Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author's Note: A two-shot, and an exception to one of my personal rules of writing. We'll see how far blasphemy takes this.
Also, this might be a bribe. You know who you are.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Zero Dark Hundred
BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEE-click
A grey hand retreated from the now silent alarm clock and into the warm cocoon of sheets from which it had reluctantly emerged.
BEEP BEEP BEE-click
Groggily, Rachel Raven Roth sat up in her bed and rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. Another two minutes of sedate stretching and convincing herself not to give in to the enticements of Morpheus' realm elapsed before she swung her legs over the side of her king-sized bed and dropped to the floor. Pausing to pick up her alarm clock off of the floor, she made her way to the bathroom to begin getting ready for the day.
BEEP BEEP BEEP (whump) BEEP BEEP BEEP click
Garfield Mark Logan sat on the floor of his bedroom as he shook loose the effects of his traditional morning faceplant. He sometimes questioned the wisdom of keeping his old bunkbed from college, much less sleeping in the top bunk. Deciding—again, as he did every morning—that the matter could wait another day to be dealt with, he dragged his exhausted self to the door and made his way to the bathroom next door.
On his way, he threw his traditional morning glare at Victor's room, knowing full well that his cyborg roommate would be out in the kitchen making breakfast before he could get out of the shower.
Rachel was pulling her hair into a ponytail as she stepped into the kitchen wearing a knee-length grey skirt and a short-sleeved purple blouse. Absently, she waved a hand in the general direction of the stovetop, and the kitchen implements started floating around, preparing her breakfast. A glance at her reflection in the window reminded her that her hair was still damp from the shower, and a small gesture cast a spell that significantly accelerated the drying process. Satisfied, she walked to her apartment's front door and retrieved the newspaper that she had delivered every morning.
By the time she had finished looking over the front page (METAHUMAN ROBS JUMP CITY BANK, STEALS CANDY FROM INNOCENT BABY WHILE ESCAPING), her waffles were ready and her kitchen was in the same pristine condition she had found it in.
"If I live another fourteen billion years, I am certain that I will still never understand you, daughter."
Rachel sighed and set her paper down, as she had done every morning ever since her sixteenth birthday. Sitting across the table from her sat the man who claimed to be her father, Trigon the Terrible.
"It is because I am a woman, Father. If half of what Mom would say when I asked how you two met was true…"
Before she had accidentally blown herself up when Rachel was sixteen, Arella Roth had been one of the most powerful sorceresses on the planet. Her success in the arcane, however, did not translate into her romantic life, and after a particularly disastrous date she had gotten more than a little drunk and decided to summon some company for the night rather than settle for the as of late disappointing selection of human males in the area. A slip of the tongue had caused her to speak the wrong name at the precisely wrong moment, and instead of binding an attractive (and sterile) incubus to her will, she had wound up dragging a startled and bewildered Trigon to bed. Nine months later, Rachel was born and immediately entered into the Metahuman registry, on account of having four red glowing eyes, as well as the capacity to telepathically demand that the doctor put her back in immediately.
Trigon, of course, denounced the whole story as "a pack of lies" and claimed that the roles had been completely reversed, although after some prodding he did concede that it was Arella who had given birth to Rachel.
"All I'm saying," Trigon grumbled, "is that you're the daughter of one of the most powerful demons in Hell (and I say that in all modesty), and still every morning you voluntarily wake up far earlier than you prefer and go spend your day dealing with screaming children. Why can't you just take over the world already?"
"Why would I want to rule the world?" she retorted. "I would have to deal with grown-up children bothering me all day for this, that, or the other."
"But at least you could entertain yourself by torturing the more annoying ones to death." He looked positively delighted at the idea. Rachel had once asked what sort of tortures he had in mind, and the reply subsequently put her off meat for the rest of her life.
"If it is any consolation," she cooly replied, "I get to jab the little terrors with needles."
"Needles that are good for them," he countered. "God, your mother corrupted the Hell out of you."
Before Rachel could begin to point out how incredibly wrong that statement was, their argument was interrupted by the smell of burning bacon.
"Well, I hope you're happy."
Garfield had to admit that his elation at managing to get his friend to eat a breakfast that didn't feature slaughtered animals was somewhat dampened by the odor of the ruined meat. Their usual "discussion" had distracted them both to the point of forgetfulness, and soon enough the thin strips of pig flesh were unfit for human consumption.
"Nothing wrong with pancakes, Vic. You headed off to work at the IRS today?" Victor choked on his orange juice as Garfield said this; the changeling's attempts at guessing where his half of the rent check came from had been going on for as long as the two of them had been living together. This morning's guess was closer than last week's proposition that he was secretly a Victoria's Secret model ("Hello? Built-in hologram projector?"), but not by much.
"Speaking of work," said Victor, "when does your first class start again?" Garfield was the local high school's twelfth-grade English teacher, and his earliest class did not start until ten.
A fain reddish tint appeared on Garfield's cheeks, and he suddenly found an excuse to be looking anywhere except Victor. "I… I like to get there early, you know? Get the seat warm, grade some quizzes…" he trailed off, and Victor took the opportunity to have a little fun at his friend's expense in retaliation for his meatless meal.
"Warm up your chair? Gar, if you sit in that chair behind your desk for more than ten minutes at a time, then I'm not a card-carrying member of the People for the Eating of Tasty Animals. You want to know what I think?"
A somewhat brighter flush rose on Garfield's face, and he quickly stood up from the table and carried his dirty plate to the sink to rinse it off. "I'd love to chat, Vic, but I've got to get to work." The changeling all but fled the kitchen, much to Victor's private amusement.
Dashing to the door, Garfield did a double-check to make certain his appearance was satisfactory, and to his dismay he noticed a twinge of green hue making itself present in his otherwise fair complexion. Darting back to the bathroom, he hurriedly dug through the medicine cabinet until he located the small unmarked box that held his medicine. One of the perks Victor's mystery employer provided him was these apparent miracle pills that, through some process that his friend had failed miserably in trying to explain in layman's terms, changed the skin color to some predetermined tone. They were horribly expensive, but Vic's health insurance apparently paid for them for some reason, and that was that.
Nothing could change the shape of his ears, though, so he had to find excuses to wear hats that covered them. It was winter now, so a woolen toboggan was perfectly acceptable, and if anyone questioned why he would wear one indoors, he could just claim to get cold easily. Plucking a black and purple one off of the floor, he made his way to the door. "See ya tonight, metalhead!"
"Say hello to Rachel for me!" Vic laughed silently as he heard his friend stumble and curse.
Rachel looked up at her clock and realized that it was almost seven O'clock, and that if she spent much more time talking with her father she would be late. Rushing around, she hunted for her purse and shoes.
"That's another thing I can't understand about you, Raven," Trigon said. For some reason, he preferred to address her by her middle name instead of her first. "You could spend another hour or two in bed and still make it to your job in plenty of time to profane your heritage, but you absolutely insist on leaving at this unholy hour." When Rachel didn't dignify his comment with a response, he pressed on. "If you like the mortal so much, then take him! You've been wasting perfectly good mornings for three years now when you could just enthrall him and sleep in."
That last comment earned him a growl, and he decided that further discussion would likely fail to bear fruit. When Rachel looked up, her father's seat was vacant.
Muttering under her breath, she said several uncomplimentary things about the creature that had sired her, and then turned herself to the business of leaving her apartment. She quickly checked over the wards and shields that allowed her father to visit without announcing his arrival to every magic-sensitive person in the city (This was for her convenience, not his, as he would appear every morning whether or not his presence would set off a general magicians' panic, and then leave her to deal with the consequences.), and then set about adjusting her appearance to hide the fact that she was a Meta from the population in general. Her patients might not care if she had some oddly colored hair, but their parents certainly would… and for that matter, so might Garfield. She didn't know how the teacher would react to her somewhat questionable ancestry and occasionally terrifying abilities, but given the general attitude towards her kind (Metas and demons both), it was better to play it safe.
Grey and purple became pale and black, a lab coat was tossed over her blouse (and because it was winter, another coat went over that), and the pediatrician stepped out her front door just in time to meet Garfield as he left his apartment across the hall, as she did every morning.
If waiting until her empathetic senses told her that he was out in the hallway was cheating… well, she was a half-demon, after all. Cheating was allowed, if not to be expected.
"So I told them that they had two choices: write a paper based on a full story arc of any major comic book publication, or write a paper on Jane Eyre. I'll give you two guesses as to how that vote came out." Garfield and Rachel were regaling each other with stories from the previous day of work as they walked to their respective places of employment.
The walk to work was how the two had met each other. A sudden crisis at the practice had required that Rachel come into work earlier than usual for a week, and suddenly the pediatrician found herself sharing the commute with her not unattractive neighbor. At first she had thought that he was following her, and had been preparing herself to take action should he make a move, but his path chose that moment to divert him to the high school she passed on the way to work every day. The next day, he started up a conversation, ostensibly to relieve the boredom of the commute (although, were he to be completely honest with himself, he was more concerned about what might happen if she were to turn around at an inopportune moment and catch him admiring her rather attractive… profile… and decided that he would be safer if the temptation to ogle was replaced with conversation), and by the end of the week, Rachel couldn't bring herself to tell him that she didn't actually have to go to work at that hour of the morning. The next semester, Garfield found himself in a similar position, his classes being scheduled later in the day, and so the doctor and the teacher found themselves waking up unnecessarily early every weekday in order to maintain a fiction.
"I am sure that the parents of your students are going to be wildly enthused with your proposed choice of reading material," Rachel stated dryly. "I can see it now: a line of parents around the block into the principal's office to congratulate you on it."
That made Garfield laugh. "Well, if it comes to that, I can always think of some way to assign the parents to read Jane Eyre. I'm certain they'll be much happier with that!"
"I will have you know," Rachel growled in mock irritation, "that I happen to have liked Jane Eyre very much, thank you."
"Rachel, Rachel, Rachel," Garfield said in a singsong tone, throwing his arm around her shoulder. "Can you tell me the title of a single book you've read that you didn't like?"
Rachel flushed at the physical contact, though the spells altering her appearance hid the reaction from sight. Recovering from her distraction, she contemplated the question for a moment before answering.
"I did not care much for The Joy of Cooking." Her unexpected response froze the teacher in his tracks, and he openly gaped at his companion.
"You… you just…" he paused to collect himself. "Did you just make a joke?" He seemed positively flabbergasted, and Rachel couldn't help but to twist the knife a little.
"Of course not, Mr. Logan. You and I both know that I do not have a sense of humor." It took all of her self-discipline to deliver that line with a straight face, and not joining in with Garfield's laughter in reaction to her ridiculous statement was almost too much to ask. Almost.
The pair were distracted, though, and did not notice the several unsavory figures that had appeared from the alley they had stopped in front of until the gang of thugs had them surrounded.
The speech coming from the apparent ringleader was more or less the same as would be found in any movie or poorly written story, and so Rachel ignored it to focus on how she could get the two of them out of this mess. If she were alone, there would be no problem: she would start throwing people around until the punks got the message and left her alone. With Garfield present, however, that was a much less attractive option.
Garfield found himself in a similar situation. A gorilla or a dinosaur would take care of the ruffians quite handily, but…
Moving in front of Rachel—a tactically useless gesture, given that they were surrounded—Garfield raised his fists in what he hoped was a threatening manner. The ringleader cut his speech short and laughed, prompting his goons to laugh along with him.
Then they suddenly stopped laughing, instead opting to run away screaming in terror.
The sudden change in attitude confused Garfield, but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth. "Yeah!" he shouted, "You'd better run!" He posed aggressively for a few seconds before turning around to see a very blank-looking Rachel. "Okay, I'll bite: what scared them off?"
For years to come, Rachel would view the fact that she delivered her response without an ounce of self-satisfaction evident in her voice or expression to be worthy of an Oscar nomination.
"I take it by the stench of fear that hangs about you like the stench of your urine that you and your underlings failed to live up to the terms of our… agreement." A somewhat chastened gang leader trembled at the unspoken threat carried in his unseen employer's voice "All you have accomplished is to make the more wary than before."
"P-p-please, give us one more shot!" begged the terrified thug. "T-t-they don't know t-t-that it's them s-s-specifically that you're after!"
The voice, which had previously been coming from somewhere in front of the hapless gang leader, was suddenly speaking directly into his ear, an iron grip on his neck keeping the panicked man from fleeing. "Tell me, why should I allow you a second chance to fail me?"
The terrified man told him, and a chilling laugh echoed in the darkness in response. Then the voice—and the hand—disappeared, leaving only a trembling criminal behind as evidence that they had ever been there at all.