If you're reading this, than chances are that you know I'm Ubu. My little crazy Canadian deal won't be the heading over every chapter any more so I guess you'll all just have to remember my craziness.
This story is going to be based on the actual trip I took along with Stephanie, Dan, Clair, and Mike following our graduation from high school. I will of course rearrange things such as the setting, characters, and a few things that happened along the trip to make it fit the Titans. I'll try and keep it true to that trip though because I can honestly say that it was some of the most fun I've had in my life and I think that it's a great way to really get to know your friends.
There will be a few notes at the end of each chapter explaining what's a complete fabrication and what actually took place. You don't need to read it or anything, but I thought it would be nice to add for those interested.
You can skip the rest of this and go on to the beginning of the chapter if you want but this will give you a little more of the background of the trip and the reason why I decided to assign each Titan to who I did.
The actual trip lasted 14 days from the morning we left to the night we got back to Dan's family's place in Vancouver. We left on August 6th from the town we live in on Vancouver Island and just started driving. We were averaging about 200 km (which is about 125 miles) a day but we didn't really have a clear destination in mind. I won't go into great detail at the moment but we changed out direction several times before we actually did run out of funds so we didn't get that far away and we returned late on the 20th.
And now, the reason I decided to make my friends the Titans I did.
Robin: I think Dan possesses a lot very Robin-like qualities. First off, he is the unofficial leader of the group and just has that take-charge attitude. He can be tightly wound at times as well as become slightly obsessive about things, but he's always there for his friends. There's also what I like to call the Clair factor: He has a huge crush on her and can become putty in her hands at the tip of a hat. Lucky for him, she rarely abuses her power over him.
Starfire: Having explained Dan's weakness, I'm pretty sure you can all guess that this would be Clair. Though not half as naïve as Starfire is portrayed in the show, she is very in touch with how she feels. She's wise about many things and has an innocence about her that makes her a nice friend. Being as perceptive as a guy can be about others relationships (which can be surprisingly imperceptive) I think that she may be attracted to Dan as well.
Cyborg: To me, Mike is Cyborg in almost every way. He's got a love for cars (and most other things mechanical) as well as working on them. Though not much physically larger than me, he's like everybody's big brother. There's just something about him everyone can trust and he's a hard guy to hate. He (alike most guys) likes to joke around and even pull the occasional prank, the only thing about Mike is that he has the mechanical and engineering know how to do a lot more than someone with his fluctuating maturity level should. Because of his sometimes-childish behavior, he's also alike Cyborg in the fact that he can never seem to get the girl.
Raven: Now here goes the ranting of a lovesick fool. I think Stephanie is a great deal more like Raven than anyone I've ever met. The first day I met her and the others, she was quiet and I rarely saw a smile on her face. Were it not for Clair, I don't think I would have ever met her. She was and is incredibly intelligent but her reserved nature meant she interacted with very few people. It took months and an issue or two in my life before I actually started to get to know who she was behind the quiet girl: a beautiful woman who just needed someone to trust and open up to. She carries a confident air about her that is incredibly compelling and she'll always help out her friends.
Beast Boy: That joking green guy we all know and love. I was a little closed off when I met the people who I'm grateful to call friends, and I covered up by trying to be funny. Sure, it wasn't to the great extent that Beast Boy is, but it was there nonetheless. I'd later on learn in Psychology 11 that is was a psychological defense mechanism for some people. In any case, I went through some stuff a couple years back that my friends helped me with and it helped me open up. I'm still a fun loving guy who enjoys spending time with his friends, but I don't need to put on the happy. I'd have to say that Dan in probably my best buddy but there are just some things (like being a little immature) that only Mike can really appreciate.
I'm also a ravenous BBxRae shipper so I think you can see where this is going.
If you actually read all this background info, good for you! You may be able to glaze a little more understanding than those impatient readers who skipped it. In any case, I guess it's on with the story!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans; any characters contained within are not mine and belong to their respective owners with whom I have no affiliation.
Something Like Normal
Robin fell heavily onto the couch in the empty common room, kicking his feet up on the table as he did. He'd been toying around with the idea of doing something like this for a little while now but hadn't acted on it until a week ago. The Titans hadn't had a single vacation since they had been formed five long years ago; then again, it only seemed like yesterday when the five of them sat around the table for the first time. In any case, five years of protecting Jump City with no rest save for the occasional slow week was starting to put a strain on them. A strain that was both physical and mental. Even Robin had to admit that he wasn't at his top performance.
The League had, on more than one occasion, suggested some kind of relaxation but Robin had told them each time that the Titans were at peak condition. He honestly had to reevaluate his thinking now. The past month had been very active crime-wise, schools were out for summer only weeks before that and there had been a great many calls to simply stop petty vandalism. Whenever something serious did happen, they were often somewhat fatigued from traveling from one location to the next, or took a little too long to gather after being split up all over the city to arrive on time. The final deciding factor in this was a situation in which Cyborg arrived at a robbery about five minutes earlier than the rest of the team. The thieves decided they could take him alone and gunfire was exchanged. He had of course, managed to leave the encounter with the same number of holes he walked into it with, but the situation should have never gone that far.
He caved a week earlier and told the League that they would be taking a leave. Cyborg was the only one he'd talked to about setting it up the logistics of the plan, and he seemed very enthusiastic about it. He doubted it would be a problem to get the others to go along with this, except for Raven that is, but she would eventually give in after a little combined pressure from the rest of the team.
Starfire was the first to arrive followed closely by Cyborg who flashed him a quick thumbs up. They waited for Beast Boy and Raven for a few minutes but heard no sign that they were close by.
"Please Robin, what are we having a meeting for?" Starfire asked.
"I'll tell everyone in a moment but we should wait for Beast By and Raven, do you know where either of them are?"
Cyborg was about to answer when they heard one of the two Titans in question from the hall.
"I'm sorry I was being an idiot, how many times do I have to say it?"
The doors hissed open to reveal an incredibly vexed looking Raven followed closely by a soaking wet Beast Boy.
"Until it didn't happen." She replied, annoyance clear in her tone.
She sat on the opposite end of the semi circular couch with the clear intent of being as far away from the changeling as possible.
'Great, like it wasn't already going to be tough to get her to agree to this.' Robin thought.
"What did you do this time Beast Boy?"
Beast Boy was about to answer their leaders question when Raven cut him off.
"He continued to disturb me after I repeatedly told him that I needed to meditate. My control slipped as a result and part of the tower was damaged."
Everyone turned their attention to the changeling and Cyborg let out a short laugh.
"You should know better than that by now B." He chided.
He sighed in exasperation and pushed the wet dark green hair back from his eyes. "All I was trying to do was get her to smile. I ended up in the bay for my effort too!"
"Maybe you should take a hint and stop trying." Snapped Raven.
"Why did you simply not transform into a bird and fly back to the tower before you hit the water?"
"I would have Star, if Raven hadn't been guiding me in the whole way."
Robin held back a laugh; this was just more proof of the strain the team was feeling. True, it wouldn't be odd for Raven to get mad at Beast Boy, but he usually knew to back off before things went too far.
"You had it coming."
"As funny as throwing Beast Boy off the tower into the bay is, I called you all here for a reason." Robin interjected before the argument could continue. "We've been working hard, we've been training hard, and in five years we've had very little time to relax from our duties to Jump City."
Everyone but Cyborg gave him a blank look so he continued.
"What we've gone through in the past month would be trying on anyone and I think we're all on short fuses. The League has suggested it a number of times but I agree with them now. We're not operating at our full potential and I think we all need a break, a little time to kick back and relax."
"So, are we getting the week off?" Beast Boy asked from where he stood, still dripping ocean water.
"Not quite, I don't want to bring up old memories but suffice to say not one of us has had a 'normal' upbringing. Our lives have been a far cry from 'normal' since we all started working together in this tower. We've all passed the equivalency exams but never went to high school, never graduated. We're at the age now that we would have graduated and started going out into the world to find our calling had we not been super heroes and believe it or not, that's supposed to be an important time in someone's life." Robin stood up and looked at his teammates, his friends. "This may seem trivial to some of you, but I propose we go on a road trip."
Raven looked at Robin as though he'd lost his mind and Beast Boy remained silent, Cyborg still had a smile on his face and Starfire just looked confused.
"So what do you guys think? A lot of people do something like this after the graduate, and it could be a fun experience. If nothing else, we can just look at this as a team bonding thing. It's also a great chance for Star to see a part of North American culture.
Starfire's eyes lit up immediately after Robin mentioned team bonding and seemed to brighten twice over when he mentioned the cultural gains.
"Oh yes! I would be most excited to participate in this road trip!" She exclaimed. "What exactly does one do on a road trip?"
"Robin wants us to all pile in to the T-Car and drive around until we get tired and go home." Raven said in an unenthusiastic way.
Robin shook his head. "No, I thought we'd try something a little different. No matter where we go, there's someone who's bound to know us. I don't have a problem with that but the point behind taking this trip is to get away from all this." He pinched a piece of the fabric on his shirt. "The T-Car is also too well known, besides, do you think five people just out of high school would be driving something like that?"
"This sounds fun and all but I see a little problem with your plan… I'm green, Cyborg has a sonic cannon or two more than most people, Raven happens to have an unusual hair color, and I'm not sure people will buy that Star has really green contacts. T-Car or not, I think even the people who don't know who we are will find us a little weird."
Cyborg stood up and pulled a few objects out of a compartment in his left leg.
"Not an issue, I've been working on these babies for the better half of the week." He put three rings down on the table, one close to Beast Boy, Raven, and Starfire. "They're like the holographic rings I used to get into the HIVE academy but they're a little different. These only have one setting on them and they're active the moment you put them on your finger. BB's will change his skin and hair color, de-elf his ears, and shorten up his fangs a bit, Raven's will hide her gem, change her hair color, and change her complexion a little, and Star's will give her a tan, change her eyebrows a little, and make the greens of her eyes a little whiter."
Beast Boy picked up the seemingly ordinary steel ring and spun it around. "Riiight… So what powers them?"
"A micro capacitor that feeds mostly off of your body heat. I say mostly because they do need about thirty minutes of charge every night. Mine is powered directly from my power core and is slightly different." He slipped on the ring he'd been holding since he set the other three down and immediately changed into the young man they recognized as Stone, minus the metal headband that went along with the alias. "These things are water proof, EMP proof, heat resistant up to 5000 degrees Celsius, and can withstand up to 2 tons of pressure so don't worry about getting rough with them, they'll last longer than you. I even added a feature that will simulate a suntan or burn depending on how long you stay out there. This is the only ring that will show clothing so I'm hoping you guys will be wearing something when you use them."
Cyborg finished with a very proud look on his face and only smiled wider at Starfire's approval.
"Thank you! This is most wondrous Cyborg!" She happily cheered after putting her ring on.
Her ring was a small silver band with a very Celtic looking knot and braid scheme tied around a star and crescent moon. After she'd examined her ring, she looked at her hands and arms, apparently just as happy at the change in her appearance.
'Wow…' Was all Robin could think.
Starfire looked much the same as she always did, fiery red hair, tall and beautiful, but her eyebrows had slimmed down a little and stretched out. Her eyes where now white instead of light green but her irises were still the deep emerald they always had been.
Beast Boy eyed the plain steel ring Cyborg had given him. He would have doubted that it could do anything had it not been for Cyborg's and now Starfire's demonstration.
"Thank you! This is most wondrous Cyborg!"
"What do you think BB?"
What did he think? How many times had he looked in the mirror as a child and wished to be like the other kids? This little ring was the one thing he'd wanted more than anything throughout his adolescent life. It was just too much right now, he'd have to think about it first, maybe he'd try it out when he was alone.
"They look great dude, but I think I'll try it out later." He said as he slipped the small ring into his pocket.
The metallic Titan looked a little crestfallen but Beast Boy knew he'd get over it when he eventually tried the ring out. He looked to Raven who still wore an expression of great annoyance, but he wasn't sure if it was he or the proposed trip that was the cause now.
It was apparent that Raven would not be trying the ring that lay unmoving on the table before her so Robin started to talk again.
"Seeing as Cyborg has gone to all the trouble of making these rings, we should avoid using powers unless absolutely necessary. No hero names either, we'll be using our real names unless someone has an issue with that."
"Am I correct in assuming Koriand'r is not a common name?" Robin simply nodded in response. "I believe I have heard the name Cory used before, would it be odd if it were to be spelled K-O-R-I?"
"That's perfect. You guys probably already know but my name is Richard, you can just call me Dick for short though." He looked to Cyborg as he finished.
"Victor but I prefer Vic."
Beast Boy sighed when Cyborg looked at him.
Raven didn't look like she liked this idea at all but to Beast Boy's surprise, she spoke.
"I'm still not sure if I want to participate in this little… Social experiment of yours Richard but my real name is Raven. If you prefer something a little less noticeable, than I suppose Rachel would be adequate."
"So what exactly would we be doing on this road trip?"
"I don't have a set itinerary, that is to say, the planning stopped once we hit the road. We'll basically go wherever the road takes us."
'That's a new one, who would have thought Robin could actually do something without a plan?' Beast Boy thought.
"And how long will this last? We can't just leave the city to the Titans East indefinitely." Said Raven.
"We'll go as far as $600 can take us. Bring whatever you want with you but it all has to fit in the car with us. The League is going to send a few people in so we don't have to worry about putting a strain on Bumble Bee's team." He explained.
"Do you guys want to see the car we're going to be using?" Asked Cyborg.
"Should we decide to go along with this idea that is."
"Uh, yea I meant that too."
Cyborg flicked on the light switch to the garage. On the far side sat his T-Car, the same place as always. One spot over from the trusty T-Car was the car Robin got specifically for the trip.
"You're kidding right? That tiny white piece of scrap metal is what we're supposed to be taking this trip in?"
"Hey, looks aren't everything. I gave it a tune up as well as a few other modifications; it's basically just your mid 80's soft-top convertible, but I've modified the alternator to charge a battery bank so I can recharge at night. The bench seat in the back had a minor issue where the backrest actually fell into the trunk but I put a lever on it. It can still recline the whole way if necessary, you never know if we have to sleep in the car."
"This will work perfectly." Said Robin. "Besides, you don't see many new high school graduates driving around in anything much better than this."
"Don't get me wrong, I like the idea and all, but we could be in this thing for over a week and I'm thinking all of us crammed into this bottle cap might start to get on each others nerves." Beast Boy said, from where he was inspecting the car more closely.
Cyborg looked at Raven, she looked to be thinking along the same lines but there was something else there. Was that… Disappointment?
"I'm sorry but I won't be participating in this little vacation of yours." She said as she left the garage.
"Shall I go after her?" Starfire asked.
"I'll talk to her." Said Beast Boy as he jogged out after her.
'This is either going to end well of really really badly.' Cyborg thought as he turned his attention back to the car.
"Hey Raven wait up." Beast Boy called out as he caught up to her in the hall.
"I need to meditate now Beast Boy and I do not want to have another slip because you can't accept that." Came her monotone voice.
The green Titan stopped jogging and took up a space beside her as she continued her journey to the roof.
"Yea, I'm sorry about what happened this morning… I think Robin has a good idea here, but it's not going to work unless we all go. Everyone wants you to come Rae."
Raven didn't want to admit it, but she did want to go. She wanted to see what it would be like to have a somewhat normal life. Her fingers brushed along the outer surface of the ring Cyborg had made for her and she began to wonder, what would her life have been like if she had a normal father instead of some demon hell bent on taking over the universe? She pulled her hand out of the inner pocket of her cloak, it didn't matter because there was no way she could go with them.
"Raven." She corrected. "I can't go, if I get worked up emotionally someone is going to get hurt. I don't think I can last a day in that car with the rest of you there let alone a week or more."
"If you think being in close proximity to my annoying self for that amount of time is going to aggravate you, just say so, but don't make the others think you don't want to have anything to do with the idea. I'll tell you what, if you decide to come with us, I promise I won't tell a single joke the whole trip and I won't disturb you in any way for two months after we get back. Deal?" He asked, offering his hand.
Was he serious? Could he actually go two months without pestering her? If he didn't joke the whole way, she might be able to do it. Beast Boy had never once gone back on a promise in the time she knew him, maybe he could be tolerable. That's not to say it wouldn't require a large amount of meditation, but it seemed a great deal more attainable now.
Raven reached a tentative hand forward and shook Beast Boy's.
"Fine, but I am still going to need to mediate on a daily basis."
Beast Boy smiled warmly, not one of his toothy moronic grins, but a pleasant and friendly smile.
"Okay, I'll go tell the others if you still want to meditate."
"I think that would be best." She said as she continued down the hall. "Thanks."
Beast Boy sat on his bed and stuffed the last of his new clothing into the bag. Everyone had gone to the mall earlier on in the day to pick up some summer clothing and other supplies they would take with them. Other than his standard jumpsuits, he had had very little wardrobe to call his own; he now had swimming shorts and about five days worth of clothes. If the trip did stretch on longer than that, a handful of change and a coin laundromat would be the solution.
Besides his clothing, he'd packed a towel, a pillow, and light blanket since the weather had been fairly warm at night. The thought of bringing a camera had come to mind, but it seemed pointless since Starfire bought a dozen rolls of film to document the journey herself.
The only thing left to do now was to try out the ring.
He looked at the small metal object lying across the room on his desk. Why was he so hesitant? After all this is what he'd wanted for a long time. Was he afraid that he'd like looking normal so much that he wouldn't want to go back? But that was just it, he'd only look normal.
'Whatever.' He thought. 'I might as well get this over with.'
He picked up the ring and quickly placed it on his finger before he could give it a second thought. A flash of something cool flickered over his skin and faded as quickly as it came. He slowly opened his eyes and looked down at his hands, his skin looked a little paler than what would probably be considered the norm, but it was a great deal closer than green.
He left his room and strode down the hall to the washroom, since his room lacked a mirror. The door opened, the light flicked on, and staring back at him was a stranger. His face was the same pale shade his hands were and his ears were no longer pointed. He reached up into his brown hair and felt the invisible points of his ears. He brushed his face and felt the very tip of his fang pushing past his lower lip, but it too was no longer visible.
It was truly an odd sensation since he couldn't remember not being green. The more he looked at himself, the more it seemed like it was all some strange dream. He barely noticed Raven and Starfire pass by the open door.
"Gar! You're appearance is most amazing!"
He gave this stranger a last once-over; brown hair, pale complexion, t-shirt, and jeans. The only thing that he saw as something that really belonged to him was his eyes that seemed to stand out in sharp contrast to the rest of his features. Sure, this is everything he'd wanted since he was a child but something felt wrong. This wasn't him; he didn't have the normal life he had wanted. This was something he could never be.
"Uh, yea, you too St-er… Kori."
It took Beast Boy a moment to notice but Raven had yet to put her ring on. Was she having second thoughts about going with them? He didn't want to ask about it in the case that it might sway her decision.
"Dinner should be ready soon. We should all probably get as much nutrition out of it as possible because I'm sure all the junk food that was packed will be very healthy." Said Raven sarcastically.
Beast Boy ran a hand through his now brown hair and nodded. "Sure."
Raven had awoken with an uncharacteristic excitement, slight though it was. They had all been told to be ready to leave at nine o'clock, and that gave her another half hour to prepare. She'd been up meditating since six in the morning to gain some level of control for the day to come and she felt fairly prepared.
The one thing she was unsure of was the new clothing Starfire had assisted her in purchasing. She felt exposed without her cloak and the fact that half of the shirts seemed to show a large portion of her midriff did not help matters. The holographic ring made it feel a little different though, the false skin and hair color did actually feel like they concealed the real her to a degree.
She had packed everything the night before, clothing, bedding, a few books, and enough dried tea to tide her over for the better part of a month. That much tea may have been a little overkill, but it was better to air on the side of caution.
Having felt that everything that needed to be done was done, she decided to prepare herself a final cup of tea before they were on the road. As she arrived in the common, she was greeted by Robin and Starfire or rather, Richard and Kori as their appearances dictated. It looked as if Robin's disguise was a great deal less hair gel, a lack of uniform, and a pair of sunglasses. It didn't surprise her in the least that he still hid his eyes, it was probably just a need to keep at least one thing a secret.
"Hello Rachel, would you like to join us in our breakfast?" She asked.
"No thank you, I think I'll stick with my tea."
"Do you have everything ready?" Richard asked after finishing his orange juice. "The trunk is almost full but there's enough space for your stuff."
"Yes, I'm packed. Where are… Garfield and Victor?"
Saying their names like that felt odd to her, but it was better that she get used to it before they were out driving around.
"They were packing the car, it also sounded like Vic wanted to make a final modification before leaving."
"What kind of modification?" She asked.
He shrugged. "He said we'd see."
"How about now?"
Gar exhaled a sigh of relief. "That's it, we've got output from both rear speakers."
"Alright! No crappy tape deck or mini speakers in this thing anymore. It's too bad there wasn't enough space in the back for a sub though…"
"This thing doesn't need a sub woofer! The sound system is worth five times more than the car!"
"What?" He asked as he got out of the car. "Did you think we were actually going to listen to horrible reception on the radio? We have one hundred and fifty gigabytes of quality tunes in this baby now."
They were interrupted by a laugh from the stairs.
"So that was the last minute modification?" Richard asked as he, Kori, and Rachel entered the garage.
"Nothing much, just a slight sound system upgrade."
Gar snorted at the understatement. "Yea sure, if by slight you mean three thousand dollars worth of hardware."
"You laugh now green bean, but you'll be thanking me two days from now."
"Speaking of which, lets get this show on the road. You guys have everything you need packed?" Rachel closed the trunk and nodded with everyone else. "Alright then, shotgun!"
Not a great deal to say… Please do give me a little leniency about the OCness, this was really the most realistic way I could think to get all the Titans to go on a road trip (without making it an AU fic). And before I get one rabid Beast Boy fan screaming that he was a blond, I was a really light blond when I was a kid too; now my hair is a dark brown.
Apologies to CalliopeMused, for it was from her story "Dance of the Skeletons" (READ IT!) that I blatantly copied the names (though I did have to do a bit of searching on the net to find out about Starfire's past).
I think the Coca Cola count was around eight cans for this chapter… I had written up to the end of chapter three when I lost more than a month and a half of all non backed up data due to an attempted hard drive upgrade…
As far as this relates to the real trip, the car actually belongs to Dan (hence no T-Car) and the most expensive piece of equipment in there is his MP3 player and speakers. The car itself is a 1987 Volkswagen Cabriolet soft-top convertible that was in questionable condition before Dan and Mike attacked it with more Bondo than is probably safe for structural reasons.
Because it is a convertible, it has limited trunk space but we managed to stuff a lot of our gear into the compartment where the top folds in before closing it and it afforded us a little more space. When the top is up, the back seat actually fell into that compartment but some creative thinking and oxyacetylene welding on Dan and Mike's part gave us a catch and lever to control that. It gives a great deal of space to stretch out into when the tops up.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story.
January 27, 2006
P.S. I do not, nor have I ever claimed to, own Volkswagen or Bondo.