[Next day – Robin's Office]
Edward had slept the best he had in several weeks after returning home. Beast Boy had done an overnight patrol while the others slept and reported nothing of note. Robin had allowed him to grab a few hours of sleep, however, it was also a training session day, so, BB couldn't get out of that easily.
Robin had also discussed it with the rest of the team while they were gone and everyone decided that should the newly engaged couple want to share rooms, that it would be OK.
He waited till breakfast to tell Edward and Raven that bit of news. He was also curious about the dinner with Bruce and especially why Terra was suddenly called away to help.
So, he asked Edward and Raven to meet him in the office soon as the breakfast was over.
"I have some news that will interest you," Robin said with a smile, "While you were in Gotham, the rest of the team talked it over and, well, if you two want to share a room, you're welcome to do that or stay with the status quo for now."
Edward and Raven raised an eyebrow each hearing that.
[What do you think, Rae?] Edward asked.
[I know that you'd be a gentleman regardless,] she replied, [I'd like that.]
"Awesome," Edward replied with a grin, "Rae and I will talk it over later and see who moves. But, I'd like to keep my quarters as an office in case I move in with Rae. I want to respect her need for private space, yet, still be available when another team mate wants to talk."
"That's not a problem at all," Robin said.
"Also, while you were gone, Jericho asked if he could stay here," Robin said, moving on to another important matter.
"Joe's a good kid and that ability of his is rather interesting and useful to the team," Edward said, "A minor drawback: The rest of the team would have to learn sign language. Cyborg can learn it easiest with a download. You, BB, Star and Rae would have to learn. If Arella or I aren't here to relay, valuable time is lost.
"Bottom line: I vote to admit him to full membership."
"Agreed," Raven said, "I would enjoy having him on the team."
Robin beamed hearing that, "You made the vote 7-0, then. I only vote to break the rare tie."
Robin called Jericho into the office. As he already had a communicator, Robin punched a few buttons on his computer terminal that upgraded Jericho's communicator to member status. It would also serve as his "key" to get into the Tower when no one else was there. The AI would recognize Jericho as authorized personnel and not react. Typically, if there was an unauthorized access to the Tower or the AI itself, the AI would respond in ways that the intruder(s) would not like.
"Good news," Robin said, "I talked it over with the other Titans and well, I have something to tell you."
He extended his hand and said, "Congrats, you've been promoted from honorary status to full member of the Team. We'll have your room ready later today.
"Also, we'll have to set aside time to learn sign language. Edward raised a good point about the rest of the team knowing what you're saying in case he or Arella aren't available."
Jericho smiled and signed, "Thank you! I'll be happy to help teach the others sign language."
After Edward relayed that, Robin said, "That would be wonderful! Get together with Edward and Arella to set up some time for lessons."
Jericho signed, "OK."
He left after Robin explained about the new functions of his communicator.
They ended up talking about how well the pranks on Beast Boy worked and that Raven was about to really collapse from laughing so hard.
[At least I can get a laugh out of you a lot more often,] Edward said.
[You typically don't prank people that often and when you do tell an intentional joke, it's funny,] Raven said, [Sometimes it's the unintended puns that gets me wondering if you hang out with Beast Boy too much.]
[True,] Edward agreed, [I could hear you busting a gut through the link when you got him with that stankball from hell.]
[I'm glad my powers knocked down most of that smell, dear,] Raven said, [Whatever that liquid is has a serious stink to it. I think Beast Boy had to toss that uniform after he tossed his cookies.]
[Hehehe,] Edward said, [I'd been waiting for the perfect time to use that and it comes in useful in punishing someone as well.]
[And, the ghost chili extract in the tofu was priceless!] Raven said, [Did you give him soymilk or real milk?]
Edward replied, [I had to take some mercy on Beast Boy. Soymilk doesn't have the ability to cool down spicy stuff. He drank whole milk. It's the best thing for something like that. He'll eat real cheese on pizza, so, he's not a true vegan. I give him vegan meals as most of the time, that's where he leans anyway. He wasn't happy about the whole milk and I'll explain why soon.]
[Speaking of mercy, dear,] Raven said, [You going to let that captain out of the stockade?]
[Of course! I'm going to call the man's CO shortly and let him know that the charges are dropped. He's sat there long enough,] Edward said.
In fact, even though it was a mere 48 hours after the altercation, Edward was inclined to give the captain the benefit of the doubt here.
He pulled the number to the military base from the Tower AI and called the man's commanding officer.
"Camp Lincoln, Colonel Smith here," he heard.
"Greetings, Col. Smith. This is Edward Barnes here," Edward said, "How are you today, sir?"
"I'm fine, General," Smith said, "And you?"
"Fine for a guy who just got engaged," Edward said.
"Really?" Smith said, "Congrats, sir. Who is the lucky gal?"
"Raven," Edward said.
"That gothic looking gal on the Titans?" Smith asked.
"One and the same. However, as much as I would like to engage in small talk, I had a captain under your command arrested for insubordination and conduct unbecoming an officer. I would like to drop the charges at this time. His little girl is having a birthday and, well, I just don't have the heart to ruin her birthday," Edward requested.
"Well," Smith said, "This is an unusual request. I can see dropping the insubordination, but, the report you sent does warrant an Article 32 hearing on the conduct unbecoming an officer at the least. Regulations do allow me to handle this incident before it gets to the Article 32 hearing, though, and whatever you recommend as punishment will be considered."
Edward sighed, "That will work, however, I am ordering his release from the stockade so he can attend his daughter's birthday. I'm also ordering him to call me prior to 0900 tomorrow morning and we can discuss it. Right now, I'm inclined to recommend a formal written reprimand be placed into his jacket. If he answers my questions to my satisfaction, I will formally recommend this as his punishment for your consideration."
"I would agree to a written reprimand as well, sir," Smith said, "He's a good man generally and, well, we do need his services on base. He's made a mistake and I would hope that he learns from it."
"That's why he's to call me by 0900 here at the Titan Tower. If by some chance he calls and we've been called away on a mission, he's to be made available on a moment's notice," Edward said.
"I heard he tried to take a swing at you, sir?" Smith asked.
"I'm not pressing those charges, sir," Edward explained, "I do understand that this is a very serious offense. He's got my fiancée to thank for that as his punch was blocked by her powers. Had he actually struck me, I would be pressing that particular charge. However, please respect my decision here. No assaulting a superior officer charge is to be brought resulting from this incident. I will reserve that right, though, if I were to hear he tries that again with someone else."
"May I speak frankly, sir?" Smith asked.
"Please," Edward said.
"Assaulting a superior officer is something that should not be tolerated, ever," Smith said, "Begging the General's pardon, that would undermine military discipline badly. I would ask you to reconsider."
"That's why I am reserving that right until such time as the statute of limitations expires," Edward said, "If this is an isolated incident, I would rather not press formal charges. If he tries to attack a superior again, then, I will bring charges up. However, I will not undermine you, either. He's under your command and should you opt to discipline him for that, it's your right to do so. But, I would prefer to keep my promise to his wife and by extension, his daughter to have him home for that day."
"Agreed, sir," Smith replied, "I'll have him released immediately. He should be home by 1700. Anything else?"
"No, Colonel," Edward said, "Thank you for your time. And, next time you wish to speak freely…no need to ask permission."
"Thank you, sir," he said, "Take care."
They hung up and just in time as another call was routed through. It was the guy's wife.
"Titan Tower," Edward said, "Edward here."
A woman's voice said, "Is this General Barnes?"
"Yes, ma'am, it is," he said, "How may I help you?"
"This is Susan, the woman from the other day," she said.
"Ah, I was just about to call you," he said, "I literally just got off the phone with your husband's commanding officer. He will be released shortly and should be able to be picked up by you by 5 PM. Please make sure he calls me by 9 AM, though. It's important that he does that."
"Thank you!" she said, "Janey has been worried that her daddy will not be home for her birthday."
"She doesn't have to worry anymore about that," Edward said, "Depending on the outcome of our chat tomorrow will determine on the punishment he gets. I am inclined to recommend a written reprimand be placed into his service jacket and so is his CO. The thing is that such a reprimand would derail his career. If he's learned his lesson, I will further ask that the reprimand sunset after a couple of years and thus automatically removed from his jacket. But, this stays between us."
"I understand," she replied, "My daughter is excited to see the Tower, though. She really wants to come over there."
"I don't see a problem with that," Edward said, "Bring her over at 2 PM on her birthday and I'll give her the grand tour. She'll be able to meet the others as well."
"Can she bring some friends over?" Susan asked.
"I'll have to check with Robin on that one," Edward said, "We can't make the Tower available to every kid who has a birthday. I can talk him into an exception in this case to bolster relations between the Titans and the Military in the long term view. The short term view is that I want your daughter to have the best birthday ever and that's more of a personal thing."
"I do appreciate this," she said. She hung up a moment later and after that Edward headed back to Robin's office.
"Hey, Richard?" Edward asked.
"What's up?" he said.
"Would you object to having a few kids over here next week? I promised a kid's mom a couple days ago that her daughter could visit as a birthday present? I had to have her dad put into the stockade for being an idiot and the mom was worried that her daughter's special day would be ruined. She just asked if she could bring a few friends over," Edward explained.
Robin thought for a moment and said, "All right, but, don't make a habit out of this as the Tower is not a day care center nor geared for constant birthday parties. Once in a while is all right, but, you have to tell me in advance. You've developed a habit, Edward, of running your own program and while I totally understand and respect that given your age and experience, to be honest, I'm starting to feel undermined here and it's not a good feeling."
Edward blushed, "My apologies, Robin. I'll be more mindful of that in the future."
"The guys like you, man," Robin said, "And, let's face it…Raven's completely in love with you. I was worried for a while as she is like a sister to me and after that one incident, I knew she was badly hurt. You've turned that around.
"I'll be honest. A couple of the guys were frightened of you, but, I get the feeling that those days are behind us. The two biggest threats to Raven have been handled for good, so, barring any major threat to the team, I can see you starting to get back into the swing of things. Bruce gave me a long email this morning and he was impressed with the meeting last night. Do you know how hard it is to impress the guy?"
"Pretty difficult," Edward said, "I'm glad that I had a chance to meet him and work alongside him."
"Batman is hard on his sidekicks, sadly," Robin said, rubbing his nose, "You were lucky that he allowed you to help. Tim's needing a lot more seasoning before he'll be allowed to be the new Robin. It also means that there will be a day when I will need to retire the Robin character and take on a new mantle. It's something I've been thinking about anyway."
"Listen to your heart, Richard," Edward said sagely, "The team will stand with you regardless of what you decide. Tim's a good kid from what I've seen. He'll do fine."
"I know," Robin said, "I really don't want to pass on the mantle, but, I will regardless of what I personally feel. You don't know this, but, a few years back, Starfire was sent into the future almost 20 years and what she described was not good."
"Well," Edward replied, "I wouldn't worry too much about that, then, because had she remained in the future, that would have been a future assured. As she was recovered from that timeline, I can tell you that particular timeline's been averted."
"One thing," Robin continued on, "Is that I would become Nightwing and, since then, I've been giving it some thought. Let me show you something."
He went to his closet and from the back, pulled out a different costume. It was mostly black with a feather pattern in medium blue down the chest. He also pulled out a different mask.
"You've done more than think about it," Edward stated, "You're wondering when you should pull the trigger on a character change, right?"
"Can't put anything past you, eh?" Robin retorted with a grin, "Yeah, I'm ready to make that shift. I wonder how the rest of the team will handle it."
"This is your life, Richard," Edward said, "The rest of the team will adjust to calling you Nightwing or whatever you decide to use. You already know, deep down, that you've got my support. I won't speak for Rae or the others, though."
"Thanks for that," Robin said, "It doesn't solve the problem of timing, though."
"Easy enough," Edward replied, "Bruce would let you know when Tim's ready for his first mission and you announce via a press conference that you are retiring the Robin character and replacing it with the new one because you felt it was time to pass the mantle on to Tim."
"True," Robin replied, "Tim's going to be 14 next year and that was when Bruce allowed me to be Robin."
Edward nodded, "If Tim is anywhere near as smart as you, I don't see a problem with his being Robin at that time. I offered to help train Tim in my spare time. That's up to Bruce, obviously."
"I won't stand in your way if Bruce thinks it's best to have you help out, just make sure that Bruce knows that your duties with the Titans comes first."
"He knows," Edward said, "I don't mind helping the Justice League with some matters, but, the Titans are what's important to me. The League is full of more experienced folks, but, that doesn't detract from the Titans. Like I told Terra a long time ago. You're the glue that holds the team together. You might not like to admit this, but, Bruce trained you quite well and you share his experience with the rest of the team. Sure, I'm 3,000 years old and have that experience to lean on. But, can I impart all that into you guys in your lifetime? Nope. Even Raven who might live to be 200 due to Trigon's DNA running through her veins cannot get ALL that experience. Doesn't mean I'd refrain from sharing it, though."
Robin smiled at that.
They stepped out of the office a moment later. Edward was content for the time being. So was Robin, in his own way.
Edward's thoughts moved towards the future as well. He was happily engaged to a wonderful young woman and, given time, the other two couples in the tower would be engaged pretty soon. With the three couples getting a date night every couple of weeks as well, morale was high.
Edward was still bothered with the events of the recent past, but, he was coping.
[A week later]
The birthday party for little Janey went off without too many problems, luckily. The kids all enjoyed the tour of the Tower and asked a ton of questions. Raven made a very rare exception and allowed them to take a quick look into her room. Edward was pleased with that decision. The kids were in awe of the statues and other mystical items she kept there.
They loved Starfire as well. They thought it was awesome that she was able to fly and she even threw a few Starbolts into the bay, much to the kids delight. But, when Terra opened up with her powers, that quickly became target practice which the youngsters enjoyed.
They loved seeing Beast Boy and Edward showing off their abilities as well. But, that didn't compare to how they reacted to Cyborg. They were very interested in his robotic parts as well. The sonic cannon was well received by the group.
Janey's dad had indeed followed orders and talked to Edward following his release and while Edward wasn't totally happy with the responses opted to recommend that the man be handed a written reprimand that would expire five years after issuance with the proviso that should he leave the service during that time, it would remain in his file in an inactive status until such time as he either reactivated his commission to serve the rest of the life of the reprimand, or, it be withdrawn by approval of the President.
He did attend the tour, though, and Raven sensed that he was pleased to make it to his daughter's party. She pulled him aside and gave him the same statement she gave Trigon (save the "not welcome here" part) about fathers being kind, protective and raising their kids in love.
Hearing Raven acting as a mirror got his head lowered in shame as he realized that, deep down, he wasn't the best father he could be. She then told him that he had the capacity to be a great father and a great dad and encouraged him to work on his faults.
The two criminals Edward captured were held on a $1 million straight cash bond each, so, they were not getting out anytime soon. Turned out that they were being held accountable for the two news reporter's deaths as well on third degree murder charges. The DA was looking to make examples of those two guys: Engage in a high speed pursuit that resulted in deaths and face more serious charges.
But, the media circus surrounding that had not really died down till after the new reporters' funerals. Edward was as good as his word and covered the funeral expenses out of his pocket and gave the wives of the two survivors a check for $5 million each to cover hospital bills and lost wages.
Meanwhile, Clayface was still in several tightly sealed containers back in Gotham State Prison and not a threat.
Bruce was as also good as his word and papers arrived at the Tower detailing the financial arrangements for the team.
Robin wasn't happy at first glance as he was concerned that he would be replaced by Edward.
"Come on, Richard," Edward had said, "These documents plainly state that Bruce and I are SILENT partners. Neither of us have the right to fire you for any reason, ever. You could haul off and kick me where it hurts and while I'd be mad as hell, I couldn't fire you for that. All this does is ensure the financial stability of the team for years to come. I know that he was footing the bills for the Titans, correct?"
"Yeah," Robin said, "He was."
"He still is, but, only 50% while I pick up the other 50%. The lights will stay on, the cable bill is taken care of, as well as all the other expenses. It frees you up from worrying about it totally," Edward said, "I already cover the food expenses, the pizza parties, and other items. This just spells out who pays for what."
Robin thought about it and said, "That does make sense. Thank you for not trying to take over."
"You're a fine leader, man!" Edward said, "Sure, you make mistakes and that bothers you. My advice on that: Learn from the mistakes and don't let them distract you.
"Only way you give up leadership is if you resign from the position. You can leave Cyborg as second-in-command or do as you think best."
With that, Edward signed the paperwork and had Robin witness it. Edward had it sent back to Gotham that evening after keeping his copy, of course.
Jericho was settling in well with the team as well. Edward and Arella put their heads together and scheduled times for the others to learn sign language.
Beast Boy was still slightly tinted from the red dye, but, that would wear off in the next day or so.
Edward had, indeed, moved in with Raven as well. His old room was fully converted to his office where the rest of the team could still talk to him in private. It had taken a while for Raven to get used to the idea, but, she was loving it as well. She had once given up hope and lost faith in her friends. Now, the young empath had a reason to be happy, have hope and faith.
Edward was sleeping better at night. For the first week or more after Trigon's failed attempt, he was plagued with nasty nightmares. They were nasty enough that Raven would end up rushing into his room and seeing him in mini-dragon form and thrashing hard in his sleep. She'd manage to grasp onto his head after using her powers to restrain him a bit. Then, she's flood the link with calming feelings and reassuring him that she was OK and to calm down.
It would take a while to break through, but, he'd eventually awaken and realize that she was all right and he was safe at the Tower. They'd spend the next hour fixing Edward's room up as he'd trash it in his sleep.
Eventually, the dreams stopped and he was feeling better. The dinner at Bruce's place was very helpful as it got Edward out of Jump City for a few hours and Clayface was, for Edward, an important test. He was more than willing to dry Clayface out and scatter him to the winds. But, it would have put Raven at an unacceptable risk. Terra was all too happy to help and didn't hurt Clayface in the process.
Life was good.
I couldn't believe when Edward asked me to marry him. I was kind of expecting it as Edward was actively blocking me for a while and I noticed when he disappeared for a couple of hours a month ago.
But, this is a great feeling! The emoticlones are pleased with how things are going.
Edward's recovering nicely from his ordeal, it took a while for his emotions to settle down and I think the little bit of action we've seen has helped him a lot. The few nightmares he suffered were calmed with a lot of effort on my part. I had to take in part of his own pain to relieve him, but, it was worth it. It hurt to do so, but, I was worried that it would tear him up inside.
The last few times he's intervened to protect me could have ended up bad for those guys, but, Edward tends to keep in mind that mortals are fragile things and he hasn't needed to resort to tearing someone apart to rescue me or anyone else on the team, for that matter.
He moved in a while ago and, it's weird having someone in my room for part of the time, especially at night. He's been a gentleman the whole time, though. Even after I gave him a little show before he moved in, he hasn't wanted to touch me in that way. He limits himself to the hugs and kisses which I've grown to love.
Sure, we haven't really been able to date much given missions, but, Robin did promise us a day every other week and we've had a ball. He's so sweet that he will compromise with me. He's even sat through some of the poetry readings without complaining one bit. He doesn't say it aloud, but, I know when he's thinking some poetry is too dark or not that good.
Robin and Starfire have moved closer as a couple and I think that the only thing stopping Robin from proposing to Starfire are his duties with the team. They also go on dates every other week. Robin set up a schedule of sorts to allow the three couples a chance to date and still leave several at home minding the store.
All Edward and I have to do is set a date for the wedding. The problem in this is may give the criminal element a day to hit Jump City. We can't just sneak off and get married without jumping through some legal hoops anyway. The law says that we have to publically announce the wedding date and location. And have that submitted to the media…UGH! I hope they understand it if Wayne Enterprise security gives them the heave-ho. No way will I have a bunch of media people there!
Almost forgot Beast Boy and Terra! Now, that's a couple that, after the initial worries passed, have proven to have some staying power as well. They work well together and they are certainly in love with each other. It's interesting as Terra could literally bury Beast Boy, yet, all he has to do is morph into a gopher and, well, escape. He's matured a lot in the last few months. His jokes have become better and, well, after we punished him for eavesdropping, those letters of apology did earn my respect. I was impressed, in all honesty.
Edward's been helping with Terra as well. She's had flashes of instability mentally and Edward tends to pick up on those a few moments before I do. I'm not worried as he was the one that detected faint psychic vibrations in the first place. She seems more at ease talking to him than anyone else.
Cyborg has been out and about as well! He was at a park a few weeks ago and ran into a new friend. She was with a bunch of children and they all seem to have hit it off. The kids, according to Cyborg are also handicapped in different ways and they accept Cyborg as he is and not a monster. Granted no one on the team ever thought that once, it helps Cyborg to know that there are others that look beyond the machine to see the man underneath. Edward and I met Sarah as well and we both think that if they become a couple, it will be a good thing.
But, time will tell.
The End…(For now)
Well, that's it for this installment :) Next story will have Blackfire in it.
Before I forget, though, a couple of shout outs to mention.
First, thanks to "TheForceIsStrongWithOne" for solving a problem for me. If you look up "A House Divided" (an interesting crossover with JL), you'll see how Edward and Rae will be able to have kiddies.
Next, my writing partner in my other timeline for not minding part of an incident being used. He might not get real justice, so, I'm giving him a sense of justice via Edward.
Future ideas include a sequel to "Trouble in Tokyo". That might be a couple stories down the pike, though. I need to focus on my other timeline as well for a while to fill some holes there.
Thanks for reading this long story...It's not as long as the word count indicates, though :) I think it's a few thousand words high...
Until next time :)