A harmless lunch invitation reminds the Titans that even superheroes shouldn't judge a book by its cover...
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans or any of the characters or locations mentioned in this story. Any resemblance to persons living or dead would be truly disturbing as every individual mentioned herein exists only as a figment of the collective imagination...
This story takes place about a month after the Titans return home from Trouble In Tokyo.
"Robin, why do you have the long face?" Starfire asked in concern. "The day is glorious! Since we have returned home there have been no villains to break the peace. The sun is cheerful and I wish us to go to the park for the eating of questionable sausages."
"That's just it, Star." Robin replied, frowning. "It's been nearly a month and we haven't seen a single criminal. Not even a pickpocket. Something isn't right."
"Most of the truly dangerous criminals joined with the Brotherhood of Evil, did they not?" Starfire said. "When we defeated the Brotherhood they also were captured."
"Slade wasn't." Robin growled. "Ordinary criminals weren't either. No bank robberies, no muggings, no assaults, it's like the underworld's on vacation!"
"Today, for my sake, will you not join with your friends Robin? It is as you say--the city is quiet. So please. Come with us." Starfire looked at him sadly with wide eyes. "You work so hard to protect us all, Robin." She continued. "But today, lay aside your troubles. Share with me the tangy yellow beverage and heat the dogs."
Robin wasn't terribly practiced in the art of romance--he and Star had been together that way for less than two months--but those huge green eyes had always been able to sway him from the first day he'd known her.
"I guess one day won't hurt." He admitted grudgingly. Starfire squealed with glee, grabbing him in a bone crushing hug and hurtled them both down the hall, flying six feet off the floor.
"Dude!" Beast Boy protested as they shot past. "Watch where you're flying! You almost knocked me down!"
"Much sorrows, friend Beast Boy!" The red-haired girl called back. "Come join us in the picking of the nick!"
"Say what?" Beast Boy's brow creased as he tried to work out Starfire's fractured English. Turning into a sparrow he flew after the rapidly disappearing alien and her captive boyfriend.
"Friend Cyborg, friend Raven, let us journey forth to the park where we shall consume vast quantities of junk food in glorious good fellowship!" Starfire released Robin, who bent over wheezing, trying desperately to pull in the breath her grip had squeezed out of him.
"Whoa, Star!" Cyborg said with a grin. "We haven't been to the store in a week--and a certain green piggy's been at the fridge again." He glared at Beast Boy who rubbed the back of his head ruefully.
"Heh, well my metabolism needs a lot of food." Beast Boy said with a crooked grin. Raven raised an eyebrow.
"What metabolism? You've spent the last week planted in front of the TV." She said in a monotone. "In fact, the only muscles you've been using were in your thumbs."
"That's not true!" He protested. "I had to move pretty fast to get a snack when the commercials came on. I'd like to see you make a Dagwood during an antacid commercial!"
"I stand corrected." She said dryly. "So you exercised your mouth and stomach too. Charles Atlas would be so proud."
"Yeah!" Beast Boy nodded in vindicated satisfaction. Raven rolled her eyes.
"Oh." Star deflated. "Well, perhaps we can go for the pizza and then gambol in the park?" Her eyes closed to slits as she beamed, her alien physiology turning the pleased expression into something that made the rest of the Titans cringe.
"Um, ooo-kkayy." Cyborg said watching in fascinated horror as the corners of Starfire's mouth disappeared behind her earlobes.
"And I thought my father had big teeth." Raven commented quietly. "Starfire, you should do that to the next bad guy we meet."
"For what reason, friend Raven?" Starfire asked, cocking her head, the maniacal grin vanishing into a puzzled expression. The gray skinned sorceress started to answer, but she just couldn't speak the words in the face of Starfire's innocent puzzlement.
"Never mind." She mumbled, turning away helplessly. "Pizza it is, then."
"Hey Cyborg, this time can we please get tofu--" Beast Boy started to say.
"No. Tofu is evil!" The half-metal teen retorted.
"Dude, tofu is so not evil!"
"Oh yeah? Then what invaded Earth and was stealing cows? Not to mention planning to blow up the planet?" Cyborg glowered down at the shape shifter.
"Ok, so space tofu is way evil." Beast Boy admitted reluctantly. "But you dealt with that!"
Cyborg turned slightly green. "Don't you dare remind me how neither! Blech."
Beast Boy smirked. "Barbeque sauce. Heh-heh..."
Cyborg glared. "I told you not to remind me!"
"You know every time we get pizza you two argue over what kind." Raven commented in exasperation. "Can't you agree on something? Anything?"
"No!" The two shouted in unison then returned to their argument. The girl shook her head and thought longingly about meditation.
"Friends, I know you take--great joy--in the choosing of the pizza." Starfire interjected diplomatically. "But it can be quite loud, and may disturb the peace. Is this not a crime?"
The two arguing titans paused, blinking.
"Um, Starfire disturbing the peace usually means fighting." Robin said tactfully.
"But Robin, do we not fight against criminals?" Starfire asked plaintively. "Are we then breaking the law?"
"Well, no, not really." He said helplessly. As usual, Starfire's logic was as impeccable as it was wrong--but Robin was at a loss to explain why to his earnest but clueless girlfriend.
"Star, it's 'cause we're the good guys." Beast Boy said, grinning. "We fight to stop the bad guys from hurting people."
"Amazing." Raven commented. "Beast Boy actually making sense. Will wonders never cease?" Beast Boy beamed at her.
"I am relieved." Starfire said, smiling. "I would not want to be a criminal for fighting against bad people. That would be too confusing."
The conversation continued as the group made its way to the bottom of the tower, and Cyborg's beloved T-car. As usual Cyborg raced through the underground tunnel that connected the island to the mainland, hunching happily over the wheel and pressing the accelerator firmly against the floor. The other Titans grinned too, except for Raven who considered Cyborg's speed obsession foolish and dangerous.
She kept silent and gritted her teeth though, considering it interest on the massive debt she owed her friends--a debt she could never repay. A debt all the larger in her mind because they would insist she owed them nothing at all.
Cyborg slowed only when he approached the tunnel's armored exit gate, which obediently cycled fully open as the T-car approached. The late-morning sunlight poured through the opening, boosting everyone's spirits.
"Glorious!" Starfire chuckled, beaming at the city around her. "It is days like this I treasure the most. No one is fighting, the world is filled with the bright colors of joy, and the birds sing most beautifully. Sharing it with friends makes it truly special. Friend Raven, does the day not speak to you?"
"I don't know, I can't hear anything except Beast Boy's grumbles about how tofu isn't evil." Raven answered serenely. "The truth is I've been meditating since we left the tunnel."
"Robin, do you not feel the joy of the day?" Starfire asked brightly. He turned and smiled at his alien girlfriend, thinking how much she added to the day's joyfulness. In many ways Starfire had the personality of a cocker spaniel--including the uncanny ability to make everyone around her try their best not to make her sad. This, oddly enough, ended up making them feel better as well.
He watched her smiling at him. Red hair framed an orange-skinned face, with a small nose and enormous green eyes that were all green--pale green whites with darker green irises. Her eyebrows covered only a tiny part of inside of the brow. She would never be mistaken for a human--but to him she was the most beautiful girl in the world. He didn't say anything, just smiled back. Starfire wasn't offended, Robin was quiet most of the time, and she knew the silence spoke volumes.
"We're here folks!" Cyborg announced cheerfully, slipping the T-Car skillfully into a parking space right in front of their favorite pizzeria. The teens boiled out of the car with high hopes and hungry bellies. Beast Boy bounded up to the door well ahead of the others. He pulled on the door, expecting it to open. It didn't. There was a loud clack as the door rattled in its frame.
"Dude! The door's stuck!" Beast Boy called back to the others. "Hey Cy! A little help here?"
"It's not stuck, Beast Boy." Raven said calmly. "It's locked. Look at the sign."
"Closed for remodeling?" Beast Boy's pointed ears drooped a good three inches. "Dude, that's so unfair! This is the best pizza in town! Nobody else even comes close. How can they be closed for remodeling?"
"Simple. They lock the door and put up a sign." Raven said quietly. "I'm thinking all the villains blowing things up around here might have something to do with it."
"Place has been beat up pretty bad on occasion." Cyborg said reflectively. "Starting with Starfire's arrival on Earth."
"I am very sorry for the damage I caused that night." Starfire said, blushing. "I was--upset about being given as a prize to the Gordanians."
"Nobody's blaming you, Star." Cyborg said easily. "I'd have been tee-d off too if I was heading for a lifetime of slavery to a bunch of lizards."
"Cinderblock and Plasmus didn't help the décor either." Raven put in. "And Terra pretty much trashed the place--" She stopped, glancing at Beast Boy guiltily.
"She wasn't herself." Beast Boy waved away Raven's comment. She breathed a quiet sigh of relief. Terra was a sensitive subject with Beast Boy. Having one's first love try to kill you and your friends can have that effect on a relationship...
"Bottom line is we're not going to get lunch here." Robin said briskly. "So where should we go?"
"I know a terrific pizza place." A mild voice said from behind them.