An idea that struck without warning earlier today. I thought it was an interesting concept, so I figured I'd follow through with it. Hope everyone enjoys!
The morning sun shone brightly through the windows of the common room as five teenagers gathered around the breakfast table. No words were spoken, each set of eyes was fixed on the object sitting before them, enjoying the last seconds before it would be pulled apart, its components scattered. A hand raced forward, then another, and suddenly the air was filled with flying pages and shouting.
"Dude, where are the comics?"
"Hand me the police reports will you?"
"Yo B! Give me the sports section."
"Please, where is the horror scope located?"
As the others dove and snatched at flying pages, Raven gave a quick sigh and lifted her hand. The once organized pieces of the Jump City Tribune froze in midair above her head. Scanning the pages, she quickly sent the desired section to each of her friends before pulling the Arts page down to herself.
"There, now was that really that difficult?"
Beast Boy jumped to his feet, pointing an accusing finger at the remaining stack of pages. "Hey now Rae, in our defense that's not any old paper. It's the Sunday edition!"
"Ah yes, that explains everything," Raven said with a smirk. With another wave of her hand, the rest of the paper rose into the air and flew into Beast Boy, toppling him off his chair.
"Ack! Paper cut!"
Robin chuckled and turned to Starfire. "So Star, what kind of advice do they have for…" he trailed off as he noticed she had yet to examine her section. Instead she was intently reading a magazine, the cover showing an extremely unflattering picture of Speedy and Aqualad. The Boy Wonder gave a loud groan and buried his face in his hands. As the other Titans turned, each of their eyes widened in horror.
"Man, don't tell me that's…"
"It totally is dude, it's the Scandal Sheet."
Starfire's head peeked out from the top of the magazine as she nodded quickly. "Yes friends, it is indeed the latest of the tabloids! They claim to have seen the Titans East doing the 'Shacking Up,' though I do not know why they would require a cabin atop their headquarters."
While the male Titans hesitantly tried to explain the phrase, Raven leaned forward to examine the magazine's front page. She shook her head in disgust at the picture and its accompanying caption. She considered herself a tolerant person, and while she supported the freedom of the press, the tabloids were one aspect of the media that she hated with a passion. It was also impossible for them to avoid. The city's most notorious form of literature had swept down on them from the moment their group had been established. As word spread of their exploits, so too did the rumors. With the public largely uninformed about their various abilities, the media had taken it upon themselves to make their own conclusions.
Civilians screamed and dove for cover as an armored car swerved onto the sidewalk, struggling to avoid the red motorcycle closing in from behind. The car slammed on the brakes as a massive wall of black energy suddenly shot up in its path. Tires squealing, the driver tried to speed around the obstruction when the vehicle was rammed from the left. The criminals inside screamed as a green triceratops flipped the vehicle onto its side. The hijackers stumbled out of the wreckage, each man trying to flee in a different direction. A metallic click sounded out through the smoke, and a bright blue flash caught their attention.
Cyborg took aim with his sonic cannon, his mouth set in a cocky grin. "Alright boys, let's take it nice and easy now. Why don't you do the smart thing and…"
Before he could finish the men were already scrambling away, rushing towards the approaching police cars in a blind panic. Cyborg shifted his arm back to normal and scratched his head.
"Now what's got them so spooked?" Shrugging, he peered into the crashed vehicle, searching for any evidence the criminals might have left. Instead, he found a magazine featuring a picture of himself on the front cover. A picture with his body covered in radiation stickers and superimposed over a mushroom cloud.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THIS?" Startled by his yell, the team quickly gathered around the angry metal man, who was still examining the article. Beast Boy was the first to glance at the cover.
"Cy-nobyl," he asked with a raised eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Cyborg scowled and shook the magazine. "It means that somebody's going around telling people that I'm radioactive! They think if I get hurt in some fight, I'm gonna go into meltdown or something!" Growling to himself, he tore the magazine in half before throwing it into the street.
"Let's just get home y'all. I really don't want to deal with any more of this tonight." Not waiting for a response, he began to trudge away from the crime scene, only to be stopped when a giant burst of electricity flared up in his path. The glare faded to reveal Overload. Lifting a copy of the magazine, he pointed towards Cyborg.
"This periodical states that you are powered by electricity derived from internal fission reactors! Overload will obtain this energy and become unstoppable! Remain still and open your cooling vents to prepare for energy siphoning!
"GAAH! KEEP HIM AWAY, KEEP HIM AWAY!" With Overload close behind, Cyborg fled screaming down the road, the Titans attempting to catch up.
That week had been an absolute nightmare, Raven recalled. Half the city had run screaming whenever they made an appearance, and poor Cyborg had been subjected to numerous sweeps with a Geiger counter to prove he wasn't a public safety hazard. Still, it had been relatively simple to clear up. The same couldn't be said about Starfire's tabloid appearances.
"Miss Starfire, Starfire!"
The alien girl turned her head in confusion as she floated back to the ground. Her friends turned to see a female reporter approaching, flanked by a camera crew.
"May I be of assistance," Starfire asked nervously, unused to being questioned directly.
The reporter thrust a microphone forward. "Good afternoon, you can call me Rumor Rita, of the Jump City Scandal Sheet. Tell us, what do you know about the health risks caused by direct contact with your laser beams?"
"Laser… beams? Are you speaking of my star bolts? I imagine they would feel most unpleasant to be struck by?"
"No, no, no. We are asking if there are any dangers that might not be readily apparent to a victim of your attacks. Are you familiar with Walter Pazinsky? A small time burglar who is currently serving his sentence?"
Robin stepped up to the woman and cleared his throat. "Mister Pazinsky was apprehended by the Titans several weeks ago and subsequently imprisoned for multiple crimes. He is-"
Rita shoved Robin aside and continued. "Miss Starfire, Walter Pazinsky claims that after being exposed to one of your attacks, namely a 'star bolt' impacting his groin area, he has suffered a complete loss of virility and has been rendered incurably sterile! Do you have anything you'd like to say in response?"
The other Titans gaped in shock at the accusation, but Starfire's face lit up with a smile. "I am most surprised! I was not aware that my star bolts would affect humans in such a way. Perhaps if I were to blast him a second time, the effects will be reversed?"
Without waiting for a response she took to the air, heading towards the prison. Raven groaned and flew after her.
Touching down inside the prison, she found Starfire outside a cell, her arm stuck through the bars. Inside, the prisoner was frantically dodging back and forth, trying to stay away from her hand as she took aim.
"Please do the still holding! It would be most unfortunate if your movements were to cause me to miss and place you in further agony by destroying your pelvis!" A green glow surrounded her fist as a clear shot presented itself. Her arm was suddenly pushed upwards by Raven, the star bolt smashing into the ceiling. As dust and plaster rained down on the terrified man, Raven began dragging Starfire back down the hall. She waved cheerfully to the man.
"It seems I must go for now, but I will try to return soon and correct your problem!" The man fainted in response.
Fortunately, the stories became fewer as the city adjusted to housing a team of juvenile superheroes. Unfortunately, the tabloids soon turned their attention to the personal relationships of each Titan. The idea of a mixed-gender household, devoid of any form of adult supervision, quickly turned into a weekly storm of allegations concerning relationships, breakups and sordid affairs. In Raven's opinion, these were infinitely worse.
The team rushed into the common room, where Robin was hunched over the computer, his teeth clenched in fury.
"What's going on Rob? Slade on the move, Plasmus attacking?"
"Worse," Robin hissed. His finger jabbed down on the TV's power button.
Gathered around city hall was a crowd of protestors, angrily yelling and waving signs. A reporter leaned towards the camera, shouting to be heard over the crowd.
"Sherry, it's absolute chaos down here! Within minutes of the story's release, citizens of all ages have banded together to protest the actions of Robin, leader of the Teen Titans!"
Robin switched the channel, and a news anchor holding a profile picture of Robin appeared, with the words "Pimp Wonder?" above his face.
"In this day and age, we often wonder if we ask too much of the superheroes around the world. They risk their lives for our sake, request nothing in return, but is physical protection all we look to them for? No! We also set them to a higher moral standard then the average individual. And today, it has become blatantly clear that at least one certain 'hero' is certainly not adhering to our expectations. These photographs were taken at last month's (look on date with destiny for name of the dance). While the majority of the Teen Titans were hard at work combating the criminal known as Killer Moth, two particular members were engaged in far more unscrupulous behavior."
The picture split into several new images, each showing Robin attending a formal dance. The difference was his companion. One image showed him dancing with Starfire, another with a certain blonde haired villainess. The third image showed Starfire attaching Robin's boutonniere, while the final image was of Robin desperately trying to avoid a kiss.
"Yes, as unbelievable as it may sound, it seems as though Robin the Boy Wonder is a bigamist at heart! Although it has long been known that Robin and his teammate Starfire have shared amorous feelings, evidence has arisen that another girl may have successfully gained his affections! While we ourselves were skeptical of this new development, a very reliable source has indeed confirmed it. We take you now to a live interview with one of the ladies in this relationship, a Miss Kitten Moth." Kitten appeared on the monitor, her face filling the camera as she grinned in triumph.
"Well, I was surprised as anyone when I found out the news. Of course, Robbie-poo loved me from that first, magical date. I can't blame him for attracting other girls though; I mean he is just the finest hunk you ever laid your eyes on! So what if he's seeing another girl on the side? I know she can't possibly mean as much to him as I do!"
Robin sunk lower in his chair, refusing to meet the eyes of his teammates, who were currently backing away from a very angry Starfire.
"I certainly don't have a problem with this situation. That red-headed bimbo of his is useful enough, looking after him on crimes and all that. I don't mind sharing with her, so long as that sleazy alien tramp remembers who the number one girl is!"
The Titans dove for cover as two star bolts blew the television to pieces. Screaming at the top of her lungs, Starfire smashed through the windows and flew towards the city, the green light around her so bright it was almost blinding. The Titans' attention was drawn back to the computer as a loud beep announced that a message had arrived.
Robin looked down at the screen.
Incoming message from Arkham Asylum-
Hey there, Birdy Boy! What's ole' Batsy been teaching you these days, hmm? But since he hasn't had a steady girlfriend in ages, I doubt you learned it from him! Great fun though, watching your two ladies having a slap fest on national news! Thanks for all the laughs!
Robin wanted to scream. Could this get any worse?
Incoming message from Victor Fries-
Incoming message from Barbara Gordon-
Incoming message from Matt Hagen-
Incoming message from Pamela Isley-
Incoming video link from -ENCRYPTED-
Robin looked up to see the scowling face of Batman.
"You have some explaining to do."
Raven was startled out of her musings by the shrill tone of the alarm. Kicking back his chair, Robin leapt atop the table and snatched up his mug. Chugging the remainder of his coffee, he struck a pose.
The other Titans stared up at their leader in silence. Robin's eyebrow began to twitch as he looked at each of them in turn. "Well, isn't anybody going to stand up? Titans?" Starfire pulled a loose sheet from under his boot and scanned the page.
"Friend Raven! The horror scope states that today you are advised to act assertively to gain positive results! You know what you want, and now is the time to obtain it!"
Beast Boy scooted over and tried to peer over her shoulder. "Star, hey Star what's mine say?"
"Guys… the ALARM?" Robin's teeth were clenched so tightly they looked about ready to crack. (For an excellent reference, watch 'Date with Destiny' when Kitten asks Robin if it'd kill him to smile. Funniest damn face in history.)
"For you Beast Boy, it states that you will face many unexpected interactions today. Though many are likely to cause turmoil, you should take heart, as all will work out for the best! Also, an acquaintance will take charge in an emotional situation, and you are advised to follow their lead."
Robin's coffee mug was shaking violently, the remaining drops of liquid spilling over the sides and onto the table.
Cyborg reached out and tapped Robin on the foot. "Uhh, Rob? You know we're only sittin' about thirty feet from the monitor. We could just watch it from here, you know?"
The Boy Wonder's shoulders slumped, and he slowly climbed down from the table and began trudging over to the computer, throwing an occasional glare back at his friends.
"Just wanting them to show a little enthusiasm….. back in my day we wouldn't just be sitting at the table…. nooooo, the second the signal came on it was 'To the Batcave!' Never would have let me loaf around…. it was 'No Robin, you'll have to finish your sandwich later' or 'Come on Robin, you can finish adjusting your tights in the Batmobile.' Don't know what this world's coming to…" Stepping up to the keyboard, he angrily slammed his hand down on the controls, bringing up a map of the city on the monitor. The image showed a yellow radar blip circling the main business district, its trail gradually slowing.
"Alright Titans, it looks like we have some type of unidentified craft coming in for a landing right in the middle of Thompsen Avenue."
Beast Boy suddenly jumped to his feet, mimicking Robin's earlier pose.
"Hear that everyone? It's mission time! Titans, GO!"
As the others raced for the door, Robin stomped after them, his eyebrow still twitching.
"So Rob," Cyborg asked as he maneuvered the T-Car around a corner. "What's our plan for dealing with this thing?"
"Why don't you ask the green bean? After all, he seems to be the leader this time around!"
"Yes, Beast Boy. Why don't you enlighten us on your strategy?" Raven's smirk was obvious even through the communicator.
"Oh, perhaps it will be similar to your experiences with the Newfu, but featuring a race of wicked varieties of processed meat! Then friend Cyborg will also be able to experience mortal combat against his breakfast of choice!"
Cyborg laughed and looked over to Beast Boy. "Yea man, then you can eat the alien commander after I stash him in the fridge."
The shapeshifter chuckled nervously before sticking his head back out the window. 'Hehe, hopefully it won't be anything that bad.' A loud roaring sound began growing in the distance, and Robin's voice could barely be heard against it.
"Heads up everyone, the ship's path is going to be right above us. Can anyone get a good look at it?" Beast Boy craned his neck upwards as a very familiar yellow ship sped past, and his ears drooped.
'Great, just great. I swear if he starts yelling at me to change again, I'm gonna lose it.'
Beast Boy reached for his communicator. "Alright guys, here's the plan for this. I want you four to create a perimeter in the street. Keep all the bystanders away from that ship. I'll go up there myself to meet with them. Things start getting messy, I want you to clear the area BEFORE you come to help me. Understood?"
"Are you sure about this?" Raven's voice had an unusual measure of concern. "After what happened the last time…"
He nodded to himself. "Trust me on this one. You all know how wild this guy can be when he gets worked up. Besides, I've probably got the best chance of keeping his attention if need be."
Raven looked back over her shoulder at the alien ship resting in the street. The Titans were spread around the ship, keeping the crowd of bystanders from approaching. As the landing ramp descended, Beast Boy sat waiting below. Though Raven could not understand the reason, he had changed into a dog.
The moment the ramp touched the ground, a large figure came leaping down from the entrance, the impact throwing several people off balance. Unshaken by the landing, it raced forward, snaring Beast Boy in its grasp and lifting him into the air.
"Doggie! Soto is so glad to see you again!" The rock alien laughed happily as he began swinging Beast Boy wildly around.
"Now Soto, put our friend down," a second voice spoke up. "You wouldn't want to crush him now would you?"
Soto nodded and dropped Beast Boy at his feet, where he came face to face with another green dog. The animal smiled.
"I am quite pleased we were able to meet you again, uh, Beast Boy was it? We were returning from a short trip when my pet began to feel anxious. I believe cabin fever is the expression you use? I felt that since we departed in such haste at our last meeting, it would be polite if I were to introduce myself to you on better terms. I am also glad you chose to meet me in a similar form, it would be most awkward otherwise."
With a wag of his tail, Beast Boy rose to his feet. As casual and dignified as two world leaders introducing one another, the two began the traditional greeting of canines. It would have marked a somber, pivotal moment in extraterrestrial relations, if it hadn't involved two dogs spending twenty minutes circling and sniffing each others rear ends.
Starfire clapped her hands as the dogs finally stopped their circling. "Wonderful, is it not? Our second encounter has ended with a most friendly exchange! There has been no pursuit across the city, or theft of our boots, or urinating on Cyborg or subjecting Raven to the tongue of doom!"
Raven breathed a sigh of relief as the two aliens returned to their ship. True, it had been a strange and somewhat disturbing spectacle, but at least this time the alien hadn't knocked her to the ground and licked her half to death. With such a large crowd around, she'd most likely have died of embarrassment.
She looked from Beast Boy back into the crowd, suddenly noticing a very familiar reporter making her way towards them.
Beast Boy gave a final wave as the spaceship rose out of sight. He turned to rejoin his friends, only to have a microphone pushed into his face.
"Mister Beast Boy, would you tell the viewers at home how you are acquainted with the two aliens who just departed from our planet?"
"Well, it's kinda hard to explain. See, I originally got mistaken for that dog when the big rock guy was his owner, except now the dog owns him now. So I got stuck being his pet while the dog was running around pretending to be me and my friends were chasing after it and getting all these pranks pulled on them, and I wasn't even there to see it!" Beast Boy paused in his ramblings, seeing that he was getting off track. "But anyway, my friends rescued me; the guy and his dog were reunited. Pretty exciting for a first meeting huh?"
The reporter grinned, obviously having seen a potential opening. "You say that you and this dog had never met before. Why then, were you acting so familiarly with it just moments ago?"
Beast Boy's face reddened. "Come on! That's how dogs greet each other! It's nothing like what you're thinking!"
"It seems to me that you're becoming quite defensive. Are you trying to hide something? As I recall your last relationship with that Terra girl ended quite badly, both for yourself and the city." She nudged Beast Boy as if she was telling a joke. The green boy's face fell, and Raven found herself walking towards them, fists clenched.
"You do seem to use your animal transformations for more than just crime fighting. Is it possible that you're afraid of human relationships? Have you ever considered attempting a cross-species..." Rita stumbled back in shock as Raven stepped in her way, eyes glowing red.
"ENOUGH." Her eyes split into four, and her body began growing until she towered over the frightened woman. "I HAVE TOLERATED YOUR LIES FOR FAR TOO LONG. YOU INSIST ON CREATING FALSE ACCOUNTS OF OUR LIVES, SLANDERING US AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY, AND NOW YOU HAVE RESORTED TO TWISTING A SIMPLE MEETING INTO SOMETHING DEPRAVED."
The other Titans rushed forward, hoping to stop Raven before she tore the woman to shreds, only to find a black wall of energy blocking their paths.
Robin slammed his shoulder into the wall, hoping to at least draw Raven's attention long enough for her to gain control of her anger. "Raven, snap out of it! Don't do anything you'll regret!" Any further words died on his lips as four red eyes snapped over to him.
"QUIET ROBIN. IT'S TIME FOR THIS NONSENSE TO END. I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS SOME TIME AGO, AND I HIGHLY DOUBT THAT I WILL REGRET IT."
Raven shrank back to her normal size and stepped back, coming to a stop next to Beast Boy.
"As I said, I have had enough of your falsities. However, if you are that desperate for some type of gossip concerning Beast Boy's love life, I'll provide you with a story that's actually true." She grabbed Beast Boy and dragged him closer. As individuals across the world watched, she tugged off her hood and brought her lips to his.
All around them, the crowd ran for cover. Streetlights were ripped from the ground, manhole covers were blasted into the air, and every window in a five block radius exploded in showers of glass. A cyclone of energy began to swirl around them, pulling debris from the street and sending it crashing into the surrounding buildings. She deepened the kiss, and cracks in the street began spreading outwards as Raven's powers continued tearing the area apart.
Beast Boy was as stiff as a board, and she quickly wrapped her arms around him to keep him upright. While she was slightly unnerved by his lack of a reaction, she figured that he was likely in a state of shock, and in no condition to respond in one way or another. As their lips separated, the two teens opened their eyes. Raven's face carried a look of apprehension, now waiting on him to make the next move.
Beast Boy's eyes were half-lidded, his face set into a drunken grin. His mouth opened and closed silently, as though his mind was struggling to form a coherent thought.
"Wow…." he managed to whisper before his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed into Raven's arms.
Raven shook her head as she smiled down at the boy in her arms. 'Completely one-sided and he faints right afterwards. Not exactly what most girls would call an ideal first kiss. I suppose we'll just have to do better next time.' Giving him a quick peck on the cheek, she turned back to Rita, raising her hood to cover the blush.
"I trust you'll see to it that this exchange of ours is printed factually?" The woman nodded, either too surprised or too afraid to manage a sentence.
Raven nodded, all of her self-control at work to keep a smile off of her face. "Good, now if you'll excuse us?"
Without waiting for a response, Raven lifted her hand and she and Beast Boy vanished in a burst of magic.
Blinking, Rita looked out at the remains of the street. The damage was extensive, looking as though an earthquake had struck while Billy Numerous was celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Still at a loss for words, she turned towards the other Titans, who stood gaping at the spot where their teammates had just stood.
Robin was the first to recover. As his eyes swept over the street, he tried to sort through what had just happened.
It had started as a fairly uneventful day.
Raven kissed Beast Boy.
They had been called out for what should have been a quick and simple mission.
RAVEN KISSED BEAST BOY.
The crazy lady from the tabloids had shown up and all but accused one of his teammates of bestiality.
RAVEN KISSED BEAST BOY!
And now the street was a warzone, the rumor mill had enough ammunition to last for months, and the two who had caused all of it had just conveniently left the scene.
Robin sighed and looked directly into the camera.
And there you have it. I don't know if I'd necessarily call it a good story, but it sure was fun to write. At any rate, with that pervasive little idea no longer plaguing my thoughts, back to work on Last of his Line.
Thanks for reading, and please review! All comments are appreciated.