AN: I do not own Teen Titans. Please refrain from reviewing until the end of the story. Thank you.
It wasn't the best smelling air, not by a long shot. He remembered the first time he'd entered the city and how the first aromatic wind had hit him and burned his nose. But he'd become used to it over time and now when he smelt the mix of pungent aromas rising from restaurants, the park, along the bay, and the unending traffic he felt at home. But today there was a different smell in the air near the tower. A familiar smell. A smell that gave him a funny turn and made him feel a little aggravated. The smell of…the ocean; of fish and seaweed and salt. Yes, there was only one person who had this signature musk. Aqualad.
Beast Boy watched as the young man he considered his rival, though the feeling wasn't mutual, hopped out of the sea and landed at the tower's doorstep. He shook a little water of his person then proceeded to enter the building, a small smile on his face. The changeling was sure the son of the sea was eager to see his comrades once again. It had been a few months since their last in-person meeting with the members of the Titans East so it seemed fair to say the Titans inside the tower were eager to see him again as well. This wasn't a meeting, however. He'd been called upon to fill in a vacant position on the team for the next week while Raven cashed in the vacation time she'd saved up that year.
The green shape shifter took off from his perch atop the roof and headed back inside, hoping to beat Aqualad to his friends. As the common room doors slide aside he was pleased to see that he had arrived first. He subtly cleared his throat and announced, "Guess who's here?"
"Right on time," Robin smiled. "Where's Raven?"
"She is in her room doing the packing," said Starfire. "Shall I get her?"
"Nah, I'm sure she knows he's here," Cyborg said from the couch, surfing through the channels.
"Yeah, kinda hard to miss that fishy smell," Beast Boy chuckled. "I could smell him when he was still a mile out."
"Beast Boy," said Robin, putting on his leader-tone, "I know I've been telling you this all week but let me say it again. Don't try to pick any fights with him, okay? While he's here he's an equal member of this team."
"Dude, relax," Beast Boy grinned. "Water boy isn't gonna get the better of me this time, I promise."
"I do not understand why you always do the bickering with friend Aqualad," said Starfire. "He does not seem to have any qualms with you so why must you start the fights?"
"I don't start fights," said Beast Boy, hopping up onto the counter to sit down. "He just rubs me the wrong way sometimes, that's all."
"Oh," she said then after a moment of thought asked, "Shall I show him the correct way to rub you?" Robin choked on his own spit and Cyborg forgot about the television and turned towards his friends completely. "I am good at doing the rubbing, am I not?"
Robin glared at Beast Boy and said through his teeth, "What is she talking about?"
"I honestly don't know," Beast Boy said quickly and rather confused. "I've never let her rub me."
"Yes you have," Starfire said innocently. "When you are in an unhappy mood you sit on my lap and let me rub you."
"What are you talking about, Star?" poor Beast Boy cried as Robin readied himself to pounce. "Dude, whatever she's referring to totally isn't what you think it is!"
"Wow, B and Star," Cyborg said more to himself than the others. "There's a match I've never considered."
"Cyborg!" Robin hissed.
"What? I'm just saying," Cyborg shrugged.
"Please, why is everyone upset?" Starfire asked, realizing something was causing everyone in the room to become on edge. "Have I said something wrong?"
"Star, what exactly do you mean when you say you…rub Beast Boy?" asked Robin, doing his best to remain calm.
"Oh it is quite lovely," she smiled. "I believe I receive as much pleasure as Beast Boy does when I do the rubbing of him."
"Gotta say, Star, your honesty is a beautiful thing," Cyborg smirked from the couch. He was quite happy that there wasn't anything good on television. This was a far better watch.
"You. Are. Dead!" Robin roared and lunged at the changeling.
"Starfire, why are you doing this to me?!" Beast Boy screeched as he jumped back and away from Robin. "Robin, dude, I swear to God, Buddha, and Silkie that I didn't do anything with Starfire!"
"I'm going to kill you!" Robin bellowed, chasing his teammate around the Common Room.
"Robin, what are you doing?!" Starfire cried out, thoroughly confused by her boyfriend's reaction. "Please do not attack Beast Boy! Why does my rubbing of him upset you?"
"Uh, Star, you're dating Robin," Cyborg explained. "You're not supposed to do any kind of rubbing with anyone other than him."
"But…Robin cannot become a cat," said Starfire. "And whenever I try to rub Robin's head he becomes quite aggravated at having to do the fixing of his hair."
It took a moment for what she had said to settle in his mind, but once it did Cyborg quickly took charge of the situation. "Hold up!" he called out and grabbed Beast Boy and Robin as they were about to pass him. "Starfire, are you saying that when you rub Beast Boy he's in his cat form?"
"Why yes, of course," she said then giggled. "It would be silly if he were not."
There was a collective sigh followed by Robin saying, "Star, you don't rub Beast Boy when he's a cat. You pet him."
"There is a difference?" she asked.
"In this context, a big one," said Beast Boy, quite relieved that he was no longer on Robin's hit list.
The common room doors slide aside with a hiss and in walked their temporary team member, who they'd momentarily forgotten was on his way up while the whole 'rub' debacle was going on. "Afternoon, Titans," he said with a warm grin as he entered.
"Aqualad, great to see you," said Robin, holding out his hand. "How's the ocean?"
"Big, wet, and a little choppy close to shore," Aqualad said and shook the extended hand.
"Friend it is wonderful to see you!" Starfire smiled widely and crushed him in one of her hugs that lasted a little too long for Robin's taste.
"Hey, man, thanks again for filling in for Raven while she's gone," said Cyborg.
"No problem, I'm happy to do it," said Aqualad.
"I shall go make sure your room is properly prepared," Starfire clapped and flew off.
"And I'll go let Raven know she's officially free to leave," said Cyborg, following after Starfire.
"So who's filling in for you back on Titans East?" asked Beast Boy.
"Kid Flash was kind enough to fill in, though I think it has something more to do with the fact that we're currently hosting Jinx while she does her hero internship," Aqualad explained.
"Ah, that'd be why he turned us down," said Robin, thinking. "We reached out to him first, since he hasn't been designated to a team as of yet, but he declined stating that he wasn't going to be in the area. Guess now I know why."
"Wait a second, we could've had Kid Flash?" asked Beast Boy. "Aw man, that would've been a fun week."
"Sorry, you'll have to settle for me," Aqualad chuckled.
"Yeah, no kidding," Beast Boy grumbled under his breath and made his way to the couch, picking up where Cyborg had left off in the channel surfing.
"So where's Raven taking her vacation?" asked Aqualad
"She's going to a book signing in Civic City," said Robin. "Her favorite author is doing a one time U.S. visit so she doesn't want to miss it."
"That's gotta be the worst vacation destination ever," Beast Boy yawned.
"Anyway," Robin continued, glaring at the couch out of the corner of his mask, "she's also making some stops along the way to places she's always wanted to visit. Then she's flying back."
"So she's going on her own little cross country trip? Good for her," said Aqualad. "Who's her favorite author?"
"Some Russian chick," said Beast Boy. "Leave it to Raven to have a favorite book that's not even in English."
"She's Romanian," Robin corrected. "Her name's Melita Funar. She's written a series of fantasy novels that they recently translated into English. They've become so popular over here she's decided to release the last book in the series in both Romanian and English simultaneously. So because it's such a big event she's coming to do a signing."
"Wow, Raven knows Romanian?" asked Aqualad.
"Yeah that and a bunch of other languages no one's spoken in a hundred years," said Beast Boy. "Seriously, what's the point in being fluent in languages that no one speaks?"
"Romanian is still spoken today, Beast Boy," Robin sighed. "As is German and in some cases Latin. The other two I think she only knows for purposes of reading. And she was taught those languages growing up, she didn't choose to know them."
"Wow, she's quite the polyglot," said Aqualad.
"Pollywog?" said Beast Boy.
"Polyglot," said Robin, slowly so that his teammate could hear the word properly. "It means someone who can understand multiple languages."
"Raven's a pollywog," Beast Boy began to chuckle then flat out laugh. "That's too good. That's my new nickname for her. Pollywog!"
Robin rolled his eyes at Beast Boy's amusement but decided it was best to ignore him. "So, Aqualad, any good missions lately?"
"Nothing out of the ordinary," Aqualad shrugged. "Although I did save a four year old girl who nearly drowned in a city pool last week."
"Please, I rescued two kids who were drowning in the bay three days ago," Beast Boy added from the couch.
"I helped put out a fire that had consumed half of a retirement home," said Aqualad continued.
"Saved a whole high school from a fire in the chem lab," Beast Boy stretched nonchalantly, the channels ever changing.
"And last month a yacht ran aground off the coast and I helped get everyone back to the mainland," said Aqualad, his attention never leaving Robin.
"Cruise ship went down, got everyone back to shore all by myself," Beast Boy boasted. "On my back."
Robin's patience with the green teen's attitude had run its course and he knew he had to get out of there before he told his teammate off. He wasn't sure why but whenever Aqualad came around Beast Boy's usual lighthearted spirit became obstinate and sour. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go see if Starfire needs help." And with that he made his exit, his back tense with frustration towards the changeling.
Aqualad cleared his throat and went over to the couch. "So did you just say you rescued all of the passengers of a cruise ship on your back?"
"Yup, not that hard when you can turn into a blue whale, you know?" Beast Boy said, his eyes not leaving the screen. As he flipped through the channels he paused when he saw one of his favorite music videos being played.
"Ooh, Fiona Star," Aqualad approved. "Definitely my favorite female artist."
"Yeah, she's okay," said Beast Boy with a shrug. "Kind of a ditz, though." He was a rather large fan of hers, too. Well, large enough that he rarely missed an interview she'd given.
"Why do you say that?" asked Aqualad. "She seems pretty bright."
"Dude, she thinks Acapulco means to sing without any instruments," said Beast Boy. "When she said that I don't think I've ever laughed so hard. I mean, duh, even I know that's wrong."
"Well one little mistake doesn't mean she's unintelligent," said Aqualad.
"Oh yeah? She thinks that the light that looks like a hand at crosswalks means that that's where you get your palm read," said Beast Boy. "I kid you not. She almost got hit by a car once because of that."
"Wow, either you're a really big fan or you know her personally," Aqualad chuckled.
Beast Boy opened his mouth to say that he was as normal a fan as any but that's when something in his brain clicked and he couldn't help himself. "Yeah, I know her."
"Really?" said Aqualad. "How do you know her?"
"Dude, she's one of my biggest fans," Beast Boy smirked.
"She's a fan of yours?" said Aqualad, his eyes filled with amusement. "You're kidding, right?"
"Nope, me and her are like this," said Beast Boy, holding up two fingers that were crossed tightly.
"You can't honestly expect me to believe that," Aqualad chuckled.
"Believe what you want, dude," Beast Boy shrugged. "If you can't handle the fact that one of my biggest fans is a bona fide pop star then that's your problem. I'll probably call Fifi up later, that's my nickname for her by the way, and see what she's up to."
"Probably getting ready for that big concert she's performing in on Friday," said Aqualad. "You know, the one she's using to try to set a new world record?"
"You mean the concert that I'm totally invited to?" asked Beast Boy, proud of his acting skills.
"So you're going?" asked Aqualad.
"Going? Dude, I'm singing Riding on Sparks with her," Beast Boy laughed. "She sent me backstage passes and tickets personally. Wish I'd known you were a fan. I could've hooked you up."
"Alright Beast Boy, enough," Aqualad smirked. "We both know that none of that is going to happen. But, wow, I've got to hand it to you. You're an amazing liar. If you weren't so over the top with the details I might have believed you. Quite the imagination you've got there."
"I'm not lying," said Beast Boy, knowing that one should never stray from a lie in motion. "But if that's what you've got to tell yourself in order to not get super jealous over my fan base then you keep telling yourself that."
"You honestly expect me to believe that not only are you close friends with Fiona Star but you're going to be singing with her at Friday's concert, which is taking place in Empire City?" said Aqualad. "A city that's 3,000 miles away from here?"
"Yup and it's gonna be epic," Beast Boy grinned, quite pleased with himself.
Aqualad could see that he wasn't going to get the changeling to admit anything so he decided to see how far he could push him. "Alright, Beast Boy, if you really are her friend and you really are going to be at that concert on Friday how about we make a wager?"
"Fine, but you're gonna lose," said Beast Boy coolly though on the inside his brain was telling him now would be a good time to shut up. "So what's the bet?"
"I bet that you aren't going to be at Fiona Star's concert on Friday and that you aren't going to be on stage singing with her," said Aqualad. "What would you like to wager?"
"Hmm…if I am at the concert and I do sing with her then you have to wear Starfire's uniform for a month," Beast Boy grinned. "What about you?"
"If you aren't at that concert Friday and aren't on stage singing with Fiona Star then I get your spot on this team," said Aqualad. "And you get my spot on Titans East. Permanently."
Beast Boy hadn't expected Aqualad to raise the stakes that high and now cursed himself and his big mouth. The Atlantian wasn't playing around anymore. But the changeling refused to let his rival get the better of him. He couldn't back out now, not after all of this. His ego and stubbornness wouldn't allow him to.
"Is it a deal?" asked Aqualad, holding his hand out.
He watched as his hand reached out and took hold of the other. And as the word, "Deal," left his lips he realized what a terrible thing he'd done.
He was going to have to leave his team.