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'This,' Raven thought to herself, 'is why I don't like camping.'

"This" could be one of many things. Maybe it was how, despite how much repellent the Titan's wore, bugs swarmed around them. Maybe it was because the others were just a little too excited about the whole thing. Maybe it was because Beast Boy had used the paper from her notebook to fuel their dying campfire.

She guessed it was the last option that really bothered her the most.

"It is all right friend Raven, perhaps a few stories of ghosts will cheer you up?" Starfire inquired.

Raven simple gave the Tamaranean a withering look. "It's still daylight, Starfire. Telling ghost stories right now would be pointless."

"Oh...perhaps a sticky and disgustingly sweet mossmellow sandwich instead?"

"They're called marshmallows, Star, and that's a smore. Besides, that marshmallow fell into the fire; see, it's all charred and...black."

"You mean like my book, Beast Boy?" the empath glared at the changeling who had broken into their conversation.

From where he sat next to Cyborg, Robin sighed. "How and why did I ever think that this would make us a stronger and closer team?"

Chapter Text

"Ready...aim...fire!"

The cacophony of noise that sounded after this exclamation echoed ominously down the halls of the Titans Tower. From the kitchen, Robin looked up from his turn at dish-duty and slowly began to count in his head. If he reached 10 before any follow up noises, then he would investigate.

The quiet continued, safe for the steady drip of the water dribbling back down into the sink from the plate he held, absentmindedly scrubbing it with a sponge, ears pricked for the slightest hint of noise.

That same plate went crashing to the floor when the Tower's alarms started to blare. It wasn't the red eye catching glare of the trouble in town alert; this was the fire alarm.

"Robin! We're gonna need you in the training room on level three man, and bring a fire extinguisher!" Cyborg's slightly tinny voice shouted out from the communicator clipped to Robin's waist.

"I'm on my way, what happened?!", and he was leaping over the counter to grab the fire extinguisher mounted beside the stove in case of emergencies, sprinting through the halls towards the room Cyborg had indicated. As he ran, imagining all the worst case scenarios, Robin made a note to himself to ensure every room had an extinguisher added to it. None of the Teen Titans powers were pyrokinetic or pyro inclined, but it was foolish to not factor in the possibility that one of their abilities could not potentially start a fire. He skid to a halt and used his free hand to grab at the side of the door, using his momentum to swing into position and quickly taking in the room, assessing the danger, mentally preparing to send out an SOS to the fire station and to Alfred to pass along to Bruce, he really didn't want to have that conversation -

And immediately dropped the fire extinguisher.

"WHAT THE HELL!"

Raven sent a quick scowl at his direction, but did not step away from the small fire she had erected in the middle of the room. In the corner, Starfire was attempting to console a sulking Beast Boy, who was muttering about having to get a whole new costume outfitted, "Raven, do you have any idea how difficult it is to get this material, it has to be able to morph with me! Do you want me to run around naked?! Because you could have just said so, you didn't have to burn all my clothes!"

"I repeat," Robin said as he picked the dropped extinguisher up and entered the room properly, "what the hell is going on in here?"

Cyborg took the extinguisher and doused what remained of what was once a pile of Beast Boy's laundry, before shrugging casually, "Stankball got a little intense."

Raven refused to apologize.

Chapter Text

It had rained the last time.

When he had last knocked on the door to my room. When he had last looked at me straight in the eyes. When he had last talked to me. When he had last scowled at me because of what I had cooked. When he had last picked an actual fight with me. When he had last looked at me with shock.

It had rained the last time I had kissed him. That time was the first time. It would also always remain the last.

Never again could I force him to meet my gaze. Never again could I lose control like that. Never again could I tease him like that. I simply couldn't do it again. I had let it go too far. And most of all...

I had enjoyed it way too much.

I liked the feeling of his lips against mine. I liked the taste of his mouth and skin. I like ghosting my gloved hands down his sides. I liked how he fit into every crevice of my body when I pulled him close. I especially liked it when he had moaned into my mouth.

It rained the first day I kissed him. It rained the last day I kissed him. It rained the only day I had a chance to kiss him. It rained the last time I saw him. It rained the last time I cried.

Aqualad's gone now. I don't think it's every rained since he left. That's too bad. I love the rain.

Chapter Text

It had been raining for three days, and Roy was going insane.

The first day was quiet, spent enjoying the patter against the glass of the observatory/living room. Karen had lounged on the couch with a book, Mas y Menos had their heads bent over a handheld GameStation3, and Garth had offered Roy a cup of hot cocoa to sip as they watched the rain and discussed a series Roy insisted Garth needed to watch, "because 'raised in the ocean' cannot be your excuse for everything Unitard Guy".

The second day, there was a break in at the Steel City Mint. The Titans East responded and cleaned up the mess in record time. Speedy had not been able to do much and was mildly annoyed - with the amount of water that was rushing through the storm drains in the city, rushing through the eavestroughs and soaking anyone who stepped outside for their morning paper, Aqualad barely had to lift a finger to encompass the robber's in swirling prison of water. Bumblebee had huffed in exasperation, "not even Meta's to put up a fight, you guys must be new around here!" While Mas y Menos and Aqualad stayed behind to help with cleanup, Bumblebee had pulled Speedy by the ear up to the top of the tower instead of letting him go back to his room, "we might as well burn some of this energy, Aqualad isn't always going to be around and we're both rusting with fighting in the rain".

It was the third day now, and the weather didn't appear to be any closer to letting up. There was a persistent and familiar buzz under Roy's skin that the training from the day before had not helped with. Roy needed action, and needed it now.

The problem was that there was nothing to do. Karen had vanished into her room with a whole pot of coffee so wasn't likely to come out anytime soon. Mas y Menos had taken a look at the weather, grabbed their communicators and had zipped off to parts unknown, "Bruto. Vayamos a algún lugar seco." Roy was still learning Spanish and only really understood the "gross" part, which he agreed with, but was unnecessarily annoyed with the twins for leaving as they did. Because with them gone, and Karen firmly in 'do not disturb' mode, that left him only with Garth as company.

Garth, of course, was much more interested in being in the pool than with taking to Roy.

Not like that had ever stopped Roy. Annoying Garth was basically his job.

"Is it not wet enough outside for you, fishboy?" Roy propped his legs up on the coffee table and tapped his feet restlessly, pulling his bow out to polish and restring just to give his hands something to do. The fact that he had done this three times yesterday was just going to have to be ignored. Ignored, the same way he was as Garth couldn't even be arsed to wave or snort or shake his head in response to Roy's words.

"Hey, gillguts! I'm talking to you!"

Nothing but the soft ripple of water being pushed out of the way as Garth swam another lap, and the persistent pitter patter splat of the rain against the window.

"Oh come on, Aquadunce, I'm bored! Entertain me will ya?" Roy stood up and started walking the length of the pool as Garth did his laps, trying to burn off the energy pulsing under his skin. That persistent itch was familiar and while small enough to ignore now, he knew if left alone it would grow worse. "Gaaaarth, I'm serious here, I need to do something!"

That got him a distinct splash as Garth finally stopped, looked at him, and finally pulled himself halfway out of the pool at Roy's feet. Roy had just enough time to sense the danger, but no time to react aside from shouting "wait no that's not what I meant!", before Garth had grabbed at Roy's ankles and used his hydrokinesis to wrap Roy's arms into a firm grip, tugging him into the water without hesitation and proceeding to dunk him down, ensuring Roy's protests about getting his hair wet were drowned out.

When Roy broke the surface, he looked Garth straight in the eye and spat the mouthful of water he had taken into the other boy's face. Garth only laughed, shoving at Roy's shoulder, "c'mon, doing some laps will help you burn that energy. We can watch that movie you were talking about later."

As Roy tread water he shoved back at Garth's shoulders, "If I wanted to get wet I would have gone outside, scaleboy."

"Well, we can certainly swim outside too, but I don't think you're a strong enough swimmer for the open ocean in this kind of weather."

Garth knew the other boy too well, because Roy instantly scowled, "I'll show you a strong swimmer!", and immediately tried to tackle the other boy. Garth was already pushing himself back in the water and was halfway across the pool, leaving Roy with no choice but to commence chase.

It was an hour later, rain still pelting down but both boys finally out of the water and drying off in Roy's room that Garth looked at Roy seriously, "how's the buzz now?"

Roy paused in toweling off his hair, contemplating the pull of the craving, "not as bad as earlier. Thanks man."

Garth smiled and pressed a kiss to cheek, just to hear Roy protest "oh gross man, your breath smells like kelp".

Chapter Text

She was a traitor, but she was also his friend. Even though the others hated her, or seemed to at least.

Beast Boy just couldn't bring himself to hate her. She had betrayed the team. She had betrayed him. He had loved her, from the moment he'd first seen her. She was just so much fun to be around. She was the greatest.

But she'd gone. She'd up and left, accused him of breaking his promise to her. That had hurt. But still he loved her. He hoped and he wished that she'd return, and for a few nights he had sat up waiting for her.

He was right. She did return to them, to him. He was the happiest he'd been since he discovered that Raven truly did think of him as a friend. And he was confused that this friend didn't trust her, but still he laughed and he joked. He was happy with her, with Terra.

He'd actually gone on a date with her. He remembered the confusion, the hurt and the betrayal she'd made him feel. Discovering that Terra, the girl he loved, was nothing but a traitor...he should have truly hated her.

But he couldn't. His heart and his mind still believed in her. If he gave her a second chance, to come back and be with the team, with him, then he'd forget it all. But she didn't take that chance. She betrayed them, him, once again. She had tried to kill them, to kill him.

And still he loved her. Her loved her and he hated her, and he wanted her back. He went after her again. Nothing could have hurt as much as seeing her with such tears in her eyes. He took on Slade by himself, for her. For her, for himself, and for the team.

He couldn't defeat Slade. But she could. And for a long time, they all thought that she really had. Her sacrifice wasn't in vain though. She'd saved the city, she saved the team. He couldn't hate her, he just couldn't. All he could do was love her, remember her-- and he did.

Beast Boy loved and remembered Terra, and he cried for her and laughed for her. He lived for her. Most of all, he missed her.

Chapter Text

"So, let me get this straight," Speedy cocked his head to the side, as if he was trying to get a better angle on his target, "you're not?"

Aqualad looked up from the soda he was sipping, "I'm not what?"

"Straight."

A raised eyebrow, "No."

"No you're not straight, or no you're not not straight?"

"I...what?"

Bumblebee pinched the bridge of her nose, trying desperately to ignore the conversation happening behind her. Honestly, the idea of an open concept kitchen/debrief room/observatory had its perks, but being subject to the idiocy of her boys on her downtime was not one of them.

"You don't like girls?"

"Of course I like girls. They're half of the population, it would be pretty stupid not to like them."

"No, I mean, you aren't like attracted to girls? You don't want to hug them or hold them or kiss them or go dow-"

"CHILDREN IN THE AREA, SPEEDY!" Bumblebee loudly interrupted, even though she wasn't sure if Mas or Menos were in the room.

Rolling his eyes, Aqualad leaned over the table, grabbed Speedy by the front of his uniform, and yanked him into a kiss. The muffled protest was quiet, halfhearted, and completely for show - and Bumblebee hated that the show was for her. She wasn't even looking. This was her living space too and she was allowed to be in here dammit. The muffled moan was such overkill.

"Just so you know," she lifted the book she had been settled in with higher up to be visible, "the first instance of canoodling instead of reconnaissance, you are both doing 100 laps. In the air. I don't care that neither of you can fly."

The noises stopped, and though she refused to give either of them the satisfaction of looking around, she knew they would be staring at her in horror.

"...Aqualad?"

"Yeah?"

"You never actually answered the question. Unless you were trying to call me a - wait, were you calling me a girl?!"

There was a thunk as Aqualad pushed Speedy off of his chair, joining Bumblebee on the couch instead. She spared him a glance before offering a fist to pound, "Bi pride?"

Aqualad bumped her fist, but clarified for her, "I think it's Pan for me, genders in Atlantis work much differently than they do up here."

"Ah," she shrugged, "well, next time you wanna tease the dumbass, can it be when I'm not about to finish an epic climax?"

"OH COME ON, HOW IS THAT CHILD FRIENDLY?"

Chapter Text

The tiny flicker of lights swiftly died away into darkness. The flames of her candles were snuffed out without her consent. Her eyes snapped open from her trance as a cold wind blew through her room. A second later her hands were glowing pink, illuminating her face.

Jinx gazed around her room, wondering where such a wind had come from. She had no windows for the breeze to flow through, and her new room was remarkably warm. In fact, there shouldn't have been any kind of wind entering, or leaving for that matter. So what had blown out her candles? What had caused her room to be plunged into complete darkness? The one thing that she feared above all.

It wasn't that she was scared of the dark. She was petrified of being alone and shrouded within it. With no light whatsoever, no rays of hope.

She thought that maybe it wasn't such a good idea to try meditating. She'd leave it to that goody-goody Titan, Raven. It was all of Jinx's fault though, not really. It was within her nature to do such things. While she had been at Brother Blood's school, she had been forced to learn and to master all of her weaknesses.

Right now, meditating seemed the only way to master this weakness. Her lack of control over certain emotions had made her take brash actions. Actions that led to much embarrassment, fear, and awkward silence.

It was in her last fight against the Teen Titans when realized she needed to master this weakness. When she had suddenly had Raven cornered in an alleyway, while their teammates, fought against each other in the streets. Someone would come to help Raven any second, but Jinx needed to gain her revenge. How dare Raven mock her like that...

With a blush, Jinx remembered enveloping Raven in a tender embrace and a gentle kiss. She realized seconds later that maybe that wasn't such a good idea. She had fled before Raven could fully comprehend what Jinx had done.

So as Jinx re-lit her candles and looked around the room suspiciously one last time, she resolved that she would do this. She would gain full control over her emotions. Just like Raven had.

Chapter Text

Jinx could feel the soft breath against the back of her neck but she had known that the other girl was there from the flicker of shadows dancing at the corner of her eyes.

"I didn't think you would come," she leaned back to look at Raven upside down, legs swinging in freefall over the edge of the roof. Raven didn't say anything at first, taking in the casual way Jinx flirted with a 50 foot drop. There was no true ledge to cling to if the worst of her luck, her normal luck, were to come to fruition. Jinx flirted with death like nobody else Raven knew.

"Feeling extra quiet tonight?" Jinx's eyes were glowing, not the luminescent pink of her powers manifesting, but with the moonlight shining down directly from above them. Raven settled down on the roof behind the other girl, floating slightly so as to avoid the small pebbles of dust digging into her skin. Jinx waved her hand as if to beckon her closer, but Raven shook her head.

"It was a long day at the Tower. The kind of day I wish I took you up on your offer."

Jinx laughed lightly, "he's still open to the idea you know. Then again, what guy could resist both of us?"

Raven hummed, bringing one hand up to rest gently against the back of Jinx's head, tanging her fingers into the deceptively soft hair. Jinx let herself lean back, pushing her weight more firmly on her hands and pushing her head back against Raven's grip.

"I don't think I'm ready for that kind of commitment. You get I need quiet. Kid Flash doesn't understand the definition."

Jinx didn't respond, content to soak in the small affections Raven was still adapting to showing. Far below, the night sounds of city traffic was the only backdrop to their tender moment.

Chapter Text

He sits up on the top of the tower all the time. Staring out across the sea, watching the moon's reflection as the waves come in and out. He smiles as he watches and he sees the sky. His home of the deep looked far more beautiful though. When the moon was just bright enough the penetrate the dark waters and stretch toward his home in desperation. It never reached them, but Aqualad still thought it was beautiful.

The city they, the Titans East and he, were protecting was usually quiet. Not even as close to the baddie-ridden Jump City, but still bad enough to warrant their little team. But excluding Brother Blood's short reign of control, the Titans East never saw much of anything besides petty jewel-thieves and bank-robbers. Sometimes Aqualad was grateful for this, but most of the time he was annoyed with it.

Aqualad loved the thrill of adventure that fighting gave him. A fight for power, for dominance, hell, even for the remote-control. When he fought on land especially, people always underestimated him just because his powers were marine-based. He loved showing people that underestimating him was one of the greatest mistakes they could make.

So was it odd to think that, as Aqualad sits here on top of the roof gazing at the mass of water below, that he wishes. Simply looks up at the moon and the stars' reflections, picks the brightest star he can see, and makes a wish. Wishes that somebody out there will dominate him.

And somewhere inside the tower, sitting on his bed and looking up out the giant window, Speedy wishes to be the one to do so.

Chapter Text

"Alright Star," Robin smiled as he fiddled with the focus on the camera, "get ready to blow out your candles and make a wish!"

Starfire grinned, celebratory crown of meat slipping as she looked from side to side of the table, taking in the happy faces of each of her friends. Beast Boy was happily loading a bowl of sorbet for her, while Cyborg and Raven hefted a massive gift up onto the table for Starfire to open. Silkie hopped onto her shoulder and attempting to nibble on her crown, and she giggled as she took him into her arms, tickling his exposed stomach.

"Oh, I'm so happy now, no wish could possibly make this day better!"

Beast Boy laughed as he upended the bowl of sprinkles onto the bowl of sorbet, the bright rainbows spilling onto the table as he pushed it in front of her. Robin pulled some of spilled sprinkles in his direction, popping them into his mouth even as he gestured for the rest of the Titans to get into the frame.

"That's the beauty of a wish, Starfire," Robin smiled, "it doesn't have to happen today. And you don't have to limit yourself to the possible!"

"Yea," Cyborg pulled the 7 layer-3 frosting-60 candied cake he had perfected out of the fridge, and then a 4-layer-mustard-frosting vanilla and mint cake from further back, "the only thing you can't wish for is more wishes."

"That's genies, Cy."

"It's the same thing man, takes the beauty of the magic out of it."

Starfire exclaimed happily at both cakes, grabbing all of her friends close into a tight hug just as the flash of the camera went off. "Friends, your kindness is all I have ever wished for, and each day we are together is the greatest gift of all!"

Chapter Text

If there was one thing about Speedy that was perfect, it would be his hair. Never mind the fact that he was a prodigy of archery. Never mind that he looked cool enough to rival Robin the Boy Wonder with that mask of his. No, his hair was the greatest.

That's why he was always taking care of it. A mirror and a little comb hidden in a pocket of space with him at all times. If his hair was messed up, a mere strand out of place, he had to fix it. If not, he'd drive himself insane. The only time he didn't seem to notice was when they were fighting someone.

And of course, when Aqualad was running his fingers through it.

Aqualad had some pretty good locks, too. A perfect contrast to Speedy's short, red-orange hair. A little longer, sleek and black. It always looked like it was wet, but Speedy knew otherwise. Having fisted his hands in that beautiful head of hair, he knew that it was silky and smooth.

It was kind of funny, really. How the two heart-throbs of Titans East spent more time fussing over the condition of their hair than even Bumble Bee did. Aqualad wasn't quite as bad, but he did freak out when Mas and Menos accidentally, err, "cut" it. Let's just say it's another reason why you shouldn't run with scissors.

Really, the only people who could touch either of the boys' hair at any given time, was each other. Speedy would just run his fingers through Aqualad's tresses with wonder, the Atlantean letting out what sounded suspiciously like purring. Aqualad would spend what seemed like an eternity massaging Speedy's scalp, until the archer was leaning back against him in bliss.

The best thing about it was that Speedy never complained afterward, when his hair was tousled beyond recognition. Because Aqualad would always fix it back to perfection without a word, and throw in a kiss for good measure.

Chapter Text

Raven pinched the bridge of her nose in irritation as she rounded the corner and found a line up for the bathroom. She held the towel and bathrobe she had brought with her to the communal space and cursed - not for the first time in all the busy mornings at Titans Tower - the oversite of not putting ensuite washrooms into each of their rooms.

"C'mon man," Cyborg banged on the door from where he stood at the front of the line, "you've been in there for 30 minutes already!"

"And a longer line than usual," Raven muttered to herself, noting the sleepy forms in front of her. Mas was slumped against the wall, Beast Boy in the form a of housecat napping on Menos' lap, Jericho in front of them both rubbing sleepily at his eyes. The aftermath of defeating the Brotherfood of Evil had resulted in a party that lasted well into the early morning hours - for the past three days. Jinx had argued that Dr. Light's interruption ruined the first night; Herald had mentioned that it wasn't fair to Gnark and Kole that the second party had so many flashing lights, Gnark hadn't been ready for that; and Raven didn't want to know what excuse they would come up with from last night's party. She had excused herself early to ensure Melvin, Timmy and Teether were put to bed, and didn't want to know what the pink blots all over Jericho's hair could be.

"Um, it's not Speedy in there, is it?" came a familiar voice of Aqualad from behind Raven. She shrugged, unsure, as she shifted her stance to lean against the wall, settling in for a long wait and wishing she had brought a book but unwilling to leave her spot in the line.

"If it is Speedy, how much longer are we going to be stuck here?"

Aqualad yawned into his hand, "'Bee banned him from first dibs on the washroom, The record is about an hour and a half I think?"

There was a collective groan from everyone in line, and Cyborg banged even harder on the door.

"Alright Red, you got 30 seconds to open this damn door before I blast it open!"

Jericho shook his head, signing is there another washroom?

Line is just as big at the other two Aqualad signed back, speaking out loud as he did so to ask Raven, "is there a way to set off the alarm in just the washrooms? 'Bee had to get that set up when he missed a call on the communicators."

Raven shook her head, "what is he even doing in there?!"

Mas snorted, "el chico bonito está tan obsesionado con su cabello"

"Tiene una rutina especial de champú, mascarilla y peine," Menos finished, scratching Beast Boy's head absentmindedly.

"Hey, it's not an obsession, it's a dedication to perfection."

The Titans waiting impatiently in line blinked and whipped around to find Speedy, towel around his neck and smelling faintly of Irish Spring, coming up the hallway from the other direction. Cyborg scowled, turning back around to the door with even more irritation, "ROBIN GET YOUR ASS OUT HERE, EVEN YOUR CLONE WAS DONE BEFORE YOU!"

The door slid open and an irritated Argent stepped out, steam billowing from the door behind her, clean clothes and makeup perfectly applied, but hair whirled up into a towel to keep it from dripping down her clothes. "You need to work on your hospitality," she looked at the assembled Titans, "you could have just said there was a line!"

Chapter Text

I stare at her, you know. I don't just watch her, glance at her, or look at her. I stare. I can sit there for hours, the rest of my life if possible, just staring. And I know she knows I do it. She doesn't say anything, but she'll shiver. Even if she can't see me, I can see her. All the time. Just following her, like a puppy on a leash. No, I'm not a puppy; but you get my drift.

Stop looking at me like that. I'm not creepy. I'm not anything like how you think I am. I'm just looking out for her. I know she's strong, but she's so naïve. So innocent. She knows much and yet so little about Earth culture. The girl drinks mustard. But she doesn't realize that's not normal for humans. It's normal for her, that's all that matters.

He doesn't understand. He accused me of stalking her. I'm not stalking her. I'm following her. There is a difference you know. He won't always be there to protect her. But I will. I promised myself I would keep her safe. Abolish for her, for her safety. I don't think she knows what I do for her. Maybe she does.

I can tell you what time she wakes up, when she goes to bed. How to calm her down when she has nightmares. How to make her cry. I don't like knowing how to do that, but I must. If I don't know that, then I could make her cry. That wouldn't be good, not good at all...

...I've a single confession though. I think I might love her. I can't love her, it would never work. I can't touch her. She must stay pure. She's with him, not me. She'll never be mine.

I'm not a stalker. I stare, I follow, I protect. I'm not creepy. I'm just different.

Chapter Text

The sharp whistle of the kettle snapped her out of her reverie.

Raven blinked and gave her head a small shake, pulling her gaze back into focus as she turned her attention to the hot stove. The loose leaf tea that Beast Boy had gotten on a trip out with Terra was not her usual flavour, the floral scent stronger than she would normally have, but she was willing to try any tea flavour. Besides, the sooner she had the cup made, the sooner she would be able to return to her room and away from the distractions around her.

Starfire's joyous laughter at something Cyborg was showing her on his phone brought a smile to Raven's lips, a quick quirk at the corner before she schooled her face back into its normal stoicism.

"Hey, kettle hot?"

Raven spared a glance over to Robin as he entered the kitchen, sweat soaked towel draped across his shoulders from his workout. Nodding and moving out of the way so he could reach the cups, Raven took a sip of her still too hot tea, grimacing slightly at the burn before humming to herself and reaching for the honey. Robin edged around her to reach the sugar, and they both looked over when Starfire let out another loud giggle. She was grasping a pillow to her stomach and holding it tightly, as Cyborg projected the video from his phone up onto the big screen tv. A series of clips from America's Funniest Home Videos animal editions continued to play after a moment of buffering.

"Huh," Robin spoke under his breath, watching the way another smile tugged itself onto Raven's lips and her attention stayed on Starfire. Raven didn't even seem to notice the noise Robin had made, nor the way he began to tap at his lip in thought before taking a sip of his instant coffee. "You know," he spoke quietly, so as not to attract the attention of the other Titans in the room, "she would probably really love the cat playing the piano."

"The Nyaan cat is more her style," Raven spoke without thinking, before blinking back realization of where she was and holding her tea closer to her. She risked a glance at Robin and scowled at the smirk he cast her way, "what?"

"Nothing at all," he teased, mask seeming to squint as he smiled in innocence, "just happy that you two are getting along is all."

"In case you hadn't noticed, I was minding my own business making some tea, who exactly am I getting along with?"

"Everyone, really," Robin placed a hand on her shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze, "and that's not a bad thing. I just meant that I'm glad you and Starfire are such good friends."

A light flush danced across Raven's cheeks, and she hurriedly pulled her hood up to cover the expression. That didn't seem to accomplish much, as Starfire had noticed the two and was happily beckoning them closer, "Friends! You must join us in the viewing of these animal videos, they are most entertaining! Look, this donkey has knocked its companion into the mud!"

Raven muttered something so quietly that Robin might not have heard it, had he not been raised by Batman, "I was just looking to get some tea, why did you have to stop and have a conversation?"

"C'mon Raven," Robin smiled at her, topping up her cup, "it's not a big deal. Starfire just has that kind of energy. You're not the only one drawn to it."

Raven glared at him, but the effect was rather ruined by how red she still was under the hood. Recognizing she was about to bolt, Robin held up his free hand in a gesture of peace, backing up to lean against the kitchen counter as he said, "look, I'm not going to say anything to her or to anyone else. I just want you to know that it's okay."

"I didn't even say anything."

"You don't have to; I know how to read body language, remember? Besides, that cute smile of yours is confession enough."

It was totally worth the towel being pulled up over his head, and Cyborg’s raucous laughter, when he detangled himself and found Starfire pulling Raven to her side, jabbering the whole time about what to watch next.

Chapter Text

"I can't do this without you," a soft voice was heard down the alley. It was dark down there, but you know who it is. He's been after you for a while now. You don't know what he could possibly want with you; it's not like you're anything special.

Excluding the powers at least.

You narrow your eyes at the shifting darkness. You can't really tell if he's moving toward you or not. You don't want to use your powers to provide light. You don't want him to see you. But you know he does. He can see right through you. You hate him for that.

People aren't supposed to see you. The harder it is to identify you and your presence, the easier it is for you to steal. This moron doesn't get it.

"I want nothing to do with you, Blood; just stay away from me."

"I can help you control your powers. All I'm asking for is your cooperation."

Your eyes narrow to mere slits. "I already have control of my powers, idiot."

"But I can teach you how to master them. I'll help you gain the power that you rightfully deserve."

You bite your lip. The offer is tempting. You've always wanted control of something more. But you shake your head. "No." You've verbalized it. Why won't he just leave?

"I'm sorry, Jinx, but I will not take 'no' for an answer!" he roars into the night.

Your eyes glow with anger as pink light surrounds your hands. "Don't call me that! Just leave me alone!" You raise your hands to attack...

...but he's not there. He was never there. Nobody is there.

You sink to your knees, your shoulders shaking with suppressed sobs. "Bastard," you whisper through clenched teeth. "I cooperated with you. Now look where it's gotten me!"

You leap into the dark as more memories surround you. You can't escape. You're trapped in your own mind. And there's no way out.

Chapter Text

"Attack formation Beta!"

Mammoth pulled his hands together in a cupping gesture that Jinx used as a launching pad, flipping a somersault in the air as he threw her. Gizmo, flying above them both, grabbed her by her feet and flew in circles around Beast Boy and Cyborg, Jinx throwing hexes at them so quickly it almost appeared like a tornado. Although she couldn't see them, she knew that Kyd Wykkyd would be distracting Starfire and Robin while Mammoth and Billy would be pulling Raven's attention. That left See-More to finish grabbing the loot from the jewelry store's back vault, slipping out through the staff entrance while one of Billy's doubles made off with bags full of the display jewels.

Jewelry heists were tedious because of the crack down on the pawnshops refusing to purchase the expensive pieces else risk their business being shut down through the periodic raids. It means that Jinx and Kyd Wykkyd would have to take a trip to some of the seedier cities, closer to Gotham. The routine was old had by now, and the stores in Jump City all paid out their nose for the kind of insurance money to put Star Labs to shame.

"Heads up," Mammoth called out a warning, and Gizmo shot up into the air and out of range of Cyborg's sonic canon, standing precariously on the back of Beast Boy's elongated giraffe neck. That wasn't the code word though, so that meant there was still a need to keep fighting. Until See-More was out of sight, there was no point in the heist - the showroom jewels Billy was grabbing couldn't even pay for their food for the next few weeks. 5 Meta Humans and a growing tech genius ate a lot of food after all; and as much as she liked the thrill of the fight, she loved the satisfaction of a plan well executed better.

"Regroup! Attack formation Gamma!"

This was a new routine, the first that relied on the full cooperation of their new teammates because it didn't pair her with her boys Mammoth or Gizmo. Instead, she grabbed hands with Kyd Wykkyd and allowed them to pull her into the netherverse, popping out of the portal that appeared below Starfire - Jinx was able to shoot her with a hex bolt and send the girl flying just as Billy gave a sharp whistle, "well don't let Uncle Billy stop y'all from yer fun, but we're gonna vamoose!"

She saw the distant pink eyeball floating off around the corner behind where the Titans stood, Starfire being pulled up by Robin, both scowling as the Hive Five fell into formation one last time.

"See you, snot grubbers!" Gizmo cackled, releasing a smoke bomb before jetting off on his pack. Billy's clones filled the spot Kyd had been in a few moments prior, taking the batarang to the chest before flickering out of existence. Kyd reached through to grab Mammoth, tugging him through, while Jinx backflipped into the nearest alley and began to run. With the diversions set, she smiled as they made their escape, hearing the distant sound of an in pursuit Robin and Beast Boy's distinct growl as he undoubtedly took the form of a cheetah.

That was the point of a good leader - let the team escape, and have a little fun with the chaos.

Chapter Text

A shocked silence had settled between the five teens. The only thing that broke that silence was the chirping crickets. Nobody knew where they were or how they had gotten into the tower.

It was Beast Boy who broke the silence. Shaking himself out of his stupor, he sputtered indignantly for a few moments. Then he let out an outraged cry; "What do you mean we have to 'cut down on the time we spend playing Game Station?! D'you know what'll happen to me if I can't play Mega Monkey Four? I'll waste away!"

Robin gave the shape-shifter a stern look. He really didn't want to deal with Beast Boy's yelling, but as team leader, he had a duty to fulfill. Thank God for the inventor of Tylonel.

"The city pays enough money as it is repairing all the damage we cause while fighting to protect it. We're really lucky that the mayor handles most of our bills. All of them, really. But he says that our electric bill is outrageous, even for us."

"...so?"

Beast Boy was scowling. Robin's head was starting to pound. Starfire looked confused. Cyborg and Raven were looking at Beast Boy with exasperated expressions.

"He's trying to say that you and Cyborg play that stupid game way too much. I think reducing the hours you play that thing is a great idea. You need all the brain cells you can get."

Before Beast Boy could protest (and yell at Raven for insulting him), Starfire asked a question that made Robin want to cry from frustration.

"Please, friends, what is the bill of...eclectrisitee?"

Cyborg sighed, gave Robin a pat on the shoulder, and began. "It's called electricity, Star. It's a form of energy that..."

Chapter Text

The bring-bring of the phone would not have been so irritating if not for the fact that every time it happened, the little icon kept forcing the game Beast Boy was playing into a pause. Given he was in the middle of a campaign with Mas, Menos and Hot Spot, none of whom were willing to revive him after the 4th interrupted play, Beast Boy was growing increasingly irritated with the calls. Particularly because he had set the phone to Do Not Disturb five times already and this call still kept coming through.

Hotshot initiated a /boot player/ that Mas, Menos, and the fifth team player - some loud kid who had just gotten the game for his birthday - were quick to approve, Hot Spot's voice coming through, "Nothing personal, but we're 7 hours in and you are notscrewing up this achievement man".

The game had kicked him back to the loading screen before he could respond, and the damn phone started to ring again.

Irritated, Beast Boy finally accepted the call, glowering at the screen when an unfamiliar man wearing a suit appeared on the screen. "Yea, what is it?" Beast Boy sulked, crossing his arms and holding the controller to his GameStation on prominent display, as if the stranger could read his mind and irritation.

The man instead cleared his throat quietly, "Good evening. I'm terribly sorry to have called so many times. Is Master Ric...rather, is Master Robin available?"

"Master Robin is out on a date," Beast Boy rolled his eyes, dropping the controller to the cushions and reaching for the notebook Raven had left on the table. She had insisted on leaving the notepad and pens there the last time Starfire had taken a call from Cyborg's aunt but failed to relay the information - and the Tower had been invaded by an extended Stone Family Reunion in retaliation. Raven had not been pleased that Cyborg's numerous cousins had been enamored with her - nor with the way Beast Boy and Cyborg had made kissy faces at her for a weak afterward when flowers kept getting delivered.

The guy on the tv was saying something about having to call back, but Beast Boy interrupted him, "oh no, you called enough times, this must be important. What's the message? Anything I can help with?"

A perfectly arched eyebrow rose slightly, and the man seemed to be judging Beast Boy, which, hey - it was game night, a half eaten pizza resting by his feet and Dorito encrusted soda cans was nothing to judge - before sighing, "indeed, it would be helpful if you could please alert Master Robin to call his mentor at his earliest convenience. It would appear that there has been a significant increase in the usage of his monthly allowance on non-essentials, and his mentor would just like to check in on him."

Beast Boy stared incredulously at the man on the screen, "you're kidding. Robin's in trouble for going on dates?"

"Not in trouble at all," though the shifting eyes towards somebody off camera and the way the man lifted a finger as if telling whomever was on the other side to pause, "we are merely checking in."

Beast Boy shook his head, scribbling "Robin - too much money on Star" on the notepad and tossing it to the side, grabbing his controller and setting his headset more comfortable on his head, "got it. Message received or whatever. Can I get back to my games now?"

"Certainly, Master Logan, apologies for the interruption."

The call disconnected before Beast Boy could splutter, "how do you know my name?!"

Chapter Text

He tugged helplessly at the shackles that bound him to the wall. They felt cold, especially against his bare skin. His torso was exposed to the world, glistening with water that flowed down steadily. A shiver ran up and down his spine as a chuckle invaded his senses.

He turned his head about, eyes searching through the shadows. He knew that the other boy was in there with him, somewhere. Laughing at his expense, thinking god knows what. Who knew what could happen to Aqualad now that he was his prisoner.

"You and your freaky kinks," the Atlantean muttered. His head was pounding from where his lover had knocked him out. Other than the pain and the small bump, there was no evidence that Aqualad hadn't particularly agreed to this.

A voice, smooth as silk and a little deeper than usual, sounded by his ear. "Oh come on, you know you like it."

Aqualad glared defiantly at his boyfriend. "This isn't really my idea of a good time, Speedy. These chains are cold, even more so because I was swimming before you locked me up here!"

Speedy rolled his eyes, his mask gone for the moment. "Hush now, my prisoner. You wouldn't want to upset your master," he nipped at Aqualad's neck non-too-gently, "would you?"

Aqualad said nothing more. 'Idiot,' he thought to himself, inwardly smirking.

Chapter Text

Cyborg grit his teeth and pushed at the prison's falling walls, straining his overloaded muscles as hard as he could. He had to keep the wall up; these guys may have been trying to break out of jail, but not even low life thieves deserved to be crushed under falling concrete. All around him he could hear his fellow Titans immersed in their fight with Cinderblock, a simple enough combatant - provided they weren't around civilians.

"Where's Cyborg? We could really use his help right now!" Robin's voice echoed down the hall. Cyborg tried to shift the weight onto right hand to prep his canon arm, hoping to blast the majority of the wall into smaller pieces less likely to hurt a civilian, but a glance behind him and he knew that wouldn't work. There was an unconscious inmate being tugged back into the corner of the cell by his cell mate, and a scared out of his mind kid who barely looked twenty had been trying to squeeze his way between the bars that had been bent open - but not far enough, and now the guy was stuck. If Cyborg wasn't careful, the debris would probably crush the guy's leg.

"I could use some help this way!" Cyborg called back, not sure if the team would hear him over the noise of the inmates using the distraction as an opportunity to run, of the sirens blaring as guards flooded the halls near the primary exists, and while Cinderblock's familiar growls broke through what sounded like another broken wall.

Cyborg braced his feet wider, pulling the memories of Victor more prominently forward, trying to tap into the muscle memory of pushing back a rushing quarterback when he had briefly played that position on the team, before the accident, before half of his muscles were replaced by cybernetics, before he became primarily machine, when he was still human.

But being part machine wasn't the worst thing, Cyborg reminded himself as his fingers were able to push not against the concrete of the wall but into it, grabbing a firm grip and pushing back, back, shoving the wall away from the much more vulnerable human bodies and into a pile of debris where Cinderblock had crashed through the wall earlier, where everyone had scattered away from in their bid for freedom.

"BOOYAH!" he shouted, even as his arms shook with tremors of adrenaline and exhaustion. "Score one for the Cyman!"

He looked back and confirmed that the inmates he had been trying to protect were uninjured; the two in the corner taking refuge against an upended bunkbed, the unconscious inmate braced on his side and hovered over by the cellmate, who spared Cyborg a moment to give him a thumb's up. The one with his leg caught in the bars he had been wriggling through had seemed to get himself even more stuck, so satisfied that they wouldn't be making a break for it, Cyborg rushed off following the sounds of Starfire's battle cries.

Chapter Text

Jinx took a quick glance around her apartment room. It was simple, and it was small. A far cry from the luxurious home that she had always dreamed of having. Nothing like the mansion she was so convinced that she deserved. But the rent was reasonable, the view was okay, and the landlord very lenient. But there was something missing that she never thought she would have missed.

'Gizmo and Mammoth really grew on me,' she sighed mentally. It was true, no matter how much the two had annoyed her, they were her team. Her friends, really. And when Brother Blood's school had still been up and running, they were the envy of the entire student body. Excluding Bumble Bee and Stone--no, not Stone, Cyborg. That filthy, lying Titan, Cyborg.

Never mind him though, he's not worth thinking about. Even if he was really nice, and strong, and funny too. Even if she had been interested in him, that was all in the past. The painful, deceitful past. Hell, what had that boy done to her.

Jinx slid down to the floor, where she sat in the patch of light her little window provided. It was noon, the sun was shining brightly, and the birds were fluttering around outside of her window. It didn't match her mood in the slightest. Everything was wrong. The school was supposed to be her home, if not forever, then at least until she could find her own home. One where Gizmo and Mammoth could have stayed with her. She didn't really like being alone, not all the time at least.

But the apartment was too small. Gizmo and Mammoth, had managed to get one to share between themselves. It wasn't as good as Jinx's though, and theirs could never fit her in it with them. Not enough closet space, and only two small bedrooms. That's what she kept telling herself, even when Gizmo had proved that he did have a heart, and asked her if she didn't just want to bunk with them. If she was sure she didn't want to just hang with them until they had enough to get a room, or even a house, where the three of them could fit comfortably.

The truth of the matter was that she had wanted to. She had wanted to stay with those two, even the rest of the student body. She wanted to keep living with them, no matter how annoying they got at times. She could make sacrifices, she never really had the great of a wardrobe anyway. She was surprised she had even managed to nag this little room without having to steal so much money. Small favors were to be praised, she guessed. She'd really have to pay a visit to her mom's grave sooner or later.

But she couldn't have bugged them. The two seemed almost happy with their apartment, with no Jinx around to boss them around. But what Jinx wouldn't give to be back at the school. Nobody had ever offered them a giant tower with high-tech equipment and enough rooms to house the entire student body and more. But the school had been close enough to the tower, in a sense, it was their tower. Blood offered the not-quite second best. And truthfully, she had been happiest there. Not on her own. With her dorm room and her roommates, and the odd-smelling food and stealing for money. Even knowing that her skills were being manipulated for someone else's purpose didn't bother her. Not being with the others did.

Shaking her head and pushing herself back up, she started unpacking once again. The truth was, it didn't matter what she wanted. She never got what she wanted anyway.

Chapter Text

"Friends, what if we were to play the game A Lie and Truths?"

"Err, you mean Two Truths and a Lie?" Karen asked Koriand'r, popping open the tab to another soft drink. "It's that kind of cliche? Next you'll be wanting to play Seven Minutes in Heaven!"

"Please, what is Seven Minutes in Heaven?"

Karen blinked, putting her soft drink down and ignoring the way Roy was choking on the handful of chips he had taken behind her. Dick was smack the back of the other boy's back helpfully, and Rachel was pushing a bottle of water towards him.

"Huh. You know, Star, I'm sorry, you fit in so well with the teams that sometimes I forget that you're not from around here," Karen shrugged, "so these games really are all new to you, huh?"

Victor snickered, "you should have seen her at Raven's birthday. The Beastboy-nata almost went out the window!"

"Hey," Garfield objected on behalf of his long lost likeness, "the fact that it didn't break even then is the best part! Clearly it was channeling my indestructability!"

Mas caught Menos' eye and Karen, used to their antics, pulled the chip dip out of range as they rushed at Beast Boy to push him off the chair, and he grabbled at everything within reach to steady himself. He caught Garth's arm and tugged him down into the mess, both boys crashing to the ground with an undignified yelp.

Koriand'r giggled, "Indestructible for sure, friend Beast Boy!"

Roy grabbed Garth by the elbow and gave him a tug up, cheerfully ignoring the protesting Garfield, to pull Garth onto the stool next to himself and well out of range of another prank from the twins. "Seriously though Red, you wanna play that kid's game?"

"It is featured in many coming of age stories at parties such as those we partake in," Koriand'r smiled, gesturing to the assembled Titans East and West. "From what I have gathered it is a bonding exercise to cement friendships and to commence in the teasing of those who are incapable of lying!"

"It's safer than Truth or Dare," Rachel muttered, popping a piece of caramel popcorn into her mouth, "or worse - Spin the Bottle."

Dick was trying to stealthily shake his hands in some sort of warning, which Karen didn't quite understand until Kori had beamed, "Oh, I am familiar with that one! Robin was forced to patrol in his civvies!"

Victor laughed, Garfield leaning up against him as they recalled the incident. Karen didn't get what the big deal was - sometimes they were out without their uniforms, and each of the East team members had been gifted the familiar domino masks to help hide their civilian identities in case of emergency. But Raven's shaking shoulders and Robin's dejected frame had her looking to the other Titan with a question - it was Victor who spoke up.

"You mean skivvies, Star."

Roy burst into hysterical laughter, banging his fist against the table, "oh, tell me you got it on video!"

Chapter Text

People are the strangest creatures to ever come to existence. They act strong and mighty when banded together--after all, strength comes in numbers. But when you pick them off one by one, leaving only themselves to fight, it's almost funny how quickly they fall. Sometimes you can find yourself opposed to someone stronger--but then, these people aren't really _people_, are they? They're extraordinary specimens, students, apprentices even.

The human race is very delicate. You don't even have to be human, really. If you've made your home on Earth, than you are a very delicate person, individual, monster. You can find yourself being the strongest person to exist, you can be a mutant or a demon. But all it takes is something as simple as a cold, and you're down and out. One less person to worry about in my perfect world.

Teenagers especially. They're so easily corrupt, despite how strong they'll make themselves to be. The Teen Titans provide rays of hope for all they come across, role-models, they're everything to Jump City's inhabitants. Steel City too, if the Titans East mean anything to them. It doesn't really matter to me, though--Jump City is my initial target.

It's not my fault they've made themselves so vulnerable. Hiding behind the protection of five teenagers, who run around in costumes and make a mess of the city. Yet, they're heroes. These same heroes have proven over and over again what I speculate so much. The city is weak. The Titans are weak. Even I am weak. The difference is, I know that, but I can still beat them. I can still beat, manipulate, and control even the very heroes of the city. Robin, Terra, and of course Raven--strongest in will and power, most delicate minds of all. Especially dear Raven.

I tire of playing with them from time to time. I tired of Robin's little game of cat-and-mouse. I grew very tired of Terra's betrayal, her fleeting moments of sympathy. And I grew tired of Raven's reluctance to allow me to deliver my message. I always get what I want in the end. Robin has yet to catch me. Terra remains bound in stone while I-- well, more or less--continue to live. And Raven; I delivered my message, and she will complete the prophecy.

Of course, it was Terra in the long run, who proved to me that I was just as delicate, if not more than, everybody else. Maybe not so easily destroyed, but still not invincible. I don't have the blood of a demon in my veins, and I don't have control over something as great as rocks, boulders, in a sense the very earth. But what I do have is so much more.

A pity. Because the more you have, the more it tumbles down when the curtains fall.

Chapter Text

Pause. Rewind. Play.

"Who is Slade?"

Pause. Rewind. Play.

"Who is Slade?"

Slade Wilson pulled the extra monitors up, watching as Robin's face was duplicated across the multiple terminals, until the question was echoing all around him, "Who is Slade? Who is Slade? Who is Slade?"

Slade crossed his arms behind his back, taking in the narrowed eyes of his newest target, the way he clenched his teeth as he finished the question, how his fist curled into the front of the shirt. Slade assessed the boy's stance, playing with the video feeds to pull up the fight he had recorded through the Hive agents. Robin's mannerisms were almost perfect. With a little more training, he would be the definition of a soldier. Joey may no longer speak with him, Rose may try to kill him on sight, but this boy, this boy had potential all his own.

"Let the fun begin, Robin," Slade spoke out loud, zooming out to show the numerous surveillance footage he had hacked into, city cameras showing Robin speeding through on his bike, security catching the flick of his wrist as he threw his freezing gadgets, slipped into the shadows to hop into the rafters with a soft, almost imperceptible cackle. "It won't be long now."

It was a truly delicate game, trying to avoid the Batman's attention while snaring the Boy Wonder into his net. But Slade was up to the task. His own children may not have been up to the task, but he had been watching this boy. He would make the perfect apprentice.

Chapter Text

There was something very odd about the Titans Tower. Usually, at this time of night, the lights would still be on. The tower would stand as a beacon of hope and high-electricity bills, illuminating the lake in which is stood. But not tonight. There could not be a single light seen through any of the various, and rather large, windows. Which could mean only one thing.

The titans were missing. Gone on one mission or another, leaving Jump City alone and vulnerable. It wasn't the first time.

The first time that this had happened, the team was still learning more about each other. Bonding, if you would. They had been gone all night--nothing had happened that first night. None of the crooks were willing to risk their freedom at the time. The titans were new, but they were feared by a lot of the petty criminals. The headlines that next day, when the Titans had returned, said where they had gone. Deep underwater, to find the person who was wrecking all the ships coming to or leaving Jump Harbor.

The second time, people witnessed a great ship blasting off into space. Nobody took the chance for granted this time. The HIVE members, Jinx, Mammoth and Gizmo, had helped themselves to heaps of technology and jewels. The police force couldn't handle things like magic, super-strength and highly intelligent mechanisms. Only the titans could have stopped them. But the Titans Tower was empty, the Titans themselves fighting for Starfire's safe return.

They disappeared under the ocean again, flew off into the vast space, and once even flew in the direction of Steel City. Leaving the police to handle things that only the five of them would have been able to. Nothing against Jump City Police Force, but they simply became sort of dependent upon the Teen Titans. They caught the bad-guys, and then police would step in. They did their job, sure, but not as well as they should have.

The Titans didn't leave the tower too often. But when they did, it was with no warning. All anyone knew was that when the tower was dark, crime would increase. There were a lot of criminals who wouldn't take this chance, but just as much would. The ones without faces, the ones who didn't like making a big show of things. People like Control Freak, the HIVE, Slade's various minions, Mumbo, and Dr. Light on the other hand, were usually at bay during these times. They wanted to fight the Titans, it made it more fun. It was easy to break out of Jail for them anyway.

All while the Titans were away, when the heroes were missing and no trail was left behind. That was when they were needed. When they weren't there, bad things happened. It was kind of funny that when they were there, even worse things happened though. The citizens of Jump City didn't know this. The Titans didn't notice this.

The "villains" of this story did though. They laughed about it all the time--in prison, in the streets, underground, anywhere. They laughed all the time, because of the irony of it all. The titans didn't seem to understand what was so funny; it wasn't maniacal laughter, it was outright mirth. Then again, maybe it was better the Titans didn't know that. Then it would be less funny.

Chapter Text

The first time that Garth slipped back to Atlantis, the Titans East was ashamed to admit they hadn't even noticed he was missing.

They were new as a team, still scouting the best spot to start building the tower, not sure if Steel City was the space to call home. Bumblebee didn't know the first thing about Aqualad beside his powers, and Speedy was no help with getting closer to the other boy, constantly teasing him about some sort of fight that he had supposedly one when they had first met. Mas and Menos had tugged at Bumblebee's arm asking after Aqualad exactly once, and Bumblebee had only shrugged, gesturing vaguely towards the bay thinking he had vanished into the beach. Garth had shown up after being absent for about five days and Bumblebee had barely given him a glance, intent as she was to get ahold of Cyborg and beg for his help in getting the security system for the tower online.

The second time that Garth vanished back into Atlantis, he had gotten some sort of mysterious call that had him hunched over the phone, head down low and video feed held close to his face, so nobody could hear. Not that it stopped Roy from trying, but the quick bubble of water that rose up around him when Roy tried to sneak closer was indicator enough that whatever was bothering Garth, it was private. He had sighed, asked her not as Bumblebee his team leader but as Karen his friend, if the team would be okay if he was absent for a month. She had wanted to know why, and he had resolutely declared it to be a family issue, refusing to budge or provide more information (no matter how much Roy pestered him for details). Karen had given the permission, Herald swinging by to help out on the occasional mission in Aqualad's absence.

When he came back, there were two scars over left eye, but he had brought presents for the team and they had not pushed too hard. Mas had pushed Roy over to stand on his shoulders and inspect the wound once, but Garth had gently pushed his inquisitive hands away. Menos caught her eye with a worried look, but he seemed okay, so how could they push?

Now, with Roy having grown tired of banging on Garth's door for the past half hour and opting to shove an electric arrow directly into the control panel for the door (short circuiting the whole floor, dammit), and revealing an immaculately preserved but none the less empty room, the whole team was frantically trying to trace his last known whereabouts. They realized quickly that the communicator they were tracing would be of no use, as Garth had left it at the shore of Steel City Bay, in a long-term storage locker.

The frustrating thing about it was that Aqualad wasn't missing - he had left a note. That he didn't know when he was coming back. That we was sorry. That he would miss them.

Karen thought about just letting it go, respecting his wishes, but she thought of his dejected stance, the way Roy had absolutely wailed on a common bank robber in frustration, how Mas and Menos were quiet and often bringing home souvenirs from impromptu trips to beaches across the world, and made up her mind. She called up the Titans West and demanded they patch he through to the League. They were going to find Atlantis, and they were going to bring back their missing teammate.

Chapter Text

Parties were pointless. The music was always too loud, the floor always too crowded. The lights always flashed into her eyes, and no matter how isolated she was, there was always somebody who brushed against her. And of course, no matter how often she told people that; no, she didn't want to dance; and that yes, she was sure--there was always at least one moron who would come up and ask her. In the case of one particular idiot, several times, during the same song. And it always seemed that he had no idea he had asked her mere moments before.

She really wasn't sure why she was here. It probably had something to do with everyone piling into the T-Car and showing up at some club. Their status had them ushered in immediately. If she found out which one of her teammates had suggested this, she would kill them. Slowly, painfully, and without a doubt, secretly.

She didn't like parties. Not her thing at all to say the least. Giddy girls and egotistic boys, and the DJ was always playing the most ignorant music. Not to mention the clothes that these people wore--it was hard to tell where some of the shirts and skirts started and where the skin ended. Pants were practically painted on to girls, shirts were ruffled and un-buttoned on boys, and the air was filled with the rank odor of way too many colognes, perfumes and hair sprays.

It was enough to give her a headache that promised not to relieve itself until she had a cup of hot tea and a good book. Speaking of which, when were they leaving? And why didn't she just leave herself? Oh yeah, she'd have to tell at least one of the others that she was leaving. Problem? They were all dancing, if waving ones arms about and moving feet randomly qualified as such. Which, since everyone else was doing more or less the same thing (not to mention simply bouncing up and down; that person obviously lacked a brain), was obviously considered so. She did not want to go on that floor and be crushed by hundreds of idiots who couldn't control their limbs. No, she would much rather be among her fellow wall-flowers. Okay, she would actually rather be at the tower, but still.

She couldn't contact them with her mind. The music combined with the exhilaration of their so-called fun made sure of that. It was too hard to get them to hear her without causing them excruciating amounts of pain. That could wait until she found out whose idea it was in the first place. No need to punish the others for a crime they didn't commit. But the idea grew more and more tempting with each passing moment, and each passing idiot.

'This is ridiculous,' she thought to herself as she pushed herself away from the wall. A few hopeful glances from other wall-flowers (did she want to dance? was it all finally over? could they leave now?) were shot down as she strode over to a boy, short and green, tugged him away from his dancing partner and said two words: "I'm leaving".

Beast Boy looked at Raven in surprise for a moment before it was replaced with a look of disappointment. "Come on Rae, you can't leave until you've danced to at least one song!"

"No, Beast Boy, I can leave without dancing, and I will. Tell the others I went home." She turned to walk out and fly back to the tower, but she had a problem. Beast Boy was tugging her onto the floor; he seemed to have not heard what she just said.

"Don't worry Rae, I'll make sure nobody bugs ya' out here; it's just you and me!"

And as he suddenly hugged her for such a brief moment she thought she'd imagined it, she thought two things. One, 'I should have told Cyborg, he would have just let me go.' Two, 'But maybe dances aren't that bad.'

Chapter Text

The clatter of a lunch tray joining his own was not unexpected, but the fact that it was not immediately joined by two others was.

Cyborg looked up, holoring catching the light and glinting slightly with the forkful of mashed mystery meat to his mouth. Across from him, sitting under the flickering overhead lights, Jinx rested her chin on a fist and leaned closer to him.

"So, Stone, I've been thinking," she smiled at him, and he couldn't help the hearty thump in his chest. Fighting with the hex mistress was all business all the time, but getting to know her at the academy was something new entirely. She smelled faintly of a cotton candy perfume that Cyborg would have never pegged her for, though it was applied so subtly most people might not have noticed it. She chuckled when she was amused, a deep belly laugh that left her gasping and leaning forward when somebody tripped up during training, and glared hard enough to have even the giant Mammoth hiding behind the nearest person when somebody dare laugh at her. There was something so undeniably powerful about her presence, she demanded your attention and she wasn't afraid of it.

"I think you should ask me to the Sadie Hawkins dance."

Cyborg dropped his fork.

"Uhh," he stuttered, very aware of how unattractive he must look gaping stupidly at her but thoroughly thrown for a loop by the statement. "Um, isn't...isn't the point of the Sadie Hawkins that the girl ask the boy?"

Jinx waved a hand dismissively, "Angel gabbed my ear off for an hour about how cisnormative the whole structure was last year. I decided it wasn't worth another rant this year. But that's not an answer." She glared slightly, and if Cyborg wasn't paying attention, he might have missed the light flush of nerves that that was just visibly under her blush, "if you aren't interested, just say so. I have others I could ask."

Cyborg waved his hands frantically, "No, no, no need to ask anyone else. I was just...surprised, is all. Why would you want me to ask you?"

Jinx looked at him like was an idiot, "you're kidding, right? I didn't peg you for a compliment fisher. Maybe I really should ask someone else."

Cyborg dropped his face into one of his hands, sighing in exasperation not with Jinx but with himself. "I'm screwing this up, aren't I?"

Across from him, Jinx was quiet safe for a soft shuffling of her feet on the tiled cafeteria floor. Cyborg knew this was going to be the talk of the academy, that the quiet around them was too good to be true, and was willing to bet that at least one student had some sort of eavesdropping method on them. But that didn't stop him from taking in the way that Jinx was looking not quite at him, how she was projecting that intoxicating confidence but was still clutching her drink just a bit too tightly, and if Cyborg hadn't been taken in by wit, sharp tongue or strangely team-oriented battle tactics, the nerve and vulnerability would have won him over in a heartbeat.

"Jinx," he cleared his throat, "would you do me the honour of attending the Sadie Hawkins dance as my date?"

Jinx let him sweat for a moment, despite it being her idea, before smiling, "I thought you'd never ask".

Chapter Text

For all the ordinary people in the ordinary place that was Steel City, it was just an ordinary day on an ordinary planet. Only, it wasn't an ordinary planet, was it? And no person is ordinary, because everyone is different, and there really is no "ordinary" in existence. Even if there was such a thing as "ordinary", Steel City was not such a place.

Ordinary cities have the protection of the police force. They don't need a band of super-powered teenagers to protect them. That's far from ordinary, isn't it? Titans East was anything but the norm.

They were lead by a girl who could shrink down to the size of a bee. So well suited, her alias was Bumble Bee--she was a kind girl if you knew her, but she led her team with an iron fist. Her costume suited her name, and she was a practical woman. She kept her hair up in a pair of buns so it would be out of the way. Or maybe because she thought it looked cool. The citizens of Steel didn't care that much, really, but it did cross the minds of some of them. Mind you, these people don't matter much in Bumble Bee's life, so it doesn't matter at all.

There were these two members of the team that really attracted some weird looks. Maybe it was because they couldn't communicate properly with the rest of the team, for they spoke not a word of English. Spanish was all that ever came out of their mouths, you always felt like you were at the butt of a joke because of that. Which, in all fairness, you probably were. They ran like the wind of a hurricane, and were rarely quiet if they could help it. Mas and Menos were a handful the city wasn't sure how to hold.

Then there was the looker of their band of heroes. Coming from the depths of the oceans and speaking of a place everyone knew didn't exist, Aqualad was usually seen near water. Talking to the fish at the beach, being followed by a horde of giggly girls. There was one incident when he was at the aquarium and started yelling at the trainers. Something about being cruel to the whales and such. They people of Steel City recalled that moment with a snicker or an assertive nod of respect. Most of them thought the boy was crazy, but good looking enough not to put him away. Poor Aqualad was not normal, not at all.

The most normal of this team had to be the boy who wore the mask. And carried around a bow and arrow everywhere. And a comb and a mirror. He was a very normal, very vain, and very good looking teenager. He had tried out the new target range the park had provided and walked away without so much as a backward glance at the assembled crowd. You'd be shocked too if you were going to try archery for the first time and found some guy in a red suit that showed off his body shooting five arrows at a time. Arrows that blew the targets up. Speedy, though very strange, was the most normal; not saying much though.

Okay, so it took a while for the Titans East to grow on Steel City's people. They're still trying. They're not ordinary, not in the slightest. But then, if they were, why would they be heroes?

Chapter Text

Beast Boy was morosely throwing stones onto the water, watching them skip into the distance, when Raven found him.

"How did I know you'd be down here?"

Beast Boy barely spared her a glance, content to stare at the ripples his skipping rocks left on the water. The soft crash of the tide wasn't loud enough to say that he hadn't heard her, and she knew it, but instead of calling him on it, she just quietly joined him in sitting and staring out at the water.

"Do you wanna talk about it?"

Beast Boy ducked his head slightly, knowing that this was a rare opportunity. But he just couldn't bring himself to speak. His chest felt like there was a weight in it, the slight tremors to hands hidden by the way he carefully tossed aside unsuitable rocks. Raven didn't make another noise, nor did she join him in the rock skipping tactics. Beast Boy was glad for this; he wasn't sure how he would react to anyone other than Terra...

Terra...

Beast Boy took in a large gulp of a shaky breath, Raven beside him offering nothing but companionship. She did not try to touch him. She did not try to coach him through the wave. She simply sat with him and trusted he knew how to take care of himself.

Beast Boy threw the next rock not in an an attempt to skip it, but just to see how far it would go, for the satisfaction of watching it plop and splash and disappear into the water below.

"You could," he forced out through a tongue that felt too heavy for words, "wait for me up at the tower you know?"

Raven hummed softly, neither looking at the other. She did not try to move closer, did not try to coax him into saying anything more. She just allowed him to feel the sorrow, the anger.

The betrayal. The hurt. The longing.

He slid down from the boulder he had been sitting on, curling in on himself as he held his legs close. If he had been inside, he would have taken the form of a dog, would have allowed himself to slip into the emotion, the sadness, without having to cry. But he was tired of hiding the feelings inside.

"Sometimes I think, what if we were just...ordinary. Would we have had a shot then?"

Raven seemed to be considering a response, and she finally spoke, "I think...she would have found you in any world. Powers or not."

Beast Boy knew she wasn't trying to hurt him, knew that this ache was not her fault at all, but this simple thought was all he needed to hear for the dam to break. He let the hot tears stream down his cheeks and drip to the stones below. Raven simply sat with him in support.

Chapter Text

Small beads of rain slowly began their descent to Earth's floor as a moist wind pushed its way through heads of hair and bunches of leaves. Pale gray clouds that promised nothing more than a light drizzle stared down at those who dared to see them. Very few who were outside did so. They were quickening their steps in an attempt to get home or near shelter, just in case this light drizzle decided to torture them by turning into a downpour.

Not her though. She was walking much faster than anybody else. Nobody really noticed that she was running. After all, she was a teenager, they were always rushing to one place or another. They didn't even seem to notice the way she would look behind her shoulder every once in a while, when she was starting to slow down. She would take great heaving breaths, take one look back, and force herself off again. Nobody seemed to notice the terror in her eyes, or the way tears slowly pushed themselves down her cheeks. After all, it was raining now. Not enough to leave puddles, but enough to dampen skin and clothes with enough time.

But what nobody noticed was that the rain wasn't touching her. It was falling everywhere, on everyone and on everything, except for her. And she kept on running, once or twice opening her mouth. But she closed it right away with a wince of pain; nobody saw the dark ring from under her collar. Nobody could see her dark brown hair as it whipped behind her, before she grabbed it and shoved it into her shirt. Nobody noticed the loud clunks of her boots against slick pavement. It was a wonder she hadn't tripped yet. Nobody noticed anything about her. It was almost as if she didn't exist.

Hazel eyes shining with tears, footsteps echoing in her own ears. Footsteps that weren't really hers. She tried calling for help once again. Nothing came out, and she touched her neck hesitantly. It hurt, but she couldn't really feel it. Must have been the shock of it all.

----

Beast Boy stood with his head down, body turned away from the sight of the girl on the ground. How could nobody have seen her? She'd been missing for weeks! Her face had been plastered over every news station in the region, staring out from posters that read "Have you seen this girl?" at every corner!

Raven acted where nobody else could. Though she knew it was fruitless, she checked the girl's pulse. Dull hazel eyes stared up at her as she did so, and when she was done, she closed them off from sight. Tangled brown hair rested in clumps on the ground all around her shoulders. Starfire stared at the girl with eyes covered in tears, Robin trying his best to keep the team from ripping things out of the ground. Cyborg's grip on the man who'd done it to her, who'd they'd caught trying to nab another victim...it was disgusting. His strong hands held the middle-aged-man's wrists in a vice-like grip. He snarled his appreciation when Beast Boy spoke.

"You kidnapping freaks disgust me."

Chapter Text

Kyd Wykkyd looked around at the shaking establishment almost in a daze. They felt like someone had phased an arm through their head, and they brought a hand to their temple, pushing slightly in an attempt to relieve the pain. The shaking around them increased, and in the distance, there was a series of thumps. They squeezed their eyes shut and gave their head a quick shake, opening their eyes when they heard their name.

"Wykkyd!"

Her voice was thick with repressed emotion, and Wykkyd could see tears thick in Angel's eyes. Wordlessly, Wykkyd extended their arms and pulled Angel close to them.

"Where are we, Wykkyd?" Angel breathed, muffled against their chest, as the walls began to shake around them. All around them, people they knew but couldn't remember meeting were running, shouting, and the ceiling was creaking ominously above them.

"Let's get out of here, Wykkyd!"

They nodded, grabbing onto Angel's hand to make sure they didn't lose her as they brought a cloak of shadows around them, pulling Angel through the netherverse and away from the danger.

They tugged her arm through the exit portal, knowing Angel had never been a huge fan of this method of travel. The pulsing in their head increased, and Kyd Wykkyd stumbled backwards against the brick of the alley they had appeared in, clutching at their head. Angel was groaning beside them, pressing her hands against her own ears as if that could block out the internal assault of images.

They had been playing around on the streets of Central City at night, chasing after one another. Angel's wings had developed barely a week ago, and they wanted to ensure she was giving them the exercise such beautiful appendages deserved. Kyd had been hopping through portals higher and higher, above neon signs and onto fire escapes, trusting in their own powers and in Angel's instincts to catch them if they stumbled. They had been laughing. They had been free.

Then a man's voice had interrupted them, "I see this city has something worthwhile after all."

And the man had stepped into their path, eyes glowing red, pulling them under his thrall before either knew what was happening.

Kyd grit their teeth and slid to the ground where Angel had slipped as well, both breathing heavily with realization. Kyd looked around, squinting into the dark to see the unfamiliar entrance at the end of the alley to a park, "mp...ion" the only parts of the sign they could see.

"He kidnapped us, Wykkyd," Angel was whispering, shaking not in terror but in barely suppressed rage. "We were barely 12, Wykkyd, that's just...we were kids, Wykkyd!"

Kyd Wykkyd took a deep, bracing breath and pushed up into a standing position. They couldn't have a breakdown in an alley in an unfamiliar city. They couldn't make sense of the flashes manifesting in their brain like this. Tugging on Angel's arm to pull her into movement, Wykkyd pulled her along with them to find a coffee shop. They had a lot of work to do.

Chapter Text

The twinkling twilight sky looked down at the tower on the bay of Steel City with a radiant grin. Well, if it had had a mouth it would have. As it were, the stars simply looked down from their places in space, forcing their gentle light through layers of purple and blue and pink. Steel City itself was, like the tower, as quiet as it could be. Cars were making their way to and from work, men and women alike yawning behind the wheels. Once rowdy teenagers walked tiredly down the sidewalks back to their homes or bus stops, intent on another fine summer's day of sleep and fun. The tranquil tides came in and out at the beach, splashing against the shore with a gentle sort of ferocity.

The beach was not crowded like it had been hours before. There were not countless couples and partying groups gathered around beach towels and coolers. There were no volley-ball nets and shovels and pails covering every few feet of sand. There were no shrieking girls being carried into the ocean by their boyfriends, while their friends laughed and giggled with glee. There were no toddlers running around with squirt guns or whining for ice-cream.

There were just two boys enjoying the silence, being watched over from the giant expanse of windows their home provided. A younger pair of boys, twins, watched from the living room as one of the boys below stopped in his tracks to look calmly out at the water. They couldn't make out his expression but they knew he would be smiling, as he did every morning. The other boy was a little ways off, throwing a pebble up into the air and catching it as it came down. They couldn't see his face, but they knew he would have a more serious expression there.

The training room also has a large window, not as big as the living room, but still so. This view was a little closer up and provided a different angle. Not only on the boy's physical stances, but their emotional standpoints as well. The only girl in the tower could see things that none of the others could. She could see the way the tension fled from the longer-haired one. She could see the way his head tilted just that little bit, and she could easily imagine his eyes half-lidded as he smiled blissfully out at the ocean. She saw the way the other, masked in more ways than one, always cast anything-but-subtle-to-her glances at him. She could easily see him walking over and wrapping his arms around the other's shoulders. She could see so much for them, but they saw so little.

On the beach -- the almost empty beach where early morning joggers, with their dogs and their partners would come soon; where there were no rowdy teens, whining kids and sun-seeking adults, for the time being -- two boys watched the sunrise. They watched it in an unmatched serenity, their spirits calming before their days training would begin. It was a miracle that none of the other three in the tower saw what happened on their way back in. When they would join hands and just kind of smile at one another. When what the others saw became a reality

Chapter Text

Lian was a miracle.

The first time the team had met her, Roy had been anxious and cranky and so clearly ready for a fight that thinking back on it now, it makes Garth's heart hurt. Knowing that Green Arrow had been so callous with his dismissal, the rejection stinging with Roy for years, and knowing how strongly Roy felt every little thing, it was no wonder he was so scared of how the team would react knowing he had a daughter.

With Cheshire of all people.

Garth knew, in an abstract way, that Roy had encountered Cheshire more than a few times on his own. The first meeting in the fight against the Brotherhood of Evil, the day they had ambushed all the Titans around the world. Roy explains, after Lian is put to bed, that he grew closer with Cheshire when he had gone undercover when the Titans East had temporarily disbanded. Karen was focusing on a University degree, Garth was called back to Atlantis for extensive negotiations, the twins loudly protesting that they would under no circumstances take orders from the hot headed older brother figure Roy had become to them. Herald and Jericho had teamed up with Mas and Menos in a travelling Titans team of some sort, and Roy was left to work on his own. He didn't like talking about it too much, not with Garth and the others, though he would disappear into his room from time to time with a cell phone, speaking to someone named Hal or Dinah.

He might never had told the story to the team at all, might not have let them into this part of his life, if Cheshire hadn't appeared at the tower, bruised and battered, sticking around only long enough to shove the little girl into Roy's arms and demand, "keep her safe. I'll be back."

Menos had taken the diaper bag, Karen had demanded to hold her, and Garth stood by Roy's side and watched as Mas enacted some dramatic play with Lian's toys, to the toddler's delight.

"She saved me," Roy spoke quietly, still prickly with expressing his true emotions, "from...she's what keeps me from falling back into it."

Garth has lost count of how many times he has thanked the stars for Lian Harper.

Chapter Text

We're all gone. Every last one of us. No more Teen Titans, no more Titans East, no more Young Justice, and no more Justice League. We're all gone. We're here, but we aren't. There's none of us left. Good guys, I mean.

I don't know what happened to the others. All I know is what happened to us. The Teen Titans. We were all that I truly cared about. We were all that I needed in the world. We were the good guys. We were the protectors, not only of the City, but of each other.

Robin protected all of us. Even if he couldn't, even though we could take care of ourselves, he wouldn't hear of it. If there was a way in which he could help, he would. He had faith in all of us, but he was still protective. Who wouldn't be. I know I was. But there was nothing I could do for them. For us.

Starfire protected all of us. She didn't know that she was half the time, but she was keeping us pure. She was shielding us from the world in such a way that we saw everything. She helped us grow. She kept us truly alive. That's more than I've ever done for the team, for myself even. She did it for us without question though.

Cyborg protected all of us. Not only with tower security and being able to control Beast Boy's more insane ideas. He protected us by avenging us. He knew when to stand down and let us fight for ourselves, but if he thought we needed help, he was there. He saved me, he protected me, he guided me. He did it for everyone else to. He did it for all of us.

Beast Boy protected all of us. Nobody got to tell him though. Nobody was able to tell him that it was his insanity, his jokes, his idiocy, which drove us up the walls, that kept the rest of us sane. He joked and he played, he truly lived. He lived despite ridicule and abandonment. He, who some called inhuman, was the most human. But nobody was able to tell him. Nobody could tell him that he inspired us.

What of me? Raven. What did I ever do for the team? I did my best. It wasn't good enough though, in the end. I don't know what I provided for the team. What I was to the team. A girlfriend, a tactician, a bookworm, a freak, a saint, a demon. I've been called those before, but by others, not by them. Not by my team, my friends, my family. What was I to them? I couldn't tell you.

But they tell me all the time. They whisper things from the past into my ears. Into my very mind. Constantly cooing into my ears, whispering sweet nothings from better days. From when we were all together. From when Starfire asked me about Robin and earth-girl-feelings. From when Cyborg asked me to help him with the T-Car. From when Robin asked me to never give up on the team. From when Beast Boy...from when Beast Boy...

Beast Boy hasn't stopped whispering to me. Always telling me jokes, the same ones over and over again. I know each one by heart. None of them have stopped talking, but Beast Boy continues to be loudest. Only Cyborg rivals him. They whisper, and I whisper, and everyone else stares.

We're all gone. Every last one of us. No more Teen Titans. No more good guys. No more. No more, no more, no more...

Chapter Text

The study hall was silent when he walked in for the first time after the accident.

Viktor kept his sweatshirt on with its hood up, not sparing his former classmates a glance as he strode up to the teacher's desk. She blinked at him in surprise, and he knew what she was thinking. He couldn't possibly be standing in front of her, he was supposed to be a vegetable, he was withdrawn from the school over a month ago and had no business being back in study hall. Viktor had died in that accident. But still she smiled at him, a familiar strained gesture that never looked quite right on Miss Menthon's face, and stood to greet him.

"Can we talk outside?" he muttered, his voice one of the only things that miraculously hadn't changed. It was quiet, but it was all the confirmation the kids from the front row needed. They didn't bother to muffle their whispers as Miss Menthon nodded and they slipped into the hall.

-

"I wish you had let me do that," his father spoke to him over dinner. Viktor pushed his food around with his fork, the frozen lasagna having no appeal to him, the slightly burnt garlic bread barely registering in his nose. He didn't have much of a sense of smell anymore, olifactory senses having a hard time merging with the biomechanics that supported his brain. Without meaning to, Viktor found himself bending his fork in half from the grip in his fist.

"Miss Menthon was a good teacher. She didn't coddle but she was kind. I wouldn't have passed freshmen lit without her," Viktor found himself saying, not meeting his father's eyes.

The silence fell back around the table until Viktor couldn't handle it anymore. He pushed his chair back from the table and left, ignoring his father's worried calls. Hood pulled up tight despite the warm night, he set out for a walk.

-

"Dude, that is so cool," the little green kid, Beast Boy, was practically salivating in the window at the display of Mega Monkey 2.

After meeting the others, he had found himself spending more and more time outside of the house, mostly with Beast Boy. The kid was so comfortable in his own skin, never pausing when the confused whispers of bystanders grew just loud enough that it was obvious they didn't care about their poor manners. Viktor found that he was still not comfortable without his large sweater over the bulk of his body, but with Beast Boy's easy acceptance and with the girl, Raven's, quiet comment that "people are stupid" as a reinforcement, each day he found himself pulling his hood down earlier and earlier into their adventures.

"We should totally have a game night," Beast Boy flailed his arms in excitement, his voice cracking being the obvious sign of puberty and the highlight to Viktor of just how young this kid was. Out of all of them, Viktor was easily the oldest, but he was having the hardest time with the adjustments. It didn't seem right, to be concerned about what other people were saying about him, to be worried about how he looked, when this twerp was so quick to befriend him, so at ease with standing out as a fuzzy green freak of nature capable of shifting into any animal in the world, while Viktor was afraid of being a monster, a-

"Hey Cyborg, are you listening man?"

Viktor blinked his one human eye and his sensors, not his flesh, felt the tug on his robotic arm as Beast Boy dragged him into the store. "C'mon man, I bet we can get Robin in on a tournament!" Beast Boy was blabbering, pulling him into the store, dragging him over to the display and gesturing in excitement at the cart filled of half off games beside it.

There was a hush about the store, and Viktor - you know, he kind of liked how Cyborg sounded - allowed himself to be pulled into the conversation about what kill from Mortal Kombat was the coolest, while also teasing the kid about how he was way too young for that game. He didn't even notice when the stores patrons resumed their normal chatter. What was so odd about two kids in a game shop, after all?

Chapter Text

I wanted to be a hero once. Way back when I was a little girl. Way back when my momma and I would curl up next to each other to escape the sounds of the night, and to keep ourselves warm. We were always so cold, you see, even if we were buried under a mountain of covers. I wanted to change that. So I wanted to become a hero. Heroes are never cold, they're kind and caring and always there to lend a little warmth. I always wondered, when I was little, where our hero was. My mother and I, I mean. Where was my dad? Every little girl has a dad for a hero, right? Well, where was mine?

I think I was about seven when I decided I would be a hero. I'd be a hero for my momma and I, I'd be a hero for all the little girls who didn't know their dad. Who sat up late at night waiting for the safe return of their mom, and the both of you sitting up for another hour more waiting to see if the door would open up. Momma said she was waiting for him too, but that we might be waiting for a long time. He never showed up. Not once.

That didn't matter though, because I was going to be the hero in our family. If, (not if, when!) dad showed up, he'd take over the job as hero. I've been waiting for him all my life, because being my momma's hero is easy, but being my own is kind of hard. Momma said that she wasn't a hero, that I should find someone better to look up to. I couldn't find anyone better than my momma, so I chose myself. She laughed and hugged me, even as she cried.

I was thirteen when the dream officially died. It had been weakening since I'd hit eleven. Since momma started to become scared of me, since I started bringing home more money than she did in a month. Nobody ever caught me, I don't know why she was so upset about it. I mean, sure, it's kinda sad that your eleven year old has to start stealing to make sure the two of you can survive, but hey, what else was I gonna do? I was a hero, for myself and for her. It was hard. Especially when she started to hide from me, to edge away at night when we curled up for warmth. It wasn't my fault that my skin had become grey. It wasn't my fault when things started being surrounded in a pale pink aura and doing as I wished. After all, I was a hero, and hero's prevented bad stuff.

I'm not a hero though. I know that now. I've never been a hero. I never had any other hero to guide me. So I don't quite fit the title of hero. But apparently I fit nicely into the title of a villain. A "bad guy". I'm a girl though, so more of a "bad girl", I guess. I don't know, I don't think I ever did. It's really annoying. But I'm fifteen now, and I know better, and I've accepted it. I fit nicely into my lifestyle, if I do say so myself. And I'd rather be where I am now then as a hero. Heroes don't know shit.

Heroes don't know the difference between suicide and murder. Momma wasn't depressed. But she was a nuisance that wouldn't stop. Constantly telling me to stop. As if I could. I wasn't a hero. She's the one who really told me that, after all. And I did love her. But only heroes protect who they love.

Chapter Text

"Hey, Raven?"

Raven looked up from the book she had been idly skimming through, the author's story not as interesting as she had hoped based on the synopsis, and met Robin's gaze. He waited until he had her attention before he smiled, "would you dance if I asked you to dance?"

Raven didn't say a word at first and could feel heat spreading to her cheeks as she closed her book completely. "I...are you asking me?"

Robin cocked his head to the side, "Maybe. Depends on your answer. Would you? Or would you run and never look back?"

"I'm not fond of hypotheticals like that. But I would never run from you, Robin." She cast her eyes to the side, muttering, "It's not like running away from you ever works."

Robin reached across the table, resting his hand on top of hers and pulling her attention back to him. He smiled, "But would you cry, if you saw me crying?"

Raven abruptly narrowed her eyes in suspicion, because what in the hell kind of question was that, but still, she answered with a terse, "No."

The cold response seemed to give Robin pause, and the muffled snickers from the other side of the room were just loud enough to guide her as she reached out with her powers, grabbing ahold of the interloper and dragging him further into the room. She saw Robin trying to duck out of his seat walking backwards, and pushed a chair out in front of him with her powers, enjoying the startled yelp as he lost his balance and tumbled to the floor.

Beast Boy smiled sheepishly at her, even as he held his phone up still in its recording mode, "heh, hey Raven, what'ch'ya doin?"

Raven crossed her arms and released the hold her soul self had on Beast Boy, waiting for an explanation. Beast Boy was babbling and squirming about in an attempt at appearing innocent but he was clearly not in on whatever this was on his own, so Raven turned her attention back to the team leader.

Robin was standing slowly, rubbing the back of he neck in embarrassment, "Well, it was kind of a dare..."

Raven listened to them talk about some sort of musical challenge, about tricking people into conversation with song lyrics, and she felt herself burn in her own mortification and hurt. She deleted the video unceremoniously and pulled her hood tight up around her head, ignoring Beast Boy's cajoling and Robin's guilty calls of apology as she drifted out the room.

It was hours later that Robin came to her room, knocking quietly and uttering apologies through the door to no avail. She finally took pity on him when he cleared his throat and began to croon, "I can be your hero baby, I can kiss away the pain", if only to get him to shut up.

Chapter Text

The worst thing a human being could do is give their heart to somebody else.

You think I'm wrong? Why is that? Let me guess, you believe in that shit like, "love knows no boundaries", "love conquers all", and that "every scar can be healed by love". You probably haven't truly given your heart to somebody then. Because when you give your heart to somebody, they don't give it back. Not even if the two of you go your separate ways. If you truly, really loved them, you ain't gettin' that heart back.

I know this. I loved that asshole. I loved him with my entire being. If he told me to jump, I would have asked him how high. I gave up everything I could for him. It wasn't enough. It's never enough. Because he had my heart stuck bleeding in his hands. Thumping and fluttering and bleeding and hoping that he'd give me his in return. He didn't. Instead he chose to play with mine. And I couldn't get it back from him, even if I wanted to. I'm still not sure I want it back. Something tells me it would hurt even more than it does now.

Always smiling and grinning like that. Cocky bastard. He knew all along, before I even told him how I felt. He knew, and we both knew he didn't feel the same. But I was, and remain to be, a fool. I thought he could learn to love me. The mere thought of him with someone else hurt like a bitch. He knew this, but I couldn't tell you how he felt. I can assume. I can assume it gave him a sense of power; he had power over me that nobody else had. I can't know for sure though. You'd have to find the bastard and ask him yourself.

He's not a bastard, really. He didn't know what he was doing to me. Yeah right, he knew. But I don't think he could help it. It's hard not to hurt something you're not sure you want, right? Fuck, he just had to squeeze his hand a little bit tighter than usual, and I'd be withering on the floor with pain. I'm not a masochist, but I never tried to get my heart back. I mean, it's not like he was physically holding it. Otherwise I'd of ripped it out of his hands and never let anyone else touch it.

I don't look all that sensitive, and for the most part, I'm not. He's not either, though. We're both heartless bastards. If I knew who held his heart, I think I might have killed them for it. Like that would have worked. He probably knew better than to trust anybody with it. I'm a fool. A damn fool. For a while, I doubted whether or not he knew just how much I loved him.

And now the fucking bastard's gone. We can't find him anywhere. Bee tells me he probably went back down to his kingdom or something. Prince or not, that fucker had an obligation to this team. To me. He had no right to take my heart and swim down to a place I've never seen before. Coward.

Like I said, the worst thing you can do is give your heart to somebody else. You're never getting it back. If you do, it's just a shattered and torn piece of meat and broken wishes.

...I want him back.

Chapter Text

Starfire reached through the thick air of the room and groped for the doorknob. Behind her, she could hear the sounds of shuffling feet, the quiet groans of the dead, and her heart was pounding in her chest as she wrenched the knob so hard that it broke off in the door, rushing out of the room and away from the incoming threat.

Robin caught her in his arms as she barreled away from the exit of the haunted house and shrieked, "that was most horrifying and exhilarating!" She laughed, leaning down to bury her face into his shoulder, secure in her safety now that the brisk fall air was dancing over her skin once more.

"Woah," Beast Boy sounded from Robin's left, gesturing back at the exit Starfire had just come from, "Did you just...wrench that door open?"

Starfire blushed lightly, looking back to see some of the volunteers from the haunted house examining the door which had been launched open so hard it had dented the adjoining wall. The doorknob hung loosely in its spot, and she could see someone removing a wolf mask to lean close, examining the door with an expression that was thankfully more confusion and curiosity than it was annoyance.

"Forgive me," she laughed nervously, "I was...very motivated to escape, and I remembered Robin's explanation that no monsters inside were real threats, but well..."

"Instinct," Cyborg shrugged from where he was sitting on a bench beside Raven, "s'why I can't go in to haunted houses at all. When I get scared, I kick - used to make for some fun videos, would prolly do a lot more damage these days."

"Maybe someone aught to make a haunted house for meta humans?" Beast Boy pondered, deliberately turning his back to the scene and scoping out the next attraction to introduce Starfire to. "Oooh, Raven, we should totally make over the tower into a Haunted House and invite the rest of the Titans over next year!"

"I think once was enough for a lifetime," Raven muttered.

Chapter Text

Jump City is utterly convinced that they're protected by angels.

In a way, this is very true. The Teen Titans are angels, in their own little ways. Guardian angels. They protect the city and it's inhabitants at any cost. They protect the entire planet, the worldly population, if given the chance. Nobody is insignificant to them, everyone is worth protecting.

Nobody realizes that the Titans are killing them.

Nobody realizes this because the Titans are heroes. They are angels. Jump City has a conviction that the Teen Titans are God's gift to them. They don't realize, or maybe they don't care. It's obvious in such a way that you had to look really hard, to think about it, before you realized it.

Cyborg has a habit of picking up cars and throwing them at their larger enemies, like Cinderblock or Plasmus. Raven wraps people up with lamp-posts and plumbing systems. Robin trips people up so often that it's a wonder that nobody has broken a leg or twisted an ankle. Beast Boy transforms into such terrifying and threatening creatures that it could give somebody somewhere a heart attack. And Starfire does more damage than good when she miscalculates her own strength during fits of rage and adrenaline.

Okay, so they do this stuff to the villains, all can be forgiven. Everything they do is for the greater good.

But loss of life is not a contribution to a greater good, no matter how much people want to think it is. A loss of life results in at least one bitter bystander. An abandoned lover, an orphaned child, loved ones being ripped away. And nobody realizes that the Titans cause this, each and every time they fight. Certain people do, but not the media. And what the media knows, everyone else knows and believes.

Nobody ever mentioned anything about what happened when Cyborg had ripped a building out of the ground and carelessly swung it during battle once; the right people didn't care. They didn't care that someone had been in that building as it was being swung around. Didn't care that she had been knocked into a coma from the shock, force, and excessive movement.

Nobody mentioned anything when Beast Boy had fallen, in the form of an elephant, onto one man's brand new car. The car he had spent his life's savings on, just to make it out of Jump City. To start a new life, to get away from everything, away from the Titans and the trouble that came walking up to them day by day. Nobody mentioned anything about the fact that the man committed suicide in an act of thoughtless sorrow.

Nobody mentioned anything about the darker events the Titans caused. The media steered clear of the dreams that everyone seemed to share about Raven causing the end of the world. After all, everything worked out in the end, and Raven banished her evil. Nobody wants to read about something that could tarnish her reputation.

Nobody mentions that Robin had betrayed his friends twice. After all, the media says, it's not like he had any other choice. In the end, it helped save the city. They don't mention the fact that Starfire's presence on the planet was threatening hostilities from races of people unknown to most. The poor girl, it's not her fault she's Tamaranean. And it's not.

But really, nobody cares. Because the titans are the good guys, and without them, there's no hope. There's not really any with them, either.

Chapter Text

Herald's trumpet was normally a call of action, but today, he had swapped it for a toy that Mas had procured from a dollar store. Jericho sat beside him on the couch in the Titans Tower, strumming on a ukulele. Pantha sat on the floor in front of them with Hot Spot and Menos, each taking a turn at the GameStation when one of them died on screen.

Robin looked around at the gathered Titans and scratched as his head in confusion. He spotted the familiar red hair of Speedy ducking to look in fridge, and made his way over to the kitchen.

"Not that I'm not happy to see you all," Robin spoke instead of offering a simple greeting, "but...when did you all get here?"

Speedy was pulling a bowl of one of Starfire's puddings out of the fridge and examining it carefully, before chucking the entire container into the garbage and reaching back into the fridge for something edible. When he spoke, it was with a head half inside the fridge itself, "Dunno about the rest of 'em, but Mas, Menos and I got in about 4 hours ago. Surprised we haven't seen you sooner," and he made an 'aha!' noise, emerging from the depths of the fridge with the prize of a long forgotten GoGurt tube, "figured you would have rigged the alarm to send a notice directly to your spiky little head or something when you got visitors."

Robin pointedly did not mention that when the extended Titans used their codes to enter the tower that a notice was sent directly to Cyborg and to Robin's own communicator.

"Aaaand...why are you here?"

Speedy hopped up onto the countertop and made himself comfortable, pushing a stack of dishes out of his way to do so. "No real reason."

Robin stared at Speedy, ensuring to make direct eye contact. He watched as Speedy started to fidget, darting his eyes away from Robin's every few moments, but the other boy didn't break.

"Huh. Your tolerance has really gone up."

"Living with Aqualad will do that. He thinks extended eye contact is a mark of 'respect' and gets all pissy about it if we don't look at him when we're talking. Tried telling him it's a fighting cue for me, but nooooooo..."

"The great cultural clash," Robin laughed, "but seriously; why are you guys here?"

Speedy finished his pilfered GoGurt and placed the tube on the pile of dishes beside him. "Like I said, can't speak for the others, but me? I'm here to drag you out for a night on the town."

Robin paused, processing the words, and looked back over at the stray Titans laughing and jostling in the main room. "...you're here to take me on a date?"

"Okay first of all, no, Aqualad would literally murder me. And second, more importantly, if you wanna get lucky with anyone, you gotta say that with more conviction. Like, 'so you're paying for our date' or 'when are you picking me up?'"

"Why are you taking me out?"

"Because," Speedy hopped down and started walking towards the door, "I got it on good authority that you're too chicken to ask Starfire out, which means we gotta get your confidence up man."

"That," Robin splutters after Speedy, face red, "that doesn't explain why the others are here!"

Chapter Text

They told us that we should be ashamed of ourselves.

I shit you not. There we were, just minding our own business on a walk through the park, and then they showed up. A girl with dark brown hair holding hands (fingers entwined even, must have been very close) with some blond haired guy. They stepped in front of us and gave the two of us a once over. Speedy and I just kind of looked at each other out of the corners of our eyes. What did they want, and why were they looking at us like that?

That's when the words came spitting out of the girl's mouth. Her eyes darkened and she sort of sneered at us, her free hand coming to rest on her hip. The boy she was with scowled at us like we were pieces of dirt. He followed up on her words with a simple, "It's wrong, vile, disgusting. You should really be ashamed, think of the example you're setting!"

I blinked in confusion. The example we were setting? We were super heroes, protecting the city from villains and evil forces. Every kid has looked up to a super-hero of some sort at one point in their life. What right did these two have to tell me that I should be ashamed of myself? What where they on?

Speedy was a lot more vocal than I was. Ignorance annoys him, and he positively hates being confused. So he stared at their linked hands and their matching T-Shirts (in color at least; both of them were wearing blue), and his lips turned up into a snarl. "I am thinking, which is more than I can say for you. Sheesh, try thinking of the example you're setting; just coming up to innocently walking bystanders who shouldn't make any difference in your life, and starting to preach to them!" He crossed his arms and swerved off the path to walk around them.

His temper is reminiscent of a child at times. I just looked at the two of them, who had swelled up like puff-fish, and brushed past them. I still didn't quite understand. What did I have to be ashamed of? All I was doing was going for a walk with my best friend. I caught up to Speedy and fell into step next to him. I really had to know. "What where they going on about?"

Speedy shrugged carelessly, "Who cares? But apparently I said the right thing." He smirked as we both cast a look back at them, who were now talking large, angry strides in the opposite direction. You could practically feel the rage radiating from them.

...I didn't get it. But I suppose Speedy's right; it doesn't really matter. It's not like their strange opinions make any difference in my life anyway. Back to life before them. I grabbed Speedy's hand and started to pull him toward the ice-cream cart, just like I had been doing before those idiots showed up. "C'mon already Speedy, you owe me a cone. I told you the twins would lose!"

"You suck."

Chapter Text

Bumblebee was filing her nails in the common room when Aqualad entered the room. He took a quick look around the space, seeing nobody but the team leader. "Hey, Bee?"

Bumblebee looked up and waved at him with the file, beckoning him closer, "Hey Aqualad. Pull up a chair, how's tricks?"

Aqualad blinked, unsure as ever with her slang and just shrugging it off as he sat. "Can I ask you a question?"

"Sure, any time," Bumblebee smiled, before pulling a bag of nail polish up from where it had been hiding on the floor. "So long as you don't mind helping with my feet," she grinned.

Aqualad sighed heavily but nodded, ignoring the victorious wriggle Bumblebee gave as she tossed him the bright orange shade she was trying out this week. Aqualad had grown accustomed to this barter with Bumblebee, though the scent of the nail polish sometimes made his head spin when she wanted to try two or more colours at time. He was mostly thankful Bumblebee wasn't interested in the crazy designs that Starfire had once begged him to try when she had stumbled upon them, Aqualad with one of Bee's perfectly trimmed nails in hand, a careful dedication to layering the clearcoat on her sparkly green nails at the time.

"It's about Speedy," Aqualad began, only to be interrupted by Bumblebee's quick snort and muttered "when is it not?". He shot her a glare, and she raised her hands in surrender, file still clutched between her fingers.

"Sorry, sorry. So, what's the problem. More trouble in paradise?"

Aqualad considered his words as he unscrewed the lid to the polish, assessing its viscosity and pulling Bumblebee's cosmetic bag closer to dig for the toe spacer. "It's not that kind of question. It's just..." and he paused to gather his words, gesturing for Bumblebee to toss him two pillows from the couch, one for her foot and one for his own comfort, "I think he's ashamed of me or something."

Bumblebee blinked down at him, processing his words as he carefully applied the first layer to her largest toe. "Speedy? Ashamed of you?! What in the world makes you think that's possible?"

Aqualad continued with the task, carefully tilting Bumblebee's foot to position the pinkie toe and grumbling softly as the brush still managed to get onto her skin. "It's not like we go out much, and well...maybe I'm reading into it. But when we were out getting pizza the other day, just the two of us, he wouldn't even meet my eye when we were talking. He kept looking at the girl's in the line behind us."

Bumblebee waited for him to continue, wondering what she was supposed to say.

"And it's not the first time he would pay more attention to the people around us than me, you know?" Aqualad blew a bit on the polish, willing it to dry faster so he could start a second coat, "But I dunno, it just felt like..." and he looked up imploringly at his leader, willing her to read his mind or his heart so he wouldn't have to struggle to find the words any more, "it feels like he doesn't want to be with me, like he's just...trying something. Like I could be any other guy and it wouldn't make a difference to him."

Bumblebee hummed in affirmation that she heard him, but was quiet with thought as Aqualad continued, applying the first layer to her other foot while she thought of how to phrase, "Look, Speedy's a notorious flirt, but he's not one to just...string you along. Have you talked with him about how you're feeling? It could be that he's, I dunno, shy because of how into you he is, that he defaults back into that player mode." Bumblebee shrugged, "he's that kinda guy, you know?"

Aqualad looked up at her with the impression that screamed rather loudly that no, he did not know, and Bumblebee sighed and gestured for him to sit up.

"Alright. This is gonna be a long night, I can feel it; gimme your hand, you want purple or red this time?"

Chapter Text

They were a team. As such, sometimes they had to make sacrifices.

Jinx made a few more than her teammates seemed to realize. As boys, they didn't quite understand. Mammoth and Gizmo never quite realized what it meant for a girl to live without certain luxuries.

Such as girlfriends. One, two, five even, to just sit with. To talk about the latest sales, whether they were on clothes, DVDs or books. To whisper to each other about how they liked so and so, and "Please don't tell the others, they'll just tease me!". Jinx didn't have those girls. The others at H.I.V.E. academy didn't want to talk about stuff like that. They couldn't, really. There were no malls, no movie theatres, no coffee shops or anything like that at the H.I.V.E.

Jinx didn't have anyone to giggle with when she was crushing on Stone. She didn't have anyone to cry with when he vanished from her companionship and returned to her foes. She didn't have anyone to calm her down with a bowl of ice-cream and a late-night phone call when she woke up screaming and or crying from her nightmares. She didn't have any other girl worth talking to in her life.

Jinx once thought about what it would have been like if she had Starfire or Raven in her life. In her team. She thought about how Starfire would probably love to shop with her from morning till night, to talk excitedly about how cute so and so was. She thought about how Raven would talk to her about life or give her advice over a cup of tea, or curse violently when something didn't go according to plan, in life or in text.

Jinx didn't have this though. She had Gizmo and Mammoth. Gizmo never talked about clothes ("What does it matter what I care how you look?!"), and Mammoth didn't really care about what happened in movies ("It's not real, anyway"). Neither really talked about any girls they liked, and they didn't gossip about who so and so was going out with. Jinx remembers asking them if they had heard about the newest couple in the school, and they just looked at her and asked, "So what?"

But they were there for her in their own little way, she had to admit. When Stone left and she was about to break down, they were there. The school was destroyed, but they were not. Mammoth awkwardly hugged her when she cried a few sniffling tears, and Gizmo even made her a cup of coffee. She didn't fail to notice how there were tissues at the table, too.

So maybe she didn't have girlfriends. But as long as she had Mammoth and Gizmo, it was a sacrifice she was willing to make.

Chapter Text

Jericho was holding up a notepad with numerous messages scrawled across it and scratched out. He pointed to the single line that hadn't been discarded yet, prompting Cyborg to read it out loud.

"'I ask the shapeshifter where we can find the Sword of Alborkaden'" Cyborg dutifully read in his approximation of what he believed Jericho's character would sound like. He immediately switched to the voice he used for the shapeshifting inn-keeper, rambling about some sort of cave.

Raven was not playing in this particular quest, choosing to take the rare opportunity where Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg were all entertained to instead focus on some in depth research assistance with Robin. But she needed nourishment just as much as the rest of the team - though apparently more so than Robin did, as he had waved her away with a mutter about "maybe a pot of coffee?" - and had slipped into the kitchen, wriggling around the assembled Titans who were crowded around the table in the dining section.

As she began to fill the coffee maker and to riffle through the pantry's for something that wasn't coated in three different kinds of salt and sugar, she couldn't help but overhear Starfire's fist thumping against the table top, "I demand the inn-keeper shows us the way to this Cave of Brakdurn."

"Are you using your Rod of Compliance to sway his actions?"

"No, don't, Star," Beast Boy was quick to interrupt, Jericho furiously shaking his head, even as Starfire was leaning forward to grab the dice. She rolled, and the table collectively groaned as Cyborg huffed out a laugh.

"The inn-keeper throws you all out in the dead of night for your impertinence. You didn't get any rest, and there is still a Kurmeguzk wandering the town."

Raven tuned out the inane jabbering of the table, pulling a microwave meal out of the freezer and eyeing a half empty bag of party mix that hadn't been put into the campaigning Titan's snack bowl yet. Well, considering the amount of snacks still littering the table, it was a sacrifice the group was just going to have to make for the nourishment of their team leader. Coffee alone wouldn't sustain him, no matter how hard he tried to make it so.

Jericho was shoving his character's papers at Cyborg as she wormed her way back out of the room, powers hovering the food and hot coffee above their heads until she was sure they were out of spilling range. As the door closed behind her, she heard Cyborg's dramatic Jericho voice, "''I activate the spell of divination, to find the right path to the Cave of Brakdurn' - alright little man, you gotta roll for effect!"

Robin was appreciative of the coffee, but rather than snacking on the party mix, eyed her microwave meal speculatively. She rolled her eyes and pulled the bag of mostly pretzels closer; it was a team sacrifice after all.

Chapter Text

It was cold outside. I should have expected it, given the fact that it was winter, but still. The snow hadn't come down yet, not once this season started. I thought my sweater would have been enough. But no, the breeze was cold enough to positively rip through my sweater and savagely attack my skin underneath.

Great. As if today hadn't gone bad enough, now I was going to die from the cold. Well, at least that way I'd be able to get this nightmare over with. I still can't believe I told him that. I don't even think it's really true, but I still told him. I just might have screwed up their entire relationship, and for what? Feelings that I wasn't even sure were genuine or not. I'm such an idiot.

I give myself too much credit, too. If anything, my words should have ruined our relationship. He'd likely be awkward around me, or even more possibly, he might not want anything to do with me. I don't think I'd like to be near me after today if I were him. Really, why did I do that? They've been together for two weeks now, I have no right to interfere with their relationship.

I guess it's because I don't think they're going to work out. But then, they might. I could have screwed that up, or I could have made sure that it's going to happen now. Either way, I'm screwed. It's not like me to do something like that, normally. To just go up to one of your closest friends and tell them that you were in love with them? Even when you knew they were happily indulged in a blooming relationship? I'm worse than scum. As if he wouldn't be mad enough, she might just be out to kill me now. It wouldn't surprise me. I think I might let her, too.

That is, if the cold doesn't kill me first. I really think I should just go back to the tower and get my jacket. It should be easy enough to avoid confrontation.

...Or not.

"Hey." I can't tell how he feels right now from his tone of voice. He's straight-faced and standing there so stiffly. He's holding my coat out to me, and I don't think he's noticed the snow. I don't think I have either, come to think of it. There's no way that much, even if it was really only a little amount, could have gathered this quickly.

I don't really say anything other than a mumbled thank-you, and I take my coat. I should really go. They don't need me around here, and besides, my team needs me. I turn and I take a step. But his hand on my shoulder stops me. There's a tiny piece of me that's hopeful. A tiny piece that's thinking, 'Maybe it's possible. Maybe he feels the same. Maybe she doesn't want to kill me. Maybe this will all work out.'

"Bee..." He's not looking at me. I don't know what to make of this. Again, with the hopeful side, Maybe he just wants to find the best way of telling me?

"I'm sorry, Bee. I'm in love with her. She's not like a little sister to me, she's not just my teammate. Rae's more than that to me."

I knew it. A gut feeling, woman's intuition, whatever it was told me. Cyborg would never be mine. But non the less, or maybe even because of this, it still hurts. I think I might have smiled though, a tiny bit. "I know, and I'm sorry for bothering you about it. I hope we're still cool though," and despite my better judgement I lean up and kiss him on the cheek, "...Sparky."

Chapter Text

"Flowers for m'lady," Kid Flash grinned at her, placing vases of bouquets at her side one after the other, the speed of his movement ruffling her dress. Jinx rolled her eyes, pressing a hand up to her forehead as she slowly lost sight of the room around her, overcome with bright pink snapdragons and shrinking violets and little red rose blossoms bedecked with baby's breath.

The fierce groan of frustration that could be heard from the other side of the room had Jinx blushing, suddenly acutely aware that she was not alone in the Tower like she had originally though.

"Dude," Beast Boy was groaning in frustration, "way to show us all up!"

The whisk of air around her stopped, the floral scents mingling together in an overwhelming perfume, and Jinx could feel Kid Flash settle in beside her, his familiar weight around her waist.

"Not my fault you don't know how to impress a girl," Kid Flash stuck his tongue out childishly. Jinx resolutely ignored the smirks coming across the room from Raven, or the way Starfire had flipped into the room attracted by the noise. She tried to squirm out of the room, but Kid Flash held her tightly to his side.

Beast Boy tried to grab one of the larger boquoets to offer to Raven in a swirl of action, but Kid Flash rushed over and smacked his hand away before he could make contact. Jinx was swept along for the ride, even as Beast Boy transformed into an octopus and tried to grab multiple vases at a time, Kid Flash whisking around to smack each tentacle with a wooden spoon.

Raven finally took pity on her, wrapping both Beast Boy and Kid Flash in her soul self, jerking them into a stop. Jinx's head was spinning, and she squirmed against Kid Flash's side in mortification that she was now, somehow, pressed flush against him in a tight hug with the now fully assembled original Teen Titans as witness.

Starfire cooed, "Oh, what a romantic gesture! On my planet, such an abundance of gifts would be indicative of a declaration of most respect, similar to a promise of protection for the next thousand years!"

"Not far off on this planet," Cyborg quipped, assessing the three dozen flower assortments that now decorated the tower. "How much did this set you back?"

"Price is nothing," Kid Flash responded, cheerfully tightening his grip on Jinx as Raven finally released them, content that the battle of the flowers had ceased. "But that's not the last of them," he pressed a gentle kiss to Jinx's forehead. She flushed darkly, wishing fervently that the rest of the Titans were not there, though she wasn't quite sure if she was just afraid of witnesses to the murder she was going to commit, or to spare them the show of affection she planned to show later.

"Happy three year anniversary," he whispered into her ear.

Chapter Text

New Year's Eve in Jump City was always the same. Bright lights, fireworks, carnival down by the pier letting couples onto the Ferris Wheel, and snow falling gently down at about one in the morning. There were several parties all around the city in different houses, and the dance at the High School.

This year, though, there was something different. The Teen Titans were having a party. Their tower was aflame with vibrant flashing lights placed all about the tower for Christmas. If you were close enough you could faintly hear the tiniest amount of music, which was blaring from Robin's modified speakers in the main room. If you had good enough sight, you could see the forms of the Titans through the glass as they danced or ran past the windows. But what you couldn't see is what was going on beyond the amusingly limited range of the enormous windows.

You couldn't see the way Starfire flitted about the doorways hopefully every few moments, staring wide-eyed and blushingly at the mistletoe hung over them. You couldn't see the way Raven would smile softly at the other girl's antics before calmly going back to the book that Cyborg had bought her for Christmas. You couldn't see the way Beast Boy would occasionally stoop over Rae's shoulder to read her book, trying to see how long he could do it before she got annoyed. You couldn't see the way Cyborg happily inhaled a special batch of New Year's waffles as he made conversation with all the titans at once. And you couldn't see the way Robin was working himself up to get Starfire to dance with him without looking like a complete dork.

You couldn't see the way Raven finally got annoyed with Beast Boy's antics and proceeded to throw a pillow at him the next time he tried to look over her shoulder. You couldn't see the way Cyborg burst out laughing, only to have a pillow smacked into him from where Beast Boy stood scowling, but trying desperately not to let the grin twitching his lips to spread. You couldn't see the way Robin ducked down when a pillow went flying in his direction, or how Starfire accidently shot a tiny star-bolt through the one that flew toward her.

You couldn't see the way Rae's book lay forgotten on the floor as she joined her friends in their fun. You couldn't see the way feathers started to flutter about the room, accompanied by the laughter of the teenage defenders of the city. You couldn't see how BB bowled both of the girls to the ground and pretended it was an accident. You couldn't see how Cyborg and Robin took the chance to turn up the music a little more, and to just grin at the others. You couldn't see any of it; but you know it happened.

Chapter Text

The party had started out as Starfire's idea.

It was just interference from Argent that had changed the plan.

Argent had looked around the tower with its streamers and balloons and had seemed content enough to leave Robin, Bumblebee and the twins in charge of entertaining the youngest titans, even relenting when Herald begged off for himself and Jericho - but everyone else? They were going to have a proper grown up party whether they were willing or not.

Hot Spot had found the club, and they had used Starfire's guileless joy at being recognized by the bouncer to slip in front of the line. The music was pumping loudly out the door and reverbating through their bones, loud enough to drown out any regrets as Argent tugged Starfire into the centre of the dance floor and started to sway.

Hot Spot was dimmed down but unwilling to turn off his powers completely, so he and Cyborg were staying off to the side of the dance floor, knocking back what tasted like watered down shots of gasoline in quick succession, neither really feeling a thing - Hot Spot because his meta human mutation literally had the alcohol burning through his system too fast, Cyborg because his body needed about thirty more shots to feel anything at all.

They bar hopped, Argent tugging Starfire along with her each step of the way, unwilling to lose her uninhibited dance partner. Jinx slipped away after the second club with a smirk and a two fingered salute, dragging a red headed boy who looked vaguely familiar out with her. Speedy and Aqualad vanished into the washroom of the third club, followed by Pantha's loud wolfcall and uncaring.

Starfire leaned down to speak directly into Argent's ear, "This is, I believe the term is, 'a bender?'"

Argent laughed, tugging Starfire further down to kiss her, quick and chaste and uncaring for the meep of surprise Starfire let out, "A bender is what the boys are on, we're having a rager!"

It was nearly dawn by the time they made their way home, exhausted but the trek familiar - a night on the town not too different from a night defending the town. Argent had been prepared to be reamed out by Robin, but she had not been prepared to enter the main floor of the tower to find chairs knocked over, cups half filled with soda spilled all across the floor, and a grumpy Raven sweeping broken glass and streamers into the rubbish.

"Don't ask," Herald moaned from the couch, holding a snoozing Teether to his chest protectively, "just...don't ask."

Chapter Text

We all have our own sanctuary. The church down the road, where our grandma is buried. The school three blocks down where that really cool teacher works. The garden behind the house, where those lovely flowers bloom every year. Our room, where we can bury ourselves in whatever we please and simply vanish from the world for a few hours. The park, where we can sit for hours and people won't bat an eye.

We all have little things like this, little places to go to when we can't handle something. They're our miniature heavens, designed specifically for us. Intrusion of that space by anyone is unheard of, because nobody else is as connected to this place as you.

Beast Boy had a place like that. A place where he wasn't a freak of nature. Where he wasn't green, where he wasn't able to morph into any animal at will. Where he wasn't different, where he was just like all the other teenagers out there. Where he was worried about the homework he had to do, where he wondered about his future uncertainly. Where he was Garfield, not Beast Boy.

In his heaven, people didn't gawk and stare because he was a super-hero, a freak. In his heaven, people recognized him as the sensitive joker from homeroom, not the funny guy from the Teen Titans. In his heaven, his friends were the president of the Martial Arts club, the political and lovely library assistant, the beautiful if not a little ditzy at times badminton club captain, and the football player who understood more about science than the science teacher. His girlfriend was the funny and rebellious transfer student with the heart of gold and the smile of sunlight. His classmates included the twins that were practically attached at the hip and faster than the wind itself, the boy who every girl in the school crushed on for a few days at least, his boyfriend, and the girl who couldn't stand people who picked on others.

He didn't have to fight villains so much as he had to deal with the nerdy, sharp-tongued short kid in his Business class, the giant from P.E., and the witty girl from Art that dressed in nothing but blacks, purples and pinks. His enemies were the scary principal who had an unhealthy obsession with robots, and the vice-principal who was known to call students down to his office just for the hell of it.

Here, in his little heaven, leaning against Terra's statue in the solitude that none could break, he could imagine it was real.

Chapter Text

Herald was not exactly one to look a gift horse in the mouth, so when Jericho quite literally fell into his lap, he decided to take the opportunity that had been presented to him.

The familiar cackle of the witch - a former member of the Hive Five, apparently, and boy did it show in times like this - could be heard through the door she had bolted shut. Jericho was trying to scramble backwards, but the tight confines of the closet they had both been rather unceremoniously shoved into left little room for escape. He was able to push his weight back against the other wall but still found himself stuck in Herald's lap.

Herald tilted his head, considering the situation. He could hear Jinx's gloat about standing guard and knew that without some of the more responsible Titans there to enforce some level of boundaries, that they were not getting out of this easily.

But he knew Jericho was not fond of tight, enclosed spaces, and he knew that he was done with this party, so he carefully shifted his weight. Jericho froze in his arms as Herald wrapped him tight into his one armed embrace, and Herald had a thousand thoughts careening through his head to feel the other pressed taunt against his chest like he was, but he squashed each one to focus on shifting them into a kneeling position.

Once Jericho was between his thighs, Herald pulled back from the embrace enough to wriggle his hand down into the front pocked Jericho has previously been sitting on, and although there was very dim light, he could see the blush dancing across Jericho's cheeks as he pulled out the trumpet.

Pulling Jericho close again, Herald gave a quiet blow, and the portal opened beneath them, causing the two to slip out of sight just as a suspicious Jinx had wrenched the door back open. Herald gave her a cheeky wave, and Jericho stuck out his tongue.

When they had landed on their feet, disentangled, Jericho pulled back to sign, So was it just the trumpet or were you happy to see me?

Mal tugged Joey close, pressing a firm kiss to his smirking lips, much more comfortable in their pocket of space than in the confines of a forced game of Heaven.

Chapter Text

Part of being a teenager insured that you'll make mistakes.

But when you're a super-hero, you can't. It's not like when you're a celebrity, where if you make a mistake you're embarrassed for months afterward because of people giggling online and tabloids not letting it go. It's not like when you're the teacher who gave your student a "C", rather than the "B+" they had worked so hard to earn. It's not like when you're the desperate one in front of your crush and gushing out your heart, only to realize that they already have somebody in their lives.

When you're a super-hero, mistakes haunt you. You let the criminal get away; you hurt an innocent bystander when your powers got out of control; you let the team down. So you try hard not to make any, because you don't want more on your plate than you already have.

But you're a hero, you're part of a team of other super-heroes, and there's no way you can always get the job done without making at least one error. You baited your leader's temper, you scared the little girl in the park, you let yourself lose control.

It's hard though, when you’re a hero that everybody's scared of. You're not completely human. And you know there are other ways to become a hero, but you weren't lucky. You're not like Robin, who fights with his own body and his home-made gadgets as his weapon. You're not like Speedy, who simply has killer aim and a good head on his shoulders. You're not like Starfire, who may not exactly be human but isn't a freak at all because there are others like her. You're not like Aqualad, because you know there's a whole city somewhere out there with people like him.

It doesn't matter. You're just a freak playing the part of hero. You're half robot; you're half demon; you're green and morph into animals; you're able to shrink down to the size of a bee at will; you're one of the fastest runners in the world but are nothing without your twin. You're bound to make mistakes with these handicaps. But it's worse because, even though the others aren't exactly normal either, you're one of the worst. The blame is placed on you. And as the years go by, you really start to think they're right.

That you are a monster; that you're evil; that you'll never amount to anything; that you're nothing. And even though you know deep in your heart that it's not true, and you know you're proud of yourself, and you know their opinions don't really matter, it still hurts. So you don't like to make mistakes. You can't afford to make them. You're a teenager with the world on your shoulders; and sometimes you just want to shrug that world off, but can't, because you know better. You know there are others who don't treat you like that. Who don't think like that.

Part of being a teenager insures that you'll make mistakes. Part of being a teenaged super-hero insures that you'll suffer from them.

Chapter Text

Beast Boy was looking up at the screen with a look of pure shock, trying to make sense of the scene in front of him. At his side, Cyborg's mouth had dropped open in a similar state of shock. Starfire hovered behind them, hands covering her mouth and eyes staring wide, imploring, at the screen.

On the monitor, Robin had Raven's face cupped in his hands, starting deep into her eyes beseechingly. Raven's lips were parted ever so slightly, bright and bruised from the kiss that had just separated them.

"Whoa," Beast Boy finally uttered, reaching for the remote as the scene faded to black and a new couple entered the set, pressing the rewind button without having to look.

"Yea," Cyborg echoed, "who would have thought they would have taken the scene in that route?"

Starfire flew closer to the screen as the recording of the improv college group played again, tilting her head as if she could get a better look and fly around the two. When Raven had admitted to Starfire that Robin had asked her to partner in some sort of undercover project, and had blushingly admitted that there was an intimate moment, Starfire had rather assumed the worst and Raven had not corrected her.

"Oh," Starfire uttered softly to herself, heedless of the way Cyborg was watching her carefully, "I fear I have made a grave mistake." And she swept from the room, flying straight passed a startled Robin, in a quest to find her best friend.

She found Raven on the roof, in the midst of meditation, and didn't give her a chance to respond before bowling her over into a fierce hug.

"Starfire," Raven groaned as she snapped out of her trance, "what are you-"

"Oh, you simply must forgive me, friend Raven!" Starfire cried out, "I did not know that you also had feelings for Robin! I had thought it was purely physical!"

Raven didn't say a thing in response to this declaration, so Starfire had to look up at her companion to take in the reaction. She wrapped her arms tighter around Raven's middle and pulled her up into a sitting position, settled between Raven's legs rather than laying on her. Raven was always a quiet person, but the speechlessness was new, as was the bright red she had turned.

"If I had known, I would have invited you," Starfire was saying, heartfelt and tearful, "to join us in our relationship!"

Somehow, Raven had gotten even redder. Starfire was running soothing hands up and down her spine, cooing her apologies and explaining how common poly relationships were on Tamaran to ease the other girl's worries, not knowing just how utterly confused Raven was as a result.

Confused, but not against it.

Chapter Text

"That movie was rather un-normal, would you not agree?"

"As soon as you can tell me what normal is, I might agree."

"Normal dards-of-stands for films, I mean."

"Do I have to repeat myself?"

A pause. A softly bitten lip. "The boy did not get the girl at the end."

A nod. "Yes, that is the norm for most movies, isn't it?"

Eyes brighten. Nod vigorously. "It did not have the ending of happiness."

Thoughtful pause. Creased brow. "I disagree."

Eyes dim slightly. "Why is that?"

Glance at a window display. Slightest of increase in pace. "Just because they didn't end up living happily every after, doesn't mean they weren't happy."

Confusion. "But how is that possible? How can they be happy if they are not together?"

Stare ahead. "Sometimes it's knowing that the other person is safe and secure that makes one happy."

Passionate. "But would they not have been more happy together? They would have been able to care for each other--why did she have to leave? They loved each other, did they not? Why would they want to be parted?"

Small smile. Glance at other. "That whole movie revolved around destiny; they were destined to meet, they were destined to save the planet, they were destined to fall in love. But I don't think they were destined to be together."

Slight impatience. "But why? Why did they not get the ever-after of happiness? Did they not deserve it?"

A shrug. "It's not that they didn't deserve it--they saved the entire planet from war, of course they deserved it. But..." Sudden enlightenment. Wide-eyed glance at companion. "...Have you ever heard of the saying that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'?"

A shake of the head. "No. I do not understand. If I were apart from somebody I loved, I would be very sad."

A knowing nod. "Your heart would yearn for them. You're whole life may resolve around them and their return. But at the same time, you would be able to go on. Hoping to see them again. Hoping that this time you might have a chance. And your desire for them, for their love, for their embrace, would grow even stronger."

Hints of realization. "So...they stand a chance of getting their happy ending?"

Tiny knowing smile. "Yes, they do. But we're not talking about the movie anymore, are we, Star?"

Hint of a blush. "Thank you, Raven."

Chapter Text

Garth ran his fingers through his hair in frustration, assessing the myriad of pieces in front of him. The key was simple enough to understand, but the ticket stub and the piece of glass tinted green? How was he supposed to decipher the riddle from literal trash?

Roy peered over the collective from over Garth's shoulder, tilting his head in consideration. "Is that a piece of a beer bottle?"

"No," Garth leaned back slightly, resting his head on Roy's shoulder and pushing his weight back against the chair so that it tipped into Roy's chest. Roy wrapped an arm comfortingly around Garth's front, tucking his hand under his armpit and brushing his stubble against Garth's temple. "I think it's supposed to be a part of an ornament, you know, like a statue or something."

Roy hummed in acknowledgement, turning his attention to the ticket stub, which had been ripped awkwardly to include the first few letters of the performance, indicating a "Wi" and an aisle seat, but not much more. "And you think this all has to do with some sort of elaborate scheme from Trident because...?"

"I don't," Garth sighed, holding the key up, "but Robin is convinced that unless I can figure out inane riddles from the tiniest details like this, then he won't let me set foot in Gotham. Literally - he's gotten some sort of forcefield up that rejects my DNA, I break out in hives if I try to enter the city."

Roy blinked down at his partner, pressing a chaste kiss to his forehead just because he could, "Not setting foot in Gotham is more of a prize if you ask me."

Garth sighed, slipping out of the chair and turning his back to the table of ludicrous trinkets to turn his attention more fully onto Roy. "Maybe to you, but my King would not be amused to know I let myself be bested so easily."

Roy cocked an eyebrow, "Your king can bite it."

Garth snorted, then blushed, ashamed of the amusement and casual disrespect Roy was so easily able to pull from him. The fact that he agree with him made it worse. Garth had absolutely no desire to spend time in Gotham City, preferring Steel and Central City's open waves and access to significantly less polluted waters - not to mention hearing some of the stories Dick and Damien would share left him with nightmares for weeks.

"The key to the city is in the wings."

Garth blinked and whirled around to where Karen had snuck in, leaning over the assorted trinkets. "How - what?"

"That's my guess, anyway," Karen shrugged, "if the bat family came up with it. On the nose, but made up of crap."

Garth gaped at her, and Roy chuckled, "Yer just jealous, Bee, that Dinah likes to hang out with Barbara more than you."

Chapter Text

People were running all over the place. The sky was pitch black with smoke so thick it was a wonder anybody could breath. Buildings were burning, children were crying and dogs were howling. Running, running, in every direction at every pace. Car tires screeched as vehicles swiveled and flipped. Honking, crying, screaming, dying. Laughter. Deep, resounding laughter echoing in her ears. His laughter.

She couldn't move. How could he find this funny? Look at it all. Destruction as far as the eye could see. These people were loved, loved others, were living. How could they just show up and do this to them all? What right did they have to mess with their lives like this? None. They didn't deserve any of this, they didn't deserve to do this! Wrong, wrong, wrong, it was all wrong!

"Raven!"

"Come on Rae, snap out of it!"

"Please, Raven!"

"You don't have to do this!"

Stop it, stop it, stop it! You don't understand! I don't want to, I can't, I don't know how! It's impossible, he can't be stopped! I can't stop him, none of us can! Save them, please, get them away from here! You can't save me, just leave!

"We're not going to abandon you!"

You have to, please, I don't want you to be hurt! Please, you have to get out of here. What are...what?! No! No, please, you'll be killed, don't, please get away! NO!!

 

Her eyes snapped open then, scream fading into the darkness of her room. Tears ran down her cheeks and she hugged her legs close. "It was just a dream, just a dream, it wasn't real, they're fine."

And the other Titans were fine. They were sleeping in their own rooms, oblivious to the nightmares that plagued the sorceress of their team. Sleeping, fighting their own demons, resting, recharging. None of them were crying though. None of them were screaming, none of them were burning, and none of them were dying.

And that knowledge was all that kept Raven from going insane. That her friends were safe, for now at least, was what willed her to slip into meditation. That only she could prolong their safety. That she could help them, until it was too late. That she needed them. That she loved them. That's all that kept her going. And it was enough.

Chapter Text

The Canary Cry was the most debilitating scream that Speedy had ever heard in his life.

Until the night he had his daughter when she had the croup.

Speedy had had a hell of a day as it was. The tower's alarms had gone off at around 3am, dragging the Titans East out of slumber and stumbling into the control room, where they were greeted by a message from their biggest fanboy, Control Freak. Control Freak had wasted little time before taunting the team into what he claimed would be their biggest challenge - an adventure through all 10 seasons of Battles of Babylon Trek, some strange amalgamation of sci-fi and the dark ages fantasy that had left Speedy with an increased appreciation for indoor plumbing, and a healthy respect for the twin's almost encyclopedic knowledge of crappy television.

Give Speedy an action series any day of the year. (And so long as nobody else was around, a slice of life romance on a bad day).

Bumblebee had managed to sneak up on Control Freak and zap his controller out of his hand, Mas and Menos zipping it out of his grasps and Aqualad triumphantly pressing "eject", while Speedy had the pleasure of tying Control Freak up and carting him downstairs to meet the police. Which meant that he was the only one Titan on hand when the local 7-11 was being held up, and had to single-handedly take town an armed gunman without letting Control Freak slip away, and stay on hand with the police to provide witness testimony statements.

It had been a long 18 hours.

The fact that Cheshire was waiting for him at the foot of the Tower once he had returned was almost the straw that broke the camel's back - until he saw the onesie that Lian was carefully nestled in, snoozing fitfully in her stroller.

Speedy barely exchanged a word with Cheshire, so caught up in his daughter, but he did hear "fever", "medicine", and "the fucking hospital said not to bug them unless it spiked again".

And so it was he found himself pacing with Lian bouncing carefully against his shoulder, rubbing her back soothingly as he hummed an old cartoon's theme song in an attempt to comfort her. Lian, however, was just as exhausted as her father, and confused as to why her body just wouldn't let her slumber, so she wailed, her cries turning into frustrated screams of an infant who just wanted to sleep. And though it was all directly in Speedy's ears, it was really piercing his heart.

"Hush little Lian, my sweet baby girl, daddy's gonna buy you a Nightwing-bird, and if that stubborn Wing won't sing, Daddy's gonna buy you a Lantern's Ring..."

Lian settled herself after she was able to take her medicine, curling tightly against her father's chest, as he dozed with her on the old computer chair in his room. After all, hadn't Dinah said you were supposed to sleep when they did?

Chapter Text

The Titans Tower stood in the midst of the dark water like a pillar of dimmed hope. Few, if any, of the towers many lights could be seen. Some of Jump City's residents murmured to each other and others glanced about nervously. It was as if they thought something was going to jump out of the shadows and drag them down, never to be seen again. It was a fear developed from months of looking to the tower for reassurance in the villain-ridden-city.

But there were others still who were more constructive. These were a group of four teenagers, who'd always wanted to see the tower up close. They'd waited until they thought the Titans were gone, rented a boat, and made their way to the tower's island. They stood at the base of the giant building with a sense of awe, simply staring. But when no security was triggered, they grinned mischievously. Within moments the air was filled with the scent of fresh spray paint, and the walls were steadily being decorated with various insignias and curses.

But unlike all the previous times, this night was different. They didn't know that there was something slinking about the island along with them. Something moving with such a swift stealth it seemed like nothing more than the wind. One of the boys, though, thought he could feel eyes boring into the back of his head. A minute later, it was all he was aware of. As his friends giggled to themselves as they continued to deface the tower, this boy slowly turned his head. There was nothing there. The air was still, his friends quiet.

Uneasy, he turned his head back to the wall, only to come face to face with blood-red and glowing eyes, peering out at him from the darkness. He stumbled backward in shock, and felt a hand settle on his shoulder. He'd never admit that the sound that had come out of his mouth at that was a high-pitched scream.

"Wow," a boyish voice laughed, "we didn't even have to scream BOO!"

The boy turned his gaze and found himself looking straight into the face of a grinning Beast Boy. Behind the green one stood the other Titans, holding his friends with their hands behind their backs. Even so, his companions found it within themselves to laugh at his plight.

Raven stepped out in front of him and lowered her hood. She smirked; "That was actually kind of funny."

Chapter Text

Mal Duncan had a bone to pick with whomever decided he was a babysitter.

Raven's kids, as the trio of twerps were affectionately referred to, were not bad kids at all. Mal would even say that they were very well behaved, for what little experience he had with child rearing. Melvin was a bit of a lifesaver in explaining why it was Timmy would occasionally burst into tears or why Teether hadn't gone straight to bed when Mal had put him down for a nap (apparently their routine was law, not recommendation) - but that left him with a bit of a conundrum.

In an effort to provide the kids with some sort of illusion of normalcy, and in an effort to establish trust with each of them, Beast Boy had had the bright idea of taking Melvin and Timmy to the mall (Raven following with paranoia) to the local Build a Bear. It didn't matter that Melvin had quite literally already built - or rather, imagined - a terrifying bear of her own companionship, Beast Boy had insisted, because it was about the process or something like that.

Mal just remembered that, since Teether had been taking his nap, it had been decided that Mal would not be relieved of his babysitting duties and in fact would just be trusted to watch Teether on his own. Mal would have preferred to be consulted on this, but the texts Beast Boy sent essentially said, "nyah nyah", so he consoled himself with the fact that at least he wasn't dating the kid.

Who knows how Raven managed it.

Without Melvin around to explain what each particular cry was roughly translated to, Mal still felt rather accomplished; Teether's diaper had been changed with minimal incident (and whatever the baby wipes hadn't got, the flipped couch cushion hid), he was set up with juice and a small snack, and the dinosaur toys that Mal had borrowed from the next dimension (don't look at him like that, they had just been sitting there!) had held Teether's attention for a good 15 minutes.

It was after that time had passed and Teether realized Timmy and Melvin were not just in the other room that the sniffles had started back up again.

Mal had tried reasoning with the kid, explaining in clear terms that the two would be back soon, and probably with a present for him.

That had not worked.

Mal had tried bribing the kid, handing him pieces of a broken up popsicle as a treat.

That had not worked - the cold treat had just melted all over his clothes and on the carpet.

By the time his saviour had come along, Mal had tried every form of peek-a-boo (which had been working, but apparently shouting "BOO!" while also jumping at the kid from behind the couch had been too far), every nursery rhyme, snack, clapping game and cartoon he could think of. It was not until Starfire, glorious merciful goddess from afar Starfire, had drifted into the room with Silkie on her shoulder, and had immediately distracted Teether with the simple joy of flight-while-squeezing-a-mutant-bug, that the baby Titan was comfortable enough to stop sniffling.

When the others did return from the mall, Mal gave the little stuffed rabbit they had brought home for him to Starfire in thanks. He totally took the pizza Beast Boy had brought home for a snack though.

Chapter Text

Twiddling thumbs and tapping fingers was all she was aware of. It annoyed her. She couldn't concentrate on her book with that noise echoing in her ears. But she knew he had reason to behave the way he was. That wasn't to say she thought it a good reason, but a reason it was. Maybe to others it would be enough to let the annoying actions slide.

She wasn't others though.

Dark purple eyes made themselves known over the top of her book. She took in his shape, as he moved fluidly from tapping his fingers on his knee, to tapping his left foot, to twining his fingers together over and over again. She could feel a small tick forming just above her eyebrow. She could see the tiniest bead of sweat running down the side of his face as he waited anxiously for the door to open.

"Robin," she scowled, "calm down. It's just a date; everything's going to turn out fine."

Robin looked at her sideways from behind his mask and ran a hand nervously through his hair. "What am I going to do if she over-dresses? What if she doesn't like the movie? What if I make an idiot of myself over something stupid?"

She raised a single eyebrow; "You mean like you're doing now?"

"YES! See?! I'm doing it already!" He sank back further into the sofa, "This was a mistake, I should just call the whole thing off."

Raven narrowed her eyes; "If you do that I'll castrate you." She ignored his surprised wince and continued, "If you do something that stupid, she'll be heart-broken. Now listen to me Robin; you look fine. You're worrying over nothing. Star will love the movie, I helped make sure of that, didn't I? And you all forced me to help with her outfit; she's not going to overdress. And the only way you're going to make an idiot of yourself will be if you don't stop fretting over nothing."

She turned her attention back to her book. "Now calm down, she's just outside the door."

Robin had the time to gape like a fish before smiling softly at her. He fixed a wrinkle in his shirt and stood, just in time for Starfire to float through the doorway. She was blushing cutely in a simple skirt and blouse combination, and Robin wondered why he ever felt nervous to begin with.

After the two of them were gone, and all was silent in the tower again, Raven closed her book. She couldn't concentrate at all. She was too busy restraining the giggly-self that wanted so to come out at the image of her team leader worrying over nothing.

Chapter Text

Cyborg had warned him; Speedy had warned him; even Beast Boy had warned him; but Robin had not been prepared for how torturous the waiting actually was.

Normally, Robin did not have a problem with killing time. TV, talking with friends, doing a little training, research, or tinkering with his gadgets to maximize efficiency, there was always something he could do. But none of those were an option right now, standing in the line from hell, begging the universe for some sort of demon intervention so he could at the very least have a good reason for ditching the spot he was holding.

Because that's all he was doing - holding a spot for Starfire, Jinx and Bumblebee.

The concert was apparently an exclusive and highly coveted event, having been sold out within an hour of the tickets going on sale a few months ago. From what the girls had been rambling about, they were lucky enough to get floor spots - standing room only, so if you wanted a good view of the stage, you had to get there early and you had to have strong elbows. The elbows were no problem - the girls had strong everything. It was the early part that wasn't an option - the three had been held up at dinner, their reservation running late, and had called each of the Titans in a near panic.

Cyborg was on pickup duty; Robin was the only one close enough to the venue to stand in the line for them. A whole 2 hours before doors open.

"Starfire is lucky she's cute," Robin grumbled to himself, cursing his own inability to tell her 'no' and craning his neck out from the line to glance up and down the street. It stretched back around the corner and out of sight, groups of teenage girls and friends in their 20s sitting in huddles on the pavement, leaning against storefronts, and heads ducked looking at their phones.

Robin's phone had died about 5 minutes ago, and he didn't have his portable charger with him due to an unfortunate crunching accident with Overload the day before. And he was definitely not in the mood to make friends; the band-shirts dancing around him made him question his friend's taste as is.

He was just grateful to be in his civilian clothes; the last thing he needed was word getting back to Gotham that Robin the Boy Wonder had stood waiting in a Boys4Now concert line for 2 hours. Speedy knowing about this was bad enough; Jason would never let him live it down.

Chapter Text

She stared with wide eyes at the scene on the couch. She couldn't believe her eyes. Of all the people to kiss, she'd never expected those two to be it. She'd be heartbroken when she found out that he was cheating on her. It was so sad. She could feel something twisting in her heart and felt her throat constricting.

"HAHAHA!! Dude, can you believe it?!"

Cyborg grinned at Beast Boy, who sat next to him on the Titans couch. Raven sat on his other side, with Star and Robin sitting a bit farther down on her end. They were watching a made for TV movie. The drama was over-done, the romance clichéd, and the comedy seriously lacking. That's what made it funny; to the boys at least.

Raven was less than amused and bored beyond all doubt. Why else would she be reading when she could be watching TV? Star, on the other had, was very into the movie. Maybe it was because the heroine acted a lot like she did, though not quite as otherworldly.

That's why Robin was having such a hard time constricting his laughter; he didn't want to make her feel bad. And she already looked like she wanted to throttle Beast Boy for laughing at such a moving scene.

Indeed, Starfire's eyes were narrowed to near slits, her lips curled down into an angry frown. "Why do you laugh, Beast Boy? Do you not feel sorry for the 'other girl'? This man is not being loyal to her at all, she will be most definitely hurt by his actions."

Beast Boy shook his head and wiped a tear away from his eye. He tried not to grin too widely as he leaned forward, so he could see the Tamaranean more clearly. "I can't feel sorry for her, Star. It's obvious how this is all gonna turn out, I mean, why else would those two," he waved vaguely in the direction of the TV, where the two characters were now pacing about the room, trying not to make eye contact with each other, "kiss?"

Cyborg looked at the changeling, "Now how can you know how this is gonna end, you suck at predicting movies."

Beast Boy looked offended; "I'll have you know that I am an expert at predicting the whims of the heart. That guy isn't gonna get either of them, he's cheating both of 'em. He's going to go back to his girlfriend of three years, who won't care that he's been cheating on her, because she's doing the same to him. And those two girls are gonna wind up meeting each other and hitting it off as best friends. It's so obvious, how could you guys not tell?"

Robin raised his eyebrows in disbelief, "How could you possibly know that, Beast Boy? I thought you hated romance movies; did you watch this before-hand or something?"

Beast Boy let out a nervous giggle; "Uh, well, not willingly. Rae was watching it the other day and I came in at the ending. Didn't you guys wonder how the lamp broke? She threw it at me in surprise." He rubbed his arm where a small cut was hidden under his sleeve. "It missed me, except for one piece."

The others had stopped listening and had turned to Raven with wide eyes. She calmly closed her book, put her hood up, walked up to Beast Boy and cuffed him over the head. Then she floated out of the room, and Beast Boy blinked.

"Oh yeah, that was supposed to be a secret."

Chapter Text

Karen had Lian in her arms as soon as Roy had opened the door. Roy would have been surprised, if she hadn't threatened to do so the first moment he had sent the text letting her know he was going to be stopping by the tower with her.

"Lian, how's my little rock star?" Karen grinned down at the toddler, sweeping the girl further into the room without a backward glance at Roy. From the living room couch, Garth looked over his shoulder and sent Roy a little wave, shuffling over to make sure there was plenty of room on the couch - expectantly, with a wisp of wind that ruffled Roy's t-shirt, Mas and Menos appeared, standing on the couch cushions backwards to wave at Lian. Lian, for her part, happily waved her little hand, more than content to be the centre of attention.

Roy thought it appropriate, since as far as the whole of Titans East were concerned, his little girl was the centre of the universe.

"C'mon in stranger, just because we have the superior Harper doesn't mean we don't want to see you," Garth joked.

Karen had settled on the floor with Lian, who was more than happy to stand in front of her auntie Bee and begin a dramatic retelling of the ride over. The fact that she could only pronounce a few words and did so with a fairly pronounced lisp was no deterrent, and Karen was very sure to keep her full attention on the master story teller. Mas joined them, greeting Lian slowly in español and smiling encouragingly as she stopped and parroted, "benoth", before giggling at the distraught face Menos was making over his brother's shoulder.

Menos shook his head, speaking as rapidly as ever, "Háblale como a un adulto, aprenderá más rápido."

Mas, Lian and Karen all cheerfully ignored the interruption, while Roy settled on the arm of the couch closest to Garth, punching his shoulder as he settled in. "Hey Gillface, didn't know you were back on the surface."

Garth gestured to a sodden scuba bag, the carrier of supplies Karen had equipped him with when he said he was going to be an ambassador for Atlantis. "Ambassador's need to bring gifts," she had said, blatantly disregarding his protests that he wasn't doing this to increase commerce, the last thing Atlantis needed was humans trying to trade crappy sterling for Atlantean treasures. Roy had mentioned sand dollars about 20 times that day, demanding that Garth bring him a present for Lian in exchange for the best seashell fossil Roy could find, and just generally being an ass - otherwise known as himself.

Once Lian had made her way to Uncle Garth and was presented with a large seahorse plush from the local aquarium, immediately beginning to murmur Atlantean gibberish to her in conversation, Roy decided Lian's pleased giggles were the true payment.

Chapter Text

It was a perfect day. The sun was shining with just enough cloud-cover so it didn't blind you every time you opened your eyes. The wind was nothing more than a calming, gentle breeze that ran its fingers softly through your hair. The air was filled with laughter and giggles, barking and meowing, playful shouting and the feeling of peace. The grass was deep green, the clouds were pure white, the sea was an inviting blue.

The Titans were lounging about at the park. Raven offered to be referee for the others' game of football. Starfire hadn't blasted any of the balls yet, and had even managed to score a touchdown; even if it was by accident. Beast Boy was alternating from rushing about the field in a crazed rush of adrenaline and flipping his tofu burgers. Cyborg was alternating from making sure none of the tofu products touched his burgers, and intercepting the ball from Robin every time he had the chance. Robin himself was being as competitive as always, clashing head on with Cyborg when he thought the foul was too extreme to ignore.

Raven wasn't a biased referee. If anyone called foul, she'd stop the game and drop her book. Then she would take the ball from whoever had it at the time, threaten to blow it up, and enjoy their reactions. Then she would smile, in such a way that it was hidden by a smirk, and toss the ball high up into the air. Starfire and Beast Boy would race for it, Robin and Cyborg cheering them on. Raven would shake her head and return to her book, pretending not to notice the crowd of children peering at their group through the bushes with mouths agape, but grinning. None of the others mentioned them, after all.

It would have appeared, though, that the setting was irresistible. The crowd of children encouraged a crowd of parents, who encouraged a crowd of media reporters of all types. The Titan's little play-place was the place to be, and it was if nobody had ever seen teenagers play football before.

Still, the Titans ignored them the best they could. When Robin looked about ready to tackle Beast Boy, the changeling morphed into a massive grizzly and stood his ground. Starfire snatched it from his hands as he was turning back, and Cyborg couldn't bring himself to steal it from her. Raven flipped their burgers and turned the page as she called out the score absentmindedly.

The crowds diminished. The reporters mumbled on how it hadn't turned out half as interesting as they thought it would have. The children soon lost interest and started their own game of tag. The parents returned to their gossip and work-talk, and the animals went about their business as usual. And when they were all alone again, the Titans paused and just looked at each other. Slowly, they each broke out into grins, hidden or not, and went on with their game.

Stories about super heroes are irresistible. Being able to show reporters that they weren't that different was even better.

Chapter Text

"Don't you think the boys look extra scrumptious today?"

Raven side eyed the girl beside her, shifting uncomfortably on the massive towel they were sharing. Jinx grinned, unrepentant. Starfire blinked, tilting her head in confusion as she looked over to the boys in question.

"Forgive me, but I do not believe we should be thinking of our friends as some form of food," Starfire shook her head, "if you are hungry, we could perhaps go to the ice cream man? "

Raven buried her face in her hand, while Jinx fixed Starfire with a blank look. The problem with Starfire was that it seemed to vary day by day how familiar she was with Earth slang. Jinx would always remember, back when she was still with the H.I.V.E., how Starfire had grabbed Mammoth off of Cyborg, spun him around a few times and as she let go, causing Mammoth to fly off down the road, the alien had triumphantly shouted "YEET!"

(See-More had fallen over laughing, and Raven had him encased in her soul self while he was distracted. Kyd Wykkyd had to break See-More out of prison later that week)

Then there were the days like today, when it seemed that Starfire literally had no idea what Jinx was talking about.

"Err," Bumblebee interrupted, shifting her sunglasses down her nose to peer over the tops of them, "not literally, Star. She means that she thinks the boys are eye candy, that they get her motor running."

"Oh, I did not realize that Jinx also had motorized parts," Starfire grinned, and even Raven wasn't sure if Star was being serious or just having fun at their expense.

"Anyway," Jinx turned her attention back to Kid Flash, wet from the sea and with a patch of sand stuck to his calves, "far be it from me to turn down a snack."

"No, the girl's right, are you hungry Jinx?"

"I could eat," she grinned lecherously, even as she blushed. Jinx liked to tease, but she and Kid Flash were still enjoying a very new relationship (Kid Flash appropriately terrified when Cyborg and Mammoth put their differences aside long enough to threaten extreme bodily harm if he stepped a toe out of line. Robin gave the same talk to Jinx.)

""Absolutely ridiculous," Raven mumbled, turning to lay on her stomach and watch the crash of the ocean waves.

If Aqualad happened to be in her line of sight, well - he was fairly irresistible.

Chapter Text

It all started with a desperate knock on the door. From there, everything had gone spiraling down hill.

The first knock had come when she was in the middle of one of the greatest books she'd ever read. She had barely registered it, and had it not been for that fact that there were so many afterward, she'd never have heard it. Usually people only knock twice on her door and ask if she wanted to talk, and if she didn't answer, they knew better than to stick around. But nobody said anything, they just knocked. Over and over again.

She had torn herself away from the book with the outmost reluctance and slowly made her way to the door. The knocking became even more insistent, and she felt ready to pound whoever was on the other side if they didn't stop. But when she opened the door a crack, she had no time to even register who it was. Within seconds, something had swept past her and she found herself sitting back on the bed. The door was closed and there was a blur heading straight for her closet.

She could just make out purple and red in the blur of colors as she blinked in surprise, so she called out; "Starfire?"

The blur froze and Starfire turned to look at the empath, with one hand reaching into the closet, the other holding four of Raven's cloaks by their hangers. "Yes, Raven?"

It was hard for Raven to get angry with Starfire, she was so innocent looking. But still, she found herself frowning as she crossed her arms, unconsciously tapping her foot. "What are you doing in here? Why are you going through my clothes?"

Starfire had gone back to rummaging through her closet the moment Raven had finished her first question. "I am here to offer you my assistance in the choosing of your clothing for tonight. But," she looked to her feet, at the many identical, blue cloaks, "you don't really have anything else, do you?"

Raven shook her head, "It's easier this way. But why would I need help picking out clothes for tonight? What's going on tonight?"

Starfire looked stunned; "Friend Raven, are you saying you have not heard the great news? We are to have guests in the tower tonight; it is a zation-of-organi, who call themselves the 'BBR Fanclub'. They say they have questions to ask, especially about you and friend Beast Boy! Is this not exciting?"

Raven paled slightly; "Dear Azar, they know..." She hid her head beneath her pillow as her lamp exploded, and Starfire could only blink in confusion.

Chapter Text

With only 45 minutes until the end of the year, Speedy was getting desperate.

The gathering at the Tower was a casual affair. Kid Flash had popped over earlier in the day lamenting that due to circumstances of a parallel universe nature, he couldn't spend the holiday with his family without risking the space time continuum. Speedy found it helpful to actively avoid asking questions, and had merely shrugged, inviting Kid to spend the day with him, Aqualad, and whomever else wandered into the Tower, sensing a space of welcome escapism from the one night of the year where everyone was up at midnight, and thus very interested in why you were not joining in on parties, gatherings, family game sessions, and general togetherness.

Not a horrible thing, really, but very awkward if you didn't really have a great relationship with your family at present. Dinah had been understanding that he was not ready to face Green Arrow after their last argument - Hal had made his displeasure of not seeing him clear with a series of memes.

Aqualad, while, it wasn't like New Years carried any special meaning down in Atlantis. The two had planned on having a fairly quiet and normal day in the tower, set with the perfect view of the fireworks over the bay from their living room. Speedy had picked out some truly terrible shark movies to annoy Aqualad with as background to two player board games and rounds of poker. It was a no brainer that Kid Flash was welcome in on the plan, but that meant they were going to need a lot more food.

Which they had, until a frazzled Herald had shown up at the door, arguing into his communicator with what had sounded a bit like Robin, shoving Jericho into the room the moment Aqualad had opened the door. Jericho, for his part, had waved sheepishly, seeming to be trying to politely ignore the way Herald was cursing their friend and fellow Titan through a tiny yellow screen.

Now, the five boys were laid out across the furniture they had shifted into some form of fort, settled around the ending of the cinematic masterpiece Snow Shark Ancient Snow Beast, and they were still waiting for the fog that had settled over the bay to clear out. The weather was still calm enough for the fireworks, but the view wouldn't be half as impressive with muted colours flashing in the sky of indistinguishable patterns.

"But like if you run fast enough you could create a vortex and suck it all away," Speedy was insisting to a sulky Kid Flash, who had morosely commandeered the family sized nachos for himself.

"We can have fireworks literally any other day of the year," Aqualad argued.

Speedy just glared at him and continued to plead with the speedster to do something about the weather. Jericho and Herald tried to join in, but were distracted when Aqualad threw pillows at them.

Chapter Text

It had been a long day.

Before the sun had even thought of rising, the alarm sounded throughout the tower. He had shot out of his bed, banging his head on the ceiling in his haste, and fallen from his top bunk to the floor. He’d fumbled with the pants of his uniform, stepping on hidden, decidedly painful objects once or twice as he hobbled around, still half asleep. He'd run out of his room, still pulling on his shoes, and promptly bumped into Cyborg, falling on his posterior.

It turned out Doctor Light was taking advantage of the darkness and had broken into a couple of ATM machines, thinking he'd never be caught at that time of day. Beast Boy had a hard time keeping his eyes open as Robin shouted out their cue to attack. Stumbling tiredly behind the others, he was almost bowled over when Doctor Light came flying at him after being pushed back by a starbolt. He had barely managed to transform into a mouse in order to keep from being crushed, scurrying away in order to regroup.

From there, things just went down-hill. After Doctor Light had been arrested (which didn't take long at all once he recognized Raven and her rapidly growing state of anger), Robin had taken him aside and scolded him. Something about being alert at all times, things that he knew already; but it was easier to preach than to do. Robin hadn't been impressed, and by the time they got to the tower, they had a mere ten minutes before training had started.

His body still sluggish from lack of sleep and proper nourishment, Beast Boy had somehow managed to topple off the roof of the tower. He'd managed to turn into a hawk and fly back up easily, but his time was up the moment he touched down, and he had the worst stats in Titans History to show for it. When he finally made it down to the kitchen, Cyborg had taken over the stove, and he'd been assaulted with the horrid odor of freshly cooking bacon and eggs.

Feeling sick to his stomach, he'd ventured to the fridge, only to discover that all of his tofu products were gone. There was nothing remotely edible looking for him, ignoring the leftover vegetarian pizza sitting at the very back. But seeing as how it was leftover from about three weeks ago, he didn't want to even try tasting it.

It was two in the afternoon when he crawled onto the couch miserably, his muscles complaining and his eyelids drooping. But though he had them closed, he just couldn't seem to fall asleep. He drifted between conscious and unconsciousness for what seemed like a zillion years before he felt the comforting weight of a blanket. He tried to crack open an eye, but found that the endless void of black welcomed him sooner, and he drifted off into his afternoon nap.

Raven rolled her eyes and turned away from the shape-shifter, returning to her book with a tiny smile.

Chapter Text

When Karen had insisted that she could put Lian down for her nap, honestly Roy you look like death warmed over just close your eyes for a second, Roy had thought that he would drift to sleep within seconds.

But try as he might, stretched out on the couch in the Titan's Easts living room, pillow clutched close to his chest while another was shoved under his head, and the comfortable knitted afghan that Raven had sent Karen for her birthday, he just couldn't drift off into sleep. The tower was quiet - eeriely so, considering the antics Mas y Menos were known to get up to - and Roy had the lights dimmed earlier. With Lian comfortble in her aunt Bee's arms, and with his own limbs almost lead with exhaustion, this should have been one of those days where he was asleep before his eyes were shut.

Instead, he was groggily staring up at the ceiling above him, mentally counting acrobatic sheep and tracing patterns on the pillow he clutched, willing his body to just cooperate and sleep, please, it felt like he hadn't had a good rest in three days...

This was how Garth found him, sturdy steps faltering to quiet tiptopes as he leaned over the edge of the couch, expecting Roy's sleeping face and instead being surprised by a sleepy voice greeting him, "Fishboy, welcome back."

"Hey," Garth smiled, shoving the sleepily raised hand that had pinched his nose away from him and instead assessing the clearly exhausted young father. Garth had passed the room Roy normally used for Lian, Karen's ear pressed to the door as she checked on the napping girl, and had poked his own head to the adjacent room for Roy. Not finding him there, he had thought Roy would be at least just as comatose here. But the nap clearly wasn't working. And Garth thought he knew why.

"When's the last time you slept without her near?" Garth asked, eyeing the tightly clutched pillow where Roy had positioned it against his chest, cradling it close. Roy made a strange noise in response, taking a second before responding.

"I can sleep without her," he argued, "just...not right now."

Garth hummed an affirmation of hearing, before walking around the couch and standing in front of Roy, "c'mon. Sit up a moment, will you?"

Roy didn't have the energy to argue. Nor did he have the energy to complain when Garth sat himself down where Roy had previously had his head. Garth placed gentle, coaxing hands on Roy's shoulders and gently pulled him down, until Roy was nestled back, head resting on Garth's strangely comfortable, but more importantly very warm, lap. The warmth, coupled with Garth's determined hands running over Roy's head, finally did the trick. Roy slipped into his nap with a barely audible "thanks."

Chapter Text

Raven struggled with her enemies, but they were persistent. They shoved her into the best cloak and leotard she had, and spruced up her hair so that it swayed with even the most gentle shake of her head. Somehow she wound up with dark purple eyeliner on, and the barest tint of pink on her cheeks. Starfire was a villain in disguise, there was no doubt in her mind.

As she was forced into the living room, she found that Beast Boy had been attacked as well. He tugged nervously at the tight neck of his black shirt, and looked almost unnatural--all things considered--in dark blue jeans. Somebody had tried to comb his hair and, though it was a brave attempt, it hadn't made much of a difference. And as she was forcibly seated next to him on the sofa, she could smell the faintest hint of cologne. They exchanged a helpless look and he shrugged miserably, but they hadn't the time to say anything.

Cyborg had taken a seat next to Raven, Robin next to Beast Boy, and Starfire had gone to escort their guests to the living room. Beast Boy noticed with a sour glance that nobody else had to change out of their uniforms. Sure, they all looked sharper and neater, but they were still in their usual outfits. It was most definitely a conspiracy.

All too soon, Starfire returned, followed by a group of five teenagers. All looked ecstatic to be there, and grinned happily when Starfire called; "Friends, please welcome our guests to our humble abode!" Starfire herself was smiling widely as she grabbed one of the girls and pulled her to the couch. "Please, have a seat, while I get the beverages." She flew off humming something to herself and winked at Raven as she passed.

Raven resisted the urge to bury her face in her hands as she noticed the way the girl grinned upon noticing the seating arrangements. This was all just one big, bad dream. The first five official 'BBR' fans were not sitting across from her. They were not whispering to themselves in a frenzy. They did not know about her personal relationships. There was no way that they were going to ask Beast Boy and herself anything about anything related to what they were here for.

"So," the apparent leader grinned, "Cyborg, Robin, how long have you two known?"

Cyborg and Robin exchanged a confused glance over the heads of the two in between them, and simultaneously shrugged. "Known about what?" Robin answered.

Another girl piped up, "About their relationship, of course!"

Beast Boy tried to sink back into the couch as little question-marks appeared over the other two's heads. Starfire poked her head back in just in time, "She speaks about Beast Boy and Raven, yes?"

The tower's not-so-wanted guests nodded, and Cyborg burst out laughing. "Ah man, you guys didn't tell us!"

Robin smiled and nodded, "Yeah, how long?"

Everyone leaned in closer and the two in the middle could only sigh.

"I'm gonna kill whoever told them," they whispered at the same time.

Chapter Text

"Alright, it has been three days since the last time I whooped your ass at cards. It's official - you are a coward."

The dramatic "ooooh" from Beast Boy and Raven, accompanied by the shocked inhale from Starfire, was the cherry on top of the proverbial sundae. Cyborg knew he looked a little rediculous, one foot dramatically resting on the chair in front of him, fist on his hip while his other hand was extended to an equally dramatic point, but these sorts of challenges required the flare. After all, Robin was totally a secret theatre nerd, Cyborg had him pegged.

The fact that Robin's cape swirled, literally swirled in the air around him, catching some sort of updraft before it fluttered down around him to encase him in its dark grasp again, was really just more evidence of this. Cyborg fancied that if he finished the program for holo-projection and get the Titan's communicators synched up properly to the special effects he had in mind, the blood pressure spike Robin was clearly experiencing would result in an angry flame background the likes of which Hot Spot would be envious of.

(He had lightening for Raven, sunshine and flowers for Starfire, and was still trying to figure out if Beast Boy should have the Shocked Pikachu face or a simple series of question marks. He was leaning towards Pikachu).

"I am not a coward," Robin was insisting, even as he did not approach the table where the rest of the Titans were gathered and waiting, "I just don't think playing cards again so soon after the Game Master is a good idea!"

"Dude, it's exactly because of the Game Master that we should play," Beast Boy interjected, and Cyborg knew he was his best friend for a reason. Egging on Robin was a game played best in teams. "What does fighting have to do with winning a card game? Besides," and he held up the box of booster packs waiting to be opened, "somewhere in this box is the only card that could ever stand a chance against Meteor - the Justice League approved addition, 'banish'."

"It can also only ever be played against Meteor," Raven hummed, "and will ban players from using Ice-Age."

Cyborg knew Raven was his other best friend for a reason. Taunt, reason, pull. Robin was stocking closer to the table, looming over the rest of the seated Titans to lean in and press into Cyborg's face, almost nose to nose.

"Winning isn't everything," Robin growled as he glared at Cyborg, "that was the whole point!"

"I'm not saying it's everything," Cyborg smirked, "I'm saying you're just too damn scared of losing to even try."

The "ooooooh"s were joined and made slightly less dramatic by Starfire's aborted giggle at the end, turning it into an "oooho-who-who-whoo", but it did the trick. Cyborg could see the blood vessel next to Robin’s mask as it started to twitch, and the grit teeth were just so damn extra, but he couldn’t help the fact that his own grin had widened into something so smug. Baiting Robin was fun, and it was his responsibility to get the kid to relax. Err, well, to play a game instead of disappear into his office anyway.

"Winner has to do the whole tower’s laundry for a month," Robin snarled.

"And pay for the pizzas," Cyborg countered, knowing that the taunt was just another draw.

"Deal," and Robin sat down as dramatically as he had swirled, literally back flipping into his chair.

Chapter Text

It was snowing.

Falling gently to the ground, the tiny flakes of crystallized water gathered in bunches on tree limbs and roofs. A thin sheet of white had covered the ground, nowhere near deep enough to disturb traffic, but still so that people left footprints in their wake. They altogether vanished when they hit the water surrounding the giant, mechanical looking T-Tower outside the city.

Mas and Menos seemed particularly interested in the falling beads of white. Grinning at each other, they had dashed outside mere moments after realizing what was happening. The tilted their heads back, laughing for no apparent reason, and stuck out their tongues. The flakes didn't really have any particular taste to them, melting the minute they made contact with either of the twins' tongues. Neither one seemed to notice or care, as they started to chase after each other.

Tackling his brother to the ground, Menos laughed giddily as they went rolling at a super-speed down to the beach. They wrestled with each other playfully, their shouts and sudden bouts of laughter the only noise, aside from the gentle sound of the waves lapping into the shore and out again.

It wasn't long before they started to get cold, rubbing their hands together fiercely in order to generate heat. They ran back to the tower, running so fast they left little, if any, trace of footsteps behind them. The snow continued to fall down gently, though in a slightly greater amount, when they tumbled into the tower entrance. Talking about nothing but what came to their heads, the twins ran up to the kitchen and dug around in the fridge for some food.

Speedy was already making hot chocolate when they had shown up, mumbling under his breath about it being too damned cold. He barely batted an eye when they looked up at him, simply waving his hand to the counter. "Get some for yourselves," he grumbled distractedly. The twins did just that, before plopping down in front of the TV, Game Station 2 controllers in hand. That was how they passed the rest of the night away, until Bumble Bee yelled at them to get to bed.

Aqualad walked past them on the way to his own room, yawning slightly and ruffling their hair. The twins looked at each other and smiled, before rushing off to the room they shared. Collapsing on their bunk beds, they each stared out the window. The moonlight reflected off of the still falling snow, some of the flakes leaving wet patterns on the window. The twins fell asleep listening to the silent lullaby of nature.

Chapter Text

The sound of the mobile set up in the nursery room was familiar, but it was evidently not effective today.

Raven sighed as Teether continued to babble at her, gesturing towards some of the toys Starfire had procured for the room when Raven had hesitantly mentioned that she wanted to make sure the kids knew they were welcome wherever she was. Nobody but Raven seemed surprised about her momma bear instinct or the fact that she had informally adopted the trio, though she insisted they were to call her by her name, not "Auntie Rae", not "Rae Rae" and never, ever, "Momma Bird". (Robin thought he was clever for that - Raven had hung him with her soul self from the rafters for an hour.)

She knew that Teether was getting older, that soon naps would not be required, and that was why it was getting harder and harder to put him down for the afternoon. But she also knew that that time was not yet, and she did not have the energy for an exhausted Teether fighting with an insecure Timmy at dinner. It was bad enough when Beast Boy missed his afternoon nap and started squabbling with Cyborg over the menu of choice - Raven couldn’t muzzle the kids.

She rocked Teether in her arms as she turned the mobile off, instead shifting over to the rocking chair, grabbing a stuffed rabbit that Teether had taken to while she was at it. Teether immediately hugged it close and started to play with its floppy ears, quietly whispering to the toy as if passing along the secrets of the universe. Which, hey, maybe he was, Raven wasn’t going to judge. What she was going to do, was read. Settled into the chair, she levitated one of the books of nursery rhymes over to her and flicked the switch for the lights, turning them on a dim setting, just enough so that the stars on the ceiling were still glowing.

"Rock a bye Teether, in a tree top," she sang quietly, not comfortable with the act but knowing that she would try anything for these kids, "when the wind blows, the cradle will rock..."

Teether was looking up at her with wide eyes, reaching up to pat one hand against her lips. It muted her gravelly voice for a moment, and she bit back the annoyance of self deprecation - the toddler was not telling her to shut up, Anxiety, he was just surprised. Singing was a different lilt to her chanting, after all.

She looked down at the book, unfamiliar with the next verse of the lullaby, and continued, "when the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, and -" she paused, eyebrows raised, and continuing with hesitance, "and...down will come baby, cradle and all?"

Teether simply snuggled into her chest, using the stuffed rabbits paw to pat at the book, "more". So she kept reading, singing softly, until he slipped off into sleep.

Chapter Text

"You can't ignore me forever you know."

Silence was the only response he was granted. Rolling his eyes heavenward and sighing in exasperation, he turned his back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Well fine then, I bet you anything that by the end of the day, I can make you talk to me."

He knew he had the other's attention when he heard the couch's springs creak. He turned his head and found that he did, indeed, have the other's attention. There was a challenging smirk resting on their lips, and he could feel one of his own spreading across his lips. He cocked a brow and continued on. "Stakes are this; you can go the rest of the afternoon without talking to me, I'll leave you alone tomorrow, for the entire day. If I can get you to talk, you have to stay in my company at all times. Got it?"

There was a slight look of distaste on the other's face, and he didn't know whether or not to feel insulted. He chose the only other option he could think of; "Well, not at all times...we don't have to go to the bathroom together or anything." He smirked as the other unknowingly stroked his ego when the distaste vanished to be replaced by a smile. "Deal?"

The other's smirk just widened and turned back around, otherwise showing no interest in the previous conversation. "I'll take that as a yes," he said before turning and walking away.

The silence that fell in the room was downright scary. The springs in the couch creaked as they were shifted again, a head swiveling left and right. Brows creased and eyes narrowed in suspicion, but nothing in the room moved. Everything was still, eliminating the idea of somebody hiding, lying in wait. Long limbs unraveled themselves as a body was pushed upward and off the couch. Light, cautious steps headed toward the door, pausing halfway there.

A shake of a head, releasing doubts, and the steps resumed. The door slid open, revealing a just as still hallway, defying all laws of the tower. A scowl, shrug of shoulders, and they were heading back to the couch.

"Aww, I'm hurt. What if I'd been kidnapped by some horny bastard and taken back to their hideout so they could have their way with me?"

Rolling eyes, "You're such a--..." Eyes widened and a hand flew up to cover a mouth. Eyes narrowed and a growl filled the room.

Roy smirked from where he stood up above Garth, leaning against the railing. "That was way too easy, by the way. It makes me think you wanted to get stuck with me."

Garth flipped him off and went back to the couch to sulk. Roy laughed off his victory, "I bet you don't even know why you're ignoring me anymore!"

Another growl filled the room and a pillow was pelted at his head.

Chapter Text

Mammoth entered the room holding about 15 pounds of take out, and had to immediately duck the whirling spider gadget. It crashed into the wall behind him with a distinctly catastrophic crunch, and rather than think about it, Mammoth decided getting inside was more important.

He didn’t really look up until he had settled the food on the counter, and looked around the room with a dismay felt only by those who would have wanted in on the fun and instead missed out. Kyd Wykkyd appeared next to him as silent as ever, reaching into the bags and starting to pull the numerous containers out. They seemed content to ignore the chaos behind them.

"YOU SNOT NOSED LITTLE -" Billy was shouting, wrestling with Gizmo over the controller to the television, two clones held at bay by the arms from Gizmo’s backpack. See-More was cackling from his position on the couch, shamelessly using the opportunity to speed ahead on Rainbow Road. Toad’s taunting voice sounded out, adding to the noise -

but it was See-More’s strangled shout of despair that sounded out once Gizmo and Billy had rolled over and Gizmo’s flailing mechanics smacked See-More off of the couch, controller flying out of his hands and Toad sailing off into space, effectively shoving him back into 6th place as the computers sped passed.

Kyd Wykkyd held a $20 up to Mammoth with a nod at the food, dragging a pair of chopsticks out of the drawers when they found none in the bags.

"How long has this been going on?" Mammoth asked, even as he was busy separating the orders into different piles. See-More had wanted a burger, Mammoth had been craving Mexican, Kyd had demanded sushi, and Billy and Gizmo had both shouted out that if Mammoth didn’t bring chicken wings back that they would do something or other. Mammoth had learned to tune the threats out years ago. Bringing back soup, Thai and perogies was just smart, and the fries were going to get cold if the other boys didn’t grab any soon. Not that it was Mammoth’s problem, he decided, piling his plate high.

Kyd rolled their eyes, gesturing at the controller they had abandoned and the idle Luigi character on the screen. That didn’t exactly answer Mammoth’s question, but he nodded anyway.

Kyd held up their phone and tapped a multiplayer card game app, raising their eyebrows up at Mammoth, who shrugged and pulled his own phone out to play while they ate. Might as well, not like the other boys were going to be up for finishing their Mario tournament any time soon.

The fact that Billy started to beat on Mammoth’s back once he realized his food was there but now cold was as cheerfully ignored as Mammoth’s own return had been.

Chapter Text

Five years.

It was five years ago that the Titans disbanded.

Five years with the tower standing dark and empty in the cold, still waters surrounding Jump City.

Five years with the Titans running from media, from fans, from memories nobody could escape.

Still, he lingered nearby. He never truly left the tower, but he didn't really live there. That was Cyborg's home. Locked up in the basement, never going farther than the living room. Letting the tower gather dust, letting the windows be smashed open by flying rocks.

He was near, though. Always keeping an eye out for them. It was his duty, after all, as team leader. Cyborg could take care of himself; he had to. He wouldn't let any of the others help. He knew. He saw Raven return after the second year. Saw her come a nervous wreck; saw her leave with debris floating around her in anger.

Raven. She took it worse than any of the others. She simply vanished from the city for those two years. She locked herself up in a small apartment after meeting with Cyborg. She hardly ever left; the only time he had seen her outside was when it was raining. When she would run out into the streets in a blind turmoil, screaming at the world in general. She broke a few cars, but as the years progressed, she simply vanished. He didn't recognize the woman she had become.

Beast Boy tried the hardest. But he always was the weakest link in the team. It hadn't mattered when that was what they were, but alone, he broke. He had nowhere to go, nothing left to do. He wasn't cut out for the lone hero thing, he needed the others. He needed others to smile, to laugh, to prove he wasn't alone. He tried to fit in; he even went to Titans East for a while. That had hurt, be it was his decision.

It hadn't lasted. Now, he usually saw Beast Boy in her cave. They never did find a way to bring Terra back.

Starfire cried for days. Clung to him, begging him to make it all right again. He could only shake his head. He was helpless; he'd failed the team. She tried staying with him, with all of the Titans in turn. It wore her down. Cyborg was helpless, in denial. Raven was slowing sinking into depression, losing herself. She couldn't stand seeing Beast Boy struggle to maintain his happiness. She left Earth, left him.

That was when he realized they weren't going to come back. He'd known all along, but had never accepted it.

He had no choice.

He was grown now. He wasn't the boy-wonder. He was Nightwing. He was the soul survivor of the Titans.

The hope of Robin still lingered, though.

Chapter Text

Kyd had not anticipated that others would still be there when they returned, but then, Angel had been convinced that they were not alone in their experiences.

Waking up from Brother Blood's control was something they were still working through. Kyd wasn't sure what memories, what actions, were driven by their own desire to cause mischief and what were driven by the insanity of a man who demanded the respect and attention of teenagers. Angel argued that they were lucky - at least they hadn't been the poster children of the H.I.V.E, like Jinx, Mammoth and Gizmo had been. But Angel had been the one to beg Kyd to take them back to the ruins of the building, to face the farce of a home they had for the past four years.

See-More had been there when they had arrived, picking through debris as if looking for something. It rolled off of Kyd's tongue without thought, a teasing comment about the proof of See-More beating them so profoundly at Super Soldier Fighter VII wasn't going to come back - Kyd does not remember if talking to See-More the first time had been their idea, or something that Blood had made them do.

But Angel's laughter and See-More's surprised flail before turning around and just grinning at the sight of both of them reminded them that it did not matter.

See-More had all but thrown himself across the debris, enveloping Angel in a tight hug that Kyd had tried to wriggle away from, but they had both reached out an arm and pulled them in without a thought. See-More was babbling about nobody having seen them in weeks, about the confused students pouring out of the emergency escapes and looking around in a daze, about whispers of Stone being a Titan in disguise, about drifting from homeless shelter to emergency bunkers all around town, wondering and hoping and desperate to see them again.

Angel had kissed the top of his head and murmured an apology. See-More had blushed but brushed the affection off, steady singular gaze lingering on Kyd's face as if waiting for some sort of reaction. Kyd had shrugged their shoulders, and just asked See-More to come with them back to their old haunt.

Kyd may not be sure what memories were truly their own, but they knew that See-More and Angel were theirs, so did it really matter?

Chapter Text

"AARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!"

Bumblebee hit her head on the bottom of the table in her haste to get back up. Clutching her lost earring in her hand and rubbing the back of her head with her other, she turned her attention with a scowl toward the ceiling. Somebody was going to be hurt; just so long as that wasn't why they had screamed to begin with.

She was about to shout at whoever was on the second floor when they screamed again. Only this time, it was coming from the other side of the door that lead toward the elevators, and the stairs. Grumbling to herself she ran toward them, shoving her earring into her pocket so she didn't lose it again. She literally ran into Speedy in the hallway, the archer having rushed up from the basement.

She fell to the floor with an "oof", while he simply stumbled back into the wall. She spared him a glare which he returned ten-fold, before the both of them ran toward the stairs.

The scream sounded again, a little higher in pitch than before. Somebody shouted in response, but the words weren't clear enough to understand.

Bumblebee deduced that she was going to kill the twins. Only they could scream that loudly, and Aqualad wouldn't shout at them if they were hurt.

"What in the hell is going on up there?!" Speedy shouted. They were in the middle of the staircase. The noise echoed back into her ears, and she decided she'd have to kill him as well.

The only reply they got was a rush of frantic Spanish, the twins suddenly appearing at the landing. They were beet red and waving their arms around like crazy people. It was hard enough to understand them when they were talking at a normal speed; as it were, the two could only stare blankly at the two of them. Bumblebee pushed her way past Speedy and the twins, looking both ways down the hall.

Aqualad was nowhere in sight.

"Calm down ya little runts!"

Mas flared his nostrils and Menos started to bang his head against the wall. Speedy looked at them with arched brows before sliding past them, mumbling about insane speedsters. Bumblebee turned her attention to them as Speedy started toward Aqualad's room, intent on finding out what happened.

Minutes later, Speedy returned. He was just as red as the twins, though she could see a pleased smile tugging at his lips.

She set her hands on her hips and leaned forward, glare set to destroy. She was beyond her limits now. "Explain."

Speedy let out a strangled noise that could have been a giggle. She started to tap her foot and he cleared his throat.

"Err, the twins kinda walking in on Aqua...without any clothes on..."

The aforementioned twins shuddered and banged their heads against the walls. Bumblebee rolled her eyes.

"So they saw him naked, boo-frikkity-hoo! It's not like he's got anything different from the two of...wait a minute. Why are you blushing, Speedy?"

When Speedy only smiled, in a way that implied he wasn't really listening, Bumblebee buried her face in her hands. "I need a new job..."

Chapter Text

Starfire was incredibly comfortable in nothing but her skin.

Raven envied her this comfort.

Starfire felt no shame in baring herself, body and soul, to the world - so long as it was on her own terms. Control Freak had been sent flying with a broken nose when he had tried to zap the Tamaranean into a show called Naked and Afraid, and See-More had always been given special attention for a quick take-down ever since the first time he referenced his x-ray vision. Even Beast Boy was not sparred this defensive reaction, being subject to a silent treatment that had lasted a solid week when he had accidently tugged Star's bathing suit bottoms down completely (rather than the string tugging he had been going for, honest Star, he was just trying to get a reaction out of Robin!).

Raven rather thought that if Beast Boy hadn't said that was what he had been trying to do the mistake would have been forgiven much sooner, but that was Beast Boy's mistake to learn from, not her own.

Nudity as a whole was not really a large concern for Starfire. She enjoyed wearing clothes, and she was enthralled by the different fabrics and textures utilized in earth clothing in particular - but ever since her chrysallis, Starfire was adament that her natural body was nothing to be ashamed of. If the best means of expressing that confidence and love was through nudity, then that was just something that the rest of the Titans were going to need to respect of her.

Robin had gone fire hydrant red, Cyborg had cough-laughed into his fists, Beast Boy had been permanently banned from comment if he knew what was good for him. But Raven?

Raven was nowhere near as confident with her body, and that seemed to bother Starfire. And the only way that Starfire could think of to help her grow her confidence was to have Raven join her in the practice, suggesting that they conduct their early morning meditations in the buff.

Raven had rejected the idea. Starfire had needled and insisted and begged, even. Because why was her friend not confident, why did her friend feel shame in her natural self, would this not be a means of practice to controlling herself, owning herself, celebrating her existence now that Trigon's powers were not a threat to her future?

But Raven was not confident in her skin.

She had spent her entire life covering herself, hiding parts of herself away and pushed down, deep deep down into the recesses of her mind, that the thought of anyone seeing her exposed, even herself, was just too much.

Raven was not confident like Starfire - but she wanted to be.

Chapter Text

"What do you think you're doing?!"

Beast Boy fumbled in his leap for the Frisbee as the sudden noise penetrated his sensitive ears. It hit him on the side of the head, electing a yelp of pain as he crumbled to the ground.

"I'm not doing anything!"

Raven calmly helped him sit up as he morphed back into his human form. She frowned as he slumped against her, holding up three fingers in front of his face.

"Don't give me that! I saw you!"

Beast Boy shook his head rapidly, abruptly stopping with a groan of pain. Raven muttered at him under her breath, turning to glare at the arguing girls.

"If you saw me, what did I do?!"

Beast Boy, holding one of his hands to his head, pushed himself heavily off the ground. He kicked the Frisbee disdainfully, smirking in satisfaction as it rolled down the hill.

"You slipped one of my stones off of the board!"

Raven, scowling, held out one of her hands as she glared at a spot below the table the girls sat at.

"No I didn't!"

Beast Boy crossed his arms and sulked upon realizing that another dog had taken his Frisbee.

"You...did..." Her arguing ended the instant her widened eyes settled on Raven's energy. She gaped as a white stone fell onto the table in front of her. Her friend smirked, and Raven smirked as well.

"No she didn't," she said softly, ending the imbroglio.

Chapter Text

"C'mon, Star, I keep telling you it’s not like that," Robin approached Starfire, hands up and palms out.

Starfire glared at him, fiercely irritated, "you ward me away and try to speak kindly. Make up your mind, Robin!"

Raven buried her face in her hands, groaning softly, and beside her Bumblebee looked at the two in confusion. "Are...are they fighting over the flowers that Aqualad sent over?"

Raven nodded, as Robin began to wildly flail his arms in denial, "I'm not trying to ward you away, Star, this means I'm not trying to hurt you!"

"So you believe that I am so cowardly to be afraid that you could harm me?"

Bumblebee blinked, looking at the flowers sitting innocently in the vase at the table beside them, and flicking her eyes back towards the two fighting. Raven was holding her fingers to her temples now, muttering quietly to herself.

"Err...the flowers that Aqualad sent as a housewarming?"

Raven spared Bumblebee a glance, nodding.

"I’m not calling you a coward, Star!"

"Then why do you approach me like a blumbdorkiand seeking an Iknorfkal?!"

Bumblebee pulled the card out of the flower vase, "the ones he sent last week? As a joke after the renovations were done?"

Raven sighed audibly, as Starfire turned and stormed out of the room, Robin desperately following with a confused cry of "it’s not rude to say I don’t understand, I don’t know what those are! Starfire, wait, it’s just a misunderstanding!"

"Leave me be, Robin!"

Bumblebee held the card up again after perusing it, seeing nothing out of the ordinary. A simple baby blue card with Aqualad’s familiar crooked barely legible scratch (and honestly, teaching Aqualad how to write was not something Bumblebe had been prepared for when they formed Titans East), "Hope the house is what you dreamed of", with a circled A as his attempt at a signature.

When she read this out loud to Raven, the other girl just shook her head. "That’s not what delivery boy thought it said. When he read it out loud, directly to Robin, it was ’Hope to see you in my dreams’, with a heart."

Bumblebee squinted back at the card, tilting it slightly. She nodded, understanding how that could be the case.

"...didn’t these get delivered last week?"

Raven gestured at the door where the yelling was still filtering back and it slammed shut. "Yes." She pinched the bridge of her nose, "on their anniversary."

"...ah".

Chapter Text

When they had started, they'd been innocent.

As innocent as a band of superheroes could be, of course. One was a half-demon, one was an alien, another a cyborg, and one of them a changeling. Then there was him, Batman's prodigy. All things considered, the tower should have been much more serious. They should have been.

But they were teenagers. Teenagers were not meant to take life too seriously. They had the entire world ahead of them, and the entire city on their shoulders. But did that stop them from having a good time?

It did for the two of them. Especially after Slade had his way with them. There were certain things that they just couldn't share with the others. Best friends or not, neither Robin nor Raven felt like dampening the spirits of the others. It was best to let their stories stay with themselves. That was Robin's take on their relationship, at least. He didn't want to hurt Starfire any more than he already did. Their relationship was fragile in all its strengths. He never considered any of the others.

Raven simply didn't want to bother them. She knew that the rest of the team had nightmares of their own to deal with. It was merely the fact that she and the Titans' leader shared their demons that she confided in him. At least, that was what she told herself. Her friends didn't need her emotional--could she even call it that?--baggage.

Late nights spent together. A cup of coffee and tea, respectively, sipped in a darkened kitchen. Patrolling the city together when the others had fallen asleep. Nightmares of things from the past, of the future, and of the imagination; all shared only with each other. It wasn't a romantic relationship. Raven could never indulge herself in such a thing, and Robin was already captivated by another being. Neither wanted anything but the friendship. The comradeship.

They just kept each others secrets.

For them, there was no such thing as innocent.

Chapter Text

Robin was accustomed to strange things occurring in Titans Tower. But he was still confused when he found Raven holding a happily gurgling Silkie over the kitchen sink, glaring at the little mutant larvae with murderous intent.

"Uh," he uttered, eloquent as always, "Raven?"

She spared him a glance, glare set, eyebrows raised in a nonverbal question of 'why would you think interrupting me was a good idea?'. Silkie squirmed and wriggled his lower body, prompting Raven to tighten her grip - from where he stood, Robin could see the larvae's body shift to accommodate the tightening fingers.

"Did...something happen?" he approached curiously, noting that the sink was empty. For a moment he had entertained perhaps Raven was trying to give Silkie a bath, or perhaps holding him above the sink to avoid dripping all over the room from a spilled...something. But no, as far as he could tell, there was not an obvious...mess... anywhere within sight. Raven had her cloak pulled up and wrapped tight around her body, so he thought maybe it was possible that the mess was on her.

"He ate my tea leaves."

Or, it was just another day in the tower.

"Your tea leaves?" Robin squinted, as if doing so would allow him to see why that was such an issue.

"I was studying them," Raven spoke evenly, "and turned to consult my books. When I turned back, Silkie was eating not only the leaves, but the saucer." She glared at the happy bug, "I liked that saucer."

Silkie made a content cooing noise, antennae twitching slightly. Robin tried to look around the both of them, and did see Raven's abandoned cup and a stack of books on the table. But what he did not see was an answer to the question he didn't think he needed to ask. But apparently he did need to.

"And...because he ate your tea leaves, you are...trying to squeeze them back out?" he guessed.

Raven looked at him like he was an idiot. "Don't be an idiot, Robin, it doesn't suit you." She shook Silkie a little, "this is his punishment. He tried to act innocent, like eating someone's favourite porcelain is just to be expected, that I shouldn't have turned my back. Well," and she glared harder, "he doesn't get to just walk around eating everyone's property."

Robin could sort of see what she was saying, kind of understand her perspective. If he hung himself upside down and looked at the situation backwards, he thought, it might make perfect sense. As it was, and he scratched the back of his head as he wagered whether it was worth saying or not, he rather thought that the whole situation was ridiculous. There had to be something more at work, something important that Raven had been trying to decipher, for her to be so annoyed.

But there was something even stranger that finally clicked, as he watched Silkie wriggle his body towards something past Raven, "And why is Beast Boy on the floor?"

Raven didn't even spare a glance. "That's why I was reading the leaves. Beast Boy won the bet."

Robin waited, but no further information came. Raven did not offer another noise, instead turning all her attention back to Silkie and scolding him for eating the signs she had been deciphering. Beast Boy let out a soft snore, so Robin knew he was at least okay. Silkie did not seem to find the situation a punishment at all. And honestly? Robin did not have the energy to decipher this one.

"Okay. Well, can you...maybe move over a bit? I was looking to get some water."

She shifted, still holding Silkie over the majority of the sink. When he gave the larvea a friendly pat, she glared at him for "babying him, you're as bad as Star".

Chapter Text

A slamming door. Footsteps pounding up stairs, completely ignoring the waiting elevator.

A barely concealed flicker of worry in dark eyes. Fingers tightening ever so slightly around his cup.

A wordless shout of rage down the hall. Something that sounded suspiciously like breaking glass. Profanity ringing throughout the tower.

A bitten lip. A cup placed back down on the table with a soft sigh. Curious, if not frightened, eyes peering at him from the couch. An exasperated but expectant glance. A turning heel and he's gone.

Broken glass from the hallway mirror laying on the floor. Curses reverberating from the next hall, the occasional sound of fist against wall. He narrows his eyes now, annoyed.

A thought of why he should always be the one. Of why the other is always like this. A decision that has him running after the shouts of rage.

A hunched form beating against the punching bag. A glance backward contorted with rage. An aggravated snort, a nasty smirk, and an obscene gesture.

A scowl all his own; fists clenching against his forehead. Softly counting, all other thoughts driven from his head. A tired eye just watching, hurt swimming in his chest.

A memory of heaven from hours prior. A decision pushed to the back of his head. Because even if Roy's not perfect, Garth loves him anyway.

Chapter Text

The whir of the buffer bounced around the garage's walls in an echo of impressive acoustics. Starfire allowed the noise to ricochet in her ears and inside her head with a fond smile, the high whine familiar and soothing. It was not unlike the call of the Gardukolzen on her home planet, as they would gather under the stars and croon when a storm was coming.

Looking past jack lift, Starfire's smile brightened to see the T-Car nestled still on the ground closer to the wall-mounted tool. Cyborg was smiling contently as he worked a scuff out of the paint near the back bumper. Starfire could see an array of cloths settled by Cyborg's feet, a familiar brand of chrome polish resting within easy reach. The clank of a wrench tightening something drew Starfire's gaze to the front of the car, where the hood was popped open and Raven's back was visible. She was slowly standing up, stretching her back until it popped, and Starfire was momentarily entranced by the bob of Raven's tiny ponytail.

Starfire cleared her throat loudly in the pause as Cyborg pulled his buffer away from the car, "Hello Cyborg, Raven, I bring to you refreshments to help cool you off from all your hard work! Beast Boy and I have made fresh lemonade!"

"Oh yea!" Cyborg cheered, using one of the unsoiled towels to mop at a spot of sweat, and handing another to Raven. She took it with a smile, rubbing futiley at the grease and oil that had gathered on her fingers. Starfire leaned closer to see around Raven's back, peering curiously at the inside of the car's hood, but still could not understand the inner mechanics of the machine.

She didn't mind, not knowing. There were a great many things about earth that she did not understand. And Cyborg assured her that not being well versed in automobiles or engineering was not exactly uncommon. But still, he had tried to teach her and the rest of the titans the basics of tuning an engine, changing a tire, filling a flat, and changing the oil. Starfire had tried, truly, but found that did not have the patience for remembering where each of the pieces was supposed to be returned, and the strange rattling noises had almost made Cyborg cry. She was much happier to fly, anyway.

Still, she thought to herself as Cyborg and Raven prattled at one another about something called a muffler, she knew that the simple joy of working with a friend on a shared hobby is what could make a perfect day.

Chapter Text

"It couldn't last forever, you know."

She turned, long hair shifting over the muscles hidden in her shoulders. Eyes as wide as ever, though having lost some of their childlike wonder, regard him curiously.

"I know that now. But I still wonder, why?"

His hair is growing out now. Somehow, it fits his maturing body with undeniable ease. She still can't see his eyes, though. It's nice to find something constant.

"Friends don't stay together forever."

Her eyes harden slightly, mouth aching to twitch into a frown.

"Are we no longer friends, then?"

He shifts his weight and shakes his head. Where she failed, it's easy for his face to settle into a scowl.

"You know that's not what I meant."

She barely resists the urge to bite her lip. She can do this; she has to. She did not fall so far that she could not get back up.

"The team will not suffer."

She can't stand to see the look on his face. She turns and flies off without a word.

Robin, no longer truly Robin, felt his world collapse again.

"The team is gone, Star."

Chapter Text

When Beast Boy had dragged them to her cave and shown them that she was gone, proved to them that he was not imagining her around town, they were not as happy as he thought they should have been.

Cyborg was skeptical, worried that the girl he saw might have just looked like her; "Blond hair, blue eyed girl? Not exactly rare in California, BB."

Starfire was nervous, "we were not on good terms immediately before. She might have run away again. I hope that you are right, friend Beast Boy, but we cannot know for sure."

Raven was defensive, "even if it is her, she betrayed us. You can't possibly believe that bringing her back would be a good idea."

Robin was dismissive, "we were gone a long time, Beast Boy, but we also made it pretty obvious once we were back. If she wanted to talk, she would have found us. She knows where she can."

And Beast Boy knew, after watching her fade into the hallway among the rest of the students of Jump High, that she was not going to come back easily. Knew with a hollow certainty that the Terra that he knew and loved did not want to come back, and that he had to accept that. But he also knew that he couldn't just let her disappear again.

So, even as he pulled back from her, he didn't let her vanish.

Jump City had changed quite a bit in the Titan's absence, and the Titans themselves had grown. The battle against the Brotherhood of Evil had taken them around the world, had forged new bonds with new friends, and had pushed them harder than even Slade had. They had faced off against the kind of evil that made it clear they were not interested in petty jewelry or cash, but so too were not interested in the destruction of the whole world. There was no fun, that way. The separation and destruction of the teammates was the goal, the suffering was the key.

Beast Boy remembers the tight feeling in his chest when the lights turned on and he saw Robin, Speedy, Aqualad, his friends, frozen in place. The air squeezing out of his lungs, the rage building inside of him, the tears forming at the back of his eyes because not again, not again, I can't lose them, not like her ...

And when he was finally able to return to her, her formerly frozen statue'd self gone, the absence was its own caught breath, its own heart stopping moment of fear but of hope. If he could just get her to admit she remembered, she would come back to him. But she wasn't interested. She wanted to stay lost. This was worse than not wanting to be a Titan, worse than being afraid of the confrontation; this was hiding from herself.

Beast Boy went back to the cave, after the fight. He ran his palms over the inscription of the plaque they had left at her feet. He took a deep breath of the stale air, shifted into the largest form he could, and began to scream. He threw himself against the stones, rattling the earth and feeling the way it broke apart and collapsed around him not just on his own skin, but in the pieces of his heart.

When he crawled from the wreckage and looked behind him, dust drifting out of the caved in tunnel, he thought of her smile. He thought he could hear her laughter on the wind and if he tried hard enough he could swear he could feel her kiss on his cheek. But she was not there. Not a ghost, not a statute, not a memory. She was a girl who never wanted to see him again, never wanted to risk unlocking those memories, the powers, the person he loved so much.

That was when Beast Boy allowed himself to mourn that Terra was gone.