25 Years Later …
The sun had just risen over the bay's eastern shore when a glass door slid open. A gray woman with gray strands in her hair walked out onto the deck, carrying a tray with her breakfast, which she put down on the outdoor table before taking her seat. The morning air was still and the waves that lapped against the shore below were tranquil as well.
She poured some honey into her oatmeal and was still stirring it when the door opened again, this time revealing her husband's figure. Unlike her he wasn't carrying a tray. He had a one gallon jug of soymilk in one hand, a bowl and a spoon in the other and a box of breakfast cereal tucked under his arm. He placed his breakfast in the spot next to his wife, who now had a book in her hand. As he poured his cereal she looked up from book.
"Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs? Gar, Aren't you kind of old for that?"
"I just did 30 minutes on the treadmill … it's my reward."
"Isn't your narrow waistline its own reward?"
"It's so unfair … you don't have to exercise."
"Have you ever seen a fat demon?" She smirked. "But you need to eat healthier; we're in our fifties now."
"Eat healthier? I'm a vegetarian, and I always eat healthy. I usually eat muesli for breakfast."
"Yes, you started eating muesli, after I dragged you kicking and screaming."
"Well, duh! It's like eating twigs and leaves; it's the worst breakfast cereal in the world. I should morph into a goat before eating it."
"Be my guest."
"Very funny, Rave."
She gave him a small smile. "Come on, Gar, you know it's for the best. You have the body of a thirty year old."
"Now I know you're exaggerating … besides, it didn't stop my hair from falling out."
"You know what I'm talking about … you still have it where it counts."
He grinned at her. "And just where does it count?"
She smiled demurely at him and his heart skipped a beat. As far as he was concerned she was as beautiful as ever, and sexy too. "You know what I'm talking about … size does matter and unlike most men your age you don't need any pills to perform, and last night you …"
"Too much informaaaatiooooon!" A voice shouted.
Mark and Coraline came onto the deck, with mischievous grins on their faces.
"Get a room … look, I'm happy that you and dad still get it on … I just don't want to hear about it." Coraline teased her parents. Mark placed his tray on the table and pecked his mother on the cheek. Coraline followed suit and did the same.
"It's nice having both of you at home again, even if it's just for a few days before the wedding." Raven beamed.
"I know, can you believe it? … My punk sister is getting hitched."
Coraline stuck her tongue out at him.
"Your mother and I have missed both of you … a lot."
"Well, you know where we live." Mark pointed at the T shaped tower in the middle of the bay. "You don't have to be strangers."
Raven shook her head. "I don't like going back there … it makes me feel old. Plus I can't reconcile that Damian is the current Robin, I had a hard enough time getting used to Tim. But Damian … he gives me the creeps … he's Talia al Ghul's son."
Coraline gave her mother a mild glare. Raven felt a slight shiver, the glare was all too familiar. Being on the receiving end of it was unsettling, to say the least, as she was more accustomed to dishing it out. And it didn't help that Coraline could have been her long lost twin sister. Except for the young woman's green hair she looked just like Raven did at her age.
"Mom, don't go there." Coraline said in a cross voice. "Sure, Talia's evil, but our grandfather is even worse."
"He's not your grandfather." Raven snapped. "He lost that privilege."
"Our DNA charts beg to disagree." Coraline replied. "And Damian Wayne is alright. Mar'i married him after all."
"And of I remember correctly Dick and Kori were less than thrilled when they announced their engagement." Raven snapped back at her. "He doesn't have any problems with you, does he? And you know why? Because it's not the same."
Gar cleared his throat, eager to change the subject.
"So, uh, what's Slade been up to lately?"
Mark grabbed the box of Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs and poured himself a hearty bowl. He was his father's spitting image and even had his smile.
"Nothing … it's been two years now. Damian thinks that maybe he finally retired."
"Or maybe he's dead." A new voice called out.
"I wouldn't be so sure about that, Dylan." His mother rebuked him. "Are you having cold pizza again?"
"Breakfast of champions." The gray skinned, violet haired and Goth dressed boy replied.
Coraline smiled at her younger brother. "So, how's the band these days?"
"What do you think? … It sucks. We need a new drummer. Pierce decided to quit and go to college. He's a fucking sellout … just because we can't get any gigs that pay."
Raven glared at her son.
"Sorry, mom … language … I know."
Mark cleared his throat. "Dylan, there is an opening in the Tower."
"Oh, come on, why not? You'd kick ass."
"You know why."
"It's not selling out … look, yes you have some musical talent, none of us do … heck, I sure don't. But … you're not that good. I mean … you guys have decent garage band … but that's it."
Dylan glared at his older brother. Garfield said nothing, but noticed that the boy also had his mother's death glare.
"Mark's right." Coraline interrupted. "Dylan, your powers are awesome, you'd be a fantastic Titan."
"Dylan, you don't have to be a Goth just because of the way you look. You have incredible powers; you should use them for good." Yet another voice interrupted.
Dylan clenched his teeth.
"Shut up, Arella, you don't know what you're talking about."
Arella and her twin sister Marie sat down at the table. Unlike their siblings they both had normal coloration, taking after their father, looking as he would before being infected with Sakutia.
"Dylan, you need to stop feeling sorry for yourself." Marie interjected.
"Oh that's easy for you to say … you don't look like freaks!"
Arella narrowed her eyes. "You don't look like a freak … you look like mom. And if you ever say that mom looks like a freak again, I'll kick your sorry butt so hard that ..."
"That's enough, Arella." Raven shushed her daughter.
"It's not fair, you guys look normal and you have powers. No one at school knows you're freaks."
Arella, the feistier twin, pointed a finger at him. "We've never hidden our abilities, everyone know who we are, who our parents are, who our family is. And even though that freaks out a lot of our classmates, we aren't ashamed of whom we are or where we come from."
"And unlike you, we want to be Teen Titans, but mom and dad won't let us join the team until we finish high school." Marie interjected. "That's NOT fair."
"Enough!" Raven roared. Her five children fell silent. "This afternoon, we are getting on the airplane and we're flying to New York for the wedding. I don't want to hear any complaining, bellyaching or bitching of any kind. If any of you spoil Coraline's wedding, I will teach you the true meaning of pain! Is that clear!?"
Mark, Dylan, Arella and Marie all gulped. Dylan looked at his father.
"Don't look at me. I'm behind mom 100% on this. Hell, if any of you spoil the wedding, I'll let the Beast out … anyway; your mother asked you a question."
The four turned to their mother. "Yes, mom, it's clear." Mark answered for his siblings.
They finished eating their breakfasts and the kids began to clear the table. The Chromatically Challenged Couple™ left to take a stroll on the beach, which they did in silence until Raven spoke up.
"Was I too harsh on them? I did threaten them with violence."
He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her close to him. "Hey, it worked."
"Gar, what are we going to do about Dylan? He's an underachiever."
"I think he's ready to leave his dreams of being a rock star behind."
"Azar, I hope so. Have you ever heard his band play?"
"I have … they're OK, but Mark's right … he needs a day job."
Raven sighed. "I guess every family has a black sheep."
"It could have been worse. He's just a slacker … he could have become a villain with his powers."
"Thank Azar for small favors."
-( - )-
Starfire paced around in her room, in her underwear. There were several dresses strewn over the room. She picked one up and slipped it on.
"Richard … what do you think about this dress?"
Richard John Grayson, who was now known as 'Batman', was reading a report on the financial state of Wayne Enterprises. "You look fine."
"You didn't even look!"
"I don't need to look … everything looks good on you." He replied in an absent minded voice.
"Yes … I know … but I want to know which dress looks best. This is a wedding, not a dinner outing.
Grayson stifled a groan and put down the report.
"OK, you have my undivided attention." He said in a slightly impatient tone.
"Richard … what is wrong? You were annoyed when Mar'i was wed and you are once again."
"It's too close for comfort."
"I do not understand."
"Star … our daughter technically married her uncle."
The princess gave him an annoyed look. "They are not related by blood. Or do you really considerer Damian to be your brother."
Dick pursed his lips before answering. "Not really, but in a way it's worse. I was Bruce's son, or at least the closest thing he had to one. Sure, after Tim's dad died Bruce legally adopted him and he changed his name to Tim Wayne, but I came first … but Damian changed that. He really is Bruce's son … and I'm not."
The princess rolled her eyes.
"Richard … you will always be Bruce's son … but how is our son's marriage to Coraline 'too close for comfort'? You must forgive me, but I do not understand."
"Raven's always been like a sister to me …"
"Our son is not marrying his cousin."
"Really? They've know each other since they were small kids. They played together … we even told them they were cousins."
"But they are not cousins, and when they were no longer toddlers we explained to them why. Richard … are you afraid of losing your son?"
He crossed his arms and pouted. "Maybe I am. He's going to move to Jump."
"And why is that bad?"
"I was hoping he would stay and work with me."
"Did you ever ask him?"
"No … I just assumed it was a given."
"Richard, I think you should go speak with your son."
Dick grunted his displeasure but heeded his wife's advice.
They were living in Wayne Manor. Bruce was seldom around as he spent his time travelling to the four corners of the globe setting up his new global Bat organization, which was informally known as Batman Incorporated. Part of the job was recruiting candidates to be the local Batman. He would of course be back for the wedding, but the Manor was now the Graysons' home. And Dick knew where he would find his son.
He walked into the library and headed to the grandfather clock, which opened, revealing a long, downward staircase, which led into the Batcave. The sound of star bolts being fired echoed loudly and grew louder as he descended. Upon reaching the Batcave he was met by a young woman: Edwina Pennyworth.
"Hello Master Richard." The woman, who was in her twenties, greeted him. "I finally heard from my uncle today."
"Is he enjoying his vacation?"
"I think he is, though he still complained about you forcing him to take one."
"He needs to learn to let go. He's in his 80's."
"He thinks you want to get rid of him."
"I just want him to retire, Eddie; he knows he can stay here. He's a member of the family, for Pete's sake."
"You know he'll never retire."
"I know … damn … I thought I was stubborn. He's gonna drop dead one day, probably when he's waxing the Batmobile."
"Believe it or not, I think that's how he wants to go out. But something else is bothering him."
Edwina nodded. "He was telling me how distraught he was when you left for Jump City, after your big fight with Bruce."
"I'm also unhappy he's leaving."
"He needs to leave, Richard. He needs to spread his wings. There is greatness in his future, but not as your sidekick. He's been your Robin for years, he's ready to move on, to be his own man … if anyone should understand, it should be you."
Grayson shook his graying head. "It's not the same … Bruce was smothering me, I couldn't grow anymore around him."
"Helloooo? Same situation … but there is a difference, Richard. You can give him your blessing and stay on good terms with him. Believe it or not, you are his idol; his hope is to be as great as you were."
Dick snorted. "He's got nothing to worry about, he's already eclipsed me. He's as good a Robin as I ever was, plus he has superhuman strength, and he can fly and throw star bolts. And unlike his sister he looks perfectly human."
"Which is overrated, if you ask me." Edwina interjected. "Miss Coraline is proof of that; she is a lovely young lady, even with her unusual complexion."
Richard smiled. "I know, she looks so much like her mother."
"You and Raven were very close, right? I mean, back when you were Titans."
"After my wife, she is my dearest friend. She's the sister I never had. We still are close. And now my son is going to marry her daughter."
The sound of star bolts resumed.
"Go talk with him, Richard. There is something he wants from you before he leaves."
"Really, what is it?"
Edwina resumed dusting a console. "I think he should tell you that himself … go … no time is better than right now."
Dick took her advice and headed off to the target practice section of the cave. John was airborne and began to fire at a series of moving targets, which moved both quickly and erratically. As his father watched he systematically destroyed every target, with every star bolt finding its goal. John hovered, with starbolts in his hand and a smile on his face. His reverie was interrupted by the sound of his father clapping. John glided down and landed next to his father.
"What do you think?" He asked his dad.
"I'd say pretty damn good aim."
"Better than mom's?"
Dick laughed. "Your mom throws a mean star bolt, but her aim … well, let's just say that yours is better."
John laughed. "I've seen the old videos dad, from the Teen Titans days."
Dick also laughed. "If you ever quote me on this, I will deny it … but back then your mother couldn't hit the side of a barn with her star bolts. Of course, they packed such a wallop they she didn't need good aim."
"She did get better." John added.
"Yeah, she did … so … big steps … getting married and moving to Jump."
"It's your fault, you invited Coraline to come for a year and be Batgirl."
"It's OK, son; I'm really happy for you. Coraline is a wonderful girl, even if she tells bad jokes like her father still does."
Both men laughed. "Well, she is a Logan, right, Dad?"
"She is, but she's also a Roth … during that year I was amazed at how much she's also like her mother … so, you're off to the Tower … are you sure there will be enough room there for both you and Damian?"
"What? You're kidding."
"Nope, Mar'i just told us this morning that Galfore is finally stepping down. She's going to be crowned the new Grand Ruler of Tamaran, and Damian's going with her. He's gonna be crowned as her Prince Consort."
"But she hates Tamaran."
"I know, she told me that she plans to spend as much time as possible on Earth."
"You know what's going to happen: she'll get fed up and resign. And you're next in line for the throne."
John grinned. "Nuh uh, not anymore. Damien finally knocked Mar'I up. I'm off the hook."
"What? She's pregnant? How come your mom and I don't know about this?"
"Mar'i asked me to tell you. She's probably telling mom right now."
Dick suddenly looked like he was in a daze. "I'm gonna be a grandfather!"
"It's OK, Dad; you'll survive."
"Your mother must be bouncing off the walls. She already was because of the wedding, but now this too?"
"She'll be fine, dad."
"I guess … so, there won't be two Robins in the Tower after all."
"Actually, there won't be any Robins in Jump."
"Oh … so … you're leaving the traffic light suit behind?"
"You'd better believe it."
"So … what's the new identity gonna be? What did you come up with?"
"Actually … I want to be Nightwing … if that's OK with you, of course."
Dick threw his arms around his son. "Of course it's OK … OK? It's awesome!"
-( - )-
The wedding was held at the Dayton Estate. Steve and Rita were there of course. The Doom Patrol had finally disbanded, after the Brotherhood of Evil perished when one of their escape rockets malfunctioned and exploded. The Daytons were finally retired, which was a good thing as they were in their 70's and were no longer fit for the superhero business.
Victor and Karen showed up. They remained childless by choice through the years and had no regrets.
The second generation Titans, who had all moved on showed up as well. Wonder Girl and Superboy, to everyone's surprise, broke up and never married. They hadn't seen each other in years and were cordial with each other, but it was obvious to all present that they wouldn't rekindle the flame.
Tim and Mia did become closer and after a very lengthy courtship, which was years long, they did marry. They also chose to remain childless as they never retired from the superhero business. Tim became Red Robin and Mia upgraded herself to become the new "Red Arrow".
Then there was Bart Allen. To everyone's immense surprised he dated Rose Wilson, and after just six months they too married. They had a single child, a girl who just turned three, named Lillian, after Rose's mother.
Joey and Kole never had children, as the accident that gave Kole her transformative powers also left her sterile. Wally and Jinx also remained childless and eventually divorced.
The extended Batclan was present as well and Bruce looked very pleased.
As the reception was finally winding down and the guests began to leave, Dylan Logan was approached by Dick Grayson. The young man rolled his eyes, wondering what his anal retentive "uncle" wanted with him. The only words Grayson uttered were "Walk with me."
The Dayton estate was huge, over 100 acres in size. The two men walked down a path into a small wooded area on the south end of the estate. Once they were there, Dylan spoke.
"Spare me the lecture; I've heard it all already."
"You know, the one where you tell me that I'm wasting my life playing in mediocre bands and not using my true talents."
"I see. So what do you want to do with your life?"
Dylan shrugged. "I dunno."
"You dunno? That's pretty lame."
"You think I'm a loser, right?"
"If you were a loser, you goals would be to get high and get laid."
"Who say's they're not?"
"I see … so … have you been making any progress?"
"Not really. When chicks learn who I am, that I'm one quarter demon, I stop being a cool Goth guy and instead I'm a creep."
"So you've never scored with a girl?"
Dylan pursed his lips. "What do you care?" He replied in a bitter tone.
"Listen … I know you think you're a freak …"
"I am a freak!" He snapped. "My mom is a demon and my dad can turn into animals and smells like a wet dog."
"Yeah … Gar does smell like a wet dog sometimes … but you don't."
"I'm still a freak."
"I disagree … your mother is a close friend, and she isn't a freak. She's a great woman and you should be proud that you're her son."
"Yeah, I know … my mom is the mighty Raven … she's saved the world singlehandedly … blah, blah, blah."
"It's not blah, blah, blah. Your mother suffered a great deal when she was younger than you, much more than you could imagine and yet she did great things."
"Well, maybe I suffer too."
"We all suffer, Dylan; the question is, how we respond to that suffering?"
"Save it … I'm a screw up and I know it."
"No … you're not … you're just different."
The remark caught the young man's attention. "So … what? You think I should move to Jump and become a Titan? I could be John and Coraline's little sidekick."
"Moving into the Tower would be a mistake … a waste of your talent."
"My talent? Sure, I've got my mom's powers, but I can't control them. Arella and Marie think they can teach me how to use them."
"They can't teach you."
Dylan was again surprised at the remark.
"So I am a basket case. Mom gave up on me when I turned 10. I can't even levitate a pebble."
"She was also the wrong teacher for you."
"Sounds like everyone is the wrong teacher for me."
"No, not everyone."
Dylan smirked. "OK, I'm curious … who is this super sensei who gonna teach me how to master my powers?"
Dick didn't respond right away and instead stared into the nighttime sky.
"You? You don't even have any powers. How could you teach me?"
"The same way I taught your sister."
"You mean you don't know? Don't you ever talk with her?"
"She's an insufferable know it all. I try not to talk with her."
Dick stared into the young man's amethyst colored eyes.
"I'll teach you how to not need powers. Once you master yourself, you'll be able to control your powers."
Dylan laughed. "That sounds very Master Po. So, would you call me 'grasshopper'?"
"I'm serious, Dylan."
"I'm not interested."
"What are you afraid of?"
Dylan snarled and shoved his face into Grayson's masked face.
"I'm not afraid of anything."
"Then prove it."
"I've got nothing to prove."
"Right, that's why you're gonna spend the rest of your life playing in garage bands with a bunch of losers."
"What do you want from me?"
"I want you to live to your true potential."
Dylan sighed. "And you really think you can make that happen?"
Grayson shook his head. "No, I can only guide you, teach you. You're the one who's gonna make it happen."
"You really do believe in me?"
"I do. But it will be hard work. Before I start training you, I want a commitment from you. Once you start you can't quit."
"That's a big commitment."
"It is, but when you think about it, it's with yourself. If you quit, you'll be letting yourself down."
"I don't know …"
"Don't be afraid of success. You're too good to waste your life playing in garage bands."
"But I like to play."
"What do you play?"
"I play guitar." Grayson replied. "So, what do you say?"
Dylan stared at floor, biting his lower lip just like his mother did many years before. He looked up and made eye contact.
"You have a deal."
And that's it! The story that doesn't end is finished. Thanks to everyone who followed the story and for the amazing number of reviews. It looks like we will break the 1700 mark for reviews. I still can't believe it.
And now, there is the issue of the raffle I promised you a while back. One copy of "Teen Titans Spotlight: Raven". This is a "trade paperback" graphic novel, about 100 pages.
So here are the rules.
The winner will be chosen randomly from everyone who reviews this chapter NON ANONYMOUSLY. If you are an anonymous reviewer, I can't contact you to tell you that you are the winner, so that won't work.
Reviews must be posted on or before December 15, 2013. So there is a long time for you to post.
If you do not wish to participate, please indicate so in your review.
If you reside outside of the USA, it costs too much to ship the paperback. Sorry.
If you win, you will need to provide me a shipping address. To keep everything Kosher I would prefer that you NOT provide me your home address or your real name, especially if you are underage. A Post Office box is ideal, but if you don't have one your best bet would be to provide the address of a third party who could forward the paperback to you.
That said, good luck to all participants.