Robin paced back and forth in front of Raven's bed, feeling a mixture of emotions. Surprise, shock, fear, elation, concern-they all radiated off of him, each separate emotion crashing against Raven's empathic shields like waves on the shore—neither forceful nor storming, but very much alive. "How did this happen?" He wondered aloud, not sure what to think.
"Conception generally occurs when a fleet of male sperm reach the female egg, penetrating the ovum and causing the chromosome pairs from each donor to unite into a new, single-celled organism. The zygote then begins to rapidly divide and embeds itself within the wall of the uterus where it will grow, gestating until-"
"I get the picture."
"You were the one who asked for the biology lesson."
"I know how it happened, Raven. What I meant was how did it happen."
Raven crossed her arms over her chest. "Contrary to social interpretation, reproduction is the biological reason for sexual encounters."
"But it's also meant as a way to show love and intimacy."
"That's only natural." Raven deadpanned. "Choosing a mate is a very serious thing. It's one thing to care for someone, it's another completely to choose them to create another life with."
"But we didn't choose-"
"No, we didn't plan." Raven explained. "Look, Robin, if there's one thing I figured you of all people would know about me, it's that I'm a very private person. I'm not exactly the kind of girl to hook up with the first good looking guy that comes along. Do you honestly think I would engage in sexual activities with someone if I wasn't willing to reproduce with them in the first place?"
Robin smirked. "So you planned this."
"No. As you recall, we were taking precautions. This was never my intent."
"But you just said-"
"And I meant it. But that was something I was assuming would come later. Significantly later. Looks like the timetable has been advanced."
Robin finally stopped his pacing and sat on the bed. "You're rather calm about this."
"I wasn't always. I'd just suspected for awhile and prepared myself for this outcome prior to taking any of the tests."
"Do you want to go through with it?"
Raven cocked an eyebrow. "Do you not want to go through with it?"
"I want what you want, Raven."
"How noble." The corners of her lips upturned in that manner that always set his heart beating faster. "But there is something else we need to discuss."
"And that is?"
"I want to move back to Jump City."
"Because if we're going to do this, we'll need help. People to help us look after the baby, for example. And I think it might be in our best interests to see if we can't turn our talents towards the workforce."
"Are you saying I should get a job?"
"I'm saying that if we're going to raise a child together, it shouldn't have to worry about its parents not coming home. It deserves parents who will always be there. Preferably unhurt. And there would be the matter of godparents. We don't exactly know a lot of people. I think it should be one of our friends."
Robin crawled up the bed to where Raven sat coquettishly-she seemed rather pleased with herself for having thought things through so well. "Hmm..." He inhaled the scent of lavender from her hair. "I think I'm finally starting to recall how this happened."
"Oh really?" She inquired, leaning back and being immediately enveloped in his arms. "But you haven't said 'yes' yet, Robin."
"Haven't I?" He asked, trailing his nose down to her neck, where his lips quickly found purchase.
Raven leaned her head back instinctively, caught betwixt her desire for control and her desire to surrender. The latter was winning out at the time his right arm circled her back while the left ran feverishly through her hair. "No." She breathed in response to his question. "You haven't."
Taking her own initiative, she used his distraction to twist her legs, using them to grab hold of his torso, she locked him in by pressing her feet together against his back, pushing him against her and spreading a delightful fountain of warmth throughout her chest when she felt his heartbeat. With a low growl, she heard Robin acquiesce half a second before he crushed his lips against her own.
Chapter One: Part Of A Balanced Breakfast
THREE YEARS LATER...
"Azarath...Metrion...Zinthos. Azarath...Metrion...Zinthos. Azarath...Metrion...Zinthos."
The signature chant of Raven reverberated quietly around her private library. The room had once been Robin's living quarters, been upon her arriving back at Titans Tower years ago, Cyborg had taken on a remodeling project. Raven, Robin, and Starfire's rooms had been combined into one living area. Robin's former room now served as Raven's library and study, Raven's old living quarters were now a master bedroom, and Starfire had donated her room to Rain, Robin and Raven's daughter. Cyborg had even spent the time to add a new, full bathroom to their premises. The common room and kitchen on the main floor still met their other needs-Robin had explicitly stated he didn't want a situation where they lived completely apart from their friends-they were all family, and Raven had agreed to that effortlessly.
The morning, Raven had found, was when she could find the time to properly meditate and work out her emotional concerns in a safe environment. Robin tended to wake up at 8:30 so he could enjoy a hot shower and a full breakfast before heading to the car dealership for his dayjob. Being an auto salesman had proven a great boon not just for their little family, but Jump City as a whole. Robin never had an end of appointments with customers who would often end up buying from him just for the chance to meet him. It made sense from more than one standpoint-not only was there some basic hero worship from the general population, but Rohin was also a face customers knew they could trust more than some fly-by-night salesman with the word 'honest' in front of his name. He personally guaranteed the vehicles he sold on a separate but legally binding warranty than what the dealership would provide. Cyborg personally gave all the vehicles a once over and did any warranty work that might come up, and the two were splitting the profits amicably. They weren't getting rich, but there was plenty of money to feed seven people and a moth larvae, not to mention keep the Tower in good shape and its equipment up-to-date.
Rain also liked to get up early in the morning. But with Robin's schedule and the importance of Raven's meditation, this problem was happily solved by the girl's godmother, Terra, who faithfully brought the young girl downstairs each day for cartoons and breakfast. Rain took to Terra the way a pig took to mud, which sometimes caused Raven to question whether she was doing alright as a mother. Currently, that thought kept intruding on her meditation, and no matter how hard she tried to zen it away, it clung to her subconscious.
With considerable effort, Raven but up a mental block to contain the thought, using logic and rationality against it. Rain did not fear her or turn away from her. For all intents and purposes, Terra was just the type of personality that children would gravitate towards. And, deep down, she was grateful that the blonde girl filled a supportive role for her daughter. Rain had not inherited her destructive empathic power, something Raven was only too glad for. It was only fair that her daughter be able to live a more emotionally balanced life. It would be cruelly unfair for something as innocuous as childhood wonder and excitement to cause random destruction in the environment around her.
Due to complications in the pregnancy, her features were more human than Raven's own. This she had expected-being a hybrid herself, only a quarter of Trigon's genes would be passed down. And unlike Raven herself, Rain would be able to grow up and experience joy on her birthday rather than sorrow. Rain was her greatest accomplishment, and her proudest. Even in the aftermath of Trigon's brief reign over the earth, Raven had still feared her birthday each year, unwilling to lower her guard that the evil prophecy of her birth couldn't find a way to resurge and begin again. But, gradually, she began to realize that she had won, and it was only then that she truly became open to the possibilities of her life. It had once seemed so finite, but now it stretched onward, full of promises and opportunities, of triumphs and disasters, of joy and sorrow and all the many, many things in between. And slowly, she was learning to experience them all, to find ways to let her emotions out safely. To live life to the fullest extent that she could. Rain was her true triumph-her daughter's birth, clean and pure and unmarked by evil or wicked prophecy was her final victory over her father, and the knowledge that her mother's sacrifices were not in vain.
She had started a family. She was engaged in a steady, healthy romantic relationship with a man who accepted her for who she was and understood when she needed it. She was surrounded by teammates, friends...with a surrogate family that she had grown close to and held special meaning to her. She had beaten her own destiny. So why did she still feel that something was incomplete, like there was a puzzle piece missing?
Her thoughts were interrupted by her lover, clad in a towel around his waste as he ran his fingers through his hair, giving it an upsweep. "Raven, I'm getting dressed and heading down to breakfast. Are you coming down soon? I'll steep your favorite." He smiled.
Deciding that the meditation would have to wait until her head was clearer, Raven ceased her chant and extended her legs down to the floor to stand. "Why not? You have a big day today?"
"Clearance sale starts today. That reminds me, want to have a free laugh tomorrow night? There's a Push, Pull, and Tow auction."
"Push, Pull, and Tow?" Raven arched an eyebrow.
"Only vehicles that can't move under their own power anymore. It can be rather amusing."
"I'm not exactly a car aficionado."
"I know, but I just thought we should do something together. Well, not just us. Cyborg will have to come—he knows the parts. I'm just the handsome face that sells the cars without ripping people off."
"And so modest, too." Raven deadpanned.
"Think about it?"
"I'll think about it."
"I'm glad." Robin offered her a smile. He crossed over to their bedroom and opened the closet, pulling on his traditional combat uniform.
"You do know you look ridiculous selling cars in that outfit?" Raven asked.
"To be honest, I feel a little silly myself. But if I try to dress for business, it's nothing but questions all day long. 'Are you the real Robin?' Trust me, it's just easier this way."
"Give the people what they want, huh?" deadpanned Raven.
"You know, I'm sure they wouldn't mind seeing you too."
"I've come to think it's important for the people of the city to see us like this. It lets them know that we're still just regular people. We're not better than them. And it gives the kids something to shoot for, knowing their heroes don't live in a world apart from them. It's something I want to instill in Rain."
Raven paused, unsure of what to say to that. He'd clearly thought this through more than she had, and his devotion to both herself and their daughter had never faltered, even when they'd genuinely fought. Deciding to let him have this one, she sent a wave of affection through their bond, letting the corners of her mouth turn up slightly. Robin led her by the hand to the kitchen.
Breakfast in Titans Tower was never a formal affair. Organized chaos was a better way of describing it. Beast Boy sat on the couch with Rain, the two of them enjoying some weekday morning cartoons. Rain clapped her hands whenever Beast Boy would mimic one of the characters on screen, doing impressions for her. Cyborg and Terra stood over the stove, Terra working on pancakes while Cyborg tended to eggs, bacon, and sausage. And some mysterious substance in a small pan that the package label had the audacity to classify as sausage. Cyborg hated the smell of Beast Boy's food.
"Good morning." Robin addressed the chefs as he sought a free burner to put water on to boil for Raven. "Something smells good this morning."
"It's not the white stuff, that's for sure." Cyborg told him.
Robin chuckled "No argument there."
"ROBIN!" beamed Terra, reaching out for her morning hug. He gladly reciprocated, and the upbeat blonde girl clutched him tightly, pulling back to kiss both sides of his cheek. It was a morning ritual to which he had grown accustomed. To the outside observer, one might mistake the affection that Robin and Terra shared to be romantic. They were frequently close, and took jogs together on the weekend. Indeed, there was a significant love between the two, but it was neither romantic nor physical. Robin had been the one to tirelessly restore her memories and stayed with her through her darkest times, never letting her for a second forget that the past was the past and if she only wanted a future free of pain, rage, and hatred, he would give it to her. There was a tentative, slow relationship between the blonde earth mover and the green changeling, but both parties were being careful not to take things too fast and allow their friendship to blossom into more naturally.
Robin ruffled Terra's hair, appreciating her energy. "Morning, Terra. How's Rain this morning?"
"As doe-eyed and full of wonder as ever. I think she's addicted to Beast Boy's faces." Terra smiled.
"Great, she's not even old enough for pre-school yet and she's already warped beyond repair." Raven stated. Pulling two slices of bread out of the breadbox and placing them into the toaster.
Terra looked over the goth's shoulder. "Dry toast and tea?"
"I don't feel so well this morning." Explained Raven. "A little nausea."
Terra took a half step backward. "Oh my gosh! You're not pregnant again, are you?"
Raven looked at the blonde girl and glared. "No."
"Oh." Terra looked deflated. "Well, if it's something to feel sorry about, I hope you feel better soon."
Robin took a seat next to her. "You want me to pick you up anything, Raven? I can come home for lunch."
Raven looked at him, puzzled. It was not at all irregular for Robin to look out for her. He kept long hours between his full-time job and part time heroics, but he always took the time out to make sure that she was alright, and took an active interest in Rain's development. He always made it clear they were his first, best priorities, not with empty words, but consistent action. So why did she sometimes feel so…so…whatever it was she felt that made her dissatisfied. It wasn't him, she never regretted their time together. She would be miserable if he wasn't an integral part of her life. So why did she not feel happy when he was around lately?
The answer to that question would have to wait, as the family dynamic was about to complete itself. "Good morning, Friends!" Starfire exclaimed cheerfully as she floated down the staircase, pausing only to spread her arms out before the extensive window. "Is it not a glorious day, today?"
"It is, but I admit, I'd enjoy it more if I didn't have to go to work." Robin nodded.
Beast Boy turned back from the sofa. "Dudes, is the food ready yet? Because I'm ravenous, and Rain's about to eat my hand!"
"Bring her over, Beast Boy." Robin advised, standing up to grab the booster seat out of the corner. He sidled between Cyborg and Terra, snatching a piece of bacon off a plate on the stove
Terra whacked him on the behind with her spatula for his trouble. "Not until we say it's ready!"
"Tastes ready to me." Robin told her. He grabbed the pan with Beast Boy's meat substitute and carried it to the table, forking the contents onto his friend's plate, then deposited the pan in the sink. "Besides, I'm on a schedule, remember?"
"Ah, yes, our working man." Terra smiled.
Starfire claimed her seat at the table. "Robin, you are going to the dealer of automotives today?" the alien asked.
"Sure am Star. I've got a ten o'clock with a young couple. They're expecting twins and need to buy a family car. I'll take good care of them."
"Is it customary for expectant couples to purchase the automotives that sit high off the ground and achieve poor distance per resources consumed?"
"Something like that."
"Then is there a reason that you and Raven have no acquired one?" Starfire asked, confused.
"Because we have Cyborg." Robin grinned, and it reached the eyes concealed by his mask. "But it hasn't been an issue yet. Raven can fly, after all. And I'm fine on the R-cycle. We usually just go placed on foot or in the T-Car if we take Rain with us."
"I don't know, maybe we should consider building a car for your little family." Cyborg smiled. "It might be a fun little side project." Cyborg took a heaping plate of pancakes and began passing them out around the table, putting some on every plate except Raven's.
Terra followed the burly man around, scooping out scrambled eggs. Terra took the seat immediately next to Raven's, taking hold of Rain's plate. She pushed it in front of Raven. "Do you want to do the honors or should I?" She smiled.
Normally, the goth deferred to her daughter's godmother in the mornings, but something inside of her made her want to handle things. "You know what? I think I will." Raven stated, taking hold of the plate. She grabbed a knife and fork from the pile of silverware and set to work cutting the pancake into small, bite sized pieces for Rain. Beast Boy placed the happy little girl into a booster seat behind and to the side of Raven, and everyone stared in amazement as Raven proceeded to feed her daughter with relative ease.
"Hey," Robin remarked, clearly as surprised as the rest of them. "No fussing this morning!"
"I know." Beast Boy said in awe, a piece of tofu sausage dangling on his fork, brought halfway to his mouth and then stopped in its tracks by the wonderment of Rain's easygoing attitude. "Normally Terra and I have to put on a puppet show to get her to eat."
Raven's expression remained neutral, but even she was shocked at how cooperative Rain was behaving. As if to punctuate that, Rain looked up at her mother with an expression that showed she was quite pleased with herself. "Maybe she's growing out of it." Raven offered, but decided not to question some good fortune.
Terra decided not to look a gifthorse in the mouth and began wolfing down her own breakfast. "I can't remember the last time I actually had my eggs warm!" She said between mouthfuls, using the side of her fork to cut into the pancakes. "BB, syrup me!" The pint-sized jester wasted no time in grabbing the artificial syrup and slinging it across the table to his lady friend.
"We really ought to have meals like this more often." Cyborg grinned, setting the plate of bacon and sausage at the center of the table for all to enjoy. He took a healthy share and immediately felt like a new man.
Robin helped himself to three pieces of bacon and ate rapidly. It was already 9:35, he needed to be on his way. Pushing his plate away, he stood up. "I've got to get going."
Starfire looked up from her plate. "Will you be coming home for dinner?"
"I wouldn't dream of missing it." He leaned over to kiss Rain on the forehead, then squeezed Raven's hand. "I'll be home by eight. Call me if you need me to get anything, Raven." She nodded her assent at him, continuing to feed their agreeable daughter before the girl's mood shifted.
"Knock 'em dead dude!" Beast Boy called after him.
Cyborg grinned. "And remember…the spoiler makes the car!"
Terra waved pleasantly at him. "Robin?"
"Could you take out the trash on your way out?"
Robin smirked at the blonde girl, crossing the distance to the door that led to the garage. "You cooked it, you take it out." He made a quick exit just as Terra vaulted the table to terrorize him for his teasing. It didn't show to any of the others, but Raven had a distinct look of bemusement on her face.
Half an hour later, the dishes from breakfast were in the dishwasher, Rain was being watched by a tag team of Terra, Beast Boy, and Starfire, Cyborg was in the garage working on dismantling a wreck of a car for parts, which meant Raven was left to her own devices. She longed to do some reading and spend some time bonding with Rain after lunch, but there wouldn't be time for either if she didn't spend enough time in meditation. Abandoning the idea of her library, Raven decided to ascend to the roof. There were no reminders of her daughter or her husband here, nor was anyone likely to disturb her. She didn't want any intrusions into her consciousness.
Finding a nice spot in the morning sun, Raven levitated herself off the ground slightly, crossing her legs and extending her arms, seeking her center. Taking a deep breath, she began her ritual chant. "Azarath…Metrion…Zinthos. Azarath…Metrion…Zinthos…" She felt her emotions forming a circle in her mind. Most people would be overwhelmed by the power and personality each single one of them possessed, but Raven had learned longer ago how to master them with the age old tools of time and patience. She ruled her emotions, they did not rule her. But that did not mean that she never reached out to them for guidance.
Today, however, it was only one of them she sought. The problem was that she wasn't completely sure which one. Why did she feel so resentful towards Robin as of late? She briefly sought out Love, inquiring about the change. "We love Robin!" The hopelessly romantic part of her sighed contentedly. Not much help there, but Raven had doubted from the beginning it was a romantic problem. Robin would've likely noticed such a thing before she did.
Anger did not provide any other answers. As always, there was no shortage of things she had to be annoyed or angry over, but there was nothing that seemed to affect her balance or her mood. Briefly, Envy did pop up to say her two cents about Terra being too cozy with Robin, but this was not something that concerned her logic. Robin and Terra had been close for several years, it pre-dated her own romantic complications with him. He was the one who helped her restore her memory. She had been there that night, after all. That horrible night that had frightened even her. Raven remembered it all too well. Years back, when Terra had been Slade's apprentice, Raven remembered fighting the girl all too well. Terra had managed to tap into the kind of hatred Raven knew she should never allowed to be exposed—and she did it so effortlessly. It was one of the strongest, raw emotional experiences of her life. Raven's hatred had ran unfiltered that night, and never before had she ever wanted to visit so much suffering on one individual person.
But the night that Terra had her memories returned had psychically scarred her forever, and that dark night, Raven had seen firsthand what true suffering really was…
Yes, I've started yet another story. I know, I have so many. But this is what my muse wants to do right now, and I've decided not to let the creativity in me die. So, for better or for worse, here it is.
I was talking with my best friend Pyrex Shards late on Saturday night, during our weekly marathon of shows. One of the series we're currently watching is Teen Titans, and after viewing the episode "Hide and Seek," we began talking about how Raven would actually handle motherhood. A lot of ideas were bounced around and I threatened to do something with them. Less than twenty-four hours later, I was doing exactly that. This thing has just been flowing out of me. Actually, a lot of it has been random scenes—you should see how much material I have for the different parts of this story—that file is easily twice the size of this one I've just uploaded. If I get an idea, I jot it down into a scene as quickly as possible. I'm very happy with what's going on at the moment. This story has a clear emotional path for its primary characters. I don't want to tell everything in this space, but I want it to chart the course of Raven's insecurities along with her good moments, and I've also decided to utilize Terra's character to the utmost, perhaps doing some new and exciting things with her. Or not. There are thousands of Teen Titans fics in the archive and I would hardly claim to own originality on anything at this juncture, but I will strive to tell my story, be it refreshingly new or completely old-hat, in the best possible way that will make you want to read it regardless.
That said, I tried to keep it simple for the opening, and just show a real slice of life. The scene shown here is meant to give you an idea of everyday life among the current Titans. This will be a story about people being people, from beginning to end. Yes, if somehow you couldn't tell from the story tags or the above narrative, it's a Robin/Raven story. One thing it is not is yet another story of Robin and Raven falling in love. I'm quite certain that's been done countless times before, and I'm sure more than once by someone who could tell it far better than I could. So I've decided to skip over all that and have them already be together. This is a story about where they've gone from there and the challenge of everyday life. Some things I have deliberately kept vague—my intent is to slowly, over time, have the stories for characters be told. Why Robin and Raven came together and had a baby, how Terra's memories were returned and how she coped, why Starfire is no longer pining over Robin, etc.
I'm hard at work on some flashback scenes as well as the immediate continuation of this. As I'm wont to do when I'm completely enamored by a story, I'm devoting all of my free time to this, so it's my fond hope to have another update ready in the near future. If you couldn't guess, I'm going to go ahead and reveal Terra's backstory—how she had her memories restored and gained her place in the current Titan dynamic. It's a dark but beautiful sequence I've been crafting in my head for the last twenty-four hours, and I've finally begun typing it out and telling the blonde girl's secrets. It will be submitted for your approval next time.
All right, I'm getting long winded. So about reviews for this thing—love it? Hate it? Does it make you scratch your head and say 'Que?' I'm honestly not entirely sure what reaction to this story is going to be, so I've decided to just run it up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. If you've read this and had a reaction to it, please take the time to review and tell me. Rip it apart if you hated it—I'm a grown man, I can take it I think that I'm a good writer, but I'm playing in a new toybox now, so I have no allusions about the fact that I might be doing it wrong. If so, please tell me. Or if you think this story is wonderful, go ahead and inflate my ego for a few minutes. It helps when I'm at work, listening to some entitled twit prattle on about their minor inconvenience as though it is the worst thing to ever befall them in life. Oops, did I say that out loud?
So, as I always sign off, please send your questions, comments, compliments, complaints, love letters, death threats, marriage proposals, and ransom demands to:
5:42 AM, EST