A/N: Why, yes...I am posting up stuff that's been ready for awhile and I just hadn't gotten around to editing it for posting, why do you ask?
Kysra wrote most of this one. I added some stuff and edited some stuff, but most of this genius is hers. And she'd given it to me quite awhile ago, but at first, I didn't have time to edit it, and then I forgot...and then Kysra reminded me of it a few months later, and I said, "Oh yea! I have to do that!" but considering this was when we met and were on vacation somewhere, I didn't do it then and by the time I got back, I was busy and forgot about it again, and then we met again and again Kysra said, "You never did post up Strange Bedfellows, Chapter 2, did you?" and I was like, "*head/desk* I forgot!" and got back from vacation and didn't remember again until yesterday.
So, here it is.
*ducks* Don't kill me!
Thanks: As always, to all the faithful who keep coming back and reviewing and favoriting and leaving thoughtful remarks and encouraging words (and yes, I count, "POST MORE!" in the encouraging remarks category...
If it weren't for you guys and the way you keep nudging us, I don't even know...
Chapter 2: Reality Blues
by Kysra and Emania
"If nature had arranged that husbands and wives should have children alternatively, there would never be more than three in a family."
- Lawrence Housman
Though both Raven and Robin would have liked nothing more than to go back to sleep and escape from their pregnant (pun intended) alternate reality, baby was being restless and if – Raven made it abundantly clear – she had to suffer, he would too (without complaint). It was only right and decent since he was her leader and she was his teammate and this whole scenario was (obviously) all his fault.
Unfortunately, Robin could not have guessed that her brand of torture would include hogging their single bathroom (and what the hell had the Robin of this dimension/time/whatever been thinking when he decided one bath was a good idea? Had he learned NOTHING as a teenager living with two females?)
"Raven." His eyes searched the popcorn ceiling for an idea, heaven, . . . anything useful really. "I need to get in there." Preferably before I decide to cut my losses and go in the bushes outside or on the carpet . . . .
"I will be out in a minute." She sounded so unusually and blatantly exasperated, he was taken aback momentarily.
"What are you doing in there?" He hoped she wasn't vomiting. It was a closely guarded secret but he hated the sound, taste, smell, and sight of vomit.
She opened the door and stepped out . . . in all her naked, pregnant glory. Robin gaped, swallowed, then, quite deliberately, covered his eyes. His urine sensitized dick screamed to peek. His brain (which – he had found through trial and error – could run on the barest molecule of oxygen and/or blood) sedately warned against such an action. No one could fault him for ungentlemanly conduct. Bruce – he gave an internal scowl – would be so proud.
Meanwhile, Raven was still standing before him, naked as a jaybird and seemingly unaware of why this would normally be considered inappropriate in a non-emergency situation. "In addition to being . . . fat." She paused long enough to sneer audibly. He tried not to think it sounded adorable. "I now have nineteen stretch marks."
This time he did end up peeking through his fingers, despite the strong impulse not to. After all, her announcement was clearly an invitation to look upon the discovery of her stretch marks, right? And as soon as his eyes took her in again, her hands cupped either side of her protruding stomach before moving up to weigh her swollen breasts. If the visual wasn't enough, Raven was helpful enough to supply, "And my breasts have doubled in size." Her violet gaze met with eyes framed by nerveless fingers. "My center of balance has shifted significantly, also; and if all of that isn't enough, this child seems content only when he is tap dancing on my bladder and –"
Robin dropped his hands – after all, what was the point when she knew he was watching? – and faced her accusing look head on only to ask a plaintive, "'He'?" Nobly, he kept his eyes glued to hers even when her stare became a fiery glare.
"I want you to know –again – that this is all your fault."
He sighed. "So you keep saying."
Raven pushed past him to randomly rifle through the dresser drawers, obviously searching for underwear . . . . at least, he hoped she was, otherwise he didn't know how to interpret the way she was currently tossing delicates about the room with abandon. He had never seen her so . . . unkempt and raw, for while she wasn't the neatest Titan, she wasn't given to flights of filth either. In fact, she could be downright OCD about certain things – clothing and their rightful place being one of them.
Sighing again, Robin began to inspect the clothes hanging in the closet. "By the way, how do you know it's my fault? For all we know, one of your spells went haywire and sent us here."
The smack of her hand against the back of his head was swift, sure, and strong. "I was not in the midst of any spells."
"Then you might have pissed off someone who was."
He could hear the roll of her eyes even as he surveyed the fall of her hair over her nape as she stepped before him to pick out his clothes for the day – still naked as the day she was born. "Allow me to reiterate." She turned on her heel, shirt and pants in hand, to look up at him with a barely-there smirk that was more than he had ever seen from her. "It's your fault." Her voice rang with authority as she continued, pushing the clothing draped hangers into his chest. "I would never have done this to myself."
Robin chuckled softly even as he dropped the clothes to grasp her wrist as she walked past again – hopefully to get dressed. "Never say never, Rae. Your incarnation obviously finds me irresistible."
Rolling her eyes again, she broke away to cross the room – again – to the dresser, muttering to herself, though whether it was in answer or insult he wasn't too concerned. Rather, he watched with a small smile, amused as she finally resigned herself to a soft green bra and panty set before charging over to the walk-in closet and throwing the double doors wide with an unusual amount of aplomb.
"We need to decide how to deal with this new . . . situation." He stated before entering the bathroom to – finally, finally – relieve himself and brush his teeth.
Moments later he heard Raven's voice call. "Preferably to be resolved before I give birth!" A pause and then, "I picked up your clothes and laid them out." He bit the inside of his cheek at her slightly confused tone. Normally . . . . well, normally, she wouldn't have a chance or inclination to lay out anything or anyone.
"Thanks. I'll see you in a few minutes. Why don't you go get some breakfast?"
The bathroom door squeaked, followed by a muted rustling. He imagined she must be leaning on it. "I would prefer we walk the house together." It was understandable, he reflected, to be worried though he found himself strangely at ease in this strange universe. However, his situation was somewhat different from hers, for if they had been kidnapped, drugged, or . . . thrust into some time warp, Raven was currently in no condition to defend herself. She would never, ever endanger an innocent, much less a child that was obviously hers . . . or theirs.
Robin swallowed, feeling something tighten in his gut.
It wasn't long and he was facing her again, only this time he was the naked one. Her reaction – he thought – left much to be desired as she merely gave him a detached once over then clucked her tongue and turned away.
Running a hand through his hair, feeling somewhat put out but more amused than anything, he smirked after her, noticing how fetchingly adorable she was. She had chosen a sea green maternity halter top with a floral pattern traced in brown and hints of white that flared slightly at the hem about her hips, a pair of mocha Capri's streamlining her new fuller figure. His smirk dissolved into a real – possibly wishy-washy – smile when he spied the hint of her pale bare heels.
Dressing quickly in a red polo and jeans, he easily reached her and took the lead (she had been waiting just outside the door – which, strangely, wasn't locked) to step cautiously with her, hand in hand, into the hall. With a glance to Raven, he gestured to stay put a moment longer and wait for his signal. She nodded, one hand seemingly glued to her abdomen.
He crept forward, his own bare feet making no sound upon the tiled floor, his ears and eyes focused and straining to detect signs of other life in the house, tapping doors open slightly and peeking inside around door frames then moving again only when he was assured that all was clear. In this way, he quickly and efficiently swept through four bedrooms, a living room, and a kitchen finding nothing and starting to realize that their initial hypotheses had been incorrect.
When Robin finally called for Raven, she mirrored his previous actions . . . or tried to, her pregnant waddle making it difficult to sneak effectively. He watched as she paused for long moments at the door he now knew opened to a prospective nursery filled haphazardly with boxes of baby furniture and supplies that was – thus far – neither opened nor organized. She seemed transfixed in a way he had never experienced from her before a soul-deep sigh broke through her lips as she moved to enter then paused again – confused – then resolutely continuing towards him.
He grinned at her, "So . . . you're in the nesting stage, huh?"
She huffed indignantly (he was truly loving how this situation seemed to make her more expressive and honest with her emotions), "I don't know why or how we got here, but I'm not leaving until that mess" here she spate the word as if it left a bad taste in her mouth, "is somehow transformed into a functional nursery."
"I guess you're volunteering me to help in this project?" Not that he had anything better to do, right?
"Yes." She brushed past him to begin a thorough exploration of the kitchen cupboards. Looking for tea, he assumed.
"And here I was under the impression that I was the team leader."
Her gaze was flat and icy (as usual) when it met his. "And I'm under the impression that this is entirely your fault. The least you could do is help me get that room in order, considering the Robin of this world has yet to do it, and the Raven of this world is about to have his baby."
Choosing to ignore the implication that he is either 1. lazy in the future or 2. not as involved in family life as he should be (nevermind that he had never entertained the thought of being with Raven in that way before waking up this morning), Robin stepped forward to deftly find a frying pan, some cooking oil, and eggs before moving to the stove and urging Raven into a chair at the dining table. "Yes, dear."
After a light breakfast of fried eggs, ham, and tea, Raven's mood seemed to shift into a more positive outlook, which confirmed Robin's theory that pregnancy hormones were the cause of her uncharacteristic expressions that morning.
Of course, he had to admit all of the bizarre and crazy things he had seen cumulatively as Batman's sidekick and then as a Titan could not prepare him for aging several years in one night and staring in the face of impending fatherhood with his pregnant teammate. He couldn't imagine what Raven must be feeling with – possibly – a stranger's baby in her belly. (Though he was 99% certain the baby was his, he had not yet decided if that would be a welcome possibility to her.)
He watched her with veiled interest as she – always gingerly – moved through the house, calmly exploring and taking note of a picture here, a note there. She unearthed photo albums, flipping through the pages as he took stock of the kitchen, the office . . . both of which were organized in exactly the way he would have organized them.
He wasn't sure how long he was in the office – first hacking into the computer then breaking into the digitally locked file cabinet, but he felt a sense of unreality as he came upon record after record verifying what he had already guessed at.
"We're married." Raven stated from behind him, and when he turned to answer, he found himself staring at their wedding picture, the date emblazoned in one corner – three years from their yesterday.
Running a hand through his – much longer – hair, he met her eyes with a simple, "I know." He picked up a stack of papers. "We have a joint bank account, joint ownership in this house as husband and wife, and a marriage certificate issued in Orange County." She swallowed visibly, glancing down at the picture again.
It was obviously them – they hadn't changed much after two years though Raven's hair had reached just beyond her shoulders and his body had grown taller and broader, his chin a bit more chiseled and square. They were standing close, eyes focused on the other, her hands in his, the deep ruby depths of her wedding ring catching the light. He was maskless and smiling and . . .
. . . she was smiling back.
"I think we can safely assume the baby is yours." Her tone – again – was slightly confused but he couldn't detect any sort of discontent, anger, fear, or joy. She was simply stating what she had deduced as fact. "And before you insult me by implying we may have gotten married as part of a cover or to save me from the public disgrace of having a child out of wedlock by someone else, today's date is March 17, 2011."
He blinked. "Then that means they – we got married –"
"Three years ago." Raven sunk awkwardly into a chair. "Which means we have somehow transported ourselves five years into a possible future."
He leaned forward, elbows resting on his thighs, his mind working to remember the last memory before . . . this. All he could recall was a quiet day followed by an even quieter night – an occurrence (or lack thereof) that had him on tenterhooks with paranoia, and . .. yet, he had had no trouble whatsoever falling asleep (which probably wasn't so unusual taking into account he had witnessed the end of the world, gone through hell – literally – and dragged his best friendback from the depths of despair, self-inflicted amnesia, and her demonic parent's power merely a week ago. "We'll need to venture outside, see if the others are in a similar fix or if we're the only ones affected by this time . . . whatever it is."
"No time like the present," she sighed and braced her hands to push herself up. When she found that maneuvering herself from seated to standing was entirely too difficult, she glanced at him then – with lips pursed and an expression resembling resignation – held out her hand in supplication.
He laughed, feeling the tension flow out across his shoulders, and was just about to stand when the phone began to ring.
Raven's eyes were wide, landing on the handset resting innocently near the computer he had just shut down. "Should we?"
"Let's leave it for the moment, maybe there's an answering ma –"
Suddenly Robin's recorded voice reached them, "You've reached the Grayson residence –"
"chine." The Robin standing in the office, finished lamely, his eyes never leaving Raven's.
"Please leave your name, number, and a brief message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Have a great day."
"Hey Sleeping Beauty, rise and shine!"
They looked at each other and spoke simultaneously, "Karen." The answering machine ignored them.
"It's a beautiful day with an 80% chance of g—JUNIOR! Stop touching your sister or else your Wii 1000 is MINE! – Now, what was I saying? Oh yeah, there's a sale going down at Babies R Us that has your name all over it because last I checked – KATIE! Don't you DARE spray that hose at your dad! Remember last time he was shut down for two weeks! If you make him shut down again because of water in the circuits he will have one less daughter when he gets back! - *ahem* you were short a few necessities like BABY CLOTHES (still don't understand why you turned down that baby shower). Be ready at 1000 hours. I'll be there with bells on and – OH NO YOU DID – VICTOR! Get that baby OUT of the rose bush, NOW! JUNIOR you are officially FORBIDD—
They both stared at the phone for long moments before Robin shrugged, "It doesn't seem to have affected Titan's East."
Raven nodded sedately, "or Cyborg."
"So maybe it's just us."
"I wonder why."
Robin shrugged again, taking her hand and helping her to her feet. "We'll figure it out. For now, we play along."
She was rubbing her stomach again and he smiled at her apologetically, "Uncomfortable?"
Again, that vaguely confused look. "It's hard to describe. My body isn't exclusively mine anymore."
"Anything I can do to make you feel better?" Even as he offered, his hand was at the small of her back, massaging gently. She heaved a great sigh and smiled up at him for just a split second before the strange perplexed look made a swift return. "I doubt it, but thank you."
With more calm than he felt, Robin slung an arm about her shoulders, rubbing her forearm comfortingly as he steered her out of the office so that Raven could prepare for her outing with Karen. "Don't worry, Rae. We've gotten through worse things."
"Easy for you to say. You won't have to go through labor."
Two hours later, Victor Stone, aka Cyborg, exploded out of a suburban. "My Man! Dawg, I haven't seen you for –"
"Two days." Karen cut in blithely from the passenger side, hugging Raven with one arm then reaching up to kiss Robin's cheek with the other.
Victor grinned his special very happy!smile, grabbing both clandestine time travelers in a bear hug that smacked of desperation, "It seems like two years."
Karen made no secret of rolling her eyes, tutting, as she mouthed, "The kids are driving him crazy" from behind him, her finger making circles about her ear.
"Speaking of kids," Raven prompted, looking around for the children she had heard Karen speaking to in the message.
"Left them with the babysitter," Karen explained.
"Thank God," Cyborg mouthed behind her back.
"Vic's gonna help Rob with some of that furniture that's still in boxes in the nursery today and we couldn't possibly bring them shopping with us," Karen explained, shrugging.
Both Raven and Robin heaved an almost imperceptible sigh of relief. Dealing with an older (and married) Victor and Karen was one thing...dealing with their children was quite another.
"Alright, you got everything?" Karen asked Raven, handing her the messenger style bag hanging on the hooks in the entryway. "We've gotta get a move on if we want to get everything before you pop!" she laughed.
Raven glanced at Robin with barely veiled doubt, but Karen was practically pushing her out the door before she could respond.
"You two better have built at least the crib by the time we get back," Karen said ominously. "Or you're staying with the kids two whole Sundays in a row while we go get spa services," she threatened. "This means you too, Richard!" she added as she stepped out the door after Raven, pulling it closed behind her.
Raven's pleading look followed Robin long after Karen's litany of baby-must-haves had fled along with the vehicle. Not that he was all that worried about her giving away their little secret. They had agreed that the less talking they did and the more they listened, the better they would understand the history that had apparently bloomed between them.
Until then . . .
Cyborg hadn't changed all that much since . . . the last time Robin had seen him one night . . . years ago. His face had thinned slightly and there were tiny wrinkles dancing about his eyes, the beginnings of laugh lines bracketing his mouth. Other than those minor changes, he was the same jovial bear of a man Robin knew . . . now with three children and a wife.
Karen . . . . he hadn't seen that coming.
And as the two men began to prepare an impromptu bar-b-que (Cy's idea, obviously, "We'll get started on the crib after lunch," he had assured him), Robin listened dizzily to the sizzle of cooking meat, thinking how surreal yet familiar this scene was.
Particularly since he had no idea how to proceed with an investigation of how they had somehow crossed such a large span of time without actually doing anything to provoke or initiate it without giving himself away. There was also the question of whether it would be such a bad thing if he were to confide in Cy.
Once discussed, Raven had come to the conclusion it would probably be best for all involved if they were to keep quiet about the time mix-up, at least until they knew more about how they had gotten here . . . him and Raven, parents . . . in the future. However, now that she wasn't here, Robin wasn't convinced that secrecy was such a good idea.
Because sure, the man – from what Robin could gather – was (by Cy's own admission) retired from the superhero business and had settled down into a scene of domestic bliss . . . but he still had his tech and if Robin knew Cy now half as much as he did in the past . . . present, whatever: Victor Stone was still upgrading and training just in case.
Besides, this wouldn't be the weirdest case Cyborg or Karen had ever seen. In fact, this was rather tame compared to some of their exploits. It was a repeat even; after all, Starfire had had that jaunt to the future courtesy of Warp a year or two ago. Nevermind that her vision of the future was markedly different.
At least, Robin hadn't seen anything to indicate he had phased into or retired from Nightwing. Robin made a mental note to follow the Warp time machine idea logic with Raven later, just the same.
"So you wanna tell me what's eating you, Rich?" The grill was a loud hiss above the words.
Robin shuffled over with a plate in hand. "Nothing much, just getting ready for the baby, ya know?"
Victor turned his head to stare, seriously, at him before saying, "You can't fool me, kid."
Robin handed Victor the brush dipped in bar-b-cue sauce (this was not his first time seconding Cy's bar-b-cue cooking), and hedged,"Not sure what you mean."
Cy didn't take the brush, so Robin stopped looking at the meat on the grill and met his eyes.
"You're not from this time," Cy said clearly and succinctly, "and neither is that girl who left with Bee."
A/N: Good? *ducks and hides again*