Teen Titans Fan Fiction ❯ The Real World: Titans Tower ❯ Shattered Perceptions ( Chapter 13 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
OOC: I've gotten a lot of new reviews since the last chapter, and I really appreciate it guys! Thank you for reading and please, continue with the feedback! It not only helps me improve, but really makes this worthwhile!
DISCLAIMER: The New Teen Titans were created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, and all characters are owned by DC Comics. It is with great respect to them as well as the other amazing writers who have worked with the Titans over the years that I make this story.
“All Star Teen Titans”
“The Real World: Titans Tower”
Chapter 13: Shattered Perceptions
THE TEEN TITANS—Teenage heroes and reality TV stars:
Robin—Dick Grayson: Arrogant former circus star, acrobat extraordinaire and hopeful ladies man.
Wonder Girl—Donna Troy: Adopted sister of Wonder Woman, bestowed with the powers of the Amazons.
Speed—Wally West: A bitter, living embodiment of the mythical Speed Force.
Cyborg—Victor Stone: Half flesh, half machine—all human.
Beast Boy—Garfield Logan: Goofy, insecure animal shapeshifter and former member of the Doom Patrol.
Raven: Cynical empath shrouded in mystery.
Starfire—Princess Koriand'r: Honest, caring newcomer to Earth capable of flight and generating energy blasts.
TITANS EAST—Teenage heroes aiming for fame, fortune, and the honor of being a true Teen Titan!:
Flamebird—Bette Kane: Spoiled rich heiress, athlete, and Robin fangirl.
Arsenal—Roy Harper: Former bad-boy sidekick and current government agent and weapon master with perfect aim.
Impulse—Bart Allen: Hyperactive super speedster from the future with no understanding of danger.
Bumblebee—Karen Beecher: Cybernetic genius with an insect themed power suit.
The Herald—Malcolm Duncan: Ex-thug armed with a wormhole generating horn.
Terra—Tara Markov: Runaway and wanderer with control over the very Earth itself!
Magenta—Francis Kane: Timid girl possessing tremendous magnetic power but cursed by its bi-polar aftereffects.
THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL—Freaks and outcasts seeking revenge, money, or twisted fun as a band of terrorist supervillains:
The Brain: Super-intelligent brain preserved in a robotic jar.
Monsieur Mallah: The Brain's love, a fierce ape given human intellect!
Madame Rouge: Cruel, sadistic shapeshifter.
Warp: Teleporting blue-collar Frenchman.
Phobia: Fallen nobility with the ability to bring people's fears to life.
Plasmus: Neo-Nazi turned into a protoplasmic pile of living sludge.
Houngan: Former scientist with technology simulating voodoo.
Goldilocks: Twisted girl with control over her hair and a mind locked in a fairy tale.
This is the true story of seven teenaged superheroes, picked to live in a house, fight crime together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when heroes stop being polite, and start being real. The Real World: Titans Tower.
Once upon a time, two teams of freaks and outcasts stood against each other: The Doom Patrol, led by the brilliant neurosurgeon Niles Caulder to fight against the unexplainable and try to regain mankind's trust, and the Brotherhood of Evil, led by the Brain on a mission of revenge. The two teams clashed numerous times over the years before the Brotherhood finally succeeded in their objective and murdered the Doom Patrol.
The only member who escaped the slaughter was the youngest, Garfield Logan, the shapeshifter known as Beast Boy. He was forbidden to go on that last mission by his adoptive father, Steve Dayton, Mento, and the guilt still haunts him to this day. Finding himself without a family for the second time in his life, Garfield eventually joined up with the Teen Titans, a reality show setting up a group of superheroes.
Earlier, Gar fell in love at first sight as he met Terra, a member of a group of Titan fans called Titans East. The two teams were sent on a mission of great personal significance to Garfield Logan: A mission to take down the Brotherhood!
And take them down the Titans have! Six Brotherhood members currently lay defeated at the feet of the teen powerhouses: but two still fight on!
Or perhaps only one. As we last saw our heroes, Beast Boy and Terra had emerged with a very defeated Madame Rouge in their arms—only to reveal that she was dead!
How, you ask? What, did you think I would go this far without telling you? Before we get to that story, however, let's check in on the other two Titans still fighting the fine fight: Robin, the acrobat extraordinaire, and his number one fan, Flamebird! When we last saw them, both had been captured by the delusional little girl, Goldilocks…
***ON THE AIR—THE BROTHERHOOD OF EVIL'S BASE, ZANDIA. GOLDILOCK'S ROOM***
Dick Grayson slowly started to regain consciousness. Last he remembered he'd been…wrapped tight in the almost living hair of the Brotherhood member known as Goldilocks, along with his greatest fan—and the greatest thorn in his side—Bette Kane. As he managed to open his eyes, he saw both girls. Flamebird was restrained—as he was—directly across from him, tied to a chair.
A tiny blade snapped open from the finger of Robin's glove as he slowly started to saw away at the ropes that held him in place.
Robin: “'Kay, I have to get this over with as soon as I can. Bette's heart is in the right place, but I think she thinks you can just put on a cape and become a super-hero without any work! I guess that's kinda my fault…I just make this look so g—damn easy!
“Anyway, I don't need her making this any more dangerous than it already is. She don't realize the training I do, that this really is work! She just wants to impress me—as if that's possible with Kory around—and if she's tryin' to show off, she's not gonna be paying attention to Goldilocks.
“Nah, I can end this real fast, as long as I can stay quiet for just another minute…”
Dick moved his finger as slow as he could, slicing through one strand of the rope that bound him at a time. He didn't dare risk letting Goldilocks notice he was awake! As he sawed away, he took a quick look at the room. Its interior emulated a rustic cabin. Three spots were set at the table, and three beds lined the wall, with three chairs in front of a small television that didn't look like it actually worked. By the middle bed was a bookshelf, and though it was filled to the brim, Robin silently sighed as he realized:
Robin: “Every book was the same! It was just, like, fifty f---ing trillion copies of Goldilocks and the three bears! I don't need little Robin's detective lessons for this—the girl's obsessed! Hell, I guess this explains all that `you're just right' s--- she was spoutin' off earlier.
“Well, now I wished I had cared more about this book. I always thought Goldilocks was a pretty damn stupid story. Why the hell would the bears leave their doors unlocked—and the little girl's a thief, so how's she the hero? Doesn't she chop the bears up or something? Or am I thinking of the wrong story?
“Yeah, definitely should've paid more attention. Now if I screw this up, I won't know what the psycho'll do! So, y'know, only one choice here: don't f--- up!”
Precious minutes passed as Dick finally broke through one bond and then another. With both hands unbound, the acrobat silently reached into his utility belt and pulled out a small disk of explosives. Its force would be just strong enough to knock Goldilocks unconscious without killing her, provided it hit the girl head-on—and Robin was certainly more-than-capable of such a shot.
However, it was about that time that Flamebird started to come to. Hearing her moan, Dick quickly closed his eyes, hid his explosives in the palm of his hand, and went limp.
“D—Dick?” stuttered Bette Kane as she opened her eyes to found herself bound, and her crush in the same position across from her! “What's going on?! If you hurt him—”
“Oh boy!” exclaimed Goldilocks, turning around from the miniature-sized stove she was cooking at and prancing to the Titans East-er's side. “If you're awake then Robin'll be soon too!”
“I'll never let you hurt him!” snarled Flamebird. Dick restrained a grin as his hand moved slightly—their enemy now stood between the two Titans, so as long as he could go unnoticed for a second more, they'd be home free!
“I would never hurt my dumpling,” replied Goldilocks, pouting slightly. “Robin is just right for me! He'll fill the big chair, and together we'll fit the big bed! The only thing in the way right now is you!” Her hair snaked to the stove, grabbing a pot full of bubbling brown goo and pulling it close to Bette's face. “Don't worry though, poison porridge should take care of that!”
Robin: “Hm, porridge always seemed close enough to poison on its own!”
Bette strained as a strand of the girl's golden hair took a spoonful of the deadly concoction and moved towards her mouth. Frowning, Robin knew he only had one chance to finish this before his teammate was toast—and as he tossed his disk, Flamebird noticed him!
“Dick!” she exclaimed, her face filled with joy. Unfortunately, Robin wasn't as happy—because, even with just a split second to retaliate, Bette's interference alerted Goldilocks of his presence! Even though she was facing another direction entirely, her hair leapt to life and intercepted his explosives—though all were rocked by their power, the psychotic little girl was still standing!
Not wasting any time, Dick Grayson fell forward, landing on his hands and hoisting his lower body—still tied to a chair—off the floor. Gritting his teeth, he propelled himself into the air and somersaulted, falling chair first towards his enemy!
Robin: “C'mon now, television audience, tell me that wasn't cool!”
However, Goldilocks seemed convinced to be just as cool with her moves! Several strands of hair lengthened as they shot into the floor, pulling the girl into the air and away from Robin's attack as if they were spider legs! The chair shattered as Dick landed, and the acrobat wasted no time in pulling the broken chair legs from behind his own legs and twirling them in his hands like weapons.
“Go Robin!” cheered Flamebird—much to the frustrated boy's chagrin—as he launched one of the makeshift escrima sticks forward. Goldilocks easily caught it and hurled it back with a tentacle-like strand of hair, but with pinpoint precision Dick launched the second chair leg. It struck the first head on, again reversing its target as it traveled—with twice the speed—straight through the field of curls and into her face!
Two of his razor-sharp redbird boomerangs dropped into his hands as Robin turned to free Flamebird—and found her already free, brushing a few spots of dripped poison porridge from her uniform. “Bette, how'd you—”
“Why would you think I couldn't get out?” asked Bette Kane, honestly confused.
Robin: “I dunno, maybe `cause doin' stuff like that's hard?!”
A tiny flame shot from the palm of her glove. “I have little, tiny flamethrowers in my gloves! They don't last too long, but they were enough to burn the ropes off me! Aren't they neat?!”
“Yeah, awesome,” replied Dick drably, not really thinking as he eyed his opponent. Goldilocks was on her butt, crying, not paying the slightest attention to either Titan—so the acrobat threw the two redbirds he'd palmed, having nothing better to do with them.
Though she never looked up, two locks of the girl's hair came to life and swatted the projectiles from the sky! “How could you?” sobbed Goldilocks. “How could you hurt me?! You're just right for me!”
“Listen girl,” growled Dick, “Right about now the only thing `just right' for you is a straight-jacket!” Looking at Bette for a split second, he added, “And the only girl I'm just right for is Kory!”
“Then I was wrong,” replied the Brotherhood member, her voice regaining a steady tone as her tears dried up. “You weren't just right at all—you're too mean!” As if they were reacting to her anger, every strand of her hair started to writhe on its own before shooting forward, a blizzard of deadly golden locks heading straight for the two Titans!
Robin: “What, you think I don't have a plan? Jeez, don't you people know better? Just so happens that right about then I spotted just what we needed!”
“Bette, I have a plan!” exclaimed the acrobat as he leapt into the air, launching a grappling launcher that anchored itself directly across the room. “Stay alive, and follow my lead!”
“Stay alive?” echoed Flamebird quizzically as she tumbled beneath two spiraling streams of hair, then leapt above a third, putting all those thousands of dollars her father spent on personal trainers to good use. “Heh, as if I'd let myself get offed by this bozo!”
As the zip-line retracted the grapple launcher and pulled Dick Grayson across Goldilocks' room at break-neck speeds, he twisted and turned, avoiding every attack that came his way. Finally the girl got smart as one of her locks sliced through his line, but by then Dick had found what he needed anyway, and as he landed and rolled into a tumble he grabbed an aerosol can of PAM butter spray from the stove and tossed it to Flamebird.
“So you like a girl that can cook?” asked Bette, confused as to the item's significance.
Robin smacked himself in the face. “No, it's flammable! Max out your flamethrower! Use everything they've got left!”
A wicked smile crawled across Bette Kane's face. “You got it!”
“You wouldn't!” gasped Goldilocks, her expression locked in one of sheer terror.
“Then you don't know us very well!” exclaimed Bette as she sprayed the girl's hair and unleashed the rest of her wrist-mounted flamethrower's fuel. Goldilocks lit up like a torch, trying desperately to put out her flaming hair but finding it futile. It only took a few moments for all her hair to burn up completely, leaving her head smooth as a cue-ball.
Dick and Bette exchanged satisfied smirks and approached their enemy. “Y'know,” laughed Robin, “They do make Rogain for Women.”
Tears welled in the corners of Goldilocks' eyes. “That's…not…funny!” she screamed. Stubble appeared on her bald head, growing amazingly fast into a full head of hair, which immediately extended back to its original length as she whipped her head around, tagging both heroes in their stomachs with a long lash of hair.
Robin: “Dammit, she can just grow her hair back! G--damnit I wish Bette hadn't screwed up my toss back when she first woke up, cause I dunno if I can take her now!”
“How can you be so mean?!” wailed the girl as her hair separated, and the individual strands assaulted the Titans from all directions. Dick countered with his staff, spinning it in front of him like a fan, tangling his enemy's locks around the metal pole. Flamebird, however, wasn't quite as lucky, and was quickly pulled off her feet and held restrained in the air.
“Talk about unmanageable hair!” quipped Bette as she struggled. Finally she freed one of her arms, which held a boomerang shaped like herself, wearing a winter coat. “I think you need a better conditioner!” Tossing the Flamebirdarang, the heiress braced herself, and as a blue explosion sent icy shards traveling across a large portion of Goldilocks' hair, she was able to shatter her prison and set herself free!
Robin: “Good move—and the pun wasn't half bad either!”
Razor-edged tresses launched one after the other as Flamebird evaded them, somersaulting over one and sending her foot straight into the girl's face. Blood flew from Goldilocks' nose as she flew backwards, but her hair again anchored into the ground, steadying her fall as several more whip-like strands knocked Bette Kane off her feet.
“Quit hitting me!” cried Goldilocks, her rage growing with every hit, almost like a berserker! She obviously wasn't mentally stable—not that this was debatable before, mind you.
Robin: “Okay, this is a pretty big problem! Our weapons are never gonna make it through all her freaking hair, and if she keeps getting angrier, we aren't gonna be able to pretty soon either! Who knows if Bette can get close again, and as fast as she's throwin' her hair around now, I probably only'll be able to one more time! How can I finish her when I don't have that much time to be throwing out a million hits!
“Alright, answerin' my own question here, but that's cause I'm just smart enough to figure out the right answer! Pressure points! After Batman pulled a few out on me, I read up a bit on `em! Haven't gotten a chance to use `em yet, but c'mon guys, it's me! I'm definitely gonna remember where they all are! No way she'll still be conscious after I hit two or three of `em!”
“Bette!” called Dick, “Can you keep her busy for a few secs?!”
“Is that all you think I can do?” asked Flamebird with a touch of indignance as she ducked beneath a golden whip that grew increasingly faster with each lash. “Oh well, of course I can Dick! Show her how it's done!”
As that same strand of hair came in for another attack, Bette just barely managed to side-step it and grab on tight, yanking as hard as she could in hopes of tossing the Brotherhood member. Alas, Goldilocks just let her hair grow as the Titan East-er pulled, negating the entire effect. Flamebird's eyes bulged as the appendage wrapped around her, again ensnaring the girl!
“Can't get enough of my hugs?” asked Goldilocks with a sick grin. “They're gonna squeeze the stuffing out of you!”
“I like hugs from guys, thank-you-very-much!” declared Flamebird as she sliced through her prison with two Flamebirdarangs. Launching the self-indulgent boomerangs kept her opponent just distracted enough for Bette to slide across the floor one of her knock-out gas bombs!
“Too…smoky…” Goldilocks stammered as her knees started to go weak. Fortunately, her hair responded for her, two locks spinning like a fan, blowing away the gas!
However, suddenly Robin's grappling launcher wrapped around the girl's waste, pulling the acrobat extraordinaire in close! Having Dick that close to her had always been Goldilocks' dream, but now it proved to be her undoing as he savagely struck six or seven times in rapid succession, each time with two fingers targeting various pressure points across the body. Goldilocks' limbs started to go numb, her vision hazy, and finally she hurled before falling to the ground, unconscious.
Robin just panted. For once, he didn't have anything to say. That was a lot harder than it should have been!
“Oh boy! That was wonderful Dick!” Suddenly Flamebird had the boy in tight embrace, but he wasn't paying much attention to her. “Man-o-man do we make a good team!”
Robin: “Do we? Sure she helped me beat Goldilocks, but only after she f---ed up my first try, which would've been a helluva lot easier! Give Bette some time, some focus, and she'll be f---ing sweet at this, but as she is, she's more dangerous than helpful. Damn. How do you tell a chick that?!”
***BEAST BOY AND TERRA—MADAME ROUGE'S ROOM***
With a soft groan Tara Markov—the runaway princess of Markovia forcibly given the ability to move earth with her mind—awoke to find herself locked away within a clear cylinder. Last she could remember she'd been captured by Madame Rouge, the sadistic shapeshifter, so this came as no surprise. What did surprise her, though, was that when she tried to use her powers, there was no response!
She didn't linger on that thought for too long though—because it was about then that she noticed Beast Boy! She'd become quite fond of the tiny green animal shapeshifter in the short time she'd known him, and thus was pretty pissed to see him across from her, shackled down with a thick collar across his neck.
“Now now girl,” cooed Rouge, her neck stretching close to Terra as the rest of her body, slowly sauntering, caught up. In her hand she had a cigarette held in a long black stick, and as she tapped the ashes off she chuckled and smirked evilly. “He's had a long day, and needs his rest.”
“What's going on here?!” Tara was seething. “Give me some answers, bitch!”
Madame Rouge didn't lose one iota of her cool. “Your little boyfriend is all that remains of the Doom Patrol, and I cannot allow any traces of Caulder to exist! As for you, that cylinder is strangling your terrakinesis' contact with the Earth, making you harmless as a kitten. I'll kill you in due time, but first…you're going to watch me kill Beast Boy.”
Tara Markov liked to think of herself as hardened and tough. It was certainly the image she allowed others to see. Yet, deep down inside she was a scared, broken girl, traumatized by so much…and now was when that side of her came out. Banging the sides of the cylinder, tears started to leak from the corners of her eyes. “Why?!”
“Why not?” replied Rouge, shrugging casually.
“…Rouge…” Finally Garfield Logan was awake, stumbling over his words, but conscious nonetheless. “Why…why do all of you hate us…the Chief loved you, and you…you…”
Beast Boy: “Yeah, believe it or not, the Chief and Madame Rouge were once an item! It was before I was on the team, and before it could go too far, the Brotherhood kidnapped her! They must've brainwashed her or somethin', cause she's been like this ever since! But…can brainwashing last that long?”
“I NEVER LOVED HIM!” screamed Rouge, swinging her arm across the room like a whip to backhand the green boy. With her attention focused on Beast Boy, Terra knew it was time to act—a tiny field of yellow appeared around her gloves, and small mounds of dirt flew out of her belt.
When Tara had traveled across the Atlantic to America, she quickly discovered how useless her powers were on the ocean. While she certainly couldn't carry a quarry in her belt, she found a little dirt came in handy for situations like this! She strained, and shaped the mudballs into razor sharp picks.
“Caulder made me love him!” continued Rouge as her elastic body took on the appearance of the late Doom Patrol leader himself. “He…turned me into this! Just like—” One by one she transformed into the Doom Patrol: Negative Man, Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Mento, and Beast Boy, before returning to her normal state. “—Just like he made the Doom Patrol!”
“Don't listen to her Gar!” cried Terra as she thrusted her hands forward, letting her stones shatter the cylinder and soar straight towards the changeling. “Heads up!” The earth-mover's projectiles swerved past their elastic foe and shattered the collar, a sophisticated device that restrained his abilities.
Beast Boy: “Man, isn't she awesome?! She's keepin' her cool and fighting back, but me…I'm too distracted by Rouge! I dunno if what she's sayin' is true or not, but I gotta find out!”
Garfield shrank into a hummingbird the second he gained his freedom—meanwhile, his crush released as much power as she could, regaining contact with her precious Earth and raising a boulder to shatter her prison. Flittering above his opponent, Beast Boy grew into a hippo, but with the proper leverage Rouge was easily able to slap him aside like it was nothing.
Skidding across the floor, the boy resumed his human form. “What're you talking about?! The Chief saved the Doom Patrol from their accidents!”
“SAVED?!” A nimble somersault as a chimpanzee saved the tiny changeling from the Brotherhood member's enlarged fist smashing down like a hammer. Behind her Terra was preparing to attack, but Rouge's legs sharpened to a point and dove under the ground, both popping out around the Titans East-er and, taking the shape of cymbals, crashing around her. Quick thinking saved the girl though, as a rock erupted beneath her and carried her far above the attack.
“Quick trying to distract him!” commanded Terra as stones erupted from the wall.
“Distract him?” The elastic maiden grimaced. “I am simply telling the boy the truth! He may have been a member of the Doom Patrol, but he did not know his leader at all!”
Beast Boy: “She has a point there. Chief brought us together and let me stay when I ran across the DP, so I was always grateful to him, but…he didn't talk to us much. He hid in his lab `til it was time to fight, then he bossed us around! I dunno if any of us really knew him!”
Madame Rouge's hands flattened into sharp blades as she started rotating at her waste, spinning her elongated arms across the room and leaving havoc in her wake. “So let me fill you in. Niles Caulder may have been a brilliant surgeon and scientist, but he was a rotten, selfish person! He took nobody's feelings into consideration but his own, and he craved glory and recognition! Being the world's most famous neurosurgeon wasn't enough for him! He wanted more!
“Envious of the fame being received by the then newly formed Justice League, he decided to form a super hero group of his own! Of course, super heroes don't just grow on trees, especially ones a control freak like Caulder could keep a leash on, so he decided to make some who would be dependent on him! He sabotaged Cliff Steele's racecar and caused his accident, sent Larry Trainor's plane through a radioactive storm he had created, manufactured those `volcanic gases' Rita Farr was exposed to on her movie shoot, even planted the schematics for Steve Dayton's Mento helmet into his systems, though of course hidden within was programming to ensure Dayton would remain under Caulder's complete control…”
Beast Boy: “Wait…does that mean that I'm all his fault too? Did he send that green monkey after me? Did he make my parents' accident too so he could get his hands on me? Is this even true?! I don't wanna believe it, but even the Brain said something like this when we first got here…”
“In fact, the only member he didn't create with his twisted sense of purpose was you, though that doesn't mean he didn't manipulate you just as badly!”
Beast Boy: “Okay. Hm. That should make me feel better, but it doesn't…”
Gar's chimpanzee form somersaulted around the shapeshifter's razor sharp limbs, seemingly preoccupied simply with staying alive, not with attacking. However, Terra more than made up for this, zigging and zagging atop a floating crag while at the same time launching as many rocks as she could—and her assault was useless, only bouncing off Rouge without leaving a dent.
“Get it together Gar!” screamed Tara, worried.
Beast Boy: “I'm trying, but…I've always wanted to know why the Brotherhood hated the DP so much! Maybe even more than revenge I've just wanted to know, y'know, why?! Madame Rouge might just have the answers, and what's scary is, I lived with the Chief for like four or five years, and all that time together is just helpin' convince me that she might be right…”
The elastic femme fatale grinned deviously. “And even after all that, after the Doom Patrol found their own type of fame, Caulder wanted more! I was once an actress named Laura De Mille, and Caulder became obsessed with me from the moment he saw me! One day he propositioned me, but already having a boyfriend, I rejected him. The old man couldn't take it, and decided to turn me into one of his freaks! I was kidnapped and brainwashed, and given my elastic abilities! For a whole year I was a member of the Doom Patrol, and your teammates never knew me as anything more than Caulder's doting shrew!
“Finally one day he sent me on an undercover mission into the newly founded Brotherhood of Evil's base. I was supposed to use my shapeshifting abilities to pass unnoticed, but the Brain was anticipating me. He set a trap, captured me, and reversed my brain washing. Finally I was able to see the truth about Caulder—and then the Brain showed me more!
“He revealed that, long before the Doom Patrol was created, he had worked in a lab with Caulder. The Brain had experimented on raising simian intelligence, and Monsieur Mallah was his first triumph! Jealous over his success, Caulder attempted to kill him, but Mallah managed to save his Brain and build his life-support jar!
“Brain and I were united from that day out on a mission of revenge—and tell me, Beast Boy, don't you think they deserved it?!”
“Don't listen to her Beast Boy!” pleaded Terra as she sent the ground beneath Madame Rouge flying. “She's a liar!”
Rouge's legs merged together and formed a cup that caught her opponent's attacks and threw them straight back at her. “Aren't you getting tired of repeating yourself, girl?”
Gasping, Tara used her powers to freeze her returned attack, but by then the elastic sadist was already on the offensive, stretching her fingers into ten razor-sharp blades. Leaping off her floating rock, she used it to block Rouge's attacks, and whipped up a small dust storm to slow her descent. Wiping her hair from her eyes as she landed, she replied, “Aren't you tired of being Madame Exposition?”
“I believe her, Tara.” Both women stopped in their tracks. “I dunno if I can explain it but…I knew the Chief. I ignored most of what he did cause I was just happy to have a family, but really, he was a class-A jerk. As much as I don't wanna, I can see him bein' manipulative. We barely left the mansion—I couldn't even go to school! He constantly told us we were freaks!”
Beast Boy: “No wonder I have no self esteem.”
“Then,” asked Rouge slyly, “You understand why I had to kill them, right?”
“I get why you'd want to kill the Chief, yeah,” admitted Garfield Logan. Terra gasped, but the green boy's face did not show a single sign of defeat. “But that didn't give you the right to! And you had NO reason to kill the rest of the Patrol! They knew as little as I did!”
Again, the wicked shapeshifter dismissed this with a shrug. “Anything that reminds me of Caulder simply cannot be allowed to exist—including you.”
Beast Boy: “And there ya go. I don't think I've ever hated anybody more! With everything she told me about the Chief, I was pretty crushed. I have to re-think my whole childhood! It doesn't change mom or dad or Cliff or Larry but still…I'dve much rather never known! And even with all that stuff, she's still psychotic to take it out on all of us!”
“No,” replied Beast Boy sternly. “You're wrong!” And suddenly he became a green bull, the floor rumbling as he charged the psychotic Brotherhood member. Grinning, her hands flattened and spread beneath the changeling like spilt water, and she flipped him into the air like a flapjack.
“Atta boy Gar!” exclaimed Terra, happy to see him back in action even if it wasn't very effective. Her whole body lit up yellow as she slammed her hands onto the ground—it started to give way beneath her. A jagged fissure opened up across the floor, unleashing a flume of lava that erupted right around Rouge! “I can't control lava like my brother, but that don't mean I can't tap into a volcano and make it erupt—and there sure are a lot around here!”
Beast Boy: “Great move! Our physical attacks can't do much to somebody like Rouge, but heat, ice, electricity, energy, those things can hurt `er bad!”
Unfortunately for the two Titans, their opponent was endlessly flexible. She stretched backwards in an impossible pose, narrowly avoiding the deadly magma. Her skin got hot and loose as it started to melt a bit, but no permanent damage was done. As she fell she wrapped her body tight into a ball and rolled at top speed, rolling down Gar in grizzly bear form.
Beast Boy: “Of course, the one time I don't choose an armored animal…”
While he was still reeling, Rouge turned her attention to Terra. “That actually hurt!” she exclaimed as she lashed out with both arms towards the Earth-mover. It wasn't hard for her to use the ground to defend herself, but as the shapeshifter's long arms met Tara's defenses, her legs popped through the ground and knocked her off balance. “You're too dangerous to keep alive! It will be just as painful for him to watch you die first!”
She struck with her arm, catching the Titan East-er and flinging her across the room, dragging her across a wall until she fell to the ground, half buried in rocks. Inside of Garfield Logan, something snapped.
Beast Boy: “I don't care if she hurts me, but there's no WAY I'm letting her hurt Tara!”
Suddenly he'd gained his second wind, and was charging Rouge as a cheetah. He deftly dashed besides two of her attacks before slithering under a third as a snake. He leapt into the air using a gazelle's powerful hind legs, but as Rouge's arm lunged towards his head, he shrank beneath it as a dog.
And, amazingly, he had Rouge on the ground, her head pinned by Gar's massive hands. He'd taken the form of a Gordanian, the aliens that waged war against Starfire's world and recently attacked them at the Warrior's club. With a deep bellow of a scream he started spinning, gripping her rubbery head so hard it started to squeeze through his fingers. Her neck stretched and her body ground against the wall—she was already retaliating with her arms, but she was disoriented, and Garfield was on the run.
Lost in a fugue Beast Boy slammed her head into one of her own machines. “You took my family away!” he screamed in the frightening Gordanian voice as electricity started to surge through her body. Her elastic form offered her some protection, but it still took a toll. “You took them away from me for no good reason!”
He ran along the wall, bashing her head through every machine he could find. “You killed the only people who cared about me! And now you threaten Tara?! NO! You're not going to take her away too! I love her!”
As Gar drug the vicious shapeshifter through the last of her own machinery, he tossed her into the air. The electricity had caused some damage—her body was becoming unstable, but if she didn't fight with all her might, she might just die anyway! Madame Rouge's legs grew to meet the ground as she tried her best to beef up her mass, and launched both her tremendous arms towards the shapeshifter.
“No you don't!” he cried as he shrank beneath it, stretching endlessly into the sky. His transformation seemed erratic, but in a matter of seconds he had become a giant green dragon, smoke puffing from his nose as he soared towards the Brotherhood General.
Beast Boy: “Y'know, I have no idea how I did that. I'm only supposed to be able to be real animals, but I was so pissed that I just started changin' and didn't really even know what I was becoming. It hurt like crazy, I thought my whole body was going to fall apart, but, geez, all I cared about was hurting Rouge. Stupid!”
Rouge's eyes nearly popped out of her head. “But…how?!” Gar didn't give her time to respond, launching a searing stream of fire from his mythical mouth. His opponent's screams echoed through the cave as she fried, but she still wasn't done, striking with her leg in a last ditch attempt to save herself.
Beast Boy span low, knocking both of her legs from beneath her and canceling her attack with his long dragon tail, then spinning again and striking with it from above, knocking her to the ground.
Beast Boy: “She was probably out then…why didn't I stop, why?! Stupid, stupid, stupid!”
It was around this time that Terra finally awoke, and couldn't believe what she saw! Garfield was shrinking, transforming into some sort of gargantuan monster with arms as thick as redwoods. “Gar, no! Don't do it!” she cried, but it was in vain. He pulled his arms behind him and fell, striking with both fists clasped together as he hit the ground. The floor cracked and dust filled the air.
“Gar no! No no no no no…” The no's kept trailing from her mouth as she ran to the point of impact, blowing aside the dust with her powers, until she saw Gar standing beside Madame Rouge, battered and half-melted on the ground. She wasn't breathing.
“Gar?” she gasped. “What did you do?!”
“I beat her,” said Beast Boy, out of breath, “Didn't I? I beat her, I…” As her saw her complete and total lack of movement, it hit him like the proverbial ton of bricks. “…I killed her, didn't I?” He dropped to his knees, tears leaking down his cheeks.
“It's okay Gar,” choked Tara as she dropped to embrace the sobbing shapeshifter.
“I…I didn't mean to,” said the boy between sobs. “I got so carried away, I hated her so much…”
Beast Boy: “I didn't mean to kill her…but I wanted to the entire time…oh god oh god…”
“It'll be okay Gar, I promise.” Once Beast Boy had promised to protect Tara if her powers went out of control—now, she was returning the favor. “I'll make sure it's okay…”
“But don't you understand?!” exclaimed Gar while gasping for breath. “You said it yourself! Wonder Girl doesn't understand us! This was an accident, but she'll never forgive me…I don't know if I even should be forgiven…I'm no hero…”
Terra sighed and kissed the changeling on the cheek. “You're the biggest hero I know, Gar. Please, don't worry. I'll take care of Wonder Girl. I'll make sure everything's okay…”
***THE MAIN CHAMBER OF THE BROTHERHOOD'S HIDEOUT***
As Goldilocks and Madame Rouge were being taken care of, the rest of the Teen Titans and the Titans East dealt with the rest of the Brotherhood, leaving the Brain, Monsieur Mallah, Warp, Phobia, Plasmus and Houngan unconscious at their feet, half of them restrained by special inventions of Mr. Jupiter's design.
However, despite this great victory, most of the team was simply shocked at the sight they now beheld: Beast Boy and Terra returning with a very dead-looking Madame Rouge in their arms!
Victor Stone's eyes grew wide. “Gar, is she…”
“Yeah,” replied Garfield Logan glumly, without ever looking up. “She's dead.”
Cyborg: “Uh-oh. I dunno what happened in there, but no matter what it was, it's gonna tear the poor kid apart!”
“Hey everybody, glad to see you're all okay!” exclaimed Flamebird from behind the group. She and Robin were dragging Goldilocks, unconscious, by her hair. As they spotted Gar, however, both their jaws dropped.
“Holy f---ing s---!” uttered Dick, “What happened to Rouge?!”
“That's what we're trying to find out,” growled Wonder Girl, her arms crossed. Gar sighed even harder, becoming more and more convinced that this was hopeless.
Raven: “Beast Boy is simply teeming with strong emotions. I can sense guilt and terror, anxiety and hopelessness…were he fifty years older, I would imagine he would be having a heart attack right now. Yet, Terra too is feeling guilt, though her guilt seems laced with traces of both determination and…duty.”
“What happened here, Beast Boy?” asked Donna, laying her `leader act' on thick.
“I killed her.” Garfield's jaw dropped to the ground, as did the jaw of every other Titan on both teams—because the one speaking those words wasn't Gar, but Terra! “I'm sorry guys,” continued the blonde Earth mover as her crush's heart dropped into his feet, “I never told you this, but…I have a lot of trouble controlling my powers. When I saw Madame Rouge taunting Gar and nearly killing him, I lost it! I couldn't control my powers anymore and…and I did this to her…”
Beast Boy: “No! She shouldn't be doing this! I don't want her to take the rap for me! I…can't believe she even would. Wow. She's…too good for me…far too good.”
But Terra felt that this was her only option. Gar had so much more to lose than her. She was a wanderer, and she would've had to move on from Titans East eventually anyway, she figured. But Gar had just settled down again, and just found another family again. No, Terra thought, she had to save him. After all, he had said he loved her, and, well…she thought that she might just love him too! For the first time in years, Tara Markov felt genuinely happy.
“You lost control?” Donna Troy was flabbergasted. “Why would you be on a team when you can't control your powers?!”
“Not all of us can be big hot-shot super-heroes right away, Wonder Girl,” growled Flamebird. “We're doing the best we can on Titans East!”
Robin: “But is that enough?”
Tara, however, had a different opinion. “No Bette, she's right. I shouldn't have joined you guys. I was hoping having so many people around would mean I wouldn't have to work as hard and wouldn't lose control, or that I would learn from you…but all I did was put you in danger from me. It's not fair, and…I'm sorry.”
Beast Boy: “And wow, she's…such a great liar. She must hate me so much for doing this to her. I feel like such a screw-up…”
Yet, that was the last thing on Terra's mind. Indeed, she was happy to finally be able to do the right thing, to make somebody happy. It broke her heart to break Gar's heart, but at the same time, he'd be better for it. After all, he was the only person who'd ever been sad to see her go when she'd pulled one of her exits.
He looked at her longingly, the look on his face saying, `Don't go!'
Her expression replied with, `I have to. I'm sorry.'
He understood, even if he didn't want to. `Thank you.'
Her face lit up. `Anything for you.'
The earth-mover reached her hand into the air, and created a hole in the cavern roof. “I don't feel right being on this team anymore, after all of this.” She floated into the air on a tiny rock, towards the hole she'd created.
Wonder Girl: “Wow, that takes guts to do that. I'm sure I was a little hard on her, but she has the makings of a fantastic hero. I wish she could go out there and takes control, but…it's not that easy. She can't just walk away from killing somebody, no matter what her potential!”
“You can't just fly out of here!” exclaimed Donna. “This whole thing aired on TV! I'll vouch for your intentions and character, but the law isn't going to just let you walk away from this!”
Tara actually chuckled. “Wonder Girl, we're in Zandia. If the US had any control over the law here, do you think the country would be full of super-villains?”
Wonder Girl: “Touche Terra, touche.”
Beast Boy: “Wait, so she…can't come back?! No…”
“Wait Tara!” Bette cried. “Don't go!”
“I don't really have a choice,” replied the now former Titan East-er. As she finally reached her hole and started to float out of the cave, she waved. “Goodbye everybody. Thanks for being so great…”
And like that she was gone. A tumult of emotions raged in Gar's stomach like a hurricane.
Beast Boy: “I just stood there and…and let the only girl I ever loved take the rap for me an' just fly outta my life…after killing a villain. I feel like scum. I should've tried to stop her, or just admitted it all, but…I get the feeling this was how she wanted it. She seemed…happy to be able to help me. So why can't I stop hating myself?”
Victor Stone just stared at the boy, troubled by his pain.
Cyborg: “The kid's first crush just killed somebody and flew away…an' I was the one that got `em together in the first place. I feel so guilty. I want to rush right in there and try to make everything better like I always do…but that's why he got so mad at me in the first place. Damn I wish I was still his best friend right now.”
“You!” Flamebird, however, had a different response to the series of events. “You drove her away!” screamed the heiress, pointing at Donna. “You couldn't have defeated these guys without us, so how can you tell us we're not good enough!”
Wonder Girl: “I don't…recall saying that. I was upset because her teammate killed somebody, and I can't ignore the law, but I never told Terra she wasn't good! In fact, I thought the opposite!”
“But Bette…” Flamebird turned to face Dick, standing behind her, slightly confused about what he might have to say. She figured he'd be throwing herself at him after she helped him beat Goldilocks…but he didn't look that happy! “In battle just ain't the place to learn to fight crime! If you'd put some time into training and learnin' stuff you'd be awesome, but right now you're more trouble than you're worth!”
Starfire and Wonder Girl (Simultaneously): “That came from Dick?!”
Bette Kane felt like a twenty ton safe had been dropped on her heart. “What are you talking about, Dick?! Without me you wouldn't have been able to hit Goldilocks when you knocked her out!”
“I wouldn't've had to! I could've defeated her when we were tied up and she had her back to me if you hadn't've started yelling `Oh hi Dick, glad to see you awake over there tryin' to defeat the chick that captured us!' Real smart Bette!”
“So what, Dick, what're you saying? That I can't be a hero cause I'm not taking this seriously?!”
“Yeah…yeah, I guess so!”
Robin: “Honestly, by that point I was so confused I didn't know what the hell I was talkin' about. I just knew I had to say somethin' to her about all this…”
“But that's not fair! You don't act serious about any of this!”
“But I am!” stuttered Dick. “Even if I don't act it, I am!”
Robin: “I take all of this seriously! Does that mean I can't joke around and make jokes too? I train enough and think ahead enough to do that, right?! Right?”
“Forget it, Dick,” growled the girl. She'd only formed this team to meet Robin, her crush. She became a hero to impress him. Yeah, that really worked out. “If you think I'm that bad, then I'm done. I quit! Consider Titans East over!”
Robin: “Holy s---! I didn't expect her to go that far! But then again…if she wasn't gonna work hard to get better, maybe it was the best thing she could do, y'know?”
She turned her back to the other team of Titans and stormed past the Herald. “Mal, get us home.” Not even Mal Duncan wanted to trifle with a pissed off Bette Kane, and he blew into his Gabriel Horn, opening a rift back to New York City.
Bette wasted no time in walking through, and since it was his portal, Mal and Karen were right behind her. “Thanks for having us everybody!” called Bumblebee with a smile and a wave as she started to back through. “Vic, come visit my lab sometime!”
She vanished next, leaving the Herald. He frowned as he backed through his portal. “Don't, metal-man,” he said shortly. “Karen and me don't need anybody else.” His portal closed, and the cavern again got darker.
Cyborg: “Geez, some people. I can't say he's as bad as Plasmus, but it's the same kind of stupid paranoia that causes that stuff. I didn't expect to make any new best friends on Titans East or anything, but that still kinda hurts! Oh well Vic, don't take it personally, the guy'd of treated anybody like that.”
This left only Impulse and Arsenal remaining with the other Teen Titans. “So, will you be riding home with us, Impulse?” asked Starfire to the attention span impaired speedster.
“Sure, why not?” smiled the wild-haired boy, but suddenly an alarm blared on a watch hidden beneath his glove. “Oh no, I'm missing my favorite show!” He jumped into the air and hit the ground running. “Sorryguyscatchyalatergottago!” Bart Allen was gone in a flash, his after-image still lingering even as he finished running across the Atlantic!
“I will need a ride, though,” grumbled Roy Harper to Wonder Girl. “Think you can drop me off in DC, though? Looks like I'm not on the Titans East assignment anymore.”
Donna smiled. “I bet that's got you relieved.”
“Not as much as I thought,” replied Arsenal, much to her surprise. “Fighting with you today was kinda fun. It made me remember why I liked this so much back before it all went South. Listen, I meant it when I said we make a good team. We definitely gotta team up again sometime soon—”
“Listen, Roy,” interrupted Donna hesitantly. “This has been fun, and you're a great guy, but…I already have a boyfriend.”
Wonder Girl: “And besides Kyle I also have Terry…and that situation is too confusing as it is without adding Roy in there. Still, I'm impressed at how he's matured since I last met him. Maybe, if things had been different, we'd have been good together…”
Roy smiled and blushed slightly, his cheeks taking the same color as his costume. “What, I talk to a girl and I'm automatically flirting?”
“You're Roy Harper,” replied the Amazon with a smile. “Of course you are.”
Arsenal laughed. “Got me there. Still…we gotta hang sometime.”
“Fine,” conceded Donna, though she didn't look like it took much convincing for her to change her mind. “We'll see what happens. It should be fun, though.”
Meanwhile, Koriand'r smacked her boyfriend on the arm. “What were you thinking, yelling at Flamebird like that?”
“What?” asked Dick indignantly. “It's not like you even liked her!”
“True, but you were still rude,” replied his girlfriend. “On Tamaran, somebody who showed the bravery and good intention that Bette did would be praised!”
“Yeah, I guess you're right,” mumbled Robin.
Robin: “But I wasn't really listenin' to what she said—I just didn't wanna fight with her. I was more worried about what Flamebird said, about me not taking my job seriously. Before today I would've laughed at her, but now I'm all confused. Bette screwed things up `cause she wasn't taking this seriously, cause she acts like this is a game—and even if I don't feel that way, ain't that how I act?
“You don't see too many heroes without powers. That makes sense, cause we really gotta be careful—one hit could kill us, while it'd just leave a welt on Kory! I guess that explains why Batman's always hiding in the dark and being so joyless—he can't survive any other way! But I've…I've never wanted to be that way. Being dark, being serious, acting like I give a s---, that's not me! But…is that what it's gonna take for me to be a real hero?”
***BLUE VALLEY GENERAL HOSPITAL, BLUE VALLEY, NEBRASKA, USA***
“You could've run to any hospital in the world,” chuckled Frances Kane, the magnetic Titan East-er known as Magenta, “And you bring me here. To Blue Valley. That's…sweet, Wally.”
Wally West, the avatar of the mythical conduit of all inertia and movement, the Speed Force, stood over her bed, wearing a rare smile. “Considering we grew up here, it seemed appropriate. Besides, these guys are good—they took real good care of me when my appendix went.”
Fran chuckled. Her and Wally had known each other since they were kids, long before either of them had super-powers. They'd been childhood sweethearts, and when she again met Wally—now both as Teen Titans—she'd hoped maybe something could be rekindled.
They came that close.
As the laughter died and the silence turned awkward, Speed decided to speak. “Fran, look, you know how much I care about you. I never told you this, but I left the first time because of that crazy magnetic personality of yours. It hurt me to see your powers hurting you and not being able to do anything about it.
“I was so happy to see you back, and to see you be happy! But Fran…I still can't stand to see you hurt yourself like this. I don't think it's smart for you to be Magenta anymore, not unless how we can figure out how to stabilize your polarities. I still want to see you but…I can't if you're like this!”
Speed: “I mean, why would she keep doing something that hurts her so much? It doesn't make a lot of sense!”
The magnetic girl just lowered her head. “Wally…don't think I haven't given this a lot of thought. As Magenta, I'm finally doing some good! I can use my powers to help people! These same powers killed my dad and brother, drove my mom crazy, hurt me…and now I'm using them for good. I stopped Girder! I helped defeat Houngan! It's such a great feeling to finally make a difference!”
“But…what about us?!”
Sighing, Fran continued, “When I came here…I was hoping I could change your outlook a bit. Don't think I'm stupid Wally, I know why you left in the first place—and I never said anything about it then cause, well, why bother? You were right, I thought. But feeling as good as I do now, and seeing you now, I decided that I wanted you to see how things had changed. I was…I was hoping you would start to see what happened to you as less of a curse and more as something you can use to help people, like I do!”
Speed: “What, so everything everybody does to me is some sorta test or something?!”
The speed specter wasn't happy. “Fran, I…I'm glad you're happy. Really, I am. But…”
“But I can't feel the same way you do, I'm sorry!” Wally West's physical body, made of compressed Speed Force energy, dissolved, reverting him to pure energy, flaring and lighting up the room. “Look at me! My future is gone! I can't convince myself that this is good, cause it's not! I'm sorry Fran, but I gotta get outta here!”
And suddenly, as he said, he was gone, just a gold streak moving faster than anybody could even see. Frances Kane sighed, and softly whispered, “I'm sorry too, Wally.”
Speed: “I shouldn't have run out on her like that, but I don't want to get used to being like this! I don't want to give up hope and just try to help everybody else! Why should I have to?! Nobody's ever done anything for me! I've never caught a break! Give me something good and, sure, I'll try to help out, but I can't be happy about this! I just can't!
“I'm not selfless, I'm selfish, and I need to be cause nobody else ever looks out for me! I don't even know why I'm on this stupid team anymore.”
***TITANS TOWER—THE BEDROOM HALLWAY***
Victor Stone leaned against the hallway wall, next to the door to Beast Boy's room, where he'd been for forty-five minutes.
Cyborg: “I didn't know what I should do. Ever since I hurt Gar's feelings by butting in with the Matt stuff I've been trying to steer clear and give him some space. But…he's hurting bad with all this Terra stuff. My heart just keeps screamin' at me to go in and talk to him, but my head's sayin' that its stupid and it'll just make him madder. So, like I said, I dunno what to do…”
“Vic!” The metal-man was startled back into awareness by Starfire and Robin approaching him. “What are you doing out here?” asked the alien beauty. “Why are you not in there comforting your friend?”
“He doesn't want my help,” said Cyborg sadly.
Starfire: “That is not true. Gar misses Vic as much as Vic misses Gar, he told me so himself before the mission began. Both of them are simply waiting for the other to make the first move. It confuses me, because if they simply spoke their mind this would have already been resolved! Still, since they will not, I will have to take matters into my own hands!”
“Yes he does,” insisted Koriand'r. “He just has not been able to admit it. Come on, he needs your help now more than ever.”
“Yeah, and we'll be right here to bail ya' out,” added Dick. Though still unsure, Vic got up and knocked softly on the door anyway.
A weak voice replied, “Come in.” Vic walked through the door, finding Gar sprawled across his bed, his mind somewhere else entirely.
“Oh, it's you Vic,” said Beast Boy, perking up slightly. “What's up?”
Beast Boy: “Please be here to apologize please be here to apologize please be here to apologize…cause I don't think I can do it myself!”
“I…” stammered the half-man, half-machine, swallowing the lump in his throat and deciding just to go for it, “I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry for what happened with Matt. I was paranoid and treated you like a kid, and I shouldn't have. You can handle yourself better than I gave you credit for.”
“It's all right, man,” replied Gar, beaming on the inside. “I kinda flew off the handle there, y'know? You were just trying to help me out…”
However, Vic wasn't done yet. “And I'm sorry too…about Terra. Look, I was the one that told Impulse to go introduce you two. If I had known it was gonna turn out this way I'd never a done it…”
Gar actually smiled. “Dude, don't say that! Sure, I'm sad about what happened with Tara…but I'd be sadder if I never met her!”
Beast Boy: “Besides, this shows that there are two people that really care about me! And well, even if Tara left, I still feel good remembering how good things were…and I'm glad I found out that not all girls are crazy!”
Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran couldn't take it anymore. “Oh, I am so happy you are again friends!” she exclaimed as she burst through the door and pulled both of them into a group hug. As she let them go and they caught their breath, however, her tone softened. “But Gar, I am sorry for what happened with Terra. I could see how much you cared for her.”
“Thanks Kory,” smiled the shapechanger.
“And dude,” added Dick, “Remember when Kory and I went on that picnic and I told you we'd do something later? How about tomorrow? Wanna go catch a ballgame or something?”
“Sure thing!” exclaimed Garfield, his eyes wide.
Beast Boy: “Wow! It's nice how everybody is rooting for me!”
Spying something small wrapped in tissue paper in Kory's hands, he asked, “Wait, is that for me?”
“Oh, I almost forgot!” exclaimed Starfire as she handed the boy the package. Gar ripped it open, and found that it contained a CD: Ben Folds, `Rockin' the Suburbs'. “You said you only had one CD, so I thought you should have another of your favorite.”
“Did Ben Folds Five break up or something?” he asked, confused as to where the rest of the band was.
“He grew up,” she began, “And today, so have you.”
Garfield Logan started to tear up. “Thanks, Kory,” he said softly. “Do…do you guys mind if I'm alone for a bit?”
“Sure thing,” replied Cyborg as the three Titans moved for the door. “If you need anything, just holler.”
As they left, Beast Boy put his new album in his CD player and plopped down on his bed as the music started to play.
Beast Boy: “Boy those guys are great. And so's Tara, for doing what she did for me. But I…it was my fault she left. I'm the one that screwed up and…killed somebody! Not to mention, I just found out I spent years working for a freaking bad guy! My friends make me feel better, but I guess I'm not gonna be all right for a long time. But I can't let them know how bad I feel…not when they're trying so hard to make things right…
“This sure isn't easy. I mean what I said to Vic: I'm glad I met Tara, despite it all. But still…things are a lot harder now. I guess, like Kory said, this is part of growing up. I…I don't think I like growing up.”
As Gar thought, suspiciously appropriate lyrics from his new giftflew through his ears:
It hurts to grow up
But everybody does
It's so weird to be back here
Let me tell you what
The years go on and
We're still fighting it
We're still fighting it”
Beast Boy: “Sing it, Ben Folds, sing it…”
***OFF THE AIR—NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, USA***
Bette Kane hurried down a bustling New York street. Having given up being Flamebird and having dissolved her team of Titans, she had returned to her street clothes, the most expensive in name-brand fashion, sunglasses perched atop her head. Every man over ten and under seventy looked her way—however, her mind was still back in Zandia.
`Maybe that was the wrong thing to do, Bette,' she thought to herself. `I was so hurt `cause of Dick saying that mean stuff that I didn't act right, but I'd never normally back down from a challenge! That had to be what it was! I'll show Dick that I can be a great hero! Besides, it was fun! And everybody knew who I was! I was finally doing something worthwhole!
Forget it, Dick! Flamebird's back to stay!'
And suddenly a very different voice was in Bette's head. `I'm glad you feel that way, Bette. Your services, as well as those of Titans East are still needed.'
“Who…who are you?!” gasped Bette out loud, pumping her fists in preparation to fight the unseen opponent.
The air in front of the heiress rippled, and out of nowhere appeared a floating red and black cloak, so large that no form could be seen inside, and only darkness was within its hood—it simply appeared as an animate cloak, billowing in the wind as if possessed! The voice Bette had heard in her head emanated from within.
“I am Omen,” stated the voice, “And you and your friends may just help me save the world…”
Next time: Mobbed!
DISCLAIMER 2: “Still Fighting It” by Ben Folds was written and performed by Ben Folds, and all right belong to him.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed it guys! Let me know what you think, and I promise I'm going to slow down and lighten up for the next arc (But I can't promise that for the arc that follows!) Thanks for reading!