-Act I, Chapter Five-
"Oh, is this not most enjoyable, Robin?"
The Boy Wonder snapped out of his daze, picking his head out from the palm of his hand. He looked around as the horse-drawn carriage slowly went over the bridge that stretched across the small river in the park. Birds were singing here and there in the trees, sometimes flying right in front of them. The driver seemed oblivious to the animals even as they flew right past his face. Robin turned to look at Starfire, who was taking in the all the sights with a new perspective. He sat up a little straighter, and joined her.
"You know, seeing the park like this is kind of nicer." he said. Starfire nodded, smiling. Then, her smile faltered a bit, and she looked out to the lake.
"I wish Raven would have come with us though, perhaps she would have been able to enjoy this as well." Robin shrugged, trying to stay cheerful.
"I'm sure she's back at the tower doing something that she likes. Valentines and... carriage rides just aren't things she likes."
"I suppose so." Starfire replied, still staring at the lake. Many other couples had gathered at the water's edge, sitting on the soft grass and talking to each other.
Robin inched over to Starfire, putting his head over her should and next to her ear. "After the ride's over, you want to go... sit by the lake and talk?"
Starfire turned around and beamed at him. "Oh, indeed we shall! And after that we must go to the one cafe that I have recently read in the newspaper, and then..."
Robin sat back in his seat, content as Starfire continued to say all the other various activities she wished to do. He looked back out to the lake, his thoughts shifting on the other Titans. Beast Boy had transformed into a bird and flew off this morning, telling the others he'd return home with more numbers than there were in their phone book. Cyborg told them he was picking up Sarah and left in his T-Car. Cyborg's double date was probably going well, whereas with Beast Boy... Robin didn't know to think whether he'd come back home with numbers or bruises.
Something suddenly caught his eye near the lake. Robin sat up in the carriage, just as it was starting to turn on the path, and away from the lake. He only got a few seconds' worth at what he had noticed. Starfire turned to him, breaking from her list of things to do.
"Robin, is something the matter?"
Robin crossed his arms, shaking his head to Starfire. He smirked.
'I guess Raven didn't go back to the Tower then.'
"You know, you'd think it wouldn't take this long for them to make a salad."
"Well, when you actually do it right and don't have superspeed, it does."
Kid Flash turned annoyed to Jinx, who turned her head and blinked her eyes rather innocently. The speedster looked back to Cyborg and his date, leaning in near them and mockingly covering his mouth from Jinx's sight.
"Trust me, she's not this way usually."
"Only when you act stupid, Wally."
"Okay, so you do act like this most of the time."
Cyborg and Sarah smiled, sitting across from the pair at a round table. They were in a courtyard outside of a little restaurant next to the coastline. The place was said to be decent, but not outstanding. Cyborg had almost wanted to go somewhere else, and they would have if Sarah's one cousin didn't work here. The others had to agree with Sarah though after a while, the small shop had its own little charm to it.
"So, I see you two have it off pretty well." Cyborg commented. He hadn't seen Kid Flash or Jinx in a while, from the messages the Titans usually got, they were operating all over the world, but not the same place twice. Seemed just like something he'd do, show a girl all around the world to woo her...
"Yeah, at least when we're not dealing with bad guys. Seems most of them have some sort of vendetta against me."
"I bet they do." Cyborg responded, smirking at the memory of all the neatly lined up and iced villains on the Brotherhood's shelves. Too bad they had to turn them into the authorities after the giant battle royal, otherwise they might have actually stayed that way.
"The villains that only operate in Europe were pathetic though. Who was that Italian one we helped catch?"
"You'd be thinking of..." Kid Flash immediately became a blur in his seat, the papers and bushes near them rustling from his sudden departure. He appeared moments later, back in the chair with only the minute difference of wearing a hat with green, white, and red stripes on it. "... Chef Polpair."
"And what did he try to do, gorge you on food 'till you pop?" Cyborg asked, watching as Jinx cursed the hat and caused it to shrivel up. Kid Flash looked at the incredibly small piece of clothing, and tossed it aside while answering.
The four continued their small talk about different things, with Sarah Simm and Jinx eventually coming out on top in the conversation, changing its topic to something neither male had any interest; fashion. The two men simply looked around or tried to interject at a random point to change the course back to something they could relate to (or care about), but failed each time as the two girls gave them no time to speak in.
Eventually however, the waiters came with their food. Cyborg looked delighted as the trays were put in the middle of the table (His with several different kinds of meats intermixed with the vegetables and cheese), and the plates were set up in front of them. Kid Flash stared at the salad uninterestingly, poking it with his fork for most of the meal. Sarah commented on how the recipe used for the salads came directly from the owner's relatives living all the way in (coincidentally) Italy.
"No chance they're related to that Polpair guy, is there?" Kid Flash asked, poking his food with an all-new suspicion. Jinx sent a spell over to the points of his utensil, so that they bent backward. Kid Flash mumbled something under his breath as he ran his hand along the fork's surface at superspeed, smoothing it back out.
"No, I think they did mention something of an Italian supervillain cook once or twice though. But if anything, he was from another cooking family, since they know all of their relatives aren't in jail."
Cyborg stopped in midsentence, and looked up from the group and across the street. Was that...?
"What's the problem, Cyborg? Realized there was something wrong with the salad too?"
"Nahh..." Cyborg said, turning back to them. "Just thought I saw something..."
"Something you need to take care of, Vic?" Sarah asked, moving in a little closer. Cyborg smiled and shook his hand.
"Nah nah, nothing like that. Titans already rounded up most of the criminals before today, otherwise we probably wouldn't have been able to get the city's permission to do this."
"The city's, or Robin's?" Sarah replied, teasingly.
The four of them laughed at this. Cyborg soon gulped down the rest of the salad, and the four went back into conversation (Jinx's and Sarah's dishes still with a little food, Kid Flash's barely touched). The cybernetic teen however, thought on what he had just seen, deciding not to tell the others, or the others when all of them got back to the tower.
'Huh, never would've thought I'd see that blonde guy with her. And be able to actually spend the day with her? Nice one, man.'
"Ladies and... ladies! This is the time you've all been waiting for! Beast Boy's Valentines Day-Spectacular!"
A large gaggle of girls around the green teen giggled and clapped for the Titan as he began to make several macho poses. He then stopped, and took a serious pose.
"So just what is Beast Boy's Valentines Day-Spectacular? Well, you're about to find out!"
More giggles and clapping resulted from the crowd. Beast Boy grinned to himself. This had to be his best plan ever.
"Okay! In three! Two! And... wahhhhh!"
The changeling suddenly flew into the air, the waistband of his boxers being pulled up by some unknown force. The girls who had been watching broke out into a huge roar of laughter, before dispersing as Beast Boy shouted out for them to stay, trying to get himself down. He eventually changed into a bird and flew back down. Shifting back, he stood up, rubbing his lower backside.
"That was... so not cool." More giggling suddenly met his ear.
The crestfallen teen suddenly turned on his heels, looking behind himself.
"Ladies, that was just the first--"
Nothing was there however, except a bunch of... bushes.
It was getting a little darker. The sun was starting to set over the horizon of the Pacific Ocean. A few seagulls flew overhead, landing on the nearby beach to search for food, before moving on when they found little or none. People drove on the street behind them, the traffic thinning though as the day wore on.
"It's... beautiful, Jericho."
The mute signed to Raven, smiling with his eyes closed. Raven cocked an eyebrow at him, but shrugged.
"Jer--... alright, Joey, if that's what you want." Jericho nodded, still smiling.
As soon as they gotten out of the building Raven had teleported them back to the city. They had rested long enough for Jericho to be able to walk on his own again, before setting out to 'just taking a walk around the city for the rest of the day', as Jericho had meekly put it. Raven had obliged, somewhat because she had felt like she had owed him for earlier, but mostly because... she wanted to do it, with him.
It was... different. She'd been in the city when there weren't villains to beat plenty of time before, but she was always doing things with her friends that didn't really interest her. This though, just spending the day walking around... doing nothing but being with someone else, who didn't beg or nag or demand to do something else... was nice. Jericho had barely said anything (well, signed anything anyway) the whole way, but she felt she knew him... much better than she had known almost anybody else in the same span.
She remembered how she had thought of him back at the cafe. Nice, caring, though a little suspicious. He had indeed been sincere, though. In the rest of the time with him, he hadn't tried to do anything with her past spending time with her, as a friend. No weird or annoying stares, no attempts to woo her, or even begin to. Just walk around with her, look out at the lake, walk by all the little cafes with other couples...
'Other couples?' Raven found herself thinking on the last two words. They weren't a couple, no, not her and Jericho. Not other couples, just 'couples'.
She turned to look at the mute again, who was still staring out as the sun continued to descend past the horizon. His blonde curls rustled a little in the wind, green eyes shone out like beacons. Kind of weird to think about, actually. His powers were to take over people, just by looking into their eyes. Being inside of someone else... in their mind... Could he read their thoughts? Feelings? Did he even have to 'jump' into them to do it? Could he just look into someone's eyes, and know what was going in their head?
Jericho looked up and at Raven, who immediately turned back to the sunset, tightening the control over her emotions. She could see him out of the corner of her eyes move his head to the side a little, continuing to stare at her. She soon found herself blushing just a tad. The empath had the mind to tell him to stop, but she didn't. No, he wasn't causing this... this strange feeling, inside her; like her stomach was rumbling.
He had kept the day to just spending time with her as a friend; like he'd said.
Raven had just gotten more from it than she thought she would.
The two stood there, watching as the last glimpses of the sun dipped beneath the ocean's outstretching waves.
He had done it.
He'd done it!
After months of not seeing her, months of wondering how she was, if she still smiled in the same little mysterious way, if she still gave a weird look at you if you did something strange, he finally had gotten to see her.
And it was nice.
So sure, he hadn't gotten to really worry about or think on his ... feelings (Whatever kind they were) when he was with her, but... that wasn't important. The day really hadn't allowed for it anyway. So long as he had gotten to see her again, not just on paper, but in person; be near her; see all the little quirks he had picked up on the few days he had first known her (well, at least when he had first been around her); it was alright; really.
But now the day was over. He had walked back with her to the edge of the bay, and she flown over to the Tower. But not before.. thanking him for the day. She had said she hadn't had a day like this before... ever. He still smiled to himself about this comment. He wanted to say it made him happy, happier than he'd ever been himself, but... he didn't think 'happy' was a good word to describe how he was feeling right now. No, he couldn't think of any word to really describe how he was feeling.
Jericho rounded the corner of the sidewalk he was walking on. It was getting pretty dark out, even with the lamp poles keeping the alleys and streets lit up at this hour. People were still out though, like him. Still enjoying the day with their significant others. Jericho didn't let that get him down though, he had done what he wanted to do, and while spending more time out might have been nice, there was no need.
The mute stopped in front of the Souls Cafe, and looked over at it. The place seemed to be closed at this point of the day. Jericho couldn't blame them, considering the time of day now. Why had he wanted to come here though? The teen held his chin in a hand, pondering the question.
He suddenly remembered his reason. This had been the place he'd first come to meet Raven. Seemed like a good idea to also leave from this adventure he had today.
Only problem was... he didn't have the horn Herald had given to him. It had been washed away into the bay, or probably the ocean by now. No way he could search for it. He let a frown come on his face. Herald had made the horn just for him; anyone could use it, but only he could activate the power. He usually did that for anyone he gave a horn to, but Jericho still thought it had been very kind of him to do that. It had given him a way to get off his mountaintop, like today. And... in just his first use of it, he had lost it. The mute sighed, moving over to the table he had sat across from Raven hours ago. He took a seat in the chair that was still there, resting his arms on the table's smooth surface. Maybe he should've gone back to the Titans, asked them for help to get back home. Or--
"Excuse me young man, but aren't you out a bit late?"
Jericho looked up from his seat and saw an elderly man standing over him. He was dressed in a white suit with a black handkerchief and dress shirt to match. His shoes were neatly polished, and his gloves were washed clean of any stains. He was bald on the top, but kept fashionable about it, no attempts to hide the fact from the public. In one of his arms was a bag of groceries, almost overfilled. The mute stared at him for a few seconds. Something seemed... oddly familiar about this person...
"Again I ask, aren't you out later than you should be? I do know it's Valentines Day and all, but considering you have no lady to woo, sitting out here in the cold won't do you much good." Jericho nodded a little numbly. He was confused as to how to respond. This person, he did seem familiar.
"Well, shouldn't you be getting home now? I'm sure your parents might be a tad worried over your absence."
Silence followed the question. The old man seemed to take the hint.
"Perhaps... it would be better if you wished to come with me. No need to stay out here through the night."
Jericho looked back up at the elderly person, his left eyebrow perked. People didn't just offer you their homes. Especially people who didn't even know your name...
"Only to use the telephone, of course. Just call someone perhaps, so that they can come and retrieve you."
Jericho stared at the man even more, both of his eyebrows perked; his head inclined a little.
"Well... I have a satellite-feed image with it. Some computer thing my... son in-law installed a good time ago, but I haven't made use of myself. I'm sure that you could use it."
Jericho's hesitation lowered a bit. Just a phone call, that wouldn't be so bad, would it? Besides, the man didn't seem that suspicious. The mute guessed he could go with him. He nodded to the elderly man, standing up out of his chair.
"Very good. Now then, let's not haste any time. My home is just a few blocks from here, shouldn't take much time to get to it."
"So, he's here."
Wintergreen bowed slightly, his eyes closed to the pitch-black room.
"Yes sir, I've brought the boy back to our residence. He's currently calling someone. I do believe."
"Good. I'll be up shortly to make acquaintance with him then." Wintergreen stood up and nodded this time, before beginning to leave. A shadowed figure in the distance rested his masked chin on his knuckles, watching as his butler left.
It had paid off to watch him the entire day, once he knew the teen was in the city. Monitor how he was doing, make sure nothing happened to him, pull him out of anything over his head. Yet never make himself known to the child. Somewhat difficult to pull off, but for him, doable. He'd been accomplishing it for the past ten years.
Slade sat forward in his chair, perching his hands on his armrests.
Time to reacquaint himself with his son, face to face.
Jericho had just put down the receiver of the phone, finishing his call with the Titans East. The small screen in front of him blipped off, the six Titans disappearing in a flash of the eye. Herald was on their team now, so once they came to get him he could apologize in person. The blue-cloaked Titan had told him there was no problem. He could just use his own horn to find the other one. Still, Jericho felt like apologizing, if only for losing it.
He looked around the hallway he was standing in. It was pretty new looking. The walls had their upper portions white, while the lower were left an unpainted wooden brown. The phone he had just used was on a small three-legged table, with the telescreen attachment behind the headset. For all the elderly man's words and manners, this didn't really seem to be a fitting home. Jericho would have imagined an older house, with all the walls unpainted, or at least a darker shade of brown. Rickety, un-carpeted staircase, and a living room with big red chairs next to a fireplace. He wasn't sure why he imagined it like that; everything seemed to just fall in place rather nicely, like he'd seen the sight before. It was weird, but the familiar feeling kept growing the more he was near the person, in his house. But why? Had he known the person before? Jericho didn't remember much from before the time he lived on the mountain. Of course he had memories of his mom, but not much else. Well, not just his mom, his--
"Jericho, it's been a while."
Jericho turned around quickly, right into a mass of orange and black. He nearly recoiled, before he realized what it was.
A mask, one side orange, the other black. An eye peered out from the left side, staring right at Jericho. The teen stood completely still, not knowing what to do. That voice...
"You're probably wondering what I'm doing here, or if this is just one big coincidence. I can assure you though, son, it's not."
--his dad too.
"We have a lot to catch up on. Come, Wintergreen's set the table." His father motioned over to the doorway for the kitchen. The butler could be seen placing a few different things on the table, before retreating out of sight. Jericho let his father lead him into the room, and to a chair.
Jericho now knew why everything felt familiar.
Because it was.
-End of Act I-
The "Act I" thing should tell you there's a sequel in works. ;) Many thanks to all of you who read/reviewed/the like. And a big awesome thanks to Toboe Lonewolf, who was my beta. You rock to the nth degree. )