Faint rays of light from the early morning sun danced across Raven’s bed as she slowly awoke to an unusually quiet house. Through the thin walls she could hear the snores of Zachary Zatara. Even in sleep, he was insufferable. Raven rolled onto her side and felt around her nightstand for her cell phone. When she finally grasped it, she pulled it towards her to check for notifications. The screen displayed that it was half passed seven and there was a text message from Damian. She smirked as she opened it up and read, “Good Morning Roth. How is the new team going? Titus misses you.”
Raven sighed as she thought about the last week of her life. Where should she begin? There was much to tell him yet little of it would indicate things were going well. Doctor Fate had made a last-minute addition to the team with a young woman named Anna Fortune. Due to her being the oldest she had practically become a den mother. There was also the fact that the good doctor rarely, if ever, intervened in something as mundane as team establishments unless something was brewing. Such a development did not sit well with Raven. Then there were all the other antics ranging from Greta burning her cookies to Lori sleep walking and stealing Traci’s powers, to Gemma accidentally summoning a demon. That had all happened before three in the afternoon on Wednesday. As if that weren’t bad enough, Zachary was constantly finding ways to brag about how talented he was; thus, creating a lot of clashes. Most of them were fairly…minor.
When Raven had first received Zatanna’s invitation to join this specialized team, she had thought it was a wonderful opportunity. She was eager to learn from magic users her own age and share her own knowledge in return. She had also seen it as a way to strengthen future teams since there seemed to be less magical superheroes and an increasing number of supernatural threats, like her father. For these reasons, Raven had eagerly accepted the position. Though now she was trying to decipher whether she was disappointed in how things have played out or if she regretted her choice.
Last Saturday, her new teammates and she had shown up at noon with their mentors to the House of Mystery for move in. A couple of people had even brought loved ones along. They had been greeted by a cigarette smoking, blonde haired British man by the name of John Constantine and his niece, Gemma Masters. The two had welcomed everyone warmly before leading everyone on a tour of the famed house. During the tour, they gave extensive information about the house and how to interact with it. They also made it clear to everyone that they had cast extensive spells to ensure that the interior of the house would not change appearance, let alone the layout, without being told to do so. Whether or not the spells would hold remained to be seen. In truth, Raven fully expected the latter scenario to be the outcome.
After the tour, everyone was given their room assignments and officially began to move in. Traci had been excited to hang purple holiday lights around her room. It had been cute to see her and her girlfriend, Natasha, giggle as they put them up. At one point, when Raven had walked by to put the last of her stuff in her own room, Traci had managed to get herself entangled in the lights with her love. They were laughing and smiling as they attempted to free themselves. The adorable scene had warmed Raven’s heart as she had been a little upset due to Damian being called away on a last-minute mission by his father, causing her to move in alone. The only immediate perk she had noticed was that she could put the silly photo of them standing outside Titans Tower with Titus on her desk without hearing a snide remark.
Thinking of the photo jarred her back to the present. Raven replied to Damian’s message with instructions to pet Titus and vague implications that it was going to be a while, if ever, before the team dynamics settled into something more functional. As soon as the message was off in cyberspace, she rolled out of bed with her phone in hand. Walking over to the desk, she stared at the picture for a moment. The memory of how they had successfully trained Titus in basic commands brought another smirk to her face. Kori had insisted they take photos including an obligatory goofy one. In the picture, Raven was giving Damian bunny ears and sticking her tongue out. As for Damian, well, he had been caught mid eyeroll which made the final product even more spectacular.
“Those were simpler times,” she thought as she grabbed her headphones and an occult book off her desk. She plugged the headphones into her phone and queued up some soft piano music. The notes filled her ears as she made her way to the living room where she curled up in a red armchair. She opened up to where she had left off last night and began to read about the history of occultism in Europe. Within a couple of pages, she had become engulfed in the book’s contents.
What felt like only fifteen minutes later, she smelled pancakes being cooked. She bent the corner of the page she was on and closed the book. She went to the kitchen to see Anna preparing enough food for a small army. Raven paused her music and took her headphones off. Anna was humming a strange, happy tune as she flipped a pancake over. “It smells delicious,” Raven said.
Without deviating from her current task Anna warmly responded with, “Thank you! I thought it would be a nice surprise for everyone.”
“I think it will be,” Raven responded.
Anna plopped the pancake onto a plate stacked with at least a dozen others. “Would you do me a favor and pass me the batter?” Raven silently obliged. “Thank you again. What brings you down here at this hour?”
Raven instinctively shrugged even though she knew Anna could not see her. “I couldn't fall back to sleep and thought I would do some light reading.” Anna nodded in response. The lack of a verbal comeback left Raven unsure of how to continue this discussion. It seemed to be yet another prevalent theme of the week. She suppressed a huff as she stood in silence watching Anna work on preparing their morning feast.
After ten minutes of excruciating silence, Anna asked, “Who do you think will be next to join us?” A playful tone had woven its’ way into her voice.
“Either Traci or Gemma,” Raven replied, “Though, I am not sure why as I am not that familiar with them.” Anna nodded again. She poured the last of the pancake batter. “Who do you think will be next?”
“Hmm.” Anna ran a hand through her blonde hair. “I concur with your assessment but would also add Greta as a contender.”
Raven considered the new possibility briefly. “I’m inclined to agree with you.”
The two of them fell silent again. This time, it was not awful and Raven started to find it refreshing after all the chaos of the week. After a couple brief moments of bliss, Raven felt it was best to start setting the table. The floral-patterned plates clinked ever so quietly as she carried them into the dining room. As she placed them on the oak table, she could not help but notice how each plate had different flowers decorating the edges.
“Oh! Bloody hell!” Gemma swore as she tripped through the archway into the room. Raven whipped around as her teammate began to fall forward. The tray of glasses she carried slipped from her hands. Raven instinctively reached forward and felt the familiar surge of power stir within her. A darkness flowed from the core of her being and out her fingertips. It propped up Gemma and left the tray floating in the air. Gemma straightened herself up. “Thanks,” she said as she reached for what she had been carrying. Raven nodded. Constantine’s niece set the glasses on the table. “So…telekinesis?”
Raven shrugged. “Amongst other things.” She put a plate patterned with red and yellow roses, down. “What about you?”
Gemma began arranging the glasses. “A bit of everything but mostly summoning.” She smiled. “Uncle John always joked about how it was because of his demon’s blood.” Her eyes glossed over. Raven could feel the anxiety and terror of whatever event Gemma was reliving radiating off her. A flash of a rather…wicked looking Constantine ripped through Raven’s mind. There was something wrong with how the chain-smoking occultist looked but it had happened too quickly to fully decode it. Gemma shook her head. “But that’s neither here nor there.”
The two girls finished setting the table as Traci and Greta entered the kitchen. Anna was enthusiastically handing the two of them platters of food. “I put spellcasings on the plates that will keep the food at the perfect temperature so that it can be eaten at any point today.”
“Spellcasings?” Traci asked.
Anna lit up. “They’re bullet like shells that I normally launch out of my gauntlets but, sometimes they can have other uses.” She took one of the casings out of her pocket. Traci’s eyes grew wide with wonder at the sight of it. Anna arranged the small object on a platter full of bacon. “Breakfast anyone?”
The five them carried the food into the dinning room and took their seats. As they divvied up the food, Gemma prattled on about how when her and Constantine were setting up the house, she had asked the house to manifest the dining room with the perfect number of chairs around the table so that each member would know they always have a place.
Traci smiled as Lori entered the room. “Good Morning you beautiful goth!” Lori grumbled an incoherent response as she sat down next to Traci. She had fallen asleep with her black lipstick on causing it to smear across the lower portion of her face. Her dark hair had been parted into two pigtails but only one had survived the night. She groggily piled food onto her plate.
As breakfast continued on, Traci excitedly asked Anna about the process for making spellcasings. Anna answered and even offered to demonstrate after they finished. Gemma was talking Greta’s ear off about heavens only knew what. Lori was still in the process of waking up but seemed to be gaining energy with each bite she took. Raven simply observed everyone as she continued to drown her pancakes in syrup. She was enjoying the comradery but was skeptical of how long it would last.
Someone began to rustle through the cabinets in the kitchen. “Jakeem! There is food in here, come join us!” Gemma called.
Jakeem stood in the door frame as if he were surveying the room. “Sweet! Thanks!” He promptly took a seat next to Gemma.
The small talk continued even as everyone helped to clean up. Anna set aside some food for the somehow still sleeping Zachary. By the time everything was settled, it was nearly eleven. Anna, Lori, and Traci went off to tinker with magical contraptions. Greta opted to stay in the kitchen for she had decided to try and make another batch of cookies. As Raven reclaimed her spot in the living room, she hoped that the outcome would be better for Greta. The poor girl had been so upset when her first batch had burnt to inedible crisps.
Jakeem and Gemma had also decided to take up space in the living room. Even with music playing in her ears, Raven could tell the two of them were scheming as they were clearly whispering to each other. Not to mention, Gemma kept letting out the occasional giggle. Raven periodically looked up from her book to take note of what was happening. On her last lookup, Jakeem had summoned his genie companion and sent it upstairs. Raven assumed he was showing off until the genie returned carrying a pair of flannel pajama bottoms with Zachary chasing after him in nothing but his boxers. Gemma and Jakeem were cackling on the couch.
“Evig em ym amajap stnap!” Zachary rattled off. The genie froze in place and held out the pants. Zachary quickly slipped into them as he glared at the two pranksters. “What gives?”
Gemma had tears streaming down her face from laughing so hard. “Oh that was rich!” She flicked a tear out of her eye. “Can we do that again?” She grabbed her sides as Jakeem unsummoned the genie.
Zachary clenched his jaw. “The lack of skill coupled with this immaturity is exactly why I told my cousin I didn’t want to join her stupid Teen Titans spinoff team.” He gestured to the couch. “Hsinav.” Raven watched in horror as not only the couch disappeared but so did her teammates. Zachary’s face changed from smugness to horror in less than half a second when he realized what he had done. Meanwhile in the kitchen, Greta let out a shriek.
Anna, Traci, and Lori came running into view. Traci had conjured up some sort of ball of magical energy and nearly chucked it at Zachary’s head until she realized it was him. Anna had rushed to the kitchen leaving everyone else staring at each other.
“What have I done?” Zachary asked.