Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, For You
"Starts With A Visit From Shady"
A/N: Okay. New Chapter One Author's Notes. A few things you'll need to know if you plan to read this story.
For a while the word "Trials" will appear. It is supposed to be "Trials", but my stupid spellchecker kept changing it to "Trials." I have tried to fix this, but for some reason it hasn't worked. I will re-upload all these chapters with a corrected version when I get enough free time to do it, but until then be aware of this mistake. Also, there may be a small bit of confusion with certain early chapters, but it is only to build suspense. All confusion WILL be cleared up if you keep reading, I promise. It was written that way on purpose.
With that said, thank you and enjoy AFY!
Disclaimer and Legal Junk: All Teen Titans/Batman/Superman characters and references are property of DC Comics, Cartoon Network and all other respected, copyrighted owners. I am making no money from this fanfiction and I do not claim ownership over anything aside from original characters and the plot itself. Please don't sue me, I have no money and I really can't afford a lawyer or court costs. The only profit I make from this is experience as a writer, and reviews. I also ask that if you'd like to put this story on a website/message board/fansite/shrine/anywhere else online, that you credit "Brandon Rice, aka GoldenSama" as the author and do not try to pass it off as your own. Thank you.
They were all thinking the same thing.
It was four-forty seven in the morning when it began, and the Titan's were all in bed resting from one of the busiest days of their lives. It seemed like every wacko, two-bit crook, super villain and downright psychopath in Jump City had been breaking some kind of law previous day. And the Titan's had somehow stopped them all and had managed to do so without getting on each other's nerves; an accomplishment worth much praise. And now they'd all been woken up by their front door. Loud banging and the occasional ringing of the buzzer filled the T-Shaped Tower and ensured that sleep be known only as a dream.
By the time I unhook my battery and get to the door someone else will probably already be up. No need for two of us to leave bed, right?. Cyborg was reasoning this point with himself, as everyone does. It's not uncommon for anyone, even the very uncommon Teen Titans, to rationalize their decisions when they have to do something they simply don't want to do. And all of the Titan's were doing it.
Eh, I'll probably screw something up. And Raven'll get mad or something. Yeah, and nobody likes that. So I'll just stay in bed. Beast Boy never really had a hard time coming up with an excuse not to do something; since in all honesty he probably would have screwed something up.
I don't know if I can get down. Starfire on the other hand was more worried about herself than the door. She had tied her feet to the ceiling and decided to sleep upside down tonight. The reason for this is long and unimportant; and she was too sleep-deprived to remember it anyway.
Robin however took a slightly different approach as he lay in bed listening to the frantic pounding and buzzing. He knew he'd be the one to get up and get the door, and he knew he'd be doing it now. Instinct and training can't be ignored; not even at four in the morning. With a sigh Robin sat up in bed and reached for his mask.
As for Raven; she didn't do doors. It was a simple, easy point and everyone living in Titan's Tower knew it. So Raven was still in bed, under her blanket with her eyes closed. Still, her concentration and rest was being threatened with every knock and every buzz; and even she was tempted to see who'd be stupid enough to pound on the front door at five in the morning.
Tired, sore and already irritated at whoever was making the noise; Robin stepped out of his room fully-dressed and made his way down the darkened hall. Perhaps it was his training, or the simple fact he knew every inch of the hallway; but Robin found no need to turn on lights. Swiftly he was there, the front door, and he slid it open. There was no peephole; and no need for one. If whatever was on the other side of the door was hostile and strong enough to take out Robin; then it wouldn't have bothered knocking.
Unfortunately for Robin – and countless others – it was Shady at the other side of the door. And Shady was the one thing uncontrollable and unpredictable enough to make the evening go exactly how it wound up going.
"How you doing kid, Robin right? Yeah I recognized the mask, nice to meet you, nice to meet you. Name's Shady; don't let it fool you kid, I'm the nicest guy you'd ever want to meet." Robin wasn't sure about being the "nicest guy" he'd ever want to meet; but he certainly was the strangest.
Shady's speech was confusing; but his appearance was worse. He seemed humanoid; except for the lack of legs. All together from the tip of his fedora-hat to the bottom of his faded-tan trenchcoat he was less than five feet tall at best. And of course the hat and coat weren't really part of him. His skin – or what Robin assumed was skin – was a nameless color darker than black but closer to blue. His face was the topper though. His eyes were pure white half-slits, almost like the boy wonder's mask. He had no nose, and his mouth was a perfect half-moon flawlessly white smile; his teeth seemed to all connect without any space between them. A tongue that looked more like a shell-less snail was swishing around as he spoke; it was the same color as his skin.
Without skipping a beat, Shady began to speak again. "Well this won't do at all, we've got to get the whole group out here for the explanations to begin if you're gonna get packed in time; and I wouldn't say no to a cup of Joe, if you catch my drift."
Once he'd spoken again Shady began to float towards the rest of the room; though it was apparent by his direction he was heading for the hallway and eventually the bedrooms. This brought Robin back to reality in a heartbeat and he wasted no time in blocking the bizarre alien's path.
"Who are you?" Robin asked in a tone that clearly stated the time for none-sense was over. And apparently Shady got the message, because he looked Robin in the eyes and spoke again; and there was no confusion this time.
"Shadarias, Chief Messenger to the King and Queen of the Planet Tamaran. I come with a message for Princess Koriand'r."
And Robin knew in his heart that any chance for sleep was gone, and it would stay gone for a long, long time. Robin had closed his eyes only for a fraction of a second as he processed this information; and it had taken only that long for things to become loud again.
This time the noise was caused by Starfire's battle cry and by the emerald-bolts of light that were now smashing into "Shady" and sending him flying directly into the nearest wall.
Starfire had gotten down from her ceiling prison and after landing on the bed she'd decided to go see what was at the door. And when her eyes had landed on Shady she had found the perfect way to wake up the entire tower – Combat.
And it worked. Shady was now recovering from the blast to find himself surrounded by five very-awake and very-battle ready teenage superheroes. Cyborg's arm canon was aimed at him, while a large green tiger was arched on his legs and ready to pounce directly at his side. Robin's bo-staff was itching in his hand, and he was in full combat-stance. Raven floated beside him, her eyes and hands glowing black. Starfire was floating behind Robin, half-hiding from Shady and half-ready to send another batch of her starbolts at him.
"Okay, I deserved that Koriand'r, I'll admit it; I deserved that one." Shady said, all previously lost haste now back in his voice. "But seriously, Starfire, I'm here with good news!"
Apparently, Starfire wasn't convinced, because Shady had just received a second dose of pain via-starbolt. The other Titans hadn't taken their eyes off Shady, but they'd all relaxed slightly. He wasn't as dangerous as Starfire's scream had suggested.
"I'm here on behalf of your parents; about the Trials!" Shady screamed as he rose in the air again, fight the only emotion left on his face. There was a pause in the room when everyone held their breath awaiting Star's response. Then another squeal from the Tamarania girl; to say it was a happy squeal would be an understatement.
After that Starfire was latched onto the bizarre little alien, squeezing him harder than anything should be squeezed and dancing in mid-air. Shady was muttering something that sounded suspiciously like "At least this is better than when I have to bring bad news." And the Titans all relaxed their battle poses fully. The confusion was still overbearing, but at least there was no immediate danger – except perhaps to Shady who was clearly having difficulty breathing.
"Starfire, maybe you should let him explain now." Robin said at length. Starfire slowly lowered herself to the ground and released Shady, who fell to the floor and gave Robin a "thank you" look. Starfire was now standing in front of all of them, shaking with excitement.
"Koriand'r, I know you're excited about all of this." Shady said, slowly and cautiously floating his way to her side. "But maybe I should explain things. It is my job, after all."
Starfire, reluctantly, floated across the room and took a spot next to Robin; who like the other Titans was left with no other option than simply waiting. Shady wasted no haste in complying with their silent demand.
"Starfire, your parents, the King and Queen of Tamaran, have recently returned to Tamaran after their rather lengthy and somewhat mysterious disappearance. Funny thing, they were actually with me cleaning up some problems that arose on other planets because of, well, me."
Starfire's mouth opened quickly, but not quite quickly enough. The Tamarania Princess was incased in a large black ball of light and bounced harmlessly to the ground. "She can hear us, and we'll get through this faster." Raven announced right on cue.
"Now the King and Queen missed quite a few things while being gone, and after they were filled in on some of them they wanted to see Starfire; in person. Now all they want is for her to be happy, so they're not even going to try to force her to come to Tamaran." Shady paused; obviously glad he wasn't going to have to attempt forcing the redhead into anything. "All they're saying is if Starfire's interested in the taking place in the Trials with her lover Robin, they're cool with that."
And hell broke loose once again.
Raven's attempt to contain Starfire in the black ball of energy was proven useless when she burst forth and echoed the words "The Trials!" very loudly; of course at the same time Robin could be found mimicking the word "Lover". And then they both made it a point to look at anything but each other as their respected faces became as red as Robin's shirt. Beast Boy and Cyborg had regained interest in the entire affair and were giggling like third-grade schoolgirls, while Raven sighed once more; the bottom line now exposed.
"Ah, did I say something wrong? Maybe I should slow down a –" Shady never finished that sentence; since several of the lights in the room exploded.
"No." Raven was in charge now. "I'll talk now.
Shady wouldn't have argued with her if his life depended on it. Raven turned next on Beast Boy and Cyborg, who took a collective step backwards and ceased all noise. Beast Boy not only became as quiet as a mouse, he actually became a mouse and began hiding behind Cyborg's leg. Raven then turned on Starfire and Robin.
"Everyone in this room knows you like one another. And the floating thing in the corner wants us to go to Tamaran for something involving a test and you two being in love. So very simply, Robin, do you love Starfire?"
Robin wasn't quite as quick as Raven would have liked. He ran a hand down the back of his neck, turned to Starfire, breathed deeply once and then said: "Yes, I do."
Starfire made up for any wasted time, though. Before Raven could blink Starfire had thrown her arms around Robin and embraced him in a backbreaking hug. She was spinning around now screaming; "As do I, as do I!"
Raven turned to Shady, looking thoroughly worn-out, and said simply: "Explain now."
Shady had learned the 'Don't waste Raven's time' rule and lived up to it flawlessly. "Right, the Trials themselves are an ancient Tamaranian Tradition in which two lovers are forced through thirty days of intensive physical, emotional and mental anguish designed to test their devotion, commitment, honesty and faith to and with one another. All of those tests are vague and standard, however at the end of the thirty days the lovers are forced into three personalized tested. One crafted by the friends of the couple, one designed by the parents of the woman, that test would be taken by the man, and one by the parents of the man which would be taken by the woman."
At this point Robin spotted an obvious flaw in this plan and attempted to bring it up, however Shady cut him off very quickly; "I know, the orphan thing, I've already been to Gotham and it's taken care of it."
Raven looked pleased that she didn't have to step in again, but Robin's face had filled with worry. He knew exactly what Shady meant by "it's taken care of it", and it wasn't comforting. Starfire, who was aware of every detail of the Trials and had been for many years, was blissfully unaware of all of it and was merely humming to herself quietly.
"Well, if there are no more questions I suggest that anyone who's going go and pack now, because I'm leaving and I'll be back in the morning for the trip to Tamaran. One chance, you miss it, I'm not coming back so you'll have to find your own way." And the dark-skinned, smooth-tongued little alien floated out the door and away from Titan's Tower faster than he'd ever floated before.
Robin was in his room now, and the Tower had gone back to silence. He wasn't under any delusions about the silence lasting long; but it did make packing quicker and he wasn't wasting time. Ironically enough the quiet he'd been enjoy was broken just as he finished the task at hand; which was the best he could have hoped for. The boy wonder turned in time for Starfire to enter the room with her eyes glued to her shoes.
"Robin?" Starfire's voice was quiet. "Is this time inconvenient?"
"No." Robin answered immediately. "What do you need Star?"
"I" Starfire's hesitance made it much easier to figure out what she wanted; although at length she lifted her eyes. She didn't meet his own, but she no longer stared fixedly at her footwear. "I hope you do not feel pressured into all of this . . . I realize we have never spoken of these matters in the past."
Robin smiled a genuine smile and closed the gap between Starfire and himself. His hand gently forced her face upward so that their eyes met. "Star, I love you. I didn't say it because of what happened earlier; I said it because it's true and you know that. I should have said it a long time ago, but I didn't. I've got no excuse, but we don't need one; as long as you're happy that is."
Starfire looked back up at him, grinning like a lunatic, and crying silent tears. "Oh I am!"
The two held that moment for only a split-second, however, as Raven's voice cut off anything that may have happened. "Don't start, I need to talk to Robin and I'd really rather do it before you two discover the joy of lovemaking."
Starfire squeaked, Robin narrowed his eyes slightly, and they both became a nice shade of fire engine red. However, the blushing was weaker than before, perhaps because they were becoming used to it; or maybe they simply didn't have enough blood left to fill their cheeks completely.
"I should finish packing." Starfire announced abruptly, and then she quickly exited the room. Robin now turned his attention on Raven, whose current mood was a mystery. She was amused on the outside, but Robin could also see a deep concern in her eyes.
Raven was the first to speak. "Did you tell Starfire?"
"Tell her what?" Robin responded instantly.
"You know what I'm talking about."
Robin hesitated. "No. Raven don't you think we have enough going on as it is?"
"Yes I do." Raven admitted without any such pause. "But I also think she has a right to know, especially if you're serious about all of this."
Robin sighed and turned away. "Some things are best left private."
"And some secrets can't be kept forever."
Robin turned back around. "That's a lesson I've learned before Raven. Still, some things need to be kept secret until the right time."
"No offense Robin, but you're record on things like this doesn't reassure me." Raven flicked her eyes to the dust-free spot on the wall that had once held Slade's Mask. They stayed for only a split-second, but Robin caught it.
"I know, alright? I know I should tell her everything now . . . but Raven everything is a lot more than you realize."
Raven paused and looked down, now hesitant herself. "Then let me see everything. It'd only take a second."
Robin looked down. "Do you really want to be jumping around my mind right now Raven?"
Raven closed her eyes. "No. Goodnight Robin." Raven was gone as quickly as she had come.
Robin found himself alone once more, not sure if he was relieved or not. Although he was sure that as soon as they got back from Tamaran – if they got back – he was buying locks for the doors.
Shady's whereabouts were much darker and colder than those of the Titan's; of course, that's to be expected of a villain. Shady was a villain, of course; though one could understand why he did what he did if they took the time to look at his own past and the pressure he was under. One could probably understand just by knowing whom it was putting him under pressure for that matter.
Floating silently as he fiddled with the alien communicator tucked away safely in his colorless hand, the alien seemed a completely different being. Only under Raven's no-nonsense gaze had he been so quiet and quick to act with the Titan's. However, Shady's thoughts and feelings were kept to himself and the quiet was broken only by a reply from the communicator.
The simple word had been spoken so coldly that it would have made ice shiver. The unspoken threat of things worse than death was dripping from the voice like spit from a hungry dog's mouth as it's tempted with a favorite treat. Very few beings could have kept their composure in the face of that voice; and Shady was not among them.
"I made contact with the Titan's, and everything's set up as you requested. Robin and Starfire should be packing as we speak, and the other Titan's are all coming too. The plan's going just as you wished, sir."
The respect and fear in Shady's voice was realer than it had ever been. The voice wasted no time in speaking again.
"And things on Tamaran? You have taken care of those as well?"
"Yes sir, before I left. I've seen to Wayne and the situation in Gotham. My master, everything is on schedule just as you wisely foresaw. You weren't mistaken to place your trust in me, if I may be so bold."
This time there was a laugh, though it was impossible to tell if the voice's owner was amused or not. "You've already been that bold; why bother to ask now? I'll take pity on you Shady and just tell you; I have no intention of killing you today or anytime in the future. And as long as you do as you're told, that won't change."
Shady wasn't too relieved, and didn't say a word. After a slight pause the voice spoke one final time.
"Contact me when you're on Tamaran." And then silence.
Shady let out a long-held breathe and then looked down at the ground, mind blank and ill-flavored tongue at an uncharacteristic loss for words.
The sunlight dropping down from the morning sky couldn't compare with Cyborg's jaw drop as the Titan's eyes meet with their transportation.
It was morning, and as promised Shady had returned. All five Titans had been out on the grass, their feet now stained with fresh morning dew, as they waited for the alien. All of them had expected some attempt to impress them; but none of them could have guessed it would work so well.
A large, silver starship was hovering gently over the waves of the Titan's Island. It was too large to fly over the grass, but a lengthy ramp was extended perfectly to touch the ground just in front of the five stunned teenagers. Beast Boy was wide eyed and shaking with excitement, Robin and Starfire both stood amazed once more, Raven's eyebrow rose in her usual 'big deal', though her eyes allowed a silent sparkle of something close to impressments. And Cyborg, as no one had doubted, was speechless. His eyes were as wide as they could be, drool was sliding down his chrome-plated chest, and the itch to run up and touch the ship was clearly about to become too much.
"Sweet ride, am I right?" Shady's obnoxious voice broke the silence; and Cyborg's patience. He was bounding up to the ship, asking a million technical questions that no one would be able to answer, and making a general fool of himself as he embraced the smooth siding of the wall behind Shady.
Shady himself merely laughed – a rare genuine laugh – and then turned to the other Titan's. "I take it you're ready to go?"
"This ship was gift to your parents Starfire, it is okay if I call you Starfire, isn't it? You never were too big on Princess Koriand'r, if my memory serves; anyway it was a gift from one of the rulers of a planet your parents and I were on; nice guy, we helped him out; well, I messed things up and your mother helped him out, you're father didn't do too much but he did keep a few of the locals from turning ol' Shady into a stuffed animal for their wall; anyway –"
The Titan's, and their strange host, were seated around a long table now. Shady's speech had become fast-paced and confused once again, and the Titan's were all very content at the moment. Shady seemed to be well informed on the eating habits of the Titans since their plates had been fixed perfectly. Robin's balanced meal was hot and ready, Starfire's plate contained something from Tamaran that she looked delighted about, Beast Boy's plate was large, meat-free and full of veggie's that he could recognize and likewise Cyborg's was just the same but reversed with no trace of green and lots of stick-to-your-ribs cooking. Even Raven's order seemed acceptable, and the drinks were done in the same.
As for the seating arrangement itself, it too had been planned. The heads of both sides of the extra-long silver table were empty, with Robin and Starfire sitting across from one another on the side farthest from the door. Beast Boy and Cyborg sat across from each other on their sides, Cyborg next to Robin and Beast Boy next to Starfire, and Raven sat at Cyborg's side looking, leaning slightly away from him to avoid flying bits of his breakfast as they missed his mouth. The rest of the table was bare, until it reached the other side where Shady sat on the right-hand side of the head, talking away and ignoring the Titan's as they ignored him.
And then from behind Shady the door opened, and things became complicated to say the least.
A man had entered the room, and Robin became tense. His back arched, his eyes narrowed and his hands gave the slightest lean towards his utility belt. That caused all of the other Titans to take notice of the man, and to tense up themselves, trying to prepare a defense or offense if needed. The man himself however was perfectly relaxed, except for his eyes which were focused squarely on Robin's masked ones.
"En garde!" The man shouted and things moved quicker than anyone would have liked. Robin shot out of his chair, flipped over the back of it and landed on his feet with his bo staff drawn; at the exact same time the man had made his way from the doorway to the seat and had smashed the exact spot that had occupied the boy-wonder only seconds before with his own bo staff.
Robin had recovered and a swipe of his staff knocked the chair aside; that was instantly followed by a sharp swiping kick from his right – which his former mentor blocked with an expert left hand. They broke apart but no one noticed because just as quickly Robin was using his right foot to knock his enemy's bo staff off it's newly set course and that was followed by Robin narrowly jumping over a sweeping roundhouse kick.
By now the other Teen Titans and Shady (who'd finally stopped talking and taken notice) had realized that even if they wanted to get involved in this fight, they couldn't. The pace was so fast that the only comparison they could draw was between some of the fights Robin had made with Slade – and this one could put most of them to shame.
The blows continued to be traded and blocked and knocked away. No one had a clear upper hand, and the combat quickly became so confusing that it was a wonder the combatants could stand up; much less keep up.
Slowly, but surely breathing became heavy. Blows became sloppy. Robin squinted and drew in his oxygen much too quickly as he caught a painful kick to the stomach. He was back in the swing of things too fast to be stopped though. And his opponent was knocked hard in the ribs by Robin's bo staff, but it merely winded him for a few second before he recovered and blocked Robin's next blow with the flawless effort that was to be expected with a reputation like his.
Still, nothing can last forever – especially when it's hardcore sparring.
Robin saw his chance – there was only one – and he took it. As Wayne messed up with a sloppy swing to the boy wonder's head, Robin ducked and counted with a dead-on kick to his former mentor's stomach. Just as planned the older of the two was sent backwards onto the ground. Robin pounced, a final blow ready and on its way.
But it never made it. Much to everyone's surprise the Dark Knight rolled to his side as the blast from the bo staff smashed the exact spot he'd been in less than a second before. Robin cursed in his mind, since he knew the fight had ended as it happened. He's seen the movement and been unable to stop it; and thus he'd failed. Bruce's rolled ended and he pushed up, angled the kick into Robin's ribs and sent the boy wonder sprawling to the ground. Of course a second kick, this one a painful drop kick from a strong right leg, followed and connected with Robin's chest.
The boy wonder was beaten.
Silence fell over the room, broken only by the heavy breathing of a crowd that had held its collective breathes, and the even deeper gasps of the two who'd done the actual work. Then, at length, Batman extended his bare hand down to his fallen heir.
"It's been too long." He said much as a father would greet his son had they been normal; or anything close to it.
"It sure had." Robin responded happily, though there was no mistaking his bitterness in losing.
"You earthlings have a strange way of greeting friends." Starfire noted innocently, which cause the laughter to flood out from everyone. Introductions weren't needed, but Robin gave one anyway as he returned to his seat, much worse for the wear but still happier than he'd been in a long time, and Wayne too his own at the head of the table just between Robin and Starfire.
The mood was bright and the group returned to happy silence accompanied by the scarffing down of massive amounts of food. Only two people seemed to feel anything beyond the downright happiness. Shady, who was controlling his nervousness well but not well enough; and Batman whose eyes were now locked on Shadarias with the kind of knowledge that comes from years of experience and cannot be denied by those who obtain it.
And far away in a place suited for someone as cold as dark as he, the Mastermind behind it all sat with a smile. The board was set, the pieces were moving, and at this rate he'd be placing his opponent in Checkmate very soon.
That's chapter one. Reviews would be nice. XD I'm a feedback hog, I'll admit it.
PS. Happy Valentines Day!