The One Eyed Bandit
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The four Titans were already seated around the table that had served as their dining room for over 6 years. They were young adults now and had changed somewhat since the day their team was born on the streets of Jump City, the day Starfire literally fell out of the sky, escaping from her Gordanian captors.
Cyborg's tech was the latest and greatest from STAR Labs. He no longer needed to recharge batteries as he now had a small Xenothium power reactor in his chest that only required refueling once every ten years. Other than a scar on the human half of his face, courtesy of a past encounter with Slade, he looked no different than in the past and he was a jovial as ever.
Starfire had matured noticeably; she was now over six feet tall and had developed a figure that was both muscular and sensuous, which her fiancé, Nightwing, approved of most enthusiastically. What he did not care for was her new attire, which was extremely revealing. He frequently asked her to switch back to her old costume, which she refused, explaining repeatedly that it was something a teen would wear and that now she was a grown woman. She just didn't understand the hang ups humans had with their bodies.
Beast Boy was sitting next to the princess. His adult face was now more angular; one might even say that it looked chiseled. He had grown a bit and was no longer the shortest member of the team as that honor now belonged to tiny Raven. He was still the shortest male on the team, an "honor" which he didn't seem to mind. His figure was also more mature. While he lacked Nightwing's muscular bulk he had a very lean and muscular physique and could no longer be described as "ropey". One thing that had not changed was his propensity to pester Raven
Raven sat next to him with her nose in yet another book, ignoring his efforts to get her attention while sipping on a cup of herbal tea. Her figure was a bit curvier than when she was younger but what really stood out was that her outfit was now white and she no longer wore her violet hair in what was once her signature A-line and now wore it shoulder length.
"So does anyone know who the surprise candidate is?" Cyborg asked no one in particular.
The team had decided just a month before that they would be adding a new permanent member to the team's roster as requested by the Justice League. The intent was not to recruit one of current honorary Titans, but rather someone who showed great potential and who would benefit from having mentors. Raven was the only dissenter, saying that she thought the team was just fine the way it was and that she really wasn't interested in training some green behind the ears rookie. Still, she was a good sport and after the vote was taken she agreed to participate in the process of selecting the "candidate".
"Why didn't you just ask Nightwing?" Raven replied without looking up from her book. "Personally, I think we should have been given a dossier on the candidate."
"Nightwing said that he believed doing it this way, with the surprise would be best." Starfire added.
"Whoever it is, I hope it's a girl … a really hot girl." Beast Boy beamed.
"Dream on, grass stain." Cyborg chortled.
"What's that supposed to mean, are you saying that if she's hot she won't like me?"
"I believe that's exactly what Cyborg meant." Raven droned, still not looking up from her book.
The changeling crossed his arms and frowned.
"Terra liked me, she liked me a lot."
"I wouldn't brag about that, Beast Boy."
"Raven's got you there B."
As Cyborg continued to laugh the sliding doors opened. Nightwing, who was as now tall as Starfire, entered the common room followed by a tall, muscular and very well shaped woman. Her costume was form fitting, looking as if had been sprayed on her as it highlighted her feminine qualities. On her arms, legs and on her sides it appeared to have scales on it and it was blue in color. She wore some oversized yellow boots and had two swords in sheaths on her back. A blue and yellow cowl hung behind her head. Her hair was an unusual white color, not gray but white as snow. But above all these features one stood out the most: she wore a patch over her left eye.
"Dude, what a bucket of hotness." Beast Boy murmured. Raven heard his remark and glared at him, but he took no notice.
"Titans, I want to introduce our first trial candidate. As we already discussed, we'll bring each candidate in, one at a time, for a one month trial period. At the end of the trial we'll have a vote. If we choose to bring the candidate in permanently we'll be done, otherwise we'll move on to the next candidate."
The woman noticed that the changeling was fascinated with her. She winked her one good eye at him.
"So, I'd like to introduce our first candidate. Her name is a Rose Wilson and she is an accomplished martial artist, and those swords on her back, she knows how to use them … Rose, how about you tell the gang more about yourself?"
Rose stepped forward and pointed at her eye patch.
"You're probably wondering about this."
She grinned before continuing.
"When I was a young girl I was trained to be an assassin, and I can reassure you, I'm very good at it. I've sparred with Nightwing and I'm just as good as he is, if not better and that is not an idle boast. If you are concerned about my unsavory past I was an assassin because my master used drugs to control me."
She paused and frowned before continuing.
"The drugs were very powerful and my master had my utmost loyalty because of them. I was so eager to prove my loyalty to him that I actually gouged my own eye out."
The four Titans gasped upon hearing the terrible revelation.
"I was captured by the Justice League and after detoxifying me they had me go through a therapy program with the Martian Manhunter, who has given me a clean bill of mental health."
"So are you saying that your master let you do this to yourself?" Cyborg asked, unable to hide the mild horror in his voice.
"He actually approved of it. But there's more … my master was my father."
Beast Boy leaped to his feet.
"Dude! That's sick! What kind of dad would do that to his own kid?"
Rose's face became very solemn and Raven was able to discern the pain she was trying to hide.
"Yes friend, I agree with Beast Boy! I too was victimized by my own parents who sold me into slavery to protect my home world of Tamaran. We will assist you Rose! Tell us his name, so that we might track him down and bring him to justice!"
"You already know him and it is only because of sheer fortune that I was never used against you."
Beast Boy was still on his feet.
"You're kidding? We know him?"
"Yes Beast Boy, you do. For you see, I was known as Ravager and my father is Slade Wilson."
Raven dropped her tea mug on the floor, where it shattered into a thousand pieces.
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"A pair of turrets popped out of the ground and began to fire repeatedly, shooting exploding disks at the flying target.
"Go Raven, go!" Starfire screamed at the top of her lungs. "I know you can do it!"
Beast Boy hooted and hollered his approval while Raven did barrel roll in the air as she dodged the projectiles while summoning two large boulders, encasing them with her dark energy before throwing them at the turrets, destroying them upon contact. With no further obstacles she flew across the finish line and calmly landed on her feet, turning to face the control console. Cyborg was standing behind it, grinning from ear to ear.
"One minute and 32 seconds, we have a new obstacle course record!"
Nightwing, Starfire and Beast Boy were already congratulating the sorceress when Cyborg ran down the hillside to join them. Rose followed him.
Raven turned to face Rose.
"Your turn is next, Slade-Girl."
Rose glared at Raven before heading to the starting line. A week had passed and it was obvious to everyone that Raven had already decided she didn't like Rose and gave her the cold shoulder from the beginning. Things went downhill quickly and Raven was soon calling her 'Slade-girl'.
"Raven, why are you being so mean to her?" The changeling protested.
"You think I haven't seen you staring at her butt?"
Beast Boy gulped. Was it really his fault that Rose had the most perfect pair of gluteus he ever saw on a girl?
"I can't help it if she's hot. You know, maybe you should ditch the cape Raven, you have a nice butt too, but it's always hidden under …"
Raven gave him a crimson eyed glare.
"OK, I'm shutting up."
Raven turned to the obstacle course and saw that Rose was on the final segment. Instead of neutralizing the turrets she gracefully dodged the flying discs without breaking her strike. As soon as she crossed the finish line she turned to Cyborg who was once again behind the control console. Raven turned that way as well and gasped when she saw the clock display.
It said 1 minute and 28 seconds. Cyborg looked shocked but quickly recovered.
"Well knock me over with a feather, we have a new champion!"
Rose was wearing her cowl, which exposed her mouth and highlighted her now condescending grin. She walked straight up to Raven and poked the demoness in the stomach with her index finger.
"So what do have to say about that 'flabby-girl'? I don't have any super powers and I just beat your record, and on my first try too."
Rose walked away, followed by Beast Boy, who wouldn't stop talking about her performance. Rose hooked her arm into his own and the pair disappeared into the Tower. Nightwing turned to Raven and saw that her jaw was beginning to tremble.
"Oh come on, Raven, so she trash talked you. It's no big deal."
Raven glared back at him.
"Shut up, Dick!" She howled before phasing into the ground and disappeared.
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Rose shut off her shower and quickly dried off. Satisfied she was dry enough she emerged from her bathroom in her birthday suit, only to find Raven sitting on the edge of the bed, her arms crossed and with a scowl on her face. Rose grinned at her before pulling a fresh pair of panties out of her drawer and slipping them on.
"I didn't know you swung that way, Raven. I'm afraid that I prefer boys but I might be able to hook you up with some gals I know who prefer soft bodies like you." Rose snickered.
Raven stood up, with her fists balled and her jaw trembling in anger.
"You leave Beast Boy alone!"
Rose continued to chuckle.
"I see I was wrong, my apologies. I have to say, I didn't realize you liked him. You should have told me."
"Beast Boy is a friend, a very special and vulnerable friend. And I won't let you hurt him."
"He's a big boy Raven, and if he's fair game then I see no reason why I can't have some fun with him."
"I'm warning you Rose, stay away from him or so help me…"
"What? You'll smack me with your flabby body?"
Raven turned to leave.
"Don't push your luck, Slade-girl, you still aren't a member of this team."
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Two days had passed and Starfire noticed that Raven was becoming increasingly agitated. It was obvious to her that it had to do with Rose and she invited Raven to visit the shopping mall with her. To her immense surprise Raven not only accepted, she even changed into civvies. After an afternoon at the new five level Jump City Galleria they stopped at the cavernous food court. Starfire bought several corn dogs for herself, which she doused in mustard while Raven got some Korean takeout for herself. The two women found a place to sit and after placing their shopping bags on the floor they began to eat.
"Raven, what is bothering you so much about Rose?"
The sorceress sighed as she put her chopsticks down.
"Is it really that obvious?"
"Yes my friend, it is. Are you jealous … the way you were jealous about Terra? I have noticed since the day Rose arrived that friend Beast Boy has been doing the ignoring of you."
Raven picked up her chopsticks and poked at her food.
"I just don't want her to hurt him, to break his heart the way Terra did."
"He is, as you humans would say, a big boy."
Raven shook her head.
"He's very vulnerable, Starfire. I know what it's like to have your heart broken … he's suffered so much already … I won't let this be an encore of what Terra did to him."
"Raven, you do not believe that Rose will betray us? The Martian Manhunter said …"
"I know she won't betray us, Starfire. But I know what kind of woman she is."
Starfire gave her a friend a puzzled look.
"I am afraid that I do not understand, Raven."
Raven heaved an exasperated sigh.
"She's the kind of woman who preys on sweet and innocent boys."
"Raven, Beast Boy is 20 years old…"
"And he's still an innocent virgin, Starfire. The last thing he needs is for his first time to be with a slutty bitch like her."
"Raven, is not that his decision to make?"
Starfire saw a hint of fury in her friend's eyes.
"We are his friends, Starfire, and friends watch out for each other. Need I say anything more?"
Raven stood up and tossed her meal into a nearby trash can.
"I'm not hungry. Let's go home."
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The two Titans returned to the Tower after Starfire hastily wolfed down her corndogs. As they walked past back to the habitat section of the Tower they passed by the gym, where they could hear Nightwing working out.
"And she accused me of being flabby! I sure don't hear her in there working out." Raven remarked in her monotone. Starfire noticed a hint of bitterness in her voice.
"Oh Raven, you are not the flabby … are you concerned that Beast Boy does not find you attractive?"
"Starfire, for the last time, I am concerned for him as a friend and as noth …."
Raven stopped midsentence as she heard the sound of laughter coming out of the Tower's indoor pool. She ran to the door and pulled on it.
Without saying another word Raven handed her shopping bags to Starfire and phased through the door, unlocking it after she passed through. The door opened and Starfire entered the pool room. She saw that Beast Boy and Rose were horsing around, splashing each other and dragging each other underwater. Raven extended her hand and encasing the changeling in her dark energy she lifted him out of the pool.
"Raven! Put me back!" He howled as he covered his pubic area with his hands.
Raven blushed a crimson red as she released the changeling, dropping him back into the pool. Rose turned around, exposing her naked torso to the two intruders.
"Hey Raven! You and Starfire want to skinny dip too?"
Raven ignored Rose and flew out to Beast Boy, who was crouched in the water so that only his head was exposed.
"What do you think you're doing, Garfield?" She howled at him.
"I believe it's called having fun Raven, you should try it." Rose sneered at her.
Raven cast a death glare at Rose before turning back to Beast Boy.
"Beast Boy, did you do anything …"
"I swear Raven, we were just skinny dipping. That's all."
"Fine, get dressed and get out of here … I need to have a word with Slade-girl."
Raven turned back to Rose, who was getting dressed. She flew over to her and landed in front of her.
"Tonight, you and I, we spar." Raven hissed between clenched teeth.
Rose slipped her T shirt on in time to see Beast Boy, who in his haste put his Doom Patrol pants on backwards, run out of the room.
"It's 'no powers' sparring tonight Raven. You sure you want to spar with me? I would hate to bruise your flabby grey butt."
"My butt is not flabby! And it's your butt that's gonna get kicked, Slade-girl."
Rose grinned as she checked her watch.
"The sparring session begins in one hour. See you there, witch. Just remember to leave your broomstick in your room." Rose laughed as exited the pool room.
Starfire turned to Raven, who grimaced when she saw the concerned look on the Tamaranian's face.
"Knock it off Starfire; I can take her without my powers."
Starfire slowly shook her head.
"Raven, I have seen her spar with Nightwing. She really is as good as she claims. Please Raven, do not spar with her."
Raven scowled at the Princess.
"So you think I'm an out of shape witch who doesn't know how to fight?"
"No Raven, you are not. But I have watched Rose spar with Nightwing. I have never seen a normal human who is so fast. I am afraid she will hurt you, my friend."
Raven snorted as she picked up her packages and walked out the door.
"I can take care of myself."
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Raven had changed into her white Gi, and was tying her black belt around her waist, which with the its five golden bars identified her as a fifth Dan black belt, with the rank of master that went with it. She then began to do some stretching exercises as Nightwing approached, carrying a sparring foam helmet in his hands.
"Are you sure you to do this Raven?"
She stood up and glared at him.
"For the last time, yes, I want to do this. And no, I'm not afraid of her."
Nightwing shrugged and placed the sparring helmet on her head.
"Ok, but why do you want to spar with her? She's out of your league."
"Maybe I just want to continue improving my unarmed combat skills."
Dick crossed his arms.
"You have a grudge with her."
"Maybe I do." She replied as she practiced her kicks. "Maybe she's Terra all over again."
"Raven, we've been through this. J'onn says she can be trusted; it won't be Terra all over again. If I didn't know better, I'd say you're being territorial and I think this has to do with Beast Boy … Raven … if you like him … just tell him … but if you don't you just can't object to every girl he dates."
Raven calmly looked at Nightwing in the eyes.
"I have no idea of what you're talking about."
"It's your funeral."
As he walked away Rose approached. She too was wearing a white Gi with the Titans logo on her back, with a white belt tied around her waist. She pointed at the five golden bars on Raven's belt.
"Cute, did you also get a lollypop when you passed your 5th Dan test?"
"Did you come here to talk or to fight, Slade-girl?"
Rose glared at her.
"Just for your information, I've struggled to leave my father behind and I intend to make you eat those words, witch."
Nightwing stepped in between the two women.
"OK, there will be two rounds, three minutes each. Cyborg, Beast Boy and Starfire will be the judges and will award points for each hit. A hit to the head gets two points."
"What if I knock her out?" Rose asked.
"Technically, you would win. But this is a sparring match, you're trying to win points, not kill your opponent, understood?"
Both women nodded.
Nightwing stepped back.
"Bow!" he barked at them.
They both bowed to him, then to each other.
"Start!" He shouted.
Raven took the offensive and went after Rose with a series of round house kicks, which the one eyed warrior easily blocked.
"Is that the best you got, witch?"
"I haven't even started yet." Raven replied through her mouth protector.
Raven attempted a few more attacks, and to her credit they were lighting fast. But Rose easily evaded them, as if she knew what Raven's every move was about to be. Then, in a swift motion Rose dropped to the floor and with a kick that was so fast it was a blur she swept Raven off her feet. The sorceress landed on her back but rolled over quickly and was back on her feet in a split second. Rose grinned at her.
"Now it's my turn."
Rose attacked with a speed and fury that made everyone gasp. Raven parried most of her strikes, but a few made it through. This continued for a minute and Raven caught a glance of the scoreboard, she was already down 14-0. Rose grinned at her as she pulled back.
"Ready to throw in the towel, witch?"
Raven screamed as she jumped into a spinning heel kick, which connected with Ravager's temple on her sparring helmet. She staggered from the impact, but did not fall down. Rose glared at Raven, who was now grinning herself.
"OK, bitch, the gloves come off." Rose growled.
Ravager went into a whirlwind of combinations, starting with a jab into Raven's face, followed by a back fist strike that would have broken Raven' cheekbone had she not been wearing her sparing helmet. That was followed by a thrust side kick into Raven's abdomen and a spinning round house kick to her head. Raven was clearly in a daze and began to stagger on the sparring mat.
"Rose, stop! She's done!" Beast Boy shouted.
It was true; Rose was no longer her father's servant. She was just as free of his influence now as her brother Jericho. But the years of training were still hardwired into her brain, and part of that training was to never show mercy to an opponent, and that you had to always win, at any cost.
The world began to go into slow motion. She saw Beast Boy run into to sparring ring, shouting 'stop'. Raven continued to wobble; her expression was blank and she remained in a daze. Rose jumped into the air, spinning. She connected the back of her heel to Raven's head and the sorceress collapsed, knocked out cold. She saw Nightwing shake his head in disapproval. She then remembered Beast Boy. She turned back in his direction, raising her hand to high-five him. What she saw instead was a giant green bear, which raised its huge paw and smacked her. She later recalled the impact, likening it to being hit by a bus. She flew off the sparring mat and hit the wall, falling to the ground unconscious. Beast Boy resumed his human form and ran back to Raven, who was already being attended by Cyborg and Starfire. Raven was regaining consciousness.
"Oh my head."
"Raven, are you OK?" Starfire asked.
The sorceress spat out some blood from her mouth.
"I'll live. Where's Slade-girl?"
"Over there." Starfire pointed at Rose's supine form, with Nightwing at her side.
"Did I do that?" Raven asked, still clearly in a daze.
"No, I did it." Beast Boy replied
Raven then surprised the changeling. She smiled at him.
"That's my Beast Boy." She murmured before fainting.
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"And that was how we met your Aunt Rose." The green changeling told the three kids sitting at the dinner table.
Coraline was the oldest of the three Logan children. She was green with violet hair and was a few weeks away from her 16th birthday.
"Are you serious, Dad?" Coraline remarked before turning to her mother. "Mom, did you really fight Aunt Rose without using your powers?"
"Yes, it's true."
Coraline shook her head.
"That was so incredibly stupid … I'm proud of you mom."
"You are?" Raven replied with a hint of disbelief in her voice.
"Yeah, I am. I mean, you've always been the level headed, logical parent…"
"Yes, and by the way, I know you call me Mrs. Spock behind my back."
"Mom! Stop changing the subject. I just think that it's so cool that you were jealous that Dad was taken in by Aunt Rose and you were willing fight with her over him …"
"I was not fighting over your father…"
"Yeah, right!" The three Logan girls replied in chorus.
Coraline snapped her fingers.
"I'm gonna call Uncle Victor! I'll bet he has the fight on video!"
"Too late, I asked him to delete that clip years ago. I'm afraid it's gone."
"Thank Azar for small favors." Raven added. "Now your father and I are going out for a walk, you girls know the drill."
Garfield and Raven rose from the table in their suburban house and walked out the front door, arm in arm, into the pleasant summer evening while their 3 daughters cleared the table and began to clean up the kitchen. Coraline diligently loaded the dishwasher and when she was done she whipped out her mobile phone from her pocket and hit the speed dial.
"Uncle Victor? … Hi, it's Coraline … yeah, everything's fine … hey … question … do you have a video clip when mom and Aunt Rose sparred? … You do! Can you send it to me? Thanks, Uncle Victor, you're the best … what? Sure I'll tell me mom and dad … thanks … bye."
Coraline turned to her sisters.
"He already emailed it … also remember to tell mom and dad that he and Aunt Rose invited us to dinner at their place tomorrow."