Author's Note: This story is part of what I've termed the Unity Universe… it's an attempt, by me, to unify and streamline the various canons into a single unified backstory for the Teen Titans… The comics are included as are the television shows. This story, Titans Broken, is the first story in an arc revolving around the former Teen Titans reforming as an organization to check the Justice League, who have on occasion done some very morally ambiguous things.
In essence, think of this as a story set after the next inevitable reboot comes from DC (the New 52 cannot possibly stay forever, and the amount of outcry from some of the fans seems to indicate its days may already be numbered). Events of all previous canons will be streamlined to fit into the timeline for this new 'Unified' Universe.
I liked many of the elements from Young Justice and Teen Titans cartoons so be warned, you will see references to them especially: Young Justice's Failsafe (Justice League's own Kobiyashi Maru scenario? Yes please!) and the entire Teen Titans cartoon series are treated as being at least somewhat canon (think of the Teen Titans cartoons as the cleaned up version of events for telling at meetings and reunions), however the primary canon is essentially the sum total of the Comic stories released over the years. It's not a nice, pretty, or clean world... in fact it's a terrifying world, one that can easily break people.
Most of the time my works are pretty lighthearted, this one is not... it's dark and when I edited it, I feel the character's pain. At times you may want tissues handy. You've been warned.
Disclaimer: Teen Titans is the property of DC Comics and Warner Bros. "The Hollow Men" was written by T.S. Elliot, and the use of passages to open each chapter is done with the utmost respect for one of the English languages best craftsmen. Thank you, and enjoy.
Chapter 1: The Hollow Ones
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
- T.S. Elliot's "The Hollow Men"
Most of the time people didn't really think on why people act the way they do… They accept the explanations, the words, and the appearance of things and do not bother to look deeper than that.
"I don't need help." Bruce Wayne remembered the statement he'd made years earlier in the presence of a captured and detained Scarecrow.
"Not my diagnosis!" the former psychologist had said with a laugh, and Bruce knew the mad man had a point. Anyone that would dawn the bat suit had some sort of psychological problem, it was a requirement in this business.
But they had to be functional, and Bruce knew that the tipping point between a functional person and a dangerous individual was a razor's edge, and judging when someone had crossed that point was a difficult task, even for the world's best detective.
Information that slowly had begun to filter through to him told him that he had two new problems that needed watching. Two closely related problems.
Nightwing wasn't the same anymore. He'd always taken after Bruce in many ways, becoming secretive, obsessive, and single minded in his pursuit of justice. In other ways he was far different. Dick had never learned Bruce's capacity for distancing himself from his romantic partners. He wasn't a playboy. He just wasn't built that way.
Deny it all he wanted, the problem lay with the second individual that was occupying Bruce's mind that night. Koriand'r, the Tamaranian Princess that had nearly married Dick. With news of her newest actions Bruce knew that the girl had to have been broken by the breakup between the two.
It had been a relationship he'd never approved of, but now in retrospect he wasn't sure if he'd been right. True dependence on each other had made them all the more vulnerable after the breakup, but the depths to which it had affected Koriand'r showed that it might have been a mistake.
"Yes Master Bruce?" His loyal butler asked from behind him at the usual respectable distance.
"I need you to arrange a private flight to the Caribbean then pick Dick up, I'll put in a call to the Justice League." Batman said. "We need Zatanna, Black Canary, or Raven, no one else has close to the required amount of psychological training."
Bruce stood and tapped a series of keys sending a message to the Justice League network before picking up his phone and dialing a familiar number.
Dick Grayson had seen better days. He ran a hand along his chin and scratched at the stubble there before walking out of the hotel bathroom and over to a small pile of clothes on the bed. The cell phone buzzed from the end table, rumbling across the wood for several moments before he picked it up.
"Dick." He muttered as he adjusted the robe belt around his waist as he leaned the phone against his shoulder.
He froze and a scowl slid across his face. "What can I do for you?"
"Alfred will be at the hotel shortly to pick you up."
The scowl deepened. "What is this about Bruce?"
"Not on the phone, pack up and bring your uniform." The call ended with a click.
He tossed the phone on the table and bit his lip before walking to the window and staring out at the skyline of Gotham. In the distance he could see the dark and blackened scar on the earth where the Blüdhaven exclusion zone began. In his mind's eye he could see the burnt ruins of dozens of buildings, the smoldering litter in the streets. He could hear the crackle of the Geiger counter on his utility belt.
He shut the curtains and snarled before running a hand through his hair. "What am I doing?"
He didn't know… the dream of being Blüdhaven's protector was gone. Blüdhaven was gone, a national sore that reminded everyone of the limits of superheroes. He'd failed and nothing infuriated him more than failure be it a criminal escaping, a bystander dying because he hadn't been fast enough, an infant screaming in a building aflame that he couldn't find. Those couldn't compare to his failure.
Everything had turned to ash in his hands. He slammed his fist against the end table and pulled the metal case from under the bed. Inside was the kevlar and nomex suit, the uniform of Nightwing. He tossed it onto the bed and grabbed a suitcase filled with his scant belongings. His old Blüdhaven police uniform, now defunct, stared up at him when he opened it.
He began to open drawers grabbing everything he owned and stuffed them back into the case. Socks, shirts, pants, shorts, and pajamas were thrown half-hazard into the suitcase and he slammed it shut.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos..." Raven said quietly as she sat cross legged on her small bed. The New York Apartment she now called her home was decorated with a plethora of images, old African masks hung on one side while worn Azarathian statuettes lined a shelve on the opposite wall. In the middle of the room sat a simple round rug decorated with a pentagram surrounded by Old English runes.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos..." She murmured. Each word held meaning... dimension, universe, multiverse... The enchantment had once only been used by the monks of Azarath to reflect upon the enormity of the infinite. For her it had become a mantra, an attempt to make herself feel small and insignificant when she'd once held the power to destroy the world.
Raven took a deep breath and focused inward, feeling her emotions tugging at her psyche. Where was Garfield when she needed him? She closed her eyes and pushed aside the feelings of her gut twisting in annoyance. Beast Boy had his own life to live and she wasn't his keeper.
The rumors of him joining with Deathstroke and Terra were infuriating. It was unfathomable for him to join with Slade, simply unthinkable. Plus the reports she'd read said Beast Boy was red... Garfield wasn't red, he just wasn't.
Plus, she knew exactly where Garfield was because she talked to him every couple days, and saw him at least once a week too. He'd retired from being a hero and found a rather interesting employment. One that she wondered hadn't been a secret ambition of his. He was now an actor on Galaxy Trek's newest series Interstellar Station Nine, playing Iota the Chief of Station Security.
A slight smirk played across her face as she lowered her hands and glanced at the one shelf she'd reserved for DVDs in her book case where the previous three seasons of the show sat. Affection giggled quietly in her mind as she turned back toward the window.
You miss him. Affection said in her mind.
"Enough." Raven growled before picking a book off the shelf and opening it. Just as she was about to start reading the laptop on her desk rang like a phone and she glared. "What's with all these interruptions?"
She walked over to the desk and sat down before tapping in a password. With a flash, the Justice League logo appeared for a moment on the screen before it was replaced with Zatanna.
Her jaw tightened and she glared at the screen. There were few among the Justice League that she respected less than Zatanna and Zatara. They were the ones that had decided her struggle with Trigon wasn't worth League attention, and she was sure if she applied for membership, even ancillary or honorary membership, they would fight it every step of the way.
"Miss Roth." Zatanna stated and a slight smile tugged at her lips.
Raven slammed down on her emotions blocking them off before glaring at the woman in irritation. "Yes, Zatanna, I doubt this is a social call."
"Do you even get social calls?" Zatanna asked with a jab, which she resolutely ignored.
"Sometimes, now, what do you want?" She said in her gravelly way trying to end the conversation as quickly as possible.
"Well, Batman has asked me to call you in for a consult." Zatanna said with a grumble.
Raven arched an eyebrow.
"You see, two of your old 'friends' are being brought in for a psychological evaluation." Zatanna said quickly. "He wants you to help in their evaluation since you've supposedly studied psychology."
"It is helpful for an empath." Raven stated. "Which of my friends are you bringing in?"
"Well... Dick is being brought in and—"
"It's Starfire, isn't it?"
Zatanna nodded once.
"I'm on my way... and next time the League wants to talk to me, pass the job over to Cyborg." Raven said then she stood, grabbed a duffle bag from under the bed, and headed for the door.
Dick rubbed his face and sighed. There was a knock at the door. He skulked over and looked through the peephole. Alfred stood there with his arms behind his back waiting and Dick opened the door.
"Master Dick, are you ready?" Alfred asked as Dick stepped back to allow him inside. "Toothbrush?"
"Where are we going?" Dick asked as he stepped into the bathroom and snatched up his toiletries before walking back to the suitcase and packing them inside.
"I believe Master Bruce wished to tell you in private." Alfred said as he took the suitcases from the bed. "The car is waiting and Master Bruce has already paid the hotel bill."
Dick nodded and followed Alfred to the elevator, watching the old butler. He seemed even more quiet and reserved then usual as the doors closed and they descended from the top floor. "Alfred?"
"Yes Master Dick?"
"What's going on?" Dick asked as the elevator began to slow.
Alfred's face twitched. "Master Bruce wishes to assist you in confronting an old friend I believe."
Dick furrowed his brow trying to think of whom it was that Bruce would want him to confront. Who was an old friend that would attract Batman's attention?
"I don't like this Bruce… you're bringing both of them together as part of the evaluation?" Zatanna asked from the console.
Bruce stared at her for a long moment. "You mean you don't agree with my reasoning?"
"No I don't, exposing them directly to the situation could break them even more." Zatanna said with a scowl on her face. "You really expect this to help them?"
"You know as well as I do that confronting the cause is something that they'll need to do to heal. If it fixes their relationship, I don't care. We need both of them stable." Bruce said. "You really want a Tamaranian working as a merc or worse turn villain? You know how many people she could hurt doing work like that. God, we don't even know how many she has already."
"And you're going to bludgeon the two of them into being fixed?" Zatanna said. "I talked to Raven. She'll be at the Watchtower when we arrive."
Bruce frowned, he didn't like the half-demon in part because of the warning Zatanna had given him about her several times. Now it was Zatanna that had called her in. "I see."
"I know. I know… she's not my favorite person in the world either, but she knows them, both of them, better than I do." Zatanna's image faded. "I… I also asked Black Canary to help. She's had a bit more experience with this thanks to working with Young Justice."
"Alright." Bruce grumbled as he glanced out the window. "It'll be ten hours or so until we're there."
"We'll be waiting." Then the display winked off and folded back into the leather upholstery.
The door slid open and Alfred ushered him out to the car, opening the door for him and quickly packing the luggage away in the back. Bruce stared at him from the left side of the seat with a copy of the Wall Street Journal in his lap.
"Dick." He said flatly as Alfred finished and climbed into the driver's seat.
"Bruce… what's going on?"
"I need your help. We're meeting Zatanna at the airport." Bruce said with a shrug.
Dick scowled. "Why?"
"An old team mate of yours needs to be brought in for a psychological evaluation." Bruce said. "Hopefully you can talk them into coming."
Dick's eyes narrowed. "Who?"
"I'd rather not say." Bruce said.
Fuck, what is going on? Dick thought to himself and pushed back into the cushions.
Zatanna stood on the tarmac, her arms wrapped around herself as the wind blew across the area. Her costume was meant for the indoors, or at least warmer weather... here she was cold.
If that wasn't enough puddles of water were scattered across the concrete and a few sprinkles dropped down on her black jacket as she waited. A cold wind billowed across the concrete as a familiar black limousine slowed to a stop beside the Gulfstream Jet.
With a click, Alfred stepped from the front seat and opened the door for Mister Wayne before opening the trunk. A second later, Dick Grayson stepped from the back seat and scratched at his head looking confused. Unlike Bruce who was wearing a black business suit, Dick was dressed in a golf shirt and khakis.
"Sorry about the short notice Zatanna." Bruce said as he walked toward the Gulfstream IV with Alfred trailing behind with their luggage. "I've asked Superman to watch Gotham for a few days."
"Alright, you know I don't like this." Zatanna said glancing over at Dick. She whispered to Bruce. "Did you tell him?"
"No, and you shouldn't either." Bruce answered. "He needs this to be sprung on him..."
"It could damage him." Zatanna said quietly. "The last thing you need is for him to leave you again."
"I'd rather he did." Bruce answered as he clambered up the ladder and led them to the rear cabin.
"You'd rather he left Gotham?" Zatanna asked.
"Yes..." Bruce said. "I can handle Gotham, he needs to find his own way, be his own man."
"I thought that was what Nightwing was supposed to do." Zatanna asked.
"It was." He nodded. "But it doesn't work when you choose a suburb of your father's as your city... or when you move back in when disaster strikes."
"Bruce..." Zatanna sat down in a seat and stared out the window. "What are you planning?"
"To give him a way out... maybe get him to stop being a hero, or at least stop being in my shadow. He needs to acknowledge that he isn't happy." Bruce said as he sat down opposite her.
"Being a hero is his life... he chose to be a cop, to be Robin, to become Nightwing... if you take that away what's left?" Zatanna asked.
"There's not much left as it is." Bruce keyed the planes intercom as the door shut behind Alfred and Dick. "Captain, St. Martinique, best speed."
"Yes Mr. Wayne." The pilot's voice answered and the plane began to roll. Soon they were in the air beginning a slow turn toward the south.
Dick sat down in the back and stared out the window. Zatanna watched him and how his face turned pale and sickly looking as the blackened scar of Blüdhaven appeared below them.
"You're right on one level at least Batman." She said quietly. "He needs to get out of Gotham."
Bruce nodded and tapped the display bringing up a wealth of information from both the Justice League, Green Lantern, and Batman databases. "Have you been looking at the girl's case?"
Zatanna nodded. "Yes... considering her history, I'm shocked she didn't break down before now. The files on the Citadel make grizzly reading, not to mention the Psions, and Gordanians." She swallowed. "Still, she was stable for years since her arrival... she had friends who kept her on track and a very respectable boyfriend."
She saw Bruce shift uncomfortably in his seat. "She was dangerous, I saw it even then... a highly emotional being with that sort of power—"
"Is better than a heartless cold-blooded killer with that sort of power," Zatanna said flatly. "You do realize psychology isn't exactly my specialty... I know some thanks to my magical training and how hypnosis works but I'm not a trained therapist."
"I know... but who in our circles is one?" Batman said gruffly. "Unless you're suggesting I ask Scarecrow for a consult."
"That's not exactly funny Bruce." Zatanna said. "Have you considered hiring a professional psychologist? Black Canary has been asking for that since..." She glanced over at Dick and swallowed. "Since Miss Martian's little accident in the Failsafe scenario."
"I know..." Bruce said quietly.
"Are we beaming up to the Watchtower once we get her?" She asked.
Bruce nodded. "The plane will return to Gotham... I've let a rumor out about a vacation getaway."
"Alright... Raven and Black Canary are sure to be on pins and needles about this." Zatanna said.
"Raven isn't League, do you trust her?"
"No... But I trust her more than any other half-demon, and she knows the two of them." Zatanna said. "Cyborg got her clearance."
"Alright, I hope she helps them."
Jason was not averse to using others. In fact, it had become something of a habit. He'd never really thought about how much he used others until he found these two unlikely comrades of sorts.
There was Starfire, a woman who was the equivalent of a flying solar powered laser cannon, capable of tearing through men and armor as if they were little more than cardboard. Most of the time, she seemed emotionless, distant, and rather broken.
He knew that wasn't the way she'd always been, there'd been a few short missions he'd led for the Titans when he had been 'Robin' after Dick had given it up for becoming 'Nightwing'. Then he'd worked alongside a woman filled to the brim with emotion, love, and temper.
Now she was little more than a weapon for him... but that wasn't the only way he'd used her... With the way she suppressed memories, and did not care to remember other humans for long, he'd found a perfect little confessional that could never really speak about his confessions if she had trouble remembering his name after a few months of separation.
Then there was Roy, the one once known as 'Speedy' now fashioning himself 'Arsenal'. He was a recovering junkie, an infuriating womanizer that had taken to using Starfire sexually... admittedly it seemed to be the both of them that were using each other, but he remained an insufferable frat boy. Hell, the man had once been close friends with Dick...
Dick fucking Grayson, the name still made his blood boil. He could never measure up to the first Robin, hell none of them could. He'd taken up the mantle but hadn't done it as Dick had wanted... he was too violent, too impulsive, and willing to kill.
Jason ran a hand through his hair and stared at the mirror seeing the first hint of his natural hair color peeking through the black he'd dyed it for years. Scowling he grabbed a towel from the rack and dried off his hair before grabbing a stick of deodorant.
"Fuck... why do I even bother?" He muttered to himself as he glanced back at his red-gold roots in the mirror.
He stepped from the bathroom and saw Roy Harper in yet another baseball cap sprawled out on the couch with the cap pulled down over his eyes. "Roy..."
"What?" He grumbled from underneath the cap.
"Is Starfire up?"
"No." Roy muttered. "She was clinging to one of his old uniforms again last night, I couldn't stay in there."
Jason nodded once and walked to his room. He pulled on his uniform except for the hood itself and stepped back out into the living room. Habitually he checked his pistols and holstered them at the door.
"Why you geared up?" Roy asked.
He scowled. "Just a bad feeling Roy... you know."
"Shoulder itching?" Roy grumbled.
"No... That was Dick." Jason grunted and sat down across from the couch. "Something is going down."
"You and your stupid feelings." Roy grunted.
There was a heavy knock at the door. Jason glanced at Roy and pulled on his hood. "You were saying?"
Roy scowled and grabbed the bow and quiver hidden beneath the couch. "Why would they knock?"
"No idea, keep ready." Jason grabbed the door and wrenched it open. A black haired man in a tailored suit stared down at him, a cold expression covering his face. Behind him, another familiar figure with rather spiky black hair and blue eyes stared at him. A third figure clad in a leotard and wearing a top hat and fish net stockings stood behind them.
"Jason..." Bruce Wayne said quietly.
He went for his guns.
Her mind was a fog, as it usually was when she woke. A slight smile played across her lips as she tightened her grip on the nomex and kevlar jumpsuit in her hands. Outside, the thump of a chair overturning reverberated and her eyes snapped open. Disgruntled, she sat up and walked toward the door.
She grabbed the bathrobe off the handle and synched the belt tight before opening the door and stepping out into the hall.
"Put the gun down Jason, we're here to talk." Bruce Wayne said with a growl as he stared at the figure of Jason Todd. Behind him, Dick stiffened. "I'm not here for you or Harper anyway."
"What?" Red Hood shouted looking confused. "Why else would you be here Bruce?"
"We're here for your other associate… Bruce thinks she may pose a threat to Earth in her current state." Zatanna said before giving a slight tip of her hat. "I don't particularly want a fight myself."
Dick's eyebrows rose. "Great… why am I not wearing my gear?"
"Because I don't want a fight," Bruce stated. "Where is Koriand'r?"
Dick's eyes went wide and he gaped in shock. "What? She wouldn't… it's not… what the hell?"
"I am here." A soft voice stated from the doorway at the opposite side of the room. Dick gasped as the bronze skinned and red haired form stepped into the room. Her green glowing-eyed gaze flicked across the group. "You wish to speak with me?"
She was clad in a simple purple bathrobe that was belted around her form. Her eyes narrowed and glared down at Dick from where she stood. "I know him…"
I know him? What's happened…? I don't understand. Dick stared at her, muscles in his cheek twitching. "What the hell Kori?"
Bruce paid him no attention. "You're to undergo a psychological evaluation by the Justice League, if you are found to no longer be of sound mind your Terran Card shall be revoked and you will be delivered to your homeworld of Tamaran."
"I understand…" She said quietly. "Perhaps it is best if I just leave this world now and save you the trouble."
"You believe you will fail the evaluation?" Bruce asked.
"I know I shall…" She stepped past them. "I know there are things I should remember that I do not… it is hard."
"Should remember?" Roy asked from his seat. "You told me that… Tamaranian's don't remember Earth things except by…"
"That's bullshit!" Dick snapped, his blue eyes suddenly flashing with rage. "Tamaranians aren't fucking goldfish. They remember things just as we do! You think I don't remember the Tamaranian psychological profile?"
"But she doesn't." Jason said, suddenly in a smug tone. "Guess your break up with her did more than end your romance, eh chuckles?"
Roy grinned, "Don't know why you gave that ass up… she's a real tiger in bed Dick."
"What do you mean asshole?" Dick shouted.
"What do you think?" Roy asked.
Dick saw red and smashed his fist into Roy's nose, knocking him back over a chair. "You asshole!"
Roy grabbed at his bloodied nose and swore before glaring up at Dick. "You broke up with her! She's fair game Dick, you ass!"
"Break up, I don't remember…" Koriand'r blinked and suddenly focused on Dick. "We were friends? Did we have sex?"
His gaze dove toward her and he felt his heart tighten in his chest. "What the hell happened to you Kori?"
"You broke her!" Jason laughed. "It's what the both of you do to every damn thing you touch, you know that!" He jabbed his fingers toward Dick and Bruce. "Now, get the fuck out of here!"
"We're not leaving without her." Bruce stated.
Jason Todd stood. "Get out! She's part of my team now, if you want her you have to go through me!"
"Stop." Koriand'r said quietly. "I do not wish my friends to fight."
"Kory?" Jason asked.
"I will go with them… they are right. I am broken." She said quietly. "Perhaps they can fix it."
Raven sat down in the small conference room just off the Watchtower's transporter room and started tapping her finger on the table. Over the table a number of glowing images flickered. A few moments later the door hissed open and a woman clad in a black leotard and a blue jacket stepped inside. She nodded to her and sat down at one of the chairs.
"Miss Roth." The woman said with a slight smile. "I'm not sure we've met before... I'm..."
"Black Canary." Raven stated flatly. "I made sure to study all of the Justice League when I was a Titan."
Black Canary arched an eyebrow. "Well, technically I'm not a member of the league."
"You're an affiliate, like most heroes... why there are only... what? Seven true members at a time is well, rather dumb." Raven folded her arms over her chest. "I wondered how seven heroes could possibly save the world, but then the League's victories have been far from perfect."
"You don't like the League?" Canary asked quietly.
"No, I don't... if it wasn't for the Titans the universe would have ended on my birthday a couple years ago." She smirked slightly. "Did you even know that it'd happened until after Dick reported the incident?"
Canary frowned. "We're not here to discuss previous League failures, which I'm sure you could list out quite well."
"Of course." Raven muttered.
She tapped a hidden key on the table and a serious of holographic images appeared before Raven. Her eyes went wide as she saw the various images. All of them showed Starfire in a new and rather trashy looking costume. Her jaw twitched at the strange way the woman moved in the few videos she saw. "Are... are you sure this is her?"
"What do you mean?" Black Canary asked.
Raven scowled. "The way she moves... the way she positions herself in the images. It's like she's posing not fighting or something... Starfire never walked that way, this... it looks almost like how Catwoman supposedly seduces people. It looks predatory and then the way she attacks... It's almost feral at times. Other times it appears almost totally mechanical." Raven bit her lip. "It... it looks like her but it doesn't, almost like someone else is at the controls then her own mind."
"Really?" Black Canary asked.
Raven nodded. "I might not be the most observant person around, but this... Kori always carried herself with a sort of confidence and readiness... the way this person is carrying herself, it's like she's trying to attract male attention. Kori just didn't do that."
"Alright, and if it is the same woman?" Black Canary asked.
Raven swallowed and stared at the images. "Then... then something happened, something really bad. I lost contact with her a while ago and haven't heard from her since she asked me to send her a bunch of stuff from our days as a team."
"Really, did she say why she wanted all that?" Black Canary asked.
Raven shook her head. "She didn't say, I didn't ask... I think we were all feeling a bit melancholy at the time."
"Hmm..." Black Canary sighed. "Well, what can you tell me about Tamaranian psychology?"
"Emotions... so much emotion you won't know what to do with them." Raven said sarcastically.
Dick just stared in shock as Koriand'r returned with a small suitcase. He glanced at Roy. "She doesn't remember?"
Roy swallowed and looked up at him, his hand still clutching the bloody nose. "Not really… she remembers sights, smells, but not names… she's got a whole collection of your old uniforms and likes to hold them but… doesn't know why." Roy shook his head. "I'm sorry Dick."
"Wait… you had sex with a woman that can't remember your name after awhile?" Dick snapped and Roy froze. Dick rubbed his knuckles. "Get out of my sight before I decide to punch you again."
"Fine, you ass!" Roy yelled before walking toward the bathroom with his nose held high trying to staunch the blood. "I need to ice this anyway!"
Dick lowered his fists as Koriand'r walked between him and Bruce. She lowered her head. "Do you wish for me to be restrained?"
Dick swallowed as Bruce produced a pair of cuffs. He grabbed them from him and shook his head. "Don't…"
Her gaze flicked to him again. "Friend?"
"You don't deserve a cage." Dick growled.
"Fine." Bruce pocketed the cuffs. "Follow me…"
Koriand'r closed her eyes as he stepped behind her. "Kori? Star?"
She blinked and glanced at him for a long moment. "I do not remember… you seem familiar."
He closed his eyes. "Starfire…"
"Transmitting coordinates." Zatanna said quietly. A beam of light shot down from the sky and enveloped them. Dick could feel it tearing him apart molecule by molecule. Starfire's green glowing form flickered and then disappeared as he felt his heart torn apart by the transporter beam.
Then he stood in the brightly lit transporter room, a familiar blond woman with a black leotard and blue jacket stood by the door, her hands on her hips. Beside her was a caped and hooded woman.
Raven and Black Canary, he thought and felt a lump rise in his throat. "Are they…"
"They will be your evaluators." Bruce said blandly.
"Your… you mean, both of us?" Dick suddenly asked.
"Yes, both of you." Bruce said flatly.
Most people don't think about a half-demon as being an empathic individual. In fact, most people don't think about demons and their spawn at all, they're brushed under the rug, ignored, or considered little more than fiction. Most people didn't know Raven.
Raven swallowed a lump in her throat as she watched the four people step off the transporter pad. Already she could feel turmoil rolling off Dick and an expression of confusion and desperation was plastered on his face.
"You want me evaluated?" Dick snapped.
"Great…" Raven muttered.
She closed her eyes and focused on the other figure. She stopped. Through her empathic abilities she could sense all those around her: the civilian workers that kept the whole of the Justice League's Watchtower satellite operating, the hidden pain of Cyborg's aura in the computer labs, the strange auras of M'gann and J'onn in their Martian quarters, levels away. If she focused, she could catch the irritation and chaffing of Oracle from one of the computer terminals as she monitored activity in the Gotham area. She could feel the concern that lay beneath Bruce Wayne's cool exterior and the nervousness coming from Zatanna. Black Canary felt taut, as if she felt some level of responsibility for events.
Starfire was invisible to her empathic abilities, a void. Scowling she focused harder on her position and finally felt a flicker of curiosity and fear. Then she drew back into herself and sighed.
"Dick, don't you think you need therapy? I know what happened with Tarantula." Bruce growled quietly. "Let alone because of what happened in Blüdhaven?"
Dick turned pale and Raven could feel shock roll off her old friend like a tidal wave. He swallowed and turned away from Bruce. "Fine..."
Black Canary sighed. "We've converted two interrogation rooms we'll be using to interview you, while the exact things you say to us will be held in confidence, we are required to evaluate your mental health and suggest treatment if needed."
Raven's gravelly voice echoed in the transporter room. "We are not your enemies, but friends... we only want to help you."
"Friends..." Starfire murmured quietly and Raven's gaze was drawn to her.
There seemed to be a flicker of emotion from her, was it... hope, longing, sadness, all three? Raven felt her heart rise up to her throat as she stared at the girl that had once been her best friend. Starfire had been an emotional person. She'd flare like a bright beacon in her empathic senses... but now for her to be reduced to this flickering emotional candle was heartbreaking. She could barely recognize her as the person she knew...
"Yes, Starfire, friends." Raven said quietly and stepped back from the door. "I'll take her to her room. You can take Dick to his interview room." She swallowed down a lump in her throat and led the hunched figure of Starfire down the hall to the interview room.
Raven was dwarfed by Starfire's tall frame even while she was hunched forward and depressed. Raven took a deep breath, stopped beside the door, and turned to her. "Star... this could take a while, is there anything you want to have from where you were staying?"
Her green glowing eyes flickered for a moment before she nodded. "No... I have packed all that I require." She held up the suitcase before her for a moment then slumped. "I am sorry... I do not remember you."
Raven arched an eyebrow. "Really? Do you remember Dick?"
"No... He seems to know me, but I cannot recall how," Starfire said.
"I see." Raven tapped the controls for the door and it slid open. There was a coffee table separating two sets of couches. A potted plant sat in the corner and a dull glowing holographic image of the Justice League Insignia floated above a table. "Make yourself comfortable Koriand'r. We'll talk shortly."
"Thank you." Starfire said quietly and stepped to the couch. The door slid shut and Raven took a deep breath. She pulled out a rather worn communicator from her pocket and hit the transmit button. "Cyborg?"
A second later Cyborg's voice crackled through the communications line. "Raven, what are you doing on this old frequency?"
"Talking to you... you know if BB still has his?" Raven asked as she started walking down the hall.
"Uh... no idea." Cyborg said quietly. "What's this about?"
"Batman brought Dick and Kory in for a psychological evaluation." Raven growled. "And they're both going to fail."
"What?" Cyborg snapped. "How... you haven't even started yet, have you?"
"Empath Cy... Dick's teetering on the edge of a breakdown and Kory..." Raven took a deep breath. "I don't know what to tell you about Kory besides... she doesn't remember me Cyborg, she doesn't remember Dick either."
"God... how can I help?" Cyborg asked.
Raven swallowed. "I need you to go to her crashed ship... search for anything unusual... odd, out of place: drugs, cybernetics, plant-life, radiation, or anything else that could explain her memory loss. Also... her emotions are deadened down a lot... she's barely visible to my empathic senses."
"I'm on it... I'll tell you if I find anything odd." Cyborg said. "Is there anything else you need me to do?"
"Call Gar and tell him we need him here." Raven said.
"Sure Rachel, I think Gar's at a shoot right now, but I'll get right on it." The communications link clicked off and Raven let out a sigh as she came to the door for the observation room. Inside Zatanna sat staring at Starfire as she lay on the couch and slowly slipped into sleep.
Zatanna glanced up at her. "Raven."
"Where is Black Canary?" Raven asked quietly.
"In the room with Dick... she said she wanted to get some of the more confidential talk with him out of the way." Zatanna said from her seat. "How are you?"
"Don't know yet." Raven said as she sat down. "She just went straight to sleep?"
"Yes... after she sprayed some cologne on the couch pillow." Zatanna arched an eyebrow. "Bit odd."
"Yeah, that's a little unusual." Raven said as she glanced through the one-way glass at the girl. "I've never seen her like this."
"I take its bad then." Zatanna said. "I know about your empathic abilities... maybe J'onn or M'gann would be better for this."
"Not necessarily." Raven said. "Being able to implant thoughts and read emotions don't necessarily help get someone to come to terms with their experiences."
Cyborg shut down the computer terminal he'd been working on and glanced over at Barbara Gordon… aka Oracle, sitting beside the terminal station that focused on Gotham. Her eyes were hidden behind a set of black glasses and her red hair was pulled back into a simple ponytail that dropped down around her shoulders.
"So, what was that about?" Oracle asked suddenly.
Cyborg bit his lip. "Some old friends of mine are being evaluated."
"Evaluated, for what Justice League membership?" Oracle asked as she paused her typing and glanced at him.
"Psychologically evaluated." Cyborg said quietly and winced as his limbs ached. There wasn't flesh there but his body still hadn't been informed, hence the phantom pain, the aches, and all that went with them.
"What?" Oracle sat up and stared at him. "Who?"
"Dick and Kory." Cyborg said quietly.
"Dick?" Oracle gasped. "Oh God…"
"Raven asked me to check on something for it…" Cyborg said as he headed for the turbolift. "You can keep this place running, right?"
"Please, the computer runs itself… it doesn't need you looking over its every circuit every day." Oracle said before taking a deep breath. "Dick, really?"
"Yeah… I know." Cyborg said as the door hissed shut behind him. He took the lift down to the transporter room and stepped out into the now empty room. Frowning slightly he walked up to the console and typed in a new set of coordinates and set it to automatic. Then he walked to the transporter pad and waited for the beam to envelop him.
Barbara Gordon took a deep breath and felt her heart hammering in her chest. "Dick, really?" She leaned over the terminal and bypassed the security to the interview rooms. Her fingers flew across the holographic keyboard as she hacked into the microphones installed in each room.
She stared at Nightwing. He was hunched over on the couch with his hands in his lap. The door clicked and the familiar blond form of Black Canary stepped into the room. Barbara swallowed on a lump that risen in her throat. "Oh Dick…"
"Dick, I'm not exactly surprised to see you here." Black Canary said as she stepped inside the room and sat down on the couch opposite him. She could see the kid she'd interviewed years earlier in his hunched body language and hands clasped together as he leaned over the table.
"You mean: you figured I'd end up here again eventually." Dick answered quietly.
"You remember what you told me... that you didn't have that 'thing' that Batman has... that ability to focus exclusively on the objective, to tune out the cost of what you were doing, to send those under your command to their deaths." Black Canary said. "That you didn't want to be 'the Batman' anymore."
Dick closed his eyes. "I've been him. It's not fun or pretty... I hated every moment I donned the cowl, every moment I played him... but I felt I owed it to him."
"And now?" Black Canary asked. "You're still working for him, working in Gotham... I honestly didn't expect you to go back there."
Dick's jaw tightened. "Where else? My team was disbanded. My fucking city was turned into a radioactive wasteland, and... It… it was the only place I knew anymore, the only family I had."
"I understand..." Black Canary said. "What did Bruce mean with that comment about Tarantula?"
He froze and grew pale looking, almost sickly. "I don't talk about it... I won't talk about it."
"I see..." Black Canary said. "Withholding something won't help with your evaluation."
"I'm functional... I can work. I can do the hero gig... what more can I ask for from this life?" Dick said.
"Can I tell Raven and Zatanna about the Failsafe scenario?" Black Canary asked.
"If you think it matters... that was a long time ago, I got over it." Dick said.
Black Canary stood. "Maybe, but I'm not so sure Dick." She stopped by the door. "What happened between you and Starfire?"
Dick sighed. "It's a long story. I... I suggest you ask Raven, she was there for most of it."
"I will." Black Canary said before opening the door and stepping out into the hall.
Cyborg swallowed as he looked up at the huge crashed Tamaranian starship. Vines crawled up the side of the vessel and he could see a worn path through the foliage toward a single rusted hatch.
"God Star… is this where you've been staying?" He muttered as he pushed through the bushes and stepped up toward the hatch. He lifted his arm and tapped on it, activating a scanner. Power ran through the ship, not much but enough for life support, sensors, and short-range communications. He quickly overrode the locking system on the hatch and watched it roll aside.
A bank of lights flickered on as he stepped through the hatch and glanced at the grating. He could see a trail where the metal had been worn from pacing and started to follow it. He snorted as a clothesline laden down with swimsuits and lingerie crossed in front of him. "Really, Star? I know solar exposure is important to you, but you should cover up more than that."
The trail led to a hatch, which slid open as he stepped up beside it. The smell hit him first. The air was thick with cologne. It was so thick that Cyborg coughed as he breathed in the fumes and waved his hand in front of him. "Damn… Star."
His infrared eye scanned the room as. A single light flickered to life. There were no windows. A round bed sat in the middle of the room covered with tattered clothes. A pile of cologne bottles and hair-gel sat atop the end table.
"Star… you need to clean." He muttered before stepping over to the bed. A glance at the bottles brought him up short. They were all the same brand and the clothes atop her bed looked to be made of some tough grey, black, and blue fabric. Arching an eyebrow, he lifted the clothing from the bed and froze.
A blue bird-like insignia stared up at him and his sensors picked up the Nomex and Kevlar woven into the cloth. He gaped at it and saw the worn edges, the stains from cologne, the frayed thread around the suit's neck. His mind went back, scanning through his memories for the brand of cologne and hair gel. A millisecond later he froze. "Star… oh hell."
He lowered the suit onto the bed and swallowed. There was a tattered stuffed animal shaped like a mutant moth larva in the corner and a dozen odd knickknacks that he recognized from the time of the Titans. A battered bird-a-rang sat beside the bottles of hair-gel and cologne.
Each item looked worn as if the girl had handled them countless times. He stepped to the small closet and opened it finding another set of worn armored jumpsuits bearing the familiar blue insignia: Nightwing's old insignia.