I have never written a Teen Titans (which of course, I do not own) fanfiction. Hopefully it's okay.Before the fic starts thereis the song that inspired this story. It is by Iron & Wine.
"Communion Cups and Someone's Coat" by Iron & Wine
Talk of yesterday
And she will show her
Brother's photograph down calloused clothes
And she'll say:
"Come find me on a beach and there will be no moon."
But say today
And she will kiss your face, and maybe, forget
Talk of yesterday
Like bargain shoe string
She will kick the car and find her friends
And then she'll describe some
Old communion cups and someone's coat
But say today
And she may look your way
And lead you home.
Chapter 1: Red Sneakers
Eyes the color of the sky between twilight and midnight wandered over the ripples that receded steadily from the shore where the white of the miniscule waves broke like liquid cotton on terra-firma. The customary hooded cloak was, for once, wrapped carelessly around her shoulders, more like a blanket than the shroud the half-demoness normally used it as. Part of it slipped listlessly off her right shoulder, the other part slung and hanging over the left, and she felt peaceful. The calm of evening tide brought her these smallish moments of reason that had little to do with her usual dose of logic and much more to do with an unclouded mind.
Since the defeat of Trigon things had settled considerably. There were still villains to be had and done away with but in all honest comparison, they were little more than gnats on a wall coated with honey. Her powers were more under control than they had ever been and this brought the team known as the Teen Titans a relatively new and more noticeable sense of relief than one might expect. Less afraid of things exploding when the empath got particularly irritated, frazzled, or—whatever Gods there are forbid—angry, her fellow titans ventured to get closer to her.
Somehow this touched her...metaphorically of course; she still flinched distinctly away from any actual contact, save Starfire's suffocating embraces that could, unfortunately, not be avoided.
"No matter how corrupt Jump may be sometimes, it's got a light about it Gotham will never have, I think," a deductive tone expressed the boy wonder's thoughts across the air and her ears caught every word.
"Is that disappointment or resignation?" She never missed a beat and never beat around the bush; this, Robin knew and he stifled what he knew would be a greatly misunderstood chuckle.
"More the latter," was the succinct answer and silence took its place again between the two very different and very similar beings. Star's affections for Robin had been somewhat misunderstood too actually, as had come to be quite evident in the past couple of weeks. The alien girl though she adored Robin—this was true—adored him in a fashion not quite sisterly but not quite romantic either and none could blame her or Robin for the misunderstanding. This was a distinction that even native earthlings confused themselves with all the time. Robin, level and usually cool-headed about things—save anything including Slade or his previously alter-alter ego, Red X—had held the beautiful redhead close to him in a way he would not do again and let her go without complaint. He was used to letting go. At the time, Beast Boy and Cyborg had both made what they thought were subtle efforts to cheer him until they realized he didn't require, nor did he particularly desire anything of the sort. He had just wanted some peace.
That's when he asked Raven about meditation.
She had then taught him the art of clearing one's mind—and he had to think it was an art. Only something so out-of-the-box could be so difficult. He was not, by nature, a round-about thinker. More so, and obviously from the many battle plans and missions they had all collaborated on, his was a logical tactic and mindset. So meditating did not come easy.
But Raven helped him as best she could, as best she knew how. After all, he had saved her, indirectly saving the world. Sure, she had blasted Trigon and his awful petrifying-curse out and far, far, hopefully never to return. Sure, she'd done that, but it was Robin who had brought her back, even as the seemingly weak, helpless, unrecognizing Raven in white. He had believed in her. She felt it only fair she believe in him since she knew that simply knowing one could master one's own mind was not enough. Someone else had to think you could do it too. Like her mother had.
"What does it feel like to love someone?" the question was so sudden Raven felt like someone else had been speaking even though it was her own lips that moved. Robin's surprise congealed with her own into some distorted mass of what the heck was that? But he quickly grabbed the thought back and stuffed it behind his ears. Raven repressed a smile. He was getting better at controlling what of his mind she saw. Sure she'd gotten a glimpse of that one, but not all the little twinges that used to bowl her over when she began helping him tone his mind.
"Well, I, I guess..."his pause was not expected. The empath thought for certain he would tell her with no delay, as he had had such first-hand experience. "It feels like something I don't have words for, but it's nice and it's awful," he smiled a feeble smile and Raven didn't have to see past the mask that that smile did not reach the hidden eyes.
"Like everything else," she noted and he didn't nod or say a word, but he didn't need to. Robin rubbed the back of his head absently. His conversations with her rarely went beyond this point. Vague philosophies. Clear and defined statements. And more thinking than talking. Sometimes he wished he could see her thoughts like she saw most of his, much as he tried to confine them to himself. Sometimes...he shook the notion off before he could begin to comprehend its depth or the strangeness of it.
"I came out here to tell you there's dinner if you want it. Take-out," he added. Pale lips let out a sigh that the boy wonder failed to hear as he turned away and descended back into the great T-shaped tower.
A few weeks passed without much of any controversy beyond the regular criminal or five. Starfire continued to drag them to the "mall of shopping" at least once during each week. Cyborg and Beast Boy continued to fight each other like the game-station addicts they were over racing games and tournament games and...well, any other kind of game they could get their hands on. Robin more discreetly but ever-consistently continued to obsess over a still at-large Slade and train more hours than the others deemed sane. Raven continued to take her morning herbal tea at an ungodly hour.
Everything continued as usual until a rather interesting letter arrived on the doorstep of their abode. Robin read it aloud as it was addressed to the Teen Titans as a collective and glances were exchanged during said reading:
"Teen Titans, it has come to our attentions that some minors may be in danger. We do not wish to alert them as this could raise unneeded havoc and panic. The city would be much safer if would consider our proposal of having you go undercover to keep an eye on the school as whole. As the Mayor it is my duty to ask and my greatest wish you would agree. However, I will not force you. The city of Jump is already indebted to you as it is. Please consider and respond as soon as you might. The address, number and other contact information can be found in the letter-head of this stationery. Thank you and best luck," Robin finished.
"But Robin, under what cover would we be?" Starfire's innocent question brought Beast Boy to pat her with a smile on his face.
"Sort of another way to say in-disguise," the vegetarian clarified and Starfire seemed to understand well enough from her silence.
"I don't believe it," the empath's voice was blank like her face.
"I'll call and check, but it's the same as any other summons or request we've received from him," Robin threw the letter at her with a flick of his wrist and walked over to the phone. Cyborg leaned over her shoulder, inspecting.
"Seems official," he nodded and Raven refrained from rolling her eyes. Babysitting was not their job as far as she was concerned. But protecting the city is, a voice chided her and she told it to be quiet.
"So who's going?" she asked after a moment and they all looked at each other.
"I'd be kind of awkward," Cyborg thought aloud, flexing some of his mechanical apparatus for emphasis.
"I'm kind of...green," Beast Boy included.
"Am I noticeably different as well, friends?" Starfire queried and there was an immediate nod from all the titans.
"That leaves you, boy wonder," Raven clinched the discussion short, believing it was understood that she would in no way be involved.
"What about you Rae—" Beast Boy's voice halted nervously in the middle at the glower she sent his way, "—ven." He finished.
"Friend Raven, could you not go as well?" Starfire inquired, settling a comforting hand on Beast Boy's shoulder who smiled gratefully at her, a quiet exchange of affection that made something in 'friend Raven's' stomach twist—and it wasn't jealousy and it wasn't irritation. It felt suspiciously like sadness actually. She ignored it.
"I'm too pale," she said and realized only then how lame it sounded and added rather weakly, "And my hair's purple."
"I think it unwise for friend Robin to go alone," Starfire insisted much to the surprise of the empath. The sweet, if sometimes overly enthusiastic, alien girl had rarely shown such adamancy on a subject.
"It wouldn't hurt to have someone there to watch his back," Cyborg agreed slowly and Raven's jaw would have dropped if she allowed such a blatant show of what she was thinking.
"It might be fun!" Beast Boy started to perk up again, already having managed to brush off the effects of the glower he received just moments before.
"I don't do 'fun'" she tried and knew it was all but an empty statement, knew that the other titans knew. As said, the past few weeks had brought them all closer and they knew her a little better and that little bit provided enough raven-observation-skills to tell when she was just using the straw-man method. They were all silent for a while. Just because they knew she wasn't telling them the real reason didn't mean they had yet learned how best to approach her in these types of situations. Eyes behind a mask frowned though, because he thought he knew the real reason but did not voice his suspicion. Instead Robin opted to say:
"Just think of it as a mission. It'll be over before you know it. I'm informing the mayor of our agreement," his voice was carefully bland and it triggered a questioning look from Cyborg and a quirked eyebrow from Beast Boy. Starfire, who thought their leader to be angry, was about to go after him as he left to phone the mayor again; she was his friend still after all, and worried, but Beast Boy tugged on her arm and shook his head. So she stayed. And Raven...
Raven stared at the space where he was seconds ago. It was all but an order and very different from the quietly friendly tone he had used with her on the roof all those weeks ago. Not that it mattered…right? She pulled her cloak closer to her absently. His words had been somewhat upsetting. No. The tone had been upsetting, the distinctly unfeeling one that mimicked hers in an unkind way that was so unintentional she could not be angry. Was he upset with her? Without a word the empath turned to retreat to her room. She would take her meditation there tonight, not risking the chance-encounter with a masked boy on the roof at some strange hour of the night when she might be more vulnerable than she would ever admit.
Didn't matter, as it turned out. A knock came at her door a little past eleven that evening.
"I'm busy," she lied.
"I just thought you should know. We start tomorrow. I've got our uniforms. Yours is here when you choose to pick it up," his voice was again distinctly empty.
"You're fully capable of doing this on your own, Robin." Her voice was like ice and he wondered why she was so against this. His braver side made a show:
"What if I don't want to do this on my own?" he asked, letting more expression show in his voice even as it got softer. Behind the closed door, lavender eyes stared at it with a mysterious tinge of kindness. Even the leader needed a hand up sometimes. She forgot this more frequently than not and now, now she wanted to say that he didn't have to and that she'd be there every step of the way. But this was Raven and change or no, the change would be subtle and slow and maybe unnoticeable to most. This was Raven and she was not, however more mature and less dark, inclined to make promises she had severe doubts about keeping. So she said none of those things.
"I'm going, aren't I?" her voice was flat and Robin suppressed a curse. Why does she have to be so…so Raven? His voices snickered at him as he ran his fingers through his hair and told him that being 'Raven' would be expected of her since she was Raven and that that in fact, was what he liked about her in their better moments.
He thought to say goodnight but in the end the last thing Raven heard as she now stood with her face inches from the door, hand on its cold surface, was the echo of his methodical footsteps.
In his research area, Robin crossed his arms, eyeing the scrolling and scanned information on his many data-screens, still searching. He tried. He really did. He tried to stay focused on something that normally had no problem capturing his obsessive tendencies and holding them in a vice grip. But every now and then even Robin could be distracted and right now that distraction came in the form of lavender eyes, cold lavender eyes.
'I'm going, aren't I?'
That was all she had said, but it meant something more to him. He shook his head, angry at himself for letting his mind wander on something that should in the larger scheme of things, not matter quite so much. But matter it did.
Does she dislike me so much? He wondered to himself. After the Trigon defeat he had thought they were getting closer, after the meditation lessons and in between losing Star to Beast Boy and that conversation on the roof. He had thought so and he brooded on this.
Maybe it was egotistical to think that her indisputable reluctance had even a shred of anything to do with him. Maybe. But he could not help it because he wanted to have something to do with how she felt about anything, even if it wasn't positive. He wanted to be some kind of reason to her for reasons he could not explain, even to himself. Perhaps it was because as the leader of the titans he felt the need to be accepted by them, trusted. Perhaps it was because of that. Yes. It had to be that, and nothing else.
Nothing at all.
Feeling a little more settled with that, having squared with it as best he could, he went back to reading data on Slade, data he had already read, but thought if he read again would become something new.
It was only five hours later that he returned to his own sleeping quarters and glanced more closely at t he uniform. Black pants and a white collared shirt. Pretty standard and he wouldn't complain. A small but definitely there smile laced his lips as he considered Raven's face when she realized she had to wear a...
Raven stood, mouth agape with something reminiscent of disgust and denial.
A skirt? A SKIRT? Her mind fairly raged, if rage can be fair that is. She had opened the door only just now, knowing Robin had been gone a while and also knowing he would by this time be back in his own room, far from her and any possible confrontation. She had opened the door and stumbled over a slight pile of forlorn looking clothes. Now she continued to examine them dubiously. Did she really have to wear this...this...this outfit? Somehow she figured that was a 'yes' and scowled darkly.
A skirt, and a pleated one at that? At least it's not plaid, she tried desperately to console herself and also keep from incinerating the uniform. The colour was much to her relief, black but when she held up the skirt, she blanched upon closer inspection. It was rather shorter than she would like. Holding up the shirt she grimaced. White? Black and white, she mused and eyed them with some further distaste before plucking the fallen necktie from the ground and returning to her room, door swishing shut behind her with a mechanical click.
Morning found Raven doing something she never did: adjusting her clothing in front of a mirror, specifically her tie. She'd never worn one of these. What the heck am I supposed to do with this? Her hands nearly twisted themselves up in the tie itself. As far as she was concerned, mirrors were for one thing, and actually, only her mirror. So changing and having to use one for their practical uses was a little foreign to her. Finally giving up, she threw it back over her shoulder onto the bed and straightened her shirt and the imaginary folds in her skirt. The truth was the outfit was as impeccable as she had found it, all pressed and cleaned. But she was nervous.
Yes, she, Raven Roth, Raven of the indestructible Teen Titans, was nervous. So she played it off by smoothing the wrinkles that weren't really there and straightening the collar that didn't need straightening. A knock came on the door.
"Just a second," she quite nearly growled and Robin's hand shrunk back. His smile was a lopsided one as he thought, this doesn't seem like it'll be the easiest of things.
"Morning," he greeted as the door flew open, Raven's back to him as she picked up her tie and twirled it caustically on her index finger.
"Same to you, bird boy," she responded and stopped twirling the tie long enough to eye it with chagrin before saying, "You seem to know how to work these ridiculous things." It was a request for help and Robin knew it but it wasn't often the girl in front of him asked for help with anything. He wanted to prolong it just a bit and in the meantime discreetly took in the image of Raven in normal clothes. The skirt showed off her legs even though she had done her very best to pull it down as far as possible, only succeeding in bringing it down to an inch above her knees. Her white shirt wasn't quite buttoned to the top and contrasted starkly with her hair, and her shoes...
"Are those your only shoes?" his question earned him one of her patented I-would-hurt-you-but-then-I-MIGHT-regret-it-later glares. She put her hands on her hips, obviously annoyed.
"Aside from my usual ones? Yes," she bit the words out forcefully. "Are you going to help me?" she prompted him and Robin took his eyes from the bright red sneakers. Of all the colors...not that he minded. He rather liked the color of course.
"Sure," he said simply and easily took the tie from her, putting it around and under the collar of her shirt, not noticing what looked like it might be a blush on his fellow titan's face as he put his arms around her to do it and then brought it around to begin tying. By the time Robin adjusted it slightly and looked up, her face was once more unreadable.
"Anyone else up?" she asked and Robin shook his head. Raven rolled her eyes. She'd suspected as much. After her customary morning tea and Robin's coffee—she still didn't understand how he could stand it, even if it did smell good it tasted like something unmentionable—they paused and shared a quiet exchange of looks.
"How do you want to go?" he asked.
"What are my options?"
"Cycle or um...your way I guess," Robin did his best to conceal that he preferred the first option. Her eyes wandered to the floor, considering After an undetermined amount of time being nervous, he perked up when she said:
"You better have an extra helmet. When I go flying off because you speed too much, I want protection," her face was even as always, seeming unreadable, but he sensed the smile in her words and could almost dare to see one in her eyes. Not so easy, but not so difficult as I thought, Robin conceded mentally and threw her a knowing grin that seemed to make his face and eyes light up...his eyes? "Where's your mask?" she faltered.
"We're going undercover. I can't very well go as infamous bird boy, can I?" he eyed her in question. She nodded dumbly and followed as they went to his cycle, snapping out of her sudden daze when he tossed a black helmet her way. As she got on behind him, forgetting all intentions she had of insisting on sitting in front, he turned to her slightly and said, "What, see something you like?" He was teasing her and this was enough to bring back the Raven with a shield and high walls built around her. Her hand batted his arm none too lightly and he let out a yelp.
"Shut it and drive, boy wonder," she said a little testily, shoving the helmet down over her head.
"Hold on. Like you said, I speed," he instructed and Raven was lost for her clever rejoinder as he revved the engine and indeed, sped off. Eyes widening, she bit back a curse and heedlessly wrapped her arms tight around her friend's waist, clenching her eyes shut just as tightly. She was not used to this. Not that she could see his face from this angle anyway, eyes shut or not, but if she had been able, Raven would have seen a glimmer of a smile on his face when her arms wrapped themselves around him, even if it was out of necessity.
"How much longer?" her question was a yell muffled by the wind saving around them.
"Not much," he quipped just loud enough for her to hear and throw a scowl his way. When she realized once more that of course, she was behind him and so of course, he could not see her scowl, she dug her nails into his sides and felt him nearly jump off the bike. Robin could feel her satisfaction and sighed.
Perhaps he should not be so cheeky when they were on an open vehicle going at some ungodly speed across miles of rather hard concrete.
I'll have to make a mental note, he thought in amusement as they pulled into the student parking lot. Raven practically tumbled off the cycle and he turned to watch her mutter things unfit for children's ears as she straightened her skirt and dusted it off with a rather large degree of annoyance.
"Are you going to wear it all day? I mean, it's definitely a fashion statement; I'm just not sure it's the good kind," his voice lingered teasingly in the air between them and Raven, who was just more than slightly put out by the comment, threw it at him with every intention of hitting him square in the face. To her disappointment he was not the Boy Wonder for nothing and he caught it with one hand, that insufferable grin on his face, eyes dancing at her in friendly laughter that he didn't dare let out.
"Laugh it up, kid. When you wake up underground with worms crawling in your ears and small rodent-like creatures making nests in your hair, you'll know why you're there," she let slip a smile. It wasn't exactly a nice smile, but any smile from Raven was to be appreciated to some extent, even if it was the exact kind of smile that a cat wore when it had a blind mouse running in circles in its possession. Robin gulped and after slinging the helmets over the handles of his locked down cycle, he hurried to catch up with his teammate who, for the record, Robin felt had just achieved an entirely new level of 'dark and sarcastic' with her last retort.
What think you, oh readers of the fiction of fans?
Star's rubbing off on me I think...oh dear.