Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans. Go bug Glen Murakami.
Author's Note: Not much to say beyond this being a gift for a friend and a change of departure for me, although given my recent expansions everywhere, it doesn't make much difference. I removed the story originally because I thought my standards were too low and an improvement was in order. Here it is.
Dedication: to BlackShield. For being a good friend but more than that, wanting to stick around no matter what, even during the icky times and I will always enjoy your Christmas cookies. Don't worry; this one is a shortie, just for you.
Timeline: A week before "The End Pt 1", I'm glad BlackShield saw it, makes my burden easier.
Beta: PureSakuraMelody and we now complete the foursome.
"Do you really think this will work?" Cyborg's negative tone cut into the silence.
"Even Superman can't fight magic. So of course it will, although I will admit that the supernatural is a little out of our grasp," Robin returned the crack.
The two were lifting and fastening the new panels etched with runes on every adjacent wall in a rather undersized room. The preparation of two weeks planning and several days building: a safety room filled with ritual and religious symbols designed to ban the demonic conqueror Trigon from entering the earthly plane. They started their planning after Raven told her fellow Titans the truth two months ago, while wallowing in the despair of her prophecy.
"Yeah, but I guess that what happens when you hang around with someone like Raven. Sucks you in," the synthetic teen observed.
"And leaves you wanting more."
"I dunno, after the library, I'm good for a long while with the spooks."
The Teen Wonder snorted. "I think I'm rather used to it by now."
"How would you get used to a thing like that? I got this." Cyborg lifted up another rune-scribed panel and slowly screwed it in the appropriate slot.
"I think seeing Ra's Al Ghul rise from the Lazarus Pit would be a good start. Seeing the dead become alive is a nice prelude to the supernatural, I think."
"Did I ever tell you how much I loathe your experience?" he barbed as he fastened in the panel.
"Now and again."
"You got to live through this daring do and can tell about it. Beyond what we've been through with Slade, Blood, and now Trigon, I don't have much experience," Cyborg stated, wistful.
"I think you got plenty. Besides, we both had enough. And you know…I wouldn't be complaining about supernatural, Mr. 'I magically rebuild myself with Blood's own army.'" Robin donned his infamous smirk.
"Hey. He hacked into me, I just hacked right back at him," his cybernetic compatriot retorted, nonchalantly.
"And magically reformatted yourself together out of thin air?"
"What I can say? A good magician doesn't tell his secrets." He winked with his good eye.
"Quoting Mumbo or paraphrasing Raven isn't going to help you."
"Thought it would be worth a shot."
"Come on, Wiz Kid; put the last rune in place so we can work on the alarm system," Robin commanded and departed the room.
"Yes, boss," Cyborg mocked while he did his chore.
Robin made his way to the control room and waited for Cyborg.
"I think once we reconfigure this, we'll at least be operational," Robin noted.
"I hope all this work and research will be worth it," Cyborg sighed as he sat down and soldered a nearby circuit board.
"It will be, just think of it as your baby or something?" he jibed.
"Or something?" I'm hurt; I can't believe you'd just blithely call my baby as something."
Robin rolled his eyes despite the fact Cyborg would not tell the difference. "Okay, okay, I get it, it's all special. They're all your babies, satisfied?" he said in gritted teeth.
"If it isn't Beast Boy and his jokes, Raven and her cynicism, Star and her—I don't know what is going on there—killing me, it's you and your odd attachments to inanimate objects."
"Like you with your mask? Probably sleep with it," Cyborg jabbed right back.
"No comment." A direct hit.
He patted Robin on the shoulder. "I had to knock you off that cloud you were on."
"You're so caustic."
"I learned from the best," the motorized marvel bolstered in his smug satisfaction.
"Raven and her sharp tongue at it again. Rewire that sequencer please." Robin booted up the computer.
"There's something about that girl that infects you—you want more and more and you hate yourself for feeling so addicted." Cyborg switched the wires of the requested part.
Robin suppressed the feeling he had when Raven intruded his mind and then her revitalization of him when she stopped time. "Haven't noticed." He continued to type.
"I'd say 'have you been living in a cave' but we both know the answer to that. I shouldn't be surprised; after all, you wouldn't have noticed Starfire like that without someone pointing that out to you."
"I didn't need to notice, I was fine before you graciously did that," he snarled.
"Dude, you've been putting that off forever—someone had to help you get over that hurdle."
"That is your opinion. I don't have time for it now, with Raven and Trigon on the way."
Cyborg scoffed. "You had it before—you had plenty of time when Slade was buried to build something with her."
"There wasn't. There was Red X, Blood, and the H.I.V.E. and I…"
"Oh, they weren't that pressing. It's pointless now anyway, isn't it?"
The teen vigilante rolled his eyes yet again. "Another Raven-ism, cute. How is it pointless?"
"You tell me—this past year you forgot about Starfire and focused only on Raven, which is funny considering how you don't normally say two words to her and now look at you—you've got your arms around her, conversing with her, just plain interacting with her."
Robin stopped what he was doing and stared straight through Cyborg. "As for the former, that is my business. As for the latter, obviously the opportunity came to approach Raven. I am sorry I put that off."
"I am sorry too. I do care about her, you know." Cyborg relented.
"So how is it going with Raven anyway? Since Slade returned, her mouth has been tighter than a clam."
"It's going fine." Robin dusted off his all-business tone and resumed his task.
"Really? Because that your usual denial tone you're using," the machine man admonished.
"Raven and I are just…secretive. It comes with the territory."
"And that has done both of you a world of good," Cyborg quipped as he followed Robin's example, put several circuit boards in their proper places and booted up a computer.
"You're doing that again," he seethed while he typed in various commands.
"You going to stop me? Since you can't, I'll keep it up, so yeah, you want to answer my question?" Cyborg said in his haughty voice.
Robin assessed his options and conceded. "The real answer is…I don't know. After the library, she and I are still distant—she is holding back. Even though she finally admitted everything with Trigon to us, I still sense her still holding back. And I don't know how to get through."
"You got through before, did you?"
"I thought I did but she is full of surprises."
"Yeah, she is. Like the time she and I talked about my…car when I first made it. She proved to be more caring about it than I thought. Totally surprised me. It happened again when I was stuck in the past and she gave me a book about a…friend I met there. Again, total surprise," Cyborg reminisced the time Raven sat by him at the diner and reinforced the notion of inserting oneself into their tasks and when he was lost in time.
"Raven's best talent, I think. I have to say, of all the people I've met, she forces you to like her and care about her. Computer system is functional."
"Good, just need to put up the alarm system. But yeah, she's quite the pain in the ass, isn't she?"
"Extremely, complete with her obnoxious deadpans. I feel like I wanted to die because of her rudeness," Robin tittered.
"Yeah, but she has her sensitive and compassionate side, like she was with me and Blood and even you and Slade."
He nodded. "She is understanding."
"You know, if we keep talking about her like this, we're going to sound like two lovesick schoolboys," Cyborg interjected as he installed the control panel.
"Yeah, negative qualities aside, she is quite the…I'm not sure how to end that sentence."
"I don't think I can."
"Just the more I know her, the more it makes me determined to solve the mystery she imbues herself with," Robin said with a modicum of fortitude.
"What will you do when you solve the mystery?" Cyborg was unsure to the answer of that question.
"I'm not sure."
"Is that your sole interest with her? To solve the mystery?" he barked in rising indignation.
"Don't get defensive. It's just she does an effective job putting up roadblocks and hide within labyrinths. Have to uncover that before you gain any headway," Robin attempted to assuage his friend.
"Don't remind me," Cyborg recollected when he and Beast Boy were in Raven's mind and failed to literally blast their way out of the mental labyrinth they were trapped in.
"Although one thing that I've been thinking about," the synthetic teen contemplated. "Is will she appreciate all this work we're doing? It's rather hard to come up with a hi-tech version of the supernatural that may or may not work."
"I think in the end, she will, but before and during that, well…yeah. Just have to keep trying," the Titan leader replied with muted optimism.
"You're quite optimistic about her."
"I have to be. It's the only way to keep going against such a threat but as long as we see Trigon as he really is—a villain, then we'll be fine."
"I hope so. You know, I never met a girl like her."
"I thought you did with that gothic dressed H.I.V.E. student that hardly says anything but smirks," Robin jested about the leader of the H.I.V.E. Five, Jinx.
"Oh her? Just a phase. Truthfully, I'm not even sure what I was looking for there at the time."
"Well…I don't know but all this talk of Raven is getting me out of sync."
"Indeed, she has her attractive qualities. Quite exotic, despite Starfire's own looks per se, but quite down to earth, pragmatic, sensible, and…" the Teen Wonder's mind blocked him from finishing.
"You're feeling it too, aren't you?"
"Don't hide it; you're getting feelings for her, too, aren't you?"
Robin's face appeared almost flush. "Of course not."
"Dude, you're in denial. Just admit the truth already and let yourself go."
Robin sighed, "As long as you don't tell me 'it will set you free.' I don't know what I'm feeling—it's protection but more gravitation this past year. She enthralls me and I don't know why. I wouldn't call it love or anything…yet. I don't know."
"Well, if she could get out of this insane life of costumes and power trips and something normal, then hopefully she'll find a nice guy to be with. Whoever it may be."
"I don't think either one of us would constitute normal," he ridiculed.
"No, but it doesn't mean we have to be," Cyborg bitterly remembered Brother Blood's initial offer of making him human in exchange for his allegiance.
"And what are you feeling? Be honest."
"I don't know. It's not love either but I don't know. Between what we were back then, and then my distraction with Blood, I lost my way and, yeah, forgotten about her, too, but now as I see her inner qualities, I think she may be what I'm looking for."
"For the long term or the right now? Because you had your share of women," Robin arched an eyebrow (or would have if the mask didn't obscure the eyebrows).
"That's the sixty four thousand dollar question."
"You muse that while I muse on the irony: an obvious womanizer and a normal boy falling for a girl that probably wouldn't want to do with either of us," the unadulterated human stated, amused by the irony.
"She might surprise us yet, if we put out a tempting package that is."
"Indeed, depending on the approach. So how are we going about this? Do we need rules?"
Cyborg pondered. "I'd say no rules, because we're both so competitive, we're going to forget them anyway."
"True. When should it start or just wait for the opportunity?"
"I'd say wait a while after Trigon is taken care of. Raven will need her breathing room."
Robin bobbed his head up and down in agreement. "That sounds fair. So may the better man win?"
"Don't worry, in the end, Raven will be the winner," Cyborg said in his usual confident tenor. "And don't worry, I will." He adopted Robin's signature smirk.
"Goodie, now we got this settled, let's get this room online and running, shall we?" Robin in turn furnished a toned down version and both Titans recommenced with their mission.
Leave a review if you wish, see you in the funny papers.