(A/N)- To my regular readers, many apologies for how long it took me to write this. To new readers, welcome!
Just my little stab at Jericho/Kole, because they're plumb adorable and I love them and there needs to be more written about them. For the newcomers who need a little backstory, Jericho and Herald are on the same Titans team together (along with Argent, Hot Spot, and Wildebeest) in pretty much all my fanon.
And yes, I may have inserted a few shout-outs to places I know from L.A.
Disclaimer: Sadly, I cannot claim to own anything relating to Teen Titans. Which is probably for the better since I would do the craziest things with them if I owned them.
Jericho had everything gathered and ready; civilian clothes on, wallet full, notepad and pencil pocketed (Kole was still learning and fumbling sign language so it helped to write things down), bouquet of roses wrapped in pretty tissue paper. About the only thing left to procure was transportation, something he was working on getting now as he stood in front of a seated Herald.
The teleporter held a magazine in front of his face, pointedly ignoring the silent begging Jericho was sending at him.
"I don't care how long you hold those puppy dog eyes." he said, not looking up. "I am not playing 'driver' for your date with Kole."
Jericho pouted a moment and then resumed his former pleading expression. A long minute passed. Then Herald glanced up over the edge of the magazine.
Jericho gave a hopeful little smile.
Herald groaned and tossed his reading down. "Ugh… fine. I'll do it." he relented. "Happy now?"
The mute's smile broadened and he nodded vigorously, leaping forward and hugging his teammate in gratitude. Herald sighed deeply, but accepted the gesture. There really was no refusing Jericho when he begged. And, okay, he supposed it wouldn't be very nice to leave a friend without a ride when he had a hot date. Their first date in fact. Officially at any rate. Most of their interaction up to this point had been long-distance. Herald had been privy to a few of their conversations.
They usually involved a lot of giggling from Kole's end.
Jericho was apparently ready to get going right away because he was now tugging insistently on Herald's hand, trying to pull him out of the chair.
Well far be it from him to keep the happy couple apart.
She only paid half-attention to Gnarrk's stern admonitions to behave, to mind her manners on her date and make sure to come home at a reasonable hour. She was almost bouncing in her seat from excitement.
The chime rang, signaling that someone was waiting outside the door to OPS. Kole popped off the couch and made a beeline for it, cutting her friend off mid-lecture.
"Gn-aarrk." he complained wearily.
Kole hit the button and the door hissed open. Her vision filled with the sight of roses. Jericho's face peeked out from behind them, offering her a shy smile.
"For me?" Kole gasped.
Kole took the bouquet gingerly, delight in her features. "Aww… thank you!" she exclaimed. Jericho shrugged in a nonchalant 'think nothing of it' gesture. Kole cradled the flowers close to her chest and crossed the room to the small kitchen area. The Titans North Tower wasn't as big or well-supplied as some of the others, mostly because its members generally lived elsewhere and only converged on the place when trouble was afoot, but she could probably still find a vase or something to put her roses in. Jericho stepped a few paces into the room after her, waiting patiently.
After a bit of digging Kole unearthed a suitable container for her flowers and set about unwrapping the tissue paper and sliding the stems into the vase. She held the bouquet under the faucet and twisted the knob. As the glass filled up with water, Gnarrk decided to get up, come over, and finish his speech.
"Gnarrk gnarrkgnarrk gnarrk gnaaark."
"I will." Kole promised.
"Gn-arrkgnarrk gnarrk gnarrk."
She nodded. "Of course."
"Gnarrk gnarrk gnarrkgna-aark gnarrk-"
"Gnarrk!" Kole protested, her cheeks tinting bright pink. "Please! Jericho would never do that!"
Jericho had a confused expression on his face when Kole finished with her flowers and turned back to him.
"You don't want to know." she assured him.
He decided to take her word for it.
Kole placed the vase on the kitchen table, adjusted it until it was centered, and then bounced over to her caveman friend, clasping his hands.
"I'll bring you back a souvenir from Los Angeles." she told Gnarrk.
Satisfied, he nodded and grunted something that was probably a 'have fun' sentiment, and let her go to join her date. Jericho took Kole's arm and over his shoulder sent a respectful nod at Gnarrk, hopefully conveying his firm intentions to take good care of the girl.
The caveman narrowed his brows, pointing at his eyes and then gesturing at him, in a sort of I'm watching you manner.
If he wasn't mute, Jericho might have laughed nervously. As it was, he quickly turned to face forward again and led Kole out into the hallway. Herald waited for them, idly twirling his trumpet.
"Where we headed today?" he asked them.
"L.A." Kole replied.
Herald nodded, ceasing his twirling. "City of Angels comin' right up." He turned, muttering something about the "gross misuse of my powers for frivolous purposes" under his breath.
A mellow note sounded and the breeze from the portal rustled their hair.
Someone observing the two as they walked hand in hand down the streets wouldn't have thought anything unusual of it. To all eyes, they looked like a normal, happy, affectionate couple. Kole wore a hat over her antennae, Jericho's turtleneck undershirt covered the scar on his throat, and even Kole's bubblegum pink hair wasn't extraordinarily unusual a sight for downtown Los Angeles.
"This is nice…" Kole hummed, leaning her head on Jericho's shoulder. "I thought it would be a lot hotter when we got here, but it's actually pretty balmy. Not too warm, not too cold. Though," she said, wrinkling her nose a bit, "the air does smell kinda funny."
Jericho slipped his hand from hers in order to sign something at her. Kole watched until he finished, then shook her head.
"Sorry, could you say that one again?" she asked with a sheepish smile. "I didn't quite catch it."
I said, "That's probably all the ozone you're smelling.", Jericho repeated.
Kole laughed. "I wondered why Herald told us not to breathe too much."
Jericho's frame shook with a few silent laughs of his own. He took her hand again as he helped her down off a steep curb. They crossed the street and then Jericho hesitated a moment at the intersection, looking up and down both streets. He slipped his communicator out of his pocket a moment to study the map.
"Which way?" Kole prompted.
Glancing at the street signs, he found the one he was looking for and pointed.
As they turned down their avenue, Kole nudged his arm. "Hey," she said, "teach me some more sign-language on our way there."
The two made their way through the thin afternoon crowds. Jericho paused occasionally to check his directions, or to point out something to sign to Kole. The girl repeated his hand gestures dutifully, making her best attempt to perform them correctly. She messed up quite a few times, but Jericho patiently showed them to her again until she caught on. They also filled each other in on what had been going on with for the past few months.
Kole tried to use mostly sign-language. Whenever she botched a word Jericho would look confused until she gave up and said it aloud. In turn, though she made a decent effort to focus and keep up with his signing, Jericho's hands would sometimes move too fast for her to comprehend and she would get flustered, until the boy pulled out his trusty notepad and wrote his words down for her.
So between the two of them, they managed to have a decent conversation.
The couple finally reached their theater, descending several flights of steps down to the entrance. Jericho held the door open for her, like a true gentleman, and Kole couldn't resist giving his cheek an affectionate peck. The boy blushed bright red, touching a hand to place her lips had been a moment before.
Kole cringed. "Sorry… should I have asked if that was okay first?" she asked him, worried she'd broken some form of decorum. It had been a long time since Kole had been immersed in normal society-even as a Titan there wasn't much opportunity to get out and about and update herself on what had changed since she'd made her home under the ice at the North Pole. She was still a little awkward when it came to interacting with people in an ordinary, non-heroes setting. It helped that Jericho was a fellow Titan but he was still Kole's first romantic prospect.
And, well, it was their first real date.
Her worries about being too forward were allayed as Jericho shook his head, waving her off and gifting her with a reassuring smile.
It's fine. I think I kinda like it, he told her.
"That's good." she said. "Because I think I might do it again." she added, hugging his arm and leaning her head on his shoulder.
The college-age attendant behind the ticket counter glanced up from his paper in mild annoyance at the giggles he could hear from across the lobby. Upon seeing the young teenage couple walking up to him, he set his things aside and recited his speech very boredly.
"Welcome to Cineplex, how can I help you?"
Kole stepped up, considering the options on the marquee and at length turned to her companion.
"What d'you think?" she whispered.
The curly-haired boy tapped his finger to his chin a few times, and then pointed. Following his gesture the girl guessed, "Creepers From Space?" Jericho got her attention again by nudging her shoulder and then shook his head. He held up his hands, counted three on his fingers, and then pointed downwards.
"Ohh… Three Days In Paris. That's the one, right?" she corrected, looking a couple titles down from her first guess.
A nod "yes" from Jericho.
Kole turned to the attendant. "Two for the three-o'-clock showing please." she requested.
The attendant rang them up. "Sure you're old enough to be watching that without an adult?" he commented snarkily. "It's a PG-13 movie you know."
Jericho frowned and signed sharply at him.
The attendant stared blankly. "What?" he asked.
"He said, 'Do we look like we're not thirteen?'" Kole translated.
The young man sized them up. The two were shorter than average and still very fresh-faced in appearance but they did indeed look like they'd already passed puberty. "Just barely." he muttered under his breath. He waved towards the concessions. "You want anything to eat or drink?"
Kole's eyes flicked to the menu and she looked it over a moment. "Sour gummi worms please."
The attendant reached under the glass to grab a box, tossed it on the counter, and added the snack to their purchase. He slid his attention to Jericho and took a deep breath. "And what," he said in an obnoxious over-loud voice that made Jericho cringe, "would you like?"
"He's not deaf you know." Kole told him, annoyed. "And even if he was, why would talking louder work?"
Jericho clapped a hand over his mouth, shaking with silent laughter. Looking rather embarrassed now, the attendant ducked his head.
"Sorry." he mumbled. "Your total comes to $21.95."
They paid the young man and took their tickets and Kole's snack. Kole attached herself to Jericho's arm as the two walked over to the alcove. A smiling young lady tore their ticket stubs.
"Second theater on your right!" she chirped.
"Thanks." Kole said.
The couple found good seats in a center row, a little off to the left of the middle but not too much that it made a difference. Kole tore into her box of gummi worms, looking to her date in slight concern.
"Do you… get that a lot?" she asked hesitantly.
Jericho tilted his head, eyes questioning.
"People confusing you for being deaf I mean." she clarified.
Kole dropped her gaze to her lap. "I'm sorry."
Jericho shook his head at her. He got out his notebook, and scribbled something down on a fresh sheet, and then he passed it to her. She squinted at the letters in the dim light.
It's not an unreasonable assumption to make, the note read.
She passed the notebook back. "Yeah but it seems like it would get annoying after a while." she told him.
He considered her observation a moment, and then agreed with a grimace. Placing a hand on her arm though, he gestured back towards the exit with a look of gratitude in his eyes.
Thank you, he signed.
She peered at him, confused but getting the general impression he was grateful for her words to the attendant out in the lobby. "Um… no problem. I mean, someone had to stand up for you." she stammered, feeling a blush on her cheeks.
Jericho settled back into his seat, accepting a sour gummi worm Kole offered him as the house lights went down and the previews started rolling.
"That was so cheesy!" Kole laughed as they stumbled out into the sunshine.
Her date grinned. Completely cheesy, he agreed.
"And completely predictable."
Kole's expression was all wide smile. "I loved it."
They broke down into a fit of shared giggles. Clasping hands they trotted along the streets, looking for a good eatery to grab an early dinner from. The sights and sounds of the busy city floated all around them, filling their ears with a steady buzz and a hum of activity.
That, abruptly, took on a few extra noises distinctly out of place in a normal cityscape. A metallic grinding and a few startled shouts from pedestrians caught the couple's attention. Several clanks added to the commotion and then a booming voice amplified by a megaphone shouted:
"NOBODY MOVE, FOR IT IS I, THE GREAT INSECT-MAN, MASTER OF ALL THIEVERY, HERE TO STEAL YOUR PRICELESS ARTWORK!"
Jericho and Kole slowed to a stop just before the next intersection. Here the buildings sat back from the sidewalk several feet, giving the Titans a clear view across the street to the source of the disturbance.
"Oh you've got to be kidding…" Kole said in disbelief.
Before them, taking up about a block, was a small school building with a nice little gated public park out in front-the kind with short bike trails, a couple fountains and benches, and crepe myrtle bushes growing up a covered terrace. Several students lugging their heavy backpacks and a picnicking family seated on a red-and-white checkered blanket on a low grassy hill were looking up in bewilderment towards an odd figure on the third story balcony. The figure was spindly and dressed in all green, with an armored chest piece, braces, and shoulder-pads of a heavy plastic, and his hat sported decorative antennae. He looked rather like a giant grasshopper. Kole could only assume this was the self-titled "Insect-Man".
The invertebrate villain was flanked by a dozen or so similarly-dressed minions, all clinging to various walls and columns in a manner befitting cockroaches. Two were manning a giant railing-mounted laser cannon that obviously didn't belong to the school (and was likely the source of the previous metallic grinding). The cannon was trained on a befuddled cluster of artists displaying their work on the park green and the patrons that had been milling about and admiring the pieces.
No one quite knew what to make of the bug-like burglar and his entourage so they just stood in place and stared, all except a female security officer who stepped out from the school's entrance alcove and looked up at the balcony with a mildly vexed glare.
"Sir, please get down from there." she said in an exasperated yet completely disinterested and weary tone, as though this was a routine occurance for her. "There are classes in session right now and you're disrupting them." she scolded.
A larger minion suddenly loomed behind her and elbowed her to the side. "Shove off copper, 'less you wanna taste laser bolts." the thug threatened as she went down.
At a signal from Insect-Man, the other minions hopped down off the façade and skittered to the open-air art display, taking canvases off their easels over the protests of the artists.
Jericho poked Kole in the shoulder. When the girl faced him he waved a hand at the display in the park, and then punched the flat of his palm with a fist.
Kole snuck a peek at the crooks from the corner of her eye, as she nodded enthusiastically. "I agree." she said, curling her tiny hands into her own fists. "We can totally take him."
She grabbed his hand as they darted furtively across the street. The big thug was now standing guard at one of the gates, keeping other pedestrians and passersbys out of the park.
"Move along kids, nothin' to see." he grouched, waving them on. Aside from a quizzical glance or two, the civilians did just that, surprisingly nonchalant given the strange ordeal.
The students trying to pass in and out of the school were slightly more perturbed.
"Um… I have a Textile Science class." said a smallish brown-haired girl hovering in front of the gate uncertainly.
"Too bad so sad for you. Scram kiddo. There's a heist in progress." the thug told her, crossing his arms and not moving from the spot. There came a gentle tap at his shoulder. "Yeah, whadda you want?" he grumbled, turning to see a curly-haired boy with mesmerizing green eyes smiling politely at him.
Excuse me, may I borrow the usage of your body? he signed.
"Wha?" the thug blustered, befuddled, but he didn't get a chance to say anything else before the boy's green eyes were locked with his.
Insect-Man watched his minions work with evil satisfaction. The critters scurried about gathering paintings from the temporary display. (They also popped into the school gift shop to grab mugs and t-shirts and jewelry.) Insect-Man shouted instructions into his megaphone every few seconds.
"THAT'S IT NOW, NO FUNNY BUSINESS." he bellowed. "MAKE THIS NICE AND PAINLESS AND NO ONE NEEDS TO GET HURT."
"You know, the Federal Reserve is just across the street right behind you." a girl's voice piped up from below. The crook lowered his megaphone in surprise and peered over the edge of the balcony.
On the school steps stood a pink-haired girl with her hands on her hips.
"I would've picked that to rob instead of a half-dozen starving artists but hey, that's just me." she continued, shrugging her shoulders.
The thief scowled at her. "Buzz off you insignificant little flea."
"Oooh how clever, a bug-related quip. I'll bet that took you all day to think up." she mocked him.
He screeched into his megaphone. "BE SILENT YOU IMPERTINENT LADYBUG!" He leapt up onto the railing and shook his fist at everyone currently in the park. "I AM INSECT-MAN AND YOU WILL COWER IN FEAR OF MY AWESOME-" He stopped a moment when he realized that no one was cowering in fear and indeed, aside from the artists having their work taken and a few students sending occasional glances upwards as they did their homework on the green, no one heeded his words at all.
"HEY! HEY YOU!" he shouted at a gaggle of pedestrians on the far street. "PAY ATTENTION TO ME!"
"Wow, not even the people you're robbing take you seriously." Kole commented cheerfully.
"Rrrrgggh!" Insect-Man growled in frustration, jabbing a finger at one of his minions. "You! Hit her or something."
The minion rushed to do his master's bidding and Kole smiled as she casually ducked under the man's arm and tripped him up as he punched past her. She straightened and quickly stepped over to a student seated on the grass nearby, working on a project.
"May I borrow this a moment?" she asked, indicating the girl's drafting ruler-a metal L-shaped device that looked rather exceedingly sharp and pointy for a school-issued tool.
"Uh… sure?" the girl said hesitantly.
Without further delay, Kole picked up the ruler and smacked the next minion coming at her with it. Up on the balcony, the minions manning the cannon swiveled it around to point at her. Kole somersaulted away from the first blast, drawing the fire away from the students and civilians. She avoided the lasers until she found a clear spot on the green, whereupon she dropped her make-shift weapon and turned to stare down the cannon head on.
Insect-Man was rather smug as the cannon discharged once again… up until Kole transformed her body into its solid crystalline form which absorbed the energy of the laser and promptly sent it right back.
"What the heck?" he yelped as he ducked behind the balcony. The bolt sailed overhead, fizzing out on the school wall and showering sparks down on him. His gunners continued firing, but every shot deflected back at them. "Stop that you idiots!" he ordered, waving his hands frantically.
They stopped, but too late, for the last shot that ricocheted off Kole hit the cannon itself, causing it to blow open and shower parts everywhere, now quite useless.
Insect-Man leapt up, an angry tirade at his helper's incompetence on the edge of his tongue.
"Hey boss." his big thug's voice came from behind him.
"What?" he snapped, turning to look.
About the only thing the thief had time to notice was the possessed green tint of the man's eyes before Jericho calmly punched him in the face.
"That was awesome!" Kole gushed as she and Jericho rode the Metro bus down Wilshire Boulevard.
Jericho's hands were a blur, signing wildly in excitement.
"The look on his face was just priceless!" Kole leaned back in her seat, quaking with giggles. "You were great Jericho."
He pointed at her and held up two fingers. You too.
Their exhilaration did not diminish the whole evening, as they got off the bus, found a restaurant and ate, hopped on another Metro line to the Natural History Museum (where Kole purchased a shark-tooth necklace from the gift shop for Gnarrk), and ended their trip with a shopping excursion down Rodeo Drive. They didn't buy anything of course, though Kole was tempted a few times, but it was enough just to look and browse and try to guess which of their fellow shoppers were actually famous actors.
Kole practiced her sign language as they walked.
"Oh," she gasped, passing a window display, "look at those shoes!" She attempted the sentence with her hands.
Jericho snorted and doubled over slightly, clutching his sides. No sound came from his mouth, but she could tell he was guffawing.
She grimaced. "I really bungled that one didn't I? What did I say?"
Sausages, he spelled out for her when he could breathe again. This, he said, performing the correct sign, means "shoes".
Kole covered her face with her hands in embarrassment. Her second try was much better and she thanked him for his patience.
At last, tired and sore from the walking and their long day, Jericho buzzed Herald for a pick-up.
They dropped Kole off first. As Jericho was walking her to the door, she stopped him, looking nervous. She carefully lifted her hands, moving them slowly and deliberately.
I… had… a… great… time… today.
Jericho clapped in approval, then leaned in and kissed her cheek. She didn't need to know sign language to know what that meant.
Blushing, she spelled out an 'I love you too' and turned to the door. "Goodnight!" she called behind her as she slipped through.
Jericho wandered back to Herald with a dreamy look on his face.
"You two are sickeningly adorable. It's precious… and kind of disgusting." the teleporter told him.
The mute boy grinned.
Just wait until we have pet names for each other.
Herald rolled his eyes. "I'll make sure to bring my insulin."