Summary: Tim Drake gets the idea to put together a team of crime-fighting metahumans. It's crazy enough that it just might work.
I don't own the Teen Titans. If I did… let's just say that there would be changes and leave it at that. Many thanks to Kayasuri-N, They-Call-Me-Orange, and 99 for listening to the many rambling thoughts that led to this idea. This story will not top 300,000 words. (I hope so. I really, really do.)
Tim was not having a good day.
Before Timothy Drake could turn the key on his office door, a reporter pounced. The man (cheap tie, secondhand suit, bad cologne) wanted a lead on the Prewitt case. Victor had saved him from the reporter by asking just when the man's press pass had expired. That would have been a good sign-but Victor was there to deliver a folder on the latest suspect in Jump City crime. When someone asked Victor to bring folders around the office, Tim wouldn't hear a word of complaint. He just would be on even worse terms than usual with his colleague. It didn't help that he was a touch intimidated by the man.
He was a police officer. He could deal with big guys. As one of the first officers in Jump City's Metahuman Justice Department, he wasn't that worried that Victor's arms could convert into some kind of cannon. He was more intimidated by the fact that Dr. Victor Stone was 23, had a Ph.D. in electric systems engineering, and was level-headed to a fault. Tim knew some older cops that had ice water in their veins, but he thought Victor was a little closer to liquid nitrogen. That was the only reason that the department's most valuable acquisition kept his calm when people kept assuming the station's only black employee would be thrilled to deliver files.
The experienced cops used to working with civilian specialists didn't transfer to the MJD. They stayed with the Jump City Justice Department- no one called police stations by the expected name anymore. Some politician had tried to make stations more approachable. The Metahuman Justice Department got to change its letterhead.
Any chances of conversation were shot. Victor kept a good attitude, but would be so polite that any prolonged talk was doomed. So, Tim had tried for the one subject they could talk about together: just which officers were likely to transfer out. The older cops stayed with the JCJD. The MJD had all the cops who thought that they could handle metas, and the highest hospitalization rate in the west. Their department was gaining enough popularity to afford to keep someone with a doctorate on their payroll to design all the technology that gave them any chance of taking metahuman criminals into jail without too many A290 incident-report forms.
Besides that start to his morning, there was yet another pair of protests on the front staircase. The staircase was meant to be impressive, a high rise of long marble steps rising from the sidewalk. All it had become was a hard-to-clean platform for people with picket signs. They really should just cordon off areas and label them permanently. It would be much better than having the two factions constantly switching areas.
A few metahumans usually took the time to protest the Metahuman Acts. They didn't seem to notice that the acts had passed two years ago, and rarely seemed to notice much of anything. They spent more time talking to each other and setting their signs down than proving their point through enthusiastic sign presentation. The metas demonstrating were usually quiet, polite, and less trouble than their opponents.
The other demonstrators felt that the MJD was wasting their tax dollars, and were in favor of more restrictive measures their conservative political hero was talking up in Congress. They were more prone to heckling, and he already was on unsteady enough terms with Victor. If Tim hadn't been on duty, and they had been in a side alley, he just might have considered a bit of vigilante-style justice. Slander was a crime. That thought, though, would require him to open up the safe in his apartment. Most people kept jewelry, money, valuables, or passports in a safe. Tim had a Robin uniform that may or may not still fit after four years as a civilian.
Four years or not, he still had more training and experience than most of the senior cops. That was why he was one of few MJD cops to patrol alone. His superiors hadn't liked the idea, but he couldn't fight unless he had a partner who could do just as much (if not more) damage without a gun. They didn't teach cops innumerable forms of martial arts. He tested out of having a partner and made three arrests his first day going solo. He was the paper-pushers' favorite example, and didn't like it at all. The next time a politician tried using his reputation, Tim would have something to say about it. He worked alone, and not for their political campaigns.
He was alone when he encountered the most-wanted criminal in Jump City.
Tim radioed for backup, took his keys out of the ignition, and locked his patrol car. When dealing with her, it was best to assume that she would steal anything. By taking his keys and locking the car, it just might slow her down for a few minutes.
"Good morning, officer," she said, indolently stretching. "Sitting on the edge of the fountain is a crime now?"
"No, but there is the matter of two bank robberies just yesterday. I could read you the rap sheet, but we can do that after I recite your Miranda rights."
She scrutinized his uniform. Shined boots, worn leather case on the badge, DRAKE spelled in pale embroidery next to the MJD logo. "You recite that when I'm in custody, flatfoot, unless you'd like to say it now, to make it feel like you're doing your job right. I've told you and everyone else running around in the dark blue getup. You're not going to catch me. Nobody's that lucky."
"Your luck can run out."
"In the name of regulations-oh, my, did I insult your religion? I know policemen believe in regulations." She gave him a wide-eyed look of shock he didn't believe at all. "Well-to cut the cursing- you'll run out of bad dialogue long before I run out of bad luck to dole out. Don't know how much more you need, really, because that half-pout/half-glower combination you have probably would break- hm- six mirrors, give or take a fracture."
She smiled in her most predatory fashion before he could recover. "I think that concludes the banter portion of this contest. Now, we can move onto the physical- so far, the score is bad girl 1, good guy goose-egg."
"This isn't a contest, Jinx."
"Actually," she said coolly, with the pretense of examining her nails, "it is. I would agree, if you had contested 'game.' That implies rules, and I don't follow your regulations. As for contest- why ever not? If you should ever win, you would have the distinct pleasure of hoping I don't destroy your squad car. When you lose, it's nicer to say that you lost a contest than to go over the alternative."
"And just what is the alternative?"
She smiled. He was almost too easy- but she liked a cop with just enough smarts to follow her lead and understand the insults. "You let a dangerous criminal escape. Again."
"I know that you're not keeping this capital for yourself, Jinx. I can do an investigation without bringing you into the precinct. My superiors won't like it, but I can do it."
Jinx frowned theatrically, exaggerating the expression into a parody with a well-hidden spark of sincerity beneath the act. "You know, there's just one problem with that little arrangement."
He knew that he shouldn't hope, if she looked thoughtful- but that was one bad habit he had yet to get rid of it. "And what is that?"
"I don't trust you, and I have no reason to trust you. Facts of life, officer. When your mommy and daddy love each other very much, you show up nine months later. Everybody dies eventually and that will be sooner if you do something stupid. Not everybody pays taxes.
"From years of experience and testing, metahumans can't trust anyone regulated by politicians to get the job done. For that matter, metahumans can't trust humans. They don't work together. Period." She stood to deliver her last argument. "And, on top of that... one more fact of life. You and all your goody-two-shined-shoes are never going to catch me, because-"
She didn't finish the sentence. She took off at a dead sprint, darted in front of a city bus, and had cleared four lanes of traffic before he could see past the long vehicle.
She was fast, but he still saw someone with bright pink hair duck into the small coffee shop across the street. He used the crosswalk five yards to his right. He could take a few seconds; he was familiar with that restaurant. It was a family-owned business, and the son would be taking over within weeks. One unisex bathroom with glass-block windows, a matriarch heading the kitchen to keep anyone from running out the back way, and only a narrow door near the counter for a way out. The shop had a picture window that took most of its narrow property, and there wasn't much room for a chase. Jinx, for all her bluster, wouldn't harm civilians. It made him want to make a deal, but she would never trust someone who wasn't meta.
He walked in the front door and scanned the room as he flashed his badge. Of the few patrons sitting inside on a cloudy morning, two women were wearing sunglasses. It was just his luck- bad, whenever Jinx was involved.
"I'm sorry about the disturbance," he said to the room. "Officer Tim Drake, MJD." He approached the woman closer to the bathroom. Her sunglasses came close to covering her forehead, and didn't seem at all in character with conservative tastes. "May I see some ID, ma'am?" he asked. If he saw a white identification card, he would immediately look at the other possible suspect. As good as Jinx's resources seemed to be, no one else had the technology to fake IDs.
A red card- he glanced for a second, and knew that she wasn't Jinx. The picture matched too well, and he remembered hearing from a coworker. He had done his research, of course. Not only was the MJD experimental, a half-demon lived in their jurisdiction. No fake ID cards had that section of the card in the right font.
He didn't need more than a half-second glance to know that he was looking at the wrong person and that Jinx had been sitting by the window.
The glass shattered outward, and she was gone at a dead run, heading straight into the alleys. He didn't know why the city couldn't just block off those alleyways. Jinx was gone. Again.
He turned to apologize, but the woman wearing sunglasses was already moving. She had folded the newspaper she had been reading, taken her purse, and thrown her empty coffee cup away. "I'm sorry," he said, when he was close enough. There was no need to yell such a thing across the room.
For a second, he would have sworn that he saw red flashing beneath the glasses, and behind the long bangs that covered her forehead. He must have imagined it, though. Her voice, when she spoke, was perfectly calm. "I accept your apology and the fact that you would do the same again. It will not happen in this shop, however. I will not return."
"The public online registration database would let them find the main fact easily," she said, sidestepping him easily. "If you will excuse me, Officer Drake, I will be on my way." One point in his favor was that he was not foolish enough to try stopping her. She walked into the shop's one bathroom, and did not dignify stares with a return look. She didn't know what tabloid those people had their information from, but she didn't plan to rip the place in two. She planned to find another place to drink coffee in the morning, as her current dive of an apartment just might be off-lease soon. It was better to just stay away and live out of packing boxes. Unpacking was too much foolish optimism.
The cop was gone two minutes later. She had washed her hands for an entire minute, just so she could be sure. If she heard more from him, she would have more than just a temporary lapse. She should have just stayed home, after breaking another light bulb. She had caused no property damage that time, but no one could know that the flash of red had even happened. She was in control, finally, and meant to stay that way.
She was in the process of leaving through the side entrance when she felt someone tap her on the shoulder. She forced herself to stay calm. This wasn't like the last time. She still could hold her own, but she wouldn't have to. She turned to face the owner's wife, who rarely came out of the kitchens she ruled with a heavy heirloom copper ladle.
"Here," she said briskly, offering a bulky paper bag with sure movements. Her gift would not be refused. "You have a red card, but that should not make a change. You take this and then you'll be tided over for awhile. Perhaps my husband won't find out that you have some good coffee to go with the pastries, hm? Even with our best customers, he gets so careful with the coffee."
"Thank you," Raven said, after a minute of confusion. She took the large bag in her arms. She couldn't think of anything that would explain how it felt, to have someone with such a strong, solid range of emotions. "Thank you very much."
"You still can do good things, yes? Things no one else would dream of doing. If you need more coffee, come visit. Any customers scared away by one red-card are just jealous, and too ready to be afraid."
It was one of the few civil conversations she had been involved in that week, and one of the only nice reactions to just what she was, Raven reflected as she made her way down the sidewalk. She could have teleported to her apartment, but that took just about as much energy. She would use the time walking to look for any complex renting out apartments- her current lease was about to expire, and a nervous landlord would very much like for her to leave.
Maybe the harbor district would have openings. She found a free real estate listing in front of a deli, then smiled and shook her head when the cashier tried to drum up some business. He looked at the bag in her arms and sighed. She shrugged, and decided that she just might go back there for lunch sometime. She liked silent conversations. They didn't require people staring. Scattered sunlight glinting off storefronts made her sunglasses commonplace, and there had been a help wanted sign in the diner. Her day was looking up.
Green arced in front of her. Acting on instinct, she threw up a shield and watched the sidewalk in front of her crack. You just had to think it, didn't you? She should have known better. Positive thoughts only would make things go worse. Bad things came in threes, according to an old superstition. The officer in the coffee shop, some sort of green laser in the sidewalk She still had room for the last of the trinity. Raven wondered if a headache counted. She tried to suppress empathy, living in a city, but the source of the green was radiating anger and confusion.
She regretfully set her paper bag down, very aware that things could get messy if people would be throwing around lasers of some sort. She was airborne the next instant, to get a view of the very odd fight past a row of cars parked at the meter. It was the Drake guy. Again. This time, he was fighting a woman with orange skin who was still blasting green from her eyes whenever he tried to approach. The woman's aim was horrible unless she had meant to hit that lamppost, or unless didn't want to kill the officer.
Raven didn't take any time to think about it. If she did, wondering just how thick-skulled the police officer was might make her regret what she would do for just half a moment. She caught the lamppost before it could make a direct collision course with the officer's head. "Drake!" she yelled. He had already noticed what she had done. A lamppost wreathed in black hovering over his head was a pretty good clue. "I have your back."
"Thanks," he said, attention already elsewhere.
Raven set the lamppost on the sidewalk. Something wasn't right about those emotions. "What is she? She's not human." She kept back. As long as Drake stayed where he was, the woman stared at him. "Don't," Raven snapped when he took a step. "She's not attacking. Is there a warrant out for her?"
"She's an alien, we think. Something just crash-landed out near the bay, and she came out of it and went on a rampage."
"She's confused and scared. If you don't spook her, she won't be violent." Raven had spent years getting used to just what she could do, ever since she had left Azarath. She could understand one confused alien. "You can't solve all problems with fighting, Drake."
Raven watched the alien. It certainly fit that she wasn't from earth, with emotions that different. "Drake, try making some show of peace. Relax your body language."
He tried. It seemed foolish, at best, to approach an alien peacefully after watching her destroy a good part of a city block, but he did have a half-demon at his back. From what he remembered, she had many more tricks than the telekinesis with the lamppost. He held his hands in what he hoped was a universal gesture of peace. When he wasn't vaporized, he assumed that was good. When she stopped hovering six feet in the air and touched down two feet in front of him, he knew it was good- and that he had no idea what to do.
"Are you any good at picking locks?"
He didn't know who the woman from the coffee shop was, but maybe this was what Jinx had doubted. Here they were, a human and a meta working together. "You think I should get her arms out of whatever's on her?"
"It certainly would be a peaceful gesture."
He had a few lock picks, for the less official circumstances anyone involved in the MJD quickly found out about. He stepped forward carefully, and something made the alien woman stay there. The lock was easier than it looked, but still took a few seconds. He didn't notice the odd metal falling to the ground. The alien made sure of that.
A few seconds later, his brain caught on. She was kissing him. She was kissing him and she still wasn't done. He wasn't sure exactly when she pulled away, but it was after he decided that it might not be such a bad idea to cooperate a bit. As a peaceful gesture, of course.
She pulled back and looked at him. Her eyes weren't glowing, however bright they still were. "Who are you?"
She speaks English? "Officer Tim Drake, but I go by Tim." He didn't worry about formality. It seemed odd to be at all worried about etiquette when he was talking to an alien.
"I am Koriand'r."
She was beautiful, and so was her name, but he doubted that he could ever pronounce it. "Is there any chance you would repeat that?"
"Starfire, in your language," she said after thinking for a moment. "My name is Tamaranean, which may be difficult for one unused to the language. Those chasing me are the Gordanians. I have been here before. Last time, they were successful in finding me again. This time, I will be able to fight them. Thank you."
"Don't take off," he said quickly, when she shot up a few feet. "I can help you."
"I help with anything in this city involving metahumans, and a few things that don't. If you give me two minutes, I can have a partner of mine on the scene." Tim might not know Victor well, but he knew that Victor could fight if he liked the cause.
"That would be delightful!"
Raven looked between the joyous alien and the police officer calling someone called Victor on his radio. From what she heard, 'Victor' would be there in two minutes. Until then, Starfire could certainly take care of herself. "Good luck with the Gordanians, Koriand'r," Raven said, to be polite. "Good day, officer Drake." She tried not to look at all disconsolate when she saw that a fire hydrant had been hit during the brief fight, while she was holding the lamppost. The paper bag was soaked through. There was no way she could carry it.
She prodded at the paper with her foot. Plastic-wrapped packages remained stacked in sealed plastic sandwich bags even when the saturated paper tore. She started to balance them when the man from the deli was at her side. He coughed discreetly instead of touching her, which she appreciated, and then held out a thick paper bag with handles and a fresh paper of apartment listings.
"Thank you," she said, wondering how much luck she was using up in one day. With recent history, it was enough for at least a month. She used telekinesis to move the packages. If he had seen her moving lampposts, he wouldn't be entirely surprised.
"My pleasure, miss," he said. "I saw what you did from the window. Anytime you're in the area and would like a bite to eat, the meal's on me. Least I can do for a hero, after all. I know you saved that cop."
She kept back thoughts that he wouldn't be so kind if he knew what she really was. She had no reason to doubt him. "Thank you again. I'll keep it in mind." She probably would stop by, if only to go somewhere she could be openly metahuman.
She was walking away when someone tapped her on the shoulder. She turned on her heel, and wasn't entirely surprised to see the cop. This time, there was another cop. This one had dark skin and biceps that might end up bigger than his brain.
"Drake, there is a limit on my patience. I was holding a lamppost in the air. I've not been having a good day, and I would like to go home and meditate before the nice man in the deli sees what an irritated demon can do." She was half-demon, and they all knew it, but wasn't at all in the mood to debate semantics.
"He called you a hero. Would you have enough patience to help us out?"
She took off the sunglasses. Purple eyes weren't that much of a threat, even if they weren't natural. "You want me to join the partly-meta musketeers? No thanks. Anything this far from Dumas won't touch on the classic." She didn't blink when a hologram flickered away. So, the cop was mostly metal. The biceps the hologram put under the uniform looked accurate, so that said something about him. "Mostly-meta musketeers. Pass."
"Thank you for your earlier help," Starfire said.
"Would you give it a chance?"
Raven looked between the three of them. The alien reeked of nice, Robocop looked like he might be friendly if he wasn't uncomfortable with people staring, and Drake just looked like someone she would like to throw. The alien would catch him. "I'll give you one chance. Just you, Drake. Three questions. You get them all right, I join your team for the day. Deal?"
"Deal." Tim knew that the questions might be impossible, but she was calling all of the shots.
"Name a few things I do that you can't."
Drake paused for a second. She was serious. That one was easy enough. "Telekinesis, some form of teleportation, time manipulation, and astral projection."
"Correct. Why can I do these things?"
Now he wasn't sure. "It does have something to do with your parentage?"
"A polite way of saying I'm a half-demon raised in another dimension, I suppose. Last question: what is my name?" she asked, picking up her bag. She expected the stunned pause while he tried to remember something he hadn't learned. "Good day, Officer Drake, Koriand'r, and other officer." She wasn't staying around for introductions.
Tim was about to ask for a hint when she was gone, demonstrating teleportation for the first time in weeks.
"She got you on that," Victor said. "That's not the part of her file people go to. I've been keeping an eye on her, to make sure that no one decides to prove their tough and goes near entrapment to catch her doing something illegal, not that she has. Raven catches a lot of grief, but I have reports I've been watching. She's the one who healed that woman after the slashing in the park. Alicia Prewitt would have died, but Raven was there."
"I didn't look at her card long. I just wanted to see any of the counterfeit signs, and those are usually most obvious on the part that lists the powers." Tim wished that he didn't feel like he should go on an intensive search for clues under a rock.
"Not your fault," Victor said. Tim was a good guy, but he still was working on social interaction. Victor wasn't sure where Tim had learned to deal with people, but he needed that kind of crash course. "Starfire, would your Gordanians be the aliens who crash-landed in the park?"
"I believe they would be the aliens you seek."
"They're wanted on several counts of destruction. Once you help us and someone gets a few camera shots, we won't even have to take you into the station," Victor said.
Tim had the feeling that explaining colloquial language could take awhile. "We'll explain later. Let's go."
Much later, when a few Gordanians were in custody and Victor and Starfire were examining whatever metal had kept her strength in check, Tim stared at a crack in his office's wall. It was a favorite spot of his, for a place to look while mulling something over. He, Victor, and Starfire had worked very well together. The only injuries had been on the Gordanians' side. Maybe, if Jump City had a team of metahuman responders, they could keep track of the many powered villains in the area. He remembered what the suspected criminal ringleader (Jinx, he reminded himself) had said. Maybe, if he proved her wrong, he would have a shot at negotiation. First, though, he would need a team.
Maybe, he could call a veteran around their age. Tim remembered reading an article two weeks ago. The Doom Patrol (based in Rhode Island, if he remembered correctly) had disbanded, and one of the members was just a year younger than he was. Victor was firepower, and could handle all technology they would need. Starfire was aerial firepower, and just might be stronger than Victor. After his Gotham years, as he called them now, he could somewhat keep up with them. He would train until he was back in full shape. Raven, if she would join, could attack from a distance, and Victor would better be able to keep an eye on her. (Why hadn't Tim thought to watch after the more infamous metas in the area? He would have to ask Victor if he would welcome any help.)
If he could convince this person… maybe Raven would follow. Starfire had agreed. Victor had said 'maybe,' which was much better than no.
Tim didn't cross his fingers as he dialed the phone. This would need more than a pair of crossed fingers. The phone was picked up halfway through the third ring. Tim flashed through his practiced speech in an instant, and crossed two sets of fingers. He would have one chance to arrange an interview. "Hello, have I reached Garfield Logan?"