Author's Notes:

First of all, it's time. I know, I've said it before, but I really mean it this time. Shades and all of the Alt Stories are now complete. It's time for me to say good-bye to you guys, put -30- at the end, draw a line, turn, walk away, and go drink single malt scotch. There are other projects to be tended to, and I've squeezed about all the drama and fun I can out of this one. One day, years from now, I may return to this piece and clean up the timeline and some of the dialogue, but for now, it's on to new subjects. I have two short stories on the drawing board for BB/RAE that I hope to put out for ya'll before Christmas of 2014. In the meantime, I've got a commercial short story to publish, a book of advice to young men, and a novel to look at. Thanks for all the encouragement. If you have any specific questions, feel free to send me a private message and I'll be sure to respond. I'll be around the site; I just won't be publishing for a little while.

Okay, this one started out strong and just sort of finished lame. The point of this scene was to extend the squabbling relationship between Raven and Beast Boy from the show into the story, in an effort to sort of build up momentum from the show into my story. At this point they barely know each other. In the timeline, I think this is the earliest of the unused fragments. It would have been used early in the storyline, when I was still paralleling the events of the series, probably sometime during the first two seasons. Obviously, this little tale comes before well our lovers have their bonding moments in the episodes Nevermore and The Beast Within.

I got the idea from an online comic I follow, Questionable Content. In it, two of the characters get into a Karaoke duel. I thought I could present the joke better than the original cartoonist. There were two issues that came up while I was working. The first, and most critical, was that I was unable to construct a satisfying duel. I am farther out of touch with popular music than I thought, and even sticking to the classics, the first gags were easy, but after 2 – 3 jokes it was hard to give them parity. Also, most of the songs I was able to find were love songs, and BB and Rae weren't there at this point in the story. I ended up taking some lyrics out of context to get the insults I wanted. And finally, I was unable to improve on the original punch line that was in the comic I boosted the idea from.

More importantly: Raven. Singing Karaoke. Early in her tenure with the Titans. Was I OUT OF MY EVER LOVING MIND? I had to turn enough writing backflips just to get her to sing Christmas carols and make it believable. Karaoke? In public? Please. Robin taking up tournament canasta play with Batman vs Poison Ivy and the Joker is more believable. So, with that in mind, I present for your amusement, Karaoke Night.

Raven walked into the room and raised her hood. She shuddered. This place was creepy.

"Tell me again why we're here," she groused to Robin, who was bringing up the rear.

Robin rolled his eyes behind his mask and started at the beginning, one more time.

"We all agreed that after that mess with Thunder and Lightning and the giant lava monster that meta-humans have gotten a bad name in the City. Citizens are looking sideways at anyone with a super-power or a costume. So to help with this, we're making an effort to get out into the city and let people see us interacting in public some time other than when we're casually picking up someone's motorcycle and, say, throwing it at Dr. Light."

Raven flushed and said, "I was in a hurry."

"I know," Robin replied, "but the point stands. And we went to the auto show with Cyborg, the CSI Symposium with me, and Starfire took us to the hotdog factory. Then you chose a poetry slam. It's Beast Boy's turn to pick, and he's picked this. Fair's fair."

Raven froze, putting her back to the wall and scanned the environment. The lighting was low, normally Raven's chosen motif. That was good, at least. The walls were painted a moderately neutral pale orange color with huge white dots. The small round, white tables dotted the floor, each surrounded by chairs and a bar ran along one wall opposite the stage. But the room was full of, well, people. And unlike when she was working, the people weren't running away. They were sitting at small, round tables. Drinking intoxicants. That lowered inhibitions. The emotions awash in the room rolled over her like stale cigarette smoke.

She her eyes darted to one side, glaring.

"You hate me, don't you?"

"Okay, Raven? I want you to consider who is talking carefully. If I am telling you that, maybe, you're a little uptight and could stand to loosen up a little bit, maybe I know what I'm talking about?"

"Fine," she said as she reached their table. She sat down abruptly and stared straight ahead.

Beast Boy had watched the exchange with quiet amusement. He really, really didn't get Raven.

"How could anyone possibly be that gloomy?" he asked himself.

One corner of his mouth lifted in a tiny (for him) grin. This was going to be fun. Because tonight at the Comedy Club, it was karaoke night!

Raven sat, impassive, a glass of ice water, no lemon, sitting in front of her, untouched. The other four Titans watched the parade of performers, some good, and some not so good, attempt to sing along with the teleprompter and instrumental track to various popular songs. Cyborg roared with laughter, while merry peals of Starfire's good humor floated around the table like zorkaberries floating on a bog. Eventually, Beast Boy could take no more of Raven's sour face, and walked to the podium.

Beast Boy took the mike from the host and said, "Good evening everybody. This song is dedicated to a good friend of mine who's in the audience to night. She's a great lady, but she's positive that's she's not going have any fun."

With no fanfare, no count off, and no lead in, Beast Boy slammed cleanly, and with surprising skill, given his fractured tenor range straight into:

"AAAAAre you gonna take me home tonight?
AAAAH down beside that red firelight!
Aaare you gonna let it all hang out?
Fat bottom girls you make the rockin' world go round!

. . . . .

I've been singing with my band
Across the water, across the land
I've seen every blue eyed floozy on the way (hey)
But their beauty and their style
Went kind of smooth after a while
Take me to them naughty ladies every time!"[1] [2]

Raven's eyes flew wide at first. Then her lips pressed together into an utterly humorless line. When Beast Boy swaggered back to the table, Raven said, "You think you're pretty clever, don't you? Well, you're not funny."

"What?" he replied, "It was just a joke. Lighten up, Raven!"

"I don't like people even looking at me, and you're up there singing a song about my ass! Jerk."

"Geeze, sorry. So, what are you going to sing tonight?"

"Don't be absurd. I didn't come here to sing. I got dragged here against my will. Self-humiliation is not my thing."

Changeling frowned. "Sometimes, he thought, "Raven can be really, really annoying."

With that in mind, he added himself to the rotation again. When his turn came, he took the stage.

You're only happy when it rains
You're only happy when it's complicated
And though you know I can't appreciate it
You're only happy when it rains

I know you love it when the news is bad
And why it feels so good to feel so sad
You're only happy when it rains

Pour your misery down, pour your misery down on me
Pour your misery down, pour your misery down on me[3]

Raven ground her teeth. One eyebrow twitched and a vein pulsed in her forehead. She rose, preparing to gate to the sky and levitate home.

Starfire whispered, sotto voce, "Are you truly going to allow him to route you in this battle of the wills?"

She glared at Starfire for a moment, and then muttered, "That's it, It is so on."

Her expression flat, her mood the color of iron, Raven stalked to the stage and stuck her hand out.

Beast Boy goggled.


"The microphone, if you please," she said in her gravelly contralto.

Beast Boy blinked and handed Raven the microphone and returned to his seat. Raven turned to the host.

"Carly Simon, please," she said quietly, with a glare.

"Yes, ma'am," said the operator.

Raven's singing voice wasn't "pretty," but it wasn't bad either. Unlike her speaking voice, it didn't have a gravely tone, but instead was low and powerful. It was almost, almost smoky in tone.

You walked into the party like you were walking onto a yacht
Your hat strategically dipped below one eye
Your scarf it was apricot
You had one eye on the mirror as you watched yourself gavotte
And all the girls dreamed that they'd be your partner
They'd be your partner, and...

You're so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You're so vain, I'll bet you think this song is about you
Don't you? Don't You?[4]

Raven set the microphone down on the podium and walked silently back to the table. The other four Titans were a study in circles. Each were wide-eye and open-mouthed in surprise. Not only had Raven sung, in public, but it had been good. Slowly Beast Boy's mouth closed and he swallowed. That had kinda – stung. Then his eyes narrowed. So, Raven was able to take up the Gauntlet of Challenge. But could she keep it?

Again, Beast Boy's choice had no intro, and no riff, the fractured tenor cracked down into . . .

Shot through the heart,
And you're to blame
Darling, you give love
A bad name.

An angel's smile is what you sell
You promise me heaven and put me through hell.
Chains of love got a hold on me
When passion's a prison you can't break free.

Woah! You're a loaded gun ... yeah
Woah! There's nowhere to run
No one can save me, the damage is done!

Shot through the heart,
And you're to blame
You give love a bad name
I play my part, and you play your game
You give love a bad name.
You give love a bad name.[5]

Raven's jaw dropped. That was dirty pool. Nobody was ever going to love Raven, and she knew it. She didn't need him to tell her that. She bit her lower lip. She'd like to kick him in the . . . Her brows contracted and one corner of her mouth lifted. It wasn't quite a grin. But it was certainly wicked.

You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'
And you keep losin' when you oughta not bet.
You keep samin' when you oughta be changin'.
Now what's right is right, but you ain't been right yet.

These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do
One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you![6]

Raven made eye contact with Beast Boy over one shoulder and lifted her upper lip in a kind of smirk beneath half-lidded eyes. He licked his lips. His eyes narrowed, and then his lower jaw set like a Space Marine. He snatched up the microphone, reared back and launched into:

If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son
I got 99 problems and a bitch ain't one

Tip my hat to the sun in the west
Feel the beat right in my chest
At the crossroads a second time
Make the devil change his mind.
It's a pound of flesh but it's really a ton
99 problems and a bitch ain't one![7]

Starfire and Robin looked at Raven expectantly but she pursed her lips, eyes narrowed. Annoyed, she said, "That was Jay-Z. Even Jay-Z can't top Jay-Z."


And that's truly it gang. Those of you who have follows for so long: thanks for sticking with me.

May the wind be at your backs.

[1] Fat Bottomed Girls – Queen, of course.

[2] Dudes – This breaks a man-rule. Trust me on this one. No matter how long you've been with your lady, no matter how well you think you know her, and no matter how good you think her sense of humor is, "Fat Bottom Girls" should never be her ring-tone on your cell phone. Really.

[3] Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage

[4] You're So Vain – Carly Simon

[5] Shot Through the Heart – Bon Jovi

[6] These Boots Are Made for Walkin' – Nancy Sinatra. This one actually doesn't fit here if you know the song, so I've taken the stanza's out of context. I simply couldn't get away from the imagery of Raven wanting to put a boot into Beast Boy's face at this point in the evening.

[7] 99 Problems – Jay-Z