trust him, but he supposed he never really gave her cause to.
Fighting was only one side of her nature. When she was passionate, it was like the sun had come out after days of rain. She would coo and smile at him and his knees would go weak. Kissing her was like a honeyed treasure he was only allowed to sample, before it was snatched away. The kisses were wonderful, dynamic, deliciously sexual, he was insatiable, but when he lay her down on the bed with want, she would resist. She wasn't ready for that step, she claimed.
It took time, effort and many trips to Paris to coax her before she consented to moving back to the States. He spent years waiting for her to make the choice. He tried not to push, really he did, but his father's lifestyle… well… some things are ingrained.
He cringed, shuffled his feet and looked outside at the rain. Bleak, dreary, just like he was feeling. Perhaps it was a fitting day, after all.
In the end, she hadn't come back for him, but for Cyborg.
Cyborg had been engaged to Sarah, a wonderful, caring woman who'd worked at STAR Labs with him. It had been quite serious, the date was set, the wedding planned. Cyborg had spent years loving Sarah's young son, he'd been the only father Jeremy had known, his disappearing before the boy was born. Jeremy was all set to give his mother away to the man he'd called 'Dad'.
Then Sarah had been diagnosed with cancer. Incurable. Vicious. Advanced stage. Words thrown around haphazardly. Sarah died just days after they married.
She'd moved back to console Cyborg. To help him care for his grieving son. To pick him up in the morning when he couldn't bare to get out of bed and live another day without his beloved. Even Raven and Beast Boy, now Changeling, returned from Azarath to offer their support. Slowly, life improved for Cyborg, but he never remarried. Jeremy was his life.
Throughout it all, he'd remained a courteous boyfriend. Caring, considerate. Chaste. It has beginning to grate on him, after all, how long was he expected to go without sex?
But every time an offer was made to the son of Bruce Wayne for a night of harmless fun, and there were numerous women who thought they could tempt him, he would remember the look on her face when he used to come home from a night out when they lived in the Tower. He would remember the six months where she was not a part of his life, and he would wait. He would remember how much he loved her.
She was worth it.
They began to work together, again, as their hero alter egos. He'd moved to Bludhaven by then, determined to bring justice back to that city. She would fly to join him on night patrols before returning to her home when dawn broke. They worked well together, the give and take to their relationship back to the way it was when they were young. He remembered his faults from last time and concentrated on keeping her on his team, up to date with reports, a true crime fighting partnership.
Dating her was ridiculous easy, now. Dates were easy to come by, they both planned them, they both enjoyed them. But since he was protecting his city the dates were often interrupted, postponed or even cancelled. She didn't mind. She understood, after all, she was a hero too, and it wasn't like he never got to see her, she was almost always flying at his side.
It wasn't enough. He wanted her close, in his home, in his bed, in his life as a permanent fixture.
So he decided to do something about it. He spent weeks planning, scouting for locations, preparing her favourite foods, looking for the perfect ring. They'd gone out and had the most fulfilling day together they'd had in a long time. As the sun sunk into the ocean, he'd dropped to one knee, held out the ring and asked his question.
She said no.
He was shattered. He'd put everything on the line for her. Hell, he was defying his father by even having an alien girlfriend. He'd waited years and years, loving her more and more everyday, for her to be ready to be in his bed again, to be in his life properly.
All for naught.
She'd gotten her revenge, stringing him along all these years. He left before she could explain. Got up and left her there, wilted on the beach, without saying a word. Threw the ring into the ocean as hard as he could. Got roaring drunk and woke up in someone else's bed.
He nodded, bowing his head. He'd later discovered Tamaran was the reason she'd refused him. She had a duty to her people. She'd been approached about, and accepted, a treaty which entailed a marriage proposal. To keep Tamaran safe, she would marry another man. Not him.
It was not to be consummated, she promised him, it was only in name. She loved him, more than she could say, but she had her duty and duty was greater than heart. She told him, tearfully, that if he'd asked her a week sooner, the answer would have been yes. She said her soon-to-be husband had a mistress, that, if he wished, they could continue.
He was too overcome by guilt at what he'd done to put up much of a fight when she left. They tried the long distance relationship, but it was draining. Scattered video conferences, a series of letters, pictures and journals, she'd become like a penpal. Bruce nibbled around the edges, chewing away, gnawing and biting and placing seeds of doubt. She wasn't human, couldn't be trusted. Even so far away, she could be a threat. Coming from a persuasive man like his father, best friend of Superman, who carried Kryptonite around, just in case, he found himself drawing further away from her. They'd argued, he'd let slip about what he'd done before she left, she'd been devastated, they'd argued some more.
In the end, she set him free.
He tried dating other people, Babs was one of them and she was a permanent fixture in his life for a long time. He'd loved her when he was younger, respected and cared for her now, the old flame slowly returning the more and more time he spent with her. He was happy, happier than he'd been in a while. They worked well together. Bruce approved, more than he had the other women anyway, even if she was a teammate. It was an easy, comfortable relationship. No endless fighting, no whispered words of passionate apology.
He asked her to marry him, after all, he loved her, and marriage was a natural step in their relationship, right? So why did he lie awake and night and stare at the stars? Why did that old ache in his chest have to return?
"You're still in love with her," Babs told him, bitterly. He didn't try deny it. She gave him back his ring, kissed his cheek and told him she'd always known and had hoped maybe there'd been a place in his heart big enough to accept her, too.
It always came back to her. Always those bright, green eyes, her wonderful smile, that flowing mane of hair, the heart so pure it made everything around her brighter. So he settled down to wait. He existed without her, as Raven once told him, he didn't live. He tried, really he did, but it always felt hollow. Empty.
Another six years of existence passed before she returned home. Her husband dead, however tragic the accident, he couldn't help but be happy, ecstatic, that she'd returned. She'd returned sadder, aged, but still as beautiful as ever. And pregnant.
A child of duty, or love, he never asked. He wasn't sure who'd been more shocked over that.
She'd timidly asked for a place to stay while she got settled back on Earth. She would have stayed with Raven and Changeling, but they had their hands full, even Cyborg and Jeremy were busy. He wasn't sure if their friends had planned that or not. She had no expectations, she said, but he was more than happy to welcome her into his home.
It was amazingly easy to slip back into their friendship. Old habits were heard to break, and their habits were among the oldest. Staying up late talking and reminiscing became a common occurrence again. Breakfasts on the roof to watch the morning sun. Strolls in the park and feeding the ducks. Simple things, now new and exciting as long as they were with her. They had the time now, they took the time.
It seemed she was in no hurry to look for her own place and he was eager to share his with her. They begun looking for baby items and when shopkeepers mentioned how radiant she looked and how happy the father to be was, neither corrected the assumption. They simply gave each other a knowing smile, linked hands and said that yes, they were very happy.
Bruce was okay with their budding relationship, in a way. Mainly because her powers were diminished while she was with child. He thought his father was probably developing some sort of serum to restrain her that would be added to his 'just in case' pile. But he was older now, more confident and independent of his father's household and he did not let opinion sway him. It helped Bruce had recently spawned himself and was a tad more understanding.
This time, when he kissed her, it was like all the years just melted away. This time, when he told her that he loved her, he truly meant it, with everything that he was. This time, when he lay her down on his bed, she didn't pull away from his embrace. This time, as he slipped inside her, joined together again after an eternity apart, there was no sense of loss afterward. She was there when he woke, smiling, right where she belonged.
"—reunited with Karron—"
He couldn't listen to Mar'i any longer. He turned and walked from the hall and into the rain beyond.
As much as he loved his daughter, some things hurt too much, brought up too many memories to stay and listen.
Karron, named for the man she'd admired and loved. Karron, who broke her heart into a million pieces. Karron, her firstborn, the son who lived no longer than his first breath, whose tiny, perfect little body simply wasn't strong enough, his oversized heart just couldn't sustain his life.
They were devastated. He'd loved that growing bump as well, talked to the unborn, sang, cherished every movement. It was a dark time for them both, each lost in their grief. He comforted, held her close, brushed her hair, kissed her fallen tears, clutched her in the dark of night when the cot beside the bed was just too empty. Family rallied around them, Raven, Changeling and their brood, Cyborg and his son and gradually she began to smile again. And while she was never quite the same after that, they were stronger than ever.
He wandered through the gardens, the rain cascading down around him. The trees wept. The grass wilted. Even the flowers seemed to wail as he passed. His feet brought him to a tranquil lake and he paused beneath the shadow of a willow tree and stared into the water.
Time past and they were more and more in love with each other. They completed, complimented and made the other stronger. This time, when she asked him to marry her, producing the same ring he'd thrown into the ocean years before, he accepted without pause.
They settled for a simple wedding, friends and family. They were older now, ancient in their wisdom and sure of each other. He waited beneath a flowered arch in the garden, nervous and happy all at once, as she walked down a trail of rose petals toward him, glowing like the sun. She'd glowed in her gossamer wedding dress, the train flowing behind her, rose petals caught in her wake. Tears pricked her eyes as he lifted her veil. Simple vows that reflected the simple lives they wanted to have together.
Pure magic and love for their first kiss as husband and wife.
They'd waited long enough.
The wedding night had been just as magical.
A secluded beach house. Crashing waves, sandy shores, a blanket of twinkling stars in a never-ending sky. Skinny dipping. Sunsets and bonfires. Peeled grapes and massage oil, edible underwear. They stayed up all night kissing on the sand, kissing on the cliffs, kissing among the rock pools. They spent all day snuggled up together in bed, moving together as one, staring deep into the others eyes, laughing as this movement tickled, moaning as that one didn't.
That wedding night had produced Mar'i, their one and only, their source of joy in the world. They'd helped her grow together. Walking, first words, smiles and laughter, school, driving, flying, fighting as a hero. They'd watched her fall in love and welcomed grandchildren, passing on their heritage until the first of a new era arrived.
What a wonderful life they'd shared together.
When he looked over it, he decided there was nothing to change. Sure, there was a tangle of regrets and heartbreak, a multitude of wrong choices, years spent apart and with other people, but if everything hadn't happened the exactly way it did, Mar'i would never been born. They would never have had the life he cherished so much now.
No, he did have one regret. That he wasn't there for her, in the end.
A portal opened beside him, Raven stumbling through. She fell to her knees before the lake, threw her head back and keened. Unforgiving rain tumbled from the sky, splashing on her face, mingling with tears. She clawed at the ground, her hand digging into the sodden grass as she held on for dear life.
Changeling was a step behind her, sorrowful and understanding. He dropped down, his knees creaking in protest and wrapped her in his arms and rocked her.
He watched from the seclusion of the willow tree, hidden behind the leaves and bowed his head.
"It's all right, Rae," Changeling whispered. "Let it all out."
"I loved her," Raven wept, clinging to her husband. "I loved her and she's gone."
"She knew, babe," Changeling whispered. "She knew."
He looked at their grieving faces, at the silvered hair and ancient backs. He looked at Changeling's gnarled fingers and receded hair. He looked at Raven's sightless eyes and stooping body. They'd had a lifetime together, a lifetime of love, friendship and family, honour and commitment. The chance to grow old together was something to be cherished. Bodies change, life encumbers, but love remains. They were a standing testament to what he'd once had.
He remembered when they'd all lived in the Tower together. The Teen Titans, oh so long ago, when everything had been simple. When it was just him, her, Cyborg, Raven and Beast Boy. Though they'd gone on to do different things as they grew older, the five of them had always been close.
Best friends forever. Lost and gone and never coming back. No more brilliant smile, no more joyous cry. No more stars.
The wind whispered sorrows, the rain carried its burden, dripping down onto the grass. The mist in the mountains clung to the woe. Transparent hands brushed against Raven's shoulder, a futile effort to comfort and the woman shivered in response.
Didn't they see the beautiful, crimson haired woman standing behind them, her hands clasped before her? Didn't they see the sorrow in her face, the yearning to heal? Didn't they know she was in a better place now, she was free from a body that had broken down around her?
Her hands ghosted against Raven again, wanting to comfort, needing to soothe.
He'd been there before, standing at the back, watching those left behind grieve and been helpless.
There'd been no one waiting for him, but there was someone waiting for her.
"Hey, Star," he called from beneath the shadow of the willow tree.
She turned her head and smiled, as brilliant as the day he'd married her. "Richard," she said as melted into his embrace. "You waited."
Beneath her tears, Raven smiled.
Yes. I went there.
I even un-angsted a lot of it.
Lots of comic lore in there, if you know it.
To Loved it:Just confused. Yes, you're supposed to come to your own conclusions. It's cryptic, but all the information is there.