Hi guys! I know I'm really late with the second chapter of 'Fever Dream', and I'm sorry about that, (it got deleted by accident last week, and I was almost done!) so I hope this keeps you happy until then. Think of it as a look at their lives after Jericho and the kids move in, with plenty of Joey/Rae goodness thrown in! I hope you like it!
Raven collapsed on her bed, too tired to even take off her cloak. A chilly autumn wind cut through the air around Titans Tower, creating an eerie sound that sent chills down her spine. She tried to suppress a shudder as she pulled her cloak around her more tightly now, a ragged breath escaping her as she did. Her joints ached, her back was sore, and her arms felt like they might fall off any second. She'd never been so completely exhausted in her life; and she had Jericho to blame for it.
It had started out so innocently.
Melvin had come home from school three weeks ago with a notice informing parents and guardians about an upcoming field trip to a local apple orchard. The form was both permission slip and plea for help. The teachers in charge wanted parent volunteers to come and help supervise the kids. Also, they were allowed to bring their younger children if they wanted, or needed to. The kicker though, was the note attached to Mel's slip addressed specifically to her.
How had her teacher phrased it?
I understand that you and your friends have an obligation to the public at large, and your dedication is commendable. However, I cannot ignore that while you do fulfill your responsibilities as a guardian to Melvin and the boys, yours is the only family yet to participate in any school activities when assistance is needed. You should also be aware that Melvin is under constant pressure from her classmates to 'produce' members of her unique family. Perhaps if one or more of you were to participate in this upcoming activity it would relieve some of the pressure she's unduly under.
Raven's first instinct had been to write a note of her own, telling them if they ever wanted to see Hell, she could give them a guided tour. But she'd only sighed, wondered for the umpteenth time how she'd let a group of Monks that live in the mountains convince her to send the kids to a Catholic school, and signed the form.
She was looking over the section about parent volunteer's when Joey came in, saw the form, and asked what it was for.
"I've been drafted by the Sisters of Saint Michael's." she'd told him dryly.
Horror momentarily creased his face as he signed frantically to her, asking if he was too late to stop this.
"No, not as a member, look." Her mouth twisted into an annoyed frown as she passed him the note from Mel's teacher. As she watched him read it, his facial expressions went from mild curiosity, to eyebrow raised understanding, and she couldn't help a small giggle as he winced at the rather biting comment about their collective lack of participation. Setting the note down with a silent sigh, he looked at the form, and added his name to it.
Raven watched him hesitantly.
"You sure you want to do this?"
Joey gave her a sincere smile as he answered.
"Of course I do. It sound's like it'll be a lot of fun. Beside's, sending you out with twenty something extra kids might push you past your limit."
"Please remind me, why do we send the kid's to a Catholic school?"
"Because it's a private school, so reporters can't go near them even when we're not around."
"Beside's, someone else is paying for it."
"That's true too."
So it was settled. They would both go on the trip and help supervise the kids, which would also allow Mel to save face in front of her classmates. They even put down that Timmy and Teether would be coming with them (as if Timmy would let them forget they did something fun without them).
Everything was set for a great time, but unfortunately Cinder Block didn't get the memo. The night before the trip, he decided to break out of prison, causing quite a bit of damage along the way. The Titans were trying to get him back into custody as quickly as possible, but he was being particularly resistant this time around. Maybe he just didn't like prison food, or maybe it was the sight of Jericho (who'd so thoroughly humiliated him in Paris) that made him more determined. As he swung one of his massive arms around, Joey was caught off guard, and was momentarily knocked unconscious as a result. They had Cinder Block restrained shortly after that, and Joey had gotten off pretty lucky with only a minor concussion, but he was also side-lined for the trip.
So that left Raven to either disappoint the kids (something for which Melvin might not forgive her under the circumstances), or grin and bear it, and go on the trip without her back-up. Asking someone else to go in Joey's place was not an option. She already knew from conversations she'd had with the Sisters, that they'd prefer only family members they were familiar with go on outings with the children. This wasn't exclusive to her, or the other Titans, but a rather stringent school policy, and since there were only a few team members available right now, no one could be spared.
"Star Fire would have been perfect for this." Raven thought to herself, as she blew a few stray wisps of hair out of her face. "She loves being around kids, and they would have loved to meet her!"
But Star Fire wasn't able to go with her. She had to stay and make sure Joey's injury didn't get worse, and the guy's declared they had to keep an eye on the city.
"Yeah, right. Beast Boy and Cyborg probably kept a closer eye on their video game matches than on the city." Raven was now shivering so much her teeth were chattering. As her muscles continued to spasm and twitch, she realized she needed to meditate very badly, and right now.
Getting up from her bed, she walked over to the center of her room, assumed the Lotus position, and began her mantra.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos." she softly chanted to herself, over, and over. The tension in her body slowly began to ebb away, but the fatigue remained. She took deep, slow breaths, trying to regain some of her energy. Every inhale restored a little more of her vitality, releasing more of her stress on the exhale.
The day had started out alright. They got to the school on time (miraculously forgetting nothing), she met with Melvin's teacher and the other volunteer's (draftees?), the kids were divided up into groups for the trip, and they all piled onto the bus.
The trouble didn't come until later.
The orchard had a gift shop area with two small rest rooms, which hadn't been updated since about the nineteen thirties. Before anyone could set out, everyone who didn't have to use the bathroom before they left the school needed to go now. Twenty minutes later half the kid's had used the bathroom, and the other half were trying to start an apple fight in the parking lot.
As soon as everyone was back in their groups, she and the other 'responsible adults' (could that blonde woman please put away her cell phone?) Were told to hand out the little tote bags to the kids for their apples.
Anyone who has never been to an orchard might be very surprised to see that it's cultivated on hillside's, not on flat, level ground. Raven had to carry Teether, drag Timmy and carry his tote, watch Melvin's group climb the tree's instead of pick apple's, and slip and slide up and down the slope's which had been turned to mud by an early morning shower.
Speaking of rain, about two hours into their adventure, it started to sprinkle rather heavily, and they headed back to the bus to wait it out. Everyone was wound up and muddy (at least they had worn jeans and t-shirts instead of their school uniforms), one kid had scraped his knee, and wouldn't let anyone clean it up, and oh yeah, someone was still talking on her cell phone.
After more rain, lunch, a long stop in the gift shop (where everyone needed to use the bathroom's again), they finally headed back.
Raven was silent the entire ride back. She was cold, dirty, she ached, and was more tired than she could ever recall being in her life. On the upside, Melvin, Timmy and Teether were completely happy about how the day turned out. Timmy had enjoyed sloughing through the muddy terrain with everyone, and Teether had laughed every time someone's foot went squelch in the mud. She even saw Melvin talking animatedly with another girl who'd asked her to sleep over next weekend. As long as her mother wasn't the one with the ingrown cell phone, it was fine.
A soft knock on her door brought her out of her weary musings. It was followed a moment later by another.
Taking a deep, slow, measured breath, she let out a long sigh of resignation before answering.
"Come on in Joey, I promise I won't kill you."
Her door slid aside with a slightly squeaky whoosh, allowing the blonde mute into her room. He was carrying a small tray with two simple porcelain cups and a small plate. As he set the tray down in front of her, she saw that there were sliced apples and peanut butter on the plate, and the cups, of course, were both filled to the rim with herbal tea.
"What's all this?" She certainly hadn't been expecting anything.
Joey gave her an embarrassed half-smile.
"I thought after the day you just had with the kids you deserved a little pampering."
"How's your head?" Joey had just given her one of the smooth white cup's, the fragrance of chamomile and peppermint drifting up to her.
"I'm alright. It wasn't that big a deal really."
Raven inhaled the sweet smell deeply before taking a long sip. She sat there for awhile, just holding the cup in her hands, staring at her kind hearted friend. She knew it wasn't really his fault thing's had turned out the way they did; She just hadn't bargained on doing the trip without him.
Her musings were interrupted by her stomach growling so loudly Joey had looked up to see where the noise was coming from. He could have laughed, but he just smiled at her warmly.
"There's food y'know." She blushed a little, remembering that she really hadn't had time to eat much earlier that day. Reaching towards the plate, she selected a wedge of apple and made to dip it into the peanut butter, when her arm started trembling.
Joey looked understandably startled. Raven's usually the picture of health.
"Are you cold?" He was already halfway to her bed, looking for her cloak.
"Uh, yeah, I guess I still am." The tea she'd sipped had been wonderful, but it didn't quite do the job. When had her cloak slipped off, anyway? She was sure she hadn't undone the clasp.
Something soft and warm that wasn't her cloak was wrapped loosely around her shoulder's. She was going to pull it around herself more securely, when she felt Joey's solid, strong arms around her. He pulled the blanket that was usually at the foot of her bed tightly around both of them.
"Joey?" Raven's voice sounded small and far away in her ears. Her head was leaning against his shoulder as he gently rubbed her arms and back while he held her. She definitely wasn't cold anymore, but she was still trembling a little.
Joey's hand brushed her cheek, and she looked into his soul deep green eyes. She couldn't always do that. It felt like he could see right through her, not something she was comfortable with. Right now, she couldn't imagine looking away.
"Better?" He'd silently mouthed the question.
"Mhmm." She'd suddenly lost the ability to speak.
Joey leaned his head down the last few inches to her face as she closed her eyes. The kiss was warm, and gentle and made her forget about the lingering aches in her sore muscles. She felt like she was floating through the air.
When they finally broke it off, she looked into his eyes again. Instead of seeing a smug, triumphant look, she saw more of the same warmth and kindness that was Joey.
He slipped his arms off her shoulders to ask her something.
"Can I take you out tomorrow?"
"Uhmm, okay. Where did you have in mind?" She felt cold where his arms had been just now.
"Where ever you want to go." That smile he gave her rekindled the inner warmth from a few moments ago. Reaching over, he picked up the apple wedge she'd dropped back onto the plate, and brought it back up to her mouth.
She giggled softly and let him feed her the sweet fruit. Life can change on a dime and become many different things, but for now life was good.
Happy Birthday to Shadow Griffin! This story is for you!