It was a beautiful day for a picnic. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the temperature was ideal. A gentle breeze blew off from the bay, its briny smell lingered in the air along the shoreline. The Tower stood high above everyone, almost watching with envy as the large group gathered in its presence, helping themselves to fried chicken, bratwursts and hamburgers which they complemented with generous helpings of potato salad, coleslaw, corn on the cob and other goodies.
The YJs mingled with all of the guests who had been invited. The Titans East were present, as well as many of the honorary Titans as well: Kole, Jericho, Pantha, The Herald, Bushido, Hot Spot, Argyle and Red Star to name a few.
The mentors were present too: Aquaman, Superman, Batman, The Flash, The Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. Supergirl was present as was her bustier transdimensional twin Power Girl, who was flirting shamelessly with Connor while M'Gann stood next to Raven, looking mortified. Raven, being Raven, looked peeved as she noticed that Beast Boy kept glancing at Power Girl's ample mammaries, as were many of the other young men present.
"Is that the only thing boys care about?" She complained as she elbowed Beast Boy. "Or are mine too small for you?"
Before the changeling could think of a safe reply, Cyborg stepped in.
"No, we do care about other things, but big ones sure do help." He guffawed.
Raven gave him one of her best death glares and after checking his built in sensors Cyborg verified that the temperature in his vicinity had actually dropped over 10 degrees.
"I'd … better go check on the burgers." He laughed nervously as he retreated. "I don't want to overcook them."
Raven shook her head as Beast Boy handed her a peace offering: a bowl of fruit salad, which she graciously accepted as TT-Robin turn on the microphone he was holding in his hand. He tapped on it to verify that it was alive. He cleared his throat as he unfolded a sheet of paper, which contained a speech he had prepared.
"It was almost six months ago when Miss Martian's disabled bioship crash landed here in Jump City. We were just as surprised as they were when we first met on that fateful day. A lot has happened since then. We went on missions together, we were briefly separated, we had a falling out with the Justice League and we later reconciled and even joined the League."
"Who would of that was going to happen?" He asked in a humorous tone, drawing a few snickers from the crowd.
"We also fought shoulder to shoulder and stopped Slade's attempt to take over the country and to top it all off some of us became couples and even married … I guess the only thing we didn't do was win the Super Bowl."
A few more chuckles echoed throughout the crowd.
"But now, as Andrea Bocelli would say, it's time to say goodbye. Kaldur, I'm honored to have met you and your team, and I'm proud that our teams came together to beat Slade. It will be strange to part after all our teams have done together and I have a promise to make: 41 months from now, when our two universes align as they are today we will come visit you and your team in your universe. Godspeed on your voyage. I know you'll wow them back home."
A round of applause was heard as Robin concluded his farewell to the Young Justice team. He handed the microphone to Kaldur who took his turn to address the crowd.
"I am not a man of many words, but I will say that I am glad to have come to this universe, even though it was unintentional. Much good has come from this experience as our team had matured and I return home wed to the lovely Tula. We thank you for your friendship and hospitality and we are looking forward to receiving you in our home in 41 months. It will feel like an eternity but I am already looking forward to that day."
More applause followed Kaldur's brief speech and the two teams exchanged hugs and farewells, which lasted a great deal of time. As Raven wrapped up saying goodbye to Connor she sensed a familiar presence behind her. She turned around and found herself face to face with the blond geomancer.
"I guess this is it. You win, he's yours."
Raven nodded her acknowledgement.
"Thanks for admitting that, Terra. I wish you well with the Young Justice League."
Raven noticed that Terra was shedding a few tears.
"Raven, promise me you'll be good to him, that you'll be a good wife…"
"There's no guarantee that will happen Terra …"
"Oh please, like he's gonna walk away at the end of your trial marriage."
"I take nothing for granted Terra, especially not him."
"Well, you are the smart Titan after all, but you really have nothing to worry about … Raven … would you mind if I said goodbye to him?"
Raven carefully considered her request before answering.
"Ok, but under my conditions. You can kiss him goodbye, but if you French him, you're dead. And watch your hands."
"Don't worry, I'll behave."
Terra walked over to Beast Boy, who was chatting with YJ-Robin. The younger Boy Wonder excused himself and left the two alone. Raven tried to blend into the crowd, but kept her eyes on them.
Terra and Beast Boy hugged and held each other silently as Raven watched clandestinely. They exchanged words, which Raven couldn't hear above the din of the crowd. After a few minutes they shared a chaste kiss, after which they separated. Terra then walked straight to M'Gann's bioship and boarded. She turned and faced him one last time, and Raven saw the words 'I love you' form on her lips before she disappeared inside the ship.
The others saw Terra and took that as their cue to board the bioship as well. As they boarded one by one they waved farewell. First it was Robin, who made a point of waving goodbye to Raven and Beast Boy. Super Boy and M'Gann were next, and Power Girl hollered a goodbye to Connor. Next it was Kid Flash and Artemis, who held hands as they waved goodbye. The last to board were Kaldur and Tula. TT-Robin gestured a virtual tip of the hat to them and they too vanished into the bioship, closing the hatch behind them.
The ship levitated silently while Raven and The Herald emerged from the crowd. Her eyes glowed back as she chanted her signature mantra.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!"
A dark portal appeared, hanging in the air. It was too small for the ship to pass through and the Herald raised his trumpet to his lips and blew. The sound that came out was literally absorbed by the portal, which swelled and grew in size. Raven waved at the bioship and M'Gann waved back before moving the ship forward. It passed through the portal and disappeared, after which the portal collapsed.
The crowd fell silent and remained that way for what felt like an eternity, as the reality sank in. There were a few murmurs and the crowd began to disburse as some began to leave. Raven felt a gloved hand take her own and squeeze it.
"I can't believe they're really gone." Beast Boy said breathlessly.
"I know, neither can I. We'll get to see them in three and a half years. Right now that seems … so far away." She replied.
Starfire began to blubber, and Robin tried his best to console her.
"You guys can go back inside. I'll clean up out here." Cyborg volunteered.
As the two couples retreated into the Tower, Beast Boy wrapped an arm around his sweetheart's shoulders and pulled her close to him. She complied and even rested her head on his shoulder, which she could now do as he was finally taller than her.
"Gar?" She asked him.
"When the courtship is over … will you … what I mean to say is … will you want to become … permanent?"
He pecked her on the cheek.
"Do you even have to ask?"
-( scene break )-
Alfred was alone in the Batcave, doing his usual dusting and tidying up; Bruce was upstairs, entertaining Veronica Vreeland, who in spite of multiple glamorous and failed marriages had yet to give up on Bruce. She of course was a dear friend of his, and they often spent time together. Alfred was also fond of Miss Vreeland and figured that it wouldn't hurt Master Bruce to become more intimate with his longtime friend. Alfred even speculated that were she and Bruce to tie the knot that he might be able to move beyond the Dark Knight and become a normal human being.
Alfred knew that it was a pipe dream of course, but he withdrew to the Batcave, leaving the two friends alone with the vain hope that maybe some magic would happen.
As Wayne's faithful majordomo continued to tidy up the main console began to beep. Alfred trotted over and turned on the giant screen above it. To his surprise it was the giant portal at the LaGrange point and it was active. When he saw the bioship emerge from it he dropped the tray he was carrying and ran back up into the manor, desperately trying to think of a way to gently let Miss Vreeland down.
-(Scene break )-
A large cruiser was approaching the jump portal. Its captain was taking it from Earth to a new system, Tamaran, that had been discovered and his crew's mission was to make first contact with a society that was rumored to be fierce and war like. He was deep in thought as he wanted everything to go right, and he almost didn't notice that the portal came to life prematurely. The lights began to flash and the void inside the circle became fluid like, rippling like water. He was experienced enough to know what meant: A ship was about to exit the portal.
"Helm! Evasive maneuvers! Now!" He shouted as he continued to watch the jump portal. This of course wasn't supposed to happen as the Jump Portal Authority rigorously managed the use of the portals and always knew when they were being used, in order to prevent accidents like the one that almost occurred. Someone had dropped the ball and there would be hell to pay, his report would make sure of that.
As the heavy cruiser leaned out of the exit flight path a small ship emerged and the captain saw it on his monitors.
"Well I'll be damned." He said to himself before turning to his communications officer.
"Send a message to the Justice League …"
-( scene break )-
"Is that our Earth?" Superboy asked M'Gann as they flew by in low orbit.
"It is." She confirmed. "I've already prepared a flight path to Happy Harbor. We're home guys, we really are."
As it began to descend the ship's cabin erupted into cheers and hooting as they high fived and hugged each other, except for Terra who sat quietly in the back. Kaldur noticed and turned to face the blond.
"I understand your sorrow over leaving him behind Terra, but you made the right decision. If it is any consolation you are now a member of our team, our family. You are not alone friend."
Terra gave him a weak smile as she saw Happy Harbor far below as the ship continued its descent.
"Thanks Kaldur, I really do appreciate what you have done for me." She then chuckled half heartedly. "Maybe I'll meet a cute guy who'll help me forget about BB."
"You probably will, even though I suspect you will never forget about him."
Terra nodded and looking up again she saw that they were now approaching a small mountain. She could sense the excitement in her teammates who could no longer sit still in their seats.
A tunnel opened and the bioship glided into the bowels of the mountain, landing with the finesse of a feather. There were seven superheroes waiting in the hangar where they touched down: Batman, Superman, Green Arrow, Flash, Martian Manhunter, Aquaman and Red Tornado.
The ship's hatch popped open and the eight junior heroes emerged. Batman stepped forward.
"Welcome home Young Justice. You were able to find your way back. Well done and congratulations."
The six original members went up to their mentors. Kaldur approached Aquaman and bowed.
"It is good to be home my King."
The senior Atlantean wrapped his arms around the young man and hugged him as Tula cautiously approached. Aquaman smiled.
"I see you brought someone back, Kaldur'ahm."
"Introductions are not needed Aquaman. Tula and I were wed in the other universe …"
"And we didn't get to attend! You realize what this means?"
The couple swallowed hard.
"No sir, I do not."
"You're going to have to get married again!"
He locked eyes with the female.
"So now we have two Tulas. I guess you can't have too much of a good thing, right Aquagirl?"
Tula bowed politely.
"If you say so my King."
"Enough with the formalities, come here!"
As Aquaman hugged Tula, the other Young Justices were greeted by their mentors. Batman and Robin shook hands and exchanged a brief hug, as did Flash and Kid Flash. Ollie and Artemis also hugged and he pecked her on the cheek. The two Martians exchanged a telepathic reunion.
Superboy became airborne and flew towards Kal-El landing in front of him.
"I see you have mastered flight during your absence."
"Yes, your counterpart trained me." Connor replied.
"We were in a parallel universe and there was a counterpart of you there."
"So you're saying that a copy of me trained you?"
"Yes, he took me in for a few months and I was trained by him and Supergirl."
Superman looked troubled.
"Did you tell him about your origin?"
"I did, he said it didn't matter that I was a clandestine clone. He treated me like I was his son … of course Kara treated me like a kid brother, even though technically I am her cousin … "
Clark lowered his head.
"I am sorry Kon, for the way I have treated you, and am in fact ashamed. You have to understand, it bothered me at first that someone took my DNA and created you without my permission, but I have been a fool. It doesn't matter how you were created, you are my son and you are always welcome in my home, correction, our home in Metropolis."
As the two Kryptonians embraced Batman approached Terra, who stood quietly at the back of the crowd.
"I believe that an introduction is in order, Miss?"
"Markov, Terra Markov." She replied.
"Do you have any powers Miss Markov?"
"Yes sir, I am a geomancer, an earth bender."
"I see … tell me Miss Markov … have we ever met before? Your body language says we have."
Kaldur approached Batman.
"Miss Markov was once a member of a team of young superheroes in the other universe called the Teen Titans. She has left that group for personal reasons and I invited her to join our team."
"Before I allow you to join the team, would you mind telling me what these personal reasons are, Miss Markov?"
Terra decided to come clean. She would tell him everything, including how she betrayed the Titans. Before she could speak Kaldur continued.
"Miss Markov has been a recurring target of Deathstroke the Terminator, who is obsessed with her. He has even inserted neural implants into her body to control her and force her to be his apprentice, more than once in fact. She also leaves behind a failed romance, and I offered her the chance to join us here and to start over without Deathstroke accosting her. From what I observed and was told by the Titans she is a woman of good character who needs to get away from Deathstroke."
Batman rubbed his chin before gesturing to his fellow senior Justice Leaguers. They withdrew to the far side of the room, where they conferred for a few minutes. Once they were done they walked back to where the Young Justice team was still waiting. Superman addressed them.
"It appears that the Young Justice League will have 4 new members." He announced.
"Four?" Robin asked. "We only brought two people back with us."
"After your prolonged absence we worried that you might never return and decided to start rebuilding the team. We found two young heroes who were interested in joining the group. One is new to the hero scene and the other was a member of a rather secretive group which he left a few years ago, so you won't be familiar with them. Red Tornado, would you mind showing them in?"
The red robot complied and left the room. He returned two minutes later, with the new members who were at his side.
"What the …" Kid Flash croaked.
"No freaking way!" Robin shrieked.
-( scene break )-
41 months later …
"Hurry up! They're gonna be here soon!" Artemis howled as she helped Terra set up the buffet table.
"What if they don't come?" Wally asked, as he brought platters of food from the kitchen, zooming in and out of the room.
"They will, they said they would."
"Well, if they don't, I call dibs on their share of the grub."
"Wallace West!" She growled at him. "Sometimes I wonder why I married you!"
Wally dashed to her side, caressed her swollen midsection and gave her a quick kiss before zooming off to the kitchen again.
Terra was a little slower setting up the table as she had a toddler clinging to her leg, demanding that she be picked up. Tula showed up, carrying an infant in her arms.
"Come with me Coraline, your mother is busy." She cajoled the blond child.
"It's OK Tula; you have two of your own to look after."
"I will take her to Kaldur; he can watch her along with our first born."
"You're setting a bad example. Mark is already talking about #2."
Before Tula could pick Coraline up a dark circle began to form in the air and began to grow.
"They're here!" M'Gann shouted as she and her mate, Kon had just finished setting up another table.
Robin grabbed a girl's hand.
"You hide here, then we'll surprise them."
"Is this really necessary Dick?" She complained in mildly annoyed voice.
"Trust me; it'll be totally worth it!"
"Mark! Where are you?" Terra shouted. "They're almost here!"
"Coming!" He shouted as he ran through the door into the large meeting room, carrying two bags of ice.
The portal grew until it was 8 feet in diameter. The assembled team waited breathlessly, not sure of what would happen next.
Cyborg was the first to emerge.
"Booyah!" He shouted joyfully as he dropped his suitcase on the floor and raised his arms in victory.
He was quickly followed by a masked man in a dark spandex outfit with blue wings on his chest and he was accompanied by Starfire who was carrying an infant in her arms. She wore what appeared to be some sort of alien armor. Robin stepped forward.
"Dick, is that you?" He asked.
"You can call Nightwing, kid."
"Kid? I'm 16 now! I even have a girlfriend!"
"Well it's about time." Nightwing chortled back.
The last two to emerge from the portal were Raven and Beast Boy. He was carrying a toddler in his arms. Both sported new costumes. Beast Boy was wearing a short sleeved green and purple costume that highlighted his new musculature. Raven wore a white version of her leotard and cape, which also highlighted her more mature curves.
"Looking good Beast Boy!" M'Gann shouted.
"His hero name now is Changeling." Raven announced in her monotone as he handed their daughter back to her. The portal behind them vanished.
The two teams began to mingle and greet each other. Robin approached the Logans first. After exchanging handshakes and hugs, and meeting their shy little girl, whose name was also Coraline, he could no longer contain himself.
"Guys, I want you to meet my girlfriend! Babe! You can come out now."
Changeling's and Raven's eyes became wide as saucers as the young girl, who was also 16 years old, entered the room. The other 3 Titans also saw her and became slack jawed.
"I've told you I don't like being called 'babe'; I have a name in case you've forgotten it." She complained in a gravelly monotone.
Beast Boy and Raven approached the girl, their mouths agape. She calmly reached out and gently lifted their chins, closing their pie holes.
"Garfield, Raven, welcome to Mt. Justice. I see that you completed the courtship and wed. Congratulations."
"Raven?" Beast Boy asked incredulously.
"That's right." She replied as she locked eyes with her older twin. "You have a lovely daughter."
Changeling shook his head. "Dudes! Are you really a couple?"
Robin and YJ-Raven took each other's hand and shared a chaste kiss.
"We are." She replied. "And we are considering entering into the Courtship rite."
"No … way … that is so wrong." Gar said in an slow, incredulous voice.
"The feeling is mutual, as I find your own pairing up to be unsettling. But I trust we will all get used to it." YJ-Raven replied.
TT-Raven shook her head. "I'm not so sure of that."
Robin snickered as he pulled two chairs out.
"You guys better sit down, you haven't seen anything yet. And you sure are a cutie, Coraline!"
The green skinned, violet haired toddler buried her face in her mother's shoulder, her shyness getting the best of her.
"It's your turn Terra." He shouted.
Terra emerged from the crowd, carrying her own daughter. The Logan's faces fell when they saw the blond haired … and green skinned girl. At first they didn't even notice the man who was standing next to Terra. TT-Raven was the first to look at him and she went bug eyed. She turned to her side, to verify that her husband was still sitting next to her, which he was. To her surprise he stood up with a grin and the two changelings shook hands.
"BB, this is my husband, Mark." Terra introduced them.
"She insisted on calling me by our middle name." He announced. "Dude, I have so been looking forward to this day!"
Raven stood up and carefully examined Terra's husband.
"They're … identical."
"What can I say? We have excellent taste in men, wouldn't you agree Mrs. Logan?"
Still recovering from her shock, TT-Raven replied. "I guess there is no arguing with that, Mrs. Logan."
Starfire and Nightwing also congratulated Robin and YJ-Raven before mingling with the others. Cyborg was standing alone, chowing down on some food. Robin and Raven approached him.
"Are you OK Cyborg?" He asked.
"I'm fine, I figured that I'd let the couples socialize first. By the way, these are good ribs." He replied as he put his plate down and extended his hand to YJ-Raven.
"Nice to see you again little lady … wait … that doesn't make any sense to you, does it?"
"It makes perfect sense to me, Cyborg. I know that she used to be like me."
"I guess it does." The tin man concluded.
Robin grinned at him.
"So what do you think Cyborg? Over 3 years have passed. Have we all changed for the best?"
Cyborg crossed his arms as he gazed at the crowd, who were oohing and ahhing over each other's offspring. He shook his head as he replied.
"That's a lot of babies."