Edward, Raven and the kids watched the other Titans going through training from the control center and they were quite pleased with how the times were all in the two minute to 2:15 mark.
Edward decided that since everyone was there, that he'd take his turn through the course.
Well, Edward ended up getting hit by the lasers a time or two and that cost him penalty seconds. The crushing doors were no problem, even the one that Edward would have to force up. The flying fists grazed Edward as he went through, costing him another penalty second.
The exploding disks were next in the course, but, that proved to be no problem as Edward blasted them out of the air with the lightning breath.
He landed as Robin said, "2:01, Edward. Not too bad, but, not the best you've done."
In fact, Terra managed to beat Edward's time that day. She had her own way of beating the course, but, she did refrain from destroying parts of it.
When the training session was over, they moved to sparring against each other. Robin made it a practice not to pair the couples against each other.
Today it was Edward sparring against Starfire. That was interesting as both could fly. Edward bowed in respect to Starfire and switched to his mini-dragon form. He made sure to keep his breath weapons low enough to avoid injury, but, powerful enough she'd know it if she got hit.
"Begin," Robin called out. Edward took to the air as Starfire joined him. He fired off a blast of lightning. Starfire dodged it, but, this time, Edward jumped the bolt ahead of Starfire, leading her the fraction of a second. Sure enough, she was hit this time.
She yelped and dove. Edward dove after her, catching her and flipping her towards the control center. She cartwheeled for a second before regaining control.
"Point for Edward," Robin announced.
Starfire opened fire with her starbolts. Edward shot straight up. That turned to be a miscalculation on his part as he stalled and in the few seconds it took for Edward to recover, he took several hard shots that made him see stars.
"Point, Starfire," Robin called out.
They both headed for each other at a high rate of speed. Edward dodged at the last second, releasing his ice breath as Starfire shot under him. It wasn't enough to encase her in ice, but, everyone saw her hair was quite frosty. She fired back with her eye beams. That scored a direct hit on Edward's scales. He roared in momentary pain and landed.
"Point, Starfire. A point for Edward as well," Robin called. It was tied at two points apiece. The next point would determine the winner.
Edward opted to engage Starfire in hand-to-hand combat and resumed his human form. Starfire swooped down to try and tackle him. He was ready for the attempt and soon as she was close enough, he dropped down and pounced like a cat.
Starfire couldn't recover fast enough as he slammed into her mid-section, knocking the wind out of her. She temporarily lost her flight powers and both headed for a hard landing. Edward quickly rolled so he'd be between Starfire and the ground.
Both hit hard and Starfire used that time wisely, flipping Edward onto his stomach and applying a hold that forced him to submit.
"You win, Starfire," he said. She stood up and said, "Thank you for the excellent match of sparring, friend Edward."
"You've got to teach me that last move," he said, rubbing his arm, "That was an effective arm bar."
She blushed in response.
"Not often I have to admit defeat, Star," Edward said, "But, you had me in a move that I couldn't break free of without breaking my own arm. Good job."
"Thank you, friend Edward," she said.
They sat back while the others sparred. Raven ended up teamed against Terra and that one, Edward and Beast Boy were rooting for their respective girlfriends.
Edward watched the match with a critical eye, looking to see how Raven could improve as well as Terra. He wasn't going to play favorites when it came to training.
The match lasted quite a while as Raven was able to defend herself very well against the geomancer.
Then again, Terra was holding her own against the empath. Each one used their abilities to the max, but, Edward realized they were evenly matched. Raven was countering Terra's moves.
He wanted to use the link to suggest a change in Raven's methods, but, realized that during the sparring session with Starfire, Raven stayed quiet. So, Edward followed Raven's example and refrained from using the link.
Edward also realized that the time Terra and Raven fought against each other for real, Terra was fueled by whatever hatred Slade implanted in her. Edward had to talk to the team to get more of that story. This time, Terra was more cautious in dealing with Raven.
That was until Terra hit an accidental cheap shot on Raven. All Edward heard was a snarl through the link.
Oh no! Edward thought, shapeshifting to his smaller dragon form and flying between the two.
"Fight's over," Robin called down.
"Rae!" Edward said, "Calm down, it was an accident."
Raven looked like she was fit to kill and the energy started to crackle as a result.
"Raven! Stop!" Edward said, "B! Get Terra out of here!" Beast Boy formed a pterodactyl and grabbed Terra and lifted her out of the area.
[Raven, snap out of it. I saw what happened. It's all right,] he said, switching to the link.
[That little…!] Anger said, [She's mine!]
[Don't force me into action I'd regret, Anger. I've handled you in Nevermore and I won't hesitate to restrain Raven to control you, got it? Raven's forgiven Terra and you can either forgive her as well or I'll take you down again with the deepest of regrets. I do not wish to harm Raven, but, I will if I must!] Edward stated firmly
[You wouldn't dare. You wouldn't hurt the woman you love!] Anger retorted.
[He would if I gave him permission,] Raven said, [Continue and Edward has my permission to do whatever is necessary to control you, even if he has to hurt me physically. What's the choice, Anger?]
A snarl through the link, [Fine…you win, for now.]
Raven visibly relaxed, the red glow fading from her eyes as the energy faded as well.
Edward caught Raven as she staggered.
"You all right?" he said aloud.
"I think so," she said, "What happened?"
"Terra got you in a sensitive area and your anger came out," Robin said, "Beast Boy got Terra to safety while Edward calmed you down."
She nodded and said, "I need to be alone. I have to meditate."
She turned and left without a word. Edward hoped that she would be all right, but, for a while, the Titans would be babysitting the kids.
Edward sighed, "Sorry about that, guys."
"Sister Raven will be all right, yes?" Starfire asked.
"I think so," Edward said, "I'll try to check on her in a couple of hours. She needs to remind Anger who is boss, that's all."
Robin replied, "It's OK. We're kind of used to Raven being this way. She was like this before you joined the team."
"Something reminded Rae of the for real fights with Terra, I think," Edward said.
By then Terra had come back down. Edward rounded on the geomancer and said, "What the heck do you think you're doing, Terra? You could have gotten hurt!"
Terra stood her ground, "It was an accident! How was I to know she'd flip out?"
"You're lucky I was here to intervene, girl," Edward snarled, "You got lucky fighting her that one time. On even and dry ground, even I'm smart enough to avoid ticking Rae off to the point she loses control. She might be free of Trigon's influence but, that doesn't make her any less dangerous when provoked. She's more than capable of flattening you, got it?"
"Sure, take her side," Terra groused.
"Terra, I'm going to let that INSULT slide. If I were taking her side, I wouldn't have protected you from her," Edward said, eyes starting to glow a faint yellow, "I protect not just Raven, little lady…I will protect this entire team. That includes you, Terra. You are a friend. To me and Rae. Remember our conversation and you asked if I was certain that I wanted to be your friend? I told you that I was certain. Don't forget that, please."
He took a deep calming breath and the glow in his eyes, barely noticeable anyway, faded.
Terra said, "Sorry, Edward."
"If Beast Boy doesn't mind this," Edward said, "time for a hug, if that's OK."
Beast Boy smiled, "It's OK."
Terra walked slowly to Edward, almost like a kid who had gotten into trouble.
Edward pulled her into an embrace and after a moment, she returned it. He pulled away and keeping his hands on her shoulders looked her in the baby blues.
"No harm, no foul," Edward said, "Just be more careful in the future. Raven's going to be upset anyway, but, I'll take care of it."
"You're not mad at me?" she asked.
"You've seen me mad at someone already. I'm not mad at you, but, you'll have to face Raven after she meditates and make it up to her. But, I'm going to ask Robin here to not put you two as sparring partners for a while. Not until whatever remaining bad blood is between you is taken care of."
"But, she forgave me, right?" Terra asked, confused.
"I had thought so," Edward said, "But, one of her emotions is not as forgiving as the rest of my girlfriend is. That's why she's meditating and I'm not going to eavesdrop on it. She asked to be alone, so she can deal with things. I trust Rae to handle things and so should you."
Terra sighed, "I wish I could undo the past."
"Don't Terra," Beast Boy said, "The past makes you who you are now. I wouldn't want it any other way."
"Beast Boy's right," Robin said, "If I had my way, two very important people in my life wouldn't have died. But, preventing their deaths would change all of us. It would have prevented me from becoming who I am today, it would have prevented the Titans from being a team…from being friends."
"Heck," Edward said, "I can time teleport as well, and, believe me, there's a lot of things I'd love to change. I'd love to go back and prevent World War II and protect those lives lost. But, what would happen in the historical void? Would an even worse war have broken out? Would some other country developed nuclear weapons and without warning or provocation destroyed the United States. Russia, my dear, only set aside the political differences due to a common enemy. If Germany hadn't helped start the world war, would the old USSR have developed the A-bomb first and proven their value by blasting Washington, DC off the map?"
"I see what you mean," Terra said.
"It doesn't take an empath or an old dragon like me to see someone here who would be different without you in his life. Someone who loves you with every fiber of his shapeshifting body," Edward said, looking Terra in the eye.
Beast Boy pulled Terra into his own embrace and said, "I've loved you from the start, Terra…even when you couldn't love yourself. You no longer need rescuing in the way you meant so long ago. You're still that hip chick who needed friends. You're the best friend I've ever had."
She sniffled and said, "I know that. I don't deserve any of you, but, thank you for being my friend."
Edward groaned, but, said, "There's one thing, though, I'm sensing from her that she's going back to how she was earlier…she's finding a balance between the old Raven and this new Raven, the one that is letting herself feel more and more. There's times when I thought she'd erupt and end up surprised when she is calm about it.
"We have to let her find that balance, for the team's sake, not just mine…"
Raven had emerged from her room in the morning and sought Terra out.
"OK," she said, "I'm going to be the bigger person here and let yesterday go. I understand it was an accident."
Terra replied, "Sorry anyway."
"It's all right, Terra," Raven replied, "In fact, I need to apologize as well."
"Call it even?" Terra suggested.
"Works for me!" Raven said.
Later on, Edward and Raven decided to take the kids back to the mountains for a while, they had gotten lucky and no missions were called and they didn't want to press their luck.
Edward retrieved Bobby from the forest and after the kids said their good-byes to the team, Raven reassured them that they could visit again very soon. That eased their fears.
Starfire gave the kids a parting hug…an extremely gentle hug for her. Even Silkie stuck his head out for a rub from Melvin.
Robin and Cyborg made smaller versions of the communicators and made them the first "Junior Titans" and validating Raven's decision from earlier.
Edward teleported the kids back to their home and thanked the monks for their valuable service. He also let them know that should they need anything, to call him at the Tower. He knew that raising kids was stressful on the mind and the pocketbook. He wanted to make sure that the monks were taken care of.
After he returned from the mountains, he had time to check his email and clear out the spam in the box, sort valid emails into different boxes, etc.
Then, he checked the crime reports that were online and was pleased to see that crime was leveling out. Robin had access to more detailed information of course, but, even Edward had noticed things were settling down. The police were handling most of the incidents.
Raven was happier than usual, it seemed to Edward that the kids really did help her out. But, Edward was concerned. He loved Raven the way she was before everything went bad with Malchior. Since then, the stress of her recovery was ebbing, but starting to take a minor toll. It seemed that every time she'd make a significant gain, there'd be a setback. Edward prayed that his girlfriend would have some time to complete the process, though.
Then again, Raven was tiring of the setbacks as well. She loved how Edward protected her as she really did need the help. She enjoyed letting herself feel more positive emotions and that warm area that Edward represented was a great comfort to her in the crisis moments. But, she feared that he'd tire of the constant strain and leave the team and leave her as well.
Robin could also see the signs of stress on the couple's faces at times. He had come to consider Edward as more than a team mate. He saw Edward as a brother, a great friend and, well, Robin was too proud to admit it, but, he owed Edward. He helped break the ice with Starfire and since then, both he and Star were happy.
Starfire was also pleased, and greatly so. She ended up making a small batch of the "pudding of happiness" for herself and whoever else wanted some. Robin did try some out of courtesy and was able to stomach the pudding. Edward found it to be a really weird taste, but, could enjoy it.
Beast Boy had his hands full, though. He had actually realized Terra was upset about something, but, she wasn't really talking about it. So, he played the patient boyfriend as well. He was learning to use his human nature to deal with Terra's issues and his being there was helping the geomancer. He told her, "I'm here when you need me, Terra." That simple statement got a soft smile out of her.
Terra was depressed and it was showing, though. The team didn't want to pressure her, though. Slade was right about Terra in one aspect: She had the capacity to be the most dangerous person around if she were to lose control. Edward had to give Slade some credit in giving her the means to control her abilities. But, his anger burned when he found out how he was abusing her. That, to Edward, was worth returning the favor. Terra, at that time, was already unstable and Slade's abuse of Terra to the point of taking physical control of her body was the ultimate insult. For that, there would be a severe reckoning should Slade show his mask in Jump City again.
Cyborg was still the odd man out couple-wise and he didn't mind that. He still had his relaxation time with the other members of the team. The three couples didn't flaunt it in his face, either. The team still worked like a well-oiled machine, Cyborg thought. Everyone did their fair share and saved Robin and him from getting on the others.
There was one benefit to having Edward on the team, Cyborg realized. The others were not able to handle the weight that Cyborg was used to. Edward was able to spot Cyborg during workouts, and vice-versa. Cyborg finally had someone as a workout partner. Even in his human form, Edward was able to lift the weights. Well, Edward was muscular to begin with, the added training sessions were starting to have a positive effect on Edward's body…He was getting a well-defined "six-pack" and added bulk. Raven even commented on it favorably.
It's been an interesting couple of weeks, but, the emotions have repaired their individual realms nicely.
The kids were great during their visit. Sure, we had a huge scare with Melvin. I don't know what I would have done had Edward and Beast Boy not charged in there to help. I don't know how to thank them…Well, Edward's so modest he'd accept a sincere 'thank you'. Beast Boy might gloat about it and I'd have to phase him through the window again.
Terra – she worries me. She's not good at hiding her emotions and I pick them up at times. Does she suspect that Slade's still alive? How will she react when she finds out?
That is a tale coming up…very soon.
The End…for now.
A/N: Thanks for the couple of reviews and more importantly to me the story/author alerts folks are signing up for. It means a lot to me.
The next story is one that was requested a while ago, but, will take a while to write as I want to get it right. So the first chapter may (or may not) get posted later "tonight". I'm sure, though, that the dots are there to see where I'm heading next, right?
OK...To answer one question posed in a review. I know Raven's a tad OOC in these stories. In the series, she's not as warm and cuddly, even after Trigon's defeat. Here, I'm using a blend of the series version of Raven as well as the late 1980s/early 1990s "White Raven" where she does openly display emotions. Don't worry, folks...I know Raven's going through the wringer here. Our favorite empath will come out stronger then she was before.
See ya soon!