I OWN NOTHING!
(yes, dis is actual Romanian-speak)
It was the day before Robin's sixteenth birthday. Everyone was psyched for their leader. Beast Boy was excited that Robin was finally old enough to drive so that they wouldn't keep getting arrested when he drove the T-Car; Cyborg was thrilled that their leader was coming into 'man-hood'. Seriously, he was the oldest, being eighteen, and now he had a teen buddy. Raven was Raven, but she was slightly more happy, knowing that it was her friend's birthday, which would surely make him happy. Starfire was so excited that she got to make his birthday cake, that she accidentally burnt it- six times. She was on her seventh box of vanilla cake batter.
It was almost noon, but everyone was just chilling, letting Robin sleep. They were bustling around trying to get everything together for the next day.
"Dude!" Beast Boy threw his hands in the air when he saw Cyborg making hamburgers. "What happened to the tofu?"
"Look, grass stain, no one likes tofu!"
"WELL NO ONE ELSE DOES!
Raven looked up from her book. "No, Raven doesn't." She went back to reading.
Beast Boy had steam coming from his ears. Steam was also coming from the oven. "Uh... Star?" Cyborg asked the Tamaranian, who was painting a banner.
"Yes, friend Cyborg?"
"I think you're cake is burning."
She gasped and flew to the oven, taking out a black piece of bread. She groaned. "Not again! Friends, I fear we are out of the batter of the box. Will I be accompanied to the store?"
Cyborg turned to his burgers. "Sorry, Star. I'm making lunch!"
"And I've gotta make sure that he doesn't, like, kill any more animals!" Beast Boy exclaimed.
"I DIDN'T KILL THEM; THEY WERE ALREADY DEAD!"
Suddenly, a shrill, blood-curdling scream came from down the hall. Cyborg dropped his burgers. Raven dropped her book. Starfire yelped. Beast Boy's ears twitched. "Robin?" he asked, his face turning pale.
Everyone bolted into action, running (or flying) to Robin's room.
The screams continued, along with odd words that no one could understand. Beast Boy pulled on the door handle. "Dude! It's, like, stuck!"
Cyborg pushed him away, revving up his cannon, aiming it at the door. "Not anymore it ain't!"
The door turned into crisp splinters.
Everyone ran through the smoke and saw their leader on his bed, without his mask, thrashing around, sweat running down his face. The covers were tangled around his legs. He cried out, "Nu! Nu! Mama! Tata! Nu!" Starfire ran to his side.
"Friend Robin! Awaken! Awaken!"
"Mama!" he screamed, thrashing harder. "Nu, nu, nu, nu ma lasa! Sa nu moara! Nu, nu! NU!"
Raven sped over, placing her hands on either side of his face. Her normally calm voice was tinged with worry. "Robin... Robin, wake up!"
Robin's back arched as he screamed again, turning his head back and forth. Beast Boy winced. Robin was going to get some major whiplash. "Tata! Va rog, te rog nu-i lasa sa ia-ma! Nu! Nu! Domnul Haley! Nas vrea sa plece! Ajuta-ma! Nu! Nu muri, va rog!"
Raven resorted to her back-up plan. She whacked her hand across Robin's face with a shallow SCHWACK!
Robin sat up bolt-right, panting, grabbing at his bare chest. Everyone gasped at how blue his eyes were. "Friend Robin?" Starfire asked slowly.
"Unde sunt eu?" he asked, looking at his friends. He gasped for air and touched his face, just under his sapphire eyes. "Unde-i masca meu? Unde sint? Spune-mi! Nu, nu, nu, nu, NU!" Tears ran down his cheeks as he shook. Everyone was taken aback by their fearless leader's behavior.
Raven grabbed Robin's mask and handed it to him. In between sobbing gasps, he put it on. "Va multumesc, corb..." he said softly.
He looked up at his teammates, his face confused. "Asteptam... de se sint baieti in camera mi?"
Beast Boy's face was blank. "Uh... dude, what's he saying?" he whispered to Cyborg.
"Uh... no clue..."
"Ce vrei sa spui 'ce zice el acolo'? Vorbesc perfect engleza!" Robin exclaimed, throwing his hands up in the air. Everyone just looked blankly at him. "Serios! Ce- oh, porcarie..." Robin began to massage his temples, groaning to himself. "S- Sorry, guys..."
"DUDE!" Cyborg and Beast Boy said in unison. "WHAT WAS THAT?"
Robin stood up, shivering, and pulled on a tee-shirt. "N- nothing, really... I was just... confused, that's all."
He left, walking into the kitchen as he stretched. He saw the seven burnt cakes and the wet banner and paled. Starfire looked at him curiously as she floated in the air in front of him. "Friend Robin? What is wrong?"
"E ziua mea de nastere..." he said softly, letting out a shaky breath.
Beast Boy exclaimed again. "DUDE! WHAT ARE YOU SAYING? And since when did you know- well, whatever that language you're speaking is?"
Robin shook his head. "It- it's Romanian..." he said softly, his bare feet making a soft 'pat' sound on the kitchen tiles. He reached into the fridge and grabbed a soda before sitting himself on the couch, sprawling out to take up as much space as possible.
After exchanging some worried glances, his team surrounded him.
"What is this?" Robin inquired.
"We're gonna be doing the question-asking, Robin," Beast Boy said stiffly as he crossed his arms over his chest. "Like, first, dude, why were you screaming in your sleep?"
Robin sat up slowly, his drink shaking in his hand. "I- I was screaming?"
Raven nodded, and Cyborg said, "Loudly."
"You frightened us deeply, Friend Robin," Starfire said as she sat next to him. She eyed his drink. "Your hand is shaking."
He quickly set down the drink, not knowing what to say. Raven sat on his other side. "You were having a nightmare, and screaming in Romanian. I caught a few of the words, like 'Mom', 'Dad', 'No', and..." she paused for a moment before saying, "'die'..."
Robin stood, pushing his way past his teammates. "It's not something I really want to talk about..."
"Rob," Cyborg said slowly. "Dude, if something's bugging you, you can talk to us... You know that, right?"
Robin shuddered, tears beginning to fall down his face. "Eu nu..."
"DUDE!" Beast Boy exclaimed, his arms in the air again. "ENGLISH!"
Robin snapped. He twisted around so fast that he almost broke his back. "I CAN'T!" he screamed, tears wetting his mask. "SO JUST STOP IT! I CAN'T TELL YOU!"
Everyone was silent. Beast Boy had a look of shock on his face. Robin never lost it like that... Raven was deeply disturbed, and Cyborg's mouth was open about a mile. Slowly, unsurely, Starfire approached Robin, her hand out. She gently touched his shoulder. "Friend Robin... why can you not speak of this?"
He grabbed her hand and held it, turning his head away before saying softly. "It just hurts too much..."
Starfire threw her arms around Robin. "Friend Robin, we are here for you. You must not fear. We will not let whatever this hurt is harm you."
Beast Boy scratched the back of his head. Raven, not knowing what else to do, picked up her book. Cyborg turned to go back to the kitchen.
"I want to tell you guys," Robin said, drawing everyone's attention. "I'm just... not ready..."
"We'll be here when you are," Cyborg smiled dully.
Everyone went back to their things. Robin looked down at the banner Starfire was painting. So far, it said: "HAPPY BIRTHDAY FRIEN..." He supposed she was still working on it. Shoving his hands into the pockets of his sweatpants, Robin spoke. "Guys, I- I don't want to do anything for my birthday..."
He was met with open-jaws. "Really."
Beast Boy looked like he was about to cry. "But- but- but- DUDE! It's your sweet sixteen!"
Robin licked his lips again. "Yeah, I know, but-"
"And you never wanna do anything for your birthday," Cyborg objected.
"I also retrieved us tickets to the Haley's Circus!" Starfire cried.
Robin gasped and took a step back. "W- w- what?" he asked incredulously.
Starfire produced five colorful tickets. "The Haley's Circus. Do you not like the Haley's Circus, friend Robin?"
Robin said nothing. Raven put down her book and approached him slowly. "Rob-"
"NU! LASA-MA IN PACE!" he screamed at her. She withdrew, shocked. Beast Boy was fuming.
"Dude!" he squeaked. "You don't have to be all crappy to Rae, just 'cause she's trying to help!"
"En nu am nevoie de ajutor..." he said.
"ENGLISH!" they all screamed.
"I DON'T NEED HELP!" he screamed back.
Cyborg looked uneasy. "Um, Rob? I think you do..."
Robin was the one fuming, now. He stormed from the room, and everyone could hear his door slam shut. Then, it opened, and he screamed out, "Te-ai simti in acelasi fel, daca parintii tai au fost ucisi!" before slamming it again.
Raven paled even more than her normal shade of grey-white. All eyes were on her. "Can you tell what he said?" Beast Boy asked her as she sat, setting her book on her lap. She clasped her hands together, laying them on her book, before hunching over, looking at her shoes.
"Rae," Cyborg said, sitting next to her, "we need to know what he said. We need to help him. He's our leader!"
She took in a slow breath before looking up at the others. "All I really heard was 'feel the same way', 'parents' and..." she shuddered, "'murdered'..."
Starfire was clueless, but the boys both gasped. "What is wrong with friend Robin, friend Raven?" the Tamaranian princess asked with a frown.
Cyborg answered for her. "Star... Robin's parents were murdered..."
Robin didn't come out of his room for the rest of the day. Everyone went to bed around midnight, feeling rather depressed.
So, leaving the day like that, everyone was surprised when they came into the kitchen.
Robin was there, in his mask and uniform (minus the cape and belt) and holding a long wooden spoon and he leaned over a cook book. Several fresh, steaming breads were on the table, along with muffins, cinnamon rolls, pancakes, and cupcakes. He turned to find the others staring at him and grinned sheepishly. "Aceasta este calea- oh, right, English... This is my way of saying sorry..."
Beast Boy was the first to sample everything. "Wow, Rob! Who knew you could cook!"
"Bake," he corrected, smiling as he licked pink batter off of the spoon he held. "The cake's in the oven... I thought, since you guys wanted to celebrate, we'd celebrate."
Starfire embraced Robin, and the now-sixteen-year-old blushed furiously. "Oh, friend Robin! Thank you!" She stood back, smiling. "Oh! Presents!"
The oven timer went off, and Robin smiled, shaking his finger at her. "Not before cake, Star." And with a flourish, he pulled a steaming pink cake out of the oven. It looked moist and thick pieces of strawberry in it.
"DUDE!" Beast Boy and Cyborg screamed at the same time. "STRAWBERRY IS LIKE MY TOTAL FAVORITE!"
Robin laughed. "Exactly why I made it."
He set that one down and pulled a triple chocolate chip cake out. Raven grinned deviously. "Really?"
Robin set it down and pulled out a third cake, this one a simple vanilla. Starfire squealed and kissed Robin's cheek. He turned even redder. "Thank you, friend Robin! My new favorite flavor of Earth is vanilla!"
Everyone was about to dig in, but Robin blurted out, "WAIT!" He received odd glares, but pulled out some white, fluffy icing. After putting a thin sheet of it on all of the cakes, he said, "This is a trick my Mama taught me. The icing melt, sinking into the cake, and makes it moister."
He grinned dazily. "My mom was the best baker you could ever meet. This whole book," he picked up the tattered instructions, "she had it all memorized. It's the only thing I have of hers..." he said softly. Everyone sniffled, wiping away tears. Robin looked up and chuckled. "Well, dig in!"
Starfire actually grabbed a piece of the cake and ate it from her hand. Cyborg and Beast Boy eyed her. "Uh... Star?" Beast Boy began, "'Dig in' doesn't actually mean dig in-"
Robin stuck his hand in the cake and pulled out a thick chunk. Grinning, he nibbled on it. "Good," he said, smiling at the others.
"Who are you and what did you do with Robin?" Raven said, letting out a very rare joke.
Everyone else plowed their hands into the warm, damp cakes, getting icing under their nails, and feasted.
It was almost half an hour later, and Beast Boy and Cyborg were both moaning, eating Tums, and lying on their backs on the floor as Robin tried to do the dishes. Trying, as in, Raven and Starfire shuffled him away. "It's your birthday, Robin," Raven explained. "We have to do the dishes."
Twenty minutes later, they were all sitting on the floor in a circle, each of the Titans (minus Robin) holding a colorful package in their hands. Starfire handed hers to Robin first. He smiled as he saw how messily the pink paper was wrapped. He shrugged. She had tried, and he didn't really care about the wrappers.
He, to make the others happy, enthusiastically ripped it open. It was a shoe box. After opening the shoe box, he blushed, almost darker than he had when Starfire kissed him. He slowly held up the bright red sweater. It had three arm holes, a large gap at the bottom, and two places for your head to stick out. "Um... Thanks, Star! It's... unique!"
She grinned, not understanding his undertone of sarcasm.
Raven handed her present to him next. It was a small, black-wrapped box with a silver bow. Robin again ripped the paper. It was a silver watch. He grinned at Raven, a genuine smile. "Thanks... Rae." She blushed and pulled up her hood at her nick-name. She was used to it, yeah, but never, never had Robin called her 'Rae'. She tried not to think of how much she liked it when he did...
"It- it can tell you the time, temperature, and location of wherever you are," she said softly as she watched Robin put it on his wrist. It was a bit big for the scrawny Boy Wonder, but he pushed it up about half-way on his forearm.
"Ooh, ooh, ooh!" Beast Boy had his arms in the air, waving them frantically. "My turn, my turn, MY TURN!"
"No more sugar for Beast Boy," Cyborg said as he handed Robin his present. It wasn't wrapped, but was in a tin cube.
Robin turned it over in his hands. "Uh... Cy, how does it... uh, open?"
At the word 'open' the box began to shake. Robin dropped it with a gasp, and it opened, folding itself into a flat sheet. Then, it seemed to force itself up. A small game board appeared, and Cyborg grinned sheepishly. "Yeah, well, I know how much you love board games, so..."
It was a perfect map of Jump City. "It's the same as Life, basically," Cyborg grinned, "Only with Jump."
"Life?" Starfire frowned. "How is life a game? Oh!" She snapped her fingers. "This is a metaphore, yes?"
Everyone, even Raven, laughed. "I'll explain it later, Star," Robin said.
Beast Boy looked rather anxious, so Robin quickly ripped the green elephant paper from his present.
When he saw what it was, his face paled.
"Uh... Rob?" Beast Boy asked, worried. "What- What's wrong?"
Robin pulled from the box two armbands, both green, matching his boots. "I- I thought you'd like them, 'cause you do all that acrobat stuff," Beast Boy exclaimed hastily, "and I heard that armbands help you from, like, breaking a wrist or something like that..."
No one expected what happened next. Robin quickly grabbed up Beast Boy in a hug. The green boy croaked, "Uh- dude... Can't... breathe!" Robin set him down and pulled off his gloves and watch, pulling the wrist-bands on. They were tight on his skin, but not cutting off his circulation, and they kept his wrists firm as they latched around his fingers, keeping the tips of the appendages from hiding under the stretchy green fabric. Pulling back on his watch, tears came to Robin's eyes.
"Thank you, Beast Boy..." he said, a tear running down his cheek. "You don't understand how much this... this means..."
He silently thanked God for his friends.
"Friend Robin?" Starfire touched his arm. "What is wrong?"
"N- nothing," Robin said quickly, wiping his nose. "Uh... Well, I have a present for you guys..."
Before anyone reacted, he took off his mask, again revealing those baby blues. But now, the team got a better look. They were bright, sky blue, but had tiny silver beads in them, with navy blue wrapping around the outside and inside of his iris. "My name is Richard Grayson," he said. "I'm sixteen, obviously, and... and I owe you all an explanation."
"Robin-" Raven began, but the boy held up a hand.
"Raven, call me Dick. Everyone at the Circus did."
"Circus?" Beast Boy cocked an eyebrow.
Robin nodded. "I'm Richard Grayson, and my parents were John and Mary Grayson."
Cyborg and Beast Boy gasped, but the girls were just confused. "What?" Raven frowned, turning to Robin.
Robin took in a shaky sigh. "The Flying Graysons were the best acrobats in the whole United States. They were known for their quadruple flip. Tata- or, John would go first. He flipped four times, then grabbed the bar, before swinging back where Mary would flip four times and grab him, before coming back and grabbing their son, who also did four flips. It was an amazing feat, no net, especially for an eight-year-old kid..." Robin's eyes filled with tears. "But then..."
Tony Zucco was a tall man with white hair and a blind eye, due to the scratch that stretched from his left eyebrow to his chin. He growled at John Grayson and Mr. Haley. "We won't pay you," the acrobat snapped. "We don't need your protection..."
Tony Zucco frowned, before eying the small, black-haired boy. He grinned erily. "But you wouldn't want something to happen to your family, would you?"
Mary grabbed her son and John and Mr. Haley stepped in front of the child and his mother. "Leave," Mr. Haley said firmly.
Zucco chuckled before dissapearing into the shadows. "You'll regret it..."
Robin's voice cracked, and tears slowly fell down his cheeks as he relayed the story. "The next night was their big day..."
Mary smiled proudly at her son, who had on his red, green, and yellow suit. An 'R' was printed on his chest, and he scowled at his mother and father. "Really, Mama? A robin? Kids my age get beat up for getting called that kind of stuff!"
John and Mary laughed. "We could call you our flying squirrel," John kidded his son, ruffling his hair.
Richard cocked and eyebrow, and his parents laughed again before hugging eachother, a Grayson Group-hug, they called it. Mary kissed her son's forehead. "Alright, lubire, wait for your cue. You remember it, right?"
The boy nodded. John heard the crowd yelling, and he grabbed his wife's hand. "C'mon, draga, it's our turn."
And they left.
Richard turned at the noise he heard. He saw a man with a large scar on his face walking by, holding a knife and whistling the lyrics to a hymn. "Hey!" Richard frowned at him. The man turned and grinned.
"Well, boy... How're you? Not too good, soon, I'm sure," he growled in a strong Jersey accent.
Richard heard the crowd yell again, and he left the tent, but not before giving Zucco a growl and a fierce glare.
Richard saw the flashing lights, heard the yells of joy, and saw his mother, her red hair tied back tightly, her suit glittering in the lights. It matched his father's- blue and white, with little black stars. She swung up towards him as Mr. Haley announced, "And now, ladies and gents, boys and girls, RICHARD GRAYSON!"
Richard reached out to grab his mother's arms, but her gasp stopped him. Her mouth and eyes were wide 'o's, and she screamed. The ropes on the trapeze bars snapped. "DICK!" she screamed shrilly as she fell.
The boy was in shock. His mother and father were dead. Their bodies were covered in blood, their bones sticking out of their flesh, and their eyes wide open. Blood dripped from their ears and eyes and noses. The boys quickly exited the high-ramp and ran to their sides. "Nu!" he screamed. "Mama! Tata! Nu ma lasa! Nu! Nu! Nu poti fi mort!Tocmai ti-ai nici un fel! Mama! Tata! Va rog... te rog, te rog, te rog, nu fi murit... sa nu mai fi murit..." he wept openly. He sat there, his parents' blood soaking his costume, until two police officers pulled him away...
Robin looked up at his teammates- his friends- and saw that they were all crying.
"What- what did it mean?" Beast Boy asked as he wiped away tears. "What- what you said when they..."
"You can say it, Beast Boy," Robin said. "It bugs me, but I need to get over it..."
"When they died?"
Robin took in a shaky breath. "No, Mom, Dad. You can't be dead... You just can't..." His eyes were filled with tears. They spilt over his cheeks.
"Rob," Cyborg began, "You don't have to-"
"Mom... Dad... Please... please, please, please don't be dead... don't be dead..."
"Robin!" Raven snapped. She turned to Starfire, who was weeping openly.
Robin's jaw hung open. "Star, I-"
She embraced him. "Oh, friend Robin! I am so sorry for the loss you have endured!"
Robin hugged her back. "Thanks, Star..."
"Now I get why you didn't want to celebrate your birthday..." Beast Boy said softly. "It's the same day they died..."
There was silence.
Then, Cyborg spoke. "You know, you're parents would be really proud of you..."
Robin grinned. "Eu stiu..."
"ENGLISH, ROB!" Beast Boy said.
Robin simply grinned. "I know..."