Author's Note: Flashbacks from Teen Titan's Episode: Go.

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02: Fireworks

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"Just moved here, and from now on, I work alone.

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AZARATH

July 4, 12:00 PM

Her heart stuttered like a fragile wing and she was gently roused from her meditation. Slowly, quietly, her consciousness returned and her body - her temple - could be felt again. The stones beneath her legs had, by now, warmed to from her body heat, and the wind, after hours, had finally puttered to a soft breeze. Carefully, she let her mind sink back into her body and was once again in one of the towers of Azarath, the one, large window bringing in the scent of honeysuckle and the sound of children's laughter.

It took her a moment to understand what had woke her — disturbed her — from the depths of her inner self.

"Robin," she thought with a contemplative frown.

He was projecting again. After so many months, after so many worlds apart, and after so many walls constructed around their mindscapes, Raven could still feel him. It did not happen often or for long, but rather in his most dire and depressing moments... a part of him would slip into her, trying to find one of them... calling to — for — them.

Raven swallowed restlessly and pinched the bridge of her nose to fight off the coming head(heart) ache. The Dark Knight had set parameters: a year. A year to allow Robin to live, breathe, be without them — to find himself outside of them. A year, and they would see each other again - live, breathe and be each other again.

"Bruce doesn't understand," Raven thought grimly, shaking herself out of her thoughts. They could be separated — physically, but it would hurt them — mentally.

Exhaling, she stood from her seat on the tower floor — thick, solid, grey stones — and turned to the door — aged, wood and brass. The wind brushed at the stray hairs of her braid and, composed — calm, Raven opened the door and descended the stairs. Her long, deep, purple robe trailed after her like a whispered caress.

She may have to contact Cyborg again. Victor was the only one who was capable enough to poke around Wayne Industries, in particular Bruce's brainchild: The Batcave. Raven tsked. It may not be a good idea; Cyborg had nearly short-circuited last time.

"Damn Bats," she thought, pausing at the last step.

She could hear the children playing just outside the temple. She debated whether or not to [etc]. She knew that they were waiting for her. It still took her breath away to know that they liked her. (She was getting better and better with children every day.)

She remembered Robin's distress and sighed. She could not leave Robin to his own devices: he was always so hard on himself. Decided then, Raven stepped off the final step and retreated further into the temple — away from the children and the light and the laughter.

She passed a pair of monks, a couple of scholars and even a professor — they always paused in their journeys to acknowledge each other with either a bow or make short pleasantries. They did not speak long; they had learned to read her rather well in the past few months. In fact, they left her alone altogether when, slipping by a window and the sunlight hitting her violet hair just so, a familiar tune broke through the silence of the temple.

She gave an apologetic look to the monk she had been speaking to, but he forgave her readily enough. They parted ways and Raven slipped a hand into the pockets or her robes, withdrawing the Titan's communicator as she opened the gates to a small courtyard garden.

She knew that it wasn't Robin. He was oddly silent after the abrupt mental distress.

Fortunately, she was alone.

She opened the communicator, suspecting something amiss, and was pleasantly relieved to meet with a bright smile on the other end. "Star," Raven welcomed, calm and patient. There were no outward signs of concern or injury; Starfire was fine.

"Friend Raven!" Starfire grinned, her emerald eyes electric and full of love and kindness. "We have not spoken in a long time!"

Raven felt her features soften and even a smile touch her lips. "Yes. I've been busy studying. How is Tamaran?"

"Marvellous!" Starfire burst. "Take a look!"

Before Raven could make a decision, Starfire cheerfully moved her communicator from her face and to one of the deserts that dotted Tamaran's luscious geography. In the distance, Raven saw a sand-snake-like creature (at least five storeys tall) breaking up from the sand and then digging back down into the grainy ground. Raven suppressed a shudder. She still hadn't recovered from her first visit to the exotic planet.

"Lovely," Raven said, somehow able to keep the sarcasm from tainting her tone.

"Isn't it?" Starfire's grin returned, the wild winds of the desert tossing her glorious red hair like spun fire and sunlight. Starfire was absolutely breath taking, even more beautiful as they aged. Raven was proud to call her friend. "I have come up with an excellent plan, Raven!"

Raven nearly winced. Starfire always used excessive exclamation points when excited. "What is this plan, Star?"

"I wish to partake in a party of teas!"

It didn't even take Raven a second to comprehend and translate: "A tea party."

"Yes!"

Raven contemplated this. Very cautiously, she replied, "All right."

Sunfire's smile nearly blinded the sorceress. "Glorious! I shall contact friends Bumblebee, Jinx and Argent! We will arrive on Azarath-"

"What?" Raven punctured Sunfire's glee.

To Starfire's credit, she only faltered a brief second before she continued to steamroll ahead - as if Raven's left eye wasn't twitching. "We shall arrive on the Day of the Sun!" Starfire's smile remained bright even under Raven warning glare.

"Star-"

"I have already contacted Arella and she is looking forward to our Party of Teas!"

"Star."

"All right, Raven! I am ever-so-glad that we've come to an amicable conclusion-"

"No, Star."

"-but I must be go now! Bye!"

With that, Starfire disconnected her end of their communication, leaving Raven to bear the unpalatable taste of having to host a... tea party. With a resigned sigh, Raven closed her communicator and massaged her temples. She understood that Starfire had wanted to visit Azarath and meet her mother for a long while now. After all, Raven had already met Starfire's k'norfka (guardian), Galfore.

Accepting this as Starfire's round-about method to visiting Raven and, ultimately, reaffirming their unending friendship, Raven accepted this. Her mother seemed to be a part of this disastrous social gathering as well. Her mother was happy again.

Starfire wanted to be happy.

They all did.

This reminded Raven of Robin.

They all wanted to be happy.

Raven opened her communicator for the second time that day, and dialled.

#

"All the fault is yours! I commanded you leave me alone, but you insisted upon the 'being nice!'"

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TAMARAN

July 4, 15:24 PM

Starfire closed her communicator with a relieved sigh. Raven hadn't been very excited or happy about the surprise Party of Teas, but she had not protested overly much. Unlike Raven, Starfire was not one to hide her emotions - she wore her heart on her sleeve (she actually got the proverb right!) — and she had purposely made herself more eager and more excited than usual (if that were possible).

Raven hadn't even stood a chance. Starfire giggled at this thought. Raven hated to disappoint her — them.

"Princess," Balgor spoke, trekking up the sand dune to his mistress' side. He held a pair of binoculars in his hand. "The refthar."

As if the creature had heard the general, the sand-snake sprang up from the grains and roared in the distance, bearing fangs and spittle. Hearing the cry, Starfire frowned, unhappy and uncomfortable. It was the creature that had brought the Tamaranean platoon to the desert's edge. For weeks, the refthar had been harassing the gypsies in the area, and even travelers who kept their distance. The creature had gone rogue.

"Shall we?" Balgor enquired.

It took all of Starfire's strength not to look at the general imploringly. She did not want to end the creature — she was not one made to kill, but she understood that a decision had to be made. If she were Raven — Robin — there would not be any hesitance. But if Starfire had learned anything since her return to Tamaran, it was that she was not like her friends: calculated, means to an end — unshakeable.

Instead, she was sympathetic, caring — compromising.

Nodding an acquiesce, Starfire's eyes and fists glowed green before she flew upwards, several troops following after her. It would not take a whole platoon to down the creature. She was determined to subdue it for now. No need to kill it when it could be made to be docile.

An hour later, covered in spittle and sweat, Starfire dropped from the sky and nodded to her trusted general. Under his understanding, but stern gaze, she kept her posture straight and hard. Under the judging eyes of the Tamaran soldiers, she kept her face expressionless and forward. She was not her sister, but she was a force to be reckoned with.

They had learned that in the months since her return to Tamaran; she had taught herself to be that since her return to Tamaran.

Finally, once Starfire had shrouded herself in her tent — alone, she let herself sink into the rough blankets and feel again. Tamareans were, above all else, soldiers, but Starfire had learned what it was like to not be a soldier. She was beginning to teach the others too: to feel, to sympathize, to love. But they were hard and stubborn, and they were beginning to morph Starfire's sense of self — her real self.

This was why she needed to see the others — to see Raven. Raven who, against all odds, felt more deeply, more intensely, more truly than all others she had ever met or loved. Raven, who had always been lonely, shutting others out — shutting them out for the longest of time — loved them without question or hesitance or judgement. After so long, after being so far, when Raven finally let herself feel, she craved it more than the others and never took it for granted.

It was how Starfire knew, without question or doubt, that Raven wanted to see her just as much as she wanted to see her. "Perhaps more so," Starfire surmised ruefully.

Starfire understood this in Raven — they were of the same coin (or something like that). Raven was breathtaking in her darkness and mystery, in her full embrace of life even if she shied away from it. And she grew more beautiful with time. Starfire was proud to call her friend.

She was proud to call them all friends. They were five parts of a whole. They were a part of each other. And she missed them terribly. Cyborg's boisterous laugh and his passionate love for all things technology. Beast Boy's infectious energy and his vehement search for vegetarian options. Robin... Robin.

Her first love. Always would be. So serious. So stubborn. So unbendable... Starfire smiled. So forgiving. So merciful. So righteous and kind and protective...

So lost without them.

Raven didn't say, but she knew — they knew. Robin was having trouble coping without them. Despite his hard exterior and his master-like grasp on his emotions, Robin was the most sensitive of them. Raven, above all others, knew this. Out of respect, out of their friendship, they've all said nothing.

They were all waiting.

"Five months," Starfire thought with relish.

Soon.

#

"My fault?! You blast me, you kiss me, but you never stop to mention that they have a gigantic particle weapon!"

#

WASHINGTON, D.C.

July 5, 00:01 EDT

He awoke with a start, a psychic pull that lurched his consciousness into place — forcing, hammering him back to reality. For a moment, he thought he was still dreaming, still watching the others laugh and play on the beach surrounding their Tower, but then his eyes adjusted to the glow of the computers and his stomach turned. They'd been captured.

His first thought: Cyborg.

Cyborg and he could get them out of any technological contraption and mechanical abomination ever invented. After that, they would put a stop to this maniacal plan, capture the malicious villains and be back at the Tower before midnight.

But then he saw Kaldar — Aqualad.

There were no Titans.

Robin swallowed, painful and dry. He could hear Kid Flash in the other holding pod trying to coax Superman's clone into freeing them, but Robin brushed it aside. With or without Cyborg — them — he would still need to escape, destroy this maniacal plan and capture the malicious villains.

He just didn't have a Tower to return to.

Producing a pick from his glove, Robin began working on the cuffs. Aqualad soon joined the conversation, but the clone did not respond. It was eerie, quiet — glowering. It was almost robotic, but Robin recognized the consciousness in its eyes. It did not trust anything or anyone.

"I thought he would help us…?" Kid Flash let his question hang. "I mean… we kind of freed him, right?"

Aqualad contemplated this, his expression turning sympathetic as he voiced, "I believe that our friend is not in full control of his actions."

Kid Flash frowned, troubled and concerned.

"Wh-What…" the clone attempted speech.

The room grew still, even Robin.

A struggle, and then words were formed from the clone's mouth. "What if I wasn't?"

"He can talk?!" Kid Flash exclaimed, eyes wide, awed and curious at the same time.

"Yes," the clone hissed, offended and fisting his hands. "He can."

It was his first show of expression: rage, and it left them speechless, even Kid Flash who was always so suave and cool.

"The Genomorphs taught you… telepathically," Aqualad surmised, surprised and hopeful.

"They taught me much," the clone admitted, his countenance still hard and angry. "I can read — write. I know the names of things-"

"But have you seen them?" Kid Flash interrupted — he who was so full of life and energy.

The clone hesitated.

"Have they actually ever let you see the sky… or the sun?" Kid Flash pried gently, an understanding smile on his lips.

"Images have been implanted in my mind," the clone explained, and then he looked away. "But… no. I have not seen them."

"Do you know what you are?" Aqualad asked carefully.

The clone straightened at once, robotic and steely, and answered as if from script: "I am the Super Boy, a Genomorph, a clone made from the DNA of the Super Man, created to replace him should he perish… to destroy him should he turn from the Light."

#

"We are doomed! I can't believe I let you talk me into this!"

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QURAC

July 5, 06:01 UTC

He climbed the orange tree with much enthusiasm, his monkey claws clutching, digging and pulling himself up to the canopy. Finally, with a leap, he broke through the leaves and winced at the brightness of the rising sun. Finding a good, strong branch, Beast Boy changed himself back to his original form, a human with green skin, and he sat there, absorbing the stillness, the quiet and the peace with a smile.

He'd never thought he'd be one to enjoy sunrises — the hours before the rest of the world woke. It was more Raven's thing than his, but after these months of nothingness, Beast Boy had learned to enjoy any moments that came his way.

They never lasted.

From the house, he heard his mom moving in the kitchen. As a wildlife preservationist, Marie Logan worked odd hours, but there hadn't been a day when she hadn't woke up early to make breakfast. Ever since Beast Boy had discovered his powers, he had searched far and wide for answers and a purpose in life. He thought the answer would be with the Doom Patrol. Later, perfectly, he found it was with them.

But there hadn't been a single day he hadn't thought of her: his mom. And after that winter — the longest winter of their lives — Beast Boy had returned where he started and he regret having left his mom in the first place. He had nearly broken her.

After that winter, Beast Boy re-examined his place and purpose in life.

With them.

He looked to the house.

And with her.

After that winter, Marie cherished every moment she had with her son.

They did not know how long those moments would last.

They never lasted.

"Five more months," Beast Boy mused.

Shaking himself out of his morose thoughts, Beast Boy roused his enthusiasm and took out his communicator.

They may be separated, but never far.

He beamed into the sun. It was going to be another beautiful day.

#

"Say what?! I was ready to walk before you-"

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GERMANY

July 4, 06:15 UTC

"Dude, I'm telling you," Beast Boy drilled emphatically. "You should definitely visit Qurac after Germany! You can meet my mom!"

Cyborg — Victor — smiled at Beast Boy's — Garfield's — insistence. Even with Victor keeping an eye on the road, he knew that Garfield was flailing his arms hysterically on the other side of the communicator. Garfield's whine could be heard throughout his baby's stunning surround-sound speakers. The car hummed with Garfield's energy and (he would never admit to it) Victor was glad to hear from the little bugger.

"Well, not so 'little' anymore," Victor thought, his eyes briefly flickering to the communicator's screen before returning to the road.

Garfield had hit a growth spurt over the last few months, even surpassing Starfire. It made Starfire giggle and flit around every time they got together. Victor wondered how Robin was doing.

He contemplated this as Germany's picturesque countryside passed him in a blur. There was so much Germany had to offer in terms of green technology and energy development. He couldn't wait to attend the conference and get to know some of the best minds the world had to offer. Thank goodness he had perfected his human hologram or he wouldn't have been able to travel as much as he had.

"Hey! Are you still there?" Garfield wheedled.

Victor chuckled. "Still here, grass stain."

Garfield bristled. If he'd been a bird, his feather would have, literally, ruffled. "Not funny, dude."

Victor laughed. He was just about to comment when his communicator sounded again.

"Raven," his loyal car intoned in a pleasant, but robotic, female tone.

Both he and Garfield paused in their banter. Raven almost never contacted them unless necessary.

"Call me back," Garfield said, and then cut off his communicator's frequency.

"Right," Victor hummed, more to himself than to Garfield, seeing as the changeling was no longer present. Bracing himself, Victor accepted Raven's call and chimed, "Hey there, girl!"

"Cyborg," came Raven's even and placid tone filtering through his car's speakers.

Victor grinned. Nothing ever baffled or bothered Raven, which was why she was so good at handling them — grounding them. They all had such volatile personalities. "Wazzzzzzzzzz uuuuuuuuuuuup?!" he slurred wildly.

She merely raised a brow. The braid looked well on her. She was living more now. They were all learning to live without the others, but it was not such a bad thing. It would only make them stronger — together.

"It's Robin," Raven replied blandly.

His grasp on the steering wheel tightened. "Ah... Robin."

Five months.

"Soon."

He might be living, but it was not complete. They were a part of each other, but fragmented now. It had been seven months since anyone had last spoken to Robin. Robin... ever elusive, ever hard-headed, ever self-depreciating.

"What happened?" Victor asked after some length.

"He's distressed," Raven explained. "And now silence." Raven actually shifted then and that was enough to have Victor's inner alarms blaring red.

"I'll contact the Bat," Victor finalized.

Raven nodded. "Thank you."

They signed off. Victor was rankled.

Robin... ever troublesome.

He sighed.

For caution sake, Victor parked the car at a nearby Bed and Breakfast and waited a beat before picking up his laptop. His fingers were twitching as he connected his T-communicator to the tech and booted them up. He, above the others, had a particular... distaste for the Bat. It didn't help that the billionaire had short-circuited him that one time.

Victor scowled, and then vindictively started to hack through the Justice League systems. (In some ways, it was similar to the Tower's systems, thanks to a Bird.) It didn't take him long to find the Bat, seeing as he had had practice over the past few months of doing this. The Dark Knight could tell them to stay away, but they were still rebellious teens — and rebellious superhero teens were even harder to control.

He smirked when the Bat's communicator started ringing. The caped crusader could not ignore him for long... They only contacted him when it was necessary — when Robin was in trouble.

Victor straightened his face when the Bat finally picked up.

"Mr. Stone," the Batman stated, eyes narrowed and voice hard.

Victor almost grinned.

#

"QUIET!"

#

Raven ended the conversation with Cyborg, her balance restored. She trusted Cyborg — all of them — to play their parts and play their parts well. Five more months, and they could finally drop the façade and breathe easier. Bruce's restrictions were choking them — hindering more than helping. It was stunting their growths.

Sighing, she pushed her braid off her shoulder and left it swinging behind her. It was time to face the children. She moved to the gates, with plans of leaving the courtyard and to the outsides of the temple, when her communicator sounded. She paused, and then groaned. She may be more sociable than before, but damn did she not love her silence.

Sobering, she knew that it couldn't have been Starfire or Cyborg; she had just finished speaking with them.

"Beast Boy," she surmised. It always was Beast Boy interrupting her quietness, and she was proved right when she opened the communicator and saw Beast Boy's grinning face. He had gotten handsomer over the months, not that she would ever admit to it.

"Hiya, Raven!" Beast Boy quipped, his teeth sharp and, strangely, harmless.

"Beast Boy," Raven deadpanned. "What do you want?"

He wasn't hurt. This was their usual banter.

"So I was just talking to Cy-"

Raven rolled her eyes. The boys were always glued together. What one knew, the others would too.

(But then again, Raven and Starfire were thick as thieves too.)

"-and then you called, and you never call, so I'm just wondering: what's up!"

Beast Boy was smiling, but Raven could tell that it was strained. She knew that she never called, only when it was serious or troubling. It was such a tell of hers, one call and they would all be scrambling to keep their heads above water, but Raven was never one to start needless conversations.

"It's Robin," she said. They never lied anymore. Lying was hindering. "Cyborg is contacting Bruce."

Beast Boy flinched at the name. He preferred "Batman."

Names held too much power.

"Okay," the changeling said, contemplating this. "So everything's A-OK?"

"Yes," Raven assured.

"Hmm…" Beast Boy was in his thinking pose.

Nothing good ever came out of his thinking pose.

"So I was thinking-"

"Goodbye, Beast Boy."

"-you should visit-!"

And then she closed the communicator.

She briefly contemplated in calling Beast Boy back, but then thought better of it. If it was important, the sprite could just convince Starfire to pester her instead. Chuckling, Raven pocketed the communicator and left the courtyard. The device was warm and weighty against her thigh, reminding her of just how close they all were.

#

"I suppose I could team up… just this once."

#

WASHINGTON, D.C.

July 5, 00:32 EDT

Robin was tense, his limbs locking up as if someone was choking him and thrashing him and tearing into him. The words, so didactic and factual, had left him feeling uneasy and vulnerable. It was then when he saw him — really saw him — the clone: the Super Boy. The replica of the original. Not as good, not as perfect, but so full of will and curiosity. And the deadness. The emptiness. The nothingness that could be filled. The potential and that sinister darkness beneath that could so easily be cultivated for good… or for evil.

He was like that once.

After they had avenged his parents, he wondered what else he had left. His guardian and superior had wanted him to continue to fight crime, but… really… all he wanted was to sleep. All he wanted to do was feel nothing and succumb to silence. With no more purpose, it was either to feel nothing… or feel everything.

To hurt. To scare. To haunt.

Anything just for a new purpose.

A purpose that was not the Bat's, but his own.

His very own purpose.

The Bat had not understood.

So he left.

Wandered the countryside.

Searched for something new.

… And found something beyond his wildest dreams.

A new city.

A new team.

A new identity superimposed over the old.

… A new family.

They had filled him up. They had revived him. They had placed something good and kind and light inside of him.

They had cultivated him for good.

And as Robin searched the Super Boy for something — something remotely like hope — he realized that the Super Boy may not ever have the chance that had been given to him. Starfire's persistence. Cyborg's steadiness. Beast Boy's optimism. Raven's wisdom.

"To be like Superman is a worthy aspiration," Aqualad agreed, speaking to the Super Boy, "but, like Superman, you deserve a life of your own beyond that solar suit, beyond that pod, beyond Cadmus."

The Super Boy did not have a family.

"I live because of Cadmus! It is my home!" the Super Boy roared.

"Your home is a test tube," Robin clipped.

Alarm flashed in Kid Flash's eyes. The speedster wanted to intervene before the Bird got any crueller or colder or merciless. It had already been frightening enough with his silence and icy gaze.

"But we can show you the sun," Robin said.

Starfire.

"And the earth."

Cyborg.

"And the sky."

Beast Boy.

Kid Flash smiled, small and bittersweet. He recognized the softness in Robin's tone; it was the same softness he used when speaking of the others, of being with them. Chuckling, Kid Flash felt right to say, "I think you're forgetting something, Robin." Someone. "It's after midnight now, so we can only show you the moon — right now."

Raven.

They may be apart, but never apart.

"We can show you, introduce you, to Superman."

It was Aqualad who sealed their fates…

…and their lives.

#

"We're not five heroes. We're one team."

#

The lab was destroyed. Huge chunks of concrete, twisted metal and upended earth lay sprawled across the land like a war gone awry. There was no sophistication to the destruction, no plan, only hurt where hurt was thought due and foolish destruction. It looked like some child — "Children," he corrected — had thrown a tantrum.

Batman took note of this from his high perch, a broken piece of concrete that towered all the rest. The children had been removed, albeit not as easily as he had first thought, and all there was now was the skeleton of what was Project Cadmus.

When he had received the call from Victor Stone, he had been sceptical of the boy's concern. One word of "Raven," and Batman knew better than to dally. (Raven and Robin shared something Batman could not separate.) Fortunately, the issue of Woten had been resolved, and he made short work of finding Robin's location. The GPS pointing to Cadmus was enough to alarm the League.

What awaited them… had alarmed them even further.

Instead of being apologetic or worried, the young… superheroes, he supposed… had been rebellious.

"Cadmus will be investigated," he had told them. "All fifty-two levels. But let's make one thing clear-"

"You should've called," Flash had interrupted.

Needless to say, Batman had been bereft. "End results aside," he'd continued, "we're not happy. You hacked Justice League systems, disobeyed direct orders, and endangered lives. You will not be doing this again."

It was, surprisingly, Aqualad who had stepped forward to say, "I am sorry, but we will."

"Aqualad," Aquaman had commanded, "stand down."

"Apologies, my king, but no," Aqualad had said firmly. "We did good work here tonight, the work you trained us to do. Together, on our own, we forged something powerful — important."

"If this is about your treatment at the Hall, the three of you…" Flash had begun.

"It's not," Kid Flash had said, lips pressed and definite. "You've taught me — us — everything. And now we're ready to go on our own…"

'Again' had been left unsaid, but they understood. It had been — was — something heavy that weighed over the mentors and their mentees for quite some time. And as they'd continued with their back-and-forth, Batman had been watching Robin… and Robin had been watching Batman.

The Caped Crusader had been taken back to that night again — rain, lightning, swollen cheeks and bruised fists — and how Robin had decided that he'd had enough of him. Robin had decided that he'd find his own path — forge is own way. What Batman had feared then, watching his protégé walk away from everything they were and was, was that Robin may never be his Robin again.

Never be a Robin filled with laughter and life.

But he had been wrong. Batman had been wrong.

Robin had found something more than just the two of them. He had found four others just like him: lost, desperate and full of hope. And Batman had torn them apart, separated them. It had been a miscalculation on his part, Batman admitted, as he had hoped that Robin would bond with the League the same as he had bonded with the other teens.

But it was not the same.

The League was not them.

So while the others had been exchanging words, as the other mentors tried to impress the serverity of the situation to their mentees, Batman understood that it was time to — at least attempt to — return a little of them back to Robin.

For Robin may go off on his own again, and this time… there might not be a them to catch him at all.

"Why let them tell us what to do?" the Super Boy had demanded. "It's simple. Get on board or get out of the way."

Robin had not given any outward signs of agreeing with the clone, but Batman understood his protégé more than what his protégé gave him credit for.

"Very well," Batman had agreed.

The others had been shocked.

But not Robin.

Never Robin.

"We will not fail you," Robin had stated.

They both knew that it was not the same.

The League was not the Titans.

#

"That's quite a view."

"Somebody oughta build a house out here."

"Yeah, if you like sunshine and the beach..."

"[Laughs] You know, you're kind of funny."

"You think I'm funny? Woohoo! Dude, I know some jokes!"

#

The innards of Mount Justice were heavier than the Hall of Justice. The stone, the earth, the history… Robin would've felt suffocated if the others hadn't been by his side. They were all in civilian clothes, listening to Batman speak. It did not take long for Robin to locate all the computers, wiring and mechanics of this recently reopened secret base.

The sidekicks were to be trained under the League's best. They were to be the League's covert team, only going on missions assigned from Batman himself. Robin allowed it. It was a compromise.

Because they both knew…

"The five of you will be that team," Batman affirmed.

Robin looked up. Five?

"Five?" Kid Flash — Wally — enquired, as if reading Robin's thoughts.

Batman looked to the Zeta-Beam entrance behind the young superheroes and it soon activated to admit two others: Martian Manhunter and…

"This is Martian Manhunter's niece," Batman introduced. "Miss Martian."

Robin narrowed his eyes, contemplating this new character. She was gentle and pretty, her skin a Martian green and hair long and brown. She had that girl-next-door vibe, but Robin was not about to discount her abilities.

A look to Batman, a simple flash from his peripheral, and Robin understood. Another concession.

Five.

Like them.

"Hi," Miss Martian greeted, shy and optimistic.

But they both knew that, even with the concessions…

"We're looking more and more like a team," Wally said, grinning with a nod.

They were not the Titans.

#

"I thank you all for your bravery and help, and I wish to ask permission to remain here where the people are most strange, but also most kind."

"You don't need our permission."

"But if you want our friendship, you've got it."

"I guess we could all use some new friends."

"Besides, we kind of make a good team."

#

Author's Note: It's so good that it fucking hurts. Why am I doing this to myself?

the point