Okay, so if anyone out there followed the last run of the Teen Titans before the New 52 happened, you might remember Kid Devil, otherwise known as Eddie Bloomberg, and how later in the series he died sacrificing himself on a mission (AKA: DC didn't know what else to do with him so they blew him up). While he had never been my favorite character, or even near the top of my list, I had always liked the dynamic he had with Rose Wilson. He somehow seemed to find a way to bring out the more softer, emotional qualities in her that she very rarely showed to anyone.
Now, when Eddie died, Rose had been away, starring in her own back up feature after leaving the team. When she eventually returned, however, I was looking forward to seeing how she would react to the news of his death. Knowing the way they had been to each other, and how much Eddie meant to her (even if she wouldn't admit it out loud), I knew it was going to be an emotional moment.
But then... it never happened. Rose was never shown reacting to Eddie's death, or even being informed of it, or wondering why he was no longer on the team when she got back, or anything. Needless to say... I was upset. Sure, it could be said that it happened somewhere off screen, but I really felt like they missed what could have been a deep moment, one that I very much wanted to see. Therefore, I took the liberty of writing out my own version of how that moment happened, in this one shot fic. So, without further ado... here it is.
Cassandra Sandsmark, otherwise known as Wonder Girl, leaned over the shoulder of fellow teammate, Beast Boy, to get a better look at the security screen. It depicted the front grounds of Titans Tower, specifically just outside the building's entrance. Normally, this wouldn't be very interesting—she'd seen this scenery a million times before—but today was different. Today, they had a visitor. An old teammate in fact, one that they honestly never thought they would ever see again, with how many times she had left the team. The last time, especially, had seemed final. Harsh words had been exchanged, tempers had flared, and Wonder Girl, at the time, had been glad to see her go. But now... well, now was different.
“Is that really her?” Cassie asked, giving the screen a long look.
“Looks like it,” Beast Boy replied, with a small shrug. “Security systems recognized her, that's why nothing's gone off.”
“What's she doing?”
“Waiting for someone to answer the front door, I think. Want me to send Conner down?”
Cassie shook her head. “No... I'll take care of it.” Sucking in a deep breath, the current leader of the Teen Titans turned from the security room and marched out the door, doing mental back flips in preparation for how she was going to handle this.
Before she made it into the hallway, however, Beast Boy swung his chair around and looked back at her. “How are you going to break it to her?”
“Break what to her?” she said, glancing at him over her shoulder.
“About Eddie,” he said. “She doesn't know about Eddie.”
When the revelation finally hit her, Cassie felt her heart thump up into her throat. She doesn't know about Eddie...
Rose Wilson hoisted her duffel bag higher onto her shoulder, into a more comfortable position. She gave the front door of the tower a long look, then stepped back a ways to gaze up near the top windows. How long had she been standing out here now? Five, ten minutes? She knew that she hadn't exactly left on the best of terms last time, but she would have thought that even she would have warranted someone to answer her arrival. She might have passed it off as the team being away on a mission, if not for the bright windows glowing against the nighttime backdrop, indicating that someone had to be home, unless the Teen Titans were now in a habit of wasting electricity.
Sh*t, how long had it been since she'd left? Five, six months? She couldn't remember. But after suffering through an addiction to epinephrin, busting up a human trafficking operation in God knows where (somewhere really, really cold, and she hated the cold), and finally coming to terms with who she was as a person, she needed to come back. She needed... an anchor, and like or not, the Titans were exactly that for her.
When at last the doors in front of her opened, Rose uttered a soft groan. Great, Wonder Wench had come to greet her, probably the one person on the team she could do without talking to again. Ever.
“Rose,” Cassie said, folding her arms firmly across her chest.
“Cass,” Rose muttered, glancing off to the side. God, she couldn't even bring herself to look at the b*tch.
Suck it up, Rose... what's past is past. Just get over it and move on. That's what she told herself, though she found it a bit harder to accomplish than she would have liked.
“So... you're back,” Cassie said. “Again.”
“Finally cool off from your last temper tantrum?”
Rose flinched, doing her best not to explode right then and there. She was trying to be nice here, or at least agreeable. Trying to move on. Just let it go...
“Yeah, well... Did some thinking,” she said, with a brief clearing of her throat. “Some traveling, some...”
Cassie sighed, trying to refrain from rolling her eyes. “Isn't that always the case?”
“Whatever, I don't need to explain it to you,” Rose said.
“No, I suppose you don't,” she replied. “But... what are you doing here? The way you left, I figured you weren't coming back this time.”
Rose just shrugged. “Just need a place to stay, I guess. Not like I have anywhere else to go.”
“So you just show up after you've been gone for months, and expect us to put a roof over your head? Again?”
“You gonna let me in, or not?”
A quiet pause followed, until Cassie finally exhaled a deep breath and stepped aside, holding the door open. “Come on.”
Pushing past her into the main lobby of the Tower, Rose gave the place a long look. Seemed like forever ago that she had last been here, and yet everything was still so familiar. Finally, she headed for the stairs, with Cassie following close behind. “My old room still available?”
“Just how you left it.”
“Good, I'll find my way there in a bit and settle in.”
Cassie hesitated, lifting her eyebrows. “In... a bit?”
“Yeah, just need to take care of something first,” she said. “Need to... talk to Eddie, assuming you're still letting him live here. The way I left things with him before I left, I... well, I just need to set some things straight with him, is all.”
It took Cassie a few moments to regain her wits and hurry after Rose, as they climbed the stairs to the residential floor. “Wait, Rose--”
But she didn't wait. Rose was doing her best to ignore Wonder Girl, for the most part. Just because she was making an effort to tolerate Wonder Girl, didn't mean she wanted to have conversations with her. Instead, she made her way towards the end of the hall, to the last door on the left, which had been Eddie's room when she had been there last.
“Rose, seriously, there's something you need to--”
But again, Rose didn't listen. She simply pushed the door open and stepped inside, She could have knocked and waited for an answer, but she wasn't really in a patient mood right now. Plus, if Eddie had been doing anything... unseemly on the other side, he would have locked the door to begin with. At least, hopefully.
“Eddie, guess who's--” she started, only to cut herself off when she realized that the room was empty. Not just of Eddie, but anything side from the furniture. No sheets, no posters, no clothes, no video games or even a television, no belongings of any kind. It was just... barren. “Sh*t, did he go and leave, too?”
Cassie stood behind her, saying nothing. She simply bowed her head, holding a hand to her cheek and taking a deep breath. Well, now was probably the time to tell her...
“Hey, Earth to Wonder Girl,” Rose said, waving a hand in front of the Titan's face. “He still around, or what?”
“Rose, Eddie is...” Cassie swallowed a hard lump, then took in a deep breath. Best to treat it like a Band-aid. Quick and... well, not really painless. “He's dead.”
At first, Rose just stood there staring, not registering the statement. She took in steady, even breaths, lips pursing together, and lifted a hand to gently rub her forehead. Shaking her head, she stifled an unamused chuckle and said, “Okay, see, I must have heard you wrong, because I could swear you just told me that Eddie was dead.”
“He is,” she insisted. “It was... not that long ago. Maybe a month. During a mission, we were... we were tricked, distracted... Eddie's the one who figured out that a bomb was about to go off, he- he flew it into the sky with the ship and... he saved us.”
Rose's demeanor shifted from dismissive and disbelieving to an odd mix of anger and pain that she very rarely displayed. She dropped her duffel bag onto the floor and took a few steps backward, hands running back through her long, silky white hair.
“Eddie's.. he... and you...” She was having difficult trying to formulate her thoughts into coherent sentences, each word drifting off in an exasperated breath. Finally, with her back to Wonder Girl, she took in a deep breath to calm herself. Then, she dropped her trembling hands by her side, looked back over her shoulder. “You let him die.”
Cassie recoiled, crossing her brow. “I- we didn't let him- he sacrificed himself for us, Rose. He made the decision. He was a real hero, Rose.” Unlike some people, was how she wanted to finish that statement. But she didn't.
Rose and Eddie had been... close, at least as close as someone could be with Rose. She was going through a lot of emotions right now, and Cassie could understand that, so she had to try her best not to--
“No, it's your fault!” Rose snapped. She lunged forward now, grabbing the collar of Wonder Girl's shirt. “You were leading the team! You knew he didn't have any powers anymore, that he was- that he couldn't help you, but you still brought him on missions! What did you expect? What did you think was going to happen?”
Though Cassie could have shoved Rose off without much effort, she made no move to. She just stood there, glaring, trying not to yell back. It wouldn't accomplish anything. “He wanted to help, Rose. He didn't care that he didn't have any powers, he still wanted to make a difference.”
“The only difference he made was throwing his life away for you!” Rose pushed Cassie back, then stormed past her back into the hallway. She didn't look back, didn't say anything else. She just... left.
“Rose!” Cassie called, looking out into the hallway. She just caught sight of the girl's snow white hair disappearing around the corner. “You can't just run away again!” Before she followed, however, she glanced back into the empty room, noticing the duffel back sitting on the floor. If Rose had meant to really leave again, why would she have left her belongings? Unless, she wasn't leaving.
But then where was she going?
The memorial room was dark when Cassie arrived, with only the open doorway allowing in any light from the hall. With a soft breath, she turned to the light switch and finally flicked on the main lights to the room. She walked past the two rows of golden statues, each one representing a fallen Teen Titan. There were so many nowadays... it was painful just thinking about it, how many they had lost over the years.
Rose stood at the very end of the room, in front of an empty concrete base. Right now, only a framed picture rested on it, as it was currently devoid a full statue. As Wonder Girl approached, she didn't look up from the photo, a picture of a smiling Eddie Bloomberg waving at the camera. It wasn't until Cassie came up behind her that she even said anything.
“Where's his statue?” she said, briefly tightening her jaw. Her gaze narrowed at the photo, as if trying to burn a hole through it. “All the other dead Titans have one, so where's his?”
Cassie bowed her head. “It hasn't arrived, yet. We put an order out for one a few weeks ago, but its still being cast. Should be here within the next week or so.”
Rose went quiet again, arms crossing over her chest. Minutes ticked by, and she remained there, motionless, just staring at the picture. She could sense that Cassie remained behind her the entire time, but she didn't care. She wanted to be angry, wanted to throw blame around, wanted to hate her for it... but it wasn't Wonder Girl's fault. It wasn't the team's fault, or even Eddie's fault.
“It's my fault,” she muttered, barely loud enough for Cassie to hear. “I shouldn't have left, I should been here...”
Wonder Girl took a step forward next to her, keeping her focus on the picture, as well. “It's nobody's fault, Rose. Eddie always wanted to be a hero, and that's what he was... to the end.”
“I just... I told him this would happen,” Rose said. “He lost his powers and I knew... I knew he didn't belong here. Just like I don't belong here.” Finally, she closed her eye and bowed her head. “Maybe if I'd treated him better... maybe he would have come with me when I left.”
“Don't beat yourself up over it,” Cassie said, holding a hand to the girl's shoulder. “You can't change what happened, but... you can at least keep his memory alive.”
Rose lifted her gaze, glancing down at the hand on her shoulder. After a long pause, she looked to Wonder Girl and said, “You're really bad at the whole comforting thing, you know that?” She then turned to the photo again, her expression slackening and going blank. “Just... you mind leaving me alone for a while?”
“Uh... yeah, sure.” Wonder Girl removed her hand, then took a step backward. She waited just a moment, giving Rose a long, sympathetic look, until finally turning to leave.
Hours later, Rose found her way back to Eddie's old room. There was her duffel bag, right where she left it in the middle of the floor. She hesitated a moment before going over to retrieve it, hoisting back onto her shoulder. The weight of her armor and weapons inside felt a lot heavier for some reason.
“So, leaving again?” a voice asked.
Rose spun around to see Wonder Girl standing there in the doorway. With a frown, she said, “What, you stalking me now?”
“Funny,” Cassie said. “But I asked a question.”
Sighing, Rose walked over to the window and took a long look outside. The bright lights of the city beyond their little island twinkled like a million fireflies across the bay... it made her nauseous. “I should leave. Not like there's anything here for me... and I know you just can't wait for me get lost again.”
“Actually... that's one thing you were wrong about.” Cassie walked into the room, stopping just a few paces behind her. “You said you don't belong here, but... to be honest, we really need someone like you right now.”
Rose stifled a scoff. “What, volatile and prone to excessive violence?”
“No, experienced,” she said. "These past few months I've been leading this team, I've come to realize that we haven't been taking things as seriously as we should. I don't want anyone on this team who doesn't know what they're doing and who can't handle themselves. As much as you and I don't get along, you meet all the prerequisites in spades.”
“Hmph. I guess that's one thing I'm good for, huh?”
“I just want you know the offer's on the table. If you decide to stay... there's still a place for you here.” With that, Cassie turned to leave. “Good night, Rose... hope to see you in the morning.”
Rose continued staring out the window, now alone. Her plan had been to grab her things and head out immediately, but now she couldn't bring her legs to move. Instead, she just stood there, thinking. Wonder Girl had extended the invitation for her to rejoin the team... but should she? After everything they'd been through, every terrible memory she had here, why would she want to come back to this team? These people?
The people Eddie gave his life for...
But why had he done it? Why had he sacrificed himself for these people? Why them?
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she took a step back from the window and dropped herself into a nearby chair. She looked slowly around the room, trying to remember what it had been like when Eddie lived in it. He'd been so... juvenile in his tastes, always a kid at heart. Yet, even spite of that, he knew how to step up and be a hero. Even after he lost his powers, he stayed on the team, gave them everything he had.
Rose didn't know what he saw in them to show that kind of loyalty, that kind of commitment. Even as much as she secretly liked being part of the Teen Titans, liked having a place she could call home, she couldn't say she'd give her life for them. But maybe... maybe if she stuck around, she'd figure it out. Maybe she'd learn just why Eddie had given them so damn much.
Standing up from her seat, she lowered her duffel back, carrying it by her side as she walked back to the door. Before exiting the room, the gave one last look at it, exhaling a deep breath as she did. “See ya around, Eddie.”
Then, she closed the door behind her and took a turn into a different room that she knew well: her room.