To Clean a Tower
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans, as well as a lot of other things, such as my free time. I apologize for this late update.
"Cyborg has not returned yet, either," Starfire murmured, running her hand along the length of Silkie's back. Her pet silkworm gurgled, wiggling around happily. She and Robin absently lounged on the couch, waiting for the others to return. "Shall I go search for him?"
"He's fine," Robin replied distantly, absorbed in his newspaper. He flipped a page and raised an eyebrow.
"What is wrong, Robin?" Starfire asked, noticing his behaviour. She tried to peer at the page he was reading.
"Ah… Nothing," he replied, ducking his head a little so Starfire couldn't see his mask. "Just a rather odd article."
Thinking nothing was amiss, Starfire stared out the window at the city across the water. Like Cyborg, she felt that something was definitely wrong. It ran in the air and made her alert senses tingle.
Gently, she reluctantly placed Silkie on the ground and stood up. Robin looked at her in surprise. "You're leaving, too?" His tone held a hint of disbelief.
"I must know where they are," she replied, not meeting his eyes. "You may come with me if you wish," she added in a hopeful tone.
"I'm kind of busy now," he replied, returning to his paper.
"Oh." She didn't try to hide the disappointment in her tone, and stared at the back of his head for a few moments. Then she silently walked out of the room; she could not conjure up the joyous emotions needed for floating. The door closed quietly behind her.
Only now did Robin realize he was all alone. First he had sent Raven off; then Cyborg had left; now Starfire.
He wondered if he should be worried.
"Nah, it's all good," he told himself. The words dissolved in the still air.
If only he knew what was coming up.
An hour later, he started to feel the silence. Normally it would be broken by Beast Boy or Cyborg, playing their games, or Raven, making her trademark sarcastic remarks, or Starfire, popping in to add her comment and cheer on the players.
But it was surprisingly silent now. His own breathing even sounded loud.
Beast Boy and Raven should have been back two hours ago. The empath was only supposed to go to the changeling's room and retrieve him for breakfast and then cleaning. Cyborg should have been back an hour and a half ago. He was only going to look for them. And Starfire had left an hour ago—
Suddenly the newspaper didn't look so appealing anymore.
Robin stood up. He wondered where he should go. He could check their rooms, as that was where Beast Boy was supposed to be; the roof, where they often liked to go; his communicator—life signs. He realized as they could tell him the location of his teammates. He hurriedly flipped it on.
Imagine his surprise when the communicator showed he was the only Titan in the entire Tower. The others had all disappeared.
Now what? he thought irritably.
He put his newspaper down. As if gaining a life of its own, it rustled, and he looked at it in surprise. The page, apparently blacker than it had been moments before, had flipped, showing an article with two words at the top:
Robin whipped his head around to see if anyone was looking, even though he had just confirmed he was the only Titan in the Tower. Then he lunged forward and snatched up the newspaper, holding it tightly to his chest.
He'd have to examine this in the office.
He quickly skittered to his little room, newspaper clutched in hand tightly, and locked the door with an audible click. Turning on the only light in his office, he set down the paper on his desk. Without even bothering to sit down, he began to read.
Boy Blunder: Will He Ever Come?
Jump City News
It started out a simple enough morning. We were making our daily rounds through Jump, and happened to pass the landfill. There, a very peculiar sight greeted us. Four of the Teen Titans—Cyborg, Raven, Starfire, and the ever-awesome Beast Boy, the respected protectors of our city—were simply standing around the landfill. Not missing the chance to gather more information, we hopped out of the car and asked them what was going on.
The changeling was the first to respond. "We're waiting for Robin," Beast Boy answered. "He threw out all my stuff and he's making me clean, so here's the deal, Robin, 'cause you're probably reading this article right now: I won't clean until you give me back all my stuff. Some of them I got from the Doom Patrol, y'know, so they're like my last memories in a way.
"And I don't care if you give me a thousand bucks to buy them new; I want mine. Do you know, Robin, how I felt this morning? And then when Raven came—and we were out on the rocks when Cyborg came—and we were already in Jump by the time Star joined us—so you'd better get down here quick!"
There was more text below, but Robin didn't have time to read it. He had to—wait a minute, he thought. It didn't add up. Starfire had left only an hour ago, and even the reporters of Jump weren't that quick. And the report said this morning—something was amiss.
He held up the newspaper to examine it more closely, but it suddenly started to glow raven-black.
"Whoa!" he cried, as the strangest thing happened.
It came to life.
As if his hand was glued tightly to the paper, he couldn't remove it from his grip. It was stuck. The newspaper rose up into the air, slowly at first, and then gaining speed like a fledging spreading out its wings for the first time. A corner of the paper manipulated the lock, and the door swung open. Robin was dragged along despite his protests and thrashing movements. Even the Boy Wonder couldn't escape from the possessed paper.
Speeding into the commons room, it headed straight for the window. Robin yelped as he felt himself crashing through the class, and then watching the glass shards dive towards the ocean stories below.
He struggled as hard as he could, but it was a furtile effort. He helplessly dangled from the paper. He wondered how something as flimsy as paper could be so strong, and how it hadn't even ripped apart. He hung on for dear life, and realized the paper had a destination: It was speeding straight for the landfill.
The people below saw a very peculiar sight—Robin hanging by one hand by a flying newspaper. They never would understand what happened in that strange T-shaped Tower on the island in the middle of the ocean.
The Titans were very strange indeed.
Unfortunately, Raven forgot about making the newspaper land properly, so when it flew in her direction, the magic evaporated and Robin had nowhere to go but straight down, which happened to be the middle of the landfill.
The empath reached out and expertly caught the now-lifeless newspaper with one hand. Nobody bothered to go catch Robin, and he ended up half-submerged in bags of leaky garbage. It was rather gross. The sound effects did not help, either.
They waited a moment, the tension building.
Then Robin exploded out of the heap of garbage, loudly gasping for air and trying not to ingest anything he might regret. With great difficulty, he climbed out of the Robin-shaped hole and stumbled over to them. "Did," he gasped, pointing at Raven and trying unsuccessfully to balance on the bags without making them explode, "you curse the newspaper or something?"
The empath shrugged as if her leader hadn't just taken a dive in the garbage. "Favour for Beast Boy. He also wrote the text on the paper."
Robin blinked rapidly, and a banana peel—it always seemed to be banana peels—slid off his head. "You mean, they didn't actually see you guys?"
"No," she answered.
Robin looked around at his teammates. They were simply standing around, as if waiting for something. None of them were meeting his gaze, though; they were all staring elsewhere.
"So…" he croaked weakly, "we just get Beast Boy's stuff and leave?"
"Yeah." Beast Boy finally turned towards his leader. His normally sparkling eyes were cold and hard. Shrugging nonchalantly, he said, "I'm glad you agree. This could've been much harder, but I'm glad it's not going to be." His voice, too, was different. Instead of upbeat and cheerful, it was colder, more distant. It was the voice he used when he was upset. Was he really that worked up about his garbage—er, his possessions?
Robin wanted to refuse—he really did—but knew that would only cause unnecessary trouble. "Fine," he growled. Then he noticed the large number of garbage bags all around him; the other Titans were standing at the edge. And the bags all looked exactly alike. And they stretched as far as the eye could see.
"Uh… Which ones are yours?" he asked timidly, his courage quickly fading. He hoped they didn't have to search through them. Perhaps Beast Boy already had them, and was just waiting for Robin to agree so they could leave and he could never be in the middle of the landfill again because it really wasn't a nice place to be—
Beast Boy gestured around. "One or two of these." He took a step back, and the other Titans followed him, as if they were leaving Robin all alone to search for this needle in the haystack.
"Why do I have to?" he cried, horrified. His uniform would be ruined!—and his hair—his hair! His perfectly jelled, time-consuming hair!
"You're already covered with garbage," Beast Boy suggested, finding a bare patch of ground and plopping down on it. "A bit more won't hurt."
"And do you know the condition Beast Boy was in when I found him? It was terrible, Robin. I wouldn't want that for any friend," Raven told him icily. She walked towards Beast Boy and sat down next to him. "This is the least you can do to repay him."
"Some of these are memories from his past!" Cyborg added, joining the two. "You had no right to take them away."
"These possessions are his greatest treasures," Starfire finished, sitting down with her friends. "Do it, Robin."
The Boy Wonder felt smaller. Okay, maybe he kind of deserved it, but having to go through an entire landfill just to find one little bag? And while his entire team watched him with disapproving frowns on their faces? Even Starfire wasn't on his side.
Raven heard his thoughts through their telepathic connection. They were pure emotion; she couldn't have blocked them out even if she wanted to. "Yes." She spoke for all of them.
With a long, resigned sigh, Robin turned to the nearest bag, held his breath, and peered inside. It was not pretty.
"To make matters worse," Robin gasped at Kid Flash on his communicator, "The Jump City News actually passed by!"
After an extremely gruelling day, he had taken a long shower and was currently in his room, trying not to think much about the day's stressful events. He had planned a cleanup today, and instead had spent it at the landfill of all places!
"Whoa," Kid Flash replied, leaning into his communicator. "That's gotta be tough. But you deserved it, y'know."
"Yes, I suppose so," Robin replied weakly; even Kid Flash was against him. "But do you know how long it took?"
"Yeah," he laughed. "You've told me about twenty-seven times and counting." He looked around him, and then returned back to the screen in moments.
"So how's the cleaning going along?" he asked curiously.
"Badly," Robin muttered. He leaned back onto his pillow. "Yesterday we did the rooms, except I made the mistake of throwing out Beast Boy's stuff, so today we did absolutely no cleaning at all and now the others are kind of mad at me…" He sighed. "Well, tomorrow's a new day," he said hopefully.
Kid Flash laughed, and then abruptly stopped. "Oh, gotta go now. Trouble's out there. See ya, Robin!" With a click, he zoomed off.
Robin put his communicator away and stared at the ceiling for a moment. Then he decided to head down to the commons room. Maybe he could apologize and the others wouldn't be so cold towards him. It would relieve the tension, at least.
He wandered down the hallway, thinking. But his thoughts were soon interrupted as he heard the TV blaring in the commons room. It was the news channel, and as he listened, his heart dropped.
"Today, we feature a video of Robin, ex-apprentice of the Batman, the Boy Wonder, and leader of the Teen Titans, digging in the garbage!"
Robin swore he could hear the entire city laughing at him. The voices were loud, mocking him.
"We wanted to get the details, so we decided to ask the other four Titans sitting around, watching."
"Our interviews!" Robin heard Beast Boy crow, and imaged his eager eyes glued to the screen. He sounded decidedly happier now than he had when Robin had first started his search.
"Oh, yay." That was Raven speaking in her usual monotone voice.
Robin decided it was better he didn't enter the room, and turned around to go back to his room. He didn't need to know what the others had to say. Nothing good, obviously.
On his way back, he remembered something: The Jump City Penitentiary had a single TV with only three channels: Weather, Sports, and… News.
Oh, no, Robin thought. He was going to be displayed for all the villains to see.
And then he realized that since Jump City was a large city, the news station could also be watched in Steel City, or even… Gotham City, where his former mentor, Batman, lived. And more people from his past were there, too—Alfred, Babs, and villains like the Joker or Penguin. He was in real trouble now.
He was going to become the laughingstock of the country. And it was all because he wanted a cleaner Tower.
This cleaning business was turning out harder than he had expected.
I haven't written Teen Titans for so long, so I hope none of the characters are OOC or anything... Please tell me if they are!
Thanks for reading and reviews appreciated.