Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans, obviously, but I DO own Phantom, Livewire, the rest of the Six, Joey, Professor Grimm, Python and Icharus and all the other characters you don't see on the show, so—ahem—MINEMINEMINEMINEMINE.
Hey guys! I felt so bad about not having updated in so long that I decided to repost the story (that, and I needed to fix the fifty billion typos scattered throughout the pages). Well, here it is again—I'll be posting every week until I run out of chapters, so I hope you like it enough to keep up! Here we go again.
The pool on the roof of the Tower was still. Not a breath of wind disturbed the surface. The nearby volleyball court was empty, and the net hung low in a tired sort of way. Although summer would soon be drawing to a close, the heat was still unbearable. But that wasn't the reason the Teen Titans weren't outside right now.
Nope. The teens were shying from the sunlight, staying inside where there were video games and books and soda and, of course, pizza.
"Uh-oh, uh-oh, uh-oh!" cried one Titan. He was the smallest of the five, and, oddly, his face was green. In fact, his whole body was green. His skin was the color of new grass, and his hair was a shade of evergreen. His eyes were deep, dark green, and at the moment they were wide open in a mix of excitement and pure terror. "No no no!" he shouted as his fingers flew over the game controller. The green ship on the screen wobbled unsteadilyas a blue and white one shot by. The green boy finally lost all control of his ship, and it went spinning off the track.
WINNER: CYBORG flashed up on the screen.
"Aw, man!" the green boy whined, slumping back into the couch. The other boy beside him grinned. He was an older male, tall and of a heavy build—literally. He was mostly made of metal, and bright blue circuits pulsed through the metal like veins. Everything from his chest down was metal. The only skin that was visible was on one half of his face, revealing that he was African-American, with a dark, handsome complexion. His mouth twisted up in a victorious grin, a grin that reached hisone human, dark brown eye; the other side of his face was metal, and the eye was red and capable of many fascinating functions—infrared vision, for one.
"Sorry, Beastboy," he laughed, his grin revealing that he wasn't really sorry at all. "But I just kicked your butt!"
"Yeah, yeah," Beastboy muttered. But then he sprang back up, chipper as ever, and added, "C'mon, Cyborg, rematch!"
"Ah, no, I don't think so," said a voice to Beastboy's left, "seeing as it's now my turn." A green-gloved hand plucked the controller out of Beastboy's grasp, and the changeling turned to look at the face of the masked youth sitting next to him.
"Aw, come on, Robin," Beastboy pleaded. "Surely you can find it in your heart to let me get my dignity back by beating Cyborg in one more game?" The masked boy put a thoughtful look on his face, then replied, "Nope, sorry, can't find it. Now move over, Beastboy, you're in my spot."
"Dude, this is my spot."
"No. See, when you lose, you go sit over there, and the next player sits here. Get it?"
"Why can't you just play from over there?"
"Because that's not how we do it. Will you move already?"
"Honestly, Robin, I'm going to have to side with Beastboy on this one," said a new voice. Robin turned to look at the other side of the sofa, where a girl was sitting reading a book, her blue cloak drawn up so that it covered her hair and cast her pale face in shadows. "Why is it so important to sit where Beastboy is?"
"Thank you, Raven!" Beastboy told her appreciatively. Raven merely grunted in reply.
"Because it's my spot! When we watch TV, when we play video games, and when we're just crashing, that's my spot."
"Whatever," she responded. "I just can't see the point…"
"Take down your hood, then, and maybe you'll be able to see things better." Even before Raven used her powers to hurl a pillow at him with enough force to knock him against the wall, Robin regretted opening his mouth. Messing with Raven was about as smart as poking a sleeping grizzly in the eye.
"Oh!" cried a delighted voice. A redheaded girl with vibrant green eyes and an orange skin tone suddenly popped up out of nowhere. "Are we to initiate in the fighting of pillows?"
"Huh?" asked Beastboy. "Oh, pillow fight. No, Star, Raven was just getting Robin to clam up." To prove his point, the changeling turned into a green oyster and clamped his mouth shut. Starfire looked slightly put out. Starfire was from a planet called Tamaran, and her English still had a lot to be desired. Most of the things she said were easy enough to understand, but other things were way out in left field.
The doorbell rang suddenly. Robin tossed the pillow off of his face and looked at his fellow Teen Titans. "Did someone order pizza without telling me?" he asked. The others just shook their heads. "Ah, well, I'll get it. Starfire, if Beastboy gets anywhere near that controller, please blast him into the next dimension."
"Um…" Starfire answered reluctantly, rising a few feet off the floor, her head tilted curiously to one side. "What if I do not wish to harm Beastboy?"
"I was kidding, Star." Robin couldn't help but smile at his friend's naïveté. Even though Robin cared deeply for each of his friends, he was especially fond of Starfire. He went over to the front door and opened it.
A rather small woman was standing on the other side of the door. She looked neat in a gray suit and she carried a briefcase. Her iron-gray hair was twisted up into a bun and her face was drawn into something just short of a scowl. Behind her was…. Well, Robin couldn't exactly tell whether the person behind her was a man or a woman, but he didn't think it would score any brownie points with either of them if he asked.
"Hello," he said in as polite a voice as he knew how. "May we help you with something?" The woman pushed past him and came into the room. The second person followed her, and Robin, looking down, could see that the person was wearing a skirt. Definitely a woman, then.
"Um," Robin said, a little ruffled at the fact that they had come in without an invitation. "Sorry about the mess—we didn't know we'd be having company." He injected as much contempt as he thought he could get away with into the last sentence, accompanied by the slight embarrassment he felt when he looked at the Titan's living quarters. Pizza boxes were stacked in a haphazard pile on the kitchen counter, and a mountain of dirty dishes overflowed the sink. Beastboy had left several pairs of clearly unwashed socks lying in random places. Robin and Cyborg, being boys, had added their little personal touches too, and Raven and Starfire had made it certain that one only had to look into the Tower to tell that there were females present.
"Hmm," the woman in the suit grunted. How ladylike, Robin thought scathingly. He couldn't figure out what, but something about these people definitely bothered him—like a cat with its fur rubbed the wrong way. Robin waited in silence for a few moments, but it became quite apparent that the woman wasn't going to say anything else. Running his fingers through his spiky black hair in aggravation, he sighed and called out, "Hey, Titans! Come in here, we have guests!"
Each Titan made a different entrance. Beastboy came in slumped over and whining; Cyborg was laughing and teasing Beastboy mercilessly (it seemed Beastboy had touched the controller and gotten himself whipped soundly at the video game). Starfire floated in with her sunny smile, determined to make a good impression, and Raven appeared in a mass of black magic that manifested itself in the form of—well, a raven. She barely glanced up from the heavy black book she was holding, her amethyst eyes still focused on the print.
The woman studied each of them intently, and then sighed in very much the same way as Robin had done moments before.
"Well," she said in a less-than-thrilled voice. "I don't suppose there's any doubt that you are the Teen Titans."
"Uh, lady," Beastboy interjected, "who else could we be? Are there any other teenagers running around in spandex that you know about?"
The green changeling received a sharp elbow in the ribs from Raven, who had finally put her book down and lowered her hood, revealing her short, purplish hair. Robin couldn't suppress a groan and he slapped himself on the forehead. This was not going to end well.
"Yes, we're the Titans," he said quickly, cutting off Beastboy, who had opened his mouth to say something testy to Raven, which probably would have resulted in someone getting thrown out the fourth-story window. "Can we help you in any way? Do you have some trouble you'd like to report?" He drew himself up and tried to look intimidating. "In case you haven't noticed, we are superheroes."
"Yes, I noticed," the woman replied, giving Robin a look that would have curdled milk. The Boy Wonder decided any more smart remarks would be a stupid idea. He fell into line beside his teammates. "That is what makes this so hard.
"I am Mrs. Gardner, the head of the Education Committee of Jump City," she continued. "According to the new 'No Child Left Behind' order by the President, every child under the age of eighteen must get a proper education." She paused, hoping for some reaction from the teenagers in front of her. The Teen Titans just stared at her. Mrs. Gardner cleared her throat and went on. "It has come to my attention that you five do not attend any school, public or private. You also have no tutor. In short, you are not receiving any sort of formal education."
"Oh, but we are!" exclaimed Starfire delightedly. "I have learned much about your planet by the use of the television. I know how to prepare a soup from the cream of a mushroom, which I learned on the cooking channel, and which type of fungus grows on the inside of the bathtub and on the food in our refrigerator. I saw a wonderful documentary about the content of hot dogs, and I have learned how to—" She cut herself off abruptly, seeing the looks on her friends' faces. "Have I said something wrong?" she asked innocently.
"What I think she means is that we do sort of get an education," Cyborg explained. "I mean, we watch the Discovery Channel and National Geographic and stuff like that."
"Indeed," Mrs. Gardner sniffed, clearly not impressed. "But there is only so much you can learn from the television. The TV cannot teach you the components of Shakespeare, or advanced Algebra. It is crucial that young people such as yourselves have a proper education, and because you children are not receiving a proper education, the Education Committee of Jump City has voted to send you to school."
There was utter silence at that. Robin was stunned, Beastboy looked horrified, Raven had cocked her eyebrows in a sort of "Excuse me?" look, Cyborg was standing with his mouth wide open, and poor Starfire looked just plain confused.
"W-what?" Beastboy finally managed to stutter. "School?"
"I believe I spoke quite clearly, Mr.—" Mrs. Gardner had fully intended on following that "Mr." up with the boy's last name, but seeing as she didn't know it, she simply finished, "Mr. Beastboy."
"Ma'am, I don't think you understand," Robin told her, regaining his composure and being as polite as possible. "If we went to school, and someone like Cinderblock or Slade decided to attack the city, how would we help?"
"We have thought that through fully," Mrs. Gardner answered calmly. "You will be excused from class to save the city if the need arises."
None of the Titans could see of any way to combat this statement.
"But," Cyborg blurted out, "you can't send us to school. We'll attract too much attention. I mean, come on, how many students are going to pay attention in History class when the Teen Titans are sitting a few rows back?"
"As I said, we have thought this through fully," the woman told him. "We ask that you go—undercover, if you will, so as not to attract attention. Which would mean," she added, seeing their mystified looks, "dressing and behaving like normal teenagers."
"So… no spandex?" asked Beastboy. Robin fought to keep a straight face. Mrs. Gardner appeared to fight a smile back herself, but she quickly regained her stony visage.
"No, Mr. Beastboy, I'm afraid spandex is against the dress code for public schools in this city. As are, erm, revealing outfits on the part of the ladies." Starfire looked as confused as ever, but Raven went a little pink. So did all three of the boys, and they determinedly looked at the ceiling.
"But, still—" Robin protested, hoping to find some way out of this. "It'll attract attention, when five kids suddenly decide to leave the room at random moments during the day."
Mrs. Gardner sighed. They were really making this more difficult than it had to be. "Well, if you are totally against the idea of going to school, there is an alternative."
The Titans immediately looked interested. The woman beside Mrs. Gardner took a step forward. "This is Miss Gerda," Mrs. Gardner explained.
"Dude, that's a wo--?" Beastboy started to ask, but Raven, knowing exactly what he was about to say, stomped on his foot.
"If you five decide not to attend school, Gerda will become your private tutor. She will live here in the Titans Tower, and give you your education in your own home. This way you will be able to go save the city whenever Jump City needs you, but it will also mean you will have an adult in the Tower at all times."
"I vould be most 'appy to educate vunderful cheeldrin such as yourselves," said Gerda in a thick accent. She smiled at them in a way that sent goosebumps racing up their arms, revealing a row of gray, tombstone-like teeth.
All five Titans were thinking. An adult in the Tower? At all times? An adult would be able to put restrictions on the Gamestation. An adult had the power to assign chores, and to barge into bedrooms without asking. An adult would never allow them to regulate their own diets of pizza and junk food and whatever else they felt like eating at the time. Adults asked, "Where are you going?" every time you went out, and assigned times to be back. Adults would publicly inquire on whether or not you were wearing clean underwear. Adults had curfews, and bedtimes, and the unquestionable ability to ground their charges. An adult in the Titans Tower?
"Could you excuse us for a moment?" asked Robin, and the Teen Titans drew into a circle and huddled together like a football team.
"School." All five of them said it at the exact same time. It was unanimous.
"We'll take the school," Robin told Mrs. Gardner, turning back around to her. Gerda looked indifferent, still smiling blankly. Mrs. Gardner smirked.
"Excellent," she said approvingly. "Now, you will be attending Jump City High School. I believe you all know where it is located. The school year starts on August 15."
"August 15?" Beastboy gasped in horror. "That's next Monday!"
"Yes," scowled Mrs. Gardner. "It has been quite a hassle, getting you notified on such short notice. We will have to get you registered and your schedules printed out and everything. Oh, speaking of registering…" She pulled out a clipboard. "I need names to register you under."
"Huh?" asked Cyborg, having a brief moment of stupidity. "Why can't we go by the names we use now?" Mrs. Gardner raised an eyebrow.
"I daresay your names themselves will attract unwanted attention, will they not?" she asked pointedly. Cyborg went a little red.
"Oh, right. I knew that." He thought for a moment. "Well, I guess I could go with my real name. Victor Stone." Mrs. Gardner wrote it down.
"Yeah, I'll go by my real name too," said Beastboy suddenly. "It's Garfield Logan—quit laughing, Victor," he snapped to Cyborg, who had just burst into an unexpected fit of the giggles. "Make sure to put on there that I prefer being called Gar."
"It has been noted." Mrs. Gardner looked up from her clipboard and turned her attention to Starfire.
"My Tamaranean name is Koriand'r," said Starfire slowly, "but I do not think it is a suitable Earth name. Nor is the name Starfire."
"I've got it," Robin told her reassuringly. "Why not just call yourself Kori Anders?" Starfire smiled at him gratefully.
"Yes," she replied, "I believe I shall be content with that name. Please be sure to spell it K-O-R-I, so I will not be mistaken for a boy."
"Raven," said the telekinetic as Mrs. Gardner turned to her. Mrs. Gardner waited as Raven thought of a suitable last name. After a moment of thought, she smiled and said, "Raven Allen." Mrs. Gardner gave a tight little smile as she wrote it down.
"Am I correct in assuming," she asked, looking at Raven over her glasses, "that you are combining the poem The Raven, and the writer Edgar Allen Poe as a name for yourself?"
"Yes," Raven replied, slightly pleased that someone had been able to figure out her reasoning.
"That leaves only one of you," Mrs. Gardner said. She turned to the last teen, who looked pale and anxious underneath his mask.
"I don't know," Robin admitted, running his fingers through his hair, like he often did when he was nervous. "I—I can't really think of a name at the moment."
"No need to worry, Mr.—" Mrs. Gardner lifted the paper she was writing on and looked at what appeared to be a file underneath it. "Grayson. Your transcript has already been sent by Mr. Wayne."
Robin went as white as a sheet. The others looked at him, surprised. None of them had known Robin's name before.
"How—how did you…?"
"When the Education Committee voted to send you Titans to school, all of our major funders were notified. One of them happened to be Bruce Wayne. He requested that I meet him in Gotham, where he told me the whole story, and gave me your transcript. I now know the identities of Batman and Robin, but rest assured," she added, seeing Robin's horrorstruck expression, "your secrets are safe with me. The Dark Knight swore me to silence, and I will keep my word. I am the only one who knows, as I have told no one else. Not even the school administrators know that they will be taking in the Teen Titans as students, so there is no way for either your or Mr. Wayne's identities to be discovered."
"What about her?" asked Robin, pointing to Gerda. "You've just practically given us away with her in the room."
A sly grin flickered briefly across Mrs. Gardner's features. "Oh, you need not worry about Gerda. She has absolutely no idea what we're saying. She only speaks Scandinavian. The sentence you heard her say earlier is the only English she knows."
"So," asked Raven, a trace of anger in her voice, "she wouldn't have been our tutor?"
"Oh, no. But she made for an excellent tool of persuasion."
"Wow. That's really low, even for a grown-up," said Beastboy in awe.
"I'm going to choose to ignore that," Mrs. Gardner replied. "Well, now that I've got the necessary information, I must get back to the office. I have to get your schedules made up and everything else." She turned to leave. "Oh, one more thing," she said suddenly. "You all might want to create pasts for yourselves, just to be safe in case anyone asks. And Mr. Grayson, it wouldn't hurt if you didn't mention that you are Bruce Wayne's ward. If you were discovered, one can put two and two together. We'll just show ourselves out." She said something in rapid Scandinavian to Gerda, who followed her out the door.
The Titans stood for a minute in silence.
"Dude!" Cyborg said in awe, looking at Robin. "Your adoptive father is Bruce Wayne?" Robin nodded mutely, still looking rather pale. "But that must mean… Oh, man." Cyborg slapped a hand to his forehead. "That means Bruce Wayne is Batman."
"Yes," said Robin in a hollow voice.
"Dude, why didn't you tell us?" asked Beastboy.
"I was sworn to secrecy," Robin replied. "I couldn't tell anyone. Even you guys."
"So?" asked Raven. "What's your real name?" Robin hesitated.
"Richard Grayson," he admitted finally. "Otherwise known as Dick."
On Robin's behalf, the other two boys made a valiant attempt not to laugh.
"Oh, that is a most wonderful Earth name!" said Starfire, seeing how troubled her friend was.
"Thanks, Star," Robin said gratefully. Then he groaned. "Man, I can't believe they're sending us to school."
"Why is this such a bad thing?" Starfire inquired. "You told me that Earth schools are nothing like the schools of the Mad Mod."
"Well, they aren't, really…" said Robin, wondering how to explain.
"They're worse!" Beastboy cried. "The teachers brainwash you with books, and they give you tons and tons of homework every night, and they make you sit in a classroom for hours at a time, and—" Thankfully, Raven, seeing how Beastboy was scaring Starfire, put a band of black magic around his mouth, so that all they could hear were his distressed but unrecognizable muffled yells. Robin shook his head, and tried to undo the damage Beastboy had done to Starfire.