“How soon can you get here?”
“Is this an emergency?”
“There will be if you don’t make it in time,” Raven replied evenly; she tucked her bangs behind her ear and gripped the collar of her sweater lightly as she listened to the sounds of a brawl on the other side of the line.
After a few grunts and the distinct sound of someone throwing someone through a window, Nightwing grunted and caught his breath.
“I can be there late tonight,” he said through the sounds of fighting, “What exactly do you need me for?”
“It’s easier to explain in person then over the phone,” Raven replied, “But I need you to bring a formal disguise and a car that isn’t covered in Bat paraphernalia.”
Nightwing grunted what could have been a reply amidst his battle before the line cut out, leaving Raven with sounds of static.
She clicked the phone off and smiled warmly at the device; she didn’t get to speak with him often, but talking to her old friend never failed to leave her with a pleasant warmth of contentment.
She set the phone on her dresser and glanced at her reflection, turning this way and that to look herself over; she sighed and took a few deep breaths to steady herself.
Wordlessly she turned, leaving the dresser and the safety of her room entirely, to venture through the Tower halls.
She had run over what she had wanted to say in her mind, but as she walked through the corridors, Raven found the words quickly slipping away as her mind quieted with anxoiusness.
When she came to the door she wanted, she bit her lip and knocked.
“Come in,” her teammate sang from within.
The door slid open and Raven stepped into her leader’s room.
Starfire was lounging on her couch, laptop propped open on her coffee table, and regarding her with a welcoming smile.
Silently, Raven walked over to the couch and crossed her arms nervously.
“Hello Raven,” the Tamaranian greeted, “Is there something you need my friend?”
Raven inhaled deeply and nodded.
Curious, Starfire shifted her position to look more attentively at her teammate.
“I need you… to take me shopping,” Raven admitted to Starfire’s surprise.
“Dress shopping,” Raven further clarified.
Starfire’s smile grew large and her face lit up with delight.
“I would love to assist you with this,” she exclaimed cheerfully as she stood; “Just let me get dressed and I shall meet you downstairs.”
Meanwhile, back in Bludhaven, Nightwing threw the last of the lackeys into the pile of incapacitated people at the foot of the street lamp and sighed as he wiped his brow.
“Alfred,” he yelped into costume built in mic, the connection to his old butler immediately flickering to life, “Are you there?”
“I’m here, Sir,” the old man responded; “What is it Master Grayson?”
“I need to head back to the Tower, have Batwing cover me for a few days while I’m gone.”
“Certainly Master Grayson,” Alfred replied, “Is there anything you would like me to tell Master Bruce?”
“No,” Nightwing replied flatly.
“Very well Sir,” Alfred replied, “Shall you be requiring anything for the journey?”
“A set of keys,” Nightwing replied, smiling, “and it’s going to be a formal occasion,” he added as he watched the authorities arrive.
“Nightwing out,” he barked, cutting the line.
He waited long enough for the first officer to reach the henchman before using his grappler to relocate himself away from the handled situation.
“I wonder what she’s gotten herself into?” he mused aloud as he traversed the rooftops.
“Only one way to find out I suppose,” he concluded as he used his grappling hook to propel himself further into the night.
A knock on Raven’s door startled her out of her meditation.
“Yo Edgar Allen, we got a visitor,” Blue Beetle informed her from behind the door, “Nightwing’s downstairs, said you wanted to see him.”
“Thank you Jaime,” Raven replied as she opened her door to walk past him.
The boy cocked his head and quickly fell in line behind her.
“So what’s up? Why did you request back up? Somethin goin’ on?”
“It’s nothing for anyone to worry about,” Raven replied gently.
The extraterrestrial scarab on his back hissed quietly, either because of the girl’s reply, or because of the girl’s demonic nature; Jamie wasn’t sure which.
He remained silent as they walked into the main room.
Nightwing was standing at the ready near the couch, locked in conversation with Starfire and Cyborg as Damien and Beast Boy shot confused glances at each other.
At their notice of her arrival, the older teens broke their conversation and Nightwing stepped forward to meet her halfway.
Nightwing smiled despite his apparent confusion and apprehension.
Raven likewise, found herself smiling back.
“So what’s going on?” her old teammate inquired as he crossed his arms; “This isn’t some kind of intervention is it?” he teased.
“The last time I held an intervention to stop you from being an ass,” Raven jested, “you changed your name, left the team, and decided to major in it instead.”
Nightwing grinned and Damien snorted in approval.
“No,” Raven admitted as she shook her head, “I asked you here for something else.”
“Is it your dad again,” he asked quietly, earning several looks of concern from the other Titans.
“No, thankfully,” Raven replied; she tapped the gem on her forehead and smiled slightly, “Good ‘ol Dad’s still locked up in here,” she continued, “That’s actually why I called you here.”
“Oh?” he asked.
“I need you to drive me to a dance.”
“A dance,” Nightwing repeated; his brow shot up in confusion as the Titan’s faces lit up with disbelief.
“A Prom dance, to be precise,” Raven amended.
“You want me to take you to Prom?” he asked hesitantly, unsure if he was following along correctly.
“Not as a date,” Raven clarified flatly, “I already have a date; I just need you to drive me there.”
“A date? You’re too young to date,” Nightwing insisted in disbelief, “You’re twelve.”
“I’m sixteen Dick,” Raven reminded him as she crossed her arms, “I haven’t been twelve since you were still dressed up like a walking traffic light.”
“My costume was a classic,” Nightwing insisted.
“A classic eyesore maybe,” Beats Boy shot smugly, earning a grin from Damien.
Nightwing scowled at him as the boys snickered.
“So we’re letting her date,” Nightwing asked Starfire as he turned to her, with hints of shock lingering in his tone.
Starfire hummed affirmatively and grinned.
“She is at that age,” Starfire thought aloud; “I think it’s going to beneficial for her,” she offered; “And do keep in mind Dick, we were both younger than her we took interest in dating.”
Nightwing sighed in defeat and rubbed his temple before looking back up at Raven.
“Why do you need me to drive you? Didn’t you already get your license?” Nightwing asked as he planted his hands on his hips.
“It’s… part of the experience, as I understand it,” Raven explained quietly, “that a child’s guardian takes them to the dance and worries over their safety and their date’s manners and such. My father is, indisposed ,” Raven offered carefully as her face grimaced, “And an asshole. So I wanted you to take me instead,” she finished.
“Why me?” he asked.
“You’re my brother, aren’t you?” she asked in reply.
Nightwing looked at her wide, expectantly hopeful eyes, and groaned inwardly as he heard Starfire’s delighted exhalation behind him; he could practically feel the way Damian rolled his eyes as he scoffed.
“Alright, when do you need me to take you?” he finally asked, as he internally cursed his inability to say no to the women in his life.
“Tomorrow night at eight,” Raven answered warmly.
“Wait, am I the only one who's shocked that Raven’s going to a dance,” Beast Boy proclaimed from the side of the room as he flailed his hands.
“Or that she has a date that we’ve never heard her mention before now?” Robin asked with his brows knit in suspicion.
“Well I think it’s wonderful for Raven to be making more friends,” Starfire offered happily.
“I agree with star,” Cyborg offered, “But a few details would be nice though,” he stated after, earning him a nod from Robin.
“All we really need to know is the basics,” Nightwing stated as he turned to look back at Raven; Cyborg nodded and Starfire rested a hand on her hip.
“Where am I supposed to be driving you, when you need to be picked up, and how many pockets do you need sewn inside your dress to obscure the backup weapons you’re going to be carrying,” Nightwing asked in all seriousness.
“She’s going to a dance, not an undercover sting,” the Blue Beetle stated as he gestured with his hand.
“Rule number seventy six,” Nightwing insisted, raising a pointed finger, “Always bring as many handy gadgets as you can carry.”
He looked back at Raven and began counting on his fingers; “One: You’re going to need pepper spray, Two: you’re taking one of my survival knives, Three: You’re-”
Starfire pushed him against his shoulder, nearly sending him toppling over the couch.
She gave him a look and placed both of her hands on her hips.
“Let us find out more details so we may plan more relevant information, shall we,” she shot at Dick.
“Where is the dance, dear?” she asked Raven warmly.
The Titan’s faces fell flat and Cyborg’s brows nearly shot off his face.
“The Hive,” Starfire repeated carefully.
Raven hummed an affirmation.
“And why is the dance being held at the Hive Academy?” Starfire inquired.
“Because it’s being held for the Hive students. It’s an annual thing.”
Starfire took a steadying breath and looked at Nightwing.
“And who exactly are you taking with you to Prom,” he asked carefully.
“A Hive student,” Raven replied calmly.
The older Titans’ faces grew taut as they shot each other looks.
“Raven, Sweetie,” Starfire began slowly as she walked up to the girl and placed a hand on her shoulder.
“I do not want to imply that you have bad judgment, but are you sure you wish to become involved with someone of the… villainous persuasion?” she asked hesitantly.
“I gotta say,” Cyborg added, “I don’t want to rain on your parade any, but dating villains is bad news; boys in general are bad news, and adding villainy to the mix only makes matters worse.”
“I’m not dating a boy,” Raven informed him flatly.
“You’re taking a girl,” Starfire asked, her face torn between surprise and amusement.
“Yes,” Raven replied evenly.
“Dude, you’re gay?” Beast Boy asked animatedly.
“No,” Raven replied.
“But you just said-”
“There’s more than two types of sexualities Gar,” the Blue Beetle reminded him; “Besides, I don’t think the gender of Raven’s date is what we should be focusing on here.”
“I agree,” Damien concurred, “What we should be focusing on is the fact that Raven is planning to go out with a criminal; doesn’t that raise any red flags for anyone else?”
“But she admitted it openly,” Jaime replied, “If she wanted to be sneaky about something she wouldn’t have told us.”
“Unless she was using it as a cover,” Damien spat, “What better way to throw off suspicion than to make it seem like we had nothing to be worried about in the first place?”
“Dude,” Beast Boy interjected, “Raven wouldn’t do anything to hurt us.”
“Then why is she dating a villain?” Robin retorted.
“Ahem,” Nightwing stated, silencing the younger Titans.
“If Raven trusts the individual she’s going to the dance with, then we are going to trust her judgment about it,” he declared.
He looked back at Raven and crossed his arms in a serious manner.
“Do you trust her?” he asked quietly.
“I do,” Raven replied, nodding once.
“Alright then,” Nightwing replied to his younger brother’s horror.
“What so that’s it then?” the young Robin asked.
“That’s it,” Nightwing agreed; “I’m not about to let anything Shakespearean go down if we can help it. So instead of saying no, we’re going to support Raven in this as best we can, and commend her for being honest with us.”
“Yes, it must not have been easy to work up the courage to tell us,” Starfire agreed.
“And it’s good that you did,” cyborg added, “It’s better for us all to be prepared then left in the dark, should the worst-”
“Or the best,” Starfire interjected happily.
“Or the best happen,” Cyborg amended as he too began to smile.
“That being said, I would feel more secure about it if you did take some… precautionary measures with you, now that we have a better understanding of the situation,” Starfire admitted gently to the girl.
“Pepper-spray, survival knife, secondary survival knife that’s a little bit smaller, money in case of emergencies, sewing kit in case of a wardrobe malfunction, communicator, corsage, condom,” Nightwing rattled off flatly one by one.
“Dude why does she need a condom, she’s dating a chick,” Beast Boy asked.
Raven scoffed and rolled her eyes, causing Starfire to smile harder and Nightwing to scowl.
“That’s no excuse not to have protection;” he insisted, “And genitals don’t make the gender. Although you have a point,” he conceded before turning back to Raven, “You should probably bring some gloves just to be safe; do you know if she’s allergic to latex?” he asked.
“It’s alright, I have latex free in the cupboard,” Starfire informed him, “or we should have some left at least... Do you think I should get them their own box?”
“A pair would be easier to hide in a dress but a box could hold multiple pairs,” Nightwing thought aloud; “Maybe if it was a flat box it could work, or we could give her a purse.”
“Guys!” Raven interjected loudly, slightly embarrassed, “I’m going to the dance to actually dance , not to get under my date’s dress.”
Beast Boy snorted and turned into a chicken.
“Do you have a dress,” Nightwing inquired, his brow knitting, “Or would you feel more comfortable in a suit?”
“Starfire took me shopping earlier,” Raven answered softly, “We picked a dress.”
“Dude I swear we’re in the twilight zone right now,” Beast Boy murmured to Robin, “The last time I saw Raven in a dress was exactly like, never.”
“I agree,” Damien whispered back, “This whole thing smells fishy to me.”
“Dude I just bathed,” Beast Boy shot back indignantly as he changed back.
Robin growled and crossed his arms as he watched the older Titans speak to his teammate.
“I think we should tail her, for her own safety of course,” the young Boy Wonder suggested.
“You think something might go down at the party?” Beast Boy asked quietly.
“It’s a party filled with hyperactive hormonal supervillainous teenagers, and Raven is a sworn defender of Justice,” Robin retorted, “Of course something’s going to go down.”
Beast Boy hummed, not quite in agreement, but still compliant.
“We’ll talk to your Bro about it after Raven goes back to her room,” Beast Boy added after a few minutes of watching the others converse; “I’m sure he has a few tricks up his sleeves he wants to use too. There’s no way he’s letting Raven walk into a den of thieves on her own, even if he won’t tell her.”
Robin grunted, agreeing.
On the other side of the room, Nightwing crossed his arms, leaned against the couch, and offered Raven a smile.
“So who’s the lucky gal?” he asked.
“Please tell me it’s not Kitten,” the Blue Beetle whined as his friendly parasite flared its eyes.
Raven quirked her brow and replied, “Thankfully not.”
“Oh good,” Starfire replied, “because I could not picture that working out well at all,” she said as she pictured the girl and frowned.
“Is it Bumblebee?” Cyborg inquired curiously, “She had spunk.”
“Isn’t she Queen Bee now?” Starfire wondered aloud, looking at Dick, “It’s been a bit since she took over the school, has it not?”
“I think so,” Nightwing agreed before cocking his head at Raven; “Is it Queeny?”
“No,” Raven replied flatly.
“What about Angel,” Cyborg offered as he scratched his chin.
“I thought she was dating Kyd Wykkyd,” Starfire replied as she thought; “That would be cute though,” she added as she looked Raven over.
Raven shot Starfire a look at the jest aimed at her demonic heritage before smirking.
“You guys aren't having much ‘luck’ guessing, are you?” she asked in amusement, placing emphasis on the hint.
“Omg it’s Jinx,” Beast Boy practically yelped, nearly jumping into a form, “It’s the bad luck witch walking, isn’t it?”
Raven nodded, a small smile gracing her features.
“Well I can picture the appeal I guess,” Cyborg offered; “How did you guys come about?”
“Yes,” Robin agreed, “How did you fall into fraternizing with the enemy?”
“Damian,” Starfire warned.
“It’s a valid question,” Raven replied, nodding towards Robin slightly; the Titan took a deep breath before replying.
“I’ve been seeing her for… a bit now,” she admitted cautiously.
“A bit?” Starfire asked inquisitively.
“More like… a while now, actually,” Raven amended nervously.
“And you didn’t tell us sooner because?” Robin asked harshly.
“Let her speak Damian,” Starfire ordered, causing the boy to go begrudgingly silent.
“We ran into each other a few times in the city,” Raven explained; “Coffee shops, bookstores,” she shrugged; “We started talking about stuff and found out that we just… got along.”
“Once we found out that we liked hanging out together, we just… kept doing that. At first it was random, but then it settled into a habit that both of us looked forward to.”
She placed a hand on her arm and shifted on her feet as she continued.
“We didn’t really plan to like each other or anything, it just sort of happened. And neither of us actually said whether or not we were actually dating,” Raven continued before waving her hand idly, “But then Jinx told me about the school dance and asked if I’d like to go as her date, and… I accepted.”
“What kinds of things do you guys talk about,” Nightwing asked happily as he clamped a hand over Robin’s mouth, stifling the boy’s next argument.
“Books, songs, the effectiveness of the status quo,” Raven rattled off leisurely; “She likes to talk about things like how the Patriarchy is evil and how corporations like to screw people over and weird things about history that no one really talks about.”
“Indoctrination,” Damian hissed under his breath as Nightwing elbowed him.
“Oh?” Cyborg asked curiously, ignoring the young boy; “Like what?”
“Well,” Raven offered, “Last week she told me about how the width of two horses asses was an old standard measurement that carried over into today's society and prompted different parameters for space shuttle parts.”
“What?” Beast Boy asked in genuine confusion.
“She also told me about how capitalism pushes the concept of a nuclear family, when such a system was never commonplace or practical for humanity to begin with;” Raven continued happily, “Apparently it boils down to the concept that one collective family unit only needs one hammer whereas twenty nuclear families need at least twenty hammers, which capitalism likes, because capitalism makes more money that way.”
“She sounds like a communist,” Robin muttered as Starfire shot him a look.
“You just believe every word she says?” he asked, ignoring his leader.
“I like listening to her rant about things,” Raven replied,shrugging, as her expression brightened slightly, “She possesses a lot of odd information like that and you never know what will send her into a tangent.”
“Unpredictable rage,” Damian muttered, “Not a good sign; she’s probably abusive,” he said as he crossed his arms, “You should dump her.”
“Will you stop,” Nightwing growled disapprovingly at Robin; “Save your comments till she’s finished at least.”
Robin huffed and bit his tongue.
“She also understands what it’s like to have… overtly unfriendly magic,” Raven added carefully, eyeing the tension in the room.
“She’s literally bad luck,” Beast Boy pointed out; “The girl can’t go ten feet without making a window explode or a guy spontaneously combust.”
“It’s not on purpose,” Raven protested loudly, startling the green boy; Raven noticed her spike of rage and lowered her voice before explaining; “Her powers bleed out constantly if she doesn’t use them; she robs venues, vandalizes private property, and fights other supers in order to expel her magic in a focused, safer manner. It’s only when she doesn’t have an opportunity to do that that her magic builds up and overflows, causing mayhem and serious damage.”
“She doesn’t want to actually hurt anyone,” Raven insisted quietly.
“We trust you,” Nightwing replied calmly; “You know her better than we do,” he explained, shooting a look at the other teens.
“Tell us more,” Starfire asked pleasantly.
Raven straightened her posture slightly, gaining confidence.
“I like her sense of humor... mostly,” Raven amended under her breath.
“Humor?” Beast Boy asked, “You think she’s funny?”
“She makes me laugh,” Raven replied, shrugging.
“Isn’t making you experience emotion a bad idea,” Robin asked as Beast Boy’s face contorted in shock from her admission.
Raven tapped her gem; “As I said, Dad’s trapped. I have more control over my life now. I don’t have to live in fear anymore.”
“But your powers still feed on emotion,” Robin insisted, “The last thing you should do is fall in love, especially with something as high-strung as a teenage villainess.”
“I love all of you,” Raven retorted evenly; “Yes my powers feed on emotions, both mine and others, and yes that builds their strength and sometimes they can get out of hand,” she admitted, “But there’s no greater magic than love. It was because I loved all of you that I was able to defeat my father a second time; I’m truthfully not sure if I love Jinx yet, but, I do like her. I enjoy her company. And yes, I have considered the possibility of our powers influencing each other in a negative way;” Raven offered with a sigh, “But we’ve been working on that. And thankfully, I have the ability to clean up most of the messes I’m capable of creating.”
“Most?” Robin repeated.
“I didn’t want to... jinx myself,” Raven replied, smiling to herself.
Damien and Jaime rolled their eyes at the rudimentary pun and Cyborg chuckled lightly.
“Have you also considered that you’re literally planning on walking into a mob of wanted criminals?” Robin asked exasperatedly.
“I have,” Raven replied; “They’re going to be, as the normal kids say, ‘off duty’, and I highly doubt that my presence there will come as a surprise.”
“Oh?” Starfire asked.
“I’m sure that word of mouth has informed them all that I’ve been seeing Jinx for awhile now; I’ve had pizza with a few of her teammates once or twice I was with her,” Raven replied, “I doubt they wouldn’t have mentioned it.”
“You’re saying that they know you’re going to be there and that you aren’t worried by that,” Damien argued.
Raven hummed affirmatively; “If they know that I’m going to be there for the same reason they are, they aren’t likely going to be up in arms against me; they’ll just want to continue carrying on having a fun night, same as I.”
“This is of course assuming Jinx’s powers don’t kick in, right?” Cyborg asked.
“Right,” Raven agreed.
“So what happens if it doesn’t turn out like you thought?” Jaime asked respectively.
“Then I’ll take my ‘Soulself Express’ and get out before things get bad,” Raven replied, shrugging, “I’ll probably take Jinx with me and Dick can take us to see a movie or something.”
“Why don’t you take one of us as an escort to the dance,” Robin offered, attempting to meet her halfway; “I can give you back up and stay out of your way.”
Raven shook her head, “If I arrive with an entourage it’ll only lead to making them nervous and assuming that I’m going to be there conspiring against them.”
“You are, aren’t you,” Robin inquired, “You still fight criminals, right?”
“Yes, but not tomorrow night,” Raven replied calmly; “Tomorrow I’m going to be like any other normal kid and I’m going to have a nice evening with all the other kids and we’re all going to play nice and drink spiked punch and take really bad selfies.”
“But you hate kids,” Beast insisted, “And selfies. And socialising. And people in general.”
Raven shrugged; “Starfire said it’s important for developing minds to explore and learn from new experiences. I’ve never had a girlfriend before. I’ve never been to a dance before. Conceivably, I might have fun.”
“Well we can’t argue with that,” Nightwing murmured to Starfire, who smirked and nodded once.
“Are we all in agreement then?” Starfire asked the group.
She was answered with several nods and shrugs, and one scowl from Damien.
“And is there anything else we need to know,” she asked Raven warmly.
Raven shook her head.
“Very well,” Starfire stated, “I guess that’s settled then.”
“Looks like you’re going to prom after all,” Cyborg declared, noticing the looks of agreement on the other elder members of the group.
“Thank you,” Raven replied melodically, “I really appreciate this.”
Raven smiled brightly and her teammates found themselves smiling warmly in return.
“Get some sleep then dear,” Starfire ordered, “It’s late and you should rest up for your big day tomorrow.”
Raven nodded and headed out of the main room, with a bit of excitement evident with the slight spring in her step as she headed through the door.
When she was gone, the elder Titans sighed in weary amusement.
Starfire shook her head and rubbed her temples.
“They grow up so fast,” Cyborg offered, earning a huff from Nightwing.
“She has you wrapped around her finger, doesn’t she,” Robin accused his brother sourly.
“Shut it,” he snapped, prompting several more grins aimed in his direction.
“Okay, who grabbed the camera?”
“Don’t worry Richard, I’ve got it,” Starfire chimed, waving the device excitedly.
“Aw man, make sure you get a good one of her and her date,” Cyborg ordered sternly before his eyes lit up in excitement and brightened LEDs; “This is so going into the scrapbook!”
“Are you sure you don’t want to trace her?” Damien asked as he looked at his brother and held up a miniature blinking device.
“Don’t worry, I bugged her corsage,” Nightwing replied confidently, “It should be more than enough to keep track of her.”
“It’s not ostentatious is it?” Starfire inquired idly; “We can’t have it clashing with her dress.”
“Nah it’s fine,” he insisted, shaking his head; “It’s a micro.”
Robin and Cyborg nodded in contentment as the Blue Beetle shook his head.
“So why are you dressed like that?” Damien asked, eyeing Nightwing’s doubled attire.
“Raven wanted me to wear a suit,” he offered offhandedly as he fiddled with his tie.
“Yeah but you’re wearing it over your super suit,” Robin insisted.
“Naturally,” Nightwing replied, grinning; “Can’t have the villain’s figuring out my secret identity.”
“So why not just wear the costume?” Robin argued.
“Because this is Raven’s special evening,” Nightwing chided, "when you have a special evening, you can set the dress code."
“So when’s she coming down?” Beast Boy asked, eying the door as Robin growled under his breath.
“If she doesn’t want to be late,” Nightwing replied, “Hopefully soon.”
“She’ll be down in a moment,” Starfire said as she smiled at the group; “She was just taking a last look when I came down.”
As if on cue, one of the common room doors slid open, revealing one slightly self conscious, but very well dressed young Titan with a flickering smile and bright violet eyes.
Raven’s smile spread as her older teammates cooed in awe and approval while she walked towards them; the younger Titans eyed her apparel with varying mixtures of disbelief and amusement and Raven shot Beast Boy a look as he snickered.
“Well, give us a spin then,” Cyborg insisted.
Raven offered a slow twirl in reply, allowing her friends to immerse themselves in the occasion.
“Red’s good on you,” Cyborg offered approvingly.
“Very bold,” Nightwing offered; “Are those laces properly secured?”
“Star tied them for me,” Raven replied dismissively before shooting a grin at the older girl.
“Oh, you do simply look adorable,” the Tamaranian cooed, “Let’s take a picture!”
“But we took several already,” Raven moaned halfheartedly.
“Not with the others in it,” Starfire retorted cheerfully as she elbowed Nightwing; “Dick go stand with her so I can take a picture.”
Nightwing nodded and moved to stand beside Raven, who took his arm and offered him a smile as Starfire snapped the picture and a few good extras.
“Alright,” Starfire stated as she handed the camera to Nightwing; “You two better get going, and remember Dick,” she said to him pointedly, “I want pictures of her with her date as well.”
“Yes Mam,” Nightwing replied as Starfire turned her attention back to Raven; she smiled brightly and gave her friend another hug.
“And do have a wonderful evening dear,” she ordered.
“Call us if you need anything,” Cyborg added; “You got your communicator, right?”
Raven nodded before she tugged Nightwing’s arm and looked at him expectantly.
“Let’s get to the car then,” he offered.
Raven wiggled her fingers at friends in a vague gesture signaling her departure, earning several smiles and nods in return.
Nightwing led her to the elevator, and before the doors closed before them, Raven offered a final smirk as Cyborg started tearing up, and Starfire moved to lay a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“You guys really weren’t ready for me to grow up yet, were you?” she mused, as the elevator began its descent.
“No parent truly is,” her companion replied; the sagely effect of his words were ruined when she turned to look at him and was met with the older boy giving her a pointedly silly face.
She huffed and rolled her eyes, as she relished the contented feeling permeating the elevator for several moments.
“Alright, do you need anything before we set out,” Nightwing asked her as the elevator began to slow.
“Last chance for a bathroom break,” he added as the doors opened.
Raven shook her head.
“Alright then,” he answered, leading her over to the car he had selected for the occasion.
Nightwing headed over to the passenger door and held it open.
“Your carriage, fair maiden,” he teased.
He held it open as Raven slid in before carefully shutting it after her, ever mindful of her dress, before walking around to the driver’s seat to enter the vehicle himself.
After settling himself into the driver’s seat and springing the car to life with the turn of a key, he clicked the garage door opener clipped to the sun visor over his head.
The heavy duty metal door sealing their garage from the underwater tunnel opened with a series of groans and hydraulic hisses; one by one the lights in the tunnel flickered on with another press of a button.
Raven scoffed as she settled more comfortably into the seat as Nightwing grinned and set them off at a safe but speedy pace.
The car radio proved to be useless inside the tunnel of concrete under a league of ocean water, Raven immediately discovered upon her attempt to coax the device to function properly; she scowled for a moment before Nightwing pressed the button for the vehicle’s CD player, and was rewarded with a thankful nod of recognition from Raven as she leaned back to listen to the notes welling to life as the car sped by segment after monotonous segment of undersea tunnel.
“Taylor Swift?” Raven asked, a hint of amusement caught in her tiny smile.
“Don’t look at me,” Nightwing replied hastily, “The last one to use this car was Stephanie.”
“So you drove it all the way here with Batgirl’s CD’s?” Raven retorted, her smile all knowing.
“I can turn it off if you’d rather,” he shot back indignantly.
Raven said nothing but shook her head softly and leaned back again.
“So,” Nightwing began, after they had traversed through a good portion of the tunnel, “Did you bring everything you need?”
“Yes,” Raven moaned, “I put everything in my soulself for quick access.”
“What about if you find yourself where you can’t use your powers?” he yelped before glancing over at her.
“Well, you’re going to be in the parking lot the whole time,” Raven countered.
“I am?” he replied incredulously.
“If I know you half as well as I think I do,” Raven explained smugly, “you’re going to wait the entire night in the parking lot just in case I need backup or want to leave early.”
Nightwing scowled briefly and then sighed in defeat; “Do you at least have the knives on you?”
“I mean, yes?” Raven replied honestly, “But I’m still not entirely sure on what you think I’m capable of doing with them.”
“Just in case,” Nightwing murmured, looking back to the road.
“Is this the part where you monologue about vague encounters you’ve had in the past as way of warning?” Raven mused.
“No, this is the part where you tell me how to get there because I’ve never driven to their base before,” Nightwing answered as the tunnel opened up to an empty parking lot on the beach.
“You’ll want to take a left on main street,” Raven offered, “Assuming you enter it from the exit off that one road Johnny Rancid trounced Cyborg with the robo shark awhile back.”
“Was the time before or after Beast Boy got stuck in mad Mod's Magnetic Hungry Hippos?” Nightwing asked as he turned onto the main roads.
“Before,” Raven clarified as her teammate merged into traffic.
“Got it, the one where old Blockbuster used to be,” Nightwing stated, stepping on the gas.
“Dick no!” Raven shouted as Nightwing crossed three lanes of traffic; “The Blockbuster was on the other side of the Lower District!”
“Sorry, it’s been awhile,” Nightwing offered as he hit the brakes and re-merged into the far lane, cutting off another slew of cars; “Got Gotham on the brain.”
“You just want to get us conveniently lost so I can’t go,” Raven huffed, crossing her arms.
“Worth a shot,” Nightwing mused with a grin.
“Please tell me you aren't going to bug me when I go in,” Raven moaned; "If I get back and you all are quoting whatever little thing Jinx and I talk about, I'm going to stress vomit on each one of you."
"First of all, gross," Nightwing replied as he cast her glance.
“Second; oh ye of so little faith,” he teased, before swerving under an elevated semi truck in order to cut through an alley; Raven scowled and grabbed the panic handle on her door frame while the Taylor Swift CD cut back to its beginning.
Nightwing drove them through the alley and into the next street, taking out an abandoned shopping cart and spooking a gaggle of crows in the process.
“Does your father know you drive like a lunatic,” Raven shot at him as he wove through traffic.
“Do you want me to turn us around?” her former leader shot back.
“If you start driving backwards I swear to my father that I shall remove us from the road entirely,” Raven promised.
Nightwing grinned devilishly and Raven felt herself hiss in response, but the car thankfully stayed the right way round.
“Speaking of fathers,” Nightwing began as they halted before a red light; “Are her parents going to be there?”
“I don’t think she has any,” Raven replied, “But I’m sure some of them do, and therefore, some shall be in attendance.”
Nightwing hummed, thinking her response over as the light changed, signaling their freedom to progress.
“Can I ask you something?” Raven asked, her pitch slightly higher than usual.
“You just did,” he teased, earning him a punch to the shoulder.
He chuckled and then bade her to continue her inquiry.
“Regardless,” Raven continued sourly, before curious embassement filled her voice, “Um, how do I… not impress Jinx per se, but rather, ensure that things go well,” Raven fumbled, as she brushed her bangs from her face as she thought aloud.
“You want me to give you girl advice,” her old leader replied incredulously before taking a deep breath; “Alright, um, first off,” he began, “You’ve already got this far with her so whatever you’ve been doing, keep doing that. Also, compliment her,” he added sternly, “Her outfit, her hair, her jokes, whatever. The more the better, if you get nervous. Make sure you lean towards her whenever she’s speaking so she knows you’re interested in what she has to say. Make eye contact frequently, but don’t press it if it makes her uncomfortable. Also-”
He pressed a button and the glove box sprung open against Raven’s knees.
“Kori and I didn’t know if you had gotten anything for her so we took the liberty of buying some basics,” Nightwing revealed as Raven ruffled a hand through the various small assorted gifts; “Give her something you’ll think she’ll like, or everything, your call,” he offered as Raven pulled out two voluptuous bouquets of opposing flowers.
“I got her a few things,” Raven offered quietly as she eyed the three differing boxes of candies wedged in the glovebox.
“Good, bribery works wonders,” he stated.
“That’s… romantic,” Raven offered flatly.
“You scoff now,” he replied, “But wait until your first fight with her. Girl’s demand tribute and sacrifice Raven,” he murmured theatrically, as if caught in the midst of unpleasant memories, “They cannot be satisfied while your dignity remains intact.”
Raven eyed him wearily.
“You realise that I am also a girl, right?”
“Exactly,” Nightwing agreed; “That means there’s gonna be twice the amount of mind fuckery and passive aggressive tendencies.”
“That, sounds severely like a load of bull crap Dick,” Raven replied.
“Language! Young lady,” Nightwing shouted in mock affront.
“Anyway,” Raven continued, “Can’t like, most of that be avoided with clear communication?”
“Ordinarily yes,” he answered, “But you’re dating a villain, and that means you might not be able to be as open with each other as you both might need to be, or want to be, in this case.”
“Well that was a stunning piece of optimistic pep talkery,” Raven offered after a few minutes of Taylor Swift filled silence.
“It’s a good thing I asked Star for advice,” she added as she glanced out of the window; “You’re useless.”
“First of all, that was extremely hurtful because it’s true,” Nightwing offered, chuckling.
Raven smirked and turned her attention from her reflection in the glass.
“You’ll want to merge to the left, far left, and take the exit by the museum.”
“The only museum on this block,” Raven answered; “It’s got the giant banners on the front.”
“Got it,” Nightwing replied, jerking the car hard left.
“Oh wait, you see those cars up there?” Raven asked as she caught sight of some odd looking vehicles ahead of them while Nightwing weaved between several city buses.
“The ones that look like killing machines?” he asked as he braked for a pedestrian.
“Yeah, those,” Raven answered, nodding, “Just follow them; they’re headed the same place we are.”
Nightwing’s face grew taut, but he complied wordlessly and out maneuvered the crosswalking citizen to join the small procession of ominous looking transportation devices that Raven had pointed out.
“Are you sure they’re going the same place?” Nightwing asked as he tilted his head out of his door’s window to get a better view.
“That one there, that’s Gizmo’s car,” Raven answered as she leaned back; “The one that looks like a giant wheel, that’s his. He’s going too.”
Nightwing grunted in acknowledgement and repositioned himself in his seat.
Raven continued to scan the traffic, and smiled confidently as a giant robot T-Rex galumphed through the other cars.
“Looks like Rancid is also going to be in attendance.”
“Isn’t he too old for school?” Nightwing asked in genuine surprise.
Raven shrugged; “I’m not going to sit here and pretend to know how any of the criteria for how an Academy of Villainy could operate in a logical manner.”
“He probably got held back a lot,” Nightwing mused.
“Probably,” Raven agreed; “He’s good with his cybertronic animals but not much else.”
“If they weren’t all so deadly, he could make a killing in the animatronic market,” Nightwing offered idly.
“A lot of the Hive students’ talents could easily be repurposed better, elsewhere,” Raven agreed.
“Wish the same could be said for some other villains,” Nightwing muttered.
“How do things fair in the fair city?” Raven asked as Nightwing pulled up behind a limousine hoisted aloft by what appeared to them both as super industrial monster truck tires.
“Nothing fair about Gotham,” Nightwing growled flatly; “And Bludhaven is only marginally better.”
“You should visit more often,” Raven offered as she eyed her window mirror; “Everyone misses you.”
“Nice to know that Beetle Boy cares,” he replied sarcastically; “And I’m ecstatic to hear that Damien has finally carved out a spot for me in that stone of a heart of his.”
Raven snorted a small exhalation of breath; “Alright, the old team misses you,” she amended, “But just so you know, Damien does love you by the way, which displeases him greatly I might add.”
Richard smirked; “Yeah he’s a good kid,” he offered fondly, “You know, when he remembers how to be one.”
“You were the same way once,” Raven murmured absently; “We all were.”
Nightwing nodded slightly and followed the deadlier looking vehicles in front of them onto an entrance into a large parking lot devoid of any identifiable feature or landmark save for a medium sized water tower towards the back end of the pavement perimeter.
“Guess this is it,” Nightwing said as they drove in.
“I should probably dole out some last minute advice,” he added, eyeing his friend briefly.
“Knock yourself out,” Raven replied flatly.
“Don’t leave your drink unattended,” Nightwing began, “Don’t worry about whether or not you look weird dancing, everyone does;” he continued, “If you think something’s suspicious, that's because it usually is. The punch or whatever beverage the’ll serve will probably get spiked, so try to be responsible about that. Don’t let anyone bribe you for information, even if she’s cute,” he added with a teasing wink before sobering up again; “And if things start to heat up, and you aren’t interested, it’s okay to say that you aren't ready and leave it at that; ‘No’ is a complete sentence.”
“Thank you,” Raven replied evenly.
Nightwing refrained from replying as his focus attuned towards finding an available parking space that was not likely to prompt another, larger vehicle from crushing them for the favored position amongst the others.
He parked a few rows back and found himself grateful for choosing a classy looking but unassuming car; it fit well with the other cars, which were classy looking themselves, and appeared quietly ominous in its lack of outward weaponry compared to the overly compensating looking death machines some of the other attendees had used.
Nightwing killed the engine and turned in his seat to face his friend properly.
“Last chance,” he stated as he eyed her; “I can take you home right now and I won’t even complain about it,” he offered.
“I’ll grab us ice cream,” he added, knowing it to be a futile effort even as he let the syllables leave his lips.
“Sorry Dick,” Raven replied consolingly, “Sometimes a girl just has to go to a party to dance with other girls.”
Nightwing sighed; “Had to try.”
Raven smirked and unhooked her seatbelt as Nightwing walked around to get the door for her.
Raven slid out happily before her teammate took her arm lightly.
“Before you run off, I need a picture of you and Jinx,” he reminded her as he shook the camera gently in one hand; “You want to run over and find her and bring her here, or do you want me to walk you up?”
“I’ll bring her here,” Raven replied smoothly, nodding once as she did so.
“Do you need a coat?” he asked; “You gonna be cold in that?”
Raven shook her head; “I’ll only be out here for a moment,” she replied, as she eyed the gatherings of teens forming sporadically around the water tower; one of the teens boasted an overly pink hue, and Raven perked up instantly upon catching sight of it.
Raven looked back at Nightwing and jerked her thumb in Jinx’s direction; “I’ll go grab her,” she stated before trotting off.
Nightwing took a deep breath and leaned against his guardian’s car as he watched the pair of girls.
They were both sporting dresses, rich in hue, though Raven’s red was more vibrant than her partner’s deep indigo; although they didn’t overtly match, they at least did not clash, he thought.
The girls themselves seemed delighted to see each other, which warmed his heart greatly, although he was willing to admit that he found watching Raven behave in a manner genuinely joy-filled, to be greatly jarring to witness. Still, when the girls kissed, his inner approval won out over his apprehension and he smiled.
The girls chatted in greeting for a moment, and Raven exchanged a few greetings with some of the other teens surrounding Jinx, before the Titan leaned over to speak to her directly and gesture towards him. Jinx’s gaze scanned out over the parking lot before locking eyes with him before she turned back to Raven and nodded.
As the girls walked towards him, he was surprised to see Raven take Jinx’s hand; he stifled his smile and threw on what he hoped to be a reasonably stern faced expression.
“Ah...” Jinx offered, looking him over before focusing on his face, “Old Robin, is that you?”
“It’s Nightwing now, but yeah. It’s me.”
“Cool,” she replied, visibly relaxing; “Haven't seen you around in a long time. Nice to know you’re still kickin’ it. Nice tux,” she added, eyeing his double ensemble.
“Thanks,” he replied genuinely as he nodded; “And on the note of fashion,” he stated as he pulled out two small boxes from seemingly nowhere, “It’s time for corsages.”
He handed a box to Raven, who proceeded to open it up; she pulled out the tiny string of flower blossoms and turned to Jinx.
She smiled, which Raven took to mean as a sign of permission, and pinned the bunch of delicate blooms to the front of Jinx’s dress.
“These are actually really cute,” the young villain offered happily.
“Starfire would’ve thrown a fit if at least one of us hadn’t’ve had some kind of flower,” Raven replied affectionately.
Satisfied with Jinx’s pinned status, Raven turned and took the second box, before allowing her date to perform the miniature flower pinning ritual herself.
“Hope you two lovely ladies don’t mind if I snap a picture for the others?” he asked as the pair was done.
Jinx looked mildly surprised, and her reply seemingly died in her mouth for a moment as Raven freed her hand to slip her arm around Jinx’s waist and pressed delicately against her with a smile.
“Yeah, sure,” Jinx offered, fumbling with the syllables, as she blushed and pulled Raven closer against her with her arm around her shoulder and held her hand with her own.
“Great,” he replied, as he turned on the device, “Smile!”
The two had already been smiling quiet smiles, but as they turned from the camera towards each other and back again, their grins widened as their cheeks reddened, and Nightwing found himself smiling too.
“Say: Antidisestablishmentarianism,” he prompted.
He was expecting Raven’s look of quiet abject expectant disapproval, but he was surprised when Jinx not only managed to repeat the word without issue, but also managed to smile through the whole every syllable, which in turn made Raven smirk, which Nightwing felt was the exact proper time to snap the picture.
He took a few more afterwards, just to be safe, before lowering the device.
“Alright then,” he offered as he straightened his posture and the girls untangled themselves slightly; “I guess that means you’re free to go.”
“Thanks Dick,” Raven replied fondly, earning a brief questioning glance from Jinx.
“Anytime,” he replied to before turning to her date.
Jinx visibly stiffened, but only slightly, as if expecting a threat or shovel laced dissertation.
“Please look after her and show her a good time,” he said instead; “It’s nice to see her smiling.”
Jinx’s look of surprise was made even better by the sight of Raven’s scandalized expression caught in his peripheral vision; he smirked and the girls stumbled to regain their composure.
“Can do,” Jinx managed to reply before she grabbed Raven’s hand and saluted him; they glanced at each other, having a quick, silent conversation before looking back at him.
“See you later then, Bird Boy,” Jinx offered warmly before tugging Raven’s hand gently.
Raven nodded once at him before turning and taking Jinx’s arm, and then the girls walked forth, leaving the Titan’s former leader in their wake.
Nightwing watched the pair disappear within the water tower’s door and tapped a finger to his earpiece.
“Robin, come in, over.”
“Over loud and clear,” Damien replied over the line.
“They’ve just entered what appears to be the aboveground front for the Hive Academy; the trackers in their corsages, are they functional, over?”
“Ten-four, Nightwing, they are on the screen right now.”
“Good;” he replied, “And your countermeasures?”
“In place as we speak,” the young boy replied confidently.
“Good, then I shall remain here as planned, observing the perimeter; stand by.”
“Roger, over and out.”
As the line cut out, Nightwing sighed as he resigned himself to waiting for his teammate’s exit, multiple hours in the wait.
He slid back into the driver's seat and switched the engine on, bringing forth heat and the soothing lyrics of his favorite CD.
Absently, he mouthed the words as he warmed his hands; one of the monster vehicles sped by with unbelievably boosted bass, and he scowled before shrugging his shoulders and thinking ‘fuckit’.
He turned his own volume on full blast and enjoyed it for several moments before losing interest.
He was just about to contemplate searching the vehicles in the parking lot for fun when he caught sight of someone in his peripheral vision.
He turned to see Killer Moth tapping at his window.
He rolled it down.
“Hey, it that Taylor swift?” he asked, voice low and gravely.
“Sweet!” the monster suited man shouted cheerfully, as he held up a bag of what looked to be snackcakes in one hand and a bushel of hotdogs in the other; “Wanna tailgate while we wait?”
“Dude this party is the coolest shit I’ve ever seen,” Beast Boy buzzed, “Holy smokes, is that a chocolate fountain?”
“Odie, focus!” Robin ordered; “You’re there to keep tabs on Lenore, not the food.”
“Oh-em-gee,” Beast Boy moaned, “We don’t need to use codenames when we already have super hero names. I mean, talk about redundancy.”
Robin’s scoff echoed over the line, which Beast Boy ignored as he took stock over the dance floor and buffet tables.
Super teens were scattered everywhere, along with a few older and younger attendees, and a sparse smattering of what he assumed was standing in as the ‘adult supervision’.
“Dude the creepy guys in red robes are in here serving drinks and stuff, I feel like I’m in a twilight zone,” he offered over the line.
“Focus,” Robin ordered, “Do you see Raven?”
Beast Boy looked around the room and hissed before he flew to the other side of the ceiling; from his new vantage point, he spotted Raven amongst a group of villains.
“Yeah I see her, she’s with Jinx,” he replied as his wings fanned his body.
“What are they doing?” Robin asked eagerly; Beast Boy could practically see his face contorting into a third degree scowl.
“They’re just talking, it looks like,” he replied, eyeing the pair; “She’s smiling though, which is cool I guess.”
“What are they saying,” Robin asked demandingly.
“Dude how should I know? I can’t read lips, especially not in this form,” he replied dryly.
“Well get closer then!” Robin spat.
“If I get too close Raven will sense me and she’ll know I’m here and then she’ll be royally pissed,” he retorted; “The only reason I can get away with being here at all, is that I’m hoping that with this many people, she’ll assume the nagging feeling of familiarity is just for one of the dozens of other people here.”
“Alright, alright,” Robin offered placatingly; “Just tell me what you see then, and remember to look for anything suspicious!”
“Dude there’s just villains everywhere, but they’re just chillin out; it’s like the most suspicious least suspicious thing I’ve ever seen.”
“Whatever, just go back to Raven; what’s she doing now?”
“She’s kinda like, being affectionate with Jinx,” Beast Boy relayed, slightly embarrassed; “They’re not like, kissing or anything but they’re kinda hugging and holding hands ‘n stuff, it looks like.”
“Are they alone?”
“Nah, they got other people around ‘em, Jinx’s team mostly, but there’s a couple other Students around them too. Looks like most of ‘em are staring at Raven.”
“Dude I don’t know, I’m on the ceiling! I can just tell they’re looking at her from the way everybody’s facing; I think it’s her dress. Red was a good choice,” he rambled, “and that cut away back really accentuates her figure,” he mused.
“Affirmative, I agree with that assessment, but I still think Richard was right when he said it should have been longer to allow for more preemptive countermeasures.”
“Dude, a longer dress would have restricted her mobility, wouldn't've?
“She can fight in a cape and cloak, she can fight in a proper dress,” Robin replied flatly.
“Yeah but it’s easier to dance in a short dress,” he countered.
“She’s not going to be dancing,” Robin replied dismissively, “I doubt Raven’s become that interested in imitating common society.”
“You do know that she does know how to dance right?” Beast Boy asked reflexively, “Ballroom, Ballet, and Foxtrot n’ stuff; she and Nightwing learned all this crazy dance stuff back when he was Robin as like, extra training or whatever. I mean, we all had to learn some, but Raven was the only one genuinely interested in it cause it reminded her of languages or something, she said.”
“Really,” asked Damien, genuinely curious.
“They even learned how to pole dance,” he replied, “Nightwing used to like send video clips of him in ridiculous costumes playing a clarinet while he swung around on a pole sometimes to announce combat training sessions and stuff. The banana Christmas one was le -git .”
“Do you still have copies?” Robin asked innocuously.
“Only of course ,” Beast Boy sneered, “What kinda idiot do you take me for,” he chided.
Robin chuckled on the other side of the line, causing Beat Boy to smile as much as his fly form would allow.
“What about Raven? She have anything like that?”
“Nah, closest thing she did was when Nightwing tried to make her use her dancing skills for a mission and she sent us all a video of her doing this really cool dance number while flipping him the bird.”
“So what did he do?”
“He put on a dress and did the mission work in her stead,” Beast boy replied leisurely; “Raven likes learning things yeah, but really hates it when you make her like, use those things, which I totally feel. Like one time, I had to beat this alien dude at Ninja Monkey Ball Blaster 3.5: Monkey’s Unlimited, and I was like, ‘Dude, this is my favorite game of all games ever’, but after beating the dude and saving the day I didn’t want to touch that game for like, a month ever.”
“It’s a wonder your team ever got off the ground,” Robin muttered, “Insubordination and recklessness is all you people get up to.”
“Guess that’s why you fit in so well huh, Shortstack?” Beast Boy retorted happily, earning a snarl from the boy.
“Seriously though Dude, you’re like a walking hypocrite and a half, so calm thy tits.”
“I don’t have tits,” Robin hissed.
“You know who does though? Raven’s date,” Beast Boy replied, “Like I’m almost glad I’m here to see this cause holy shit, Jinx is dressed to kill.”
“I knew it,” Robin jeered, “Okay first thing you need to do is provide a distraction, I’ll radio my brother and the two of you can keep everyone occupied until Starfire and I-”
“Woah, woah, woah,” Beast Boy shouted, halting the boy’s tirade, “I meant that she’s hot, not that’s she’s inciting World War three,” he amended, “Like, chillout.”
“Oh,” Robin replied, before audibly taking a deep inhalation of breath that he slowly exhaled thereafter.
“Seriously though, I don’t blame Raven for wanting to tap that,” he offered as he eyed the villainous; “She looks kinda like one of those chicks that like, walks into the detective’s office in the old movies, with the dramatic lighting and sighing and stuff, but like, if that chick was from the twenties and was also a witch and possibly part cat.”
“Your observation skills leave much to be desired,” Robin sighed.
“Dude, I can turn around and head home right here right now, if you’d rather,” he jeered.
“No, we have a job to do,” he replied, “Keep where you are and keep me informed.”
“Rodger Dodger,” Beast boy replied, cutting the line.
He hummed to himself and skittered along the ceiling to keep his fly joints from getting stiff.
As he watched his teammate converse with the other teens, he found himself wishing that he’d somehow actually been invited to the party, as it seemed to be that everyone was having a good time.
He hoped Raven was having a better time than he was, at least.
Meanwhile, in the parking lot, Nightwing was sitting on the hood of his car, a hot dog in one hand, and snack cake in the other as Killer Moth continued his tangent.
“I honestly don’t know where she gets it from, I mean, I love her more than life itself, of course,” he lamented, “but Kitten can just go on and on for hours! Girls and gossip, what can I tell ya, you just learn to live with it after awhile,” he said as he gestured wildly with his hands.
“So tell me, what’s yours like?” Killer Moth asked innocently.
“Sweet, but very standoffish,” Nightwing replied absently; “She also has this sense of humor that I never really get because I can’t decipher when she’s drawing on context from her birthplace or whether or not she’s trying to get my goat.”
“Oh?” the villain replied, curiously.
Nightwing took a bite of his hotdog and crossed his leg over his thigh before continuing animatedly; “She used to bait me with riddles that made damn near no sense with surreal answers that were similar to how normal riddles go, but not quite. And one time she lectured me on the progression of synthetic sentience then turned around and asked me why you couldn’t plug two power cords together for infinite power.”
He sighed a bit and rested his hotdog holding hand against his knee.
“She’s never dated anyone before,” he admitted, “I’m worried about her.”
“Ah yes, I know that feeling well,” Killer Moth replied sagely, “When Kitten first started dating Fang to get back at her mother, I was a wreck for months.”
Nightwing turned his head to face the fellow costumed man; “Oh yeah?”
Kill Moth hummed affirmatively; “Yup, it’s hard when your little princess starts dating; you gotta worry about all the normal stuff of course, like whether or not he’s an obsessive type who’ll murder her in her sleep, but also about whether or not their brands of hostile takeover plans mesh well,” he explained, “If you gotta kid who’s into taking over the world to change it for their ideal, and their partner wants to take it over to destroy it, they’re gonna have issues.”
“For example, for awhile Kitten had an admirer that kidnapped her; had the death traps and whole nine yards,” he rambled on, “Thankfully, Kitten cleverly obtained aid from the Titans and managed to escape, but she was upset about it for weeks!”
“I recall that,” Nightwing replied flatly as the memory of Kitten and Kwiz Kid flooded his mind.
“This Fang fellow that she’s with now I entirely detest, don’t get me wrong,” the man furthered, “but at least he’s capable of providing for her, and has never held her hostage, which is points in my book; even if his arachnid body-head is a sin against nature,” he jested, huffing once in laughter as he did so.
“What about yours, who’s she into?”
“Jinx,” Nightwing replied honestly; “Though the first time she had anything resembling a crush, he turned out to be a dragon, and was an asshat that tricked her and tried to eat our family and basically disrespected, dismissed, and insulted her and her feelings in every way before trying to murder her,” he growled; “I figure, even if Jinx is the literal embodiment of bad luck, at least she isn’t going to BBQ Raven in the middle of the night.”
“Ah, so your Raven’s escort,” Killer Moth drawled in understanding, “I figured she’d be coming with one,” he added as he stuffed several snack cakes into his mouth.
“You know, if I were thirty years younger, I’d escort her to a dance,” he guffawed, elbowing Nightwing; “No but seriously, she’s a fine young lady, good morals, good character,” he praised.
“She did most of the raising herself,” Nightwing replied, slightly embarrassed.
“Yeah, most of the best ones do,” Killer Moth replied, nodding; “Kitten’s the same way.”
“Tell me though, how did a girl like Raven end up with Jinx,” he asked; “Temporary truce? A rebellion against an unjust system? Undercover sting?”
“They sort of fell into it,” Nightwing replied, “At least from what she told me anyway; but, you know how the parents are the last to ever find out the truth,” he chided.
Killer Moth chuckled again; “Don’t I know it,” he agreed; “Kitten tells me just what she wants and when she wants it, and I’m lucky if there’s an explanation for any of it jumbled in the ranting somewhere.”
The villain looked back over to Nightwing as he ate half of his hotdog.
“Has Kitten ever talked about Jinx?” the former Titan asked.
Killer Moth swallowed and gestured dismissively with his hand; “Oh of course, Kitten is friends with all the girls at School; she’s even had her over for sleepovers before! Had to put my foot down on that though, because unfortunately, while Jinx was very polite and very influential on helping Kitten pass her classes and getting more friends, I got tired of having to replace our electronics everytime she came over.”
“She stole them?” Nightwing asked incredulously.
“What? Nah,” he corrected, shaking his head, “Her bad luck just broke everything. She didn’t mean to, the poor thing, but her powers aren’t domesticated at all.”
“That is a shame,” Nightwing replied; “But she’s polite you said; you think she’d treat a date okay?”
“Oh definitely, as long they were a girl,” Killer Moth agreed; “She’s rougher with the boys, but on her side of the fence that just good self preservation-isim.”
“So she wouldn’t plan on say, kidnapping Raven, or luring her into a death trap or something like that?”
Killer Moth took a hefty bite from another hotdog; “Well, I mean, she’s a villain and a good one at that, so I wouldn’t rule it out entirely, but, I’m pretty sure anything she’d do would be more along the lines of vandalising buildings with love notes or tapping a toy store for teddy bears and things like that. You know, just things to get her attention.”
“Jinx likes poetry?”
“I think Kitten said something about her writing creatively,” Killer Moth replied as he thought it over; “I think they took an English class together once or twice.”
“Raven loves poetry,” Nightwing replied quietly, “Guess they’ll have that in common.”
“Yes, it’s always nice when couples can share a hobby,” the man agreed; “one of the main reason’s Kitten’s mother left me I think.”
“Oh? I’m sorry to hear that,” Nightwing offered consolingly.
“It’s fine;” the man replied, “She was just into some things I couldn't get into you know? The weirdness was fun at first but, we just couldn’t make it last.”
Nightwing looked at him with what he hoped was an understanding expression as internally, he wondered what could have been too weird for a man in a moth suit raising mutant grubs in his basement.
“So then I said, that’s not a quintonic kryptonian exo-coupler, that’s my transistor! And I demanded they throw me back into the bar!” Mammoth bellowed.
“And he fell for that? Really?” Raven exclaimed, as Jinx shifted beside her.
The large boy slapped a meaty hand over his chest; “I swear to the Mayor that’s exactly what he did.”
“It’s true, I was there!” Gizmo interjected; “I was the one who had to clean up the wasted hydraulic fluid before the health inspector came back!”
“And to think, you both still failed that test,” Jinx chided, which earned a snicker from Raven.
“We not only failed, we got detention for weeks ,” Mammoth moaned.
“Well I’m sure they appreciated your ingenuity and dedication at least,” Raven offered.
“Say what about you,” See-More asked, “They make you do any tests for hero-ing?”
“Lots,” Raven deadpanned; she took a long exhalation and slid a mournful grimace into her expression before explaining, “They locked me in confined quarters with Beast Boy until they were sure I wasn’t going to permanently shapeshift him into a chair or something after I intentionally, accidentally, locked him in the laundry room and threatened to turn him into a chair if he didn’t wash his damn uniforms.”
“How long did they lock in you for?” Jinx asked.
“Six and a half hours,” Raven replied flatly; “He still hadn’t washed his uniform.”
“Gross,” Jinx replied, amused, at the same time Mammoth and See More snickered.
“He wet his pants after two and half minutes in, so, I agree,” Raven chuckled as she shifted her resting weight to keep her foot from falling asleep.
“Did they not give you guys a bathroom break first or somethin’,” Mammoth asked; “Man, that’s harsh.”
“Nah,” Raven replied, shaking her head slightly; “He just got really afraid at the thought of being turned into toilet after I turned him into a door mat.”
“You turned him into a doormat?” Gizmo asked, his smile perking up, “Man, that’s rich.”
Raven shrugged; “I had been planning on leaving him as a teacup but then he started singing so, I took some necessary countermeasures.”
“You really don’t fool around, do you?” Mammoth barked in amusement.
“Holy shit that’s nothing,” Jinx cut in proudly, “You shoulda’ been outside when we came in!” she exclaimed as Raven smirked; “She called Nightwing a dick ! To his face ,” she hissed.
“Who the fuck is Nightwing?” See-More asked incredulously.
“Ah, hello?” Jinx sing-songed exaggeratedly, “The old Robin? Ex-Leader of the Teen Titans? The one we used to beat up all the time?”
“I thought Robin was still in the Titans,” Mammoth stated cautiously before turning to Raven.
Raven’s brow quirked.
“Did you assume he just shrank, or…”
“That’s the new Robin,” Jinx explained, cutting Mammoth a break, “The old Robin left for Gotham to sidekick to the Bat again,” she continued as she waved her hand idly; “And anyway, point is, she called Batman’s brat a dick to his face like, just now.”
“...I thought you two were friends,” Mammoth asked absently, as he scratched his chin.
“He’s one of my best friends, in fact,” Raven stated happily.
“That’s gangster, yo,” See-More offered, earning a small smile from Raven and a nod from Jinx.
“So, how’d you like the party, eh?” See-More asked, changing the subject as he gestured around the room; “Not bad on our side, huh?”
Raven glanced around, eyeing the colored lights, the milling teens, the hooded figures; she looked back to boys and cast a side eyed glance at Jinx and smiled a bit more.
“Of course, the party just got started, so if you give it a few hours, it’ll really pick up,” Mammoth insisted.
“I wouldn’t mind some picking up,” Raven replied, casting Jinx another amused smile, “Jinx might, however.”
Jinx’s face reddened slightly as she hid a squeak behind a cough.
“Speaking of Jinx,” See-More stated as he shot Raven a wink, “Your dress would look a lot better on her floor.”
“Okay,” Jinx interjected loudly as Raven snorted; she hooked an arm though Raven’s and started to drag her away.
“Been lovely talking to you guys but we gotta do something that, um, isn't that,” she declared, “like, right now,” she continued animatedly as she led Raven away from the group, who offered them waves, winks, and a few thumbs up.
“Sorry about them, they’re dumb,” Jinx apologized as she led Raven to a quieter section of the room vaguely next to a potted plant.
“They're alright,” Raven replied fondly, “I live with several adolescent males myself. I know the drill.”
“Speaking of, I kinda can’t believe they were okay with this,” Jinx replied cautiously, a hint of her nerves showing; “They do know you’re here, right?”
“I made it quite clear how I was going to be spending my evening, yes,” she answered.
“And they just, let you?” Jinx pushed, her eyes wide; “They aren’t coming for me with squadrons and stun guns or anything?”
Raven shrugged a shoulder; “Just a drone and a mini nuke.”
Jinx’s eyes grew impossibly wide as her hand clenched slowly and the color drained from her corporeal being.
Jinx closed her eyes and took in a long, steadying breath, before she exhaled it again.
“They were actually pretty supportive,” Raven offered as she thought it over.
“Yeah?” Jinx asked, her curiosity piqued.
Raven smiled as she sighed briefly.
“I think they’re excited that I’m hanging out with actual people, and doing things, or whatever.”
Jinx grinned; “I’m things or whatever,” she teased as she leaned towards her date and wiggled her eyebrows.
Raven huffed in amusement.
“You’re certainly some-thing, sure.”
Jinx worried her lip and began to speak, but her words were lost as another group of teens joined them.
Meanwhile, on the ceiling, Beast Boy sensed his chance and flew to the plant and changed into a tiny lizard; the lifespan of an ordinary house fly always frightened him into not wanting to use the form for too long.
As he settled into position, Robin’s voice carried over their connection.
“You moved, did something happen?”
“Jinx led Raven away from the others for a bit,” he replied; “They’re still in the ballroom and there's some other kids with them now.”
“Can you tell what Jinx is up to?”
“I’m listening in right now; she’s apologizing for her friends hitting on Raven in her stead? Huh,” Beast Boy mused, “That’s gotta be weird to go through.”
“What about about body language,” Robin prodded, “Does it look like Jinx is up to something?”
“Oh she’s up to something,” Beast boy agreed, “If that something is being a mess of nerves, that is.”
“What do you mean? Clarify your assessment.”
“Dude, Raven’s flirting,” he replied, a little in disbelief himself; “She’s actually rolling pretty smooth with it.”
“Really?” Robin asked in a tone that let Beast Boy clearly picture the boy’s taken aback expression in his imagination.
“Dude, she’s flirting up a storm and Jinx is blushing so hard I think her hair is going to go from pink to red too here in a second,” he joked.
“-Oh wait, Jinx just shot a really good one liner back,” he relayed quickly; “Looks like Jinx isn’t gonna be cowed over without a fight.”
“Raven looks pleased by that though,” he added, “She’s smirking.”
“This is getting us nowhere,” Robin stated exasperatedly.
“Which is why you shall stop spying on Raven right this instant;” a prominent and familiar feminine voice ordered before the line went dead.
Beast Boy felt a chill run through his lizardly designated spine as he hoped Starfire would go easy on them both.
Starfire was livid; that much Robin could tell quite easily, from the way her hair had shifted into a state nearing a sizzling inferno behind her.
“You deliberately disobeyed our agreement Damien,” she exhaled through a forced composure.
“Negative,” he replied flatly; “We agreed that I would not infiltrate the base in order to keep tabs on Raven. We didn’t discuss anything about Garfield doing it.”
Starfire groaned and held her hand to her temple a moment before she looked at the young Robin again.
“Two weeks kitchen duty,” she declared.
“And, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll start now before I add mowing the yard with a pair of scissors to the list,” she hissed.
Damien, sensing he was on the losing side of the argument, feigned indifference and nodded before moving to sit on the couch.
“Dude, busted,” the Blue Beetle chortled.
“Shut it,” Damien snapped, scowling, as Starfire started to give Beast Boy an earful across the line.
He only hoped his brother would be able to take care of things; his scowl deepened at the thought.
“That disappointment better know what’s he’s doing,” he murmured.
Meanwhile, said disappointment was beginning to wonder how many times in his life he was going to have an existential crisis in a parking lot as Killer Moth continued.
“I mean, it’s one thing if you give a guy a little warning!” the man exclaimed indignantly; “But to just walk in on that all willy nilly, well, that’s just too much icing on the cake, if you know what I mean.”
Nightwing nodded as swallowed another bite of hotdog.
“Hey did you hear that?” Killer Moth asked, suddenly sitting up in fright.
The Moth dressed man looked avidly around the parking lot for a few moments before going completely stiff.
Nightwing struggled to keep from sliding off of the car as Killer Moth started shaking his shoulder.
“Kid, you gotta help me!” he hissed; “She’s gonna see me!”
“Mae-Eye!” he replied anxiously.
Killer Moth grabbed him and looked him dead in the eyes.
“You gotta pretend to be my date, Dude.”
“Come again?” Nightwing managed to reply.
“You gotta be my date!” Killer Moth reiterated exasperatedly; “The ol’ biddy has been after me for months! I can’t keep her off of me!” He moaned forlornly, “I think it’s my raw animal magnetism, I’m just too attractive for my own good,” he sighed; “Last week I told her I couldn’t date her ‘cause I already had a special somebody and you gotta help me!”
From across the parking lot, a sounding yodel resonated, prompting Killer Moth to squish Nightwing against his side and smile broadly at the older woman made a bee-line towards them.
“Yoo-hoo Mothy-Poo! How nice to see you there, dearie,” Mother Mae-Eye cooed.
“Hey Mimsie,” Killer Moth offered with faux-bravado, “Nice to see you here.”
“Yes well, as you know, these kids can’t have a party without some good food;” she replied before cackling, “Yes ser-iee, Mae-Eyes pies will put some pep in their step! Hoo-hoo.”
“That’s nice of you,” Nightwing offered, turning the witch’s attention to him.
“Oh, and who might you be, young fellow?” Mae-Eye asked curiously as she tri-eyed him over.
Nightwing puffed out his chest and draped himself a little more over Killer Moth’s shoulder and smiled; “I’m Chad,” he announced.
“He’s my boyfriend,” Killer Moth added with a slight air of relief.
“Yeah, um,” the Moth donned Man stammered, “My dear Chad wanted to wait with me during Kitten’s party so I wouldn’t get bored. He’s uh, really thoughtful that way.”
“Hah,” Nightwing laughed, tossing the old witch a grin, “he’s the thoughtful one. Nothing but an old softy, aren’t ‘chu ya big lug?” he tossed at Killer Moth while slapped him affectionately on the belly.
“Herman!” Mother Mae-Eye screamed, “Why I’m so happy for you! Scoot over and tell Mother everything! ”
Meanwhile, at the party, Raven gazed off into nowhere in particular.
“You ever get the feeling something really strange is going on and you’re missing it?” she asked obscurely, before catching Jinx’s eyes.
“Honey, my life is a walking fever dream,” Jinx retorted dryly, causing Raven to huff in approval.
“Your face is a fever dream,” Raven shot back, grinning.
“Flatterer,” Jinx replied approvingly before a slow look of curious hope crossed her features; “But ah, just so you know, you can see me in more than just your dreams, if you want.”
Raven ran her finger along the rim of her cup as the beat of the reverberating music started to pick up tempo.
“That sounds as though you’re implying something,” Raven teased as she leaned closer to the girl.
“Well you know, um, implication is half the fun,” Jinx answered, as she moved to wrap her arm around Raven’s waist.
“And what’s the other half?”
Jinx grinned devilishly; “Why, the notoriety of course!”
Raven scoffed and made to pull away from the girl, but was caught in Jinx’s grip as the girl swirled the movement into another hug.
“Crafty one, aren't you?” Raven mused.
“I try,” Jinx shot back.
The lights in the ballroom began to dim, and one by one, accent party lights began to flicker to life, sending color and shining dots aplenty across the room and its occupants.
“Would you care to dance, perchance?” the young villain asked, her eyes illuminating faintly.
“I thought you’d never ask,” Raven murmured, happily allowing her date to lead her to the now blooming dance floor.
“And then, wouldn’t you believe it?” Killer Moth exclaimed before he huffed humbly and wiped away a tear, “He had hidden the card in the grub box under batch k-47 the whole time!”
“-And that’s why we prefer going to the petstore over raiding the zoo,” Nightwing added, not missing a beat; he smiled broadly as Mother Mae-Eye squealed in delight, both of them finding themselves thoroughly swept up in the make-believe romance he was concocting with the man in the moth suit.
A beep in his earpiece distracted him from the tale, and he feigned a cough to turn the device in his ear on.
“Dude, so uh, Star’s pretty pissed,” Beast-Boy relayed over the transmission; “She caught Damien and me snooping around the party and she gave him one-for. I’m pretty sure I’m next when I get back.”
“-Of Course, Chad and I never drink anything but decaf,” Killer Moth drawled, catching Nightwing’s attention as he threw an arm around his shoulders and squeezed him closer; “Poor Chaddy-bear can’t digest anything that’s not gluten-free and vegan anyway, isn’t that right dear?” he asked, shooting him a look with a cracked smile.
“Ah, sure is Hermy-poo,” he replied quickly, embarrassment flooding his voice at the knowledge that Beast-Boy could hear every syllable; “I’m so glad we were able to work past our dietary needs together,” he added as a sinking feeling in his gut boiled down to his toes.
“That’s just the sweetest,” the three-eyed witch exclaimed, “It’s so good to see couples nowadays haven’t forgotten about good ol’ communication, hoo-hoo!”
Nightwing cut the connection, covering the motion with a feign of tucking his hair behind his ear and sighed before nodding.
“Honestly, I don’t where our relationship would be without clear communication,” he offered, earning another nod from Killer Moth.
Raven watched as Mammoth and Jinx danced goodnaturedly from the sidelines, the rest of Jinx’s team hovering to either of her sides, casually watching her for any reaction.
She understood the importance of family too much to deny the pair a dance when he had asked, though when Gizmo had pressed her about it, she had of course conveyed it as an opportunity to gaze lecherously at her date in good grace. She hoped she was making a good impression on them; under the context of pizza luncheons and arcade raids, they hadn’t minded her presence, but here with Jinx under the guise of romance, they were seemingly more critical of her every word and gesture and their badly concealed glances did nothing to stem the fear.
As she watched her date, she realised that she was nearly impressed with Jinx’s dancing prowess; she wasn’t as rigid as Greyson had been, she thought, though she lacked his dedicated practice and seemed especially fond of spinning maneuvers.
She smiled, sensing that Jinx was perhaps trying to show off for her.
Her fondness for the young villain was almost enough to overpower the strange prickling feeling occasionally darting past her nose; a feeling that some of the party attendants were watching her even more closely than the others.
She brushed the feeling off again; as long as nothing overt happened, she decided, as she began walking towards her date, she’d ignore it.
Beast Boy was doing his beast not to get noticed by the other teens gallivanting about; Starfire’s voice had rung out loud and clear over his comm link and he had done his best to remain hidden despite it to inform his old team leader about their plan’s development.
After hearing Nightwing’s conversation however, Beast-Boy found himself unable to remain beholden to the ideals of safety any longer.
He reopened the transmission link to Titans tower and waited.
“Garfield, don’t think I’ve forgotten your involvement in this, mister,” Starfire admonished; Beast-Boy could practically feel the way her eyes narrowed and easily pictured how most of her hair would be alight, rather than the usual lower third.
“Hey-heh...” he fumbled, metaphorically worrying his collar; “So um, did Robin tell you anything about the plan?”
“Gar…” the Tamaranian warrior warned.
“Well um, Dicky’s here too and he’s been mackin’ on some villain dude in the parking lot,” he relayed tonelessly; “thought you should know.”
He cut the link just as Starfire’s ear-splitting screech raised over the threshold of being able to rupture his comm device.
He breathed for a moment, his wings twitching every so often.
The thought struck him that he had yet to try out the fondue machine; he smiled as much as his insectoid form would allow, and flew down to the snack bar to show himself a good time.
( sorry it took so long for an update; i moved into a new place and had to get settled. hopefully i'll be updating more regularly from now on again! )
“Dude, I think there’s a fly in your fondue;” said one of the teens towering above him, “I think it’s doing a backstroke, look!”
Beast Boy smiled as much as his form allowed and continued practising his backstroke as the plate he was swimming in was hastily dropped by the screaming teen.
Hastily, he turned into a spider as the plate hit the floor and he scurried under the table without drawing further attention to himself.
As he licked the chocolate from his many arachnidic limbs, a sensation bubbled inside his gut that had nothing to do with an insects tolerance levels for cocoa composed snack products.
He thought about his friend’s impending demise and sighed as much as his spider body would allow.
Hastily, he turned into a beetle and took once more to the air above the crowds of partying teenagers.
He cast a quick glance around the room; catching Raven and Jinx out of the corner of his compound vision and reassuring himself that at least one member of his team was having a pleasant evening as he flew off to find his unsuspecting friend in the parking lot.
“And this is a picture of her and the and the kids she mentors,” Nightwing proclaimed proudly, as offered the group picture, taking the ones passed to him in turn.
“That’s my little Bill-Bill,” cooed the mother of Billy Numerous; “I had to buy six uniforms for him because he refused to join the Lil’Terrors Troopers as a single entity,” she sighed reminiscently.
“Oh that’s nothing,” Mammoth’s uncle guffawed, almost losing his seat, “You try finding a Lil’ Terrors suit in a size Jumbo-Extra!”
“Please,” Killer Moth retorted with a dismissive wave of his hand; “Kitten goes through at least six outfits a day and she refuses to rewear the same clothes more than twice; it’s a constant battle to keep that girl properly dressed.”
“It took this party to get Raven in a dress,” Nightwing offered; “I can’t even remember the last time she worse something other than her uniform. -I don't think she ever has!”
“Don’t be silly Chad,” Mother Mae-eye cooed, “I put her in that bright cheerful yellow number the last time I visited their Tower, I did.”
“He meant voluntarily, Mimsie,” Kyd Wykkyd’s mother sighed.
“Well he wasn’t very clear now, was he Sharon?” the three-eyed witch scoffed.
As the group continued bantering, Nightwing became aware of a buzzing around his ear.
He threw a careful glance over his shoulder to see Beast-Boy flailing his insect limbs at him frantically.
His first instinct was to flick the green bug off his person; but he managed to reign in his reflexes, at the dull thought that the boy might have been bringing him news of Raven‘s distress.
“Dude, super important here, you gotta get out of here!” the tiny form of his friend cried.
“Beast-Boy-” he hissed under his breath, wary of the others picking up on their conversation.
“Starfire knows you’re mackin' on your side-man and she’s pissed and on her way!” the boy cried loudly, to many gasps from his surrounding companions.
“And how, does she know that?” he he muttered under his breath, greatly displeased.
“Because he told me,” came the voice of Starfire, hovering just outside the ring of the parking lot party; a greatly displeased look on her face rippled with warning.
“And so Gizzy had his arm trapped and I’m thinking, ‘There ain’t no way he’s gettin unstuck in time’ so-”
“-She ditched me-” Gizmo screeched over Jinx’s elaboration.
“And I took off like a rocket! Underwear in hand,” Jinx trilled, obviously pleased; “And that’s the story of my favorite heist.”
“You should call it the story of your favorite stab-in-the-back, more like,” Gizmo grumbled to himself, crossing his arms.
“What about you?” Angel asked, smiling earnestly; “What’s been your favorite crime?”
“Isn’t it like, illegal for heros to like crime?” Mammoth asked innocuously, scratching his head.
“They can’t approve of it sure, but I'm sure with all the shit they see they have their favorite stories too,” Angel persisted, earning a nod from Kyd Wykkyd.
Raven smiled and cast Jinx a cruel, mirthful look.
“I liked the one where I hit her with a bus.”
Jinx’s scoffed, expression gleaming with faux-indignation.
“Rude;” she declared flatly.
“I’m also fond of Jinx’s most successful theft,” Raven mused, earning a few raised brows from the group.
“The jewel heist of junior year?” Mammoth offered at the same time the other kids offered suggestions.
“That bank robbery back in Old Water,” Gizmo exclaimed, snapping his fingers.
“Wait, I got it,” See-More said excitedly, “That time Jinx switched all the paintings back side up at the gala to make everyone think all the art was stolen when they wouldn't display her portrait of the League of Evil playing poker that she sent in!”
“I didn’t actually know that one was her,” Raven replied, not quite surprised; “But no.”
“That time Mother Mae-Eye baked her into a patty-cake?” Angel guessed.
“Or that time Gizmo trapped her in the net by mistake?” Billy wondered.
Raven shook her head and grinned harder.
“Which crime was it then?” Gizmo asked.
“The time she committed organ theft,” she replied flatly, earning several confused and horrified looks sent Jinx’s way.
Jinx’s brows furrowed in confusion for a moment until they shut up in realization; her face reddened and she scowled.
“You sentimental son of a-”
Her hiss was cut off by a loud boom.
The kids looked amongst themselves and and then to the DJ and the dance floor, sensing that the sound had not come as part of the musical soundtrack designated for the evening.
“She we be worried?” Raven asked Jinx, tugging her arm lightly.
Jinx looked at the others, who didn't seem bothered and turned back to Raven and shrugged.
“Nah, the place gets wrecked every year once everybody starts gettin’ drunk and boastful.”
Raven gave her an appeased nod and looked back at the others who settled back on their feet.
“There was this one time I was apprenticing under Zatanna,” Raven began, before another external explosion shook the buildings foundation.
This time, the Hive students looked at each other sheepishly.
“You guys stay here,” Mammoth declared, “We’ll check things out.”
“Yeah, it’s prolly just Sargent Hive being a zit head again,” Gizmo added as he turned to follow Mammoth.
Jinx shifted closer to Raven, and handed her cup to See-more and gave him a nod in the direction of the punch bowl.
He gave a confirmatory nod and hastily scampered in its direction to grab the girl a refill.
“So, Zatanna,” Angel asked; “What’s she like.”
“She’s nice,” Raven replied, shrugging; “Sometimes she’s pretty cool and other times she’s kind of…”
Raven waved her hand vaguely and shrugged, sighing; “She’s like a weird Aunt.”
A few of the Hive students nodded slightly.
“She’s pretty hot though,” Billy offered, earning an agreeing whistle from himself.
“Again, she’s like my Aunt, but I guess so,” Raven agreed passively; “ I always thought that Black Canary had a nice look.”
“Fishnets and leather jackets are definitely a look that can’t go wrong,” Jinx agreed.
“Green Lantern is pretty hott,” Angel offered.
“Which one?” Raven asked.
Before Angel could answer however, the group’s attention was turned to a commotion at the room’s entrance, where several groups of Hive students and hooded individuals seemed to be squabbling for the chance to exit the floor.
Out of the mess, Mammoth managed to squeeze himself and Gizmo through; the pair came scampering back just as See-More returned with Jinx’s punch.
Mammoth and Gizmo took a moment to wheeze and Jinx sipped her drink, the group patiently waiting for an explanation.
“It’s… the Titans…” Mammoth huffed.
The group turned to look at Raven, as if expecting a reaction or some grand swish of statement but the Titan remained tucked restfully at Jinx’s side.
Her face carried no signs of surprise, but didn’t hold any signs of personal stakes of involvement, and the group of students shifted on their feet.
“And what are they up to?” Raven asked dryly, taking a sip from her own cup.
“From what the others have been saying, Starfire’s tryin’ ta’ kill your ride and everyone’s parents are trying to kill Starfire and I think someone said that Beast-Boy’s here to an-”
Raven waved him off dismissively and took a longer swig of her drink.
“I don’t think I’m anywhere near intoxicated enough to want to deal with that right now.”
“Suit yourself Doll face,” Billy Numerous exclaimed, “That sounds more fun’er thanna’ two taco deal on Tuesdays at the Picco’s Palace Party Parlor!”
The replicating boy exclaimed an ear shatteringly loud yodel and was quickly joined by most of the group, racing off to the exists and nearest vantage points to watch the commotion unfold and a few of the students seemed embarrassed by the thought of their guardians actions and seemed to be more intent on stopping them then in joining the fray.
The building shook again, this time swaying wildly before shuttering back into place, causing more strange noises and several sounds of the structure struggling to maintain its proper shape.
Raven turned to Jinx, who seemed to be looking to her on how she should feel about the situation.
“So…” Raven drawled, “How do you feel about going for Pizza?”
Time passed as if he were locked in a vacuum.
Nightwing could hardly bring himself to twitch.
After a breath of two of determined thought however, he managed to look at the semi blurred photograph in his hand.
The Moth Man’s final farewells and declarations of unspoken feelings shared echoed in his ears at the sight of them rendered within it.
“It’s for the best;” Killer Moth had said, once the fires had started to calm.
The sirens had taken some time to fade, but now there was only silence.
Silence and the large, unbowed tower where the Hive Academy For Extraordinary Young People and dined to hold their formerly secretive promenade.
After his girlfriend’s choice words, he didn’t dare to venture inside to look for his hopefully still celebrating teammate, and neither did he dare to leave the buildings surrounding parking lot, for fear Raven would come to look for him and remain uncollected.
There would be no way for her to miss his vehicle now, he mused distantly.
His was the only vehicle left, now that the others had dispersed hours before.
Killer Moth had waited with him as long as he had been able, but even he had excused himself, when it had come time to prepare his daughter’s late night meal.
He had a vague thought, that Raven might not have been in the building at all.
He stared absently passed his windshield and into the darkness.
If the Tamaranian saw fit to punish him by leaving him to guard an empty lot for a night, he’d take it.
He felt himself blessed that she had found the entire situation humorous, once he had been allowed the chance to explain.
Another undetermined stretch of minutes clawed by.
He was never doing another favor for Raven as long he lived.
Nightwing stumbled into the common room and caught himself on the nearest counter; his heart nearly gave out when his peripheral vision caught sight of a blot of violet.
He opened his mouth to protest her abandonment of him for nice hours and twenty-six minutes, but stopped short as he looked at her proper.
Asleep, still in her prom dress, book in her lap, and a smile on her face, Dick Grayson felt himself melt into a transcendental being past the pretense of petty self interests and grudges.
His eyes started to well up.
A whispered hiss caught his attention, bringing his focus to the Blue Beetle at the dining table.
The boy poured him a cup of coffee and nodded to the chair closest to him.
He sat silently and watched as Jaime slid his cup over to him.
“She and Jinx went to a Chinese place and got takeout and snuck it into a movie theatre,” the teen whispered; “Said that the movie was shit but the wonton soup was priceless.”
“She and Jinx also snuck into a roller rink apparently,” he continued, “made a bowling alley in it she said.”
Nightwing reached a shaky hand to his cup.
“Starfire said Jinx was adorable. She invited her to have dinner with us next Friday.”
The scalding bean broth burned the skin of his lips, but the heat was chilly in comparison to the embodiment of light that was running through his veins.
“Raven tried to wait up for you, to tell you about everything herself but she conked out about half an hour ago. I think the exhaustion finally caught up to her. She’s probably going to meditating all week when she gets up.”
“And oh,” Jaime added absently, grabbing something and sliding it across the table to him; “Cyborg said to give you this.”
Nightwing looked down at the conjoined strip of photos; a tiny Raven and and a miniature Jinx looked up at him and each other with innocent, wholehearted, happiness.
“Dude, you okay man?” Jaime asked him incredulously.
At his inability to form a non-teary-eyed response, the boy’s symbiotic alien attachment offered a few clicks and whirrs.
Nightwing let a few minutes pass and walked purposefully over to Raven.
Slently, he tucked the photostrip into her book, closed it, and placed it on the coffee table.
“Thanks Dick,” Raven mumbled drowsily, not nearly awake by any means.
He smiled despite himself and resisted the urge to ruffle her hair.
Raven hummed, and seemingly drifted back into the depths of slumber.
Feeling like his teammate had the right idea, Nightwing slung himself against the worn, red fabric of the couch and passed out.
Jaime looked on for a few minutes, nursing his coffee before shaking his head absently and elected to bask in the fact that Damien had laundry duty and didn't know how to run the Tower’s temperamental washing machine.
At the thought, he smiled; he was going to have a glorious time lording it over his teammate's scowling face for the next few days while the older Titans threw themselves into tizzies of parental emotional outbursts, and he was going to love every minute of it.
And Nothing Hurt and Everything Was Magical.
( special shoutout to a special fic reviewer who helped me imagine half of these headcanons! )