Welcome to the 2022 April A to Z Challenge! Each day (minus Sundays) in the month of April will feature a short work of fiction based on a random word beginning with the corresponding letter of the day. Those random words will be provided by various friends and family members throughout the month. Today’s word, hoopla, was provided by my friend, Andy. Each story is loosely connected to the one before but will make more sense if you read them all in order. To go back to the beginning to see where this madness began, click here

Timothy Drake sat outside of a small café in San Francisco. From this vantage point, he had a perfect view of Titans Tower on an island out in the bay. As Red Robin, he really didn’t get too many chances to spend time in the tower with the rest of the Teen Titans. A lot of members had rotated in and out during the past year or so. He didn’t feel much like he fit with the team anymore.

But… once a Titan, always a Titan.

He looked at the three empty seats at his table for four. About once a month, he promised that he would do his best to meet up with his three best friends to catch up on life. They couldn’t all make it every single time, but they always gave it their all to show up.

“This seat taken?” asked a young woman, approaching from behind Tim. He recognized the voice as belonging to Cassandra Sandsmark, sometimes known as Wonder Girl.

Tim smiled and said, “By you, if you want it.” Before she could sit, he stood and gave her a hug. “Is it just the two of us this time?” he asked as they both took their seats.

“No, Conner should be here soon,” she said waving to a waiter then ordering her tall decaf cappuccino.

“What about Bart?” Tim asked, wondering if the Kid Flash formerly known as Impulse would be making an appearance.

Cassie shook her head. “You know Bart… When you least expect him, that’s when he shows up.”

This brought a smile to Tim’s face, even though he figured it meant that their speedster friend would be a no show.

“No, Bart’s not coming,” sounded a voice from above them. Conner Kent, Superboy, dropped in from the sky, probably having eavesdropped on their brief conversation from miles away. “I’m pretty sure I heard the Flash say that he is currently time displaced. But I can never quite wrap my head around the Speed Force and time travel.”

As Conner sat between Cassie and Tim, the waiter returned with Cassie’s beverage and asked if Conner would like to order anything. He politely declined, then asked Tim to catch them up on what’s been happening in Gotham.

“I take it you’ve heard about the Joker hoopla.”

The others both nodded somberly. The Joker doesn’t just break out of Arkham and go on a killing spree and not have everyone in North America on edge.

“Well, the last I heard, he’s hiding out somewhere in Blüdhaven,” Tim continued. “Dick said there was an explosion early yesterday morning that took out three storefronts downtown. No casualties, just property damage. So far, no definitive evidence pointing to the Joker. But he said it’s been quiet, otherwise.”

“So you guys are just playing a waiting game?” Cassie asked, real concern in her voice.

Tim nodded, the worry on his face showing. Then, as if shaking himself out of a trance, he shook his head and asked, “What about you two?”

Conner just nodded to Cassie, giving her the floor. “I’ve just been busy with school. Finals coming up. Pretty sure I’m a lock for valedictorian,” she said, trying to disguise her excitement.

The guys didn’t disguise anything, congratulating her as their voices overlapped in praise of her accomplishment.

“And you know life on the Kent farm,” Conner said.

Tim and Cassie both shook their heads. “No, buddy, we don’t,” said Tim. “You make it sound boring.”

“I know,” he replied, “but I don’t mean to. There’s always plenty to do. Keeps me busy… keeps me out of trouble.”

Cassie couldn’t help but ask, “What do you mean by that?”

“Come on,” he sighed, “you know exactly what I mean.” His friends just stared at him. “Ever since the truth came out about the cloning process and the fact that the human half of my DNA was provided by Lex Luthor, everyone looks at me like I can’t be trusted. I mean, the Kents have been great about the whole thing, but even Clark acts like he has trouble being around me. As if I’m going to pull a kryptonite knife on him or something.”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad,” said Tim, attempting to console his friend. “Have you spent any time with the team lately? I’m sure they’d be happy to have you around.”

Conner shook his head. “It’s been a few weeks since I visited the tower. You know how, in movies, when a character awkwardly enters a party and you hear that needle scratch on a record and everyone turns to stare? That’s what it felt like last time I was over there.”

“But that’s not just you, Conner,” said Cassie. “When’s the last time any of us felt like we fit in with the Teen Titans? We may all still be teenagers, but I think we’ve outgrown the kids’ club.”

Just then, Tim looked up, his gaze fixed beyond Cassie’s shoulder. “Well, something’s going on over there. Isn’t that Red Tornado coming in for a landing?”

Cassie and Conner both turned to look at Titans Tower in time to see that it wasn’t Red Tornado visiting the team. It was Red Volcano, Tornado’s more violent and explosive “sibling.” Already he was heating the ground in front of the tower’s entrance.

“He’s gonna weaken the structure if he’s not stopped soon,” said Tim, standing from his chair.

Cassie pulled out a communicator, “Wonder Girl to Titans Tower, come in!”

Beast Boy’s voice came back in response, “A little busy here, Cass, can you call back later? We’ve got a volcano problem!”

“We’re on our way!” she yelled before turning back to Conner and Tim. “Titans together?”

The guys both had the same smirk on their faces as they nodded.

These characters are not my own. The Teen Titans and all related characters are the property of DC Comics. This is a work of fan fiction and is just for fun. Please don’t sue me.

Feature Photo by Mihai Moisa on Unsplash


2 thoughts on “Hoopla

  1. Pingback: A to Z Challenge 2022 – Reflection | The Confusing Middle

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