So this is something a little different. Hopefully you'll like it. :)
Michele grabbed the magazine off the rack, ignoring her fiancé's rolling eyes. She opened it up, searching for the article displayed on the cover, the thin pages sliding between her fingers.
"You're seriously still reading that crap?" Ryan asked, looked at the magazine with a laugh. The shopping cart squeaked as he pushed it through the aisles of the grocery store, the tinny music unrecognizable through the crappy speakers. He was still in his work clothes, black dress pants and a button-up blue shirt. Insurance wasn't glamorous, but he enjoyed it. Michele admired that, as she had jumped around from job to job for years. Currently she was teaching, but three months ago she was a bartender, and seven months before that she was a cab driver.
"Shut up," she muttered. "It about the Titans."
He grabbed it out of her hand and flipped to the cover. He waved it in front of her face, the green man on the front clarifying her comment. "It's about Beast Boy." Ryan's dark hair spiked up in the front and his scruffy face teased her.
"He's Changeling, now," she argued, taking the magazine back and finding her page.
"That name'll never catch on." Ryan shook his head. "You've had this silly, little crush on him for years now. It's enough to make a guy jealous."
Michele's blue eyes danced, "It's not silly. And you don't need to be jealous."
He ruffled her short red hair, "Good." With a fake, long-suffering sigh, he nodded at the magazine. "So what's new in the world of superheroes?"
"Changeling just returned from Africa. It just said he was there for family reasons," Michele scanned the pages. "But he's back and already been photographed with Raven again."
"Well, they are married, right?" Ryan asked. "Kind of expected."
"But she's so grumpy all the time!" Michele argued, putting the magazine to the side as she picked out a few green apples and put them in a bag. "What does he see in her?"
"Apparently quite a bit, if he could stand being tossed out of the Tower a dozen times and still go back to her."
"But Changeling is so much fun and she's so serious!"
"People think I'm serious," Ryan pointed out, grabbing a few peppers. "Fajitas tonight?"
"Sure. And nobody thinks you're serious." Michele led the way, Ryan following her.
He laughed at her, kicking her sneakers with a smile, "You don't think I am. But do you want to know my nickname at work? They call me Mr. Stern."
"Like Howard Stern?"
"No, like grumpy."
She glanced up at him, unable to believe that her video-gaming, cosplaying, D and D Dungeon Master fiancé was known as a grump. "If you told them half the things you do, nobody would think that."
"It doesn't matter. But you know me, and you know I'm not serious."
"You're still more serious than me, though."
"A kindergartner is more serious than you, Micky."
Michele stuck her tongue out.
"Exactly my point." Ryan led them down the cereal aisle. Michele hesitated on the end.
"Didn't I just buy you cereal?" she asked him with a frown.
"Yeah, but you brought the generic brand," Ryan argued.
"It tastes the same."
"It does not taste the same! I need the real stuff."
"Because Lucky Charms are just full of "real" stuff," Michele drawled as he grabbed a box. "And it's twice as expensive!"
"Hey, I don't moan when you buy your comics," Ryan reminded her.
"You read them, too!"
"And you can eat this," he told her, putting it into the cart.
Michele flipped her bangs out of her face, "That crap is full of…crap!"
"Oh, well said, Micky," he snarked at her with a grin. It had been that grin that made Michele fall for him in the first place, fifteen years ago in their elementary school band class. Still worked. "I bet Beast Boy-"
"Changeling," she corrected.
"-Beast Boy eats Lucky Charms," Ryan finished, heading towards the front of the aisle, clearly waiting for her to follow.
"He's a superhero," Michele said, chasing after him. "And a vegetarian. I bet he only eats healthy food."
"So you're saying you don't want ice cream?" Ryan asked her sarcastically.
Michele glared at him. "Don't joke about that."
"Come on, dork, let's get-"
"Everybody, hands in the air!" an echoing voice shouted.
Michele turned and gaped, a tall, gangly man standing near the front of their aisle. She recognized the green outfit and goggles, the backpack over his shoulders containing the real weapons.
"Oh, shit," she whispered.
Abandoning the cart, Ryan grabbed her arm and pulled her towards the other end of the aisle. Five men in red blocked it, smirking identical smirks. "Where do you think you're going?" he echoed five times over.
Michele tugged on Ryan's hand, trying to pull them back. "Ryan, it's the HIVE," she hissed.
"So you've heard of us," a voice from above called down, a huge eye floating overhead. Michele and Ryan hunkered down to the ground, his arm over her shoulders in an attempt to shield her from whatever was about to happen.
A roar echoed from the front and Michele shivered, recognizing the sound of Mammoth. The HIVE weren't the troublemaking youngsters that had terrorized Jump City years ago, but had grown into a moderately well-formed gang.
A silent man phased through the aisle right next to them, making Ryan pull Michele closer. He gazed at them with black eyes, then continued by.
"We don't want any fuss," Gizmo shouted. "But we want everything else! Hand it over and nobody gets hurt!"
A man screamed and was thrown into the endcap of their aisle, knocking boxes onto the ground.
"Mammoth!" the Billys yelled. "What the hell, man!"
"Okay," See-More said slowly. "No one else will get hurt."
Gizmo stalked down the aisle towards them, reaching out his hand for their wallets. "Give 'em up, turd buckets."
Ryan glared, but took his wallet out, tossing it into the bag in Gizmo's hands. Gizmo turned his eyes onto Michele.
She didn't want to, but there was no hope in arguing. She grabbed the few wallet out of her purse and handed it over. She wished she could say she was brave enough to meet his eyes, but she couldn't.
"And the ring," Gizmo ordered.
Michele immediately covered the small sapphire. "It's my engagement ring."
"Do I look like I care?" he snapped, his free hand reaching for his backpack. "Hand it over."
"Micky," Ryan whispered, "it's just a ring."
"No. It's ours, it's-"
"Just a ring," he repeated. "Give it to the brat."
"Watch it," Gizmo growled, aiming some sort of gun at him. A wire connected it to the backpack strapped onto him and it glowed bright blue.
"No!" Michele shouted, pulling the only piece of jewelry she wore off of her finger, "No, don't hurt him, here!" She stood to hand it to Gizmo and he turned, the gun aiming at her.
Ryan jumped up and got in front of her, a wordless shout breaking free.
Gizmo's gun fired –
Michele screamed –
A shield of black energy appeared between them and Gizmo, knocking the blast back and into the hacker and sending him crashing into the shelves.
"Hundreds of banks," an ethereal female voice echoed from all around them. Michele pressed her back against the shelf, pulling Ryan with her. He angled his shoulders so she was mostly covered behind him.
A spire of black magic lifted Mammoth from the ground and up into the air, suspending the thrashing beast by an ankle. "Dozens of jewelry stores," she continued.
"A handful of high end pawn shops." See-More's visor was ripped from his helmet and he shouted, falling to the ground.
A woman appeared in the aisle a few feet from Gizmo. "And you choose to rob a grocery store of all places."
"Titan," Gizmo sneered.
Raven's black cloak billowed around her, her purple eyes staring straight at the hacker. "Idiot," she drawled calmly.
Gizmo lifted the gun and fired at her, but she was gone before the blast made contact. She reappeared in behind him again, firing a bolt of power at the dozens of Billys heading down the aisle, sending the first few rows to the ground and tripping up the ones afterward.
Firing again, Gizmo tried to catch the sorceress, but she vanished and reappeared too quickly for him to land a hit. She managed to not only evade the gunfire, but wrap the Billys in a circle of power, compressing them until he was forced to revert back into his single and original form.
With a scream of frustration, Gizmo aimed it at Michele and Ryan. Twisting, Ryan tried to cover Michele, but-
-the gun sputtered and died.
Gizmo turned, seeing the wire from the gun to his backpack had been sliced. A green man appeared suddenly from behind him, picking up the backpack with Gizmo still attached. Clothed in red and white rather than his old uniform of purple and black, Changeling was still recognizable, with his green skin and dancing eyes. With a good six inches extra, Gizmo's feet dangled off the ground.
Gizmo seethed, "You goddamn, snot-eating basta-"
"Whoa!" Changeling grinned, shaking the hacker like a dog shakes a toy. "Language, brat." He shook him again and the backpack snapped off of Gizmo's shoulders, throwing the man to the ground. Changeling stepped on the man's wrist, keeping him in place. "Rae!" he called. "You good?"
"I was handling it," she retorted, walking back down the aisle, the other three members encased in black magic. Even now, authorities were pulling up to the grocery store, ready to transport the HIVE back to their reserved cells.
"I know," Changeling retorted, handing Gizmo off to an officer. "But I got bored."
She leveled her purple eyes at him, "You're the one who wanted to wait in the car."
Kyd Wykkyd appeared behind Raven with his arms upraised and Michele flinched.
"Look out!" Ryan called, stepping forward towards her. Michele didn't know what he could do with his bare fists, but he still moved without a thought to his own safety.
Changeling shifted so quickly she didn't see what happened until a gorilla held the last HIVE member up by one arm, snarling in his face. Kyd Wykkyd held up his free hand in surrender and Changeling shifted back, glaring at the man until he was cuffed and in custody.
"You were saying?" Changeling glanced over his shoulder at Raven.
"Thanks," she replied, brushing his arm as she walked past him towards the officers.
He grinned and picked up the bag Gizmo dropped. Reaching in, he pulled out a wallet and flipped it open. "Ryan Lynch?" he asked, glancing at Ryan.
"Yeah, thanks," Ryan said, finally letting go of Michele's arm, taking the wallet back.
Changeling glanced between them, a line of concern between his brows, "You two all right? Sorry it got a little crazy."
"We're okay," Ryan assured him. "Thank you."
"Hey, thank you," Changeling said honestly, glancing at Raven. He shook his head and grabbed the other wallet, glancing in it to make sure. "Michele?" he smiled, handing it over.
Michele took it and slid it back into her purse. "Thank you."
Changeling grinned at her and Michele was surprised when she found that it wasn't quite as attractive as she thought it would be. Her hand sought out Ryan's and he took it, giving it a gentle squeeze.
Raven returned, nodding politely at Michele and Ryan before facing Changeling. "I told the officers that I'd be coming by with Cy tomorrow to check on their security. Something clearly went wrong."
Changeling shrugged, "Least it was only the HIVE."
"Today it's the HIVE," Raven muttered. "Tomorrow, who knows?"
"Hey," Changeling smirked, chucking under her chin gently. "We can handle it."
Michele watched as Raven's shoulders relaxed as she smiled up at him. When the purple eyes glanced over, Michele realized she had been staring and dropped her gaze.
"I'm sorry you were involved," Raven said. "I'm Raven, by the way."
"Yeah," Ryan chuckled. "We know. I'm Ryan. This is my fiancée, Michele."
"Changeling," Ryan supplied.
His eyes lit up and he grinned at Raven, "See, I told you it would start to catch on!"
Raven rolled her eyes, then caught Michele's with a smile. "You have a very brave fiancé. I would hold onto him."
Michele smiled and squeezed his hand. "I will."
"Oh, Rae!" Changeling suddenly said, looking over Ryan's shoulder. "Can we get Lucky Charms?"
"I just bought you two boxes of cereal," she said, crossing her arms.
"The generic stuff! That stuff sucks!"
"It tastes the same," Raven retorted.
"It does not!" Ryan and Changeling both said at the same time.
Changeling grinned at him, "See? This guy knows what's up."
"Fine," she sighed, waving at him. Clutching the box, Changeling hurried down the aisle. Raven looked at them one more time. "It was nice meeting you," she told them.
"Yeah, you too," Michele called after her.
Ryan stared after them for a moment, then hugged Michele tightly. "You okay?"
"I'm fine," she told him, hugging him back. "I'm good." She breathed in deeply, then let go. Grabbing another box of Lucky Charms off the shelf, she tossed it into the cart.
Ryan smiled at her and Michele's heart turned over, green Titans all but forgotten.
"Come on, dork," he said, straightening out the cart and heading down the aisle as if this happened to them every day. As if he hadn't thrown himself in front of her. As if he hadn't tried to go to the aid of someone else in trouble. Michele watched him walking and then smiled.
Hurrying after him, she pulled the magazine out of the cart and left it on a shelf.
The Titans were great.
But her hero was better.