Disclaimer: I don't own any rights to the Teen Titans or any characters in the DC Universe.
This project is an experiment of sorts. We are five different authors who are collaborating on a project, namely this story. Chances are you may have already read some of our stories.
We are (in alphabetical order)
Novus Ordo Seclorum
Still Too Old For This
Raven lifted her mug to her lips and instinctively blew over it before taking a sip of her piping hot herbal tea. Its effect was soothing and it was a quiet morning in the common room. She was alone except for Starfire who was preparing some toxic alien dish for herself and Silkie in the kitchen and Beast Boy who was sitting on the crescent shaped couch next to Raven, grumbling as he read an issue of Negima!, his favorite manga series.
Raven put her ever present book down and turned towards her green teammate, and after seeing what he was reading she rolled her eyes as she put her mug down on a coaster.
"I heard that!" He complained without looking up from his comic book.
Raven looked at him with a confused look on her face.
"You can hear me roll my eyes?" She asked incredulously.
"No." He replied. "But you always grunt the same way when you do."
"Yup". He answered as he turned a page on his thick comic book.
Raven looked away from him and out the window. It was pouring outside and she knew that's why he was in a bad mood. Robin had planned a picnic for that afternoon and Beast Boy had been looking forward to it. Also, the GameStation was on the fritz, for which Raven was grateful as that was the main reason the room was quiet. She turned and looked back at him as he continued reading his manga, oblivious to the world. There was another issue of Negima! next to him on the couch.
"Mind if I look at your comic book?"
"It's not a 'comic book', it's manga." He replied tersely without looking up.
"Whatever." She replied as she picked it up. "What is it about anyway?"
"It's about a kid who teaches a bunch of teenage girls English in Japan. He's also a wizard. You might even like it."
"I doubt it." Raven replied in her monotone as she began to browse through the 'graphic novel', which was full of buxom young girls drawn in the traditional anime/manga style and with a dialog that matched. As she flipped through the pages a frown began to form on her face. She slowed down her pace as she worked her way through the book, then as she turned the page one more time her frown became a scowl.
"Beast Boy! This is pornography! How can you read this garbage?"
He looked up at her.
"Beast Boy, this comic book is disgusting; it's even beneath your standards. For starters the teacher is little boy, and all these teenage girls are lusting for him. And look at the artwork. It's extremely sexist; some of the girls appear partially naked." She said in an emotionless monotone as several floodlights in kitchen exploded, startling Starfire and Silkie.
"Yeah, that's pretty cool." He replied absentmindedly.
"Beast Boy, did you hear a single word I said?"
Beast Boy dropped his book on his lap.
"Sure Rae, I'm listening to you." He replied nervously, secretly glad he had left his copies of "Love Hina" back in his room.
Raven gave him a death glare.
"Beast Boy, I forbid you from reading that demeaning, sexist trash here in the common room! If you insist on reading this Japanese smut, do it in the privacy of your room!" She shouted, no longer able to mask her anger.
He looked at her nervously, debating whether or not to take a stand. After a nanosecond he decided that it wasn't worth getting killed over. Meanwhile Starfire stopped her cooking and addressed the dark sorceress.
"You do not like the 'Negima!' Raven? I have borrowed it from Beast Boy and have found it to be most entertaining. There is even a character who reminds me of you: Yue Ayase. Of course my favorite character is Asuna Kagurazaka …"
Raven stared at Starfire as if she had stepped off a flying saucer. Of course that was how she came to Earth in the first place, sort of. Raven then realized that the Tamaranian could have passed as one of the school girls in the comic book. She had the look. In fact, Raven thought that Starfire looked a bit like the Asuna character, all that was missing were the bells in her hair.
"Starfire, you don't mean to tell me that you don't find these comics to be offensive?" The sorceress asked with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
The alien shook her head. "I find them to be quite whimsical."
"Whimsical? How can this trash be whimsical?"
Starfire frowned. "Trash? Why do you say they are trash Raven? We have literature back on Tamaran that is similar to the 'manga'. It is even studied at our universities."
"And Rae." Beast Boy interrupted. "Didn't you once say 'Who are we to judge her culture'?"
Beast Boy saw a vein begin to throb on Raven's forehead and he subtly gestured to the princess to drop the topic. She caught on immediately and quietly returned to the horror she was cooking on the stove. Just as she began to stir the scary sludge that was beginning to dissolve the cast iron pot it was in Cyborg entered the room pushing a hand truck with several boxes made out of corrugated plastic that bore the logo of the US Postal Service.
"Mail call!" He shouted out, much to Beast Boy's relief as Raven was still fuming over the contents of his manga books.
Cyborg approached Starfire first and placed three boxes full of letters for her on the counter. She turned off the burner on the stove and giggled as she began to read her fan mail.
"You got more than usual Grass Stain, two whole boxes this time."
"Sweet!" The changeling replied. "Oh, and you put my kit in here too. Thanks! Hey, how many did the boy blunder get?"
"No problem B! And Robin only got half a box this week. Ever since word got out that he's dating Star his fan mail volume went off a cliff."
He then turned to Raven and handed her a mere 5 envelopes.
"And here's your mail Raven." And after that he left the room still pushing the hand truck.
Raven looked at the 5 envelopes in her hand. Three of them were junk mail and she immediately tossed them into a nearby wastebasket, confident that she had not won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes while the other two were actual fan letters, which she tossed on the table unopened.
"Your kit?" She asked, unable to mask her curiosity.
"That's right." He replied nonchalantly as he pulled a large folded paper grocery bag out of the top box and opened it, placing it in the floor as she watched. She was intrigued as she had never seen Beast Boy, or any of the others for that matter, read their fan mail. Beast Boy then pulled out a letter opener and set it on the coffee table after which he retrieved a small box of latex gloves from his "kit". He removed his Doom Patrol gloves and slipped on a pair of latex gloves after which he pulled the first letter from the top box. It was a large manila folder. He inserted the letter opener and cut it open.
"Why are you wearing latex gloves …?"
Her question was cut short as she saw Beast Boy pull a pair of lacey panties from the envelope, which he immediately tossed into the paper bag.
"That's disgusting." She growled. "Your fans actually send you their underwear?"
"Tell me about it. Sometimes they aren't even clean …"
"What? Are you serious? Why do you even bother opening them? Why don't you just throw them all down the incinerator chute?"
Beast Boy chuckled. "I will, but I like to read the letters first. Oh, look, a marriage proposal. And she sent a picture too."
By this point Raven was beyond disgust and the microwave in the kitchen began to shoot sparks. Cyborg had a box full of replacement magnetrons in his workshop, as for some reason the microwave required frequent repairs.
"Why don't you open one of yours Raven?" The green boy asked.
Raven sighed and grabbed her two fan letters. She then extended her hand towards Beast Boy.
"May I use your letter opener?"
Beast Boy handed it to Raven, who proceeded to cut both envelopes open and then handed the letter opener back to him.
"I don't know why I even bother." She droned as she emptied the first envelope's contents into her hand. As she read the letter her face turned red.
"How dare he?" She roared as she looked at the photograph that he had enclosed.
"This is sick!" She yelled as she ripped the letter and photo to shreds, tossing them into the paper bag. She quickly calmed herself from her unusual outburst.
"You are going to incinerate the bag's contents, right?"
Beast Boy snickered. "Don't worry, I always do. So, what was in the letter?"
"I'm not telling you, and don't ask me again unless you want a one way ticket to another dimension."
Beast Boy chuckled as he pulled another large envelope out of the box and opened it.
"Oooh! Panties and a bra!" He gloated. "She must really like me."
He tossed the undergarments into the trash bag and removed a letter and an 8x10 photo which was face down so Raven couldn't see it.
"Let me guess, she also wants to marry you?" Raven deadpanned as he read the letter with a grin on his face.
"Nah, she just wants my body." He said as he flipped the picture over. His eyes grew as big as saucers.
"Oh baby! Sometimes I wish I wasn't a super hero role model."
Raven snatched the photo from him and her jaw almost hit the floor. The young fangirl was naked as the day she was born and was posing very provocatively.
"She's hot!" He exclaimed.
With no warning the photo caught fire while Raven was still holding it. She dropped it on the floor and stomped on it with her blue boots until it was put out. Starfire could be heard giggling in the kitchen. She then calmly turned to face the changeling.
"You mean to tell me that you get letters with lewd photos like this all the time?"
Beast Boy grinned. "All the time, except they usually aren't as hot as she is. And in this case she really was hot! I've never had a photo spontaneously combust before!"
Raven rolled her eyes as Beast Boy pulled another manila envelope from the box.
"This one's from Japan." He shared as he opened it. A letter slid out with an 8x10 photo.
"Oh crud, it's in Japanese."
"And what about the photo? Is it also lewd?" She complained in her monotone. Beast Boy grinned. He had known the gray girl long enough to know when she was irritated, regardless of whatever mask she wore, and she was peeved.
"No, it's just a portrait. She's wearing that funny makeup that some girls wear in Japan, and her hair is bleached." He said as he handed it to her. Raven took a quick glance at it.
"It's called 'Ganguro'." She informed him in scholarly tone. "It literally means 'black face'. Ganguro girls are considered to be culturally rebellious in Japan which is why they adopt that appearance."
Starfire approached the circular couch.
"Would you like me to translate the letter Beast Boy?"
He handed the letter to her.
The princess took the letter from him and sat down next to him on the couch. She cleared her throat before she began.
"Dear Beast Boy, My name is Midori Yoshida. I am a high school student from Japan and am your number one fan. You probably do not remember me but I do remember you. I was at the Karaoke bar in Tokyo when you sang to us …"
"You sang at a Karaoke bar? In Tokyo?" Raven interrupted.
"Yeah, it was pretty cool. I almost didn't get out of there alive though. I like fangirls but I learned that night that it's possible to have too much of a good thing."
"And what did you sing?" She said as she crossed her arms in clear disapproval. "Hopefully nothing that would embarrass us."
"Actually, I sang the Japanese version of the Titans theme song, but in English." He paused. "Does that make any sense?"
"No." Raven replied tersely. "But coming from you that isn't surprising. And since when do we have a theme song?"
"Have you not heard it Raven?" Starfire piped up. "It is performed by a Japanese girl group called Puffy Amiyumi. I have the CD in my room, would you like to hear it?"
Raven raised her hand in trepidation. "Maybe some other time Starfire. Why don't you continue translating the letter?"
"Oh, yes, of course … when you sang to us most … uh … sensually? We all love you in Tokyo and were very sad when you returned home to your Tower in Jump City, California. The reason that I am writing to you, beside the fact that I am hopelessly in love with you, is because I will soon be in Jump City and would like to meet you…"
Raven leaped to her feet.
"No! You all know the rules. We do not date our fans!"
"Well that's easy for you to say. You don't have any fans, or dates." He teased his magical friend.
Raven gave Beast Boy a death glare while Starfire giggled. Raven once again composed herself.
"That's not true. Kent was a fan."
Beast Boy knew he was playing with fire, but decided to throw caution to the wind. The worst thing that could happen would be a wedgie or getting tossed out the window. Or at least that's what he hoped.
"Oh you mean that geeky grad student you dated for a month before you went all Ragey on him and scared him away?"
Raven's eyes were glowing red.
"Kent isn't a geek and I didn't go 'Ragey' on him. We mutually agreed to stop dating."
"Oh, so you did date a fan?" The green boy snickered.
Raven crossed her arms and frowned.
"Shut up Beast Boy."
The changeling grinned. It wasn't easy to outsmart Raven, in fact it was damn near impossible, but he had pulled it off. This was one victory he would savor for a long time. He turned to Starfire.
"Don't stop reading Star."
The princess cleared her throat and continued.
"… and would like to meet you at the Manga and Anime convention that will be held at the Jump City convention center …."
"Dude! That starts tomorrow. I almost forgot all about it!"
"Just what we need in the Tower." Raven groaned. "More cartoon porn."
Beast Boy rolled his eyes as Starfire continued.
"… as my family owns a small Manga publishing house. Please do come and visit us dear Beast Boy. I would love to see you again and properly meet you. I will be at the Yoshida Manga booth in hall C during the entire convention. And it is signed Midori Yoshida."
"Dude, this is awesome. I can't wait to meet her!"
Raven grinned evilly. "Haven't you forgotten something genius? She doesn't speak English and you don't speak Japanese!"
Beast Boy's ears drooped.
"Oh crud, I forgot about that."
Raven smirked as she sat down again and picked up her book. "Too bad you can't learn Japanese as quickly as Starfire did. Oh well…"
The princess stopped stirring her pot of death porridge and turned her attention to the crescent shaped couch where her friends were sitting.
"Actually friends, there is a way…"
Raven eyed the Tamaranian cautiously. "This isn't what I'm thinking it is?"
"I do not know Raven, what are you thinking?" Starfire asked naively.
Raven snorted in disgust. "That you're going to kiss Beast Boy and he will learn Japanese from you."
Starfire giggled. "Yes friend, that would be correct."
"Say what?" Beast Boy shrieked as he dropped his comic book on the floor. "Robin would kill me if I kissed you Star!"
The princess continued giggling while Raven fumed.
"Only if he finds out friend. And it would not be a kiss of the romance, so he would have no right to complain."
Beast Boy looked apprehensive.
"I don't know Star; it seems like a bad idea…"
"It's about time you said something intelligent. Now why don't you forget about that Ganguro girl and open more of your revolting fan mail."
Beast Boy looked reticent, but eventually spoke up.
"How long would it take Star?"
Starfire approached him and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"I am unsure friend. It will take longer than it does for me to acquire knowledge. It has never been attempted with humans, but I can say with near certainty that it shouldn't take much more than an hour."
Raven put her book down.
"You can't be serious Starfire? Are you really going to kiss him for a whole hour?"
"If that is what it takes to help my dear friend pursue romantic love, then yes, I will do it."
"Romantic love?" Raven moaned. "For Azar's sake, she's just a fangirl with a crush on him. She's no different than any of the other girls who send him letters…"
"No Rae, you're wrong."
"What are you talking about Beast Boy? And stop calling me Rae."
Beast Boy stood his ground.
"She's not a floozy Raven. She didn't send me any underwear or indecent photos."
"She's still a fangirl…"
"And Kent was a fanboy, so what's your point?"
Raven threw her hands up in mock defeat.
"Fine. But don't say I didn't warn you." She admonished him as she sat down again to read her book. "And if you don't mind, could we keep it quiet in here while I read my book?"
"Sure Rae-ven." He corrected himself. "We'll keep it down."
The green boy got up and quietly walked into the kitchen followed by Starfire and they began to speak in hushed whispers to each other.
"I am now ready to begin the knowledge transfer Beast Boy. Now would be a good time as Robin is away working with the police this morning."
Beast Boy tapped his fingers together nervously.
"Uh, I have a problem, you see, uh, I've never kissed a girl before."
The princess smiled sweetly.
"Do not worry friend, it is easy and most pleasant."
"That's what I'm worried about…"
Starfire giggled and saw Raven glare at her out of the corner of her eye.
"Do not worry friend. While pleasant our kiss will not be romantic. It will be as you earthlings say: 'professional' and will not be genuine at all."
"That's sounds wrong on so many levels that I won't even touch it." Raven commented dryly.
"I do not understand your comment Raven…"
Raven finally lost her cool. "Oh for Azar's sake! Just kiss him and get it over with!"
"Raven, was boyfriend Kent a good kisser?" The Tamaranian asked.
"I don't want to talk about it…" She replied in a huff.
Beast Boy grinned.
"You never kissed him, did you?" He giggled.
"You're one to talk, Mr. Virgin Lips."
Starfire sat down on the couch and patted the space next to her. Beast Boy nervously sat down next to her. Raven watched as she was having a field day observing him squirm anxiously.
"Relax friend, I do not bite."
Beast Boy gulped. "I know Star, it just feels wrong, you know, like I'm about to kiss my sister or something."
Starfire placed her hand behind Beast Boy's head and drew him in for a kiss. He braced himself, as if he was about to face plant on the floor. By this point Raven had put her book down and watched intently as Beast Boy slowly melted into Starfire's alien kiss.
Too bad Bird Boy isn't here to see this. Raven thought to herself. It was then that she realized that observing their "professional" make out session was making her feel a bit irritated as well.
Raven pretended to not watch Beast Boy and Starfire indulge in their "information transfer". An hour had elapsed quite some time before and every time they took a break the pair concluded that more time was needed. Raven wasn't sure if she was skeptical or simply annoyed by the claim. Had they forgotten that she was an empath? She could tell that they were having a grand time with their "educational experience" yet she did not sense any deception on their behalf.
She was still angry over Beast Boy's taunt over her failure to kiss her one time boyfriend. She wasn't sure what angered her more: that she had more than once rebuffed Kent's attempts to kiss her or that fact that Beast Boy was kissing Starfire like a pro. Eventually Kent became tired of Raven's "games" as he called them and dumped the sorceress. To her credit she had concealed that distressful event from her team for months, not even taking it out on Beast Boy. Still, watching the Tamaranian snog with the changeling was more than she could bear, and she wasn't sure why.
The grey sorceress sighed and decided to make herself some tea. She quietly walked into the kitchen, filled the electric kettle with water and plugged it in. As she was rummaging through the cupboards searching for her box of herbal tea she heard the sliding doors open. There was a brief silence after they closed during which she first sensed confusion followed by intense anger emanating from whoever had walked in. She turned around just in time to see Robin, whose face was red as a beet, literally explode.
"Starfire! Beast Boy! What the hell are you doing?"
Raven smiled subtly, preparing herself to enjoy the fireworks that were about to begin. She almost laughed when Beast Boy fell of the couch and landed on the floor with a loud thud.
"Rob. It's not what you think." The changeling whimpered.
Robin ignored the changeling and instead focused on his girlfriend, who was sporting a sweet smile.
Robin composed himself before addressing the Tamaranian.
"Star, why were you kissing Beast Boy?" He asked her in an emotionless deadpan.
Starfire knew that meant that Robin was VERY angry. She also knew from experience that when he got this angry there was really nothing that could be done about it, so she decided to tell him the truth.
"I am teaching our friend to speak in the Japanese language."
Robin gave his girlfriend an incredulous look. He then turned to Beast Boy.
"So you're learning Japanese Beast Boy." He said in a lightly menacing tone. "So tell me, how do you say 'Japanese' in Japanese?"
"Nihongo" The changeling replied without hesitating. Raven arced one of her eyebrows. So it was for real.
Raven walked over to the coffee table and picked up Midori's letter.
"Go ahead Beast Boy, read her letter, but wait until I turn on the translating computer." She said as she handed the letter covered in kanji script to her green teammate. She then walked over to the ops console and began typing on the keyboard.
"It's ready. You can start at any time."
Beast Boy looked down apprehensively at the letter in his hands but after a mere second or two his face lit up and he began to read in what sounded like Japanese. He quickly read the letter out loud and was soon done. He nodded at Raven who pushed another button and an audio translation of the letter was played back in English. Once it was done Robin glared at him and at Starfire.
"Star, you never told me that knowledge transfer worked both ways. So how long did this transfer take?"
"I am not sure boyfriend Robin."
"They were at it for 1 hour and 17 minutes." Raven droned.
Robin's right eye began to twitch. Beast Boy braced himself for a verbal lashing while Starfire crossed her arms and stood her ground.
"You have no reason to be jealous Robin." The Princess told him. "The kisses were not romantic in nature."
"Yeah, what she said." Beast Boy added hastily as Raven smirked, knowing well that the changeling had thoroughly enjoyed the make out session with the princess and that he was lying through his teeth.
Robin looked thoroughly peeved and crossed his arms.
"So you made out with my girlfriend for over an hour to prepare for what is basically a blind date?" The Boy Wonder asked, no longer able to conceal the irritation in his voice. He then turned to Raven. "And you just watched them for over an hour? What are you Raven? Some kind of voyeur? Why didn't you do anything to stop them?"
Raven glared at Robin.
"I'm not your girlfriend's babysitter. If she wants to smooch Beast Boy it's none of my business. Maybe if you spent more time with her this kind of situation wouldn't happen."
Beast Boy began to panic. "Raven, what you talking about? We only did this so I could speak Japanese when I meet Midori tomorrow."
Raven glared at him, which puzzled him. She seemed genuinely annoyed with him. But why? He hadn't done anything to her all day.
"Don't pretend you didn't enjoy it Beast Boy. I'm an empath, remember?"
"Well duh! Star's hot! Who wouldn't enjoy kissing her? But that's not why we did it. Come on Rae, you know I was worried about kissing Star. You know I didn't want Robin to get upset!"
"Oh I see." Raven replied in a dangerous voice. "Starfire is desirable, but I'm not. No one would want to kiss dark, creepy Raven."
"What are you talking about Rae? The only reason I kissed Star was so I could learn Japanese. I would have kissed you if I could learn Japanese that way."
"Oh, so I'm not attractive enough for a boy to want to kiss me? There has to be an ulterior motive? I'll have you know that Kent tried to kiss me several times, but I didn't let him." She replied with a hint of smugness.
"What?" Starfire and Beast Boy replied in unison. "Why?"
The conversation was interrupted by the sound of laughter, the source of which was Robin.
Raven now glared at Robin.
"What's so funny bird boy?"
Between guffaws Robin replied. "You are, in fact all of you are."
Raven crossed her arms and glared. "Shut up Robin."
The Boy Wonder ignored the sorceress and instead focused his attention on his girlfriend. He walked up to her and wrapped his arm around her waist.
"Star, how long would it take for me to learn Tamaranian by kissing?"
The princess tapped her index fingers together while thinking.
"It is hard to say. The Tamaranian language is much more complex than Japanese or English. I would say that it would take at least 10 Earth hours."
Robin grinned. "Then as you would say 'let us make with the haste!' wouldn't you agree?"
The princess nodded energetically and without saying another word they left the common room arm in arm.
"Phew! That was close!" Beast Boy exhaled as he leaped back over the couch, landing in front of his boxes of fan mail. Raven sat down next to him as he slipped on another pair of latex gloves.
"What's the strangest thing anyone has ever sent you Beast Boy?"
The changeling looked lost in thought.
"I don't know." He finally replied. "There have been a few doozies. I once received a letter from a pair of twins…"
Raven covered his mouth with her hand.
"Never mind, sorry I asked. Just forget it."
The changeling chuckled. "Aren't you going to read your other letter?"
Raven sighed. "I guess …."
Starfire and Robin had agreed to begin the first "transfer session" in Starfire's room and the Boy Wonder was sporting a huge grin as they entered her abode. They had agreed to start with Japanese first before trying Tamaranian. Starfire sat down on the edge of her round bed and patted the space next to her. As Robin sat down he made a remark.
"Why did Raven get so bent out of shape? She seemed more upset about you guys kissing than I was."
"Have you not noticed Robin?"
"No, notice what?"
Starfire continued giggling.
"Raven was being the jealous."
"Jealous? For Beast Boy?" He shook his head. "You're seeing things."
"Do you really think so Robin? First she was very upset when she learned that that Beast Boy is going to meet the Midori tomorrow. Then she became upset when I kissed him."
Robin shrugged. "You know Raven. The oddest things can annoy her. She's just probably just irritated that Beast Boy has a date and she doesn't."
"Oh I do not think so Robin, you see …"
"Starfire?" He interrupted.
The couple began their "knowledge transfer" and continued until it was past lunchtime.