While it's not a strict requirement to enjoy the story, your reading pleasure will most likely be enhanced if you've already seen the Courage the Cowardly Dog episode 'Freaky Fred.'

Aborted Haircuts (and What Came After)

Reading a fantastical and morbid tale of cosmic horrors from beyond time and space turning human infants into fungus embryos, Raven was quite at peace with the world except for a vague wondering in the back of her head what 'gibbering' meant. Oh, not what it meant as a word, she'd known that since she was seven. But she had never in her life heard of a sound that she woud have described as a gibber. Other sounds commonly used as evocations of the range of human suffering, she was well familiar with. Screams, yells, and howls she heard almost daily from sad defeated criminals. Hollers, hoots, shouts. Cackles and babbles and mumbles and mutters, and even the occasional titter, usually from Starfire or Cyborg. But a gibber? No clue what it sounded like, what it was supposed to evoke in her mind. It took her out of the story, irritated her away from the atmosphere and the mental imagery, and there were few things she hated quite so much as being taken out of a good story.

And then Beast Boy came back from his haircut at the mall, gibbering.

She ceased to wonder.

"So that's what it sounds like," she muttered to herself while observing his rather interesting new complexion, a pale lime green. It didn't look too healthy. And the way his pupils seemed to swallow up the rest of his eyes definitely wasn't a good sign. "I see you managed to weasel your way out of getting your hair cut again," she observed politely. "Robin's going to buzzcut you if you keep up making excuses like this."

"I d-didn't w-weas, weas-sel my way o-out of it, Rov, Riv, R-Rav... Raven!" It would have been an indignant snap, except he was too busy being freaked out. Or pretending to be. Who knew what harebrained scheme he'd concocted this time to avoid sitting still in a chair and listening to low-key country pop music for thirty minutes. He looked straight at her, and his eyes seemed to stare through her, like a war veteran's. "I-it was, w-was awf, awful," he whispered intensely.

"So you didn't like any of the pictures in the magazine? You could just ask them to trim it a little, you know. They wouldn't do anything too drastic with your image."

"YOU HAVE NO IDEA!" Beast Boy shrieked piercingly, and she jumped at it, dropping her book. "DRASTIC?! YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THAT GUY WAS GONNA DO T'ME!"

"What is wrong with you?"

His hands sunk into her shoulders so tight that she felt the tips of his claws through his gloves.

"This barber guy is, is, super FREAKY," he hissed with deadly seriousness. Of course, he used the same serious tone when talking about how the best spell in Castlevania was cast by pressing left right right-down down down-left left right square... and why did she remember that, exactly? Ugh. That nugget was taking up valuable storage space in her brain that she could be using for worthwhile information. "He's, like, his hair... and his eyes... and his MOUTH, ohmiGAWD Raven, it's like a jacko, one of those pumpkins at Hollo... you know!"

"I do?" she replied dryly. "Personal. Space. Now," she continued more seriously. "Take exactly two steps back from me, count to ten, and calm down and tell me what happened."

It was a little entertaining how the changeling immediately obeyed, like a pet dog. If that thought ever got over into Beast Boy's ears, though, he'd hate her for it, which stole some of the pleasure of the sight from her. But only some.

"I went to the place at the mall to get my hair cut like Robin told me to," Beast Boy started once he'd gotten himself relatively calmed down, brushing a bang of hair off his forehead idly. "And they had a new guy there, and all the other barber people were busy, so I had to take the new dude."

"Okay. And something about him... upset you," Raven put delicately. In mild fascination, she watched as his pupils contracted into tiny pinpoints and then expanded again to panic size. Okay, so it was nothing compared to her eyeball party trick, but still, it was interesting.

"He, and, th-..." Beast Boy babbled, trying to start three separate sentences all at once with accompanying frantic gestures, then stilled himself with a visible effort, taking a breath. "Okay, he has this really big smile, right? I mean, huge, like, Godzilla-sized! His face is like the anti-Slade of creepy evil. It's totally like the smile that ate Manhatten! And, and and, he never stops smiling! At least, as long as I was there, and I was there for a whole ten minutes or something, and he didn't stop smiling ever!"

"I see. Excuse me for just a second, I need to ask Robin something." She turned on her communicator. "Robin? That Joker crook's still in Gotham, right?"

Before she could blink, Robin somehow broke multiple laws of physics and traversed four floors of the tower in a flash, coming to a sudden, cape-swooshing halt barely a foot behind her, leaning over her shoulder and radiating an intensity that did not mesh at all well with Beast Boy's current jitteriness.

One of Raven's eyebrows twitched without her volition.

"He's supposed to still be in Arkham, but there've been decoys before. Has there been a sighting?"

"No, no, dudes, he's nothing like that clown dude," Beast Boy explained hastily, waving one arm negligently. Well, at least that was one less worry. And still left the conundrum of Beast Boy's mysterious barbershop scare to ponder over. "He didn't have makeup, and his hair was all blond and, kinda poofy, but not in a black way, you know? Not like afro-y. Just..." Beast Boy's fingers spread and expanded outwards in imitation of a violent, spiky explosion.

"So you were terrified of getting a haircut because the barber was cheerful and had strange hair?" Raven clarified skeptically, mostly for Robin's sake. Their leader jumped into the fray directly, saving her the burden of further interrogation.

"Beast Boy, I told you, we have to keep ourselves presentable for the press, and I'm tired of you trying to get out of-"

"YOU DON'T GET IT!" Beast Boy screeched, worked back up into a frenzy, arms jerking in the air spasmodically. "HE SPOKE TO ME IN MY BRAINS, DUDES! HE VIOLATED THE PRIVATE SPACE OF MY INNER THOUGHTY-NESS!"

"He... spoke to you... in your... brains..." Raven repeated slowly in a deadpan, inwardly pained.

"You mean, telepathically?" Robin asked.

"YES! Dudes, you get it now! It was totally telepathical! And, and it wasn't like he even knew he was doing it, it was like he was talking to himself, but I could hear! And and and he talked about doing some really..."

Beast Boy stopped talking.

"Yes?" Robin and Raven demanded simultaneously, sharing annoyance at the pause.

The shapeshifter leaned closer to them. "He talked about being... naughty with me..." he whispered, eyes the exact same as a cat's after being sprayed with a hose.

It was Robin and Raven's turn to be quiet, then.

"...wow," Raven finally said, pulling her hood very, very securely up over her head. That settled it, then. Beast Boy wasn't just trying to get out of a haircut. This was way too... freaky... for even their notoriously irresponsible prankster to try.

His mood snapped back to pseudo-normal. "Please, guys, I swear I'll get a haircut! I'll, I'll even let Cy do it if you want! But please please please please please, don't make me go back to that barber place in the mall! That guy scares the crap outta me!"

Robin and Raven exchanged looks. She knew what he was asking her without needing to hear the words. "It could be a latent psychic subconsciously projecting," she said carefully.

"Worth checking out, then," Robin concluded. "Titans..."

"Oh no. Please, no, don't make me go back there and look at that huge freaking smile again, please, Robin, have mercy..."

"Titans, we're going on a trip to the mall!" Robin pronounced firmly.

Beast Boy fell to his knees and sobbed.

Raven let out a breath. "We've fought worse. I'll get the others."

--

The hard part was figuring out how to pry a green cat off of the ceiling. And then pry it off of her. And then pry it off of Cyborg and Robin. Finally when the pathetically scared shapeshifter latched with all four limbs onto Starfire, he was trapped. Starfire just beamed and petted him while murmuring soothing words in Tamaranian, completely undiscomforted by the claws clinging tightly to her orange flesh. And in that fashion, Beast Boy was transported along with the rest of them to the barber shop wherein lurked the questionable character of the day.

Raven knew better than to ask the question 'How bad could it be?' Even in her head.

"C'mon, it's just a haircuttery guy with maybe some accidental head talking power," Cyborg said confidently while pushing open the glass door into the building and holding it for the rest of them. "How bad could it be?"

A sigh escaped her lips as she drifted through last. A pity not everyone on the team was as genre-savvy as her. She caught Beast Boy's frenzied, large-pupiled cat eyes staring at her meaningfully over Star's shoulder, and decided she wasn't the only one aware that Cyborg had just jinxed it.

"I could use a trim anyway, so we'll use that as an initial excuse to get closer to this guy. We'll keep a watch and wait for anything strange to happen, and if worst comes to worst, we can bring Beast Boy out and see if that provokes him into doing anything," Robin said in a low tone while they walked to the shop, doing their best to look busy and professional to avoid too many swarming fans. Except for Starfire, who divided her team evenly between listening to Robin intensely, trying with great lack of success to calm down Beast Boy-Cat, and giving anyone who pointed at her huge smiles and little waves.

It made Raven slightly nauseous.

"Stop encouraging them," she grumbled quietly in the alien-warrior's ear. "I am not stopping to sign any autographs today."

Fortunately for her, and unfortunately for Beast Boy, the barber shop was only a minute of walking away. They peered in through the large glass windows, trying to get a hint of anything suspicious. Save, of course, for Beast Boy, who hid underneath a bench, fur sticking out all over. For someone who could turn into a t-rex, he really could be quite a wuss.

"There appears to be no one hearing unusual second voices in their heads," Starfire opined.

"Beast Boy, can you point him out?" Robin asked. "I'm not sure which one he-"

Then one of the men in the shop turned around, and all four Titans stopped what they were doing to stare. Beast Boy, meanwhile, cowered, and for once Raven couldn't entirely blame him.

"Happy fellah," Cyborg commented on the watermelon slice-sized smile that seemed fixed on the blonde man's face. Closer observation didn't make things any prettier... the hair was shockingly wild and disarrayed, and stuck out all over... the eyes were a vaguely putrescent shade of green... and, true to Beast Boy's description, the disturbing smile never left the man's face. "Eep! He's looking at me, guys, what do I do?" Cyborg hissed frantically, so painfully unsubtly that Raven had to repress the urge to hold her head in her hands.

Starfire gave a cute little finger wave at the man (whose nametag proclaimed him 'Fred'), who finger waved back in exactly the same way. Rather than comforting any of them, the gesture only seemed to make the whole situation seem... freakier. Raven gave Robin a meaningful nudge.

Their 'brave' leader started. "Ah! Uh, right, right. Titans, I'm going in. For a quick trim. Keep an eye on everything, okay? I'll be in a vulnerable position..."

All of a sudden, Beast Boy was back in humanoid form and clinging to Robin tightly. "Don't do it, dude! That dude, he'll do... something!"

"Like what?" Robin asked reasonably.

"...I don't know! But he'll do something!" Beast Boy insisted.

"It's an open room with huge glass windows. There's almost a dozen other people in there. And I'll be on my guard, don't worry."

Beast Boy shut his eyes, radiating an air of impending doom. "Don't say I didn't warn you. 'Cause I so totally warned you."

Against her better judgement, Raven chimed in. "I should at least go with you to meet him. Just in case he is a psychic, I'll have the best chance of picking up his messages. If they're weak, it's understandable that normal people wouldn't hear anything. Beast Boy's mind is like an open book, and I've got the arcane training for things like this."

"Aww, thanks, Raven." Beast Boy smiled with misplaced, nervous gratitude.

"That wasn't a compliment."

"It wasn't? But you like books!"

"Yes, but... ugh, nevermind."

The confrontation was almost disappointingly mundane, with their grinning suspect meeting them straight away at the sign in counter. "Good afternoon," he greeted them with a voice that was incongruously both cheery and ominous. I'm afraid we're very full today, but I'd be happy to service one of you while the other waits."

Robin looked at her meaningfully, and she shrugged and gave a small shake of her head. No telepathic messages that she could hear, at any rate.

"I'm just here to browse," Raven explained, immediately burying herself in a shelf of shampoos and conditions, while keeping a lookout on their target in her peripheral vision. Robin chatted a little more with the man, signed in at the clipboard, and headed off to get his overly gelled hair cut. Raven's eyes quickly glazed over at the incredible variety of hair accessories she had little to no interest in, but kept to her post. Unbelievable, that Beast Boy was making them go to all this trouble just to keep tabs on an eccentric barber. The man probably just took too much caffeine or something. And Beast Boy had undoubtedly conjured the 'naughty' voice out of his own perverse imagination. Teenage boys were so undisciplined, it was infuriating.

Before Robin had done more than gotten two scissor snips, though, the tower's computer linked to their communicators notified them of yet another petty crime that the police couldn't handle. Okay, so it was apparently an evil mime blocking traffic, but still. Crime was crime and there was no telling Robin to take a break and get a haircut. She had to jerk the freaking smock off him, he was so intent on rushing to save the day.

"This'll have to wait. We'll come back another time," Robin announced firmly, half to his barber, half to her. "And I haven't seen anything strange about this guy anyway, unless you count his looks," he said more lowly, to her alone. She nodded in agreement. There'd been absolutely no signs of anything supernatural going on here, and the mall music was giving her a migraine.

"Oh, but we have scarcely begun!" the barber called out after them forlornly, hands clasped. "To halt a job so unfinished leaves me feeling quite diminished."

And ever so slightly...naaauuughtyyy.

Raven, more than a dozen paces out of the shop, turned and looked back suspiciously, but the barber had already gone about to other business. She had to have imagined that. Beast Boy was getting to her.

Nevertheless, as she turned her back on the barbershop again, she kept to an even brisker pace than Robin expected. Something about that guy was definitely a little freaky.

--

The so-called criminal was taken care of in short order after Cyborg had the bright idea of miming that the mime was all tied up. Either bound by his own powers turned against him, or simply psychologically incapable of resisting the urge to play along, the offender had submitted quietly, and been hauled off before any serious damage was caused. All in all, Raven cosidered it a reasonable day. As ridiculous as the guy had been, at least he'd been quiet.

Nevertheless, by the time they finished up, the barbershop was closed, and they all had no recourse but to return home and explore haircut-related doom another time. Left to their own devices, the Titans drifted: Starfire to cook, Cyborg to fix a ceiling panel, Beast Boy to gibber in his room, Robin to (of course) train, and herself to read a trashy teen romance novel inside a less trashy leatherbound Victorian romance novel and hope no one caught on. Happily left alone, for once, to enjoy her story, she sank into soap operatic bliss for uncounted hours before finally stirring. Might as well work out a little to appease her inner Robin. All play and no work made Raven a crow, or something along those lines, undoubtedly. So she abandoned her two books and floated amiably casually down towards the gymnasium. Just a little light workout, nothing intense... some dual-object telekinesis, a little basic cardiovascular. Robin could help out if he was still there, maybe.

Her train of thought was broken by the distinct feeling that prodded up against her mind, oily shivering tendrils of fear, shame, and anger. Only a moment's pause, and she instantly put her telekinesis to serious use, catapulting herself along at a dizzying speed. No way had the sensation come from anyone other than Robin, she could feel it. He was still in the gymn, and something had happened. Something bad. Pushing down countless paranoid worries as irrational and unhelpful, she prepared herself for a fight, one hand drifting down to her communicator in case she needed to call the others.

Kicking doors open loudly was for amateurs. She phased herself through, with night-black tentacles waving and four eyes aglow, using some minor audible magic to add an extra chittering sound effect for good measure.

All wasted.

Robin was alone, tied very thoroughly to one of the many foldup chairs the gymn housed. His belt was removed, hanging uselessly nearby over a set of weights. His mouth was tightly gagged. His eyes were still hidden behind the mask, but seemed to be staring widely in total horror. His expression was slack and still, almost despairing. His entire demeanour was of one who had been completely blindsided by sudden horror, as though he had just been raped or watched someone suddenly eat a live puppy.

He was bald.

The situation took a few seconds to sink into Raven's brain and really solidify itself there. In the total bewilderment of her mind, the impossible made itself real, and out of it her emotions gathered together, talked it over, and came up with a single overwhelming and uncharacteristic reaction.

Raven started laughing.

She caught herself almost instantly, and tried to stop, even clutching her mouth with both hands, but she couldn't! It was just too ludicrous for words! Only making it all seem funnier still was how Robin started making very indignant and very indecipherable sounds through his gag.

"I, I, I, I, I'm so-sorryyyyyy," she sputtered out between laughs, shaking helplessly. "Wh-what in the na, the name of Az-Azeroth h-happened to y-you?!"

More uninterpretable noises.

She relieved him of the gag with a negligent wave of her hand and used her other limb to lean against the wall, breathing heavily and choking back further giggles.

"THAT BARBER VIOLATED MY SCALP!"

Raven clutched the wall desperately, almost choking on her own laughter.

"IT'S NOT FUNNY! THIS MAN IS A SERIOUS THREAT!"

"I, I'm sure h-he is, R-Robin," she managed to get out, "for someone who sp-spends as much time on his h-hair as you do... or d-did, hahah!"

"Raven," Robin said in a deadly calm voice, "you are going to untie me right now. Then you are going to help me find this deranged madman and put him in jail. He's probably still nearby, he was talking about shaving the others too!"

The thought of impending threat, such as it was, to the rest of the team managed to snap Raven out of her uncharacteristic giggle fit. The mantle of superhero, not to mention teenage girl defending her home and friends from a mad (if technically harmless) intruder, descended upon her psyche comfortingly, the mental equivalent of doning armor for battle. She took a quick moment to assess the situation, then decided on a course of action.

"We'll just call everyone up on the communicators," she offered in a practical, soothing tone of voice. "He's just a normal person without any powers, right?"

"As far as I can tell. He had a small bag of barber equipment with him, and seems pretty fit, but that's all." Robin's typically grim mission expression was all the more comical by his newfound baldness. At least he still had his eyebrows.

She wouldn't smile.

She wouldn't.

"Okay. So there's no way he'll be able to hurt any of us once we're on guard, right? Nothing to worry about."

Her shiny-headed leader's expression relaxed, slowly, and he nodded in agreement. Raven watched the room's lights shine on his scalp in mild fascination. "You're right. He caught me by surprise, that's all. This won't happen to any of the others, as soon as we just let them know-"

Innerly cursing herself for doing so, Raven burst into snickers.

Robin glared in silent fury, teeth visibly grinding.

"I'm, I'm, I'm s-sorry," she stuttered, forcing herself back into a serious expression by a painfully strong effort of will, and very deliberately turning to face the door. "It's just hard to, uh... look at you."

"I'm going to inform the others," Robin told her with a voice that could bring molten lava to negative zero.

"Yes. Of course," she replied gravely. For a very, very brief instant, her cloak flickered pink.

"Titans? We have an intruder in the tower! Beast Boy was right about that barber, he's-"

An incredibly piercing and extremely feminine scream cut through the air, and Robin immediately forgot what he was doing. It could have been Cyborg screaming... they all knew he screamed like a girl... but Robin, of course, had other conclusions to protectively jump to.

"STARFIRE!" Communicator message forgotten in his panic, he rushed off in the direction the scream had come from, with seemingly supernatural speed. Maybe it was the shoes. Those things really were a lot more practical than hers, if less stylish.

"I could have just teleported him, but nooooo," she muttered, floating after at a slightly more dignified pace, unable to feel threatened by an overly-enthusiastic barber. It must be nice to be in love with someone that isn't an evil dragon tricking you into freeing him from his eternal prison, she decided. She hoped Starfire hadn't been rendered bald as well. Even she had to admit, those long locks of shiny red hair were prizes to be treasured. And Starfire's reaction would be even worse than Robin's. Far worse. And there would probably be... erp... girl bonding time... involved.

Please let Starfire not be bald, Raven prayed to no god, goddess, or spirit in particular. And if she is, please let me not have to give her a hug and a long talk about our feelings to make her stop crying.

Robin unerringly honed in on the scream's origin with commendable rapidity, and Raven was confronted with the sight of an eyebrowless but otherwise untouched Starfire, mumbling in what was presumably the Tamaranian equivalent of gibbering, limbs all aquiver and eyes wide and forlorn.

"I, I was merely attempting to acquire some of the closed eye," she explained to Robin-on-the-warpath with a pathetic damsel in distress tone, for someone who could punch through solid steel. "When I was awoken by a buzzing sound, and saw the person from the store of hair shortening standing over me and removing my eyebrows!" Catching up from her own distress to realize the present situation of Robin, it was amusing, for Raven at least, to watch the series of expressions that flickered through Starfire's face. Friendly ignorance was the one that became dominant, but Raven suspected that was more due to the wiles of the alien than any actual ignorance of the circumstances. If Starfire pretended she didn't understand, it would hurt Robin's pride less. She really was smarter than she let on. "Dear Robin, have you been joining friend Cyborg in ritualistic hair removal? It does do the showing off of your skull's curvature most pleasingly!"

"No, the barber got me too," Robin growled, cheeks red. "Where did he go?"

Starfire pointed. "He fled up the well of stairs."

And so the hunt continued, the three Titans taking a defensive triangular formation. Raven took point, at her own insistence, so she wouldn't have her concentration screwed up by looking at the bald leader or eyebrowless alien.

Before they'd gotten very far, they came across a turtle in the cul-de-sac used for laundry, hiding in its shell between a pile of boxers and a box of detergent.

"Beast Boy, the barber's in the tower, and-"

The changeling shifted back to his regular self just long enough to spill out a jumble of panicky verbiage before reverting back to turtle, not even looking at them. "I know, I heard! He's coming for me! I'm the one he really wants, with all my luscious green fluff!"

Bald or not, Robin was still Robin. "Beast Boy, you're going to treat this like any other villain we've faced and help us defeat him, understand? Get up and take the rear position."

The turtle shell jiggled, as if the turtle inside were shaking his head frantically. Sighing, Raven telekinetically pulled the turtle's head out and forced him to look at Robin, baldness and all. The shock of it predictably made Beast Boy flick back to himself again.

"OH MY GAWD! ROBIN!" The words and expression were of utter horror. "HE GOT YOU! I'M NEXT I'M NEXT OH GAWD NO! I NEED MY FUR, IT KEEPS ME WARM IN WINTER!"

The glares of three Titans cowed him into submission.

"Okay... okay, fine. I'll help. But I'm doin' this under extreme abscess, dudes."

"I believe you mean duress, friend Beast Boy," Starfire chirped. "And do not fear, we will all protect you from the most fearsome hair removing intruder!"

"Wow, getting your English corrected by Starfire," Raven commented. "A new low."

"Well excuuuuuse me if I happen to be distracted by my soon to be hairlessness!"

"At least you won't have fleas anymore."

"Hey, I do not have... oh. Huh. Okay. It's summer, gimme a break."

Before long, they locked in on their quarry, his lithe footsteps giving him away as he pranced onwards, presumably intent on finding a new victim. He was so fast, and so good at taking unpredictable turns, that even a cheetahed Beast Boy couldn't catch him... or maybe, Raven suspected darkly, that was just Beast Boy not trying very hard to close in on the threat. Naturally it came down to her to bypass obstacles directly, phasing through several walls, various random furniture, and one floor slash ceiling to corner the nimble hair-molesting villain.

"Jig's up," she announced firmly, having cornered him against a, well, corner. It was a bit disconcerting how little he seemed to care. "There's nowhere left to run to. Are you going to surrender, or do I have to make you?" Really, despite his... freaky... looks, he was a pathetic excuse for a bad guy. No powers, his only danger being towards something only the vain would care about. It was downright embarrassing that he'd caused this much trouble for the team. She'd hold it against Robin for weeks, if she weren't so sure Robin would be holding it against himself even longer.

Fred's absurdly huge grin widened, and she found herself staring in fascination at teeth longer than any human teeth should have been. "Why such hostility, my dear? Why, there's certainly naught to fear... I come only to bring good cheer!"

And to be a little... naaauuughtyyy.

Raven stiffened, repressing the urge to look around vainly. The first time, it could have been her imagination, but now... no, she'd definitely heard his voice in her heard. Apparently Beast Boy hadn't been the victim of an overactive imagination. "Stop doing that," she growled in what she hoped to be an intimidating voice. For good measure, she levitated a few chairs and a mop around her in a threatening formation. "Besides, it won't work on me. I'm not afraid of you. The only thing you do is hurt people's hair. I don't care about superficial things like that, so stop wasting your time!" Was she hearing little kids chanting 'lalalaLAlaaaala' in her head, now, too? That part had to be her imagination.

Fred shrugged and bobbed his head in an acquiescent sort of way. "Perhaps it is truly my fault that I am drawn to assault only the most superficial faults... but it makes me feel so free! And naaauuughtyyyy."

"Do you have to speak in rhyme all the time?" she snapped, then did a double take. Argh! He had her doing it now too!

With a surprisingly fast movement she wasn't prepared for, he whipped a steaming hot towel out from behind his back and flung it on her face. It was so hot that she fell back and clutched at her face in blind pain, losing her concentration, all her telekinetic missiles falling to the floor.

"No," he replied, still in that amiable tone, and she heard the distinctive brrrrzzzz of a buzzer turned on.

No. No way was she going to lose to a villain as pathetic as this! This was the sort of stupid, goofy one shot villain that Beast Boy had trouble with! She fought demons that were metaphors for her turmoil-filled struggle with inner sin! Losing to a crazy barber would be so... so... undignified! That and, well, she really did like her hair and didn't want the creep messing with it. The idea of getting a bad haircut filled her with just a twinge of fear over her self-image that she didn't know was possible for her to feel until now. That fear, naturally, expressed itself most readily as rage.

Or Rage, rather.

Four eyes a-glow with crimson wickedness, she burst up straight as a rod, disintegrating the annoying towel, and conjured up tentacles of the purest void to vanquish this arrogant little mortal who dared stand against the daughter of Trigon the Terrible for the most ridiculous of reasons.

But as she sent the tentacles to subdue him, something went... wrong. Something that had never, ever happened before. Her dark, demonic magic was somehow defeated by... a hair buzzer.

Fred simply buzzed through them like they were hair, the dismembered tentacles falling to the floor and vanishing into nothingness, with such precise skill and swiftness that her bewildered, shaky attempts to conjure more of them were cut down before she could recover.

She just stood there looking at him, gawking like an idiot.

"How the... but you... that doesn't even make any sense!" she babbled, feeling like a very young child trying to understand a complicated math problem she hadn't been told the rules for.

LalalaLAlaaala

LalalaLAlaaala

He stepped closer, shrugging.

And though her cowed demeanour

LalalaLAlaaala

Certainly did not become her

LalalaLAlaaala

I must confess that I gave her

LalalaLAlaaala

Not even a little bit of... mercy.

Between the distraction of the voices in her head and her complete bewilderment at the turn of events, she wasn't exactly sure how he did what he did after that. All she knew was, just a few moments later, her head felt colder. Much colder. And her hood was having trouble staying on...

She clutched at her skull, came to a realization, and shrieked, as much from horror as outrage.

"YOU SON OF A-" she snarled, but he waved his fingers at her and ran off before she could finish telling him all the terrible things she was going to do to him. "GET BACK HERE!" She zoomed after him with telekinetic aid, one hand stretched out as if to claw at him, the other desperately clutching at her hood to keep it from falling off her head.

He evaded her, and she wound up bumping into the others, knowing she couldn't hide her head forever, but totally unwilling to pull her hood down and get the revelation over with. Suffice to say, he'd escaped, the nut was still loose in the tower, what more did they need to know? Of course Robin kept prying into how a normal human being had managed to overcome someone of her abilities, and what ticked her off the most about it all was that she didn't even know! One four-eyed glare and he shut up about it, though.

As they searched floor after floor, Raven started to hope that Beast Boy, scared out of his mind as he was, would get victimized by the mad barber. The visions of a completely shaven, furless Beast Boy dancing through her head were mildly nauseating, but still, anything was better than him getting away unmaimed and mocking her for her new look until her hair grew out again! Maybe she could find a hair-growing spell. Or get a wig. A really, really expensive, realistic wig. Would he be able to smell the difference? Did hair have a different smell from wigs? What about wigs made from human hair? Argh! Never before had she realized how much she actually cared about how she looked.

As it turned out, they finally found Fred tied up in the garage, looking a little depressed, while Cyborg watched over him, chuckling.

"Man, I can't believe you guys had so much trouble with him. He just checked me out and gave himself in to the strong steel-forged hand of the law, straight up."

"No hair," Fred mumbled, seemingly to himself, distraught. "No hair to cut, no hair to buzz, no hair to snip and clip, alas. Our fun is over, dearest teens. I was no match for Cyborg, it seems." He turned his head exactly one hundred and eighty degrees around to stare at Beast Boy, who immediately hid behind her, trembling. "And yet I confess I do still teem... with the desire to be even more..."

"...naughty?" Starfire suggested politely.

He grinned and nodded in silent agreement.

They delivered him to the police with the sort of haste and caution usually reserved for extremely dangerous criminals.

To her mixed amusement and relief, Raven found that Robin soon after made an obsession out of helping her find hair-growing spells to remedy the results of the barber's assault. This meant that she had an excuse to spend almost all her time in her room, which suited her just fine. In spending all that time around her, Robin had to have noticed that she never pulled her hood down anymore... but made a distinct point out of not asking her why that was. Her gratitude was unspoken but intense. Dozens of musty old books later, they came across a suitable spell that would remedy their heads and Starfire's eyebrows that didn't require ridiculously expensive reagents or virginal sacrifices. Everything went back to normal, although Beast Boy, as he himself put it, 'lived in fear,' making Raven wonder if it hadn't been more effective for the barber Fred to have left his most obvious target unharmed, after all.

Except, one night, about a month after Fred had been put in jail, she was woken up by a high-pitched scream.

All Titans met in the hall, wide-eyed and with bedhead hair, everyone except Cyborg... and they naturally rushed to his room immediately, since he was the only one not there and thus the only one who could have screamed. They found their comrade rocking back and forth in a corner, clutching at his human eye.

"Cyborg? Cyborg, what happened?" Robin demanded, putting a hand on his shoulder.

Cyborg looked up, hand dropping. "THAT FREAKY BARBER PLUCKED MY EYELASHES!"

Raven just managed to see the silhouette of Fred out the window as he scampered off.

I regret the use of subterfuge

But raven tresses, a deluge

Awaits me yet with Madame Rouge

And with her I shall be... extraordinarily naughty!

With love, Fred