Meanwhile, the New Titan known as Cyborg was enjoying some quality time with his grandfather. They sat together in his worn-looking apartment and relished each other’s company. Vic Stone smiled as the old man eagerly spun a tale about the triumphs and disasters of a long career in show business.
Tucker Stone spread his arms wide, and the slightly exaggerated broadness of the old showman’s gestures spoke of the old days of Vaudeville. He was clearly enthralled by his memories, and his grandson listened with a mixture of interest and affection. “So this kid comes out on stage and brings down the house! Maudie and I thought we’d been the best act on the bill that night, but we were upstaged by a little boy!” he said.
Vic nodded as he scooped out a bowl of ice cream. “What was it they used to say — don’t work with kids or dogs?”
Tucker nodded in approval. “Right! That’s the living truth. Turns out the kid grew up to be Mickey Rooney! No wonder we couldn’t steal his thunder!”
Vic handed his grandfather the ice cream and said, “You and Grandma really met some big names during your time on road.”
Tucker said, “We’re not done yet. Why, I might just take up this rap stuff the kids all like!”
Vic laughed. “You could pull it off! I believe it!” Vic had only grown close to his father shortly before the brilliant man’s death. For years before their final reconciliation, Vic and his father had suffered from a bitter estrangement. He had never felt able to live the kind of life his scientist father wanted him to live. Their goals were just too far apart. He felt nothing but relief that they had become closer before Silas Stone’s death. He also knew that his father had been equally estranged from his own entertaining parents. The elder Stone had felt shame in their passion to exhibit themselves in comedic shows. Now, Vic hoped to form a real bond with his late father’s parents.
“Hold on. Someone is at the door!” said Vic as he heard the gentle approach of footsteps. “Either my rent is late, or the roach wants his room back!” He swung open the door to see a pretty blonde woman standing at the door.
“Sarah, h-how are you?” he stammered.
Sarah Simms, a teacher of the handicapped, smiled back and said, “Vic, can’t I come inside?” He nodded and stepped aside to allow her to enter his apartment. She greeted the older Stone with her usual warmth. “Mr. Stone? I see where Victor gets his good looks. I’m his friend, Sarah Simms. I had heard that you were living in the city now.”
Tucker stood up and gestured toward the couch in a courtly manner. “Sarah? I’m sure glad to meet you. Aren’t you a pretty little thing?” he said. Vic watched the old man work his trademark charm on the lithe blonde girl, and he slowly joined them.
Man, what’s she doin’ here? We parted on good terms. She was seein’ a new guy, and I’ve moved on to a good — if long-distance — relationship with Sarah Charles. Feels weird to be around my old crush again, he thought.
“Sarah, how are the kids? Been kinda busy lately, and I haven’t been able to hang with them as much as I’d like,” Vic said.
She smiled. “The kids are fine. They inspire me every day. They do miss you, though. Joey has been teaching sign language there. He’s wonderful, but he lacks your hook shot.”
Vic nodded. “Yeah? Curly’s OK, but he’s more of the ballet type than the hoops type!”
Silence made the next minute seem to hang suspended for an eternity. “How’s Sellers?” asked Vic abruptly in an effort to fill the lull.
Sarah frowned. “Gary and I are not together anymore. He moved away.”
Vic listened and said, “I’m sorry. He did a lot for the Westside School for the Handicapped. Helped you start it and all.”
Sarah said, “Yes. We shared that but nothing else in the long run. Vic, I just wanted to see you. I wanted to get back in touch again. I mean, you’ve always been such a dear friend to me.” She leaned forward and took his hand. “We are friends, right?”
Vic clasped her hand gently. “Of course. I will always be your friend. Uh, Sarah, you know Dr. Charles — the other Sarah — she and I are seeing each other now. She just moved out to San Francisco with a new job at STAR Labs. We’re gonna try and make it work despite the distance, hopefully.”
Sarah said, “I heard as much from Joey. Vic, you and I love movies. Could two old friends catch a show together?”
Vic nodded. “Sure, sure. Just don’t drag me to any chick flick. I’d rust, as Logan would say.”
Sarah smiled and stood up. “Wonderful! I’ll call you. Nice to meet you Mr. Stone!” she said as she exited.
Tucker called out a goodbye and waited as his grandson closed the door. “Shoot, boy! That girl wants more than a buddy! You got the old Stone charm,” he said.
Vic said, “Think so? The question is, what do I do now? Sarah Charles and I have something going, too. I sure don’t want to mess that up! Assuming, of course, it can still work despite the distance.”
Tucker said, “Have some ice cream.”
Vic said, “Will that bring me the answers I need on how to delicately keep one Sarah as a friend while not losing the other Sarah as a lover?”
Tucker shook his head with the precision of years of comedic timing. “No. But it tastes good!”
Elsewhere, Gar Logan stared up at a tall, grim man with a pointer in one hand. “Mr. Logan, I require an answer. Again I ask you, what was the significance of the Monroe Doctrine?” he asked.
Gar grinned sheepishly. “Any Kennedy will do? Get it? Marilyn Monroe?”
The teacher remained expressionless. “Incorrect. The Doctrine refers to James Monroe, not the actress.”
Gar sighed. “Mr. Mueller, I was joking. Make learning fun. Reading is fun-damental, right?”
The German tutor nodded slightly. “Indeed. Now to return to history as your stepfather employs me to do.”
Gar nodded and longed for relief. Brother Blood! I’d rather go ten rounds with that creep or any of his type instead of sitting in class with the Aryan menace! he thought.
Much later that day, Gar swung himself into a tree on the palatial Dayton estate. He did so with ease, since he had transformed himself into a green monkey. I’m glad Steve is feeling better now that we’ve found and freed the folks he turned into the Hybrid while he was mentally ill. And it was fun seeing Charley and the others last week. (*) Still, this new tutor he hired makes Hitler’s SS look like the crew of the S.S. Minnow! He’s really killing my good mood.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Titans West: Video Killed the Radio Star.]
He smiled as he saw a young woman round the corner of the mansion in search of him. She had pink-hued hair and wore a bright yellow bubble skirt, high heels, and a lace top. “Man, am I glad to see you! In fact, you might say I’m going ape for you!” cried Gar as he landed on her back. “You know, having a monkey on your back is not all that bad, huh?” He planted a kiss on her.
Jillian Jackson slipped free from his embrace and said, “Watch the hands, Curious and Perverted George!”
Gar resumed his natural form as he hugged her once more. “Sorry! I guess being imprisoned with the Educator makes a guy a bit nutty. I keep expecting the guy to start screaming at me about the Fatherland or something,” he said.
Jillian said, “Poor little rich green boy! How about we ditch this joint and go to the beach?”
Gar said, “Sure. Of course, you merely want the chance to ogle my comely bod!”
Jillian frowned in mock disgust. “Like, that is so totally bogus.”
Gar nodded. “Yikes. Captain, I canna take no more. She’s gone into valley girl mode!” They departed happily.
Meanwhile that same day at Manhattan University, a lovely, raven-haired young woman in a short pink skirt, high heels, and a high-collared white blouse watched a few other students dancing on the campus quad. She remained to one side, but she smiled slightly as she listened and watched them dance.
A thin blond man noticed her and called out to her. “Raven! Let’s get down! C’mon!” he said.
The New Titan called Raven shook her head. “James, I thank you, but I have no skills in that area. I would merely appear silly.”
He clasped her hand and said, “Just copy me. We’re all just goofing around. This isn’t Dance Fever!”
Raven laughed, removed her shoes, and slowly tried to mimic his movements. She began to enjoy herself after a few moments. Perhaps this dancing was not such a bad thing to do. I wish Roy was here, she mused, thinking of her new paramour, Roy Harper. I would enjoy dancing with him. Perhaps I owe my newfound willingness to try such new activities to him. He is such a free spirit!
She frowned slightly and slipped her high heels back on as she noticed a dark-haired woman pass by. “Maddy? Why do you not join us?” she said as she excused herself and followed one of her fellow pupils. “You — you seem to be in pain.”
Maddy turned and said, “Raven? No. I need to get home before four. My husband expects me. I’m fine.”
Raven felt waves of pain from the woman. Her keen empathic nature allowed her to sense such sensations with ease. “Your back is sore. You are limping. How did you injure yourself?” she asked gently.
“Raven, I slipped. You know how clumsy I can be. Now, I need to go!” said Maddy, nervously glancing left and right.
Raven started to offer to help her rid herself of the pain, but she sensed more than the simple if unpleasant sensation of physical pain. She felt the woman’s fear of exposure and her shame as well. It was clear to the empath that her classmate had troubles beyond the physical.
James moved closer and said, “You did great. How about another dance?”
Raven shook her head. “I cannot. I think I have work of my own to do.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Brave and the Bold: Batman and Raven: Wounds Unseen.]
Back at Titans Tower, Artemis looked up from a computer screen as two of her friends approached. The man was a broad-shouldered winged man with a vaguely classical look to his appearance. He held the hand of a girl in a very short tunic. She had flowing red-gold hair, and she smiled as Donna Troy Long looked up.
“Lilith. Azrael. How are you doing?” asked Donna.
Lilith Clay was bubbling over with excitement. “Donna, we have wonderful news. Azrael and I are going to be married. We will formalize our spiritual bond with a ceremony of union. You are the first person we have told. I would like you to stand with me for the ceremony.”
Donna smiled and jumped up to hug her old friend. She knew the shapely girl had experienced romance with many men since she first met the Titans during her time as a go-go dancer. She hoped her relationship with the rather taciturn Azrael would be rewarding and lasting. He certainly was devoted to Lilith, if nothing else.
Azrael said, “I need no such service to feel that Lilith is my soul’s true home. Still, we come from the culture of the Titans and would honor the rites of Hymenaeus.”
Artemis kissed him gently. “I am happy for you both. When will you have the ceremony?”
Lilith said, “I thought perhaps we could hold it here next month. I have little need for any elaborate preparations. I deliberately choose to merely have friends here. The Olympians themselves shall merely look down with pleasure as two of their children unite by speaking the vows of Hymenaeus.”
Nightwing entered with silent agility. “That means Zeus isn’t going to give you away? Good. Never did like thunderbolts at a wedding.”
Lilith embraced him and said, “As I explained to Zeus and the others of our pantheon, I want this to be a mortal affair. I only learned of my Olympian origin after years of mistaken assumptions about my parentage. I have not yet truly liberated myself from a sense of self centered around humanity.”
Nightwing said, “Congratulations, Azrael. She’s a wonderful girl.”
Azrael stared at the detective with a sharp look of concern. “She is my beloved. I need no reminders of her worth, which is in truth priceless.”
Nightwing nodded. “Right.”
Lilith tossed back her hair and said, “I only hope nothing occurs to ruin our joy.”
Artemis recalled her own happy wedding at the Dayton estate and the recent death of her husband’s ex-wife at the hands of one of her foes. “I pray all goes well for you both,” she whispered.
Later that evening, a young woman stood before an armored man. “My little act worked like a charm. The Titan never knew I was playing him for a fool. We’re well on our way to getting what we want from him,” she said.
The armored man said, “And if his buddies get in our way, we’ll simply kill them! That meets with approval from our three allies as well, I assume?” Three shadowy figures agreed readily.
“My brother and I want to see the Titans suffer,” said a redheaded woman in gold.
The first woman nodded. “Then, just follow your new leader, and we’ll get all we want!”