A/N: Holy. Balls. Wow, this took way too long to do. Sorry bout that. Full note at the bottom, for now; Story.
Also, don't own the characters and universe used within this story. Just borrowing them for a while.
Chapter 10: Snow((Hey Oh))
Gar and Raven laid there for what seemed like hours; staring at the ceiling, simply enjoying their moment alone and absorbing the peace of it.
Of course, Gar spoke up to break the silence again. "So, I gather that kiss earlier means ya missed me."
"No, that's how I greet everyone who wakes up from a mini-coma now." Raven replied in a sarcastic tone.
There was a pause. "So...any chance one of the girls is in a coma?"
Raven pinched the side of his arm. Hard.
"Ow-OW! Hey, it was a joke, a joke!" Gar winced as she pulled her hand away.
"A bad one." She grumbled as she settled back down next to him, draping an arm across his chest.
"Thought that was my thing? My modus operandi, if you will." Gar waved his hand that wasn't wrapped around her shoulders in the air loosely, wincing slightly at a small pain that told him there was an IV line in him.
"If I didn't know you better, I'd be impressed by your use of that term." Raven said in her usual monotone, curling into him a little.
"Almost miss the days when I could still surprise you with that stuff." Gar yawned, hugging her closer. "Almost."
"Hrm." was Raven's simple reply before she began to drift to sleep, lingering tired finally catching up to her. Gar continued to stare at the ceiling in vague thought before the last traces of caffeine left his system and he was out like a light.
When Gar woke up the next morning, he had to reprocess a lot of information through his groggy brain. His sleep had been heavy, and thankfully dreamless to his knowledge. He was pretty sure he'd had enough of the dream realm for a bit. The first thing he went over was the fact that his left side was immobilized by a soft warmth. Gar looked down, smiling to himself to see Raven curled up around him, still snoozing, arm draped around him. The other thing he became immediately aware of was the machines beeping softly on his right side, along with the IV drip and various other hook ups in his right arm, which he examined with a mild frown. He hated these things. The last, and probably most important thing he realized was Cyborg looming over the bed.
"Gah!" Gar jumped a little, shuffling Raven enough to cause her to open her eyes slowly to look up at Cyborg. Eyes widened a bit as it processed through her mind the position she was caught in, before she settled on an attitude of "Fuck it." and rested her head back on Gar's chest, keeping her standard bland expression.
"Good morning." She said flatly.
"Almost noon, but I'll let y'all get away with that." Vic grinned before beginning to go over the various medical equipment readings, simply looking at the machines as the data displayed itself on his internal HUD. "I said it about the other two, and I'll it about you two as well," He said while still looking at the equipment, "It's about time."
"Uhm. Great. Thanks..." Gar responded in an awkward tone as Raven seemed to stare at the wall, both their faces tinged a tad.
"Well, you seem mostly good to go." Vic said cheerfully, enjoying their discomfort.
"Fantastic." Gar stretched his right arm out. "Get this shit outta me."
"Oh stop bein' a baby." Vic grumbled at his green friend as he began undoing the various IV drips and sensors on the arm. "Few things to go over though."
"...'bout?" Gar asked after a pause.
"Though you're stabilized and your vitals check, you still got some lingering things that need to heal, so you're gonna have to take a week or so off. And you, miss-"I'm-gonna-heal-my-mortally-wounded-special-t eammate"," Vic pointed at Raven. "Have to as well. If you can barely teleport in the building, there's no way you could hold your own on the field."
Both Gar and Raven grumbled.
"'Sides figure y'all could use the time off. Sort some things out." Vic said as he focused on carefully taking the tube out of Gar's arm.
The grumbling stopped and was replaced by an uncomfortable silence.
"Mmhmm, that's what I thought." Vic said calmly as he finished wrapping up Gar's arm, and he looked at the two of them. "Look, I don't really know everything that's been going on or what caused it, but I know that you two can sort it out. You're smart people. Well, Raven, you're a smart person and Gar can take orders from time to time."
"Sorry string bean, too easy." Vic chuckled. "Alright, you're good to go. Get outta my infirmary. I gotta make lunch then pick up a patrol." Vic said in a stern manner, thumbing at the door. "Raven, ya might need to help him to his room."
Gar huffed as he and Raven sat up, her sliding off the bed silently. "Pfft, please Cy, I got a good amount of rest I should be perfectly okay to-Woah." He wobbled as he stood up, catching himself on the bed.
"You were saying?" Raven monotoned, helping Gar stand up straight.
"I probably could use some help getting to my room." Gar said in a smooth manner.
"Really?" Vic asked in a surprised tone. Gar went the mature route and flicked him the bird. Vic just grinned. "Alright, well rest up, don't worry about the team stuff, we got it covered. Think of it as a vacation for doin' a good job running the team."
"Not much to run towards, really. Been kinda dead." Gar muttered as they hobbled to the hall.
"Well, what you did cover, you did awesome, man. So y'all relax, have fun, just clean up afterwards." Vic grinned.
Both of them took the mature route to reply this time as they went through the door and into the hall. They fell into a minor lock step rhythm while walking, keeping silent as they moved down the hall.
"So...are we really gonna go all the way to my room?" Gar asked in low tones.
"Mine's closer." Raven responded in a calm manner.
Silence fell for a minute again.
"Y'know, anyone sees this, they'll probably-" Gar began, with a chuckle.
"I really don't give a shit at the moment." Raven said bluntly. Gar blinked, then gave a small grin.
They managed to work their way to Raven's room, stopping as Gar put in the passcode and the door slid open. They got to the bed and Gar managed a controlled plop onto the mattress, relaxing as he sunk in slightly.
"Always did like your bed more." Gar grinned.
"Only because it can actually fit both of us." Raven raised an eyebrow at him.
"That and it smells like you, makes it relaxing." Gar said, mostly without thought.
Raven's cheeks tinged slightly, face keeping her normal stone features. "Hrm, well, I'm gonna grab us some lunch, you just relax here, okay?"
"I was thinking about crawling out there with you, but y'know what? I'm good. 'Sides, it's not everyday you actually are willing to bring me food like that, might as well take advantage of it." Gar grinned.
"It's not everyday you wake up from a freakin' coma, idiot." Raven's eyebrows furrowed.
"Meh." Gar shrugged. "Details."
"You're seriously making me reconsider my future acts of kindness for you." Raven said as she began to leave the room.
"But you're not really right?" Gar asked as the door opened as Raven left. "...Right?" He called after her before the door closed.
Tim felt the rush of night air pass over his blindfolded face as Starfire held him under the arms, flying them towards...well he didn't know but he was going somewhere with Robin-Nightwing now he guessed, and Starfire of the Titans, so he figured they weren't going to kill him.
"Soooo...why is your girlfriend flying me? I mean I get the blindfold but not the flying thing." Tim yelled down at where he presumed Dick was, guessing by listening for the motorcycle he was on.
"Disorientation. Harder for you to figure out where we are in case this doesn't work out and we need you to not find the Cave again." Dick yelled back up at him nonchalantly. "That and it's fun!"
"Yes, being carried when blindfolded is wonderful." Tim grumbled.
Star looked down at Tim, smiling. "Do not worry, Young-Tim, I have gotten most excellent at carrying friends and teammates over the years. You are in safe care."
"Practice makes perfect I guess." Tim replied flatly.
"Hey, Star!" Dick called up at her. "Look out for that tree!" There was no tree.
Tim figured there wasn't a tree. Star would give a confused response, and Dick's attempt at hazing would-
"Hang on!" Starfire beamed as she threw Tim up into the air, causing him to loose any sense of up, down and reality for a brief second before feeling himself caught by Star again. His stomach lurched, as that shady convenience store tuna sandwich reminded him it was there and pretty shady.
"Now that that's done, is there somewhere I can throw up?" Tim asked, face green. Star frowned, looking down at Dick, who was chuckling hysterically. She sighed as she flew over a patch of forest that was unoccupied.
"Boys." She muttered to herself as Tim emptied his stomach underneath her.
Dick let Tim do all the talking; explaining how he figured tracked him down, how he pieced the puzzle together and figured out who Robin and then Batman were. Bruce simply listened, staring intently at Tim, Alfred in the background as well. He kept his cowl up, so that the built in lens blocked his eyes, adding an extra level of intimidation to the process. After about fifteen minutes of Tim's rambling explanation, Bruce held up his hand for silence and then asked his first question.
"So, a point you've come to a few times is that I need a Robin. Why do you think that?" How he could sound calm and polite while maintaining a threatening tone, Dick had yet to figure out.
"Well...I...uhm, you see, sir,-" Tim stammered, shuffling in his spot.
"Out with it." Bruce's tone shifted into a demanding one.
"You're reckless without a partner." Tim blurted. "I looked at your early career too, and you took far more unnecessary risks before Dick became Robin. When you have a partner, everything's more method based, you don't seem to willingly throw yourself into potentially fatal situations, you hang back and plot. And that's when you do your best work. Batman with a Robin is far more calculating, thoughtful and in control. Maybe it's because you have someone to talk plans with in the field, maybe it's because you feel more responsible but you seem to just function better with a Robin."
Dick saw Bruce's jaw clench slightly as he ingested the words, and also saw a small smile form on Alfred's face as he listened as well. Tim had made his case, and judging by Bruce's grim expression, he had made the best one possible. Bruce stood up from his chair almost in a blur.
"We'll start training this evening, you'll be on a trial run for three months, then we'll see from there." Bruce growled as he brisked past them and up the stairs, cape snaking behind him and barely missing getting caught in the door to the cave as it slammed.
"Well done, Master Timothy. You caused him to storm off, this is an excellent first step." Alfred kept his smile, though it shifted to a wry one as he raised an eyebrow.
Starfire grabbed Tim in a hug, lifting him up. "Congratulations!"
"That'sgreatcan'tbreathe" Tim coughed out, swearing he felt a rib crack. Star quickly put him down, still beaming. Dick clasped a hand to his shoulder.
"Great job, kid. Now the fun part begins." Dick smiled.
"Which is...?" Tim asked hesitantly.
Alfred cleared his throat, "Well, first you will rest during the day, and then Master Bruce shall begin instructing you in both self defense and basic parkour, and I assume Master Richard shall be assisting?" He raised an eyebrow at Dick, who nodded in response.
"I'll help out when I can but when he starts grilling you and putting you through the ringer, you're on your own, Tim." Dick sighed. "I've learned if Bruce's training wrath is aimed at someone else, it's best to step out of the way."
Tim stared at Dick for a moment before it struck him. "Oh. Damn."
"And you seemed to kinda piss him off by proving a valid point he didn't think of, sooooo yeah. Probably an extra hour of practice there. Maybe two." Dick folded his arms, looking up in thought. Tim raised an eyebrow before looking around at the various training objects in the cave, eyes settling on a fighting mat.
"...Are those blood stains?"
"Oh yeah." Dick said with a grin.
Tim's face fell, before Kori put a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
"Do not worry, Young-Tim, Butler-Alfred is excellent at mending both bone and flesh." Her statement was meant to be a calming one, but if the draining color from Tim's face was any indicator, it had the opposite effect.
The previous days had passed without any real incident, both for the team as a whole and Raven and Gar. Admittedly, no one had really seen much of either beyond Raven's brief, silent food runs. The two had mostly been lounging about in Raven's room, Gar still weary enough to not really get up too much and Raven stubbornly keeping an eye on him. While they had settled into a comfortable norm, cuddling, sleeping together, things they usually did when no one else was there, a slight awkwardness had also settled onto everything like a fine layer of dust. The proverbial elephant in the room lingered, and neither really wanted to face it; Gar because he was simply enjoying things being back to "normal", and Raven because she really didn't know how to approach the subject and didn't want to ruin the fact that she was just thankful he was alive.
After roughly the third day, though, Gar cracked. Maybe it was the fact he couldn't move around much, and thus limited to a room and his brain had way too much time to wander. Maybe it was the slight feeling of discomfort in the air. Maybe it was the shift in Raven's attitude on their relationship from "hide it forever until we or they die" to "Meh, I guess it's okay that they know, whatever". Probably a combination of all of them, but as usual, he was the first to approach it, in as tactful a manner he knew how.
"Why does everything feel weird?" Gar asked after about 45 minutes of silence between them, interrupting Raven's paragraph of the book she was reading, and completely derailing her brain for a second.
"...How do you mean?" She asked in a cautious manner.
"It's...it's just weird, y'know?" Gar raised an eyebrow as his brain tried to string his thoughts together coherently. "I mean, I like that we've spent the past few days together...I like that you've relaxed on the...hiding thing, but everything still doesn't feel right."
Raven stilled, before carefully placing a bookmark and closing the book, setting it to the side. She sifted through the words in her mind, trying to find the right thing to sum it up. "We did explode at each other hours before you fell; I would assume it's lingering resentment from that."
"I don't resent you for the fight." Gar blinked. "Why would I? It was my fault."
"No it wasn't, I wasn't honest, and I pushed back a bit too hard." Raven insisted.
"Yeah, but I pulled the argumentative low blow, that's my fault."
She stared at him. "Garfield, I threw you into the window hard enough to crack it."
"I walked it off." Gar said with a dismissive wave of his hand, "'Sides, I pushed you hard enough to kinda...split?" He scratched the back of his head. "I really don't know what to call it."
"The best phrase is probably a break down, but that's my fault too." Raven said impatiently. "I wasn't handling everything right from the beginning, so that's entirely my doing."
"You weren't...?" Gar raised an eyebrow. "You didn't freak out over a misunderstanding."
"You didn't cause the misunderstanding." Raven replied flatly.
"It takes two to cause a misunderstanding, Raven." Gar stressed.
"Goddamnit, shut up and let me take the blame for this." Raven near growled.
"No." Gar said simply. A long pause fell between the two before Gar's face slowly cracked into a smile before he succumbed to a giggling fit.
"What?" Raven raised an eyebrow at her boyfriend's reaction.
"It's just...we're fighting...over whose fault...a fight is." Gar giggled out.
Raven sighed, but a small smile crept on her lips. He sometimes was good at pointing out the absurdity in a situation. "So we are. Well, what do you suppose we do, then?"
Gar breathed in and out for a second, calming himself before looking thoughtful, smile not leaving his face. "Drop it and forgive each other for being stupid?"
"That simple?" Raven asked flatly.
"Seems to be the best bet." Gar shrugged. Raven sighed, laying down on the bed next to him, looking up at the ceiling in thought.
"It's still my fault, though." Raven said softly. Gar opened his mouth to speak, but she cut him off by raising her hand. "I know, it takes two. But I should have been more upfront with you about...well my nervousness. And such."
"You didn't seem nervous at the time." Gar said flatly.
"I know. I wasn't. Up until the moment...well...I...it was too much." Raven sighed. "I was ready physically, we were ready with everything powers wise, I just...wasn't ready to the weight of the emotions. Both of ours."
Gar stared at the ceiling as well,deciding to let her continue.
"It just...hit me all at once and kept doing so...and...it's just one of those things I didn't think about." Raven sighed again, sounding exhausted simply going over it all in her mind. "You would think an empath would try and prepare for that, but-"
"We can't prepare for everything, Rae." Gar cut her off quietly. Raven stopped, and mulled it over.
"No, I guess not." She said after a few minutes of thought. "I didn't mean to drive you off, though."
"You didn't, I drove me off." Gar sighed this time. "I...thought I had gone too far. And...I didn't want to hurt you, I mean I promised I wouldn't and I thought I did and then I did again in the fight and I just made things worse and-" Raven cut him off this time, he was beginning to ramble.
"Garfield. Mark. Logan." She said sternly, sitting up and placing a hand on his chest and looking him dead in the eye, emeralds locking on to amethysts. "If you ever, ever, did anything I did not want you to do, do you really think you would still be alive to regret it?"
Gar blinked. "No, probably not."
"Besides." Raven smiled softly again, face tinged red. "I did enjoy it, just..couldn't go fully. You didn't hurt me, Gar. Not at all."
Gar let the words sink into, sighing again. "I'm sorry."
"We make mistakes, we're human." Raven said flatly, before thinking about the words, before looking off to the side. "Well...mostly."
"It's our mistakes that make us human." Gar repeated Barry's words thoughtfully.
"Where'd you hear that?" Raven looked at him in a cold, analytical way.
"Made it up." Gar lied.
"Bullshit." Raven called his bluff.
"Damnit." Gar looked off to the side in defeat.
Raven grinned, quirking an eyebrow, "Empath, remember?"
"How can I forget?" Gar grinned in return, "Heard it from a friend recently, how's that?"
"That's acceptable." Raven smirked. She settled back down next to him, Gar wrapping an arm around her instinctively.
"So...we good?" Gar asked after a few minutes of silence.
"I think we're good." Raven rolled her eyes at the obvious question.
"Kay." With that, Gar rolled near fully on top of her, kissing a very surprised Raven before sitting back up with a grin. "Been wanting to do that for a while."
"I can tell." Raven raised an eyebrow. Gar took the hint, rolled off and stared at the wall on the other side of the room with his back to her, face as red as it gets for him.
"Sorry." He muttered out.
"It's all right." Raven said softly. After a brief pause, she added "Least I know you still like me."
"Didn't think that was in question." Gar turned slightly back over raising an eyebrow and grinning.
"...You didn't have to get off, y'know." Raven said as softly as before. Gar shuffled so his back was to her again, a long pause lingering.
"I know. I'm just...I don't wanna push anything on that front again. At least not yet." Gar said in a half mutter, but still loud and coherent enough for Raven to hear.
Raven looked at the back of his head thoughtfully, sensing the lingering guilt in him and sighed, before smiling softly. "I'm okay with that."
While he didn't turn over, Gar smiled softly. "Thanks."
"C'mon, Tim, that was what? A five foot jump? You can make that!" Dick yelled across the cave towards the free running course, which was arranged over one of the cliff sides of the cave to replicate the height of the average building Gotham.
"The length doesn't concern me as much as the height!" Tim yelled back as he dangled on the safety harness. "I'm like, what, a hundred feet up?"
"Eighty seven." Bruce interrupted. "Start over, this time, no screw ups. And don't rely on the harness. You're not going to have one on patrol." He took another sip of coffee.
"Do I actually get to go on patrol?!" Tim asked excitedly.
"Did I say you were?"
"...No." Tim slumped in the harness.
"Then no, you're not. Now, Start. The. Course. Again." Bruce said with increasing darkness. Tim quickly yanked on the safety line to get himself back to the beginning of the free running course.
"How do you think he's doing?" Dick looked at Bruce, asking the question quietly.
"Improving quickly, just needs to stop hesitating." Bruce replied before finishing down his cup of coffee, setting it down on a tray and grabbing the next one in the line of five mugs, Alfred casually filling the empty one he set down before going back to the diagnostics he was running on one of the random gadgets from the utility belt.
Dick stretched slightly before looking at his watch; three thirty-ish. They were up way too early after stopping the Penguin's heist last night. Kori was still sleeping in, she deserved it after catching the little fat man himself, but Bruce wanted Dick up and helping him watch over Tim's training. Dick yawned, stealing one of the full mugs of coffee and wandered over to the computer to look up the latest reports that had trickled in over the day. Or was planning on it before seeing a little window the Titans symbol on it. Sipping the coffee, he tapped the window lightly on the screen and it opened up, showing a somewhat exhausted looking Cyborg.
'Had to have been something rough to make him actually look tired.' He mused internally. "What's up, Vic? How's Gar and Raven doing?"
"Pretty well from when we see 'em. Well, Raven at least, Gar's been camping out in her room for the past few days, think he's still a little worn out from the fall."
"Makes sense." Dick took another sip off coffee. "So what's going on? You look like crap."
"Didn't have time to tidy up for the call." Vic raised an eyebrow. "Had a big mess pop up. Oddly enough, involving the guys who caused Gar's tumble." Dick simply took another sip, eyes not leaving the screen, so Vic continued. "When they were being transported to the closest meta-level prison, the transport got attacked. At the same time, the police station that had all the tech they were hauling got raided. All the tech's gone, so is the gang and you're just gonna love who's fingers are on this one."
"Don't I always?" Dick's eye twitched as extra windows popped up with security footage from the police station, showing various attackers wearing orange and black garb. "Thought Slade was going to leave us alone?"
"Gang must've been working for him. Besides, it's been what? Two, three years? He must have figured we've had enough breathing time." Vic sighed.
"Doesn't make sense though. Why would he have a random gang sent out if he's got his robot goons back?" Dick thought aloud.
"Dunno. They didn't kill anyone, either. Just wrecked shop, grabbed the gang, grabbed the tech, then vanished. Just like old times."
"Guessing the trail went dead?" Dick asked the obvious question.
"It's Slade, man. Even if it's just his robo-squad. Fucker covered every track he could."
"Except the security footage. He wanted us to know that he's active again." Dick's eyes narrowed at the pictures of the station.
"That's what I thought too. Still feels off, though. I mean, it does for you too, right?"
"Yeah. Starfire and I will be out there as soon as we can, give as much of a hand with the investigation before we head out to Bludhaven. If it's Slade, I-"
"-Want to be here, I gotcha, man." Vic said with a grin. "Well, see ya when you get here, I'll let ya know if we figure anything else out."
"Thanks, Vic." Dick tapped the computer to cut the connection. He turned and jumped a little to find Bruce near right behind him. 'Hate it when he does that.'
"I'll get a Bat-jet set up for you two, it'll be faster than trying to get a cover flight again." Bruce said simply.
"Yeah, Ollie's probably busy anyways." Dick grinned.
"Hrm." Bruce half growled, a small hint of a grin hit the corner of his mouth before he turned back to the course, face dropping into a scowl. "What did I just tell you about relying on that damn harness? Pick up your legs, Tim! Start it over!"
"But I'm almost done..." Tim said sadly, having just neared the end of the course.
"And now you're doing it over again." Bruce growled. Tim muttered as he began the trudge back to the beginning of the course. "And you keep griping like that, you'll have to do it twice."
Tim immediately shut his mouth but kept a strong disgruntled expression.
"How hard are you planning on pushing him, Bruce?" Dick asked lowly.
"He said he wants to be Robin. I'm going to make sure that he means it." Bruce took another sip of his coffee. There were times when Bruce genuinely scared Dick.
This was one of them.
Vic got off the line and walked to slump in the couch, rubbing is human eye in weariness. The break out and raid had kept them running around in circles for the better part of eight hours and the team barely had anything to show for it. Some security footage, maybe an idea of where the robo-goons took the gang, but this was Slade they were dealing with. If he had wanted them to know nothing, they would've had no clue what happened. He's that damn calculating. As Vic hit the seat, he heard a familiar voice talk at him from the center area of the couch.
"You look like shit." Gar said plainly, before taking a mouthful of popcorn.
Vic almost jumped when he heard him talk, looking up at Gar to see him half laying on the couch, his back on a reading Raven and a bowl of popcorn in his lap. "...How long have you two been there?"
"Bout a minute after you started waiting for the link protocols to go through." Gar spoke through the popcorn.
"Ah." Vic frowned slightly. He was hoping to keep it on the down low from BB about the gang getting out. "Well, don't worry much on it, we'll figure out where they are, man."
"I know, I know. I'll keep resting up." Gar rolled his eyes as he shoved a hand full of popcorn in front of Raven's face. Raven's eyes looked at him, quirked an eyebrow before shaking her head softly. He shrugged, putting the handful in his mouth quickly.
Vic grinned at the little moment. 'They seem to be doing well.' He leaned back into his spot on the couch to stare mindlessly at the TV, Gar had it on some old monster movie. Figures.
"So, do you even think Slade's even in state?" Gar asked through a mouthful of popcorn.
"Honestly? Don't think so. Wally ran up and down as much of the tracks of the robots he found and they seemed to move east, or as much as were left. Probably in Nevada, lotsa desert to hide in." Vic sighed, laying back into the couch further, propping his feet off the side.
"Well, it'll be good to see Dick anyways." Gar replied thoughtfully staring into the screen, before the normal glazed TV watching expression overtook him.
Kori handed out the usual bone crushing hugs, and Dick gave Alfred a less damaging, but still affectionate hug. As he went to pat Tim on the shoulder, Tim nudged him a bit closer.
"Don't leave-I think Bruce is actually trying to kill me." Tim said, slightly worried expression.
"Batman doesn't kill, and if it ever gets too bad, just ask him 'How are things with Selina' and that'll shut him up for a while."
"Why?" Tim raised an eyebrow.
"Figure it out." Dick grinned, giving him hard tap on the shoulder before he joined Kori at the Bat-jet.
"Land at the coordinates given, it's an unused air field that I've had stashed away just in case I needed to be on the West Coast." Bruce stated calmly.
"That just happens to be on the outskirts of Jump City." Dick replied, less a question more a confirmation.
"Mrmhrm." Dick folded his arms and raised an eyebrow.
A moment of silence elapsed between the two before Bruce held out his hand for a handshake, which Dick took before bringing him in for a quick hug which a slightly startled Bruce returned.
"Don't be too hard on the kid." Dick said as they parted.
"I'll do my best." Bruce growled.
"That's what I'm worried about." Dick grinned before hopping into the jet. He gave a last wave before starting it up, and it rose up quickly, and darted off towards the western horizon above the cave.
The three stared up to watch it leave, before Alfred returned to his usual maintenance duties and Bruce and Tim turned towards each other, somewhat awkwardly.
"...Ready for fight training?" Bruce asked calmly.
"No, but it's the next step." Tim sighed, telling himself inwardly 'Save the question for later, man.'
Kori and Dick arrived with a bit of fanfare, Kori of course rushing to give everyone their needed and deserved hug.
"Friend-Donna! You are looking well!"
"You too, Kori!" They hugged, no issues, really.
"Friend-Cyborg! You are also looking well and somewhat rested!"
"Thanks I-" A slight creak of metal was heard "-Think?" He squeaked slightly.
"Friend-Jinx! I dare ask you kept Friend-Wallace out of trouble?"
"Eh, for the most-" Air raced out of Jinx's lungs"-part." As she was dropped she rubbed her ribs slightly "Never gonna get used to that."
"Friend-Wallace, has your stay been enjoyable?"
"Minus a hiccough or two-" Wally coughed "-Been fun."
"Friend-Rose! Always a pleasure to see you!"
Rose tried to hold up her arms to block the incoming hug, but failed as Starfire simply hugged them too. She spoke after she was released, "Like wise, Star." Rose rubbed her arms. "Like wise."
"Friend-Garfield!" Kori stopped before she went into full hug mode, settling on as soft a hug she could muster. "How is my Silkie and how are you healing?"
"Nice of you to ask about the bug first." Gar grinned, "Silkie's fine and I'm healing up good. Another day or so and the Doc says I can run and play with the other kids." Star laughed but Gar could tell she didn't get the reference.
Raven, unfortunately, was not spared a full hug. "Friend-Raven! Have you kept up the time of girls?!"
"Every-" Raven winced, both from the usual bone crushing and mind numbing emotional forces, "Week or so."
"We must catch up!" Kori said with above normal enthusiastic cheer.
Raven raised an eyebrow. 'Some people had spare time on their flight over.' passed through her mind dryly. "Sure, just, give me a week. Too much going on. And what have you." She waved her hand in the air lazily. Kori nodded enthusiastically.
After the hugs, everything settled back into the normal routine; Donna went over her notes with Dick, hoping the two of them could piece together any more hints of Slade's involvement, Kori chatted at Jinx and Raven while scratching Silkie's head lovingly. They both politely listened as their respective boyfriends played against Cyborg in a racing game.
All in all, just a normal evening for the Titans...
The goons were not entirely sure where they were. After the bots had busted them out of the holding van, they had been blindfolded and they think drugged until they woke up in this...whatever it was. It was dark, slightly damp and had pipes everywhere, it looked slightly industrial but the building's exact purpose seemed to elude the lot of them. After a lot of silent communication and shoving, they were huddled into a large central area with a platform raised above it, their patron waiting in his usual, brooding calm.
"You weren't supposed to get caught, boys." Slade looked down at them, his one eye looking among the group of still masked hoodlums.
"Yeah, well, you didn't tell us the Titans hand changed up." One of them spoke up.
"And you were stupid enough not to pay attention to a trivial detail." Slade countered coldly. "I give you masks to hide in plain sight, I give a few simple instructions for shuffling tech, a simple job. And you blow it. Mostly."
"Speaking of these masks..." Another began, hesitating when Slade's eye narrowed at him. "When can we get these things off? They...they feel funny."
There was a low murmur of agreement among them that was silence when Slade cleared his throat. "If that is what you want, we'll take care of that here, follow number 317, he'll get you set up in the right room."
A bot began to walk briskly towards one of the many corridors, and the gang slowly began to follow.
"Except you." Slade pointed at the one who spoke up earlier. "I wish to speak with you."
The goon stopped, and walked toward the center of the room again as Slade stepped down, arms still behind his back as he didn't look directly at the goon.
"You attacked my daughter." Slade stated simply.
"She was workin' with the Titans, I had to-"
"You were given instructions to not harm her at all." Slade said in a low tone.
"She attacked me, what was I supposed to do, die-" His question was cut off as a fist connected to his ribcage. In a swift movement, Slade stepped closer, jamming his boot on the goons upper ankle and pushing a shoulder underneath his, stretching up quickly, creating a loud, crunching pop as the shoulder and hip dislocated and the ankle was crushed. He removed himself to allow the goon to fall to the ground painfully.
"Yes. You were supposed to let yourself die." Slade loomed over him for a second, before stomping on the masked goons face.
"No one." Stomp.
"Daughter!" A sickening crunch echoed through the barren room as the goon was decapitated by the last stomp. Slade looked down dispassionately, regaining control of his breath, before looking at an idle bot. "Throw this in with the others in the incinerator room, and then recover the masks so we may return them to our benefactors. " The bot nodded, grabbing both the body and the head and dragging it towards the corridor that the others had gone down. Slade turned to walk away. "And clean this up afterwards, don't want the place becoming a mess."
He calmly walked into the room behind the raised platform. It was filled with a large computer console, and various weaponry and an incredibly spartan, incredibly mobile bunking area. He idly tapped a few keys on the computer and waited for the other screen to pop up, the image, of course, blocked.
"Are they taken care of?"
"They won't give anything away, to the Titans or Police."
"And the tech?"
"Recovered, of course."
"Then what is your evaluation?"
Slade sighed. "Despite his tumble, the little snot seems to be a decent leader. Give him enough time, he might be as good as Robin. Better as a leader in a sense that he lacks...passion for individual pursuit."
"You mean 'obsession which can be turned against them'. They can not all be Robin, Deathstroke."
"No, I suppose not." Slade said in a wry fashion. "The goons were useless, next batch you send-"
"Will not be to you. At least in your current location. If you would oblige us, we would prefer to use your services more directly near Bludhaven. The recruiting has been sloppy around the board. And we are keenly aware of your distaste for slip ups."
Slade looked at the blank screen, eye narrowing. "That will mean an increase in payment."
"Something we are more than willing to concede."
He tilted his head. "Why not Bludhaven directly?"
"At the moment, it is nothing for you to concern yourself with."
Slade shrugged. "So be it. Have them prepare an area for me to arrive in, I'll get to work in a few days."
"We are pleased to continue our business partnership, Mr. Wilson. We expect to see excellent results from you." The video line cut off.
Slade continued to look at the screen in thought. "Hrmmm." he voiced to no one, ignoring the dull screams echoing from the incinerator room down the hall.
A/N: And on that ominous note, that's chapter 10. So, first off, very very sorry it took so long to get this out. Moving is a bitch. So are rewrites caused by moving. Quite a bit has happened since I last posted; BB/Rae seems to be...well pseudo-cannon, whatever TTGO! counts as. But hey, a win is a win. Have had a whole slew of new ideas for the next stories, which has made it harder to finish this story because, for me, I know what's gonna happen next, it's done. For me. But not y'all. And I think, as I said a while ago, I got at least 3 or 4 more stories in me, big ones at least, for Teen Titans fics. Posted a little oneshot based in this timeline. Because, well you can read why there, it's *shameless plug* Struck By You *shameless plug*. let's see, I think...I think it's probably just one more chapter, maybe two depending on if I want to stretch out a few events. Either way, end is in sight for this story and the beginning of a few bigger happenings become foreshadowed with it. Which I'll post as long as y'all are willing to put up with my shitty writing. Self esteem issues to the side; Review responses!:
LurkingShadowWillow: Honestly had fun writing that scene, awkward as it was.
Tim's just a great character to introduce, I kinda like the idea of gradually hinting at the next generation of Titans and heroes. Just something that fills the comic nerd in me with joy. And on the lemon; I think I've come to a good plan for it and that's all I'll say.
SheWoldShaman: Thanks! Sorry it took a bit, though.
Cakeline: Thank you! Glad to see I've caused a bout of insomnia with this story. Been there, with a few stories actually. Cool to know I caused it actually. In a weird way.
charmedprincess101: Truth will set you free, so the saying goes. It's kinda sad that I have the order of Robins memorized actually, so don't feel too bad. The last line of the last chapter was actually one of the many stolen little gags from another thing that I saw that I could throw in. In this case, Futurama, the episode The Sting. Probably one of my favorite ending bits.
BartWLewis: Thanks, man. Yeah, there's a lot more going on too...
Papayaman: Updated! Thanks!
Let's see; Don't have a song for the next chapter yet, will do a mini update when I do. Hopefully won't take two months for the next chapter, goal is two weeks but we'll see what happens, life keeps throwing curveballs at me right now.
Until next time, thank you for reading, please review at your convenience, and as always, keep being awesome people!