Some of you might be wondering why it took me so long to write this chapter. Most of you are used to how long it takes me to write. But most of you might be disappointed that it's a fairly short chapter. That's for two reasons:
1) I was really, really busy. Newsflash: running a restaurant is not a walk in the park. But that's a different story.
2) The slightly more legitimate reason, today marks this story's anniversary. That's right, exactly one year ago today, August 18th, chapter 1 of Difficult Words to Say was published. And now, exactly one year later, chapter 25 (the last "real" chapter) is published.
It's been an incredible year writing this story. I hope you have all enjoyed it. I sincerely hope it's found at least a small place in your heart as it has in mine. Thank you all.
Chapter XXV - A Neverending Story
A gentle breeze rustled in the air, swaying the leaves of the trees to and fro as the faint chirping of the birds softly filled the skies. The young spring sky was painted blue with a few specks of white and a circle of yellow bringing forth light and warmth onto the world below. A small maple tree quivered in the wind, slowly rising from the earth between the graves of Steve Dayton and Rita Farr. Tied around the tree was a sign with the inscription: "Even in a place of death, life has no end."
Garfield Logan, dressed in a smart black suit with a white dress shirt and bow tie, smiled at the slowly growing tree, barely a foot tall now since he had planted it. "Mom, Dad," he said. "Your boy's getting married today." Taking a deep breath, he added, "Please, I hope Raven and I have just as beautiful a marriage as you two did."
As he turned around and walked towards the car, he found Victor Stone waiting for him. "Careful, Gar," he said. "Your parents wanted a divorce didn't they?"
He was met with a smile as Gar answered, "That's not important. They loved each other until the very end. They loved each other even after the end. That's all I could ever ask for." The two men climbed into the T-Car and drove away from the cemetery. As they drove down the road, the changeling felt compelled to ask, "Seriously, man. When are you and Bumblebee gonna say your "I do's already?"
Victor scoffed upon hearing this. "Karen? It'll come in time. Don't worry."
"You're right, twenty-nine year old man in love with the same girl for seven years and still no ring on the finger. No reason to worry at all…"
"I'm not twenty-nine until next month, Grass Stain. And we've only dated for two years, technically. It's just that we've been on-and-off for a few times."
"Okay, let's recap then," Gar said in a matter-of-fact tone as he counted with his fingers. "Seven years ago you started to have a little crush on Karen Beecher after the Justice League partnered you two together as representatives for the Teen Titans. You two dated for a month then called it quits. After a year of meetings, conferences, and constant communication as Titan representatives, you fell in love with her and confessed your true feelings to her, to which she rejected you and said she only ever saw you as a friend. Then she starts dating Herald, and you're crushed as hell. Commence awkward phase that lasted for a year until you two finally started talking as good friends again, all the while you're still in love with her. Over two years with Herald, and they break up, and after a couple months she goes to you most likely out of pity,"—to this, Victor gave a discomforting scowl, but Gar continued anyway. "You date for a while, but then Batgirl asked her to join her Birds of Prey team all the way in Gotham while you told her you didn't want her to. You and Karen break up and she goes off to Gotham only for the team to disband before she actually went on any missions with them. Embarrassed, she goes back to Steel City and Titans East without saying another word to you. Then you go off and start dating Sarah Charles, that one scientist from S.T.A.R. Labs until you realized you couldn't stop loving Karen. It wasn't until two years ago that you two finally decided to stop messing around and being childish and started dating each other for real."
"Thank you, Gar, for giving me a history lesson of my fantastic love life," Victor replied irritatingly.
He shrugged. "I'm just saying, it might not have been all fun for you, but you can't deny that's a lot of history."
Victor surreptitiously smiled and nodded his head. "When the time comes, whatever is meant to happen will happen. She and I aren't going anywhere soon." He looked out the window as he drove. "To be honest, I'm a bit scared."
"Scared of what?"
"Of not making the right choice. Of knowing for sure whether or not she's the one."
"Cy…" Gar said. "Vic. That's just the thing. You never know. We can never know. I'm on my way to marry the woman I love right now, and I don't know for sure whether she's the one. I know that I love her now, but I don't know about the future. Maybe one day she and I will stop loving each other. Maybe she and I will divorce like my parents almost did. Maybe in the end, Raven isn't the one for me. I can never know for sure. But you know what? None of that matters. That's what love is: understanding that you can't know anything for sure but still accepting it anyway. And whenever things get tough and you start questioning your love, always do whatever it takes to keep that love alive again. That's what's important. A wedding is just one day. A marriage is the rest of your life."
Victor chuckled and shook his head. "When'd you get so smart?"
"I'm not smart."
"You're not smart in the head, but you're smart in the heart. Sometimes, that's better." The two friends laughed. "Gar," Victor said. "I think you really are ready to get married."
"Vic," the other responded. "I think so, too."
Dick Grayson hurriedly walked out of a room and shut the door behind him, letting out a brief sigh of relief. He nearly jumped as Karen appeared seemingly out of nowhere and demanded, "Where have you been?"
He wearily pointing a thumb behind him towards the room he just came out of. "The man who's about to marry Raven and Gar," he explained. "I just came in to check up on him, offer him some water. Turns out he's a heavy talker. He kept going on and on and pretty much wouldn't let me leave." He took a deep breath. "How're the guests?"
"Almost half have come so far," Karen said, flipping through a clipboard.
"She hasn't left her dressing room yet. She should still be there with Starfire and Jinx now."
"Okay, I'll check up on her. Meanwhile, could you go talk to the chef? I heard he's having trouble figuring out how much vegetarian food and how much meat food there should be."
"Got it," Karen nodded as Dick walked down the hallway before taking a left and finding Raven's dressing room.
Carefully, he knocked on the door and said, "It's me," before opening it and walking in. As he walked in, Dick's eyes found themselves immediately resting on a young woman staring at a mirror who turned around to face him. Her blue-violet hair was tied up in a bun with a few strands of hair daintily hanging over the side of her face, a white diamond tiara on her head onto which the thin veil was tied. She wore a pure white, strapless gown that parted from the front with a short train behind her. Sky blue designs were seen all around her dress and also accented her white gloves, high-heels, a silver necklace. Her face was smooth and white, but not pale, her lips gentle and soft, her nose small and dainty, and her eyes like two gems.
"Wow," he gasped as Raven gave him a small smile. "You look beautiful."
"Raven looks like the most angelic figure we have laid eyes on, yes?" Starfire chimed.
"I look this white dress makes my pasty gray skin even more noticeable," she replied. "And also, high heels really hurt when you haven't worn any in years. And waking up at 4:30 in the morning for the girls to do my hair for two hours reminded me why I kept my hair short back then." She sighed, then added to Dick, "But thanks. Is Gar and Victor here yet?"
"Should be, unless he decided to chicken out," he joked.
"If he decides to chicken out, I'm going to hunt him down and send him to another dimension."
A beep from Dick's phone sounded, and after checking the message, the man smiled and said, "Looks like you won't have to. Vic and Gar just arrived."
A knock on the door, followed by a voice: "They're not the only ones who've just arrived." Raven curiously walked towards the door—lugging her wedding dress as she did so—and opened it to reveal a familiar face.
"Captain Etzel!" she exclaimed as the man leaned forward to give her a hug.
"You are so beautiful," he replied.
Jinx—who was sitting nearby—lowered her gaze and noticed a crutch at the captain's left side. "What's with that?" she asked unceremoniously.
"Jinx," Raven said sternly, to which Etzel merely waved his hand and smiled. He handed the metallic crutch he was holding to Starfire and lifted up his pants to reveal a prosthetic leg.
"Oh," Jinx mouthed, blushing with embarrassment.
"Those damn demons," the man answered cheerfully. "It's fine. I can walk well enough. The crutch is just for support." Starfire returned his crutch back to Etzel, who added, "Don't you worry a thing, 'Mistress of Misfortune'. I can walk Raven down the aisle just fine."
"Thank you, Captain Etzel," the Tamaranian princess said with a playful bow. "Oh! There is someone who would like to meet you!" She spun around on her heels and quickly brought a stroller towards the captain. The man curiously peered inside to find a chubby face staring back at him.
"O—oh," he gasped with a smile. The baby was a girl with a few strands of black hair, dressed in purple clothes and bonnet. "Who is this little girl?"
"Her name is Mar'i," Dick said with a proud grin. "Mar'i Grayson. We named her after my mom, Mary."
"Barely alive and already so chubby," Etzel chuckled. "She sleeps like an angel."
A knock on the door preceded the entrance of Victor and Karen. "Sorry," the former apologized. "We were a bit sidetracked with the chef."
Dick smirked and whispered to him, "Does the chef happen to be wearing rouge lipstick?" as he pointed towards Victor's lower lip. His eyes widened as he hurriedly wiped it away, while Karen's face flushed red.
Quickly she cleared her throat and said, "All the guests have arrived. Gar's ready and waiting. The show's about to start!"
Starfire leaned down and gently picked up her baby from the stroller. The sudden loss of the comfort of a stroller caused Mar'i to burst into fitful tears. "Ohhh shhh, shh," she said assuringly to her child. "Hush, my little bumgorf. You are going to have to stay with K'norfka Jinx for now, okay?"
"Uhh, abort mission?" Jinx protested as she was handed the crying baby. "I'm not good with kids. What if something happens to her?"
"It's not Mar'i we have to worry about," Dick said with a knowing wink. "It's you."
"Me? How is—"
She was caught off by a small sneeze from Mar'i, which came out as a small explosion. As Jinx was left with burnt ashes and soot on her face and hair, Starfire cheerfully said to her daughter, "G'lufnog!" then to Jinx, "Good luck! You will need it." The Titans and Captain Etzel exited Raven's dressing room, with Jinx holding Mar'i as if she was trying to find the handle to some strange, foreign object that she couldn't comprehend.
The guests were quietly stirring in their seats as Wonder Woman gracefully walked up to the podium up front and announced into the microphone, "Please rise." The many guests of all shapes, sizes, and origins immediately rose from their seats as Jericho began playing music on a nearby grand piano. Garfield and Victor—groom and best man—were the first to walk down the aisle, followed by Dick and Starfire. The guests then gave "aw's" as the ring boy and flower girl walked together—Timmy Tantrum fidgeted with the ring and his gelled hair as he walked beside Lucie, who was the only little girl Raven knew. Finally came Etzel and Raven, whose veil was drawn over her face.
"You know, I've always imagined this day," Etzel whispered as he limped down the aisle with Raven. "Even though I knew about the prophecy about Trigon coming on your sixteenth birthday, I still always imagined the day you'd be married. Of course, I never knew it would be on Earth."
Raven nodded. "Raphael would have wanted to be here," she sighed.
"Don't worry," Etzel winked. "I have a feeling he is, somewhere."
The two reached Garfield, and just as Etzel gave Raven's hand to him, she whispered back, "Thank you, Etzel, for everything." The Azarathean captain nodded graciously and walked to his seat next to Arella, who was clutching a handkerchief.
"Dear family and friends," a voice called. "We have gathered here today to witness and celebrate the union of Garfield Mark Logan and Raven Roth, who will soon be joined together in Holy Matrimony. Marriage is the promise of hope between two people who love each other sincerely, who honor each other as individuals, and who wish to unite their lives and share the future together. Today Garfield and Raven proclaim their love to the world, and we who have gathered here rejoice with them and for them in the new life they now undertake."
A hush fell over the guests as they all seated themselves. "Garfield, Raven, please step forward and extend your hands to each other." The groom and bride did as they were told. Gar pulled Raven's veil over her head to reveal her face staring straight back at him. He couldn't help but smile broadly.
"You look so beautiful," he mouthed. Even Raven couldn't hold back a smile.
"The hand offered by each of you is an extension of yourself, just as is your mutual love," the man declared. "Cherish the touch, for you touch not only your own, but another life. May this be but the beginning of a relationship that will grow and mature with each passing year until the latter days become the promise of the first."
He turned to Garfield. "Garfield Mark Logan, do you take Raven Roth to be your wedded wife, to live together in marriage, to promise to love her, comfort her, honor and keep her, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to her, so long as you both shall live?"
"I do," Gar answered.
He turned to Raven. "Raven Roth, do you take Garfield Mark Logan to be your wedded husband, to live together in marriage, to promise to love him, comfort him, honor and keep him, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, be faithful only to him, so long as you both shall live?"
"I do," Raven answered.
"A circle is the symbol of the sun and the earth, and of the universe. It is a symbol of wholeness, and perfection, and of peace. The rings you give and receive this day, then, are symbols of the circle of shared love into which you enter together as husband and wife."
He received the wedding rings from Timmy, and gave one to Garfield, who said, "Raven, this ring I give to you, in token and pledge of my constant faith and abiding love," and slipped it on her finger. Raven did so likewise with the other ring onto Gar's finger.
The two betrothed then performed an Azarathean candle lighting ceremony, in which both magically lit a long white candle—in this case, both were magically lit by Raven—and joined together the flames to light a golden candle, whose flame glowed brightly.
"In front of us all you have pledged your vows, and with the authority vested in me, it is with great pleasure that I declare you man and wife."
The guests roared in cheers as Gar swept Raven off her feet and brought her in for a loving kiss. The husband lowered his wife to the ground as they both walked down the aisle arm in arm, followed by Lucie, Timmy, and the other three Titans. Victor was nearly tackled by Karen, who pressed her lips against his, while Jinx and Flash graciously returned a screaming Mar'i to her parents, with Jinx muttering to her boyfriend under her breath, "We can wait a long while until we make one of those." Etzel and Arella both walked down arm in arm with proud smiles, leading the rest of the guests out just in time to see Gar and Raven drive away into the T-Car with a "Just Married" sign strapped on the back trunk. With a wave of the sorceress's hand, the car was engulfed in a black raven that disappeared into the air.
That night, crowds of guests gathered in Titans Tower—which had previously been preserved as a museum for tourists—as the wedding reception began. Gar and Raven stood at the door greeting each guest and taking their pictures while Dick, Starfire, Victor, and Karen helped keep the seemingly endless line of guests flowing. The food was the finest that the Titans—with help from Bruce Wayne—had to offer and the guests ate through each course as if it were their last. It wasn't long before Victor Stone went up for a toast.
"Good evening, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "For those of you who don't know me, I'm Victor Stone, and today my best friend tied the knot with one of the most amazing girls I've ever met." Cheers resounded. "Gar, Raven, and I, we all met twelve, almost thirteen years ago with Dick and Starfire over there. We were all a group of outsiders, a couple of lost teenagers who happened to have superpowers and somehow, someway, we banded together to form a team called the Teen Titans. Well, I'm here to tell you that that was the greatest thing that's ever happened to me. Growing up with them, they became my family. And one thing was for sure—never in my whole life did I ever think Gar and Raven would grow to like each other as friends let alone fall in love with each other. They could barely be in the same room without breaking in a fight!" Laughs echoed. "But you know what? Ever since the moment they danced with each other one Christmas night, I saw the look on their faces and I knew… I knew I had seen their entire future together. The story of Gar and Raven—whew!—it's been a heck of a long one, I'll tell you that. And all stories must come to an end. But hopefully, theirs will be a neverending story." He raised his glass of champagne in a toast. "To Gar and Raven."
"To Gar and Raven!" the guests repeated.
"Why don't we have the lovely couple come up here and say a few words?" Victor said. "Come right on up, you guys!"
Gar laughed and nudged Raven upwards. "What? I don't want to go up there. What are we supposed to say?" she said reluctantly.
"I have no idea," he snickered. "But it'll be fun, come on!"
"No, Gar," she said firmly. Her husband rolled his eyes and turned around, poured out two glasses of red wine and handed one to her. "What is this?" she gasped, her eyes widening. "You don't mean…?"
His face broke into a laugh. "It's just normal wine, don't worry!" He chuckled some, only to be painfully punched by Raven. "Come on. To us?" Gar lifted his glass up to her.
She relented and chimed her glass against his. "To us," she said, as they both drank the wine. Together they made their way to the front where they were met with loud cheers and applause.
"Hi guys," Gar started. "Thank you for coming tonight. We really appreciate it. Unfortunately, neither one of us really know what to say up here…"
"Tell us the story!" a voice called.
"Excuse me?" Raven said.
"The story!" another one said. "How'd you two fall in love?"
"Did you always know?"
"When did you guys stop fighting and start liking each other?"
"How does your little love story go?"
"Umm," Gar stammered as he scratched his head, glancing towards his wife. "Well… like Vic said, it's kind of a long story."
"Tell us!" some voices demanded. The newlyweds looked at each other and shrugged.
"Well…" Raven started. "It's a story that starts right here in Jump City and ends right here in Jump City." Gar's ears twitched upon hearing these words and he looked up at her in surprise. She continued, "But before we begin, let me ask you this: do you believe in love?"
Gar's eyes twinkled and his face lit up as he held his wife's hands in his own. Suddenly, as man and woman stood up in front of the room in front of dozens upon dozens of tables filled with guests, the night fell still and a calm washed over the room. The full moon shone above them in the night sky, and underneath the moon-filled sky, everything felt like paradise. And Gar realized, holding his beautiful wife's hand in his own, that perhaps their story wasn't the happiest and perhaps it could have been better, but he would not have traded it for anything, because it was their story, and all of its perfect imperfections was exactly what made it beautiful. This was the story of love—mutual, beautiful, perfect. With this in mind and with his beautiful wife Raven by his side, Gar turned to the guests and said to them:
"Because we have a story that'll make you believe in love."
~Difficult Words to Say~
And that is the end.
As promised, there will be five epilogue chapters to completely tie up all the loose ends of the story. My main focus will be on Gar and Raven settling in as a couple, of course, but I want to try to give Dick & Star and Victor & Karen some center stage time, too. Now that the main story is over, let's remember that there are other couples in the world as well.
If you have any things you want to see the couples do (like I don't know, something romantic or hilarious or crazy) leave it in the reviews or PM me and I might write it in, with all credit going to you of course!
Also, if you guys have any questions you want answered or want to hear a "behind-the-scenes" look at the making of Difficult Words to Say, leave a comment in the reviews or PM me!
In other news, I don't know how long each chapter will be (probably not very long) or how fast I'll be able to write them. Because... (wait for it) my church is doing a live reenactment of Disney's Mulan and I've been chosen as director/co-screenwriter. Yes, this is not a joke! A full cast of 50+ people doing a 45-minute live reenactment of Mulan. MULAN! And I'm directing and writing the script! BOOYA! Wish me luck!
And as always, thank you for taking the time to read this story. It's been an incredible pleasure.
Kaarlinaa - Thanks! Hope you liked the story!
JasonVUK - Haha congratulations smarta$$! Thank you for your kind words. There will not be a sequel to this story (besides the epilogue chapters), but I wouldn't say no to another FanFic. Not saying yes, either. We'll see.
ShesTheBoss19 - Umm because AoT is yo. Too bad I said Eren died. I kinda take it back now. And I had to take out mentions of Mikasa and Annie because previously I mentioned that Raven was the only girl. Oh well...
CleoArrow - Thank you! Hope you enjoyed the story! :) there's still more to come.
Bluedog197 - Hmm... I'm going to guess that you're a girl? Because you've said a bunch of times before "if you think I'm a guy then you're wrong". So am I right that you're a girl?
Thebookthief18 - Thank you! Your words mean a lot. I wouldn't say the monks told Raven her mother didn't love her. They just kept them separated and that inadvertently led to Raven believing her mother didn't love her. A hurt child will believe what they think they see.
Lilypad009 - Levi. Can. Not. Die. It is mathematically and physically impossible. Haha, I hope you enjoyed the story!
BartWLewis - Thanks for your kind words. I hope you enjoyed this chapter and this whole story. Stick around for the epilogues!
KevEddFan808 - Thanks a lot! I'm amazed you read the whole thing in two days. Good job! I hope you liked it :)
the missing link - Thank you very much! :)
SociallyAwkwardOutcast - My praise and thanks all goes out to you for taking the time to read the story. I hope you've enjoyed it as much as I have.
Guest - Thanks!
lunae57 - Haha, seriously, the whole Trigon thing wasn't part of the plan at the beginning. Malcolm was supposed to just be the main antagonist and the story would end there. But more on that later. Thanks for reading!
Emily - Thanks a lot! :) Hope you liked it.
Bran - Thank you :) I did believe some readers would figure out it was Raven at some point. I did leave some foreshadowing hints behind.
ecthelion5 - Heaven was a manifestation of Raven's mind and psyche. The darkness, fog, and rain at the beginning was supposed to symbolize how Raven's mind was clouded and dark. As Gar continued to tell the story, she slowly regained her memory and that's when the rain stopped, fog lifted, and sun rose.