Customary Disclaimer The author in no way shape or form owns the places or characters used in the following written work, and is in no way profiting off of their use in any way except when concerning his own ego. This story, and the situations depicted in it, is entirely for entertainment purposes for those that may stumble upon it.
I seem to have developed a thing for bold. Also, I really enjoyed writing the back and forth that happens in this flashback.
Chapter 5 Help Wanted
"Mmm," Changeling hummed as he continued to hug Raven tightly against him as the duo lay tangled together on the cold floor.
This wasn't what it looked like.
"Comfy," the green man said simply as he graced the young woman beside him with a warm, caring smile.
Raven swore this wasn't what it looked like.
"I could get used to this."
It was his twentieth birthday, and Raven was intent on giving him a little bit of leeway, but that was the last straw.
"Would you stop joking around," Raven yelled at the childish boy attached to her. "I can't believe you're not taking this seriously. In case you don't have eyes to see what's all around us, we're trapped in a room full of explosives! This is no time for your jokes."
Despite Raven's furor, she still retained enough sense to leave the description of their dire circumstance at that. She could not bring herself to describe the remainder of their situation. It was far too embarrassing, though still very real.
The room full of explosives, although very real and very deadly, was not the extent of Raven's dilemma. True, she wasn't an expert on the things like Nightwing or Cyborg seemed to be, but she possessed enough second-hand knowledge to know that the type and quantity of the explosives surrounding them were enough to completely wipe out a quarter of Jump City.
However, Raven could deal with the threat of a painfully explosive doom looming over her. She could even deal with the timer attached to one of the barrels to her left counting down from fifty-three minutes and twenty-eight seconds. There was still plenty of time to be rescued. She could deal with being faced with her own mortality as long as the rest of her team was still alive and willing to rescue her. After all, it wouldn't be the first time.
No, the explosives were the least of Raven's worries. It was the fact that she was attached, quite literally, to Changeling that drove the poor Titan insane. Though, bound would be a more accurate word to describe their situation.
They were both wearing straight jackets, except whoever had put them in this predicament had forced Raven's arms underneath her companion's then twisted the long sleeves back around the two of them before locking them in place behind the girl. And the icing on the cake… the cruel twist of fate was that the same person had apparently done the same thing to Garfield's arms, except his were wrapped around her waist almost lovingly. Raven was not pleased.
If only that were all… If it were only the bombs and only the straight jackets, then Garfield and Raven stood a chance. They could shimmy over to the detonator and somehow bite through the wires to disarm them. But no… such a heroic feat was not to be. Whoever it was that pulled this off wasn't leaving anything to chance. In addition to the bombs and the jackets binding them, their ankles were generously gifted with the latest in fashion, handcuffs. Six pairs of handcuffs bound their feet together in what seemed like every angle possible, making movement absolutely impossible.
They were stuck.
"Bur Raven," Garfield whined in a singsong voice, clearly lacking the seriousness his companion exerted. "I always wanted to spend more quality time with you." To accentuate his point, he hugged her tighter and flaunted his cute…. no… stupid fang with his trademark toothy grin. "This is a rare opportunity for us. Let's make sure to thoroughly enjoy ourselves."
That was the wrong button to push.
"Azerath Metrion Zinthos!" Raven cried out, fully intending to deal real harm to the foolish boy beside her. Tossing them Green boy first into a wall, lifting the two of them both up to the ceiling only to crash back down onto the floor on top of the boy, oh how the possibilities for his torment were endless. However, she once again came to the same realization she made when she first woke up in this situation…
"So…" Garfield let out a solemn sigh, contradicting his teasing mood a mere few seconds prior. "Your powers really are on the fritz." The boy averted his eyes towards the cement below and muttered, "I thought for sure that'd work."
Raven glared daggers at her teammate. "You thought?! You mean these past 10 minutes you've been using to invade my personal space have been just to see if my powers would magically flip on."
"Well, yea!" Gar looked up from the floor to meet the furious girl's eyes to defend himself, but quickly lost his nerve. Raven's glares were always deadly, and this one put all the others to shame. "I… I mean I uh… Look, sitting around here waiting to be saved is boring, so-"
"So you thought it'd be a good idea to make my life a living hell in the meantime?"
"Yes… NO!" Garfield sighed. "Kinda, but not for that reason! I just thought… well no matter how much you meditate to keep your emotions in check, you always seem to go off when I… we…. get too close. I thought that whatever happened to you to make you lose your powers, maybe if I purposely get too close, they'd come back."
Raven banged her head against the concrete floor in frustration. "I don't know what I should be more furious about, the fact that you've noticed what sets me off normally and still do it on a day to day basis or the fact that you did it on purpose now?"
"Hey! If it had worked, we'd be out of here, and you'd be thanking me."
"If it had worked, you might have been hurt or my powers could have set off the explosives!"
Changeling was about to retort that he had been prepared to get hurt in the process if it meant getting Raven's powers back, but her latter revelation quickly sank in. "I… guess I didn't think about that."
"Of course you didn't!" The normally calm girl once again yelled in exasperation. She wouldn't admit it, but at the moment, not having her powers was rather… nice. Being able to express herself as much as she wanted like this, even in anger, was a good feeling. "Idiot."
"Fine, fine," Garfield relented. "I'm an idiot. You can throw me off the tower later, okay?"
"I'll take you up on that," Raven declared, though her voice no longer held her previous anger. Despite how it felt to express herself, the pale girl couldn't manage to remain angry for too long, especially at Gar. "But only once you get your powers back, too. Your powers are still gone, right?"
Garfield was quick to note the slight growl that accompanied Raven's last question and was even quicker to answer. "Yes! Yep! Absolutely no powers still. I've been trying this whole time, see!"
Raven watched half skeptical and half amused as Garfield's faced contorted into a look of deep concentration, a look rarely seen.
After a few seconds of what appeared to be very painful concentration, Garfield's face returned to its usual demeanor, though both his eyes and voice clearly revealed his own frustration. "Still nothing… This sucks."
"Indeed." Raven would never use such unrefined terminology, but she could do nothing else but agree with Garfield's summarization of their situation.
Thirty-seven minutes and sixteen seconds left. Tic… Toc.
"This is boring. I wanted an exciting birthday, but this is just boring."
"Azerath Metrion Zinthos. Azerath Metrion Zinthos. Aze-"
"No-no-no-no-and-no," Garfield protested fervently as he did his best to wiggle around in an attempt to jolt Raven from her meditation. "I'm bored and it's not fair that you can pass the time like it's nothing when you meditate."
Raven opened her eyes and quizzically raised an eyebrow at him. "So you'd rather us both be bored than to allow one of us peace of mind?"
"So childish," she said with a long sigh. "You're making me want to take back any thoughts of you having matured at all over these past few years, Beast Boy."
Raven was surprised when Garfield failed to retort her statement, and instead adopted another look of deep concentration. How odd…
"Alright!" Garfield exclaimed loudly… far too loudly for Raven's taste. Their proximity did not help soothe her ringing ears. "I like it. Let's stick with that from now on."
"First of all, if you yell again, I'll hurt you."
"How could you possibly hur-"
"I can bite."
"Fair enough. No more yelling."
"Secondly," Raven sighed. She couldn't believe she was actually going to inquire about what went on in Garfield's small mind. "What, exactly, are you going to 'stick' with from now on?"
Gar merely gave the girl a look as if to say his answer was the most obvious thing in the world. "The name! Beast Boy! Let's just use that from now on."
Raven just stared.
"I mean, think about it." Garfield reasoned. "It's catchy, it rolls off the tongue, and it describes me."
"And Changeling doesn't?"
"Not as much as Beast Boy. People might think I could change into a lamp post or something silly like that."
"I suppose you're right," Raven mused in half agreement and half appeasement. "Though I must admit, currently Changeling sounds far too mature for you. Perhaps in a few more years, but for now, Beast Boy suits you. But doesn't it bother you that you've gone through two name changes only to decide to go back to your first?"
"You never really liked my new names, have you?"
"Truth be told, no." Raven answered honestly, not realizing that his question had been an answer to hers. "I've never understood needing a new name. Too many villains pick up new gimmicks weekly and change their names to fit it. It's not like they're new people. They're just trying to seem bigger or 'cooler' than they actually are."
"So, which of my names do you think makes me sound the coolest?"
"I think no matter what a name make you seem like, the real you would reveal just how much of a nerd you are."
"Ouch, Rae. Bringing out the big guns, are we? You must not like any of my names."
"What's in a name?"
"Is that from one of your books?"
"Possibly. Not that you would know."
"Hey! I read books!"
Raven gave Garfield an incredulous look.
"Fine," Beast Boy relented. "I don't read books usually. I mainly just read your diary."
"I don't have a diary."
Beast Boy sighed in defeat. "Your reaction would have been a lot better if you did have one, you know."
"Testing out my powers again?" Raven asked irritably.
"No, just trying to tease you that time," Gar laughed and flashed a dumb smile towards Raven, though the girl wondered how exactly she could find that smile both charming and irritating at the same time.
"Idiot," the violet haired girl scoffed and looked away.
"We've established that," Beast Boy laughed. "And you never answered my question."
"Yes, it's from a book."
"Not that question.
Fourteen minutes and forty-eight seconds remained on the timer. The others were sure cutting it close, weren't they?
"I hardly think this is the time or place to have this discussion," Raven said dismissively. "Isn't it about time for us to be trying some sort of last ditch effort to get out of here?"
"Don't try to change the subject!"
"No, I'm serious."
Beast Boy let out a long, exasperated sigh. "You can't use your powers. I can't use my powers. Neither of us can move our feet, and even if we did make it to our feet, there's no way we'd be able to get all the way over there to the detonator. Besides, I think our feet are also chained to the ground. I can't really see our feet like this, but I'm pretty sure we're stuck right here. I'm just trying to pass the time until the others get here and disarm that thing."
"How can you be so calm?"
"First of all, I'd like to point out the irony in you asking me that."
"Noted, but I'd like to point out my shock that you can use 'irony' correctly in a complete sentence."
"Touché." Beast Boy laughed. "I just have faith in the team, I guess. Nightwing's never let us down."
"Red X," Raven countered.
"Cyborg's never let us down," Garfield amended.
"He 'forgot' to buy you tofu last time he went shopping."
"Starfire's never let us down, and her cooking doesn't count!"
"I'll let her know you've developed a taste for it."
"Fine!" Beast Boy was at the end of his rope. "The team in general has never let us down."
"I agree," Raven said simply. "They'll come for us. I have faith in them, too."
"You agree?! Then why… you… argue… me… GAH! You drive me crazy, ya know that, Rae?" Beast Boy's frustration with his teammate had somehow gone full circle, causing him to laugh instead.
"Good," Raven nodded. "Since I can't use my powers at the moment, that was revenge for invading my personal space earlier."
Raven did her best not to smile when she heard Garfield grumble under his breath about not being sure they even had personal space when they were tied together like this.
"So, which of my names do you think is the coolest?" Beast Boy asked shortly after he had finished his grumblings.
"Back to this?"
"Curiosity killed the cat."
"Good thing I can't turn into one at the moment. Otherwise I'd use the face to get what I want out of you."
"I like to think I've built up an immunity to that sort of attack," Raven lied. No one could resist the face.
"You just keep thinking that, Rae," Beast Boy snickered. "No one can resist the face."
Raven just wished he wasn't so aware of the power that kind of attack held. Kitten had been an open book last time the Titans had to interrogate her because of it.
"So, let's try this," Gar proposed. "Since you're so dead set on not rating my names on their level of coolness…"
"I'm fairly certain I'm the last person anyone would want to be the judge when using that type of scale."
"Like I said," he continued. "Since you don't want to answer that question, how about this one? When you think of me… And no, you may not answer with 'I try not to.'" Beast Boy added quickly as he saw Raven open her mouth to speak. "When you think of me, what do you call me?"
"Beast Boy," Raven lied, though she wasn't sure why.
"Then like I said," the green Titan smiled, "I'll stick with Beast Boy from now on."
"Why exactly was my opinion the deciding factor in all of this?" Raven asked with a raised eyebrow.
Five minutes and three seconds remain. This was as good a time as any…
"Well…" Raven could almost swear she could see a faint blush appear on Beast Boy's cheeks, though she couldn't be too sure in the dim light. "The thing is, Rae… I-"
"Do you guys want me to come back later?" A voice snickered from the now open doorway. "Seriously, I could come back later if I'm interrupting something."
Beast Boy looked up and… was he glaring?
"Hey…. Cyborg…. Good to see you," Beast Boy spoke through clenched teeth, trying his hardest to sound normal despite it.
"Hey, yourself, grass stain. You two look like you've been having fun."
"Just," Raven sighed, both grateful help had finally arrived and embarrassed that she had been seen tied up like this, "disarm the bomb, and then get us out of here… and if you comment on our current placement, I swear I will kill you."
"One disarmed bomb with a side of freedom coming right up, little lady," Cyborg did a mock bow before moving over to the detonator.
"How's it look, buddy?" Beast Boy asked over his shoulder after having calmed back down. "You can stop it, can't you?"
Cyborg eyed the detonator, then the large collection of canisters it was next to, then at the duo on the floor, and then back at the detonator before bursting into laughter.
"Please tell me that's a good laugh and not a 'we're doomed' laugh."
Cyborg merely laughed harder. "This is great. This is classic. This is by far the best villain we've ever had. I'd love to shake her hand."
"Cyborg," Raven growled, "explain."
Noting Raven's rising anger, the mechanical Titan attempted to quell his laughter, but the attempt met mostly failure. "This detonator…" Cyborg picked up the box and held it out for his friends to see as he tried to explain between fits of laughter. "The wires…"
Raven's eyes drifted down the trail of wires only to realize that… The poor girl began to beat her head against the ground in frustration.
"The wires aren't connected to anything," Cyborg finally managed to get out. "And these barrels…" More laughter. "They're just filled with water."
Raven beat her head against the ground harder.
"I don't even want to catch this girl, now."
"Oh, we're catching her," Raven stopped her self-punishment to glare up at her teammate. "We are catching her if it's the last thing we do, and I will make her feel… so much pain. What does this fool call herself?"
Cyborg stared blankly at the duo once more before bursting into laughter once again. "That's the best part."
"I can't imagine any name that would make this situation funny."
"She calls herself…"
One month was a long time under normal circumstances, and it felt especially long if one was acutely aware of each and every passing second.
Two million, six hundred and seventy-eight thousand, four hundred seconds since the accident…
Nightwing narrowed his eyes as he stared at his computer screen, the only light source in the otherwise pitch black evidence room. Crime was on the rise. He had tried to deny it. No, that wasn't true. He had realized it since Bill Numerous and Wykkyd had tried to attack Beast Boy while he was in the hospital. Criminals saw this as their golden opportunity. With one Titan out of commission, they thought they had at least some semblance of a chance, but now with Beast Boy out and both Raven and Cyborg only making rare appearances in the field, Nightwing couldn't ignore the growing trend any longer.
Well, no, he hadn't ignored it from the start. Nightwing merely thought that if he faced the trend with proportionately increased aggression on his part, things would remain the same. The only thing that had accomplished was making Nightwing too tired in the evenings for his liking. Sometimes he skipped meals in order to sleep. Other times he wasn't able to visit the infirmary to check on…
How long had it been? Six hundred and four thousand, eight hundred seconds. That's right. Had it been a week already? He should make it a point to see him… them today. An image of Beast Boy before the accident flashed though Nightwing's mind, and an overpowering feeling of guilt washed over him.
No… It's not my fault.
Yes it is.
No… They told me it wasn't.
They're your friends.
They don't blame me.
They pity you.
No… It's that criminal's fault.
You're the one who let it happen.
How could I have known?
You're the leader. It's your responsibility to know.
He's like that because of you.
He could die because of you.
It's not my-
"It's not my fault!" Nightwing yelled as he slammed his fist down onto the desk he sat at, causing the computer monitor to wobble dangerously back and forth before returning to its initial state.
He was tired. Too tired. It amazed him just how tired he was, really. The increased crime rate now was nothing when compared to his stay in Gotham as Robin. It was the fact that the knowledge of Beast Boy's condition weighed down on him every second of every day and grew heavier the longer it remained. Why was he tired? He knew why.
"It's my fault."
It wasn't. Even he knew that, but the feeling was there. The feeling of guilt was real. Even if he was not specifically to blame, he might as well have been.
"We can't continue like this."
He couldn't continue like this.
They needed help. He'd have to call in some favors, contact some of the old honoraries, and hope for the best. Most of them had their own teams, now, or at the very least successful heroes on their own. There were a few, though, that he knew he could count on…
Suddenly, a blinding light swept over Nightwing, causing the previously dark room to illuminate. The Titans' leader cringed at the sudden intrusion, squinting his eyes and holding a hand up in a futile attempt to block the light from reaching him.
"Husband," a soothing voice echoed from the now open doorway.
As Nightwing's eyes adjusted to the new source of light, he looked up and saw… an angel. God, he was such a sap when it came to his wife. She did look the part, though, standing in the doorway with light flowing in behind her, felling the darkness that previously dominated the room. Dear lord, he had become more obsessed with her than he ever had been with Slade. Though, he supposed this time it was a healthier obsession.
"Richard," Starfire spoke again as she moved to her husband's side and placed a gentle hand upon his shoulder. "Will you not join me in visiting with our friends in the infirmary? I believe you have been neglecting our friends lately."
Nightwing failed to hold back his smile. She knew him well.
"You're right, Star," Nightwing said before rising to his feet and taking his wife's hand. She squeezed his hand back gently… well, it was gently for her. It always hurt a little, but it never failed to soothe his troubled heart. "I was planning to head over there sometime today. Besides, there's something I need to discuss with everyone."
Richard took a step forward to lead the two of them towards their destination, but his progress was halted by his wife's strong grip. She was still rooted firmly in place giving him an all too serious look.
"You hold no blame for what has transpired, Love."
Nightwing's smile returned once again. She knew him all too well.
"I know," he tried to sound as reassuring as possible.
Starfire gave a slight nod before returning to her husband's side in their journey to the infirmary. However, she knew her husband, and she knew his faults.
"I hope so."
"Yes, just like that," Cyborg nodded as he observed replace Beast Boy's I.V. with ease. "You've really come into your own, girl. I'd almost feel comfortable leaving you in charge."
"I'd rather you not," Raven dismissed as she finished checking over her work. "I may have obtained the textbook knowledge required, but I must admit, I have found the practical application to be entirely different. I would rather not be left unsupervised and risk a repeat of Thursday's… incident."
'Who knew even you could slip up, Rae…'
"I'm just glad I caught you in time," Cyborg spoke solemnly as the memory of that particular incident ran through his circuits.
'You and me both.'
"That kind of dosage really would have killed him this time."
'Don't remind me.'
"Don't remind me." Raven pulled her hood back over her head to hide her growing frown.
"Hey now…" Cyborg let out a loud sigh. It had taken an entire day after the incident to get Raven to touch any of the medical equipment again, and even longer for her to speak again. He wasn't about to let her revert back to that state. "Don't go beating yourself up again, girl. That label was faded. I saw it, too. Anyone could have thought that three looked like an eight. Besides, we've replaced all the labels, and they now have new, very clear print. That won't happen again."
'It better not.' The last thing Beast Boy wanted was for Raven to stop talking again. Those few days were torture, though he had to admit, Cyborg's failed attempts to get Raven to open up again were somewhat comical. Cyborg wasn't an expert in that field like he was.
Cyborg sighed again, sensing that he was fighting a losing battle. Why did a compliment have to turn out sour like this?
"Look, how about you take a tea break and clear your head. I think you need it."
'No! Don't listen to him! He's a liar that tells lies! Nothing but lies!'
"I could use some tea," Raven agreed and made a move towards the door, "and possibly some meditation."
"Do whatever you need, girl."
"Just remember," Cyborg crossed his arms, now sounding deadly serious, "what could have happened, didn't happen. It's not your fault, and you're not responsible for a faulty label. You've been doing a good job here, and I feel a lot better with you looking over my shoulder than without. Don't think otherwise."
Raven stopped at the doorway, but didn't bother to turn to face her mechanical teammate. "Thank you." With that, she was gone, and Beast Boy was left only with the sound of the door closing behind her.
'You jerk! You're not supposed to let her leave. How about you leave and let her meditate here? Listening to her repeat Aze… Azer… Listening to her chant AMZ over and over again is a billion times more entertaining than you'
Silence… Beast Boy could hear Cyborg fiddle around with… something. Other than that… silence.
'Gah! Talk to me! Say… something!
"God damn it! This sucks!" A loud thump followed the unexpected outburst as Cyborg's fist slammed into a nearby wall.
'Thank you! Wait… what?'
"It's not right… It's not fair!" The mechanical Titan lifted a hand to his face and let out a… sniffle?
'Are you… cryi-'
"I can't take this anymore, man. Why? Why'd you have to get hurt, BB? This… This…" Another loud thump echoed throughout the room, followed by loud rattling as some of the smaller medical supplies toppled over. Cyborg made no move to pick them up. "You've always been like this… been the one to get into trouble. You've always been reckless in a fight… always running in headfirst no matter what we're up against." Cyborg let out a sorrowful laugh. "You really give Dick a run for his money in that regard, don't ya buddy?"
"I guess that's one of the things that makes you the hero you are, but…" Cyborg sighed again. "Why'd it have to be this time someone got hurt? Why'd it have to be you? And…" Another thump, another fist slammed into the wall. An obvious dent was forming where Cyborg felt the need to release his stress. "Why'd it have to be a coma?"
'I know a million jokes, but… even if I could use them, I don't think any of them would help…'
"I can't cure a coma! How can you expect me to sit here and just wait? I can't do that, Gar. I can't." Cyborg sighed again, and now Beast Boy was sure he was crying. "I can treat the flu. I can sew up a laceration. I can set a broken bone, but what the hell can I do with a coma? Huh?"
"You're my best friend, and it's tearing me up inside seeing you like this every single day. Do you even realize what you're putting her… us… me though?"
In truth, he hadn't.
'I never realized…'
It had all been about him.
'I-I'm so sorry, dude…'
All he had thought about until now was his own situation, his own boredom, his own torment.
'I wish I could talk to you guy… I wish I could cheer you guys up.'
Only now was he beginning to realize that his torment was not his alone to bear.
"Why can't you wake up, BB? Why can't you just wake up?"
'I want to, but I can't.'
"It's going to be okay, Victor," a new voice, Nightwing's voice, resonated from the doorway. Garfield hadn't even heard the door open. "He'll wake up."
"Night-" Cyborg coughed loudly and quickly wiped the tears from his human eye. "How long have you two been th-oomph!"
"Friend Cyborg!" Starfire cried tears of her own into the man's chest after having rushed to capture him in a very tight (what she intended to be comforting) hug. Fortunately, Cyborg was one of the few who could survive one of Kori's full powered hugs. "Please don't cry, friend. Everything will be alright. I will make you… No! I will make us all some pudding tonight. We can all gather around and watch one of the movies on the couch like we used to and eat it."
'I'll pass. Too many sweets are bad for my health…' Beast Boy mentally sighed in spite of his own joke. The mood was gone.
"I'm… ugh." Cyborg grunted in discomfort as he tried and failed to pry Starfire off of him. Just because his body could withstand the Tamaranian's hugs didn't mean they weren't painful. "I'm fine now, Star. Thanks… ugh… Thanks for comforting me. I needed it."
"I think Star has a great idea, though, Cy," Nightwing nodded in agreement. "A break will be good for us." No one saw him avert his eyes from under his mask. "All of us." Walking in on Cyborg in that state had only intensified his own feelings of guilt. He was determined to try and keep his own feelings hidden, though. He didn't want Starfire to worry.
"Glorious," Starfire exclaimed, detaching herself from Cyborg before flying over and nearly tackling her husband in a similar embrace. "I shall prepare a double portion of pudding for you, Husband Richard!"
'Sucker.' Misery loved company. Beast Boy was starting to feel a little better.
"Better make it a triple portion," Cyborg smirked. "You know how much Dick loves your cooking." It seemed as if Cyborg's mood was mirrored his unconscious friend's.
"Just a normal portion will be fine, Kori," Nightwing faked a smile as he gently returned his wife's hug. There was no getting out of her cooking for him, so he might as well just negotiate for the smallest amount possible.
"Very well, Husband, but there will always be more if you desire it."
"I'll… keep that in mind."
"So," Cyborg clapped his hands together loudly and grinned, "what can I do for the two of you. Star, there, is a frequent here, but I barely recognize you Dick."
"Sorry," Nightwing apologized honestly. He really did feel bad for not visiting more often. "I'll be around more often."
"Glad to hear that. I'm sure BB, here, is getting pretty lonely with just me and Rae to keep him company."
'You… have no idea.'
"I actually wanted to talk to everyone today. Where's," Nightwing looked around the room expectantly. "Where's Raven."
"I'm here," Raven called from behind the married couple. "You two may want to find another place to stand."
"Sorry, friend Raven," Starfire smiled before lifting her husband up and floating them further into the room.
Raven smirked as she watched Nightwing nearly lose his balance upon being set back down onto the ground. So much for a circus upbringing. "I wasn't aware that a meeting was scheduled. I came back when I sensed an," the hooded girl eyed Cyborg curiously, "emotional variation."
'That was Cyborg. So totally Cyborg! Fess up, dude!'
"That was," Cyborg began sheepishly. "Ya don't have to worry about that. Everything's all good here."
"I see," was all Raven said in reply, much to Garfield's disappointment. "This isn't entirely a personally visit, is it Nightwing?"
"Not entirely, no," the leader relented. Although the bond between the two birds was severed years ago, the insight Raven had gained into Richard's persona had remained. Though, he was not fond of the prospect of two people knowing him that well. Starfire was enough. "I also wanted to talk with you guys about our situation."
"I hope you're not planning to have Beast Boy moved," Raven said in her usual monotone, though Nightwing didn't need their former bond to know that she was glaring under her hood.
'Sick 'em, Rae!'
"No!" Nightwing responded quickly. That was not something he intended to bring up around Cyborg or Raven. He knew good and well that that option was off the table. "I was referring to the crime situation."
"Good," Raven nodded, relaxing a bit. She was prepared to veto any proposal to have Garfield moved from the tower. It was dangerous out there where she couldn't protect him.
"No, it's not good," Nightwing sighed as he prepared to explain what he was about to propose. He'd have to be wary of any toes he was in danger of stepping on. "Every criminal in the city knows our situation thanks to the stupid press."
"They're just doing their job," Cyborg countered.
"And look what's happened because of it. Crime is up. Convicts are escaping or attempting escapes on a daily basis. They see this as an opportunity, not a tragedy."
"Then we just keep putting them in their place."
"Yes," Nightwing sighed. He hoped they wouldn't take this the wrong way. "We will, but we can't do this alone."
The room was silent as their leader's last statement sank in.
"You intend to replace him?!" Raven nearly yelled. A fluorescent light shattered in the hallway.
'He wants to what?'
"Calm down, girl," Cyborg placed a hand on Raven's shoulder while giving a deadly glare. "No one is getting replaced."
"I don't want to replace anyone," Nightwing held his hands in front of him defensively. "I just meant that we could use some temporary assistance in the whole crime fighting department."
"We've been doing fine so far."
"No, we've doing fine so far," Nightwing corrected, making a hand gesture that made it obvious that he was talking about Starfire and himself.
"Don't take this the wrong way, but you've been on permanent standby here, Cyborg. And Raven…" he sighed as he pointed to his hooded teammate. "I can count all the times you've been on out into the field this month on one hand."
'Way to sound just like your name, Dick.'
"It can't be helped," Raven said crossing her arms. "Beast Boy needs us here."
"He does," Nightwing explained in exasperation. "I know he does. That's why we need the help. You two have already made it a point to be on hand here in the infirmary nearly at all times. I just want to make it official."
"So, you're not replacing just Beast Boy. You're replacing all of us? That's low, dawg."
"Not replacing!" Nightwing denied furiously. This was exactly what he hoped wouldn't happen. "It's only temporary. As soon as Beast Boy is back on his feet, we'll go back to the way things were."
"Please, friends," Starfire pleaded being once again on the verge of tears. "Husband Richard does not have the intent to upset either of you. He is merely thinking about what is best for both Beast Boy and the team."
Cyborg groaned inwardly. It was impossible to stay angry at anyone with Starfire pleading like that. Why'd she have to be so sly?
"Only temporary," the mechanical Titan repeated his leader's words as if to solidify them.
"And we have the final say on who you're bringing in," Raven added.
'I suppose some new voices wouldn't hurt.' Any anger Beast Boy might have felt at the prospect of being replaced had also been dissipated by Starfire's pleading voice. 'That's just about as deadly as the face.'
"Agreed," Nightwing relented. He was grateful for Starfire's presence. Things could have gotten really out of hand if it hadn't been for her.
"So, who do you have in mind?"
"Well, I was thinking about Melvin and the-"
"No," Raven dismissed quickly. "Who else?"
"What's wrong with those three? They're old enough."
"They're still kids."
"We all were when we started."
"Not that young."
"They've been improving faster than any of us thought. Melvin alone has her powers nearly mastered."
"They'd be a great help, and they aren't currently doing anything."
"If you call having a normal, everyday life with their foster family 'not doing anything,' then no, they aren't."
"They-" Nightwing stopped, realization dawning on him. "You've been checking up on them, haven't you?"
'Did your motherly instincts kick in last time you saw them? That's… awesome.'
"I don't know what you're talking about," Raven lied.
"How… have they been doing?" Nightwing asked pensively.
"They're fine," Raven admitted, knowing that she had been far too foolish and revealed her hand. "Melvin is ranked in the top five at her school."
'She obviously takes after you.'
"I see…" Melvin, Timmy, and Tommy were out.
"Who else?" Raven questioned curtly, not wanting to dwell on the subject any longer than they already had.
"Uh…" Nightwing was having trouble getting past the awkwardness that still lingered. "How about Jinx?"
"Absolutely not," Raven dismissed just as fast as she had with Melvin.
"Raven," Cyborg laughed. "You're going to have to throw the poor guy a bone sometime."
"Next time has a higher probability of occurrence than this time," Raven said sternly.
'You're still mad about it, aren't you?'
"Friend Raven," Starfire began cautiously, "is this about-"
"Of course it's about Beast Boy's twentieth birthday. I have not forgiven her, yet, nor do I intend to for a long while."
'Come on, Rae. It's hilarious when you look back on it.'
"Raven, you can't just keep tossing out my suggestions based on personal reasons."
"I could," the hooded girl argued defiantly. "I have a lot of issues with a lot of people."
"Raven," Cyborg sighed. "We should really bring Jinx in. She's been an on and off villain for a while, now. Maybe if we include her more often, she'd be more inclined to stay on the right side of the law."
'Plus I think it was an awesome birthday present.'
"I stand by my decision."
"I have a certain picture that says otherwise."
"So we're bringing Jinx in, then," Raven amended quickly, leaving Nightwing and Starfire in confusion.
"What..." Richard began, almost unable to find the words. "What just happened?"
"Raven agreed to call in Jinx," Cyborg answered, not bothering to go into more detail. He'd lose his blackmail material if he played all of his cards now. "She's also apparently forgiven Jinx for pretending to be Cupid's Arrow that one time." Though, there was always room for another stipulation.
"But… what was it you said about a pict-"
"So," Raven interrupted loudly, "who else do you have in mind. I assume you bringing in more than one."
"Yea, but the pic-"
"Cyborg, what did you mean when you-"
Raven rushed forward and gripped Nightwing by the collar. "Who. Else. Did. You. Have. In. Mind?"
'This… is classic.'
Jinx grumbled to herself as she paced back and forth in front of one of the banks on the outskirts of town. If there was one thing she hated, it was a moral dilemma. She never had to deal with these back when she was with HIVE.
Things were so much simpler back then. They pointed you at a target, and you attacked. No feelings of remorse. No guilt. Everyone knew they were evil and no one thought twice about it.
"Stupid Kid Flash."
It was all his fault, really. He had done… this… to her, showed her the other end of the spectrum. He even made her enjoy helping others from time to time. That wasn't what someone from HIVE should feel, but now that she had felt it, things weren't the same.
"Stupid stupid Kid Flash."
Although, he wasn't really Kid Flash anymore, was he? He was just The Flash, though his name change didn't really matter anymore. He was gone… gone far away to live in space in some satellite with other superjerks like him. Where exactly did that leave her?
"Aaachhooo!" Jinx sneezed loudly. She was cold, broke, and on the verge of eviction… oh yea, and she was currently facing a moral dilemma.
On the one hand, she could abide by the law and get evicted. Not an alluring prospect. On the other hand, she could break the law, rob the bank she was currently pacing in front of, and actually pay her rent on time. The down side was the latter option came with the possibility of getting caught.
Had she mentioned she hated moral dilemmas? She really did.
Alright! She had made a decision. She'd just rob the bank a little and hope for the be-
Jinx's thoughts were interrupted by a ringing coming from her bag. She idly wondered what it could be. She didn't have enough money to afford a cell phone or an iPod. What was it that was making that…
Realization swept though her and she dove her hands into her bag in a desperate attempt to find the round object that was emitting the noise. How long had it been since this thing went off? Regardless, the only time those do-gooders bothered to contact her was when something big was going down, and that always meant one thing.
Jinx pulled out the rusty Titans Communicator and grinned a cheshire grin down on it. "Hello free room and board. I missed you."
It appeared that her luck was finally turning around.
A trumpet blazed as a guitar struck the final chord of their impromptu song, and two men smiled as the melody echoed throughout the countryside before their surroundings returned to their natural, serene state of silence.
"That," the trumpeter grinned as his trumpet fell to his side, "sounded great."
His companion, the guitarist, sat wordlessly, yet nodded in his agreement.
"I think I'm really starting to get a feel for your style, J," the trumpeter boasted. "Just a few more of these jam sessions, and I think we'll be ready to knock the socks off of those guys over at Titans East."
Again, the guitarist said nothing, yet his smile broadened and he once again nodded in agreement. He was looking forward to it, too.
"Yea," trumpeter's expression turned suddenly solemn. "Maybe this will put her in a better mood and she'll accept me next time I ask."
The guitarist cocked his head to the side and made a few quick signs with his hands.
The trumpeter didn't know sign language, but he had picked up enough over the years to get the gist of what his friend was asking.
"Bee and I are fine, J. Don't worry. We're just," he sighed, "not seeing eye to eye, I guess. I don't know, J. I don't suppose you have some insight into a girl's mind?"
The guitarist smirked.
"That way doesn't count. You get their body, not their mind."
The guitarist made another sign.
"I know you were just joking. I'm just confused by it all. Every time I ask Bee to let me join Titans East, she shoots me down. We're together. We're supposed to want to be together always. I want to be together always, but it's like she doesn't even want me to be a superhero. I just-"
A loud beeping interrupted the two musicians' conversation, and both men began to search for the source. It was only when both of them held up similar round objects did they find out that the intruding sound was coming from both of their old communicators.
The trumpeter smiled, putting his frustrations behind him for the moment. He held up his trumpet and glanced at his companion. "Shall we go?"
The guitarist merely nodded before standing to his feet.
A small woman wandered the streets of… What town was she in? Honestly, she had no idea. She had been traveling for… it had been at least two months, hadn't it? She had really lost track of time.
The woman didn't have a particular destination in mind. She merely wanted to get away… away from him… them…her. She had become the third wheel even though she started as the second.
But her feelings on the matter were irrelevant. They were happy together. He was happy with her, happier than he had ever been with…
The young woman wiped a tear from her eye. No, she wouldn't dwell on it anymore. She needed a new start. All this traveling, although a perfect way to keep her mind occupied, was not helping her. She needed something new. She needed something effective. She needed something real.
As if on cue, a beeping interrupted her thoughts. It took a moment for the girl to realize that the beeping wasn't her imagination. With hands still shaking from the cold, the girl reached into her pocket and pulled out one of her few worldly possessions.
The small woman brushed a stray strand of pink hair out of her face as she read the message displayed on the small screen.
This was it.
It's safe to review this time. :P
Also, my comments, as well as the identities of the honoraries I'm bringing in (the last one's a lil tricky) can be found in my profile. Their identities weren't meant to be a secret, but it felt more dramatic to keep them slightly hidden.