Riddle me this
The mysterious supporter of pairs!
A/N: Ha ha! I've been wanting to do this for a while. It's a one-shot. I just love those things… At first it seems kinda BB/Rae-ish and Rob/Star-ish but then it gets to Rob/Rae at the end.
Disclaimer: TEEN TITANS and all related characters and elements are copyrighted trademarks of DC COMICS.
The Teen Titans, Protectors of Jump City, Defenders of Justice and Guards of the Innocent, were bored. The whole past week had been uneventful. No villains, no battles, no worries. At least, that's how it should have been, but instead of relaxing and simply enjoying the rare time they had to themselves the teens, becoming restless, had engaged themselves in various mind-numbing activities.
The TV blared loudy, flashing gaudy pictures across the screen as the oldest and youngest Titans took out the tedium on their already overused Gamestation. Robin sat, headphones glued to his ears and eyes scanning a recent police report concerning an old robbery down at the bank. Starfire was steadily stacking and demolishing a pile of wooden blocks. They had been given to her as a kind of joke at first, but she had liked the colours, letters and digits, and usually placated any unneasiness with the soothing, repetitive, monotonous action of stacking and restacking them contentidly.
Raven was reading. Usually reading is not considered to be a mind numbing activity, but the pre-read piles of books stacked next to her seat on the couch suggested otherwise. She sighed impatiently as her eyes left the blurring page to glance around. It was true what they said, to much of a good thing really was a waste.
Starfire caught the gaze and looked up, whilst carelessly knocking down a tower of blocks with her free hand.
"Why do we not go heading to the place of pizza for our lunch?" she suggested. Beastboy and Cyborg battled on, Robin didn't hear her and Raven just returned her eyes to her book and waited.
"Friends?" she said, standing, "I am sure that we shall all enjoy a refreshing visit out to our beloved city, or perhaps the hiring of a stay-home movie?" Beastboy grunted. Robin's head moved in time to invisible music. No one answered.
There was a few seconds silence as Starfire glanced eagerly around. Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick…
"MELKO'R NO GIBSHTA SILADAND K'TA!"
Four pairs of eyes were now trained on her.
"I merely had the suggestion of participating in some group activity to help alleviate our current dilemma of listlessness." She exclaimed demurely to them all, and before sitting down again politley added, "I thankyou for your attention."
Robin was retrieving his headphones from where they had flown against the wall, "That's a good idea Star." He started, "It'd be good to do something together."
Oh, please, Raven thought, we see enough of each other as it is. But the idea seemed to have caught on. Cyborg and BeastBoy had turned away from their game to listen to Star, and had now paused it as the team threw out ideas.
"We could go out for pizza." Came BeastBoy. Cyborg nudged him.
"Already been suggested."
"How about something physical, like a game of tip or (Robin smirked here) cops and robbers to get rid of the boredom."
"Ah, yes!" exclaimed Starfire, jumping up, "I have heard of these 'games for the bored', but I believe they involve many squares and ornaments for the asphyxiation of small children, no?"
It took a moment for the translation to register.
"You know, I don't recall if we even have any Board Games in the Tower." mused Robin, and as he glanced around Cyborg fixed his eye on Raven.
"What about you, dark girl. Got any suggestions?" Raven was about to shake her head, but stopped herself. There was a short pause.
"Scrabble" she told him, "or maybe Poker." Cyborg grinned and BeastBoy whined,
"But I thought we were doing board games!"
The others were starting to gather 'round her. "Really?" Robin told them, "I had Cluedo in mind."
"You know, I've got a suggestion." put in Cyborg, "It's something my family used to do on rainy days. We all sit in a circle and tell riddles. Whoever gets the answer gets to tell the next one and so on. It's a lot of fun."
BeastBoy cheered and Starfire clapped. Robin aggreed, "Great idea, Cy." Raven moved over with the others to take their seats on the couches so that they were all facing each other. Once they were seated Robin continued, "Would you like to start?"
"Nah, man. You can do it. Truth is I was never really very good at this game."
Robin nodded and looked around at them all, then he smiled. "What is no sooner spoken than broken?"
Raven was surprised by how easy it was. Robin was a master detective, surely he knew something a little harder than that. It was then that she realised who the riddle had been directed at.
Starfire, of course, she mused, she has enough trouble with understanding jokes, and he's not going to give us a riddle that we can't all solve. So the other Titans patiently waited as the Tameranean princess pondered it out. Raven felt that somehow she knew this riddle was for her and was thankful for it.
"I believe," started Star, softly, "that the answer you seek could indeed be… silence. Is that not correct?" She looked up to Robin for confirmation. He grinned at her and said,
"Good work, Star."
"Oh, Joyous!" exclaimed the Tameranean, "I have succeeded in procuring the answer. But now I believe I shall have to divulge a problem of the words."
This time she looked to Cyborg, and he nodded to her, "That's right, Star."
"Hmm…" Star pursed her lips, "it is difficult, as the 'reed-els' I know would require a detailed knowledge of the language of Tameran to be properly solved and understood. But perhaps there is one I may adapt…"
She tapped her chin, an earth custom she had picked up, and looked to the ground. The she smiled, "Ah!
It is said among my people that some things are improved by death. Tell me, what stinks while living but in death smells good?"
The Titans pondered this from their seats. Cyborg's eyes were focused on the furniture, whilst Beastboy looked out through the Tower's large windows with a small frown on his face. Raven just sat.
All at once Beastboy jumped up, his face a mixture of horror and pride.
"Star! How could you?" This was certainly not the reaction she, or anyone, had expected. He pointed at her indignantly "I thought you understood!"
"I – I do not understand. What did I do?" she stammered, looking worredly up at him, "What did I do that has upset you so."
"The answer." He stated, crossing his arms. She obviously didn't get it. "The answer to the riddle!" he explained further, then added with a smile, " I figured it out."
"You did?" she asked surprised.
"Well?" Cyborg pressed.
"It's a pig." He told them, "the answer is a pig. You know, it's all muddy but then you cook it. For food. To eat it."
Cyborg gawaffed at the disgusted expression on his friends face as much as the answer to the riddle. "I get it."
Starfire had been silent and when BeastBoy noticed he sat back into his chair, defeated.
"I was wrong?"
"The correct answer," Star began carefully, "is a Raakglarg, but I believe that a 'pig', as you say, would be the equivalent of that on earth, so your answer is, in fact, correct."
She clapped as BeastBoy victory danced around the room. The other three Titans grimaced. Once he had finished the green teen struck a pose and declared,
"I have the ultimate riddle!" and now he had everyone's attention, "Okay. I'm going to describe a creature, person or thing and you have to tell me what it is. It goes like this;
But nobody's fool.
Aloof from the crowd,
And famously proud.
This lovable tyrant,
Beguiles and unnerves,
And makes of it's master
A minion who serves."
There was silence for a moment.
"What?" continued Beastboy, "Is my mighty intellect to difficult for you?"
"No, we're just shocked that you were able to pronounce all the words in that poem." Raven rejoined.
He pouted, "There's a lot you don't know about me, Rae"
However before the conversation could go further, Starfire's golden brow uncreased and she shouted gleefully;
"I have it! I have attained the answer."
BeastBoy turned to her, "Really?"
"Yes, and I am sure that the creature/person/thing which you describe is," she paused for dramatic effect, "Raven!"
There was silence for a moment. Then laughter.
As the male Titans slapped their knees and shook with mirth Starfire's brow creased again in confusion.
"But I do not understand," she told a rather stupified Raven, "I was sure that I had found it." Her shoulders slumped.
"Don't feel bad Starfire," Robin chuckled in an effort to cheer her up, "I can see how anyone could make that kind of mistake." He was blatantly ignoring the death glare that was burning it's way into his back.
"So," Beastboy began once he had regained his breath, "I guess no one can figure it out then."
"Don't be stupid man," interupted Cyborg, "It's obviously a cat." BeastBoy looked crestfallen.
"Dude! Was it really that easy to guess?"
Cyborg nodded. Raven nodded. Robin nodded. Starfire nodded too, for some reason.
"Better luck next time, BB." Cyborg faced them all and rubbed his hands delightedly together, "Okay. I got a good one. A real brain teaser. You ready?
What does man love more than life
Fear more than death or mortal strife
What the poor have, the rich require,
and what contented men desire,
What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves
And all men carry to their graves?"
As the others fell to thinking Raven considered answering. She knew the answer, as she had heard this particular riddle before, but if she did answer what riddle could she use in return? A couple came to mind but they didn't seem challenging enough. Raven knew she had some really good ones stored somewhere in her mind, but….
If she had been anyone other than Raven, at this point she would have smiled.
"Nothing." Her voice rang out, "the answer is nothing." At first Cyborg looked shocked, but then he smiled at her.
"Yup." He affirmed, "100 correct." He laid back further in his chair. "Your turn now."
The others leaned in closer. She knew they were expecting something good, and she didn't intend to disappoint them. A tiny voice inside told her that she did that enough already. So Raven nodded and began,
"Kitty, a fair but frozen maid,
Kindled a flame I yet deplore;
The hood-wink'd boy I called in aid,
Tho' much of his approach afraid,
So fatal to my suit before.
At length, propitious to my prayer,
The little urchin came;
From earth I saw him mount in air,
And soon he cool'd with dext'rous care,
The relics of my flame.
Say, by what title, or what name,
Must I the youth address?
Cupid and he are not the same,
Tho' both can raise, or quench a flame–
I'll kiss you if you guess."
Raven felt the weight of four heavy gazes rest on her form. She pursed her lips with agitation.
"What?" she demanded.
"Wow, Raven," BeastBoy began, staring at her queerly, "I never thought I'd ever hear you say anything like that."
It took a second or two for what he meant to come into contact with her mind.
"What?" she repeated, "No, I didn't… It's just part of the…" Well, she had already concluded that none of them, even if they had gotten past the 19th century phrasing, should have been able to solve the riddle, so she eloquently finished her statement with "Whatever." and crossed her arms.
At this BeastBoy waggled his eyesbrows, "You seem pretty non-chalant. Maybe, dare I say it, you actually want one of us to guess right, right?"
"No," Raven snapped, "You daren't. And besides" she added as she calmed down, "None of you will be able to guess it anyway."
She regretted that line for a long, long time.
Raven froze completely as her violet eyes slowly widened with shock. Robin was smirking.
"Wh-what?" She stuttered.
"A Chimney sweeper." Robin replied calmly. His eyes were boring into hers.
"How did you know that?" she demanded. The others were watching them curiously now, too. He shrugged.
"I just figured it out."
Of course. She reasoned with herself, He's one of the greates detectives there is. There's no way he wouldn't have been able to solve it. Robin had been almost silent throughout the whole game, probably to give his team mates a chance to solve the riddles themselves, and because of this Raven had carlesly pushed his presence into her subconscious.
This led onto another thought. So why did he choose to answer my riddle? But her mind was in too great an uproar to process things further. She swallowed.
"Yes." Raven affirmed, "Kitty, the maid, lights a fire in the poet's chimneyplace. So the boy, a chimney sweeper, climbs up to the roof to put it out…"
"So, I got it right." He said aloud, more for the benefit of the others than to her.
"Raven," BeastBoy sang as he drew out her name and grinned. She thought he looked particularly evil just then, with his fang poking through the row of teeth, "You know what that means."
Raven stood stock still. She chanced a look at Cyborg, but he was smiling warmly too. Starfire was sitting and fidgiting with her hands, looking quite uncomfortable. Nevertheless she agreed, "You should keep your word Raven"
Robin simply stood there and Raven for the life of her couldn't figure out what he was thinking. Feeling rather exposed with him watching her like that she gracefully drew up her hood.
"Oh, Raven…" BeastBoy teased in the background. Raven's eye twitched. There was a sharp "Ow!" from the green changling as potted cactus poked him in the backside. She clenched her fists.
May as well get this over and done with she told herself. Raven swiftly closed the gap between them so that she stood a foot away from the Boy Wonder, ultimate do-gooder and Leader of the Teen Titans. Grudgingly she shuffled closer, then lent up peck him on the cheek, however she never got there.
Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
All the lights in the room had darkened and the red sirens flashed sporadically with the alarm. Robin whipped out his communicator.
"Titans, Trouble!" he shouted, and the others raced out of the room, leaving a heartily relieved, and slightly offended Raven in their wake. Robin's black cape fluttered only slightly and hung around his shoulders as he neared the door. She though she saw him pause before the exit, but as the red light flashed round again he wasn't there.
Raven took a few steps forward, but was stopped abruptly as someone caught her hands and spun her 'round. Warm lips pressed themselves against hers and a spiky, dark-haired boy looked down at her.
"So you don't owe me." Was all he said, then he was gone.
Slowly calming her shocked senses Raven pulled up the hood that had somehow come down during the alarm. She touched her lips. Maybe he wasn't such a goody-goody after all.
Then the realisation struck of what had actually just happened. She clenched her fists.
I owe him all right!
1. The 'xxxxxxx ' marks a new verse. It's the only way I could separate the poems.
2. The poem Cat is by Tim Hopkins
3. Raven's riddle is titled Written by a Lady, whose Maid had set her Chimney on Fire by David Garrick
Sorry, sorry, sorry! Everyone is so out of character. I just can't seem to do them right. I'm especially bad at BeastBoy, I think. Oh well… I hope you enjoyed it!
P.S. A prize to anyone who can guess who my sister is!