Author's Note: This was done quickly, so I apologize in advance for typos and such...MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!! Heeeeee...!
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters from the Teen Titans show or comics.
"Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse…"
So the classical narrated story began, the sleepy, old-man's voice that always tends to be used for narrations blaring out from the huge screen used as the Titans' television. Cyborg was lazily sitting on the couch, and had been flipping through the channels for a good show, stopping when he heard the well-known sentence accompanied by sleigh-bell music. It really was Christmas Eve in the Titan Tower, and the elaborate decorations proved the fact—holly hung from the cabinets and furniture of the kitchen/entertainment room, lights blinking on and off inside the green thistles. Multi-colored lights framed the windows, fading on and off in unison with the same kind of lights placed outside the building. Pots of poinsettia arrangements were sitting in various places throughout the lounging room and on the counters of the kitchen, attended by small, stuffed-Santa or reindeer dolls.
But Cyborg's pride of the decorations had long remained in the massive, at least ten-foot-tall Christmas tree set up at one end of the couch, by the wall of windows for all to see. Its pine needles splayed out in an almost arrogantly but still magnificent way, a nice deep-green color. Numerous ornaments hung from the tree, reflecting the light of the room in multitudes of color, with the occasional personal, picture-taken ornament here or there. Lights wrapped around the tree dazzled the eyes, both old-fashioned white and festive red and green. Silver tinsel was draped elegantly around the tree, giving a bit of formal touch. A simple, silver-and-gold angel in lace and feathers topped everything off, and was Cyborg's favorite piece of decoration. It had taken him and Robin hours in local forests to find a tree that both Starfire and Beast Boy agreed upon, Cyborg another hour to cut it down, and yet another two or three to get the tree back to the Tower unscathed. Cyborg had gladly placed the final decoration, the angel, on top—even though he had really only been asked to because he was the tallest and Starfire couldn't figure out how to place the angel.
All the hours spent decorated the Tower for Christmas had been exhausting; but the fond memories of teetering ladders while friends tried to catch you, games of throw-the-tinsel-as-hard-and-fast-as-you-can-in-each-other's-faces, and exclamations of wonder at the finish made up for the effort exerted. And for the record, there really wasn't another place any of the Titans would be than with their fellow teammates for Christmas, whether they were the least excited or most excited about the holidays, that Cyborg was sure of.
"NO STARFIRE! THE TOP! THE—" Robin's terrified voice broke into Cyborg's reminiscent thoughts and caused him to snap his head around just as the roar of a blender massacred the peaceful mood of the Tower. Knowing exactly what was going to happen next, Cyborg threw himself flat on the sofa, hands covering his head just as yellow-tan sludge flew all over the room, splattering on the walls, cabinets, and the back of the couch. Cyborg stayed in his position until the sounds of struggling, yells, screams, and the noise of the blender suddenly halted, replaced by complete silence—excluding the continuation of narrating from the television show. Cautiously, Cyborg finally lifted his head over the back of the sofa to view the scene in front of him with wide eyes.
Starfire had insisted she and Robin cook Christmas cookies earlier in the day, pressuring him until he had given in about two hours ago—minutes before, Cyborg had thought they had been doing an alright job, basing his opinions on the constant stream of happy conversation, giggles and chuckles breaking in every once in awhile, and the pleasant scent of baking sugar and gingerbread dough eventually filling the room. Now, however, all previous successfulness had seemed to fly out the window: and quite literally, too. In the middle of the kitchen, on one side of the counter island, stood a stunned-looking Starfire, covered from head to toe in a sludgy, yellowish substance. She was holding a blender, also covered in the sludge, one finger still hovering above the on button. Directly across from her, Robin also stood in a shocked silence, covered in the same fashion. The sludge was dripping off the counters and cabinets around the two, forming puddles or slowly inching down vertical surfaces. Small spots of the substance had caught on fire, the result of landing on the stove where water was boiling in the preparations of hot coca. The neatly-edged shapes of finished cookies were buried in the sludge, as well as unused ingredients on the counters. Cyborg glanced at the back of the couch, not extremely surprised to find the same yellow sludge from the blender splattered there, too—some had even managed to reach to television screen.
At that moment, Raven decided to casually walk out of the living quarters in search of herbal tea; she froze in mid-step through the door, her eyes widening like Cyborg's had as she took in the damage. Barely jumping out of the way before the automatic doors slid shut on her foot, Raven asked in her famous monotone voice but with the slightest twitch of her lips, "So…dare I ask what the hell happened?"
Robin and Starfire suddenly seemed to snap back to themselves at the question, Robin rubbing the sludge off his face with a slightly disgusted look, as Starfire hurriedly sat down the blender and clutched her hands behind her back with a weak laugh. "I must say I am still learning certain aspects of your living…" she stated with a nervous smile.
Raven noticed as Starfire had set down the blender a square, navy-blue plastic top that seemed to perfectly fit the bared top of the blender. Raven looked from the blender top, to the blender, to Starfire, and back again; and just as she realized what exactly had happened, Cyborg broke into an uncontained, wild fit of hysterical laughter.
Robin shook his head at Cyborg and chuckled himself as he reached over and patted a sheepish-looking Starfire on the shoulder. "It's okay, Star," he started, grinning. "Everyone learns lessons one way or another. Just no more eggnog milkshakes for you…" Starfire giggled helplessly, and began to wipe some of the would-be eggnog milkshake off her face, too.
Raven smiled slightly at her friends, Cyborg still laughing, then noted one face was missing from the room—and come to think of it, she hadn't seen him all afternoon.
"Hey," she asked to anyone in general, making her way into the kitchen. "Has anyone seen Beast Boy?"
Grabbing a towel from the sink to begin cleaning up, Robin shrugged. "Actually, no, I haven't…" He paused thoughtfully. "I haven't seen him since seven o'clock or so."
"Yeah," Cyborg said through dying laughter, "he left and told me wouldn't be back until later in the night…"
"Friend Beast Boy didn't inform me where he was going, either," Starfire added cheerfully. Raven nodded solemnly—she began to wonder where he could've gotten to, then mentally shrugged the thought away. He had been late out before on previous Christmas Eves. It wasn't her business…though, she reasoned, it was getting closer to eight at night. Gazing around at her friends, she decided what she would do for Christmas Eve: she hated cooking unless it involved fixing tea, she hated watching most television shows, even the 'classical' Christmas ones, and she was pretty sure she didn't have any last-minute wrapping to do, seeing as she had bought the four gifts she needed two weeks in advance and they were already under the tree. That meant only one time-consuming thing was left to do.
Raven turned suddenly back the way she came, earning a look from Cyborg. "And where are you heading, missy?"
Raven glowered at the context regarding her, and Cyborg hunkered down quickly. "I have stuff to do," she answered plainly, disappearing through the door. Staring after her for a minute, Cyborg snorted and turned back to the television, Starfire and Robin now laughing pleasantly as they cleaned up the mess that had been made.
Back inside the safety of her own room, Raven paced back and forth, searching for reasonable places Beast Boy might be this time of night, on Christmas Eve. Buying last-minute gifts was a possibility, though Raven was positive she had heard him telling Cyborg all his shopping was done yesterday…he could always be off doing something stupid, like playing videogames at the local arcade or something, but to Raven, Beast Boy didn't seem like the type of guy who would be there instead of home the night before Christmas. Raven ran through a couple of other possibilities, but decided against all of them. Sighing, she resolved to go with the easy way as she reached inside her cloak for her communicator, flipping it open. Quickly she punched Beast Boy's code, waiting for a moment while the system found Beast Boy's coordinates. That's weird, she thought, tucking her communicator away. He's somewhere downtown—most places there are closed already.
A few minutes later, Raven emerged once again from the door into the kitchen/entertainment room—and to the surprise of her teammates as the turned at the sound of the door sliding open again, she wasn't clad in her combat outfit. Instead, she wore a pair of black jeans and a pair of brand-new looking white sneakers, a blue winter coat zipped up and black gloves. Annoyed at the looks all three were giving her, Raven stiffly stated what she had come to say: "I'm going to look for Beast Boy, does anyone want to come with me?"
Robin was the first to return to what he had been doing before Raven entered the room, dumping a paper towel full of eggnog-junk down the sink. "Sorry, Rae, but I think it's best I stay back and finish this business first," he said, waving his hand at the half sludge-free kitchen.
Starfire nodded. "And I as well, Raven."
Raven looked towards Cyborg, who grimaced. "Have to say no this time, Raven—if I take one step outside, my joints will be creaking for a week, no kidding."
"Right," Raven said shortly as she walked towards the door that would take her down and out of the Tower. "See you later." Her voice was hard as Raven left the others behind, but inside she was satisfied—she had felt obligated to ask, but truthfully she hadn't known what she would've done if one of them had accepted her offer.
As the doors clicked shut behind her, the three remaining Titans shared knowing smiles, grins, and chuckles before returning to their respective activities.
"Thank you, thanks..."
"Yes, right over here sir...!"
"Merry Christmas, everybody!"
"Timothy, be CAREFUL with those boxes—!"
"Final run starts tomorrow at nine, ma'am, so any time tonight would be fine."
"Oh! OH! Ohohohohohoh—DAMN BOXES!"
"Cynthia! Watch your damn mouth!"
"The boxes slipped! Why are they so shitty this year?!"
"Your DAMN MOUTH, please!"
"Both of you watch your mouths!"
Beast Boy inhaled the scent of Christmas cheer deeply—well, more like the scent of pine, snow, sweat, cardboard, paint, a hint of sugar cookies and peppermint from the refreshment table, and styrofoam—savoring it as he watched the multitude of people bustling about in front of him. Long tables were set up all over the room with crates and boxes full of donated, wrapped toys behind them, and volunteers as well as employees sat at the tables tallying and detailing as each new gift was dropped into a crate. Others ran around moving boxes already full further into the background or out to the back of the building where Beast Boy knew trucks would be loaded and then driven off to their deemed destinations. Groups of laughing people strolled in and out of the doors Beast Boy had just come in through, either with arms full of even more gifts or with arms already emptied. Above, a decorated and painted banner reading "Alboit's Orphanage Christmas Toy Drive" hung. Every year, the orphanage rented out the space they were currently in for Christmas Eve and stayed open through Christmas morning until the final toy-runs and deliveries left at nine o'clock. The Alboit's Orphanage Christmas Toy Drive had been Jump City's single largest toy drive for the past three years.
...And it was where Beast Boy had spent his past three Christmas Eves.
"Ah, Beast Boy!!"
And the sound of his name, Beast Boy turned with a grin on his face, slipping of his gloves and hat. "Miss Gloria! Merry Christmas!"
The short, plump brunette around thirty that was approaching him smiled as the edges of her hazel eyes crinkled in happiness and the bell on the end of the red Santa-helper hat she was wearing jingled. "I'm so glad you could make it! We've been absolutely swamped this year!"
"Since when have wenot been swamped, Miss Gloria?" Beast Boy teased as Gloria stopped in front of him, clutching her clipboard and walkie-talkie. "It does seem a bit busier, though."
Gloria chuckled. As head of the orphanage and therefore the whole toy operation, she would know whether it was busy by "a bit" or not. And it wasn't—it was busier by a whole lot compared to the other years. "I had to put even Nikki and Cynthia to work! But I guess it's good, you know—we've never had so many presents before, so the kids'll get even more, in addition to our other runs! They'll be pleased about that."
Beast Boy's eyes twinkled. "Speaking of the kids...?"
Miss Gloria's smile grew louder. "Yes, they just went outside a second ago to wait for you—probably just as you walked in, now that I think about it."
"Right!" Beast Boy slipped his gloves and hat back on. "I'll head on out then, and we'll be back in an hour or two to help with the gifts."
"Don't let them misbehave, now," Gloria called after Beast Boy as he went through the doors again—he waved his hand to let her know he had heard. She sighed happily and shook her head dotingly. That boy, giving his Christmas Eve to be here—and the kids loved him so much! Yes, he was a gift, that one...
Every year consisted of the same thing: Beast Boy arrived at the toy drive, chatted with Miss Gloria, then went outside with the kids from the orphanage to sing carols for a while, and then headed back inside to help with the drive when the kids were driven back to the orphanage—he usually got back to the Tower around half-past eleven. The second part of the volunteer job was his favorite part, of course.
Beast Boy felt rather than saw the smaller boy collide with him and more or less tackle him, and found himself laughing. He rustled the ball of curly blond hair buried into his waist as the boy hugged him fiercely. "Geez, Todd, you a bulldozer or something now?"
Out of the corner of his eye, Beast Boy saw the previously huddling and chattering mass of kids that had been right outside the building's doors shift and look towards him at the sound of his voice. Gasps of "It's Beast Boy!" and "Beast Boy! Beast Boy's here!" reached his ears as the kids hurried over, laughing and smiling. Soon he was surround by the kids, all saying hello and waving enthusiastically.
"Hey everybody! Merry Christmas!" he called to the small crowd of children. They were all under thirteen—the older ones were inside, helping with the drive—and Beast Boy recognized most of the faces from years past although they were either older or taller. There were some new faces, of course, as there were every year. Todd was still glued to his side.
"Merry Christmas Beast Boy!" they chorused back, several of the girls giggling.
"Okay, so first order of business," Beast Boy began. The kids quieted down and instantly scampered around to get in three rows, as they had been instructed to do by Miss Gloria once Beast Boy showed up. Todd reluctantly detached himself from Beast Boy's side and went to his place on the first row with an encouraging nod from the green teen. Several passersby gave the teen hero and group of kids an interested, curious look at the activity—some slowed down as they passed, and some even stopped. Beast Boy smiled mischievously. "Who's the coolest superhero of them all?!"
"Beast Boy!" the kids cheered.
"Batman!" a lone voice shrieked belatedly. The gathering group of onlookers laughed quietly. Beast Boy's eyebrow twitched.
"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," he growled, but not unkindly, to the boy of ten basking in the disturbance his unorthodox cry had caused. Then, focusing on the whole group—of some who were snickering, the little traitors—he called, "Okay, dudes, whaddaya wanna sing first?"
"Rudolph!" some girl shouted, jumping. Tabitha, Beast Boy thought.
"Yeah, yeah!Rudolph!!" a couple more kids agreed.
Beast Boy furrowed his brow in mock thought. "Hmmm, I'm afraid I don't remember that one..." The kids looked horrified. "Wasn't it about some crocodile...?"
Beast Boy swiftly shifted to a foot-long crocodile, earning a few gleeful shrieks and gasps from the kids, and some chuckles and gasps from the folks that had stopped and gathered around.
"Noooo!" Tabitha wailed. "Not a crocodile!"
Beast Boy shifted back. "Huh. An ostrich, maybe?"
A green ostrich popped into existence.
"Noooo!" more kids joined in with Tabitha.
Beast Boy shifted back to himself. "I dunno, dudes, you're gonna hafta help me out with this one!"
Todd took the cue: "Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer..."
Soon the little choir of orphans was singing through the carol to the delight of strangers and friends alike passing by, Beast Boy leading them.
Raven gawked from across the street, not sure whether to be surprised or not at the sight that had greeted her when she'd finally located Beast Boy's whereabouts in person. It was pretty in character for him, she guessed, because it looked like he was having the time of his life...but then again she would've never guessed he'd be having the time of his life singing "O Come, All Ye Faithful" with a bunch of kids...!
And this was the third carol she'd heard them sing.
When Raven had started down the street twenty-five minutes before, she'd heard the little choir of kids going at it amidst the flurry of last-minute shoppers and smiled a bit. She had to do a double-take when she had heard an extremely familiar voice shouting jokes and encouragement over the caroling as she passed the kid-carolers by on the opposite side of the street. Pausing by a lamppost, Raven had simply watched Beast Boy conduct the kids and perform his crazy antics of cheer for a while before pulling out her communicator to make sure he was really standing across the street from her. He was dressed in jeans, sneakers and a pale green jacket and hat, red scarf hanging loosely around his neck.
Raven sniggered silently. He looked like an elf.
After listening to the caroling for a moment longer, however, Raven frowned slightly—caroling was great and all, but why hadn't Beast Boy invited anyone else along? Caroling was a family and friend thing, right? Not like Raven cared or anything, but still...
And then she noticed the banner hanging above the kids' heads, and understanding hit Raven like a brick.
So they're all orphans, she thought, scanning the glowing faces of the kids. They looked like they ranged from ages five to fourteen or so, but they all looked happy for the moment. Raven's gaze switched from the kids to the back of her teammate's head. Beast Boy...
All of a sudden, forest green eyes met her startled stare as if her mental call had been heard. What...?
It was then Raven noticed that they hadn't been caroling for the past minute and instead most of the kids were clamoring around a lady who had just pushed her way out the doors, a tray full of what looked like cups of steaming hot cocoa. And one of the kids, around seven or so with a head of curly blond hair was pointing directly at her.
Before Raven could react, a grinning Beast Boy was jogging across the street, leaving the kids behind as they grabbed hot chocolate. Raven hid a grimace. While she had wanted to find out what Beast Boy was doing, that hadn't meant she really had wanted to confront him.
"Raven!" Beast Boy repeated slightly breathlessly as he came to a halt in front of her. "What're you doing here?"
Raven debated with herself for a second before telling the truth. "Looking for you." She shrugged. "Robin and Starfire made a mess in the kitchen, Cyborg was watching television, and I was bored." She glared at Beast Boy as if daring him to declare her reason illegitimate.
He just grinned more, a teasing light in his eyes. "Well, glad you found me?"
Raven's left eye twitched. She decided to ignore the comment. "So...an orphanage toy drive?"
Beast Boy's expression mellowed some. "Yeah," he laughed sheepishly. "If you're wondering where I am come Christmas Eve, this is probably your best bet."
"Why didn't you ever tell us?"
Beast Boy shrugged. "No one ever asked, and well—a lot of these kids are in the kind of situation I was in at their age. Except I didn't get quite as many presents as they do with the help of this drive. Coming down here, it's become a kind of personal traditional for me."
Raven stiffened some. "Ah, I see. Well, I was just curious. Guess I'll see you back at the Tower?" She turned to leave.
"Huh? What? No way you're leaving now!" Raven felt a pair of gloved fingers gripping her own as she was pulled around to face the green prankster. Her heart skipped a beat, and she found herself not five inches from Beast Boy's dancing eyes as he hooked an arm around her shoulders and switched the other from her hand to her waist, leading her across the street. "I'm gonna prove to the world the infamous Raven's stoic Christmas spirit can be broken with some hot chocolate and caroling!"
Raven sputtered, a faint pink tinge spreading across her cheeks—and not from the cold. "Beast Boy, I—"
"Plus," Beast Boy leaned his head in closer. He smelled like fresh pine. "I want you to meet somebody—the kid that let me know you were here. His name's Todd, I met him around three years ago when he ran away from the orphanage." Beast Boy smiled softly. "We're pretty good buddies now—and he got me introduced to everyone at the orphanage so I could help out there like I do now."
Raven looked at Beast Boy's joyful face and the kids laughing and chatting in the cool night. Todd came up to them as they stepped up onto the curve, sipping his hot chocolate, and a couple girls gasped at who their green choir director was towing in by the waist. She felt her mouth tug at their awed, excited faces.
"I guess a couple songs wouldn't hurt."