I think you're going to like this chapter.
-( - )-
The Slade-bot executed a flawless roundhouse kick, which would have connected with its target, square in the head, had it not been for an equally perfect block. Before the droid could retract its leg it was hit by a bo staff. Its head came off its body, which began to twitch as its electronics began to short out. Before it collapsed onto the floor in a smoldering heap it was replaced by two more Slade-bots, which attacked the target with even more vigor.
Slade crouched and with a sweeping arc of his leg he kicked their legs out from them. As they fell to the ground he finished them off with lightning fast jabs to their faces, leaving a pronounced crater in each one.
Slade stood up and surveyed the sparring room around him. Twenty four Slade-bots lay in ruin and the repair droids were already collecting them for a quick side trip to the repair shop.
"Time!" Slade bellowed.
"1 minute and 27 seconds, sir." An elderly looking butler replied.
"Disappointing. The artificial intelligence enhancements only added 7 seconds to their survival time." Slade announced in his monotone. "I'll need more than that level of skill to take out Robin's team."
Wintergreen approached with a tray that contained an ice cold bottle of a blue colored sports drink. Slade removed his metal mask and chugged the bottle, dropping the empty container back onto the tray.
"Has there been any word on the Titans, sir? Perhaps Gizmo's boast is true and …"
Slade glared at his confidant. His black eye patch stood out in sharp contrast to his platinum blond hair.
"Gizmo is an incompetent idiot, Wintergreen. The Titans are not dead. Not by a long shot."
"Are you certain of this, Slade? There has been no sign of them for over a week."
"They are alive; there is no doubt about that."
As Slade replaced the mask on his face a nearby console began to beep. Wintergreen scurried over to it and quickly typed out some commands on the keyboard.
"What is it?" The silver haired Cyclops asked.
Wintergreen frowned as he continued to type.
"It appears that we have intruders in the forest safe house."
Slade leaped to the console.
"Get me a visual, now!"
The majordomo shook his head.
"I already tried that. Visuals are down."
Slade slammed his fist on the console.
"How did they break in?"
Before Wintergreen could reply Slade saw the answer on the console's video display.
"Interesting … it says that I'm the one who opened the door … we are dealing with someone who is very clever … too clever for his own good."
Slade keyed in a command sequence on his wrist band. Several dozen Slade-bots that were standing at attention came to life.
"Wintergreen, you stay here … I'll take care of our uninvited guests."
-( scene break )-
It was Beast Boy's turn to load the dishwasher, which was a light task as Cyborg had ordered pizza for lunch. Using his foot he shut the door on the washer and after pressing the start button he bounced back to the common room. Cyborg was seated on the far right on the crescent shaped couch and was reading a car magazine. Raven was at the other end reading one of her dusty old books. Starfire and Robin were seated in the middle and they were reading a catalogue from the local "Baby Warehouse" store. The princess had a yellow pad and a pencil, and she was busy compiling a list of baby items to purchase: a crib, a changing table, a high chair, a baby car seat for the T-Car, clothes, blankets, toys, books, the list appeared to be endless and Dick looked both bewildered and overwhelmed.
Beast Boy stifled a chuckle and jumped over the back of the couch, landing next to Raven. He picked up the graphic novel he had left on the coffee table earlier and resumed reading it. Even though each section in the couch was independent his landing slightly shook Raven, who briefly looked at him before returning to her book.
Starfire ripped yet another sheet from the yellow pad and handed it to Robin. He now had seven sheets, each covered in the Tamaranian's scribble, in his hands.
"Uh … Star … how about we take a break? Bruce, Babs and Alfred are going to be here soon."
The princess leaped to her feet.
"Oh yes! I must make with the haste and get ready! I do want to make a good impression with my future father-in-law!" She replied as she flitted out of the room, disappearing behind the dual sliding doors.
Cyborg moved over and sat down next to Dick. He took Starfire's wish list from Robin and grinned as he read it.
"She's got you whipped, hair gel boy! Look at the size of this list! You might as well just go to the store and say 'give us one of everything'."
Beast Boy snickered at the tin man's remark. Robin noticed the slightest hint of a smile briefly appear on Raven's lips while she continued to read.
"It's the old ball and chain for you Robbie. You're doomed." Beast Boy finally spoke up.
Robin scowled at him for a moment, and then a slight grin appeared on his face.
"You tell me. You guys are the 'old married couple' in the Tower."
Raven put her book down.
"Will you please give it a rest!?" She complained in her monotone. "It was cute, maybe even funny at first, but now it's just plain old. Can't you think of anything better?"
Robin paused and grinned before continuing.
"Actually, I can … so how was your date yesterday?"
"It wasn't a date." She snapped at him.
"Hmmm…." Cyborg interrupted. "Dinner and a movie … that sounds like a date to me."
Robin guffawed. Raven narrowed her eyes.
"Cyborg's got a point there." Robin needled her.
"Don't you have a wedding to plan or some Lamaze classes to attend?" She snapped back at him.
The tin man and the boy wonder got up from the couch.
"Oooh … looks like we hit a nerve." Cyborg gloated.
"Let's give them some privacy. They probably want to mess around, maybe even French kiss." Robin replied.
The two men erupted in laughter as they left the room. Raven harrumphed just before the doors slid shut again.
"What is with them?" Beast Boy complained.
"Why are they so obsessed with us? And kissing? Where did that come from?" She complained.
Beast Boy shrugged and they both resumed reading. After about a minute had passed, the changeling cleared his throat.
"Uh … Raven?"
She looked up from her book.
"I know it's none of my business … but … have you ever kissed a guy?"
Raven raised an eyebrow and waited for an eternity before replying.
"You're right … it's none of your business."
"Sorry, Rave, I didn't mean to …"
She raised a hand to silence him.
"But no, I haven't. I know what you're thinking. I never kissed Malchior, just so you know."
"And what about the Goth Boy you met at the night club? You guys seemed to hit it off."
"Him? You gotta be kidding; once he understood who I was he lost all interest in me, which is OK because to tell you the truth he was kind of boring."
She paused for a moment and looked at him in the eyes.
"OK, I spilled my guts … now it's your turn, green bean … have you ever kissed a girl?"
The changeling sighed.
"Nope … but I almost kissed Terra … stupid Slade had to show up and ruin it though."
"Eww … you mean you actually wanted to kiss her."
"I didn't know she was a traitor." He sighed.
"Never mind that … I mean … Terra? Really? You can do better than her. Way better."
"It doesn't matter anymore … she's gone … things change and all that stuff. I never meant anything to her."
"Well … at least she only dumped you … Malchior fooled me to get out of that book."
The changeling leaned back in the couch and heaved another sigh.
"Wanna bet you get your first kiss before I do?" He asked.
"Yeah, right. I think I even creeped out Goth Boy. Who in his right mind would want to kiss me?"
Raven did a double take.
"What did you say!?"
The changeling sweat dropped.
"What I meant is that … uh … if things were different … I mean … you are pretty … and uh …"
She placed a hand on his shoulder and rewarded him with a small smile.
"I know what you meant … thanks."
He smiled back at her.
"Have you ever wondered what it's like? You know … to kiss? When I think of it I get scared." He asked.
"Yes … I have wondered what it's like … it scares me too …" She looked off into the distance and had a dreamy look in her eyes. "I wonder how soft a boy's lips are."
He turned to face her.
"I wonder if it tingles. You know … fireworks and all that."
She leaned closer to him. His green lips looked moist … warm … soft … welcoming … inviting.
"People say that the first kiss is the most special one you'll ever have." She murmured.
Their lips were now just inches from each other.
"They say you'll never forget it." He replied.
They both closed their eyes and swallowed hard. They drew closer and could feel each other's breath. Raven felt her heart rate skyrocket and Beast Boy was a geyser of emotions that flooded her psyche. She wanted to stop, it was a train wreck in slow motion, but she couldn't stop. She felt the euphoria grow in her chest and she began to tremble. As they approached she could feel the warmth radiate from his lips. They were just millimeters apart and …
The sliding doors swished open.
"Friends! I have wonderful news!" Starfire shouted.
Raven and Beast Boy both shrieked and almost hit the room's ceiling.
"Oh forgive me." Starfire blushed. "Am I interrupting something?"
Raven quickly recovered her equanimity.
"Not at all. Beast Boy had something in his eye …"
"And Rave got it out." He added in an unconvincing, squeaky voice.
"I see … you Earthlings have so many uses for the lip contact … I suppose that it makes sense … Raven would immobilize you with the lip contact while she uses her powers to remove the object in your eye. I shall have to make a note of that in my journal for future reference." She smirked.
"So what is this great news?" Beast Boy asked. "And would you mind not telling Robin or Cyborg about what you just saw?"
"Do not worry; your kiss shall be our secret."
The changeling's ears drooped.
"Star … it wasn't a kiss … it wasn't … right Raven?"
"I … uh … yeah … that wasn't a kiss." She stammered.
"Of course it was not. I was only doing the teasing … and the good news … Robin's knorfka … Mr. Pennyworth, has brought us a feast to celebrate. They are bringing it down right now."
Beast Boy was the first to react.
"You mean Bats is here!? Whoa! What are we gonna do?"
"I think we should set the table." Raven replied. "They'll be down here in a moment."
The changeling ran into the kitchen and began to rummage through the cabinets.
"Where does chrome dome keep the good dishes?"
"I don't think we have any." Raven replied. "All we have are plastic dishes."
Starfire giggled again.
"Mr. Pennyworth has brought what he calls 'the good china' and said that he will set the table, so do not be concerned with the setting up."
The princess grinned slyly. "I will go and assist Knorfka Alfred! You may resume the removal of foreign objects from Beast Boy's eye." She snickered as she exited the room.
Raven and the changeling stood next to the large table, without speaking to each other for over a minute, until Beast Boy spoke up.
"Rave, what happened? Did we really almost …"
"Don't say it! As for what happened … I don't know … what I do know is that Starfire won't keep her mouth shut …"
She groaned loudly and face palmed.
"Oh Azar, Robin and Cyborg are going to be teasing us about this forever, we'll never get them to shut up … what are we going to do?"
"We can do what I always do ..."
"Act dumb? That won't stop them for a minute."
Beast Boy shrugged.
"I can't think of anything else …"
He snapped his fingers.
"Actually … there is something we can do."
Raven gave him a quizzical look, mixed with a hint of impatience. Beast Boy wrapped his arms around her and pressed his lips to hers. Her eyes bulged and she felt paralyzed with shock. Her first impulse was to blast him with her dark energy, but she quickly overcame that urge. Surprising even herself, she wrapped her arms around him and reciprocated his amorous gesture. After a blissful eternity they separated. She gave him one of her signature glares.
"That has to be your stupidest idea ever, how is that supposed to help us?"
He gave her a sly smile.
"I figured that if they're gonna tease us, it might as well be for something we actually did."
She shook her head dismissively.
"You're an idiot." She complained just before pulling him into another kiss.
"Maybe I am, but now I'm your idiot." He gasped between smooches.
"Shut up and kiss me more before I do something horrible to you."
"Ooh … I love it when you get kinky …"
They resumed their snogfest and lost all track of time until they were interrupted by a loud 'booyah'.
-( scene break )-
They were now one hour into the feast and much to Raven's relief the focus had been entirely on Robin and Starfire. Batman was sitting at the head of the table, with his cowl removed. Compared to the intimidating man in the cowl Raven had encountered on a few occasions, Bruce Wayne was the epitome of charming and debonair. Robin and Starfire sat at either side of him, facing each other. Starfire seemed to be deliriously happy, even by her own standards. She was enthralled by Bruce, even having her arm hooked around his while they both chatted and laughed. It was more than clear that Bruce was infatuated with his soon to be daughter in law.
Robin was looking particularly gloomy and didn't seem to be enjoying the gathering at all. Babs was sitting next to him. Like Bruce, she had also removed her cowl and her red locks now flowed freely.
"C'mon Dick, it won't kill you to smile."
"What's there to smile about?" He grumbled as he nodded towards Bruce. "I've been struggling for years to get out from under his shadow … look at Star; she's eating out of his hand."
"Would you be happier if he didn't like her?"
"Maybe." He growled.
"Don't be stupid, Dick. Bruce has missed you; he's missed you a lot."
"So why hasn't he told me this?"
"For the same reason you haven't told him that you miss him."
"I. don't. miss. him." He snarled.
"Yeah, you tell yourself that, Dick … can't you see it? Or are you being too pig headed, as usual?"
"What am I supposed to see?"
Babs shook her head condescendingly.
"He's thrilled! I've haven't seen him this happy in ages. Certainly not since I became Batgirl."
"And what's he so happy about?"
At that very moment Bruce placed a firm hand on Robin's shoulder.
"Dick! You haven't said a word to me all evening. And you're still wearing your mask."
Robin grudgingly peeled the mask off his face, dropping it unceremoniously on the table.
"There, are you happy now?"
"Richard, why are you so angry with father Bruce?" Starfire asked innocently.
Bruce raised his hand just as Dick was about to respond.
"It's my entire fault, Starfire." The billionaire replied. "I was unfair to Dick; I didn't recognize that he had grown, that he was more than my sidekick."
The table fell silent.
"Dick is a lot more than a sidekick to me. He was my partner, even if I forgot to tell him that. But he's more than that … Dick is the son I never had … I'm so proud of you Dick, of everything you've accomplished …"
Alfred was rinsing dishes in the sink and Beast Boy, with his sensitive ears, overhead him mutter something that sounded like "It's about bloody time he said that."
"… and now Starfire is going to be my daughter and she's going to give me my first grandchild."
The Tamaranian's grin went from ear to ear, and she clapped her hands gleefully.
"Dick, would you please forgive me?"
Dick stood up and locked eyes with Bruce. Starfire saw tears well in his eyes.
"Only if you forgive me too."
Bruce and Dick embraced and everyone present, including Alfred, erupted into raucous applause.
Raven could feel the wave of relief that emanated from Dick's mind. Anger that had been bottled up for years, which was the source of his obsession with crime. Robin was the prodigal son, who felt he had to prove himself to his father, the Batman. But he didn't want to admit that to himself. It was easier to lie, to say he didn't care what Bruce thought of him.
Cyborg was sitting next to Raven and turned to her.
"It's about time!"
"Yes, it most definitely is about time." She replied.
Cyborg leaned closer to her, whispering into her ear.
"But don't think that you're off the hook, Ravie-poo, or whatever the grass stain calls you. The ribbing begins tomorrow, and it's gonna be good."
"Cyborg … must you do that?" She sighed.
"Are you kidding? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. My little sister has a boyfriend, her first boyfriend …"
"He's not my boyfriend."
"Sure he is. So why the green bean? I thought you were more into Goth Boy…"
"Oh please, I hung out with him one night for 10 minutes."
"Fine, so why Beast Boy? I'm not ribbing you now, Raven. I really want to know."
"I have my reasons. That should be good enough for you. And if you press the issue you'll take Garfield's place as my whipping boy, and I don't mean that in the fun kind of way."
Cyborg smiled at his diminutive teammate.
"I am happy for you and B. I was wondering if you guys would ever pull the trigger. Everyone's been wondering when it would finally happen."
"Thanks Cyborg, I appreciate that you can approach this as a mature adult…"
"But I'm still gonna rib you guys, and good."
Before Raven could reply Bruce stood up and clinked loudly on his wine glass.
"I want to propose a toast … to Kori and Dick."
"Hear, hear!" Alfred shouted.
"Cheers!" Everyone shouted as they clinked their glasses together.
Dick glanced across the table and locked eyes with Starfire. He couldn't remember a time when she ever looked happier.
"I love you."
"As do I." She replied.
-( scene break )-
OK, don't tell me you didn't like this chapter!
So Bruce and Dick have finally reconciled … and all it took was an out of wedlock pregnancy.
BB and Raven got busted.
And Slade is in for a REALLY big surprise (and so is Terra)