"Ready, Beast Boy! Ready, Starfire?"
"Okay, what are you three up to this time?" Raven asked.
"P.I.Z.Z.A is having a team all you can eat pizza-eating contest, so Star, Cy, and I entered it," Beast Boy replied.
"The winning team gets a year's supply of free pizza and cinnamon sticks! And we're totally gonna dominate," Cyborg added, cracking a grin.
"Would you and Robin like to come and cheer us on?" Starfire asked.
Raven grimaced. "No."
Beast Boy shrugged. He didn't expect any other answer.
"Your loss, Rae," said Cyborg. "I mean, you've seen me and BB's appetites, and Star has nine stomachs, so we're probably gonna break a world record tonight and-"
Bam, bam, bam!
"Dude, what is that?" said Beast Boy
"Something's knockin' on our door!"
"More like a rhinoceros is trying to bash its way in," Raven remarked.
Robin entered the room and dashed over to the main computer, bringing up an image of what the security cameras were filming in front of the Titans Tower main entrance. It was Melvin, Timmy, Teether, and Bobby; the giant teddy bear was banging on the door with his immense paw.
"It's the kids!" Raven exclaimed. "Let them in!"
Robin pressed a few buttons and the door was opened.
"Hey, Raaaaveeeen? Are you home? Oh, there you are! Yay!"
Melvin ran over and threw her tiny arms around her old babysitter's legs. Timmy and Teether joined in.
"Uh, hi," said Raven, placing her hands on them. "What are you three doing here? Is everything okay?"
"Oh yeah, everything's fine," said the blond girl. "We just missed you, so we came to spend the night at your place tonight. You said we had you whenever we needed you, right?"
"Well, yeah, but," the mistress of magic began.
"Look, it's fine with me if you all want to spend the night here. What do you think, Raven?" said Robin.
"Dudes, check out the time, we're gonna miss the start of the contest!" Beast Boy cried. "C'mon, let's get outta here!" With that, he seized Starfire's hand and dashed down to the T-Car's garage as she let out a yelp of surprise.
"You comin' Rob?" Cyborg asked.
"Nah. Thanks, Cyborg, but since I made Raven babysit all by herself last time, it wouldn't be fair if I left her all alone again."
"Alright. Just call us if there's trouble, okay?"
Robin nodded and Cyborg ran down to join his other friends and they zoomed off to the contest.
"Okay!" said Robin, clapping his hands together. "What do you kids wanna do first?"
"How about we-" Melvin began.
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH" Teether burst into tears.
"Oh no, not again," Raven groaned, rubbing her temples. "Do you think he has gas, Melvin?"
"I dunno, maybe," she replied with a shrug.
Raven picked the baby up and patted him on the back, trying to get him to burp, but it had no effect. Raven patted him harder and harder.
"WAH-AH-AH-AH-AH-AH!" Teether wailed. Burping was apparently the last thing on his mind.
"Is he hungry? Thirsty? When was his last nap?" Robin asked.
"I don't think so. We don't usually eat dinner or sleep around this time, anyway."
"Hmmm," Robin pinched his chin in between his thumb and forefinger, thinking. "Here Raven, give him to me. Let me try something"
Raven passed him over to Robin, who walked over to the sofa and set the baby down on the rug in front of it. The Teen Wonder, sat down cross-legged, smiled again and pulled his cape off, draping it over Teether. Raven's head cocked to the side.
"Robin, what are you doing?"
"Where's Teether?" he asked in a little sing-song voice. Suddenly, he lifted up the front of the cape.
"There he is!" Teether's crying lessened and he looked up at Robin with wide eyes. Robin let the cape fall back over him before repeating what he had done before.
"Where's the baby? Peekaboo! There he is!"
Teether sniffled and a little smile appeared on his face. Robin took the cape off and draped it over his own head.
"Where's Robin?" Teether sat and waited excitedly.
"Peekaboo! Here I am!"
Teether giggled and clapped his hands.
"Okay, now, wheeeere's Robin?" This time Teether crawled forward and lifted up the cape himself.
"Oh, you found me! Here I am!"
Teether let out a happy gurgle and clapped again, his mood having done a complete 180. Raven was incredulous and bent down next to her friend.
"I figured that if Teether wasn't hungry or tired, he just wanted attention. So I just played some peekaboo to try and make laugh and it worked. Didn't you ever play that game when you were a baby?"
Raven shook her head. "No, never."
Robin frowned and his eyebrows bent upwards, looking sad to hear this. Before he could say something, he felt two pairs of hands tugging at either side of his cape.
"Robin? Will you play with us too?" Melvin asked.
"Yeah, yeah! Play wiff us!" said Timmy.
"Okay, but you kids had better start running."
" 'Cause I'm a big, scary, nasty, giant who's comin' to eat you up!" Robin growled ferociously, baring his teeth, reaching up and flexing his fingers like claws. "RAAAAAARRRRRRRR!"
Melvin, Timmy, and Teether scrambled around the room, giggling and shrieking, with Robin stomping after them, snarling as menacingly as he could.
"FEE, FI, FO, FUM!" the Boy Wonder roared. "Watch out, of I'll grind your bones to make my bread!"
Raven could not believe what she was seeing. She rubbed her eyes and blinked. Robin, of all people, was making a complete and utter fool of himself. But, she had to hand it to him, the kids were loving every minute of it.
When Robin finally caught up with Melvin, he grasped her shoulders and cackled. "Bwa ha ha! I've got you now!"
"Oh no! Wh-what are you gonna do to me Mr. Giant?" Melvin quavered.
"Why, I am going to…tickle you to death like this!" he replied, wiggling his gloved fingers along her tummy and under her armpits, bringing even more laughter and happy shrieks out of her.
Seeing that he was distracted, Timmy and Teether snuck up on their babysitter and leapt on top of him, blinding him with the blue blanket. Melvin joined them, creating a dog pile. "Ooof!" He rolled over and allowed the kids to sit on his stomach. Raven advanced, wondering how he would react to this.
"Ha! Victory! We beat the nasty giant."
"Ohhh, curses! You got me! Arrrrrrggggghhhh," Robin clutched his chest and let out a dying gasp. When he woke up again, they all shared a laugh and allowed him to get up from off the floor.
"Okay, it's looking like dinnertime now. Who's hungry?" Robin asked.
Teether made a loud sucking noise on his pacifier and raised his hand. Melvin and Timmy followed suit.
"Raven, you wanna help me make some dinner?"
"Sure. Why not?" Raven answered, happy to finally have something to do. The two teenagers lifted up the kids and sat them down at the table. Robin opened up the cupboard and took out a box of macaroni and cheese while Raven set the table poured them all their requested cups of orange juice. In about fifteen minutes, dinner was ready and Robin brought the pot of cheesy noodles to the table and served them all. Raven even remembered to get out a plate for Bobby this time.
"Dinner is served, everyone. Eat up." Melvin, Timmy and Bobby dug into their meals excitedly, but Teether sniffed his plate pushed it away. "No."
"Aw, c'mon Teether, its yummy. Just try it," said Melvin in between bites.
"Mmmmm," said Timmy in agreement.
Robin reached over to Teether and picked up his fork. "Just one bite?"
The baby, turned away. "No."
"Please? Just one little tiny bite?"
"No, no, no."
"Just one? Will you do it for me?"
Teether cracked one eye open. "Mmmm…"
Raven leaned in and took the fork from Robin. "Please, Teether? For me?"
The baby finally gave in and reluctantly allowed himself to be fed. He chewed for a few seconds and smiled again. Raven sighed in relief and continued feeding the baby Titan three more bites, making the forkfuls steadily bigger each time. On his fifth bite, the baby opened his mouth and crunched up the entire fork, macaroni and all.
"Nice," said Robin.
"Yeah, he does that," said Raven.
When they finished their dinner, the babysitters and their charges went upstairs to one of the empty guest rooms of the tower that had a double bed large enough for them to sleep in.
Melvin and Teether got in bed, but Timmy had no intention of doing so.
"NO!" he screamed. "I'm not tired and I'm not going to bed!"
"Sorry Timmy, but its bedtime now," said Raven.
"No! No!" he started screaming and crying again.
Robin placed a hand on Timmy's shoulder. "Alright. Tell you what. Let's make a deal. I'll give you an airplane ride and then you'll go to bed with Melvin and Timmy, okay?"
Timmy rubbed his nose and sniffed. "An airplane ride? What's an airplane ride?"
Raven quirked a brow, wondering the same thing herself.
"Here. I'll show you. I loved this when I was your age."
Robin bent down and grasped Timmy's left wrist and ankle. Then he stood and swung him up, down, and around in a large circle, making "b-b-b-b-b-b-" and "nyyyyeaaarowww" sounds with his mouth.
"Wheeee! This is fun!" Timmy cried. When they were both tired and dizzy, Robin put the toddler back on the bed, and he held up his end of the bargain, wriggling underneath the covers.
"Now, how about we tell them a bedtime story?" Robin asked Raven.
"I've told them before, Robin. I don't really know any bedtime stories. The people who raised me never really told me any."
Hearing this made Robin very sad. No bedtime stories? What could it be like to grow up without any of those? "All right, then. I'll tell one."
Melvin pulled the sheets up to her nose. "P-please don't make it scary. Can't you just tell us a fairy tale or something?" she begged.
"Okay. Here, I've got a good one. Its called: The Story of the Dark Knight and the Boy Wonder." Robin cleared his throat and spoke in a hushed voice.
"Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was a good king and queen and they had a son, a prince named, Richard. But one day the king and queen were destroyed by a wicked wizard. The wizard would have done the same to the prince, but, before he could, he was rescued by a fearless warrior who called himself the Dark Knight and taken away to the castle where he lived in order to protect him. "I was once a prince like yourself," he said. "But a cruel ogre ended the lives of my mother and father too. So now I have sworn to avenge them by trying to protect everyone from every witch, wizard, ogre, goblin, or dragon who dares to threaten the good, kind, and innocent people of this world, like my own parents were."
Richard was moved by the Dark Knight's words and said 'I want to join you in your quest. Please, help me to become a knight like you.' The Dark Knight granted Richard's request and made him his squire. They had many incredible, dangerous adventures together and saved many people, defeating all kinds of villains and monsters. Like the Dark Knight, Richard took on a new name: the Boy Wonder. But as time went by, the Boy Wonder grew older and became frustrated with the Dark Knight's constant treating him as though he were nothing more than the little boy that he had met years ago. So the Boy Wonder set out to find his own way as a knight, intending to fight his battles all alone. However, that was not meant to be and the Boy Wonder soon found friends: brave and amazing heroes who joined him in his quest and formed a band of champions for justice. He met an agile and cunning shapeshifter, a brilliant alchemist who was as strong as a hundred men, and a wise, fearless sorceress who never let anything stand against her."
Raven was glad that no one saw her face turn bright pink at this.
"He even met a beautiful, compassionate princess who stole his heart away. And to this very day, the young friends are still fighting injustice together, and still the very best of friends. One might even say that they are not longer merely friends, but a family. The end."
Melvin, Timmy and Teether simply said "Ooooh." But then their exhaustion got the better of them and they were fast asleep within seconds. Robin and Raven got up, turned out the lights, and returned to the kitchen to clean up and do the dishes. "Everything okay, Raven? You've barely said a word all night."
"It's nothing. But, I have to say, you're really good with kids. Tonight I just saw a side of you that I never thought I'd ever see. Or even knew existed."
Robin's blushed. "Oh, heh. Thanks. It's no big deal, really. I did learn from the best, though. My mom and the dad were the greatest. They played all those games with me. Whenever I was crabby, all my Dad had to do was give me an airplane ride or tickle me and I would be happy again. And whenever I was sad or not feeling well, my mom would make me mac n' cheese or pour me a bowl of cereal and then she would sit by my bed and tell me stories until I felt better."
Robin blushed even redder. "I-uh, sorry, I have no idea why I just told you all that."
"No, no, it's fine. I don't mind when it when you open up to me like this. It's like you said before. I've been inside your mind and we have a bond."
Robin smiled. "Thanks again. By the way, I like it too."
"I like it when you open up to me."
Raven shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, knowing that it was her turn to share something.
"Another reason I was so quiet was because I guess I just saw for the first time everything I missed out on as a child. My mother and the monks who raised me never did any of those things with me that you did with the kids. They never played peekaboo or gave me airplane rides or even told me bedtime stories."
"Because of your need to be so calm all the time?"
Robin placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Raven, that's terrible. I'm so sorry to hear that. You must have been so unhappy."
She turned towards him and smiled weakly. "Its okay. I wasn't really. Because I really didn't know that I was missing anything. And I went along with what they taught me because I was scared of Trigon's influence inside of me too. You've seen what happens when I get to emotional about things and how my dark side gets control of me… But it's all behind me now. I'm not scared of my father anymore. Especially now that I have such a wonderful brother."
Robin's jaw dropped and Raven's smile got wider and she put her hand on his shoulder. "And I know I can count on him for anything."
Robin grinned back at her. "I can always count on you too, Raven. You're like…the sister I never had. And as much as I miss my old family sometimes, having you around makes it better. Because together we're part of a new family. One that I've come to love just as much as my old one."
Before she could say anything in response, Robin wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close.
She hugged him back and whispered in a barely audible tone: "you too."