As the Klaxon continued to shriek people emerged from the storefronts on the promenade, all with worried looks on their faces. Raven wasn't the exception as she understood well that her husband could be one of the victims. The thought filled her with pure, unadulterated dread. Gar had explained to her that exposure to the virus meant certain death within a few days.
She instinctively reached out to him and was able to feel his presence. He was in a state of panic. Raven gulped and felt a lump form in the pit of her stomach. This couldn't be happening to them, not to her. She would be a widow before her daughter was born.
Raven felt her legs weaken and she grabbed onto a nearby railing to keep her balance. Tears formed in her eyes which she closed.
This can't be happening.
As panic flooded her psyche one of the elevators chimed and its doors slid open. She opened her eyes and saw what looked like a torpedo roll out of the lift. To her immense joy and surprise, Garfield, with a grim look on his face, was helping to push the long tube towards the infirmary. The tube had a window on one end and Raven immediately recognized the tube's occupant: Dr. Tina Felty, who looked frozen.
Raven heaved a sigh of relief, first for her husband, who was joyfully unharmed and secondly for the true victim, who was in suspended animation. She followed the medical entourage to the infirmary, and it suddenly dawned on her that they no longer had a doctor in the facility.
The infirmary was a whirlwind of activity. The nurse practitioner was busy tapping away on a keyboard while a lab tech was fiddling with the cryonic tube where Tina rested in her icy sleep. When the tech was done they slipped the tube into a niche in the wall and a screen above it came to life. It identified the tube's occupant as Tina Felty and displayed a series of data fields Raven couldn't interpret but assumed that because they were displayed in green that they were good.
Gar wiped his brow with the backside if his hand. He then noticed that Raven was in the infirmary and gave her a weak smile. No longer able to hold back, her tears began to flow and she ran to him. They embraced each other and held on tightly. The rest of the entourage who brought the tube quietly withdrew, as many also had loved ones to inform that they were alright.
Gar kissed his wife several times before releasing her.
"Hang on, there's something I have to do."
He picked up a handset from a nearby phone and dialed the number to turn off the klaxons. He then dialed a second number for the site wide PA system.
"This is Dr. Garfield Logan. There was an accidental contamination breach in lab four on level seven. Dr. Tina Felty was exposed to the virus. The breach has been contained and Dr. Felty is in suspended animation, where she will remain until a cure is found. Until a new physician is assigned to the lab I will be the official doctor on duty though it will be Nurse Washam who will attend to your daily needs. You may all return to your daily activities as there is no present danger."
Gar hung up the handset and sighed.
"Gar … what happened?"
"Tina was giving us a hand today and she made a mistake with the lab equipment. She volunteered to help during her free time … we shouldn't have let her, she wasn't properly trained." He rubbed his temples. "Shit … what a screw up, this should never have happened."
"Is there anything I can do to help?" Raven asked.
"No … it's OK, plus you need to rest, we don't want you to go into labor before the new doc arrives. Speaking of which, I need to call Luthor and tell him what happened."
Gar sat down at Tina's desk, which was immaculately tidy. There was a single envelope in her in box, and the return address indicated that it was from a lab from outside the facility. Garfield opened the enveloped and carefully studied its contents.
"Why did Tina have Mark tested to find out if he's a clone?" He asked.
Raven pursed her lips. "Because I asked her."
He shook his head in dismay. "Why?"
"Because … because I was hoping that he wasn't her son."
Gar tossed the letter onto the desk. "He isn't a clone."
"Raven, you've been getting so close to him, does it really matter that he's Alexa's son?"
She crossed her arms and stared at the floor. "I suppose it shouldn't. He's a nice boy and you're right, I do like him. If he was a clone … I guess I'd be able to think of him as my son."
"Because he wouldn't be her son?"
"Correct … I'm sorry, I know I'm coming across as petty, but I can't think of a single reason to like Alexa."
Raven was still holding the book and debated whether or not to tell Gar about it. She could sense that he was feeling overwhelmed with everything that had just happened and wisely decide to tell him later.
"Changing the subject, you're worried about Tina, aren't you?"
He nodded. "I don't trust these damn cryonics tubes. They're Luthcorp tech and this is the first I've heard of them … Tina is the first human they've been used on, it's been just animals before."
"But it does work, right?"
"According to Lexcorp data they now have a 100% reanimation rate. Still, I worry … the human brain is far more complex, what if she suffers some form of brain damage?"
"At least she'll stay alive until the cure is found … Gar, I know Tina is your friend."
"I had a big crush on her at school … I never told her, she knew I had feelings for you, I didn't want to mess things up … I've always valued her friendship and I didn't want to lose it … I'm scared, Raven … I do care about her, a lot … what if we can't save her?"
Raven took his hand in her own. "Tina is fortunate to have a good friend like you. And I have no doubt that you will find the cure."
He sighed. "That's the thing, Raven, we haven't made any progress at all."
"Don't give up Gar; I know there's answer out there."
"Yeah … but where?"
-( scene beak )-
Starfire's royal bedchamber was a typical Tamaranian bedroom, meaning that the furniture, including the bed, was unrecognizable to her daughter when they first arrived. Nightstar, who was now more familiar with the strange fixtures, climbed into what looked like a giant Venus flytrap, which wrapped itself around her.
"Pleasant slorvaks, my daughter." Starfire rubbed her own pregnant midsection as she kissed her daughter goodnight.
"I miss Dad. The baby is going to miss dad too."
"Everything will be alright, my daughter."
"I don't like being here … Tamaran is weird."
"If you are saying that Tamaran is different from Earth, you are correct."
"Mom … I want to go home … I want to see Dad. Don't you miss him too?"
"I miss him every moment I am awakeay. But we must stay on Tamaran."
"I don't want to stay here. I hate it here! Everyone looks at me like I'm a monster. I heard people say that I'm a half breed and they say that they can't believe that you married dad."
Starfire nodded. "Yes, I know that the Royal Court and even Galfore did not approve of my choice of spouse, but it was my choice. And you are not a monster or a half breed. Do you think that your Aunt Raven is a monster or a half breed?"
The child's blue eyes widened. "Aunt Raven? No way … she's awesome … I love her."
"And you are awesome too. My dear child, your father has important work to do at home and even though you are not happy here you must understand that Tamaran is just as much your home as is Earth and you need to become familiar with our other home."
"Mom, do I really have to? I just want to go home."
"My child, you are home. Don't you understand? Someday you will be the Grand Ruler of Tamaran."
"You hate dad, don't you? That's why you won't go back to him!"
Starfire glared at her firstborn. "That is a lie!"
Her glare turned into a frown. "You have been talking to your Aunt! Why are you doing that? I warned you about her. Why are you seeing her?"
The girl hesitated before answering "She has food." She stammered.
"Food? So this is why you have been hardly eating at all, you have been dining with her! Why are you disobeying me?"
"Because she has real food."
"What do you mean by 'real food'?"
"She has Earth food. She has pizza, hamburgers, tacos, spaghetti and meatballs … she even has Chinese food."
Starfire looked livid. "You are forbidden from seeing her; if you disobey me again I will punish you."
She turned to leave.
"Mom, where are you going?"
"To speak with your aunt."
-( scene break )-
"You know, just when I think I can't possibly hate Slade more, I do."
Cyborg, wearing his "human" prosthetics, sat down in front of the mission console. Its screen was peppered with red dots. Bumblebee was leaning over his shoulder
"Steele City is in a state of near anarchy." She remarked.
"Thanks to G. Gordon Godfrey and Slade. What the hell is he thinking? They've gone and scared the crap out of everyone with their bogus imminent invasion crap."
"Slade knows about the plague and he's probably thinking that a cure will be found and when it is he'll take advantage of the situation, maybe take control of a few cities. By that point all civil order will have broken down. He'll step in as a savior ... you remember what happened in Gotham after the big earthquake, don't you, Sparky?"
"No Man's Land. The federal government quarantined Gotham."
"Until Lex Luthor stepped in … and made a fortune rebuilding Gotham. Slade might even re-emerge as a legitimate businessman."
"SladeCorp? Don't even joke about that, girl."
Cyborg studied all that hot spots on the screen. "This is hopeless, I don't even know where to begin, and the cops are overwhelmed too."
She took his hand. "I have an idea."
She led him back to their bedroom, where she began to disrobe.
"What? You want to get laid? How's that gonna help?"
She stripped naked and locked eyes with him. "Out there, it won't help, but right now there's nothing we can do to help out there. But in here … it'll make me feel good and at least for a little while I can forget about what's happening out there."
Cyborg pursed his lips as he processed her words. Then with no warning he began to undress.
"You what I hate about you? You're always right."
"Shut up, Sparky, and get into the damn bed."
-( scene break )-
Raven returned to the library and sat down at the desk. She put the book down in front of her and stared at it.
"So, monogamy is supposed to be unhealthy … maybe if you're a nymphomaniac." She droned in a low voice.
Raven's first instinct was to toss the book into the incinerator. But she had too much respect for the written word to do that and that burning books that went against her worldview would put her in undesirable company.
She reluctantly picked up the book and opened it. If there was anything to be gained, it was that she would understand what exactly went through the minds of people like Alexa and the McCalls.
Raven was a quick read and an hour later, having finished reading the book she closed it and put it down.
The fundamental premise of the book was that sexual fidelity was an artificial construct which only led to unhappiness. It argued that while couples could and did fall in love that their relationship would be richer if they had love interests outside of their primary relationship. It stated that by exploring love and sex outside of their partnership, that a couple would bring back new experiences to their relationship and would actually make it stronger.
In later chapters the book make a case for plural or 'group' marriages, where a group of men and women would enter into a relationship with each other.
As Raven put the book down, she muttered to herself "What a load of crap. I'm half demon and I find this tripe to be repugnant."
As if on cue Alexa entered the library.
Raven narrowed her eyes as she returned the greeting. "Alexa."
"Are you OK? I'll bet you were worried about Gar during the alarm, I know I was."
Raven frowned at the woman. "You want to have sex with my husband, don't you?"
"I see you read the book."
"Yes, I have. And I'll save us some time, you can't have him."
"This isn't about me, Raven. This is about you and Gar."
"I'm sure it is."
"I'm serious Raven, I really am."
"Oh please, do you really think I believe the garbage McCall wrote in her book? That if I let Gar sleep with you and McCall that our relationship will somehow magically improve?"
"It isn't magic, Raven. It's science. Matt and Barbara have a rock solid relationship and it's because they have other lovers."
"Forget it Alexa, you can't have him."
"I'm not talking about Gar."
"Then what are you talking about?"
Alexa smirked. "I'm talking about you."
"Yes, you. You aren't going to be pregnant forever Raven. And if you recall chapter 12 …"
"Yes, I remember. The best time to explore new lovers is after child birth … more garbage."
Alexa shook her head dismissively. "How disappointing … you know Raven, being that you are half demon we hoped that you would understand this and be open, even enthusiastic about polyamory."
"Being half demon doesn't make me a slut."
Alexa laughed out loud. "Raven, there is no such thing as a slut. It's perfectly natural to desire other men and to act on those desires."
"I don't buy that infidelity makes for a stronger marriage."
"There is no such thing as infidelity."
"Yeah, you'd like to believe that."
"I believe it because it's true."
"You believe it because you want to have sex with my husband and you're trying to take advantage of him because of our situation."
Alexa pulled up a chair. "Raven, can't you see what's obvious? You can't have sex with your husband now and you won't be able to for a while. Barbara and I want to take care of him. You know that he's under a lot of stress and he needs an outlet. When you're ready for him you'll find that he'll be a much better lover and if you explore with other men, you'll become a much better lover too. Matt has already expressed interest in you, and so have a few other guys."
Raven leaped to her feet. "Get out of here; get out before I do something terrible to you!" The demoness' two eyes began to glow red.
"Raven, it's unnatural to be monogamous, you know that I'm right."
Raven's body began to grow and she towered over Alexa. "You cannot have him, you pig! He's mine and he loves me."
"I also love him, Raven. I always have. Share him with me and I promise you that he'll blow you away."
Raven's eyes split into two demonic pairs. "He already blows me away, you whore!" She responded in an otherworldly, guttural voice. "He's mine and only mine."
To her credit, Alexa kept her cool. "That isn't true, Raven. He's also mine. He was mine first, and we have a son together. He's just as much mine as he is yours."
Raven continued to grow. "I should banish you forever to another dimension."
"You wouldn't dare!"
"Don't try me, Alexa. You don't know me."
"Actually, I think I do. I've seen you with my son. You've practically accepted him as your own. Deep down you know I'm right. Plural marriages make sense."
"He's my husband, and not yours. And I only accept your son because he is Gar's, not because he's yours."
Alexa chuckled. "Raven, you might as well get used to me, because I'm not going away. We are both his wives and as the senior wife I'm going to claim my right to have sex with him, and there's nothing you can do about that."
Raven shrieked as dark tendrils emerged from under her cape and wrapped themselves around Alexa's body. For the first time during their chat, the blond suddenly looked alarmed.
"Whoa, let's not do anything rash now; you don't want to make a mistake you'll later regret."
Raven's tendrils flipped Alexa and she was now hanging upside down, flailing her arms,
"The only mistake I made was not dispatching you to another dimension the day I met you, one from which you'd never return. And I intend to correct that mistake, but before I send you away I am going to teach you the meaning of pain, you lecherous bitch. I am so going to enjoy …"
Raven stopped speaking and released Alexa, dropping her on the floor, where she landed with a dull thud. The blond quickly sat up and by the time she looked at Raven the demoness had already reverted to her normal form.
"I see you finally came to your senses."
Alexa noticed that Raven was bent over and clutching her midsection.
"Are you OK?"
"My water broke … I'm having a contraction."
Alexa became wide eyed. "Whoa, we'd better get you to the infirmary."
"That … would be a good idea."
"Here, let me help you." Alexa hooked her arm into Raven's.
As they made their way to the infirmary she spoke to the sorceress. "Now we're gonna be more than just co-wives, we're also gonna co-mothers. Raven, I just want you to know that I consider Coraline my daughter too."
"For the love of Azar, would you please shut up? And if you don't, I promise to resume what I was going to do to you before I was interrupted."
Alexa remained silent until they reached the infirmary. Garfield was still there.
"Whoa! What happened? Are you OK?" Gar shouted as they entered the infirmary
"Coraline … she's coming, Gar, she's coming."
He turned to the nurse practitioner and whispered to her. "Have you ever delivered a baby?"
"I've assisted several times, but I haven't done it myself. How about you?"
"I delivered a baby gorilla once."
"I guess that will have to do." Washam replied. "Are you ready, doctor?"
"I suppose … how hard can it be?"
-( scene break )-
It was now Nightwing's turn to watch the sensor grid whiles Babs slept. He was seated in front of a portable console, which so far had yet to report an incursion on the mountain.
Boredom began to set in, as did concern. They had not received a supply drop off in over a week and while they had made radio contact with the UN, the people on the other end were being very evasive when it came to supply schedules. Every time Nightwing asked if everything was OK he was told to not worry and to focus on the mission. Unfortunately they only had a week's worth of food rations left, and the crew of the helicopters which collected the captured refugees were also bare handed when it came to supplies. It also did not go unnoticed by him that the choppers were often hours late to collect the refugees. Something was wrong, but he didn't know what it was and the helicopter crews were very tight lipped.
Grayson had taken to foraging for whatever food he could find on the mountains lower slopes. There were a few mango groves, but the fruit wouldn't be ripe enough to eat for a few weeks. He had seen some antelope on the upper slopes and made a mental note to trap one by the end of the week if no new supplies arrived.
He leaned back in his chair and glanced at Babs, who was sleeping in her skin tight spandex. She was now even shapelier than when she was a teen, and this did not go unnoticed by Grayson as memories came flooding back.
He didn't tell Starfire much about Babs, except that they had been reckless teen lovers before he headed out to Jump City. What he never told Starfire was just how much in love he was at the time with the red headed bat girl and how devastated he was when the Joker maimed her with a well placed bullet. Unbeknown to his teammates, he came within a cat's whisker of quitting the team and heading back to Gotham to be at the side of his first love. It was Bruce who convinced him to not come back, that there was nothing Robin could do for Babs and that he was responsible for his own team now. Bruce's final reassurance was that he would take care of Barbara Gordon and find her something meaningful to do.
Dick didn't see Babs again until three years later, after the Titans had been dissolved. Bludhaven was fairly close to Gotham and it wasn't long until Bruce summoned Nightwing to Wayne Manor. Grayson showed up with his wife and young daughter.
It was both a happy and awkward reunion. Alfred prepared a feast to celebrate the return of the Batclan's prodigal son and the extended family at the time was present: Bruce of course, Tim Drake, along with the current Batgirl, the functionally mute but deadly Cassandra Cain. And of course, sitting in a hi-tech wheel chair was Barbara Gordon, who was then known as Oracle.
The reunion was joyful as everyone got to meet Starfire for the first time and of course they all gushed over little Mar'i, who was only an infant. Bruce assumed the role of the proud grandfather and warmly welcomed Starfire to the family.
Barbara was cordial but kept a respectful distance throughout the dinner, only making small talk. After the meal was over she wandered away to a balcony and stared stoically at the night time sky above, until she noticed that she was no longer alone. She spun her wheelchair around and found herself facing the towering and alien looking Tamaranian.
"Greetings." The Titan spoke.
"Hi … congratulations."
"For marrying Dick and having such a lovely daughter."
"Yes, I thank you."
"Um, Starfire … may I call you that? I understand that you are a princess."
"Yes, you may call me Starfire. And do not concern yourself with my background; I am only royalty on my world … which is right over there." She pointed in the sky.
"It orbits Vega, right?"
"That is correct."
"Starfire … I wish you and Dick all the best."
"You're welcome." Babs replied as she put on her bravest face.
"Miss Gordon … Richard has told me about your past relationship with him."
"And that is in the past, Starfire. How much did he tell you?"
"He told me that you were lovers."
Babs shook her head. "No, not lovers. We were just a couple of horny teens who had sex when we shouldn't have. That's all we were."
"It is OK; you do not have to do the pretending for my sake. It is obvious that you still have very strong feelings for Richard. That you have been avoiding me makes it very obvious."
"That was a long time ago. Things change, people move on. It's the way life is."
"Richard still cares a great deal about you. You are no longer his lover, but you are still a dear friend of his. You do not need to do the avoiding of me."
"Starfire … it's probably best this way, if I just avoid you guys. You don't need an old flame hanging around … and in my current state, it's best for me too. I won't sugar coat it, knowing that you bagged him, let's just say that it's painful. But I have to be realistic too … I'm a cripple, I can't even experience sex anymore. My life now involves sitting in this wheel chair and staring at computer screens."
"I understand … I will trouble you no more."
"Thank you … Starfire?"
"Yes, Miss Gordon?"
"Please, just call me Barbara … Starfire, make him happy, for both of us."
The princess nodded. "I will."
Neither woman knew that Nightwing had witnessed their little heart to heart and as Nightwing watched Babs sleep in the cot the scene replayed in his mind. He rose from his seat at the console and approached the still sleeping Babs. He leaned over and pecked her on the cheek. She continued to breathe slowly as she slumbered.
"I'll always love you." Nightwing whispered before returning to his seat in front of the console.
They both had their backs to each other, and Grayson did not see her open her eyes.
"So will I." She replied in mind.
-( scene break )-
A lot happened in this chapter, wouldn't you agree?
This is now my most reviewed story ever. Let's see if we can make to the 1000 review mark. And thanks to everyone who has reviewed. Your kind works are always touching
Katt In The Boxx – Raven popped. Doesn't that always seem to happen at the worst possible time?
KroovyRed - Thanks! But to be fair, there are some other really good writers in the Teen Titans section. Sir Alwick comes to mind. You should check out his stuff.
pb03 – Thanks!
Kidstandout – There is always someone who figures out what I'm up to!
The Cretin - It's not a joke, there really is a polyamory movement out there that is demanding plural marriage. I wonder, in such an arrangement, how do you figure out who sleeps with who on any given night? It can't be simple.
bigC94 – BB is ultra faithful, Alexa is wasting her time … or at least that what we hope.
JasonVUK – It is a complicated web
TW – That would be bad.
SilentGoddest – It was short (4 days) but we had a grand time.
TheDarkChangeling – Well, the results are back – he's not a clone.
TJSC25 – Alexa is a perv.
elixxxrAngel - Blackfire is about to face a very angry mom.
Dragonkyng – Yep, they're back – he's not a clone.
Hairul The Nightrage Beast – It's worse than that. Grayson still has feelings for Babs. Strong feelings. Maybe they need to buy Dr. McCall's book!
DeeThom – Well, in the comics Dick breaks up with Star, and to add insult to injury they move onto a "friends with benefits" relationship. He even tells Star that he doesn't love her anymore, that he just likes to bang her. Meanwhile, he has a relationship with Babs, which in the "New 52" doesn't seem to be going anywhere (meanwhile, Star has a friend with benefits deal with Jason Todd and Speedy. I know, what a mess!
Bluedog197 - Oh yes, Grayson still has feelings for Babs. And yes, that is why it's always good to read, you will learn new words.
Anoymous136 – Poor Nightstar, she just misses her dad … and fast food!
SuperNolon – Blackfire is always up to something.
WishToBeYouSomeday – We went to Ouray, Colorado. The Mrs. and I had a very romantic time.
BartWLewis – I think that Alexa and Blackie are neck to neck in the evil department
mlbv-grimm - I love TV Blackfire, she is so deliciously evil. She's pretty bad in the comics too, but she isn't cute like her TV counterpart.
titanfan45 – Star is getting ready to open a can of whoop-ass on her sister.
Lover of A Good Story – I have given up trying to understand why people do strange things. It's much more fun to use their bizarre behavior in stories. Fact is stranger than fiction.
Sweetums14 – Why does Blackie do what she does? Because she's evil!
js12601 – It wasn't BB. I did make you guys worry, didn't I?
Wolf of IndigoRiver – Babs and Grayson are in a very bad place right now.
krostovikraven1 - It sounds like Blackfire will have to deal with her sister first.
Shadico – I was tempted to infect Alexa, but she has a bigger role to play than being an evil Popsicle.