Leila. "Daughter of the night."
It was a surprise Tim wasn't ready for.
How one night close to five years ago would change everything for Tim and Raven.
“Hey, I’m in Gotham,”
The message seemed strangely out of the blue to be sent at 4:23 in the morning, but when he saw the ID on his phone Tim sat up in bed and stared at the screen. Whatever dregs of sleep he felt disappeared instantly.
Not wasting time, he called her. Raven picked up on the second ring.
“Hey,” her voice drifted through the phone, her voice soft and familiar.
“Hey yourself,” Tim greeted, smiling into the phone and slowly rolling out of bed. It was nice to hear from Raven again after all those years. After she quit the team, they barely heard from her. Raven said she wanted a normal life, away from their superhero work. While with the Titan’s she had gone to a community college in San Francisco and it didn’t come much of a surprise she got into grad school right away on an academic scholarship. “It’s been ages,”
Raven hummed, her voice just a little distant. “Yeah, it has. Sorry for the early morning text,” she said. He could hear her moving around, plates rattling in the background. Probably preparing her morning tea, he thought. He could picture her making her favorite blend of herbal tea, the memory of her in the Tower still familiar to him.
Tim entered his own kitchen and placed her on speaker as he started preparing his coffee. He set his phone on the large granite counter. “Don’t worry about it,” he assured and started puttering around in his kitchen. “What brings you to Gotham? Do the others know?”
There was a brief pause from the other line and Tim stopped dumping heaping portions of coffee into his old coffee maker. Multi-millionaire and he still had yet to buy a decent espresso machine. His brows furrowed at the silence.
“Just some personal stuff,” Raven finally replied. There was some distant noise and a door closing in the background. He heard the line rustle with her movements.
“I see,” he breathed with piqued interest. In the last five years or so, Raven barely stayed in touch. She kept the team updated on her travels across the globe, but barely delved deep on her personal life beyond her life as a research assistant and her latest whereabouts. This was new. He knew that Raven’s mother was originally from Gotham and with the ex-Titan wandering around the globe, he assumed she had some business to take care of.
“Do you need help with anything? Are you alright?” he asked, suddenly standing still and waiting for her reaction. Worry laced his tone and he tried to pick up anything that felt out of the ordinary. “Just say the code,”
Raven released a soft huff of laughter, the sound familiar to his ears and he visibly relaxed around his coffee. She did not sound in distress. “I’m fine,” she said.
Tim stared at his phone waiting for her to continue as a pregnant pause filled the air. He heard her line rustle again. “Raven?” he prodded gently.
“Sorry,” Raven breathed. “Got a little distracted,” she said over the clatter of plates. He wondered where she was. That sounded way too much china for just morning tea, breakfast perhaps?
“How long will you be in Gotham?” he asked. Tim checked the time on his phone, making sure he still had enough time to get ready for work and make it on time. He had a meeting with R&D in the morning and he had hoped not to come in late today.
Raven hummed. “I’m not sure, for a while, I think,” she said.
Tim frowned at how distracted she sounded. He wondered if she truly was alright, her voice seemed distant. “That’s great. You think we could catch up?” he asked while picking up his phone and coffee and heading back into his bedroom to get ready.
“Actually, yeah, that’s why I’m calling,” replied Raven, there was a waver in her voice that Tim could not quite place. “Do you think we could meet up?”
Tim blinked, mildly surprised at the offer. “That’d be great,” he said, hiding the surprise in his tone. How strange for Raven to initiate a meet-up. His curiosity picked up and he blinked at his reflection in his bedroom mirror, mildly wondering why she wanted to meet up. Raven barely did social calls. “When?”
“Are you free later, after work?”
While Monday’s were always terrible, Wednesdays were the worst for Tim. Mid-week meant meetings with the Audit department, review of project proposals, a stack of finance documents to review and sign, and project update meetings, and business planning for the new joint venture. Lunch was something he hardly tasted, barely touched it and had it whisked away from him as fast as it arrived. The rest of his Wednesday was spent neck deep in reports, Tim had barely some time to breathe.
His stomach churned from either hunger or his nth cup of coffee today. Or, he chalked it up to the curiosity that came with seeing his teammate after so long. While a million questions ran through his mind, Tim genuinely hoped that Raven was alright and in no way in any trouble. Social calls were hardly her thing.
Tim had just gotten back from work, surprisingly still daytime (a first in his entire career) and busied himself in the kitchen. Raven would drop by any minute, she had insisted on just coming over instead of meeting at a cafe. After throwing his suit jacket over one of the kitchen stools (a terrible habit he still had to outgrow, despite his age), he rolled up the sleeves of his white business shirt and prepared a plate of crackers. Alfred would have his head if he didn’t prepare at least something to nibble on for his guest.
It didn’t take long until his alarm system notified him that someone was outside the building, waiting to be let in. Briefly checking through his phone that it was indeed Raven, he buzzed her in. “Come on in,” he spoke through his phone, tapping a button and letting her through security.
When he made it to his front door, he heard Raven softly knock against the reinforced door. Swinging open the door, Tim smiled. “Hey,”
Raven looked the same from how he remembered her five years ago. Her hair came longer now, black hair cascading past her shoulders. Her ruby jewel on her forehead was gone and turned into a pendant. Dressed simply in a pair of jeans and stylish black sweater and oversized jean jacket, Raven smiled at Tim.
“Hey,” she mumbled, familiar blue eyes bright as they stared up at him. Raven sounded the same, and much to Tim’s relief he noted no signs of distress. Perhaps he was just overthinking everything.
“Come in,” he said, stepping aside to allow her to pass through and moving to close the door after her. He stood awkwardly by his now closed door and watched her briefly glance at the tastefully decorated hallway. For a brief moment he panicked, unsure what to do — could they hug? Was she okay with hugs now? Was a handshake okay? Or should he just wave?
Raven seemed to sense the mild awkwardness and she stepped into his space and took him by surprise and hugged him. “It’s good to see you,” she mumbled into his shoulder, she barely came up to his chin as she stood on her tippy toes.
“Raven, it’s been years,” he chuckled and squeezed her small form. Tim wondered if she had gotten smaller, if that were even possible.
Raven hummed in agreement and stepped out of the hug. She sent him a smile that didn’t quite reach the eyes, but then again, Raven barely smiled. He ushered her into the apartment, directed her where to hang up her jacket, and told her to take a seat in the living room while he went to get them something to drink.
“You really didn’t need to prepare anything,” Raven called after him. Tim laughed and shot her an amused grin over his shoulder. “What kind of host would I be if I didn’t offer my guest something to eat and drink?”
Raven made a face, her calm expression crumpling as she wrinkled her nose. “Host?” she teased.
Tim left her to her own devices, likely perusing his book collection along the large wall that led to his home office. When he returned moments later, sure enough he found her reading the backcover of a book. Little Women, First Edition.
“You know you can borrow anything you’d like,” he announced while setting the large tray with crackers and tea on the living room coffee table.
“It’s a first edition,” Raven noted in mild surprise, gently cradling the book to her chest. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen this before here,”
Over the course of their time together with the Titans, Raven had visited his apartment a handful of times. Each visit had her inspecting his book collection, commenting on his lack of classics, and how he could have impossibly not read every management book that lined shelves. (“Some of these look like they never were opened,” she told him dryly, eyeing a Peter Drucker book in amusement.)
“I took that from the Manor a while back,” Tim told her. “You could borrow it if you’d like,” he motioned her to join him on his ridiculously large leather couch. He set a steaming mug of tea, prepared to her liking (as far as he could remember), in front of the empty space next to him. “Now come here, have some tea, and you can pick books you can borrow later,”
Over the course of years he had known her, Tim easily spotted the brief moment of hesitancy that crossed Raven’s face. She hugged the book tighter to her chest and shuffled towards the couch and slowly sat down next to him, just a fraction of a distance away from him. He could smell the familiar scent of her lavender perfume. Setting the book on the table, Raven carefully reached for the steaming mug of tea and took a tentative sip.
“Well?” Tim asked, smiling and casually angling his body to face her, hoping to break the seemingly awkward silence that stretched through the air.
Raven smiled over the mug. “This is good, you remembered,”
Tim grinned teasingly. “Hard to forget when you chugged tea every hour of every day,” His smile grew when the tension left Raven’s shoulders and she released a small huff of laughter.
“As if you’re any different with your coffee,” Raven shot back.
They fell into an easy conversation, quickly catching up on the years apart. Tim learned Raven had traveled quite a bit over time, spending most of her time in Asia and Europe consulting on ancient literature research with local universities. She enjoyed her time in Europe and the slow travel to different countries by train. Tim thought it seemed very much like Raven to enjoy traveling at such a leisurely pace. This was the first time she was back in America after close to five years.
“So what brings you to Gotham?” Tim asked, after they shared a laugh over old memories of the Titans.
Raven blinked, and that distracted energy he noted from her came back. He watched her blink, the corners of her lips lifting tentatively as she shot him a brief glance before turning back to the now cold tea.
“It’s complicated,” Raven began and absently tapped the side of her mug. She stared at the plate of crackers, seemingly briefly lost in thought. Tim patiently gave her time to collect her thoughts, worry slowly brewing in the pit of his stomach.
“Raven?” he gently prodded.
“I have a daughter,” she announced without much preamble.
Tim blinked, genuinely surprised at the announcement. Well, that wasn’t what he was expecting.
“Oh, wow,” he breathed. He watched her worriedly stare at him, as if studying his reaction. “Congratulations, Rae. That’s awesome,” Raven offered him a small smile, she looked sheepish and inhaled deeply, as if collecting her thoughts. “This is great news,”
The corner of Raven’s lips curled into a wry smile. “Her name is Leila,” Raven carried on and suddenly broke eye contact. Tim watched her in mild worry as she absently stared at the orange teapot Alfred gifted him as a housewarming gift many years ago. “She’ll turn four this year. She’s a very smart little girl. She likes books, going to the park, going to the beach, playing with dolls and Lego, dancing, and drawing,” A fond smile plays on Raven’s lips as she thinks of her daughter. “She’s talks a lot and asks a lot of questions,”
Tim smiles as he pictures a little girl that looked exactly like Raven. The image couldn’t be cuter. His smile grows at the thought. “She sounds wonderful, Raven,”
Raven looked at him and caught his gaze, she smiled at him like any mother proud of her child. “She is,”
“You should have brought her with you,” Tim told her. Tilting his head curiously, he watched her body stiffen. “Who is looking after her while you’re here?” He paused, wondering if it was the right time to ask. “The father?”
“She’s at daycare,” Raven answered, not really answering his question. Inhaling deeply, Raven set her cold tea on the coffee table in front of them. She stared at it for a moment, as if seemingly studying the intricate patterns that danced on its surface.
“Raven?” Tim looked at her in confusion, worry again starting to creep up slowly in his stomach. Was Raven alright? Was her daughter safe? What was going on?
Raven blinked, breaking out of her stupor, and she looked up at Tim, an unreadable expression crossed her face. “When I said I wanted to leave the Titans for a more normal life, I guess I truly got that,” she said wryly. As if catching Tim’s concern, she caught his confused gaze and she swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. Tim had never seen Raven look so hesitant.
“When I left the Titans, I did not know I was six weeks pregnant, Tim,” she said. There was a brokenness in her voice in her confession that made his heart jump into his throat. His stomach churned uneasily as his mind began to process the information.
Raven’s eyes widened in alarm, as if sensing Tim’s jump of emotions. She watched him go rigid, staring at her in alarm. “I didn’t know, until a few weeks later. I guess half-demons show pregnancy symptoms late in the cycle,” she explained, her smile wry.
“Raven,” Tim’s voice sounded strained, as waves of emotions suddenly seemed to swell in his stomach. Thought after thought ran through his mind, how could he have missed a pregnant teammate? His stomach heaved.
“Leila has been asking a lot about her father,” Raven whispered. There’s a hesitancy and brokenness in her voice that made Tim worry even more. “She wonders where her father is and she’s such a curious child. And I can’t –” Raven paused, her voice wavering and her breathing hitched as she sensed Tim’s spike of emotions. Her blue eyes locked with Tim’s alarmed dark blue ones.
“She deserves to know her father. And her father deserves to know she exists,”
Tim’s ears started to ring as he finally processed the information. Six months pregnant once she left the Titans. Six months — “Raven,” Tim hissed, his breathing hitching and his chest tightening. He felt breathless, his ears continued to ring loudly, and it felt like the world was spinning out of control. A distant memory, clear yet faint crossed his mind, that had his heart stutter and suddenly his world titled to the side.
“Tim,” He heard her despite the mad ringing in his ears. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. She pressed on, her voice a mad mix of apologetic and panic. Her face crumpled into deep regret, her eyes trying to catch his panicked stare. “I tried to tell you —” she whispered and Tim felt his world explode.
“But I couldn’t, I was scared, I didn’t know what you’d do, what the Justice League would do, I as afraid they’d take her away from me, I did not know how you’d react, you were with Stephanie again soon after, and I was embarrassed and just scared,” her words were a jumbled mess, her voice uncharacteristically rose with a mix of emotions. Her blue eyes shone with unshed tears. “I am so sorry, Tim,”
Tim felt like the wind was knocked out of his chest and he inhaled shakily, desperately trying to find air to breathe. “So she’s —”
Well, so here's that. Just another wild idea I could not let go of. I had to write. I always wanted to explore the idea of Tim as a father, I knew he was good with kids and the idea kind of grew on me over time. I know I have a couple of other stories in the works, but this one I'll keep short, just so I can let go of this plot bunny that's been bothering me for a while.
I wonder how I two birbs will navigate parenthood together?
BBRaeweek22 Day 1: Meeting the Family
The Tower was quiet as many of the Titans were out on missions or aiding their fellow international members on their own cases. That was why Raven was bemused to see the full team of the Doom Patrol standing idle within the central comms room of the Titans Tower. Raven merely quirked an eyebrow at the four older heroes, before floating to the kitchen to pour herself a cup of herbal tea. “Can I help you with anything? We rarely ever get surprise guests; except of course; when we’re being invaded.” Raven calmly stated as she picked up her cup and sat down facing the Beastboy’s adopted family.
There was no answer to her question or to her jabbing quip, Mento just continued to stare at her with a stoic and stone-faced expression before talking. “I think you know why we’re here.” Mento spoke sternly as he pulled out a chair spun it around and sat on it. “Garfield is a good man and has a great many talents, and pretending he isn’t lying to a psychic isn’t one of them.”
The air between the Doom Patrol and the lone Titan grew heavy as an unseen tension started to rise.
“I certainly have no idea as to what you’re implying. I speak in absolutes not weasel words, try that again and this time; say the quiet part loud.” Raven retorted without showing a single emotion on her face.
That was when Robotman blurted out, interrupting the back and forth. “Disco-hat here wants to be sure there isn’t some ulterior motive or something… Like you havin’ daddy issues or somethin’.” The older cyborg finished weakly as Raven turned to look at him.
“First off; I don’t have daddy issues. Second, my father is an inter-dimensional demon lord who swallows all life from world to world; so, we do not get along in the slightest.” Raven answered not blinking as she took a sip of her tea. “If that was everything, feel free to leave or is there more to this impromptu house call while Garfield isn’t here?” She inquired.
“Perceptive, aren’t you?” Mento quipped.
“No. I am simply not stupid and you overplayed your hand. As much as Gar talks about me to you; he talks about you to me. Out with it; we haven’t all day Steven.” Raven bit back with her iconic half-smile as she took a deep sip from her drink before she planted her cup on the table.
There was a pregnant pause as Mento’s face slipped into a grimace before he let out a hissing sigh and tried to regain composure.
“What do you plan to do with Garfield?” The question perplexed Raven as she quirked an eyebrow at the older hero.
“I fail to understand the question? Garfield is a person; I don’t plan to do anything with him without his acknowledgment or active and enthusiastic consent. I refuse to play this game of word semantics.” Raven boldly rebuffed. She turned moved her gaze past Mento and towards Elastigirl. “Rita; I must give you a warm thank you. The tea you told Gar to get me has been absolutely delightful.”
“The thanks for that goes to Larry; he has a more refined palette than me.” Elastigirl said, smiling warmly as she stepped beside her husband and placed a hand on Mento’s shoulder. “What Steve has been trying to do is inquire about the nature of your relationship. Is it a temporary scenario for you; or do you wish to pursue a more permanent dynamic with Garfield?”
“Are you seriously asking if I am as the kids say ‘hitting and quitting’, Garfield?” Raven asked with incredulity. A small laugh escaped her as she even began to ponder how Mento conjured up that idea.
“More or less. The kid’s got a big heart, don’t wanna see ‘em get hurt.” Negative Man spoke up with an emotionless tone. “Especially after how his first romance went.”
Negative Man’s comments gave Raven pause as she recollected what could have been Beastboy’s first romance until it hit her: Terra.
“Terra was distraught and had many deep emotional and mental issues. They went unchecked and untended to; in the end she died a hero. I think that’s how Garfield chooses to remember her.” Raven looked at Mento to gauge his reaction; this time the man was controlling his expression expertly well.
“I assume because of my connection to my father; the world-eating nightmare, you think I might one day lose control and do something terrible to him?” Raven asked.
“If the blonde could, who says you can’t?” Mento responded.
“You are comparing apples to oranges in this case. I was raised from birth understanding my powers, my heritage and the dangers that both of those things can cause.” Raven argued, feeling her anger boil at the implied remark that she was an unstable timebomb. “What I would give for five minutes in the Octagon with that bastard!” Rage roared within Raven’s mind. “Terra was manipulated by an expert on the subject and had what little control over her powers stolen from her and her emotions pushed to extremes and turned loose on us. Don’t simplify her story.”
“You really care for the green goofball don’t ya?” Robotman bluntly asked.
“With every fibre of my being; he makes my days brighter just by being here. I would never hurt him.” Raven said every word with strong and unrepentant resolve. Mento didn’t say anything for a moment; before getting up and started to walk to the Doom Jet.
“I have heard everything I need to hear. Welcome to the family; I expect both you and Garfield over for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
“That’s it? The entire Doom Patrol broke into my home just to give me the third degree and the classic ‘If you break my kid’s heart’ speech.” Raven called out, still processing the incredulity of everything that had just taken place over several stressfully tense minutes.
“Bout the size of it. They care for the goof… Wanted to know if you’ll treat him right.” Negative Man bluntly responded before leaving.
“An Steve heard all he needed to hear. He’s not kidding by the way; he will be expecting you two for the holidays.” Robotman stated as he left as well.
“Steve is complicated and what we do isn’t easier to explain. We’ve seen possible futures and… it has left him anxious. He just wanted to know his son was happy.” Elastigirl spoke as she hugged Raven before turning towards the Doom Jet.
The purple and chrome coloured sky-craft rocketed up into the sky and disappeared beyond the horizon; leaving behind Jump City’s local sorceress as she contended with a swirl of emotions.
“They like us!” Happy cheered
“They accept and endorse our love. That is beyond amazing.” Love was beside herself with happiness
“That was an excellent and eye-opening encounter, I feel we have learnt so much about his family from this conversation.” Knowledge noted.
“As well as a clear and concise construct of their emotional needs and moral centres. They are complicated characters indeed.” Wisdom observed.
“T-t-that was terrifying.” Timid squeaked out.
“Did they think they could have forced us to break up!?” Rage hissed out.
“We should go find Gar! Give him a kiss and tell em the good news.” Brave said “that we meet the family and that they approve.”
“A think a phonecall would be more appropriate; seeing as he is on a stake out right now.” Raven thought to herself. “That, and I need a sounding board for everything that we’re feeling; its too much.” Raven winced as the beginnings of a headache was making itself known.
She dialled her jade lover and waited for him to pick up.
“What’s cooking Rae Rae?” His excitable voice was like music to her ears.
“Doom Patrol visited just now. We’re invited to all the usual holiday events.” Raven summarised awkwardly.
“Aww man… Mento gave you the third degree why? Why would he do that?” Garfield questioned.
“He was under the impression I was going to sleep with you and dump you, or mistakenly believed our love may have been a long con by Trigon to enter our reality.”
“That… sounds on point for Steve. What did you say?”
“I loved you with every fibre of my being and nothing happens between us without complete trust and consent. I may have also taken childish jabs at him.” Raven answered.
“That’s my girl! He needs to laugh more. Wait, did you say we both got invited to the big events?” Gar questioned.
“Oh yes, I did say those words roughly in that order.” Raven sarcastically quipped. “But in all seriousness, before he left, he welcomed me into the family.”
“That means he really liked you and approves of you. When I get back, we are going to celebrate; how about that new up-scale waffle place you’ve been talking about?” Beastboy inquired as he had already begun planning the celebrations.
“That would be lovely Gar.”