Category: Teen Titans
Warnings: Possible language, probable adult situations
Summary: The Teen Titans had their dysfunctional days. For Titans East, such days were the norm.
"For crying out loud, this shouldn't be so hard," Bumblebee muttered to herself, switching her weight from leg to leg. From her place she was directly between Aqualad and the infirmary door of Titans East Tower, which was where the three oldest of the team were waiting for the arrival of their special guest. Or an escape attempt by a certain jittery-looking Atlantean.
Today was the day that a week's worth of planning came to fruition. Bumblebee, Speedy and the twins had gone over the best way to go about getting Aqualad to cooperate. It was determined the only means of getting everyone through this day alive would be to employ some sneaky tactics.
And Speedy's net-launching arrows. That was a big factor in the plan.
"Relax, Fishface. Ten minutes, a little nagging about nutrition, a compliment on your athletics and she's out of here," the archer was trying to reassure him, though he definitely wasn't being too compassionate. The punch to the chin he'd taken earlier had drastically lowered Speedy's disposition towards Aqualad, and Bumblebee noticed that he would set about flexing his jaw uncomfortably every so often.
Mas and Menos had answered the doorbell as Bee and Speedy had to ensure a certain Atlantean didn't try anything desperate. The speedsters would be leading their guest to them, arriving at any moment.
"He's right, Al. Just try to relax and it'll be over before you know it."
Dark eyes widened. "What will be over?! What's that supposed to mean?!"
"The exam will be over! The exam will be over and nothing else and we can all go on with out happy lives-" Bumblebee inwardly sighed when she heard the automated door behind her slide open. She whipped around, wanting to get this over with as quickly as possible. "Doctor Tranda! Thank you so much for coming. Most physicians don't do house calls, and we appreciate it."
The prim-looking woman gave Bumblebee a rehearsed smile and shook her hand. "No trouble at all. After last time I sensed that perhaps future appointments would be best in a place where my patient felt… more comfortable."
Aqualad certainly did not look comfortable, looking like a metal rod was holding his spine straight upright and as though he could easily pass out.
"Well, since we're all ready to go, let's get started? Aqualad," the doctor set her bag on the counter, and from it drew a folder that she used to wave at the Atlantean. The undersea prince quickly became three shades closer to white. "Your test results were nearly pristine, but you're still taking in way too much sodium and fats. We talked about modifying your diet, didn't we?"
Bumblebee and Speedy's gazes met; the archer was smirking extensively. Told you so.
"Yes, ma'am." His voice quivered only slightly which was impressive: to Bumblebee Aqualad just looked flat out terrified.
"I know it's a pain, but your body is still accustomed to the high nutrient vegetation of Atlantis. The sudden change to refined sugars and chemicals that you're eating up here can really hurt you in the long run. You get what I'm saying?"
"Alright, so you're going to go back to that cycle we discussed, right? During the next six weeks, for every one meal you eat up here you'll need to eat four consisting of your old diet. Then you can start integrating more surface foods-"
The doctor stopped short at be interrupted; all the members of Titans East looked at Aqualad inquisitively. Tranda adjusted her wire-framed glasses on her nose.
"Are you really listening, or are you just agreeing so I'll go away?"
The Atlantean shirked, "Please don't stab me again."
Bumblebee dropped her head in her hands, exasperated.
"I'm sorry, Aqualad, but you need your hepatitis boosters and tetanus shots today." The doctor reached for her bag and pulled from it a small, sturdy black case. They all recognized it from the last appointment when there had been a total of six sterilized needles sitting within. "Plus it's almost flu season and you're incredibly susceptible to illness, so we have to get you vaccinated. There are a lot of bacteria and viral diseases up here on the surface that you've never been exposed to before. My job is to keep you healthy."
The black case was popped open, the lid arching open to reveal four shiny, metal points and the syringes attached. The Atlantean visibly tensed, and he sat bolt upright from the mere sight of the injection needles.
Speedy leaned closer to his team leader and whispered, "Bee, he's gonna freak."
"Be ready to catch him, but no sudden movements," she directed, realizing how much they sounded like animal trappers at that point.
Doctor visits shouldn't be this difficult!
Bumblebee, as an afterthought, asked Speedy, "You remembered to turn off the water to this level, right?"
There was a pause before the archer whispered, "I thought you did it."
"We'll do two in each arm, so if you'd just roll up your sleeves for me?" Tranda asked gently of her patient, turning away to douse a cotton ball with antiseptic. And much to everyone's surprise, Aqualad complied. He actually started to tug at his shirt, but those eyes stayed glued to those twinkling needle points. Bumblebee felt the relief wash over her.
But then Aqualad stopped about quarter-way up his arm. "I'm really, really sorry."
Doctor Tranda looked up from her task, unsure of what he was talking about. "Sorry for what, Aqualad?"
"I can't do this. I'm sorry."
The remaining members of Titans East had been expecting him to bail out, but they'd foolishly forgotten about the sink in the counter and the plumbing hooked to it. The metal sink quite literally exploded in a shower of droplets, and the snake of water first targeted the biggest obstacle: dividing Mas y Menos. Doctor Tranda screamed.
"Speedy!" Bumblebee shouted, unable to fly or use her stingers because of the rapid pour of water raining down on them from the sink. Mas and Menos separated, it was up to the archer to regain control of the situation. He expertly plucked his net-deployer from his quiver's pocket of trick arrows. Even in the chaos his aim was dead-on.
Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on Aqualad suddenly jumping off the exam table, leaving the good doctor to catch the durable net in his wake. The guide cords of the net wrapped Tranda in a near-escapable web, and she shrieked in surprise as she fell to the slick floor. Aqualad dodged his way out through the door.
"Oh, Christ!" he swore, moving to help free his unintended victim but was stopped by Bumblebee.
"I've got her! You go catch Al before he gets out!" she ordered, and Speedy seemed happy to get out of the flooded room. He left just as the water pressure from the sink was beginning to die down, dwindling to an uncontrolled spray to a gurgling bubbling in the pipes.
Bumblebee set to quickly cutting the health care professional free with the sharp edges of her Stingers. It took a matter of moments to get the net cut away even though her hands were slippery and shaking.
"Doctor Tranda, I am so sorry about this." Bumblebee helped the soaking wet doctor to her feet. The perfect braid down Tranda's back was plastered against her jacket with loose tendrils all askew. Her glasses were dotted with water droplets on both sides. "Usually Aqualad is so well behaved and mannerly! It's just that he's still getting used to how we do things on the surface, and needles really freak him out-"
The medical practitioner cut Bumblebee off with a sharp, annoyed tone. "Since it is abundantly clear that the patient has no intention of receiving my services today - and because I have to return to my office to prepare more booster shots - I would say it would be best if we would reschedule this appointment for tomorrow. Would noon be a good time?"
It really wasn't a question. Bumblebee nodded.
"Noon tomorrow. We'll be here."
"Good. And might I suggest that you make sure that the patient is a little better prepared for this checkup as I am a very busy woman who cannot bend over backwards to accommodate impromptu checkups like this!"
The leader of Titans East felt like a young child being scolded the entire time Tranda gathered up her soaked (and in some cases, ruined) belongings and stomped out of the infirmary. Bumblebee followed her into the hall but did not get into the elevator with the older woman, instead waiting for her teammates to report back.
A loud squeaking-screech interrupted Bumblebee's humiliation, then another, as the rubber soles of Speedy's boots carried him across the wet tile floor. Even Mas and Menos knew better than to race down a slippery hallway at full speed, and instead they tiptoed oh-so-carefully behind the archer.
The buns her hair had been pulled into had become so waterlogged that the weight was beginning to hurt, so Bumblebee because to tug out the hair bands as she asked, "He escape?"
"Yeah. Took a dive out the eighth floor bay window," grumbled Speedy, his own hair sticking out at crazy angles.
Mas and Menos were each glaring into the infirmary, Mas' arms crossed, and were muttering some Spanish curses at their once-beloved teammate and caretaker.
"Tomorrow," Bumblebee hissed to her teammates, rivulets of water running from her hair to her eyes, "after we catch him, we blindfold him and tie him down to the gurney!"
The three redheads eagerly nodded their agreement.
Speedy had been mindlessly channel surfing when he had come across a documentary about the romantically tragic story of the Titanic. Like most people he'd seen countless shows and that epic movie about the luxury liner, yet he'd fallen victim to curiosity again. Something about that ship always drew him in.
And it was better than QVC.
About half way into the show Bumblebee wordlessly slumped down on the other side of the couch. Though he didn't say anything, Speedy attributed her apparent fatigue to the fact that she'd just wrestled the twins into bed. Regular kids were probably hard enough to handle, but getting speedster twins to brush teeth, put pajamas on and crawl into bed could easily wear out the most durable of superheroes.
She, too, was sucked in by the documentary. It wasn't until the show was nearly over did Aqualad surface from the pool behind the couch and heave himself out of the water. He walked over to the couch but did not sit (dripping wet as he was), yawned quietly and blinked his eyes tiredly. Unlike most of the other Titans, Aqualad's responsibilities as a hero were not just limited to the inhabitants of the bay city, but also to the inhabitants of the actual bay.
He eyed the television, and with an almost unceremonious declaration, said, "Hey, I've been there."
Bumblebee and Speedy immediately perked, heads snapping his direction.
"You've seen The Titanic?" Bumblebee asked, captivated with the same fascination that had ordered Speedy to stay on that channel in the first place. Aqualad, who did not have the same fixation, just shrugged.
"Yeah. I guess you could say shipwrecks are kind of museums to Atlanteans. We go there to study the surface world, some times even steal ideas from your technology. We got mirrors from shipwrecks."
"You were actually at this exact ship, exploring it?" Speedy pointed at the television, which was just panning across the lethal slit in the ship's side.
Aqualad nodded. "Well, for a while anyway. I was trying to get a feel for terrestrial culture, but even Atlanteans aren't built for four-thousand meter depths. I couldn't stay long."
Bumblebee twisted on the couch, standing on the cushion with her knees. "But Al, this is The Titanic. She was the ultimate display of human engineering and luxury of the time period! This ship was supposed to be so well constructed that she was unsinkable, so they named her after the same Titans of Myth that we were. She hit an iceberg on her maiden voyage and fifteen-hundred people died. What was it like, being down there at the wreckage?"
Aqualad was a little taken back by her team leader's enthusiasm. "Um, four-thousand meters below sea level, Bee. It was dark."
The fluorescent lights flickering overhead made the clean white table practically glow, almost to the point where it hurt the patient to look at it. The psychologist braved a short, evaluating glance at his patient, who was seated in a wooden chair on the other side of the vibrant surface.
"Alright, Bumblebee. I'm going to say a word and you tell me the first thing that pops into your mind. Do not think or elaborate: we're just trying to find your first gut reaction."
"Um, okay," the black-and-yellow clad hero replied cautiously. The doctor scribbled her apparent hesitance into his notebook.
"We'll start with something simple: bee."
There was a pause on his patient's part. After a few seconds of confused and speculative faces, the young woman asked, "I'm sorry, but what do you mean by simple? Are any of these supposed to be hard? I thought it was just my interpretation."
The doctor was caught off guard, but after twelve years of intense schooling and hundreds of met human cases he was not about to visibly flinch. "That's right. There are no correct or incorrect answers: I simply meant it would be simple as in I could probably determine the response you would give."
"You expected me to say bumble, right?"
"Well, yes. Or hive, or honey, or stinger. Perhaps we should try another one?"
His patient eased back into her seat, exhibiting none of the pervious reluctance to proceed. With a shrug of a shoulder Bumblebee said, "Shoot."
"Magazine," she replied without hesitance. The doctor opened his mouth to give the next word but was abruptly cut short. "Not what you expected, huh?"
"You were expecting me to say Titans, weren't you?" Gaining confidence, Bumblebee crossed her arms over her chest and smugly retorted, "Because naturally, Teen goes with Titans, just like Bee and Bumble. So what happens when I don't give the answers you'd think?"
"Bumblebee, this evaluation isn't about me guessing your answers. It's about your ability to make connections with relating objects or ideas."
"Well alright. Give me another one, doc."
She gave the doctor a very pointed look that spoke in volumes. "Fruitcake."
"--so you can try to fit me into your little box of happy roles with your tests and theories, but the fact of the matter is that I'm not some sorry emo kid who's gonna cry and whimper because I don't have a place in conventional society. I knew that any chance of ever being normal again were gone when I put on the uniform, and I don't regret deciding to be one of the heroes instead of some no-name kid wandering around town, running scared with everyone else when a gun gets drawn in the gas station. I understood going in that this was a lifelong position, so it's not like you can compare me to all the other nut jobs and loony toons you've examined because-"
"-unlike them, I chose to be crazy. I opted for it when I picked up this job. I love it. I mean, yeah police and firefighters and even the occasional Joe Schmoe are all heroes, but how many of them can say that they helped track down an international terrorist? How many of them were in the C.B.I. as teenagers, and considered one of the best marksmen to ever hit the ranks? Seriously. I've been a hero so long its almost lost it's meaning: it's like I'm not even a hero, I'm just Speedy. Saving lives is my routine-"
"Speedy, I just-"
"and it's not like I ever asked for anything in return. I mean, come on. That's like saving a robbery victim, having her attacker locked up, and then turning back to the girl you just saved and demanding she give you all her cash. And you can reason that you've got bills to pay (because you do) but in the end you become the bad guy that you swore to stop, and--… Where are you going?"
The psychologist slammed the door of the interview room on his way out.
"So just take a quick look and tell me what you see," said the doctor, holding up the first of ten cards. Across from him Aqualad's dark eyes fell on the black void, and the Atlantean teenager became visibly perplexed.
"Well, yes," said the examiner, trying to be patient, "but all the cards are inkblots. What you have to do is look at the shapes and the voids within the image and tell me what you see."
The doctor held up the second card. "So what's in this one?"
Again Aqualad studied the picture with intensity, but ultimately the confusion was still in his expression. He sat back, hands fallen to his sides, and said, "I still see inkblots."
"But- But what do you see in the inkblots, Aqualad?" the doctor sputtered, maybe just a little frustrated, "Use your imagination. When you look at these pictures, try to envision something from your daily life. Here, try the next card."
The Atlantean looked at the picture.
Then at the doctor.
Back at the picture.
Finally, he muttered ever-so-carefully as if he were asking a question, "I see… somebody spilling an inkwell… on white paper…?"
The examiner threw all the cards to the floor.
"I just want to see it!" Bumblebee shouted, straining to reach over the table. The doctor clutched the notebook against his chest protectively.
"You can't read over my evaluations!"
"I want too know what you're writing about me in there! Hand it over!"
"I'll give it back! Just let me read it!"
"Alright, boys. Tell me how you like living in Titans East Tower. I bet it's been a major adjustment for the two of you, going from Mexican nationals to northern U.S. culture. "
The twin boys looked at one another, searching for answers.
"¿Qué él está diciendo?"
"No tengo ninguna idea. ¿Cuál es un 'adjustment'?"
The both turned towards the doctor, who'd indeed minored in a foreign language.
German, of course.No hablamos inglés."
The five super powered adolescents walked out the fingerprint-laden glass doors, listening as Bumblebee read aloud the conclusions of the doctor in a rather…colorful summary.
"Bumblebee herself in an overly aggressive individual who was incapable of allowing another person to lead a conversation. Several times throughout the interview she attempted to commandeer the position of authority, at once point physically assaulting the conductor of the session to see his notes-- Ridiculous! I never assaulted him. Here," she tossed the booklet aside. It landed open on Menos' head, and Speedy was the first to reclaim the object of dissension. He scanned the through the first few pages, looking for his name.
"Perhaps the least well adjusted member of the team is Speedy, who exhibits an attitude that is self servant and utterly unreceptive to reasoning outside his own. He relishes in the idea of being a hero rather than doing good, which makes his motives suspect to criticism. What the hell?" the archer demanded, glaring at the paper as though it alone was responsible for the offensive remarks.
Aqualad shrugged. "No news there."
"Yeah, we'll just have to see what was written about you." The archer flipped past a couple more pages before his teammate's name started appearing. He picked a passage that seemed vile enough. "The sheer incapability of Aqualad to perform even mundane tasks set by the examiner indicates either a severe lack of cognitive thought or an unwillingness to follow directions set by an authority figure. Given his seemingly genuine apologetic attitude throughout the examination, it would seem the latter is the correct reason and he truly is not capable of performing even under the slightest bit of pressure. What bullshit. That even pisses me off that he said that about you!"
Unlike his two predecessors Aqualad, as typical to his style, did not become riled by the offensive description given. Speedy raised an eyebrow as his "better half" just smirked and turned his face to the blue skies above.
"It makes you mad because you know it's not true. You guys know that I'm no simpleton, and frankly, that's all I really care about. So some overpaid, old-money big shot doctorate degree thinks he can save the crew of a sinking sub better than I can? That he can do your jobs better than any of you? I'd like to see him try."
The other Titans grinned, especially Bumblebee. She put a hand on Speedy's shoulder and shook him gently. "And you. You've proven yourself to this team time and again. We know what you're about, and we're glad to have you around, Speedy."
"Most of the time," Aqualad added playfully.
"Yeah, well." The archer kicked at a small landscaping rock that had dared to invade the concrete walkway, searching for the right words. "And whatever that quack says, you're not a tyrannical bitch, Bee. You're just assertive, and it makes you a good leader."
Bumblebee flicked her wrist, smirking in a way that was almost coy. "Aw, shucks. Thanks, Flyboy."
"So, did we all fail the exam?" he asked, turning to the part of the booklet that described the encounter with Mas y Menos. Surprisingly, there wasn't anything written.
"Technically, no. The twins never got evaluated 'cause the language thing and all. Guess they'd figured we would have taught 'em some English after all this time."
Mas and Menos gave knowing smirks to one another. Just because they spoke strictly en Espanol didn't necessarily mean they couldn't understand it, but giving old guys the run-around could be fun.
Speedy frowned. "That still means three out of the five of us were deemed dysfunctional by that nut job. Doesn't the Mayor have to look at this and decide to keep funding us or not?"
"He's not gonna cut our state funding, trust me."
"You sound pretty sure about that."
Aqualad answered for Bumblebee, "We've cut the crime rate in half since we've started Titans East. The mayor isn't about to shut us down, especially not now."
"It's an election year, isn't it?"
"You got it." Aqualad pointed upwards, directing the gazes of his teammates. "Doesn't that cloud look exactly like the T.E. Ship?"
Plopped on the sofa, side by side, were Speedy and Aqualad. They were watching television (the Atlantean having taking control of the remote when Speedy's attention had turned to snacks), but the rare moment of civility was broken by the fact that they were each bandaged and patched up all over. Aqualad's leg had a brace, and Speedy's arm was in a sling.
Standing beside the couch, Jinx and Kid Flash were finding out why.
"So, hold on a minute." Jinx shifted all her weight to one foot and pointed at the boys with a carefully painted fingernail. "They did this to each other?"
Bumblebee pinched the bridge of her nose with her forefinger and thumb. "Yup. Evidentially it started after combat practice when Aqualed screwed with the water in Speedy's shower."
"No, it started when the jerk hid a bunch of fish filets in my sheets."
"Whatever!" Bee rolled her eyes and turned back towards Jinx and Kid Flash. "The problem started sometime after we became a team and before they learned any maturity. After a bunch of retaliation pranks, the two finally got into it after lunch one day, leading to this."
This time it was Kid Flash, raised eyebrow apparent regardless of the mask, who spoke up first. "So, the broken bones…?"
"Well, from what I can piece together, Speedy drew first blood. He launched an arrow at Aqualad, who dove to the pool but clipped the edge on his way in. Hence the band aid on his forehead."
There was an adhesive bandage just short of the Atlantean's hair line, but while it concealed an impressive cut it was nowhere near large enough to hide the obscenely dark bruise. Bumblebee continued.
"Speedy saw Aqualad head butt the side, so he ran to the pool to make sure he was okay."
"Next time I won't bother," the archer muttered. Aqualad elbowed him in the ribs.
"Aqualad, as I understand it, was more ticked than hurt, so when Speedy leant over the water he attacked. He swam up and overtook Speedy, got him by the arm, and pinned him to the floor. That's why Speedy's shoulder's on ice."
Bumblebee gently patted the icepack the redhead was clutching to his deltoid to accentuate the story. "Speedy wrestled out of Al's grasp, kneed him in the gut, then grabbed a Shock Arrow and zapped him while he was down."
Aqualad grunted, "Cheap shot."
"The electrocution made Al bite his tongue. Naturally, that hurt, so he gave Speedy an uppercut to push him back. See the crazy bruise on Speedy's chin? Well, Aqualad started to stand up, but Speedy kicked his legs out. Al fell kind of sideways, and that's how his knee got twisted up so bad. Cruciate ligament tore. Doctor said to stay off it entirely for at least a couple of weeks."
"Jeeze," said Jinx, almost feeling a pain in her own knee and itching to rub it. Kid Flash gave a long, hollow whistle.
"Needless to say, the adrenaline was pumping and Al didn't quite feel the effects of having his ACL ripped right away. In the heat of the moment he came back and threw Speedy into that wall over there, which is where Flyboy banged his elbow. By that time the Tower's combat sensors had triggered, and I was able to break up the fight. The next morning Speedy's elbow had swollen up so bad with blood and pus that we had to go back to the doctor to have it drained."
"I hate you," said Speedy.
Aqualad flipped the channel with the remote. "It's mutual."
Bumblebee clapped her hands and smiled at the Honorary Titans. "So Aqualad can't swim with his bum knee, and Speedy's arm is too sensitive for any archery. I asked Robin to find me a couple of warm bodies to come in and help, seeing as how my forerunners are out of the game for a while. Think you can handle it?"
The Speedster and the witch exchanged glances briefly before he gave a thumbs up. "No big deal. Fighting crime is kind of what we're about."
"Oh, I don't doubt you can handle protecting the city. Could probably do it single-handedly. No," Bumblebee stepped back, taking the archer and Atlantean back into her sights. "What I want to know is, can you help me stop these two from killing each other every ten minutes so that I can get some peace?"
Jinx crossed her arms. "Okay, but can we take bets on who would win? You know, just in case it does happen?"
"Have at it. I already put ten bucks on Aqualad with the twins."
"Hey!" Speedy snapped defensively.
So, I've got about two pages worth of drabble ideas for Titans East that I plan to write in no order or timeframe. XD For some reason this first chapter came out really doctor-orientated, so I might have a subconscious kink or something trying to slip out here. Regardless, I have fun writing these shorts, so expect to see more in the future.