Disclaimer: Teen Titans, or any of its counterparts are not mine.
Author's Note: This story is the third in the E'ara series.
I'm Australian. Watch out for the differences in spelling. I spell colour with a 'u', realise with a 's' and a few others. There may also be differences in slang.
Big Fat Warning: This story contains adult situations, violence, infrequent course language AND character death. You have been warned. It is rated M.
Edited - June 2010. The majority of author's notes have been removed. Review and changes of grammar and spelling. Several inconsistencies and minor plot holes fixed, as well as some character adjustments.
Kry's note 2013: This entire series is very old, outdated and is full of mistakes, plotwise, characterwise and story structure. Please don't offer critique. I have grown a great deal since this was written.
The scent of burning wood, ash and smoke clogged the air. There were small crackles and pops as wood burned and fire shifted.
Rebecca sat huddled in the closet, peering out through the slats as the bright orange flames licked the walls, danced along the once pink curtains and ate her toys.
Fire wasn't supposed to eat toys. Mommy told her that. Fire was supposed to stay in the fireplace, but only when Mommy was around. Fire was supposed to stay on the stove, or at the end of daddy's ciggy things that she was never allowed to watch him have.
The naughty, wicked fire was eating her toys but it would never get her favourite one.
Mr Bear nestled in her arms, his somber looking eyes gazing through the slat with her as his friends smoldered away.
The naughty, wicked fire wouldn't find her here. Even Daddy couldn't find her here when he was in one of his moods. This was her safe place, Mommy said that. If anything bad happened, run to the safe place and take Mr Bear and Mommy would come for her when everything was happy again. She had to stay as quiet as a mouse or the bad things might happen to her too.
Mommy was always sad after bad things happened. She cried a lot. She moved funny. She asked Rebecca to stay quiet and help her Mommy out.
Why was it so hot? Fire was never that hot. It was always warm, but she was never allowed to get close. "Never touch it Rebecca," Mommy had told her. "Fire burns and Daddy will get angry if you get burnt."
So Rebecca stayed away and huddled in fright inside her safe place.
She could hear people screaming outside. Someone was calling her name and she recognised Mr Jamerson from next door. Rebecca liked Mr Jamerson, even though he was old and had no hair. He was always nice to her and to Mommy after Daddy had finished. He made her cake and biscuits. He allowed her to play with his puppy dog.
She liked his puppy dog. He was cute and he placed fetch and he would wag his tail and never be mean and sometimes when Daddy came home smelling funny, Mommy would send her outside to play with the dog.
There was a funny ringing sound from outside, like one of those trumpets gone wrong.
A sharp, commanding voice began to yell. "Aqualad, Beast Boy get that water going! Mas Y Menos, hoses from the neighbors. Cyborg, get that gas shut off. Speedy, Bee, Herald, evacuate the neighbors. Raven, check for life signs."
She heard Mr Jamerson screaming her name again before someone spoke something quietly.
"Starfire, get the child!" the commanding voice yelled. "Raven, the mother!"
There was a crash as something propelled itself through the wall.
Rebecca peered timidly through the slats once more. A tall woman with flaming red hair that seemed to have been born from the fire itself floated in the middle of the room. Rebecca thought she had seen her before, but she couldn't remember where. There was a huge hole in the wall and Rebecca chewed on her finger. Daddy wasn't going to like that.
"Hello?" the woman called, her strange eyes looking around the room. She bent down and looked under the smoking bed. "Rebecca?"
Rebecca huddled at the back of the closet. Mommy hadn't come for her yet. She wasn't supposed to move. She had to stay as quiet as a mouse.
"Little one, we must escape the fire," the woman called, still peering around the room. "My name is Starfire, I will not harm you."
The roof gave a rumble and the woman called Starfire glanced upward.
A second woman floated into the room, wrapped up in a strange white cloak, her eyes shining and Rebecca couldn't see her face. "Roof's going to collapse soon," the woman said flatly.
"I cannot locate the child," Starfire said. "Raven, are you certain?"
"She's in the closet," Raven said, an arm extending from beneath the cape pointing at where Rebecca was hidden.
Rebecca bit down hard on her finger, hugging Mr Bear to her chest as the door swung open.
"There you are, little one," Starfire said, smiling brightly, kneeling down on the floor, extending her arms.
"Mommy said it's not safe," Rebecca said with a sharp shake of her head. "Mommy said to hide."
"Your mother is outside," the woman in white said. "She's waiting for you."
Rebecca considered. Starfire had a nice smile; she looked like a nice lady. Someone who wouldn't mind giving hugs. But if Daddy was still angry then she shouldn't move.
Something gave a crack and Raven raised a hand, some white looking stuff flowing from her fingers and covered the roof. "Starfire, hurry."
"Please little one," Starfire said, scooting closer. "We must go."
"The fire was naughty," Rebecca said timidly. "It didn't stay in the fire place. Daddy won't be mad, will he?"
"I will make certain he understands," Starfire said with an encouraging smile, wiggling her fingers.
Rebecca chewed on her finger one last time before scooting out of the corner. Starfire scooped her up and hugged her to her chest and suddenly Rebecca felt a lot cooler. There was no more smoke stuck in her throat and she could breathe again.
"Rebecca!" came the cry and Rebecca raised her head to see that she was outside and Mommy was running toward her.
"She is undamaged," Starfire said quietly.
"Mommy!" cried Rebecca throwing herself into her mother's arms. "I did what you said. I stayed quiet, I didn't move. Daddy won't be angry, will he?"
"Is Daddy normally angry?" the voice she heard commanding things before asked and she looked over Mommy's shoulder to see a man dressing in black, a strange mask across his face.
"Daddy gets mad and makes Mommy cry and Mommy tells me to hide." Rebecca pointed at Starfire. "She said she'd tell Daddy the fire was naughty, not me."
"Rebecca, shush," Mommy said, her hands all over her face, brushing at her hair, peppering kisses on her cheeks. "Oh thank God you're all right. I was worried."
"Starfire, why don't you take Rebecca here to get checked out by Raven. I want to talk to her mother for a moment."
"Come," Starfire said as she cradled Rebecca again.
"How long has this been going on?" she heard the man in black ask in a kind voice, just like the one Mr Jamerson used when Daddy got angry. "I can see bruises on you that are several days old. We can help."
"Do you like animals?" Starfire asked kindly. "My friend Beast Boy can be any animal you desire."
"Sure can," a funny green man said happily, bouncing up and down on the spot as he stood next to the lady in white. "Anything you want, puppies, kittens, butterflies. You name it."
"Can you be a bear?" Rebecca asked curiously, still clutching Mr Bear. "I like bears."
"Okay!" the green man exclaimed and his form seemed to melt like chocolate did when she got it to close to the fire and suddenly there was a cuddly bear in the place where the man used to be.
"You look like Mr Bear," Rebecca cried happily. "Only snot coloured."
Starfire laughed and placed her on the ground.
The big green Mr Bear rolled onto his back, waving his legs in the air. The lady in white knelt down beside him and began rubbing his belly. "He likes having his belly rubbed," Raven said in a voice that sounded like Mommy's did sometimes, all sad. She gestured to Rebecca. "Come and try it. It will make you feel better."
Rebecca scooted around and knelt down beside the green bear, clutching Mr Bear to her chest for a moment before she reached out and ran her fingers his soft fur.
The green bear gave a small rumble and Rebecca snatched her hand away and cringed.
Starfire smiled. "That means he likes it," she said as she knelt down beside Rebecca, running her own fingers through the bear's fur. "Try again."
So Rebecca did, running her fingers through the thick shaggy fur and the bear gave another small rubble, his huge paws batting at the air in a way that made Rebecca laugh. She snuggled right into the bear's shaggy side, rubbing her face against his fur. "You're just like Mr Bear," she said tiredly, closing her eyes. "You won't let Daddy hurt Mommy, will you?"
A hand stroked her hair. "Not anymore," Starfire said softly as Rebecca slipped into sleep.
Later, as someone moved her, she remembered hearing that commanding voice speaking in hushed tones. "We've set some things up for you and Rebecca. Call this number in the morning if you need a job, or even a helping hand. Cathy's expecting it. And don't hesitate to call us if you ever need help."
She arched her back off the bed before a low moan escaped her mouth.
Dick raised his head and blinked at her. Her hands fisted, tugging at handfuls of sheets, sweat beaded on her forehead and her eyes were clenched shut.
She whimpered again, her head shaking slightly, her feet pushing against the bed as though she was trying to escape. "No."
Dick swore under his breath, scooting closer to her and wrapped an arm around her. He closed his eyes and entered her mind, following the golden cord that joined him and Starfire.
Dick recognised the gray metallic walls of the Citadel immediately and silently cursed. Starfire hadn't had one of these dreams for a while and he'd secretly begun to hope that she was completely over this. But it had taken her such a long time to recover from what had occurred that he wasn't surprised there were still lingering nightmares. He just had to get her out of here fast.
There was a wet splat and a gurgle from the corridor behind him and Dick swung around, his eyes wild, his heart pounding. The corridor was drenched in green liquid; it dripped from the walls, pooling in puddles of slime on the floor. Various black-blue bodies were sprawled out over the ground; holes in their chests and organs scattered by their limp bodies.
He glanced around, but was unable to see Raven or Beast Boy huddled anywhere as was usually common in Starfire's Citadel nightmares. He briefly wondered which type of dream this was, was it a 'true' dream of Starfire's or was it simply her mind making things up?
A figure crouched on the floor a fair way down the corridor, in amongst the prone bodies. Red hair dripping in green blood, xhandal uniform in tatters, scratches covering her lithe body, eyes glowing a brilliant green.
"Starfire?" he called.
She didn't answer and Dick frowned.
He closed his eyes and concentrated, imposing his will over the top of her dream. It was hard, as always, but he was getting better at doing it. Practice made perfect and during the weeks after the Battle of the Citadel, as the Titans had begun calling it, he'd had to do this almost every night. It used to be that he'd have to touch her within the dream to be able to pull her into his mind and change the dream, but when she'd become trapped in a nightmare of his death, she'd been unwilling to allow him to touch her. Need necessitates invention and he silently thanked Raven for telling him to do it.
He felt the dream begin to shift, caught the scent of baking sand, felt the wind caress his hair and the heat of Tamaran's sun on his cheek. He loved the way their cliff top always felt so real in their minds.
He heard a soft sigh of relief beside him and felt arms encircle his chest. He smiled, blinking open his eyes, his arms coming around to rest on her back. "Hi Star."
"Richard," she breathed softly, her cheek resting on his shoulder. "I thank you."
"Don't worry about it," he murmured in reply, planting a small kiss in her hair as he hugged her close. "You haven't had one of these dreams in a while. Is everything alright?"
She shrugged, turning slightly so she could gaze out onto the orange landscape of Tamaran, watching the dust swirling over the land. "I am concerned for Rebecca."
"We've done all we can, Star. She and her mother have gone to a shelter. I've organised some money to be sent to her so she can start a new life. Cathy's even offered her a job if she needs it, and you know how well that woman protects her own. No one crosses Cathy. The police are observing that man for a while, see if he does anything, but we've done all we can."
Starfire nodded. "I think perhaps I am tired as well. We had such a long trip back from Gotham."
He rubbed her back gently, looking out over Tamaran. It was beautiful, this landscape their minds had created. When he'd seen the real thing on Tamaran it had seemed so different, a staler version, or perhaps it had been marred because that was the place she'd chosen to die in and when he'd found her still alive, he'd only had eyes for her.
But in their minds it was breathtaking. A vast desert of orange sand stretching as far as the eye could see, almost shimmering under the orange sun of Tamaran, tall pillar-like cliffs arching toward the sky around them and they stood on the tallest one overlooking it all.
"I guess so," he replied. "And we did have a rather late night tonight."
"Yes. But it was wonderful to see Bumblebee and the rest of Titans East again. I have missed them."
Dick gave a small chuckle. "I was referring to the sex, but I guess spending most of the night up chatting to our friends would do it too."
She pulled her head back and whacked him lightly on the chest. "You have quite the 'mind of gutter' as Bumblebee would say."
Dick laughed and rubbed his nose against hers. "You know that's the way you like me. Now, I'd better get back to sleep. We've got a big day tomorrow, with the New Years Party and all."
Starfire frowned. "You are not asleep?"
He shook his head. "You woke me up."
Her face was instantly remorseful. "Oh, Richard, I am sorry."
He ran a finger along her nose. "You're more important than sleep, Star." He yawned. "I can come back if you like."
She gave him a quick kiss. "Get some sleep. I shall see you in the morning."
Dick nodded. "Night," he said as he left the embrace of her mind. He lifted his head from his pillow to watch her in her sleep, making sure that the nightmare didn't take hold once more. But in the little light caused by the moon shining through the gap in the curtains, he could see that her face was calm and peaceful. He smiled quietly to himself, resting his head against hers on the pillow and snuggled closer to her, draping his arm on her stomach and a leg over hers.
She let out a small sigh, her hand reaching up to touch his shoulder lightly before running her fingers down the arm resting on her stomach.
"You weren't supposed to follow me."
She made a small noise in agreement. "I could not help it."
He gave a light chuckle and drifted his fingers over her bare stomach. "Hey Star?"
"Yes Richard?" she asked sleepily.
"You know," he said, allowing his fingers to glide lower. "We haven't christened the bed yet."
She squeaked lightly before she wriggled against him. "We have not?"
"No, we've done the shower, and the roof, but not the bed."
Her giggle quickly turned into a soft moan. "It is only our first night back. We have plenty of time."
He mock pouted. "Aww… does that mean you want me to stop?"
"Did you not mention being tired?"
He nibbled on her neck. "You did train me for stamina."
She arched her back slightly, lengthening her neck. "Richard," she began, her tone halfway between exasperation and desire, but the sudden blaring of the Titan alarm interrupted any further complaints she had.
Dick growled, pulling his hand away and leaping from the bed. He flicked on the light and scrambled for the scattered uniform that had been thrown around the room in a frenzy. He saw Starfire doing the same thing. "Fucking inconsiderate criminals," he muttered as he shoved his legs into the black pants of his uniform.
"Yes," Starfire commented, her legs up in the air as she lay on her back on the bed pulling on her boots. "We shall do the 'kick the butt' extra hard tonight."
He chuckled as he yanked his shirt over his head and reached for his gloves and belt. "Well, holiday's over. Back to work, huh?"
She grunted at him as she wriggled into her skirt before pulling on her top and gloves.
"All done?" he asked as he shoved his feet into his boots.
"I am prepared," she replied, before looking him up and down. "But you require a mask."
"Um… right," he said, eyeing the room thoughtfully before he spotted it in the rack of the curtains. "How'd did it get there?"
Starfire smiled brazenly, one eyebrow slightly raised and her hand on her hip and he chuckled at her.
The other Titans were already assembled by the time they reached the common room of Titans Tower; Cyborg was at the computer typing away quickly as he checked what the alarm was for. Speedy was slouching on a chair by the table, Bumblebee was peering over Cyborg's shoulder and the Twins were half-asleep on the floor, their heads leaning against each other.
"Report," Nightwing barked as he entered.
Cyborg glanced over his shoulder. "Bank robbery. Do you want all of us to go?"
"I volunteer to go back to bed," Beast Boy called from where he was perched on the back of the sofa. Raven raised an eyebrow at him and he shrugged. "What? I'm tired."
"Me too," Speedy said with a yawn. "It's too early." He squinted at the clock. "It's five in the morning. Why are people even awake to rob banks?"
Nightwing cast a scathing glance at them before looking back at Cyborg. "How many?"
"Maybe six," Cyborg said with a shrug. "Doesn't look too difficult. We don't need both teams."
Nightwing shook his head resolutely. "Nope, we're all going now we're up."
"Cranky much?" Beast Boy asked grumpily. "Were you interrupted or something?"
Nightwing rolled his eyes before he looked at Bumblebee. "Herald still here?"
Bumblebee shook her head. "He had to return home."
Nightwing gave a sharp nod and bolted for the door. "Let's move Titans."
Fly or N-Cycle? Starfire asked quietly as they all headed down to the garage.
N-Cycle, he sent back quickly. I can't get enough of her; she's so amazing. I love the way she handles.
Starfire made a small noise of indignation, casting him a glare as she flew.
Aww Star, c'mon. You know I love you best.
And yet you continue to call the N-cycle 'she'. Do you really believe I like your legs wrapped around another female?
The flightless Titans piled into the T-Car while Nightwing threw his leg over the N-Cycle. Don't want a ride, Star? he asked as he saw her flying toward the garage exit.
I shall leave you and your 'baby' alone, she replied tartly.
He grinned and shook his head, starting up the bike and zipping out of the garage after her.
The city streets of Jump City were deserted. Being the early hours of the morning, Nightwing was not the least bit surprised. The air was chilly and slightly crisp and he could see Starfire's breath frosting slightly as she flew just above him. It rarely snowed in Jump City, but it still could get very cold.
Winter had well and truly settled in for the holiday season and Jump City was still celebrating. Banners were appearing in windows loudly proclaiming 'Happy New Year!" and post Christmas sales were in full swing.
Nightwing nipped around a corner, the T-Car right on his tail and Starfire, Bumblebee and Raven flying overhead. The Jump City Bank swung into view. A man standing out the front let out a startled yelp when he saw them before he began to yell for his comrades and leveled a gun at approaching group.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" cried Raven, her eyes glowing with power as she ripped the gun out of the man's hand and shredded it. She plucked him up with her powers and slapped a band of power over his mouth to keep him quiet.
The T-Car screeched to a halt before the bank, Cyborg, Speedy, Beast Boy and Aqualad leaping from it. Speedy quickly readied his bow, while Aqualad opened a nearby fire hydrant and stole some water, which he twisted through the air in preparation. Nightwing pulled up beside them, yanked his helmet off and tossed it on the seat, reaching for his sticks. Mas Y Menos zipped up to them before they zoomed inside the bank, coming out a few moments later and Mas held up five fingers while Menos gestured and explained something rapidly to Bumblebee. Nightwing was too far away to hear them clearly, so he just let Bumblebee translate.
Bumblebee nodded, her wings buzzing rapidly. "Right," she said, translating what the twins were saying. "There's five guys in there, three at the front and they're coming this way and two at the back by the safe."
Nightwing nodded. "You guys take the front ones, I'll hit the back two. Raven, you're with me."
"Dude, don't you think this is overkill?" Beast Boy commented.
Nightwing shrugged. "Don't really care. Serves them right for waking us up."
Cyborg snorted and Speedy and Aqualad exchanged a glance.
Raven tossed the guy she was holding in her powers before she slipped up behind Nightwing and engulfed him in her cloak. She deposited them at the back of the bank, hidden behind a counter and Nightwing crouched down before peering around to check on the room.
Two men stood a small distance from him before a half-opened safe, nervously clutching guns in their hands.
"Told ya the Titans would come," one of them whispered anxiously to the other.
"Shh," the other man hissed. "We don't want them to hear us."
Nightwing raised an eyebrow, signaling Raven to be quiet. She hunkered down beside him.
"How could they not hear us," the first man muttered. "Told ya we should have picked another town. Jump City's always got Titans protecting it."
Nightwing nodded to Raven, before leaping over the top of the counter. The pair of men spun to face them their eyes wide with shock. Two black birdarangs sang through the air and there was a clatter as both guns fell to the ground.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" Raven cried, floating up into the air, slamming the safe shut behind the two men and picking one up with her powers, while Nightwing pounced on the other, punching him quickly across the face.
There was a short burst of gunfire from outside the bank, before Nightwing saw several star bolts fly through the air and heard a "Boo-yah" from Cyborg.
Nightwing gave a small sigh, glancing at Raven. "Do you remember the days when criminals were actually hard?" he asked as he bound up the guy he'd knocked unconscious with one punch.
"This does seem pointless," she replied as she dragged her guy toward the entrance to leave for the police.
"I wonder if there is anything actually open this early in the morning," Nightwing said, dumping his guy beside hers. "I could go for some breakfast right about now."
"Can I please go back to bed now?" Beast Boy called as Raven and Nightwing exited the bank.
"Grass stain, are you sitting on the bonnet of my car? No one sits on my baby!"
Starfire placed the two men she was carrying beside his comrades before flying off to fetch the remaining unconscious men, Nightwing quickly bending down to tie them up.
"I got out of bed for this?" Speedy asked with a yet another yawn. "Seriously, it's a useless waste of time. I bet even gill face could've done this with one hand behind his back."
Aqualad frowned at him and threw a globe of water he had under his control at Speedy.
Speedy spluttered at the globe hit him in the face before he begun to fume at Aqualad. "What did you do that for? You messed up my hair!"
"I don't like being called gill face. I've told you that before."
"BB, if you've scratched my car by plantin' your green butt on the bonnet, I'm so going to kill you."
"Dude, my butt is not scratchy. And it's not like I can sit anywhere else around here."
"There's the ground."
"The ground is cold, the T-Car's nice and warm."
"You are not using my baby as a hot water bottle, BB!"
"Speedy, can you grab Mas for me and I'll take Menos, the twins have fallen asleep."
"I'm not a babysitter, Bee."
"Do as you're told. Just get them in the car."
"Boys," Raven muttered darkly.
Nightwing frowned. All this complaining was getting on his nerves. He knew it was early in the morning and that all the Titans were tired from staying up late, but they were heroes. They should be ready at any time. Had the Titans gone soft while they'd been away? He sighed as he tied up the last guy, trying to let the bickering wash over him without blasting his teammates.
When Beast Boy's voice finally began to have that whiny tone that grated on Nightwing's nerves, he decided that was it. "Titans! Shut up!" he bellowed, standing up and clenching his hands into fists.
All noise instantly died as his friends looked at him, startled.
"The bickering has got to stop. It's annoying and it's pointless. We're heroes, not a bunch of whiny kids. Now, the lot of you, go back to the Tower. I'll wait for the police."
Cyborg and Beast Boy grumbled and got into the T-Car, waiting patiently for Speedy and Aqualad, who had taken Menos from Bumblebee, Mas already in Speedy's arms.
Raven raised an eyebrow at him before allowing her raven form to engulf her while Bumblebee gave a sharp nod and flew off toward the Tower.
He let out a sigh as the T-Car drove away and ran a hand though his hair.
"You are perhaps the cranky?" Starfire asked softly as she floated down to his side.
"I wasn't, not until they started bickering." He glanced at Starfire. "Do you think I've let them get soft? We've been away for a while."
Starfire considered, her hands behind her back as she floated just of the ground. "Perhaps it would be wise to complete some training. Cyborg and Beast Boy seem to be still in the mode of the holidays."
"That's 'holiday mode'," he corrected absently. "And it's not just Cyborg and Beast Boy. Aqualad and Speedy were arguing too."
Starfire cocked her head at him. "Perhaps Bumblebee has some insight to that. They did assist each other in battle just now, perhaps the arguing is a result of them being the cranky as well."
He gave her a small grunt as he leant against his bike to wait for the police. "It shouldn't matter what time of day it is, or how much sleep we've had. We're heroes. Protecting the public should come first."
Starfire lay a soothing hand on his shoulder. "It does, Nightwing," she said softly. "Even though our friends complain, they act as one. That is what matters."
"I guess so. I still think I'll run them through their paces later on today. Besides, I owe Cyborg and Beast Boy for pulling that Disneyland stunt." He glanced at her again. "Go back to the Tower, Star, get some sleep."
She shook her head. "I will wait with you. Besides, I do not wish to leave you and your 'baby' alone. You may decide to replace me."
Nightwing laughed. "Oh, Star, I can't believe you're jealous of a bike."
A siren interrupted the sharp retort he saw gathering on her lips and they turned their head to watch as the Police finally arrived.
He planted his helmet on his head as the Police car stopped before the bank and the two policemen stepped from the car. He gave them a sharp nod, revved his bike and took off, Starfire flying right behind him. He glanced in the side mirror on the way, seeing one of the policemen raise his hand in salute.
I'm hungry, he sent to Starfire. Do you think there's a bakery or something open this time of morning?
Possibly the remains of something that was once an edible meal at a station of service.
Nightwing shuddered. Eww, no thanks. Guess I'll just have some breakfast back at the Tower.
You do not wish to return to bed?
Nah, I'm up now. Think I'll grab some breakfast, watch the sunrise, get a head start on the day.
Starfire raised her eyebrows at him and smiled secretly.
Oh, bugger… was that an offer?
Starfire laughed and rolled in the air, before increasing her speed. It is too late now.
Cyborg grumbled and muttered to himself as he reached out from underneath the T-Car for the socket wrench.
Effing, grumpy-assed, spiky-haired, clorbag of a leader of theirs had decided that he wanted to put them all through their paces, at some ungodly hour of the morning. They'd all gotten up at five in the morning to tend to a bank robbery and he'd snapped at them and sent them home with their tails between their legs, figuratively in Beast Boy's case. After that, he'd only allowed them two more hours of sleep before he'd woken them all up for training off all things. Just cause he'd oodles of energy doesn't mean the rest of them did.
This inconsiderate behavior of Nightwing meant that he was behind schedule in installing the new T-16 engine that had been a gift from Batman in the T-Car. He'd wanted to have it ready to impress the other Titans at the New Years Bash tonight.
The girls and the Twins were already decorating the common room, while Speedy, Aqualad and Beast Boy were in charge of the food. At least Speedy was as big of a meat eater as he was; he'd keep the other two in check. He really didn't want to be eating seaweed or tofu for the party. And he wasn't sure what Nightwing was up to while the rest of them were preparing. He'd vanished before lunch saying he'd be back just after three and nicked the T-Ship. Even Starfire didn't know what he was up to.
Cyborg's hand snaked out from underneath the T-Car again and he fumbled blindly around for a spanner. He shifted underneath the car, peering down as much as he could, eyeing what tools he could see. A pair of yellow boots appeared between his legs.
"Bee, can you grab the spanner for me?" he asked, holding out his hand, looking back up at the valve he trying to tighten.
There was a soft noise before he felt a spanner being placed in his hands. "Ta," he said, returning his concentration to the valve.
Something kicked his leg and Cyborg frowned, glancing back down at the boots that were now tapping impatiently. Since when did Bumblebee have yellow boots? "I really don't have time right now, Bee. I want to get my baby finished for the party tonight."
"I see," a soft voice said and Cyborg's frown deepened.
"What's up with your voice?" he asked curiously, before he scooted out from underneath the car.
Batgirl looked down at him with a mischievous look on her face, her hands on her hips.
Cyborg's eye widened and he sat up quickly, nearly whacking his head on the side of the car. "Babs! Girl, what are you doing here?"
She chuckled. "I was invited. Didn't Dick tell you?"
Cyborg frowned. "No."
Batgirl looked over her shoulder. "Dick, were you being a dick again?"
Nightwing smirked from where he was leaning against the door to the garage, two suitcases before him. "Yup."
Cyborg tossed the spanned he was holding at him. "Man, you are so dead."
Nightwing caught the spanner. "And here I though you'd be grateful for having your girlfriend around for New Years."
"She's not my girlfriend," Cyborg snapped as he got to his feet, while Batgirl folded her arms across her chest, glaring at Nightwing.
"Dick, you're so full of it."
He gave her a mock bow. "Thank you, thank you! Now if you'll excuse me, I have a party to oversee, and if I don't hurry, Star's gonna fill the common room up with just pink balloons." He picked up the suitcases. "You're getting my old room Babs, Cyborg can show you where it is later."
Batgirl waved over her shoulder at him before peering at the T-Car. "So, this is your baby is it?"
"Yeah," Cyborg said as he tenderly ran his hand along the roof of the car. "My one and only."
Batgirl raised an eyebrow at him.
"Car," he amended hastily. "One and only car."
She gave a light chuckle, peering at the interior of the car. "Nice, I like the colours, suits you. Sound system rocks."
"I'd take you for a spin, but as you can see, I'm overhauling her." He gestured around the room at the parts spread across the floor.
"I noticed. New T-16 engine huh? How'd you get your hands on one of those?"
Cyborg brightened. "Christmas present from Batman. You know about cars?"
Batgirl shrugged. "Enough to be able to get by. Batman is a stickler for having a little knowledge about everything."
"Wanna give me a hand then?"
Batgirl smiled. "Sure, that'd be great."
Beast Boy took a deep breath and knocked on Raven's door. "Rae? It's me."
There was silence within the room for a moment before black energy encased the door and it opened for him. "You know, you don't need to knock," she said as she floated in the middle of the room surrounded by softly glowing candles.
"I didn't want to interrupt you if you were meditating."
"A knock is more of an interruption than just coming in."
Beast Boy smiled. "Good to know for next time." He looked at the candles. "You don't usually meditate with candles."
Raven shrugged. "Sometimes they help focus my energies. I've been having trouble lately."
Beast Boy's eyebrows shot up. "Really? How come?"
Raven sighed and uncrossed her legs, floating back down to the ground. "Rage is being a pain."
The smile dropped from Beast Boy's face. "Oh. Rae, I'm sorry."
She raised an eyebrow. "It's not your fault… okay, technically you were a contributing factor, but it's not your fault. I'm not even sure why Rage is still playing up. It just… keeps growing even though there's nothing to be angry about."
"Um… could it be because you've been learning to deal with and express all your other emotions that you haven't devoted enough time to learning to deal with Rage?"
Raven blinked and looked at him in surprise. "That was actually insightful. Where did that come from?"
Beast Boy blushed and rubbed the back of his neck. "I couldn't sleep last night. Had a poke around in your books, I hope you don't mind."
Raven frowned. "Which books?"
He pointed to the one by the bed. "Just that one. It had a cool picture on the front."
Raven followed his finger and frowned before levitating the book to her and studied it carefully. "I forgot I had this one. Could be helpful." She looked up at him. "Okay, just be careful in here. Some of the books aren't really books."
"Like your mirror wasn't a mirror?"
"Sorry, I won't poke around anymore."
She placed the book on the bed and gave him a small smile. "Maybe I should just lock away all the things that could be dangerous. After all, this is kind of your room too now."
Beast Boy shook his head. "It's your room, I just sleep here. If I get too comfy, the mess will start creeping in. I'll ask next time."
Raven frowned. "But-"
Beast Boy smiled at her. "Rae, we still both need our own space. You need to be able to kick me out if your emotions start acting up and I need a place to go rein in the animals. I love sharing a bed with you at night, but I don't want to live with you yet and I'm pretty sure you don't want that either."
Raven narrowed her eyes at him. "Who are you and what have you done with my Gar?"
Beast Boy laughed. "I think I've done my quota of thinking for the year, it's a good thing it's nearly over. I was actually sent to fetch you, the others are starting to arrive."
Raven nodded, sweeping her hand in a circular motion and the candles flickered before winking out. "What do you think Nightwing's announcements are?"
"You mean besides the fact that he's getting married? And he's taking all the Titans back to Tamaran for the wedding?"
Raven snorted. "Yeah."
"Dunno, he hasn't said anything to me. Or Star for that matter, I asked earlier. She doesn't have a clue."
"Odd," Raven replied as she took his hand.
"He likes his secrets. C'mon, let's go."
Starfire rolled in the air above Titans Tower, feeling the wonderful sea breeze drifting through her hair. She floated on the air currents, her arms stretched out before her, twisting and turning as she lazed about in the air, basking in the setting sun.
She had missed the air around Titans Tower, more than thought she would. It was glorious to be home after so long away again. And it was strange to think that only a short time ago she'd been afraid she'd never get to see this planet again.
She sighed to herself, placing her arms behind her head and crossed her ankles, lounging in the air as she looked up at the blue sky above. The wind danced around her, caressing her lovingly, singing and calling to her and she exhaled in delight and breathed in the salty air.
She relaxed in the air, stretching out her hands above her head again, closed her eyes and followed the path of the winds. She allowed it to shape her movement, direct her path as she flowed through it, twisting when it did, swirling when it chose. She didn't dance with the wind often, mainly because she had a tendency to crash into things, but the wide-open space above Titans Tower simply sang with wind tonight.
I love the show you're giving as much as the next guy, but I really wish the next guy wasn't Speedy.
Starfire frowned. I do not understand.
Look down at the Tower.
Starfire opened her eyes and rolled so she could see the Tower below her.
Speedy was standing at the edge of the roof, looking up at her although he suddenly found something else to look at once he knew he'd been spotted. Nightwing stood at the stairwell, his arms crossed and a scowl on his face as he glared at Speedy's back.
Now, please come down here before I murder him.
I apologise, Richard. She zipped down out of the air toward the top of Titans Towers. She stopped in front of an embarrassed Speedy, her hands on her hips. "Speedy."
"Er… Hi Starfire," he said. "I was coming out to shoot some hoops and I saw you flying."
Starfire raised an eyebrow. "The 'hoops' are on the other side of the roof and I do not see a ball."
Speedy rubbed the back of his neck in embarrassment. "It's over by the court. I really didn't mean to stare. You looked very pretty up there."
"Ahem," Nightwing said, tapping his foot on the ground.
Speedy cringed, glancing over his shoulder at Nightwing. "Aww shit."
"Got that right."
"I'll… er… just be going now."
"You do that," Nightwing said, stepping out of the way of the door and Starfire saw him glare at Speedy as he darted past him, even going as far to keep turning his head and watching as Speedy disappeared down the staircase.
Starfire clasped her hands behind her back and smiled coyly at Nightwing. Now who is the jealous?
Nightwing's head whipped back to her. "It's not the same! Speedy was perving on you."
Starfire cocked her head. "Perving?"
Nightwing ran a hand through his hair. "Looking at you with lustful intentions."
Starfire frowned. "Like you do."
"Yes, only he's not allowed to." Nightwing sighed. "I just don't like him looking at you like that, that's all, Star. Now, are you coming in? There's a party getting ready to be had downstairs."
She floated toward him. Would you like to go for a quick flight first?
She watched indecision flicker across his face. It had been more than two months since their last flight together. They'd had all that training for the xhandal that had chewed up all their free time. When they'd reached Tamaran, Galfore had asked that they stay in the palace to protect them from the Citadel, so she hadn't been able to take him then. After the Citadel finally got their hands on her, she'd been unable to fly for quite some time, had only recently been able to do it after Batman had forced her to face her demons. But as they'd been in civilian clothes for their stay at Wayne Manor, she'd been unable to take him flying. And he'd been so interested in his new baby on the trip home that she hadn't bothered offering. Oh, she'd floated them, but not the speed flying and acrobatics that he loved so much.
She allowed a slightly naughty smile to creep across her features; he never seemed to be able to resist it when she smiled at him like this.
He wavered as she held out her hand to him and wiggled her fingers. "All right," he said, coming toward her. "Just a quick one."
She beamed happily, nipped around behind him, scooped him up by the shoulders and threw them over the edge of the Tower.