A/N: I almost had to delay this chapter because I was just not getting any free time. Luckily I stayed up late to finish it.
Thanks to TheForceIsStrongWithThisOne, twolostsouls25, JasonVUK, Hairul The Nightrage Beast and an unknown Guest for the reviews.
-Terra definitely has a role to play, after this chapter I want to get some more Raven/Beastboy scenes in and at the same time I'll be getting Terra ready for the finale
-When Beastboy and Brion meet again, they will both have some new powers to throw at each other. I intend to make their battle a brutal one.
Raven was ecstatic and at the same time afraid at the sight of Beastboy. The few days he had been missing felt like years and just to see and touch him again was a great feeling. However, as she frantically tried to hold him back from attacking Brion, she could feel the tension in his body. He was like a tiger ready to pounce on it's prey and they couldn't afford to have that happen right now.
"Beastboy please!" Raven called out to him, her arms clutching tighter around his torso. "You have to stop, you'll only make things worse!" At the sound of her voice, Raven felt some of the tension ease out of the changeling. He stopped trying to advance toward Brion, but he didn't allow himself to be pulled further back either.
Simon was glaring at the two Titans, "This is a violation of the treaty we signed with your country! We are going to…"
"That's enough Simon." Brion spoke up from behind his assistant.
Brion wiped away the remaining blood trail from his mouth with his thumb and grinned at Beastboy. "That one was free changeling." There was a deadly intensity in the Markovian king's eyes, "The next time you strike me you better be ready for the full consequences."
With a visible effort, Beastboy calmed himself, "Think very hard about what I said before." The changeling hissed, "You enact that little plan you have brewing up Brion. I'll make sure it's the biggest regret of your life." He vowed, his tone cold enough to freeze Hell over. The green Titan finally allowed Raven to pull him out of the dining room, leaving a grumpy Simon and silently glaring Brion behind.
The flight from Brion's mansion was a silent one. Raven was currently on one of her discs, Beastboy standing at her side. Although her attention was directly ahead, she noticed out of the corner of her eye that the changeling was still staring at the mansion's rapidly shrinking profile.
Raven knew the Beastboy well enough to tell that he was in a great deal of pain and not the physical kind. Silently she grabbed his left hand with her right and interlaced their fingers. The dark girl gave him a reassuring squeeze, he squeezed back so hard it almost hurt.
"Gar." She suddenly spoke up, "What happened?"
Beastboy avoided eye contact with her, instead watching the scenery below them as they passed it by. Unshed tears were in his eyes and his face was drawn. Raven noticed with much concern that he looked broken.
"She's gone Raven." He finally replied, his voice constricted, "Stacy is dead."
Raven was completely shocked, Stacy was dead? But she was just with her like a day ago. Quickly she pieced it together, Beastboy's rage, the incredible hostility, even towards Brion, the wave of melancholy….
"Brion did it?" She inquired.
"His men." Beastboy responded, "One of his damned soldiers got lucky with a gun and…." The changeling suddenly felt Raven's arms around him as she held him in a fierce embrace. The disc stopped in it's flight, hovering in the air.
"I'm sorry." Raven said. Beastboy had no more words, the adrenaline was starting to wear off and he became acutely aware of how fatigued his body really was. He closed his eyes and the tears finally came, trailing down his face. There was no blubbering, no sobbing, but the tears he shed felt like pieces of his soul leaving his body, with each tear he felt more and more empty inside. The warmth from Raven's embrace was the only thing that was dulling the pain and so he clung to her, like a drowning man to a raft, and continued to let the tears flow.
4 years before the founding of the Teen Titans.
Terra hated the smell of the palace's underground passageways, a moldy stench that made her nose want to shrink in on itself. The only upside were the designs etched into the walls and ceilings, beautiful figures of men and women, animals and monsters. They were pictures telling a story, the history of her country, of her people.
Terra had little time to think about that now, she was being ushered on by two people. The first one was Willard, her late father's best friend. His dark hair was half-grey and he had a few wrinkles on his face, but there was a kindness in his eyes that always made her ache for her father. He treated Terra as if she were his own daughter. On her eleventh birthday, just two weeks ago, he had given her the best gifts she could ask for. Knowing that she loved to go hiking and mountain climbing, Willard had the royal tailor make her a pair of fine leather gloves and a pair of goggles. Most Markovian nobility would scoff at such plain gifts, but Terra loved them, to her, they were far better than some overly sparkly trinket, more useful in a hairy situation too.
The second person leading her through the tunnels was her brother Brion, six years her senior. If his brown hair were shoulder-length and if he was just a little bit taller in height, he would just about be the spitting image of their father. Brion had a serious look on his face, he used to be full of smiles, but now Terra was lucky if he even cracked half a grin. He'd been that way since their father had died.
"How much farther Brion?" Terra whined, he turned his head to look at her and his severe expression softened somewhat.
"Not much farther now Terra, don't worry." Her brother answered.
"We're making good time." Willard announced, "At this rate, you'll be able to sneak back into the palace before the night shift guards suspect anything."
The rest of the conversation between Willard and her brother continued on in hushed whispers. The two men were quiet enough to where she couldn't understand what they were talking about, judging by their urgent tones though, it was very important.
The trio continued on down the underground passageway. Whenever the tunnel forked, Brion would point out the right way and onward they would run. The musty smell of the passageway began to give way to the natural scent of dirt and plants, smells Terra could appreciate, she inhaled a lungful of the scent, savoring it.
Suddenly her brother and Willard came to a stop, "This should be it." Brion stated, "This should lead you out."
Willard nodded, "Okay." The older man glanced at Terra before returning his attention to Brion, "You should probably say something to your sister."
Terra didn't have the patience to wait for an explanation, "Why did we go through this stinky underground tunnel if we wanted to leave the palace Brion?" She blurted out, clearly annoyed, "We could have just used the front gate you know." Her older brother gave one of his rare smiles.
"Sorry little sister, I had to, in order to get you out undetected." He told her. Terra looked at him with both confusion and frustration.
"Undetected? Why would we leave the palace without telling anyone where we're going?" She asked, her brother bit his lip before replying.
"Because there are dangerous people Terra, dangerous people trying to get you." He answered.
That was a shock to Terra, "Why are dangerous people after me?" Her shock was quickly replaced by outrage, "I haven't even done anything wrong!"
Brion's stern face softened slightly, "I know Terra, I know. You're a good girl and don't you forget that. However there are people out there that want to hurt you and as long as you remain here, I won't be able to keep you safe."
"Brion? What are you saying?" Terra questioned, she didn't like where this was going.
"I'm saying you have to leave Terra." Brion stated, his expression completely neutral.
"I don't want to leave!" She exclaimed, hugging her brother tightly, "Can't I stay here with you? I can help you stop these people!"
Gently, her brother grabbed her shoulders and held her at arm's length, dropping to his knees so that they were eye-level. "I'm sorry, there's no other way." He squeezed her shoulders reassuringly, "Willard will be going with you, he'll take care of you."
"What about you?" She inquired, tears beginning to form in her eyes. This was all so sudden, there had been no warning, she didn't see anyone that looked like they wanted to hurt her. However, Brion looked so serious, so certain that it was impossible not to believe him.
The elder Markov's face contorted into a fierce scowl, one that suddenly made Terra very nervous. "I'm going to hunt down all the people who would try to harm you, and I'm going to make sure they'll never be able to hurt you. Ever." He said it with such intensity that the younger Markov felt a little scared. "When I'm done, I will send for you and things will go back to normal."
"You promise?" Terra demanded.
Brion gave another small smile, two in one day, that was a record. "I promise."
Brother and sister then hugged and with that, little Terra Markov left the kingdom she had known all her life.
"What's going on Mr. Vitaly?" King Brion Markov demanded, "Why is she thrashing like that?" Terra was in her tube filled with the light-green liquid, although she was still unconscious, the younger Markov was flailing about in the tube. Several beeps sounded from a nearby console that Yamar Vitaly was currently typing away at.
"I'm not exactly sure sir." The chief scientist answered, "But if I had to hazard a guess, it's because you are attempting to expedite the memory-restoration process too much."
"You dare to question my orders?" Brion snarled.
"No! I'm trying to inform you of the cold hard facts!" Yamar responded, clearly irritated, "This memory-restoration process is relatively new and it takes a normal person up to a year for the process to be complete. You're trying to do this in less than a week!"
"My sister is not a normal person." The Markovian King said with a scowl on his face.
Yamar sighed, "I get that, but judging by what's happening right now it's safe to say that her brain can't take this influx of information at such a rapid rate." The chief scientist continued to frantically type away at the console, but the alarms didn't reduce in sound, "You'll turn her into a vegetable before the week is over if you keep going like this."
Brion slammed his right fist into the balcony's safety railing, "No! She can take it!"
"My lord, I'm telling you she can't." Yamar stated plainly, "If you don't slow this process down to some degree you will lose her." The chief scientist finished in a sober tone.
Brion gnashed his teeth in an attempt to hold back his extreme frustration. He wanted to throw Mr. Vitaly off of the metal balcony they were standing on, but deep down he knew the chief scientist was right. As much as he wanted his little sister back right now, he'd have to exercise a little more patience. He was so close, if he botched it up now he wouldn't be able to forgive himself.
"Very well, decrease the memory upload to more tolerable levels." He ordered and without another word made his way to the exit. Ever since that damned changeling ruined his dinner, one problem seemed to keep popping up after another. However the thing that enraged him the most was seeing his little sister reduced to a normal high school student. That was the greatest insult to the Markov family he had ever witnessed. What had Beastboy done to her to reduce a princess of Markovia to a lowly student? The male geomancer clenched his fists, it was unforgivable, completely unforgivable and the green bastard would pay for the disgrace the family had suffered. Oh he would pay dearly.
Beastboy was amazed on how much effort it took for him to open his eyelids. He didn't remember ever feeling this weak before. His eyes drank in the sight of the Tower's infirmary, an I.V. was in his left arm and to his right…
"Hey." Raven said softly, concern in her pretty violet eyes. Beastboy smiled tiredly in response.
"Hey." He replied, it was good to see her again, her beautiful face brought some peace to his troubled soul. "How long have I been here?"
"About twelve hours." Raven answered, Beastboy regarded her with an analytical eye.
"Raven, don't tell me you stayed here the entire time." He told her, the sorceress frowned.
"Most of the time, I wasn't about to let you out of my sight again." She replied.
Beastboy's eyes widened as realization suddenly came to him, he sat upright, "Stacy! I need to retrieve her body. It's in the…" Raven placed her hand on his right shoulder and gently pushed him back down onto the bed.
"It's alright, we took care of it." The dark girl reassured him.
"Stacy left me an email, telling me where she had found a new lead." Raven explained, "I was out stopping a bank robbery with Cyborg at the time, so I wasn't able to check it until I got you back to the Tower. It didn't take long for me to search there and find the old bunker…."
The tension left Beastboy's body as he brought his bed to an upright position with the controls, "I see, thanks Raven." His shoulders slumped and his head lowered as the events all came back to him.
"I'm really sorry about Stacy." The dark girl said sincerely, reaching her hand out and giving his right shoulder a squeeze. The changeling was grateful for the warmth of her hand. They stayed like that, silent for a good twenty seconds, before Beastboy spoke.
"She made me promise Raven, made me promise to keep being a hero." He shook his head, a melancholy look on his green face. "But I don't know if I can, not this time. Brion's men murdered her and when I confronted him about it there was no sympathy or empathy in him. It's as if his hatred for me has blinded him of everything else." The changeling flexed and unflexed his hands, "Brion feeling no remorse fills me with an anger I haven't felt since…." He thought of his parents last moments and winced, looking away from Raven for a moment and hoping she didn't see the flash of pain in his eyes, "…It doesn't matter now. All I know is I can feel the murderous intent within me and I don't know if I can control it this time."
Silence once again reigned in the infirmary. Looking to his left, Beastboy saw Starfire sleeping in the other bed, the monitors showing that she was stable and she looked more like she was sleeping than recovering from some grievous injuries. At least he'd saved his teammates, his friends, back at Murakami High. He hadn't risked his sanity in vain. Still, it wasn't enough, not enough to save Stacy.
Movement drew his attention to his left side, where he saw that his left hand was…shaking? Why? He grabbed his left wrist with his right hand and held it in front of him. Why was his left hand shaking? No, both his hands were trembling, was it because he was scared? He let that thought swim in his head for a bit, searching within himself for the answer. After a few seconds he came up with one.
Yes, he was afraid. Afraid of what he wanted to do to a man responsible for his best friend's death. Afraid of how far he would go to sate the bloodthirst he felt. If the time came for a final showdown with Brion, could he keep this bloodlust at bay? Or would it consume him? Was he fated to always be fighting this murderous intent for the rest of his life? Was he in denial of the monster he really was?
Raven broke the silence, she was looking towards Starfire as well, "I used to think I was the worst monster alive." She said, Beastboy was mildly surprised, was she able to read him that easily? "Because of my rage I denied the feelings in my heart." Her violet hair closed around her head like a curtain as she lowered it, closing her eyes, "However, in time I learned there were humans who were even more heartless than I and it terrified and disgusted me."
"Raven you know you aren't heartless…" Beastboy started, gently grabbing her left forearm with his right hand, coaxing a small smile from her lips.
"Yes I know that now, thanks to our friends…and you." She briefly made eye contact with him, eyes burning with affection, before looking away. "Back to what I was getting at though, Brion, he's one of those human beings with a hole in his heart, but the worst thing is, he doesn't even know it. He believes what he is doing is right. In a way, he's more of a monster than those of us that aren't completely human."
The changeling mulled over what she said, "So am I right in feeling this anger?" Raven hesitated for a moment before replying.
"It's understandable." She answered, "As Titans we fight to protect people, keep them safe. Brion, he only fights to keep safe what he deems important. Look at Murakami High, all those people, teachers and high school students, injured and killed, our friends, even Terra, his own sister." She let out an irritated sigh, "All of that just for his own selfish motivations." The sorceress returned her attention to him, "It's only natural that you want to stop someone like that. It's what I want to do as well." Beastboy ran a hand through his hair in response.
"I don't want to just stop him Raven." He said, giving her a look that was almost pleading. As if he was a drowning man in the middle of the sea and she had the only life-preserver. "I want to kill him…."
Raven grabbed his right hand with both of hers and squeezed, "I did too, not too long ago, but we're superheroes, when it comes to justice, we have to put aside our personal feelings to go above and beyond. I have to keep telling myself that murder will only lead to a downward spiral and you know that to be true as well." The sorceress' violet eyes intensified in their stare and Beastboy found he couldn't look away even if he wanted to. "Stacy believed in you, believed in the gentle and kind soul that you are. She believed in Garfield Logan, the fierce protector of those precious to him, not the primal monster that is your other half." Raven's grip on his hand tightened and he could feel his hand starting to go numb. "That is who I believe in as well. Don't let us down."
"Raven…" Beastboy said softly, at a loss for words.
"We will stop Brion" Raven continued, "And when we do, justice will be served, his crimes will not go unpunished. Trust me."
Beastboy stared at her long and hard. He was amazed that Raven thought so highly of him, just like Stacy did…had. They trusted him more than he trusted himself, every time he saw Brion's face in his mind's eye he imagined himself standing over the male geomancer's broken and battered body and it felt good to see that. However the joy felt…wrong, tainted. Once again Stacy's last words echoed in his brain, killing Brion would definitely break the promise he made to her….
He squeezed Raven's hand with his own, if Stacy and her were willing to put so much trust in him, then he'd do the same. "I do trust you Raven." The changeling stated, his face now full of determination. "I'm counting on you for this."
Raven smiled, "Well you know how dependable I am."
"I do." He replied and leaned over to give her a kiss on her left cheek. He went to pull away, but found he couldn't as Raven was now gripping the back of his head with her right hand. She pulled him in for a second kiss, this one much deeper than the last. Even though this was his second time kissing her, Beastboy was still surprised at how soft and warm her lips were. After a few long moments, they parted.
"One more thing." The sorceress said, giving him a light glare. "Don't you ever pull a stunt like you did at Murakami High again. You kiss me like that, you better stick around for the repercussions." Beastboy gave a nervous chuckle, rubbing the back of his head.
"Heh, sorry. To be honest I didn't know if I was going to live through that." The changeling grinned widely. "And I didn't want to die without knowing what your lips tasted like."
Raven swatted him lightly on the back of the head, "Idiot." She replied gently and then pulled him into a hug.
Beastboy could still feel his heart hurting from Stacy's loss, could still feel the scars on his soul. However there was now something else, a warmth, the likes of which he had never felt before. The hells he had endured since Murakami High seemed to be more distant now and the terrible invisible weight of loss seemed lighter. The comfort he was drawing from Raven was amazing. She truly was a remarkable young woman, he was lucky to have her.
"Thank you." He said with all the sincerity he could muster.
A/N: Might have gotten carried away on the last scene, sorry about that.
NEXT CHAPTER: Beastboy properly grieves for Stacy and one last encounter with the Beast.