Teen Titans Fan Fiction ❯ The Real World: Titans Tower ❯ Mobbed ( Chapter 14 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

DISCLAIMER: The New Teen Titans were created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. It is with great respect that I use their characters and ideas, as well as the inspiration of all the other Titans writers. I don't have space to list all those talented individual's names, but maybe they'll show up in here somewhere, say, as places? ;)
“All Star Teen Titans”
“The Real World: Titans Tower”
Chapter 14: Mobbed!
Robin—Dick Grayson: Arrogant former circus star, acrobat extraordinaire and hopeful ladies man.
Wonder Girl—Donna Troy: Adopted sister of Wonder Woman, bestowed with the powers of the Amazons.
Speed—Wally West: A bitter, living embodiment of the mythical Speed Force.
Cyborg—Victor Stone: Half flesh, half machine—all human.
Beast Boy—Garfield Logan: Goofy, insecure animal shapeshifter and former member of the Doom Patrol.
Raven: Cynical empath shrouded in mystery.
Starfire—Princess Koriand'r: Honest, caring newcomer to Earth capable of flight and generating energy blasts.
This is the true story of seven teenaged superheroes, picked to live in a house, fight crime together and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when heroes stop being polite, and start being real. The Real World: Titans Tower.
By now the Teen Titans—a reality TV super-hero team assembled by the enigmatic Mr. Loren Jupiter—had been operating out of San Francisco for a month. It would seem obvious that the city's criminal element would have realized doing anything with them around was futile—but then again, look at cities like Gotham, Metropolis, or Keystone, which are still regularly plagued by common crooks even after Batman, Superman, and the Flash have operated there for years!
So then, it came as no surprise when the silent alarm sounded in police headquarters, alerting the boys in blue that the Bay Bridge Bank was being held up. Yup, no surprise, just amazement of the stupidity guys like these could have. With the press of one button on the police chief's desk, the Titans were alerted and already on their way!
Several black-clad robbers dashed from the bank's entrance, their hands loaded with sacks of money and guns, heading towards a car filled with several of their cronies. However, the vehicle was suddenly torn to shreds, shattered by a ghostly black force as a blur of yellow energy streaked through, taking with it all the money and weapons!
Speed, the avatar of the mythical Speed Force, stood next to a pile of the stolen goods, smirking. “Go ahead,” he taunted, “Try to take them back.”
Speed: “Not that bullets could hurt me anyway, but I'd just steal the speed from the gun so they couldn't even pull the trigger! Heh, that'd be pretty funny.”
Before the shocked thieves could even begin to catch their breath, they were down for the count. Several were snatched up in the golden cords of Wonder Girl's magic lasso. A green gorilla scattered a couple of them with its massive arm, while blue and green shots of Cyborg's Sonic Cannon and Starfire's Starbolts caught some stragglers. A bolo whirled out of nowhere and tied two thieves together, while the final was downed as Robin landed on his back, wrapping his legs around the robber's neck.
“I'm sorry, but it looks like your robbery is an epic fail!” laughed Dick as he punched his hostage in the face. “Good night!”
And less than five minutes after the robbers first entered the bank, they were all out cold and in handcuffs. The seven Teen Titans admired their work as the cops dragged the bodies into the back of a prison truck.
“Man, these battles're too easy,” complained Robin, who was leaning against his alien girlfriend with his arm around her shoulders. “When are we gonna fight somebody tough again, like the Brotherhood?”
Robin: “Then I'll have a chance to really get down and dirty.”
Beast Boy: “Hopefully, never.”
“Don't think little battles like this don't help, Robin,” chastised Donna Troy, floating above her teammates with her arms crossed. “Everybody's learning that they're not going to get away with crime while we're around!”
“And you guys call me corny,” mumbled Gar under his breath. Nobody really heard him, though, as the Titans all seemed distracted, ready to depart and take care of their previous plans.
“So Dick!” exclaimed Princess Koriand'r of Tamaran, “Are you ready to go shopping with me now?! I have much need of your opinions on the clothing I intend to buy!”
Robin: “Wow, girls're the same on every planet! Waste of time, though. She's best with no clothes at all!”
The acrobat extraordinaire looked nervous. “Well, actually,” he stammered, “I'm supposed to take the little Robin into the city today for some on-site acrobatics training, and, well, it's hard enough to get the little guy to come out during the day to begin with, y'know?” His alien girlfriend's expression started as quizzical and moved to disappointed.
Starfire: “Ever since he and Flamebird had that fight Dick has seemed a little…different. He has been spending so much time with the other Robin, and I am not quite sure why the change. I wish he would just tell me what was on his mind, for once!”
However, as Starfire stared into her boyfriend's pouting face, her mood softened.
Starfire: “Of course, Donna did say Dick would not find the prospect of shopping interesting when she suggested it. Perhaps I should let it slide, this time.”
“Of course I understand, Dick,” finally replied Kory, who now floated to another friend's side. “How about you, Donna? You were the one who suggested I find a more…modest downtime wardrobe, so perhaps you would enjoy accompanying me to help show me what you mean?”
Wonder Girl: “I'm not sure if that sounds fun or frustrating…probably a little of both. I like Kory a lot, but today I have plans with Terry, and he's starting to grow on me more and more! At first I dismissed him because he wasn't anything like Kyle, but actually, that's kind of what I find endearing about him!”
“I'd love to, Kory, but…I have a couple of other things I've gotta take care of first. Sorry.”
“Oh,” sighed Kory. Still, she was sad for only a second, before an even better idea popped into her head! “Raven!” she exclaimed, taking off like a rocket and colliding with the dark empath.
Her cloak billowed into the air. “Starfire, what do you—”
“You are going shopping with me!” declared Koriand'r jubilantly, much to the surprise of pretty much everybody there. “I told you we would have to `hang-out' before we fought the Brotherhood, and now is that time!”
Speed: “Ha! Raven would never do that!”
Raven: “I would never do that, normally. But as I have stated before, Starfire is just so…innocent and genuine. That is so rare that I do not want to discourage it…and were I to try to dissuade her, it would more than likely have no effect. I could use my emotion manipulation abilities to change her mind, I suppose, but she does not deserve that…”
“Fine,” acquiesced Raven with a deep sigh. “I shall go with you.”
Speed: “What?! I could never get her to do that!”
“Hooray!” Starfire hugged her newfound friend and soared off.
“Well,” chuckled Beast Boy, “I guess that just leaves us! What're the plans for today, ol' Vic ol' buddy ol' pal?”
Cyborg stared down as his green friend. “Gar, you know I have a date with Sarah today. We've been through this!”
“I know,” lamented Garfield Logan, “But without you, I'm just gonna be left alone at the tower with…him.” The shapeshifter gestured towards Wally, who was standing off to the side, his body sparking, lost within his own thoughts.
Speed: “Ugh, alone again. The only one of `em who would maybe take me along is Kory, but one, I don't want to go shopping anyway, and two, no way am I going if Raven's there. I thought I loved her, hell, maybe I still feel that way, but she's been treating me like dirt, and I'm tired of it! If I can give up a girl as good to me as Fran for my own sanity, I can certainly do it for a witch like Raven!”
“I'll be back at the Tower I guess, guys.” When Wally finally spoke his words were soft, and as soon as they left his mouth he was gone in a flash, back in the tower almost before he left.
Gar was ready to give Vic the “sad-kitten” face. “C'mon Vic, you can't leave me alone with him!”
Cyborg: “Can't I? Dammit, no I can't. He's putting on a good act, but Gar's still hurting bad. I can't leave him alone after we just patched up like this. I just hope Sarah understands.”
“Okay, okay,” smiled Cyborg, “Ya got me. Let's go.”
“Backwards somersault!”
Dick Grayson, former circus star, acrobat extraordinaire, and the Teen Titan known as Robin, watched as his student, a smaller boy who also called himself Robin, tucked his legs and let his body roll backwards before landing on a rooftop.
“Sweet landing,” smiled Dick as he gave the boy a thumbs-up. “Been practicing?”
“As much as I can,” replied the younger boy, “Considering I still have to patrol with Batman and go to school, it's not like I have all the time in the world.”
The Titan smirked. “Oh yeah, school. Sucks to be you.”
Robin: “Growing up in the circus, I didn't ever hafta go to school. I had some tutors and stuff, but at the same time, the circus is its own type of education all on its own. I learned stuff from all over the world. Maybe it ain't the three R's or anything, but I think it's even more important to learn about everything all around us. From what the little Robin's shown me of detective work even, the more obscure some fact is, the more important it is!
But as much as I loved seein' the sights back with Haley's Circus, I had to leave. It was, like, the only way I could ever grow up, y'know? Maybe my parents weren't there anymore, but everybody there still mothered me. I love `em all, but I needed to become my own person. I became Robin.
“Which is kinda funny, considerin' there's another one now.”
“So why Robin?” asked Dick. “Of all the names in the world, why imitate mine?”
His young imitator shrugged. “I told you, I'm a fan. I like that you're just a self-made man, that you do this to protect other people and stop bad guys and just keep training to get better all on your own.”
The older one wasn't convinced. Crossing his arms, he asked, “And so's Batman—and you work for the guy, but you ain't take his name.”
Smirking, the tiny detective replied, “Batboy sounds stupid.”
Robin: “Fine, be evasive like that. Stupid Batman teaching the kid stupid stuff…though, I guess that's better for `im than bein' like Flamebird…”
“Fine,” chuckled Dick as he pointed towards the edge of the roof. “Land like you're bein' attacked and you gotta attack and evade at the same time!”
In a red, green and black dash the younger Robin was off, leaping over the rooftop and landing on the building below. He sprang onto his hands, then somersaulted and launched a handful of Batarangs.
Dick whistled as he descended. “Not bad, not bad. Looks like you've used that one before.”
“I have,” smiled his `student' as he collected his used weapons. “Sent the Joker's stooges flying!”
“Man, you don't need acrobat lessons anymore,” said the older boy, slightly annoyed. “You're probably out doin' this more than me—you never needed this.”
Shrugging, the younger Robin ventured, “Well I got a lot better a lot faster with your help—but yeah, you figured it out right off the bat man. This is just as much for you as it is for me.” He smirked as he pulled out his binoculars. “Detective lessons?”
Grunting, Dick crossed his arms and asked, “And why's your boss so interested in me? He already has you and kinky ninja girl and whoever he's always talkin' to on his ear-thingy…”
“He has his reasons,” alluded the young boy as he adjusted his binoculars and scanned the streets below them. “We're going to do a little exercise here. Just give me a sec to scope everything out.”
Robin: “Y'know, the little guy's really fun when he's not tryin' to pull stuff over on me. It's a good thing I actually wanna be a good detective.”
Still ignoring the kid's lines about the lessons, Dick just kept on fishing. “C'mon, do you agree with all this cloak an' dagger stuff? Bein' all dark and mysterious? Y'think it's how a hero should be?”
Robin: “I didn't used to think so, but then after all the s---with Flamebird, I dunno anymore. It's been driving me nuts, thinking that maybe I'm being too…I dunno, cheerful for this job. Jerkish or not, maybe Batman and the kid have the right idea.”
“I think it protects Batman, Batgirl and I,” answered the boy. “We can't do the amazing things your friends do. If we get shot, we die. We can't make a lot of noise, we can't take unnecessary risks, and we can't let our egos get in our way.”
Dick's eyes grew wide. Still, his student/teacher wasn't done. “Of course, you're in a different boat. You work with gods every day. Even Batman can act a little different when he's with the JLA.”
Robin: “True, but…I dunno, I might be more useful to the Titans if I change. I mean, even if I stalled Deathstroke long enough, they still had to save my ass from him. Maybe if I'd been more serious…maybe more people'd take me seriously.”
The smaller Robin's eyes grew large, and now even he lost his train of thought. “Woah, Dick, you've gotta take a look at this!” He handed the binoculars to his older friend and pointed to a restaurant a street over.
“Is that Donna?” asked Dick, and as he noticed more his smile turned into a smirk. “But who's she with? That's definitely not Kyle! Holy f---ing s---!”
“So Zeus gave you your lasso?!” Wide-eyed, the gopher and aspiring historian Terry Long marveled at the prospect of meeting a Greek God. Across the table sat Donna Troy, his kinda-sorta date and the super-hero known as Wonder Girl. She was even less certain than he was of this meeting's romantic status.
Wonder Girl: “Why did I meet with Terry again? Well, I've been talking with him nearly every night since the first date. Sure he's a bit of a doofus at times, but he's really a wonderful person. He really cares about me as a person. I love Kyle, and I know he cares about me too, but sometimes I think I'm more of an accessory to him.
“So do I like Terry? Yeah, I guess I do. I like him a lot. But that just raises the question…what am I going to do about it? Or, Hera, about Kyle?!”
Choosing to focus instead on her conversation for the moment, the adopted Amazon continued, “Yeah, He gave it to me when I decided to venture to Man's World.” She smiled as she reminisced. “Queen Hippolyta and Diana had to take me before Zeus and the rest of the Greek Pantheon to ask permission, just as they did when they gave me Amazonian powers.”
“You sound like you loved Themyscara a lot,” asked Terry. “Why did you leave?”
“Diana found me in a burning building in New York as a toddler,” answered the girl wonder, this time her memories much more painful. “It was one of her first journeys to this world, years before she moved here permanently as the Themyscaran ambassador, so she wasn't sure what to do with me.”
“No orphanages on Themyscara?” Terry winked.
“No children there. Diana was the first, I was the second. To make me truly their sister, the Amazons were allowed to bestow to me some of their power, and I loved growing up there. But…despite it all, I'm human. Someday I'll grow old and die, and none of the Amazons ever will. This is the world I came from, and I wanted to learn more about it.
“I wanted to learn who Donna Troy really was.”
“So…how's that going?”
“Not that well,” she answered with a sigh. “I'm no closer to finding out who my parents were than when I started. And, I know, maybe it doesn't mean anything. The Amazons raised me—they're my family. Nothing's going to change that. But somehow, I just don't feel like I can really be complete if I don't know who I am and where I came from, you know?”
Terry Long chuckled. “Not really, but I can guess.”
Wonder Girl: “Wow, guess I really did pour my heart out there, didn't I? Funny, I don't know if I've ever told Kyle half of that.”
Donna blushed. “Yeah, I guess in comparison, your life's pretty boring, huh?”
Her date didn't seem offended. “Yeah, just your typical spoiled rich kid I guess,” he said with a smile and a laugh. “Though that time I tried to break into my neighbor's house cause I'd just watched James Bond and wanted to be a spy was pretty exciting!”
As he sat there chuckling, his date grabbed his collared shirt and pulled him across the table, kissing him passionately. Disheveled as he fell back into his seat, Terry didn't have much in reply but a fairly confused—but not upset by any means—“What was that for?!”
“For being such a great guy,” smiled Donna.
“Holy f---ing s--- Donna!” exclaimed Dick Grayson as he and his young counterpart fell from the sky besides the two lovebirds. “Does Kyle know about this?!
Smiling meekly and giving a small wave, the smaller Robin simply greeted them by saying, “Hey.” Terry seemed amused by the boys' entrance, but Wonder Girl was nearly foaming at the mouth.
Wonder Girl: “NO! I didn't want any of the other Titans finding out about this, but if any of them had to, why did it have to be Dick?!”
“No,” she growled, “Kyle does not know about this, and I will be the one to tell him, not you! You are not to tell anybody!
Robin: “Woah, I knew she'd be sensitive if I poked fun at her, but I didn't think she'd blow a gasket like this!”
“Jeez!” exclaimed Dick defensively as he put up his hands. “Okay, I won't!” Turning to Terry, he laughed. “S---, I guess you really are her new boyfriend!”
The redhead smirked and shrugged. “You know about as much as I do.”
Again Donna became aggressive. “My relationship with Terry is my own business! You don't see me going around asking you about your personal life, do you?”
“Yeah, I don't,” sighed Dick, disappointed. “Y'know, that's too bad, cause there's this thing me an' Kory did last night I thought you'd love to he—”
“Nobody wants to hear about your personal life!” countered Donna in a rage.
Wonder Girl: “I can't stand it when he screws with me like that!”
Robin: “I love f---ing with her like that. But still, I think the fact that pretty much every tabloid there is was callin' me wanting to know `bout Kory and me means that a lot of people care `bout my personal life!”
“Look, its Robin!” Suddenly a chorus of new voices entered the fray, and the four teenagers found themselves surrounded by a mob of fans, most of them in their late teens or early twenties, all clamoring for a piece of the Titans and their friends!
“Boy, isn't he just so hot?!”
“And hey, isn't that Wonder Girl?!”
The heroes and their friends winced. “Dick, they can't find out about Terry!”
“But you're on TV,” offered the younger Robin, receiving only a death-glare from the girl.
“And by the time Terry gets on the air, everything should be taken care of,” explained Wonder Girl. “In the meantime, I can't—”
“Relax Donna,” offered Dick casually as he pulled a pen from his utility belt and started to stroll towards the mob. “I'll sign a few autographs and we'll get the hell outta—”
The acrobat couldn't even finish his sentence as the crowd squealed. “He's coming over here!” they cried as they rushed forward, groping and pushing and very nearly trampling innocent passerbys as they dashed for their idols.
“Yeah, that went so well,” complained Donna as she turned to her date. “Well, looks like we still haven't gotten through a full date. Call me?”
“You bet,” smiled Terry. This time he initiated a kiss before the girl wonder took to the sky.
The sound of a grappling launcher filled the air, and Dick Grayson saw his small friend already taking to the rooftops. “You better get up here if you don't want to get squashed!” called the boy.
“Yeah,” grumbled the older Robin as he followed, landing besides the other. “Jeez, I know everybody loves me, but that was crazy!”
“Yeah, that was pretty unusual,” mused the Batman's partner as he started down at the disappointed crowd. “Something's not right with that mob…”
Robin: “Ooh, the kid's got some sort of good idea brewing up in there. This should be interestin'!”
Jimenez Park was a peaceful respite from the grind of everyday life in San Francisco. That grind can even get to super-heroes—which was why, on this particular day, several of the Teen Titans could be found enjoying a picnic lunch on the park's grounds.
The animal shapeshifter known as Beast Boy skittered around the checkered blanket like he'd had sugar infused into his veins, much to the amusement of Sarah Simms, a local student. Sarah's boyfriend, the half-man half-machine Cyborg, wasn't quite as comfortable.
Cyborg: “Y'know, by now I'm getting pretty used to my mechanical body, but there're still some times it's kinda awkward. Like right now, sitting on a blanket on the ground?—I'm definitely not built for that!”
“Man, all food tastes better when you're eatin' it on the ground!” exclaimed Garfield Logan as he poured some soda into a bowl and began lapping it up as a kitten. Sarah chuckled.
Beast Boy: “Boy it feels good to make somebody laugh! Kinda helps me forget all the bad things that've happened, even if just for a little bit…”
“Quit showin' off, Gar,” chuckled Victor Stone as he reached into the picnic basket and pulled out a Frisbee. “Go get it!” he called as he tossed the disk, causing his friend to run off in pursuit—as a Labrador retriever, of course!
Cyborg: “Yeah, a picnic basket and blanket and all this stuff, it's a little corny, I know. But Sarah ate the idea of a picnic up! Actually, I got Dick to thank for all this. He already had all this gear an' everything!”
“It's a good thing he's funny, Vic,” said Sarah with a smile, “Cause it's the only thing holding me back! Why would you bring him on our date?”
The flesh side of Cyborg's head started to blush. “Yeah, sorry `bout that,” he stammered. “It's just, he's been through a real rough patch lately.”
“Exactly how rough are we talking about here?” asked the blonde girl, her arms crossed, not totally convinced Gar's tough luck warranted adding a third wheel to their date.
Vic sighed. “Real tough. The kid just had his first crush, well, crushed when she murdered their enemy!” Sarah's eyes opened wide in shock. She didn't realize it was that bad! “Plus,” continued the metal man, “He found out that the leader of the superhero team that raised him—who all got murdered too, mind you—was manipulatin' them all the entire time! Turns out he didn't even let Gar go to school, so he can barely read much more'n like, his cell phone or something!”
Sarah Simms looked mortified. “Wow. Maybe being a superhero isn't as glamorous as it seems.”
“Not always, yeah,” said Vic, shrugging. “So, y'know, I've been tryin' to cheer him up as much as I can. Gar hides it well, but he's still hurtin' pretty bad! So that's why he's here today.”
If Sarah was still angry the shapeshifter had come, she certainly wasn't showing it. “You're a good man, Victor Stone,” she said as she started to crawl onto his lap. Her face in his, she continued, “And in my book, nice guys don't finish last.”
Cyborg: “Definitely not!”
Suddenly a green Labrador was on Vic's back, knocking him onto his face—Sarah barely leapt out of the way in time! A drool covered Frisbee fell to the ground as Beast Boy resumed his human form and said, “C'mon Vic, no fair! Y'know I can't resist a Frisbee!”
Beast Boy: “No matter which form I'm in, a lab's reaction to a Frisbee shines through loud n' clear!”
“Must've slipped my mind,” said Victor with a chuckle as he flipped open the picnic basket. “Who's ready to eat?!”
“Always am!” replied Gar as he pulled a Tupperware container from the basket. “Enough Tofu picnic'd goods to gorge a small army!”
“They'd turn it down,” dismissed Sarah as she unzipped her tiny cooler and pulled out something that made Cyborg's mouth water: “Vic, how about some homemade fried chicken?! My mother's recipe!”
The mechanical man swiped a piece and took a bite—his mouth nearly melted. “G—damn this is the best chicken I've ever had.”
Gar frowned and turned into a green chicken, leaping between the two lovebirds and letting out a shrieking cry. He landed on his back, faking dead, and returned to his human form, his hands around his neck like he was strangling himself. “I'm dyin', I'm dyin'!” he cried.
Sarah rolled her eyes and grabbed the Frisbee, letting the lightweight disk soar away once again. “Fetch,” she grunted, and grumbling, Beast Boy took off after it. Chuckling, the girl turned to Vic. “I have to deal with the vegan stuff enough from my brother without hearing it from Gar too.”
“Well, he has been all those animals before,” said Victor with a shrug. “Can't blame `im.”
“Enough about the green kid,” smiled Sarah. “This date is about us. So, pick up where we left off?”
“Sure thing,” replied Cyborg, grinning like a schoolboy with a crush. “And I believe last time we talked, you told me `bout all your plans, `bout wanting to be a Special Ed teacher, or maybe a physical therapist.”
Cyborg: “She wants to spend her life helping people as much as I do. Ain't she great?”
She was impressed at his memory. “So how about you, metal man? What's on your plate after the Titans are over?”
“Well, I'm hopin' we'll be popular enough for MTV to keep us together, but if not, I think I'll try to keep some of the others around and make a group of my own. I like this, having a life spent helping people. I want to do it as long as I can.” Grinning, he continued, “And of course, I'll be stickin' around `Frisco as long as you do.”
“All right, you guys aren't gettin' rid of me that easy again!” exclaimed Garfield as he landed in the middle of the blanket with a thud. “I got self control!”
“Okay then,” shrugged Sarah. “So, what about you, kid? What you got planned to do once you're done filming the Titans?”
All the color flushed out of Gar's face. “I…dunno.”
Beast Boy: “I really just don't wanna think about that. I…I could lose another family all over again.”
His two friends could both see how much that hit him. Sarah chewed on her lip for a second before speaking up with her idea. “Gar, I heard you haven't had the most schooling.” The changeling's eyes grew wide and he looked offended, but the blonde spitfire wasn't done yet. “Would you like me to tutor you some? I really think it could help you out, and it'd be fun!”
A smile slowly crawled across Garfield Logan's face. “That'd…that'd be great!”
Beast Boy: “Man I wish Vic hadn't gotten to her first! She's awesome!”
Over his tiny friend's shoulder, Cyborg gave his girlfriend a look that said more than words could. Their eyes met, and she knew exactly what he meant: “You're a good woman, Sarah Simms.”
“Look, its Cyborg!”
Suddenly the three teenagers found themselves surrounded by a rapidly growing crowd of nearly rabid fans, made up of many of the same kids as the one that had approached Robin and Wonder Girl!
“Dude, we have fans!” exclaimed Beast Boy, flattered. “Sweet!”
However, as the crowd encircled them and started to grow closer, they could see how serious it actually was. “And that must be Cyborg's girlfriend!”
I'd be a much better girlfriend for him!” cried one fan as she picked up a stone.
“In your dreams, sister,” snarled Sarah, but by then Vic had already erected an energy shield around them.
Frowning, he said, “No Gar, not so sweet. These guys' adrenaline levels are off the chart! Something's got `em aggravated—they ain't the friendly kinda fans!” Sighing, he turned to Sarah. “Looks like the date's called off early. How about a tour of the tower instead?”
“Sounds great,” smiled Sarah, who'd already packed all their stuff into the picnic basket. “I was full anyway.”
“Then you guys go ahead,” strained Vic, taxed by keeping the shield up. “I'll be right behind ya!”
“You got it, buddy!” exclaimed Gar as he leapt onto Sarah's back. “Thank you for riding air Beast Boy! Please keep all arms and legs inside the ride at all times, until the changeling has come to a complete stop!”
A hole opened in the roof of the shield, and Beast Boy grew into a pterodactyl, carrying them both through and towards the tower. Vic's electronic eye flashed several times as he got on one knee, the neon blue mechanics in his legs glowing.
Cyborg: “Something's really wrong with all these kids. I know our show is popular, but this is just…off. That's why I took some pictures of these guys—hopefully Jupiter or me can figure out what's goin' on here…”
The half-machine's shield disappeared, and as the frantic crowd closed in on him, Cyborg took to the air, leaping with the full power of his mechanical legs plus a boost from the thrusters in his feet. He quickly overtook Gar and Sarah, soaring towards the Tower at breakneck speeds.
Cyborg: “But still, I had to invite Sarah back. No matter what's up here, I ain't lettin' it interrupt my date!”
“What do you think of this, Raven?” Princess Koriand'r of the planet Tamaran—a.k.a. Starfire, the Teen Titans' alien powerhouse—held out a lime green sundress for her reluctant companion to inspect. The mysterious empath Raven, hidden, as always, behind her cloak, raised an eyebrow hesitantly.
“I am sure it is lovely, Starfire, but perhaps you should hold this off until Wonder Girl is available. I do not really have knowledge of clothing.”
Starfire: “Oh Raven. This was not about the clothes! True, Donna recommended that I enlarge my wardrobe some because of Earth's prudishness—though she did not phrase it quite that way—but I mostly just wanted to spend the day with someone close to me! Dick and Donna could not come, so I decided I needed to help Raven open up a little. She is so shy and reserved, and she will never make friends that way!”
“That is fine, Raven,” dismissed Kory. “There are plenty of others who know about clothes!” The Tamaranian pulled aside a mother pushing a baby in a shopping cart. “Excuse me ma'am, what do you think of this dress?”
Half expecting she was on Candid Camera, the woman nervously replied, “I think it's lovely. You have good taste.”
“Nah way, don't listen to `er, babe!” Suddenly Koriand'r found a teenage guy in a leather jacket and a bandanna hanging off her shoulder. “That's way too uptight for ya! I think this's much better on ya!” Reaching into the next aisle, he pulled out a skimpy black negligee.
Kory's eyes shot open wide. “That was not exactly what I was looking for…”
Starfire: “Not that showing that much skin bothers me, but I do not see the purpose of those clothes! It provides no protection, but if it was meant to seduce, would not wearing no clothes at all be more effective?!”
Suddenly both shoppers were swept up in the black folds of Raven's cloak, and when they emerged, they both walked in opposite directions with blank expressions on their faces.
Raven: “Starfire is practically innocence personified, despite the tortures she has endured in her life. Such a joyful, malice-free disposition is practically unheard of on Earth, so I do not appreciate seeing anyone fool with her emotions!”
“What was that for?!” asked the alien, still left without a decisive opinion on her outfit.
“They were not being honest with you, Starfire,” countered the empath. “The woman was trying to hide her feelings because she thought herself on television—truthfully, I could sense she was quite disturbed by our odd appearance. And the boy was only interested in sleeping with you.”
Kory looked doubtful. “You are not giving them the benefit of the doubt, Raven!”
“I do not need to,” replied Raven solemnly. “I am an empath, remember? I can already sense mankind's emotions, so I have no doubts as to their intentions.” The cloaked girl lowered her head. “The selfishness, anger and hatred far outweigh what purity I have found.”
Raven: “Indeed, the entire foundation of every civilization on Earth has been corrupted by the darkness in human hearts!”
Starfire: “I cannot accept that! Empath or not, Raven must be simply overlooking the good! Why would she want to be so…cynical?!”
“You are wrong!” exclaimed Koriand'r. “There is good in everybody, and if you cannot see that then your life is going to be very lonely!”
Raven: “It already is. That…rarely bothers me.”
“I can see good acts and qualities,” admitted the dark Titan. “Sadly, the selfish and bad qualities almost always outweigh them.”
Strangely enough, Starfire was smiling! “You said almost!” exclaimed the bronze-skinned beauty. “That means you have met some good people! Who?!”
Somehow, Raven managed to withdraw even deeper into her encompassing cloak. “You.”
Kory was stunned. “Me?!”
“Yes, you,” insisted the empath. “Starfire, nobody else on Earth is as pure as you.”
“I am flattered, but there has to be somebody who is,” insisted the alien. “And please, call me Kory!”
“I am sorry to surprise you with this,” continued Raven, “In fact, you essentially coerced it out of me. I do not want to be withdrawn constantly, but I cannot endure drawing close to those whose emotions harm me.”
“Then why are we not friends?”
“I…do not know.”
Kory released a squeal of delight and drug her friend into the air as she squeezed her tight—attracting the attention of most of the store. “Then there is no reason for us not to be friends!” she exclaimed joyously.
Raven: “Except maybe all the hugging.”
“There is so much we can talk about now! Tell me friend, where do you come from?!”
Raven: “I have always felt information like this too personal to share, but if she is to be my friend…perhaps I should rethink that idea.”
“I was born in an interdimensional haven known as Azarath,” answered Raven, speaking slowly with some trepidation. It wasn't just that she was nervous. It was like she was looking for just the right words—or just the right mix or truths and lies. “The monks that inhabited Azarath sensed the amazing potential within me—both for good and for destruction. They brought my mother to Azarath and raised me, teaching me to suppress my emotions and thus control my dangerous abilities.
“From Azarath I was able to observe Earth, and I saw the terrible acts mankind was capable of. I knew those evil men could not go unpunished, and that those atrocities could not be permitted to continue. That is why I came to Earth and joined the Titans.”
“Wow, Raven,” marveled Koriand'r, “What an amazing story!” Grinning so widely that the smile nearly took over her face, she asked, “See, now was that so hard?”
“Yes,” glared her empathic friend.
Raven: “Still, it did feel somewhat good to be able to open up to someone. I think I might…enjoy having a friend.”
Starfire: “Nothing makes me happier than making a new friend! What a joyous day this is!”
“Look!” cried an unfamiliar voice. “It's the Teen Titans!” Both Titans looked up to find themselves surrounded by a ring of frenzied fans!
“Wow! Starfire's just as hot in real life as she is on TV!”
“Isn't Raven's cape cool?!”
Kory was overjoyed to have fans. “Let's go say hi, Raven!”
“No, Starfire!” exclaimed her dark friend. “They are too dangerous!”
“Call me Kory,” again insisted the alien, “And you are again not giving them the benefit of the doubt! They—”
“Their emotions have been heightened to near frenzy!” Indeed, as soon as the statement left the empath's mouth, the mob rushed forward. Raven's cloak leapt out and enveloped them in pure black. “I should be able to sooth their emotion—”
Suddenly Raven was thrown backwards still in mid-sentence, and the mob continued on unabated. “What do we do now?” asked Starfire as she caught her teammate. “Fight them?”
“No,” insisted Raven as the darkness spread from her and surrounded Kory as well. “We will simply take our leave.”
Instantaneously, both girls were back in the tower! “That was…disorienting,” groaned Koriand'r as she picked herself up from where she found herself on the floor.
“Yes, I apologize for that,” said Raven, though she seemed distracted. “That crowed…I could not manipulate their emotions! Something is terribly wrong! I have to look into this further!” Looking up, she made eye contact with her new friend. “Still, thank you for taking me with you today, Koriand'r. I actually…enjoyed myself.”
A smile filled the princess's face. “No problem, Raven.”
Starfire: “She called me Koriand'r! That is a good sign!”
Wally West was a typical Midwestern boy who lost his body in a freak accident, and found himself instead composed of pure energy from the mythical source of all momentum, the Speed Force. He wasn't very happy about this. Today he was unusually unhappy—even for him—as she dashed throughout the Tower looking for something to do.
Speed: “Left all alone, again. I don't know why I stick around here. Did you see how freaked Gar got when he thought he'd have to be here with me? Eh, what does it matter? They're all just jerks anyway—especially Raven, that b----.
“Heh, what does that say about me? Raven's a b---- and I still love her anyway!”
Zooming past the couch, Speed picked up the remote and started flipping through channels faster than it could keep up with.
Speed: “I dunno what the point of that was. There's never anything good on TV anymore! I used to look for cool places I could run to, but that was more pointless than anything! What's the point of bein' in those amazing places without somebody to share it with, or without bein' able to feel the breeze or swim in the water or taste the food? God, living's so pointless anymore!”
The top-of-the-line television set kept up with Wally's relentless channel surfing the best it could, cycling through stations faster than any normal person could even begin to comprehend—yet, for Speed and his quickened perceptions, even that was too slow.
Speed: “Honestly, by that point I was just hoping I could bore myself to death. Nothing else could do me in now!”
Suddenly, just as the monotony actually was starting to become lethal, something caught Wally's eye: a newscast with the logo for “The Real World: Titans Tower” displayed in its little newsbox. The speed specter tossed aside the remote and fell onto the couch butt-first, intrigued.
Speed: “I always like seeing what the media has to say about this stupid show. Apparently we're, like, MTV's highest rated show, so of course there's a bunch of people that hate us just cause we're on MTV, but then there's the guys that think we're, like, cheapening the way that society looks at heroes or something. Heh, like we're worse than any of the rest of `em.”
“This is Linda Park reporting for Channel 4 news,” announced the anchor, a beautiful Asian woman who looked to be in her early twenties. “This afternoon our top story deals with several incidents of rioting that occurred across the city today. Mobs were seen forming in the middle of downtown as well as in Jimenez Park, and were unusual because they dispersed nearly as soon as they began. In fact, the police have so far been unable to make any arrests.
“The one element tying these incidents together appears to be the Teen Titans, San Francisco's local superhero team and the stars of a top-rated reality TV show. Several eye-witnesses reported seeing members of the Titans fleeing from the scene of the mobs.”
Wally furrowed his brow as the reporter continued. “Despite the show's growing popularity across the nation, response to the Titans' presence here in San Francisco has been mixed. We now go live to Ollie Williams from Jimenez Park.”
“Thank you, Linda,” said Ollie, a large black man in a suit that was just as tad too snug for him. Standing beside him was a woman in her early fifties. “With the Teen Titans seemingly having some part in the riots that have occurred today, we've decided to poll the citizens of our fair city and find out just exactly what they think—”
“They're menaces!” exclaimed the woman, unable to contain her rage. “We never had super-villain attacks here until those kids showed up!”
Speed: “She's got a point there. Dr. Light, Deathstroke, Blackfire, they all just came after us!”
“You're not being fair,” argued a man in his thirties standing next to the lady. “Despite the damage done, there were zero casualties during the Deathstroke incident, and crime's dropped thirty percent since the Titans formed!”
“The Titans are so cool!” exclaimed one of two little boys standing in the line, no more than eight or nine.
“My favorite's Speed!” declared the other boy, much to both Wally's shock and dismay. “I love how he can run around and freeze people in place an' stuff! I wanna be just like him when I grow up!”
“No you don't, kid,” said Wally, who had transversed the space between Titans Tower and the park in a second. Ollie Williams and his interviewees were shocked, but the Titan didn't give any explanations as he turned to the camera and continued. “Being a superhero sucks, especially bein' me! If you guys out there want to help people and actually make a difference, that's awesome, cause most people don't. But don't idolize us, cause we're all just as screwed up as the rest of you!”
Speed: “I mean, I shouldn't be anybody's role model!”
A crowed has been watching the news report from the beginning, but it had grown exponentially since Speed's arrival. “Wow, he's humble and honest! What a guy!”
“Speed, you're awesome!”
“God, it's like the Twilight Zone,” groaned Wally, shocked, as the crowd's clamoring grew larger.
“It appears we may have another mob at hand!” exclaimed Ollie Williams just as the enamored fans rushed forward.
Crossing his arms and reverting to a state of pure energy, the speed specter screamed “Enough!” as he instantly absorbed the momentum of every single person around him.
“Don't worry, their little time out'll be over as soon as I leave,” explained Wally West, looking straight into the camera's lens. “I hope you can see this isn't our fault. The Titans will figure out what's going on here though, I guarantee that.”
Speed: “Hell, that may just be the scariest thing I've ever seen! Something really twisted's going on here, definitely! This is one time I'm actually happy I can do something about it, cause nobody should be my fan!”
A situation this big warranted a team meeting! Standing at a podium before a long table was Mr. Loren Jupiter, the Titans' owner, financer, and the director of their show. Six of his Teen Titans—only Raven was missing—sat facing the gaudily dressed man. Several of their friends were present as well: Cyborg's girlfriend, Sarah Simms, sat in his lap, while Dick Grayson's namesake, the younger Robin, watched the proceedings from the back of the room, leaning against a wall.
“So you mean to tell me that all of you were nearly attacked by mobs today?”
“What, don't believe us?” grumbled Speed. “It's all over the news!”
Cyborg spoke up. “They nearly stoned Gar, Sarah an' me at the park!”
“They were quite persistent with Raven and myself at the store as well,” added Starfire.
“And I ran into them while I was doing my…errands,” said Wonder Girl, only realizing half-way through her sentence she'd need to find a way not to incriminate herself about Terry.
Dick grinned. “Aw man, an' here I thought they were just after me! Now it's the rest of you guys too?! That's lame!”
Robin: “Ha, Donna gave me a reeeeal mean look there, but who gives a s---?! If I have to protect her stupid secret, you bet I'm gonna have some fun with it!”
“This is way too creepy guys,” said Beast Boy, slightly worried. “What're we gonna do?”
“We're going to figure out what's going on,” declared Jupiter, “Then we're going to put a stop to it. We need to get to work and find some clues—”
Suddenly a giant bird-shaped field of black exploded through the room, and Raven appeared at the end of the table opposite of Jupiter. One of her massive, ancient books fell from the darkness, landing on the table, opened.
“Do not waste your time, Mr. Jupiter,” advised Raven. “I have already discovered the source of our problems, and his name is Brother Blood…”
Next time: Undercover Brother