Title: The Little Things
Author: Jordanna Morgan (email@example.com)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Characters: Raven, Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy.
Setting: Soon after the Titans first team up.
Summary: It was the little things Raven noticed about her new comrades.
Disclaimer: They belong to DC Comics. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: One of my relatively rare ventures into a new fandom: this is my first posted “Teen Titans” fic. (Because, while technically not my first attempt, it is the first one worth reading.) It fills the prompt Being Helped at Genprompt Bingo.
The Little Things
In the days after the Teen Titans first met, it was the little things Raven noticed about her new comrades.
After a lifetime of self-determined isolation, Raven was certainly the last person to consider herself an expert on human (or half-human, or alien) behavior. That was why it was something of a culture shock to watch the other Titans interact. On general principle, she had expected quite a few downsides to being around them, and there was indeed no shortage of those: the ways they could not only try her own patience severely, but even get on each other’s much more sociable nerves.
Robin could be bossy. Cyborg was loud. Starfire’s effusiveness gave Raven a headache. And Beast Boy… well, he was Beast Boy.
Of course, those irritations were always forgotten in battle. When they went up against criminals and monsters, they saved each other’s lives almost every day—and that was only logical and understandable, after all. In protecting the team, they protected themselves, and best served their common objectives.
But there were other things, as well. There were small gestures, seemingly offered without a thought, that gave Raven pause in spite of herself. These were evident in the most ordinary moments; in the days when no trouble arose, and the five tentative heroes could apply their efforts to the preparation of Titans Tower, their new home.
“Aww, man, dropped a screw,” Cyborg grumbled, while installing an enormous digital screen in the living room. (Which Robin insisted—rather pretentiously, Raven thought—on naming Ops.) With a grunt, the man-machine tried to squeeze his huge mechanical arm behind the screen’s mounting and reach for the screw, but the effort was clearly futile.
“Dude, no problem! I got it,” Beast Boy chirped, and dove into the narrow space between the screen and the wall—morphing into a small gecko as he did so. A moment later, he scampered triumphantly onto the front of the screen, with the lost screw clamped in his little lizard jaws.
Breaking into a pleased grin, Cyborg gently plucked the screw from Beast Boy’s grasp. “Thanks, B!”
The changeling leaped down into the floor and resumed his (allegedly) human form, grimacing and scrubbing at his tongue with the back of a gloved fist. “Sure—but dude, metal tastes nasty. The next place you’re gonna drop something, could you leave room for me to fit as a monkey instead, so at least I can use my fingers?”
“I have made the lunch!” Starfire sang out cheerfully at noontime.
On the counter of the kitchen that shared the living room’s large open space, the alien girl had arranged an assortment of platters and bowls filled with highly… exotic-looking fare. None of it appeared to be moving, at least—but that didn’t mean it hadn’t been alive a short time earlier. The colors alone made the food’s toxicity level highly suspect.
“Uh… this is your home cooking?” Cyborg queried, with a quiver of trepidation in his voice.
Starfire beamed innocently. “Of course! I did not have Tamaranian ingredients to work with, but I have tried to find the best substitutes I could. I discovered that in the part of the city called the China Town, they sell many things that are most delicious!”
The male members of the Titans exchanged mutual terrified glances.
“Lunch… Great…” Robin gulped audibly as he picked up a fork, to poke at a lumpy substance that was a very uninviting shade of green. (Not unlike Beast Boy’s color, in fact.)
Beast Boy twitched. “Uh… is any of this not made of meat?” he asked—clearly hoping that nothing was, and he could excuse himself from the meal on the grounds of his vegetarian diet.
Cyborg was the first to bite what was clearly much worse than a bullet. With a determined expression, he shoveled a sampling of the ominous repast onto a plate. “Ah… thanks, Star. Doing all this was really—thoughtful of you.” He took a deep breath, and forced a sliver of something that looked like dried jellyfish into his mouth.
“Mmm,” he whimpered, with all the enthusiasm he could muster, as his organic eye started to water.
As Raven was coming out of her room, she saw Robin stop Starfire in the hallway.
“Do you know if Cyborg still has the stepladder in Ops?” the masked boy asked the alien girl, holding up a long fluorescent light bulb. “I need to put up this light in my room, but I…” He cleared his throat, and finished in a mumble: “Can’t quite reach.”
Raven stifled a snicker. For all the punch that was packed into his slight frame, she had noticed that Robin was rather short for his age.
“Yes, I believe he is still using the ladder for stepping,” Starfire mused. Then a bright smile lit her face, and she floated up from the floor, taking the bulb from Robin. “But do not worry! I can place your tube of lighting as high as you need it.”
With murmured thanks and a bemused twist to his lips, Robin followed Starfire into his room… and then Raven had to linger in the hallway, just long enough to hear the words she knew the Tamaranian would say next.
“…So how does one install a tube of lighting?”
“Alright, it’s quittin’ time for the day!” Cyborg bellowed triumphantly at the stroke of six o’clock, throwing down his tools on the carpet in Ops. “Who’s ready to go out for pizza?”
“Ooh! Me!” Beast Boy squealed. Raven was convinced that he literally began to drool at the suggestion.
“That would be most wonderful!” Starfire chimed in.
The three looked next at Raven, who had just settled down on the sofa with a book. She stared flatly back at them… and they squirmed.
“Bring some back for me,” Robin said good-naturedly to the others. From the corner of her eye, Raven thought she noticed a slight turn of his head, casting a glance in her direction… but she wasn’t quite certain. “I don’t really feel like going out tonight.”
“Dude, you’re sure?” Beast Boy asked—seeming almost incredulous that someone would decline a visit to the pizza parlor.
“Yeah, I’m good. I’ll go along next time.”
In short order, the trio of pizza-bound Titans went on their way. Robin briefly stepped out of Ops as well; but when he returned a few moments later, he was carrying a book of his own. Without a word, he seated himself on the other end of the sofa, and opened the pages to a bookmark that was tucked between them. He sat with the book resting between his knees, obscuring the cover from view.
Raven resisted the urge to roll her eyes. As plainly as day, she could see what Robin was trying to do. It wasn’t the first time he had made some subtle effort to engage her. No doubt she was now supposed to become curious and ask him what the book was, opening the door to a more involved conversation.
Wasn’t going to happen. As a rule, Raven didn’t believe in being curious. It only led to trouble.
For the next ten minutes, Raven tried to focus on her own book, but time and again she found herself only staring blankly at the text. Instead, her thoughts traveled back over her teammates’ interactions throughout the day. She had watched them trade so many small kindnesses, little deeds that were completely unimportant in the scheme of things, never again to be spoken of or remembered in particular… but they still meant something, all the same.
What the boy on the other side of the sofa was doing meant the same thing, too. He was offering something, yet asking for nothing—and that meaning wouldn’t change just because Raven ignored him. The offer would still be there, just because he wanted to make it. He wanted to earn her trust, to know her better.
Even if he was a fool for that, it didn’t lessen the value of his intentions.
Slowly, Raven closed her book and looked up at Robin, raising one eyebrow under the shadow of her hood.
“So… what are you reading?”
© 2014 Jordanna Morgan