Hey guys, remember me? Yeah, I know it's been awhile, but I'm back and hopefully I can get this story back on schedule. Hope you like this chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans or anything even remotely related to the Teen Titans.
For one reason or another, Robin seemed to be under some kind of delusional impression that he was the cleverest guy in the world.
He was actually quite the opposite in Raven's opinion, because seriously, who couldn't see him pairing her up with Beast Boy for late-night patrol as the most obvious thing in the world?
Of course, when Robin had first assigned the groups, he'd claimed that he had chosen teams based on the most current circumstances, i.e. Raven was supposedly paired up with Beast Boy because if Beast Boy somehow re-injured his wounds she'd need to be close by to heal him, blah blah blah.
Yeah. Sure, Robin.
Even more frustrating was the fact that they had no idea what to look out for while on the patrol to begin with. They weren't even sure at this point if the criminal was going to strike tonight or at this location, which just so happened to be the massively intimidating Wayne Enterprises. As a result, Raven and Beast Boy spent the first half hour wandering aimlessly around the perimeter, their muscles twitching at the slightest gust of wind or whisper of noise.
"You know, when this is all over, we should really think about taking a Titans vacation," Beast Boy suggested out of nowhere.
"Yes, that's exactly what we should do," Raven remarked dryly. "Let the city burn for a few days just so we can catch a few pointless rays and get wasted every night at some over-priced hotel in some over-glorified vacation spot. What a brilliant idea, Garfield."
Beast Boy regarded her warily, though she could see how much all of this was amusing him. "Sheesh, Raven, sassy much? Is that seriously what you think we Earthlings do for fun on vacation? And we wouldn't just abandon the city; another team would come and substitute for a few days."
"Whatever," Raven muttered under her breath, her eyes carefully scanning the towering windows above her for any possible intruders. She shivered slightly in the night air. This mission felt so entirely pointless. There were a million other things Raven could be doing right now.
…Or braiding Starfire's hair.
"When exactly was your last vacation, Raven?"
Beast Boy smiled a little. "I asked when your last vacation was."
Irritated, Raven rolled her eyes at him. "You're still talking about that?"
"It's just a question," he shrugged. His eyes left her face for a moment to squint at something in the distance. When he looked up at her again and didn't say anything Raven realized he was still waiting for her to answer his ridiculous question.
She busied herself with rearranging the way her cloak fell around her shoulders so she wouldn't strangle him out of frustration. "Oh, you know me," she finally replied, her voice coated with disinterest. "I take a vacation every chance I get."
"Seriously, Raven," Beast Boy prodded, like this was the most important piece of information to ever exist in the history of time. "When?"
Raven took her time responding, secretly enjoying the impatience surfacing on his face as she pretended to mull over her answer. Finally, she exhaled slowly. "Does reading in my room count?"
At that, Beast Boy's eyes widened about five times what could be considered the normal size. "Dude, you've seriously never taken an actual vacation?! Jesus, Raven, no wonder you're so tense all the time!"
Raven turned on him, seething. She was not particularly fond of the idea of Beast Boy taking notes on her disposition. "First of all, I am not tense all the time. Second, you need to stop being so loud and learn to keep your voice down because nobody,not even the dim Dr. Light, is going to attempt to break into this building when you're making our presence so obvious!"
She could feel her heart rate rising. She needed to calm down. Meanwhile, Beast Boy stood opposite of her, his posture slightly hunched inward as if her little outburst had actually stung him. Raven licked her lips in annoyance. She refused to feel guilty about this. He was the one behaving irrationally, not her.
Finally, Beast Boy raised his hands up in front of him protectively, as if to ward off any further barbed words from his sorceress teammate. "Are you done now?" he suddenly whispered. His whispering was so clearly over-exaggerated that Raven wasn't sure whether she wanted to smile or throttle him, which seemed to be the usual conundrum for her these days.
Instead, she stared down at her booted-feet. The embarrassment of her short temper was just now starting to hit her and she could feel her face warming. Raven reached back and pulled up the hood of her cloak, forever grateful for the way it shielded her face from others' prying eyes. "Let's just keep moving," she muttered. "We can't afford to make any mistakes tonight."
"Or pretty much any night," Beast Boy joked darkly, though more to himself than actually Raven. "You know, we could just split up," he suddenly offered. His voice was much gentler now. "I mean, if you wanted. We could cover more ground."
Her dark eyes flicked up and met his. Regret wafted from him in sharp waves. She understood now; he was only offering such a proposition in order to make her happy. He assumed that since he'd so clearly pissed her off already, she wanted to get away from him. Either that or he was sick of her and her moods. It was a tempting proposition, she had to admit, but she'd also never forgive herself if she ever let her selfish impulses put anyone in danger. "No."
To his credit, Beast Boy actually seemed taken aback by this. "No?"
"No," Raven repeated. "We don't know what kind of criminal we're dealing with yet. And I'm pretty sure our fearless leader wants me to stay close to you in case you re-injure yourself."
Beast Boy regarded her thoughtfully. "You don't have to babysit me, Raven. I'll be fine."
Partially ignoring Beast Boy's needlessly macho statement, Raven began to wander off toward a different side of the enormous building, a part of her knowing that Beast Boy would follow despite his previous suggestion. Mostly she figured he was following so they could argue some more, which she was definitely not too keen on. They were supposed to be looking for a wanted criminal, not bickering like useless children.
"Well," she said distractedly, as she took in the grandeur of Wayne Enterprises. "Unlike you, I'm not willing to take that chance. Now why don't you make yourself useful and actually help me."
Beast Boy stepped closer to her. His form was as relaxed as it usually was but there was also a spark of intensity beneath all that that always managed to strike Raven with a sense of awe. Even when there was no danger to be found, Beast Boy always seemed to be wound up tight like a spring, ready to pounce at the drop of a hat. She supposed that was the product of his more animalistic side. "What do you need me to do?"
"Oh, you know, I figured you could just stand there and look pretty," she deadpanned darkly.
"Sounds simple enough," Beast Boy smiled. "But seriously, Raven, I don't know why you're being so uptight about this assignment. We both know there's about a ninety-nine percent chance we're gonna spend the next couple hours doing exactly what Robin assigned us to do, only to return to the Tower empty handed and exhausted."
Raven knew he was right, but Azar help her if she ever admitted it out loud. "Are you suggesting that we blow off our assignment so we can look like completely incompetent idiots when the criminal shows up and we're unprepared?" she challenged.
"That's exactly what I'm suggesting," Beast Boy chuckled.
A smile tugged at Raven's lips. "Come on," she said. "Let's go be heroes and stop this criminal."
The two paced around the building for the next half hour, checking windows, exit doors, all the usual what have you's. It was surprisingly quiet between them for the most part. Every few minutes or so Beast Boy would crack a lame joke and Raven would promptly tell him to shut it or shoot him a sharp glare. As thorough as their search was, however, they still remained fruitless.
"We should check the roof," Beast Boy suggested suddenly.
Raven eyed him dangerously. "Whatever joke you're about to make," she warned. "Don't."
She felt him elbow her playfully. When she turned and looked at him, his eyes were full of their usual mirth, but even now she could see that this assignment meant more to him than he'd originally let on. "Hey. I'm being serious right now," he insisted to her, even though he still had a grin plastered on his face.
Raven just nodded. She felt kind of stupid herself for not suggesting the roof sooner. As she began to levitate upwards, she saw Beast Boy shift into a falcon and take off toward the dark sky. They reached the roof in a matter of seconds. As soon as Raven felt her feet touch down on the bumpy gravel covering the very top of the building, her communicator sounded.
Hesitantly, she flipped it open. Robin would be expecting an update, and Raven hated not having anything relevant to report. From her peripheral vision, she could see that Beast Boy had morphed back into his usual self and was standing close behind her, peeking over her shoulder at the small screen cradled in Raven's palm.
"It's been over an hour. Give me a status report," Robin commanded.
Raven glanced back at Beast Boy before addressing their leader. For one reason or another, Robin was acting especially impatient with this case. "We've circled around the perimeter dozens of times, but so far nothing out of the ordinary," she informed him simply.
Robin frown up at them. This was obviously not the news he wanted to hear. "Have you checked the interior yet?"
"We were actually just about to do that before you called," Beast Boy jumped in, pressing his body a little closer to Raven's so he could get a better view of Robin's stern expression. Raven's eyebrows quirked with surprise, but she didn't dare move or contradict Beast Boy's words.
"I'll let you guys go, then. Let me know if you find something," Robin said. The screen then went dark as their leader signed off without so much as a goodbye.
"Nice talking to you too, Robin," Beast Boy joked. Meanwhile, Raven remained rigid in front of him. He was still standing up against her back and shoulders, completely unaware (or maybe momentarily forgetting) [or maybe completely aware and doing it on purpose] of how reluctant Raven felt about physical contact. She was waiting for him to notice and correct himself, but then a part of her wondered if she might be waiting forever, so she decided to step away from him herself. The vacant feeling that brewed inside her as the warmth of his body dissipated was uncanny.
"So I guess we're heading inside, then?" Raven asked as she turned to face him, choosing to ignore the weird and alien fluttering in her stomach.
Beast Boy ruffled his hair distractedly. His mind was somewhere else for the time being, it seemed. When he realized she was staring at him, he finally came back to her. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I guess we are."
"Are you okay?" she wanted to know. She'd forgotten about his injuries. Maybe she hadn't healed them as well as she'd thought and he was in pain again. "Is it your injuries?"
His eyes lit up with confusion and alarm. "What? No! I mean— Yes, I'm fine."
Raven approached him slowly, scanning his expression for any hint of deceit. "Are you sure? Because if you're in pain again then that means I must have done something wrong —"
"You didn't do anything wrong!" Beast Boy insisted and backed away a little. He must've heard the defensive tone in his own voice, though, because he stopped then and took a deep breath. For the life of her, Raven couldn't understand why he was acting so weird all of a sudden.
"My injuries are fine, Raven," he tried again. "And I'm not in any physical pain, so you don't need to worry about me. Let's just go inside and finish the rest of our patrol." His eyes pleaded with her to just drop the subject.
In turn, Raven narrowed her eyes at him indignantly. He was deflecting and he honestly didn't think she could tell? Who exactly did he think he was talking to? She'd practically invented that shit.
"Now, I don't know about you," a low, tinny voice suddenly drawled from behind them. "But that sounds like a heap-load of bullshit to me."
At once, both Raven and Beast Boy whirled on the voice. Lounging lazily on the edge of Wayne Enterprises' roof like it was absolutely no big deal was a darkly-clothed man. Well, a young man anyway, probably not much older than her or the other Titans now that Raven really looked at him.
He wore an inky black body suit coupled with black boots, further accented by a steely-grey belt and gloves combo, along with a cape. His true face was concealed by a mask, which sort of looked like a less daunting version of a skull. There was also a single crimson "X" slashed across both his chest and face mask.
Immediately, Raven's senses were on high alert, every instinct in her body telling her that this was the criminal they had been searching for. But then why the hell was he just reclining there, casually observing them like they were his own personal soap opera to consume? If this guy possessed any sort of intelligence, he would've avoided her and Beast Boy at all costs.
There was just something about this guy that radiated vast amounts of arrogance and narcissism. The mysterious criminal seemed to grin at them beneath his mask. "Don't stop on my account. Not when we were just getting to the good part."
This guy obviously had a death wish. Contempt flooded Raven's chest as she felt her muscles twitch in anticipation for any sort of confrontation. From the corner of her eye Raven peeked at her teammate's body language, searching for any subtle cues that could tell her whether he planned on pouncing straight away or utilizing a different approach.
"And who the hell are you supposed to be?" Beast Boy demanded. The ease of his posture was gone, the aforementioned spring ready to unload and pounce at any given moment. His hands were fisted, and if he wasn't weren't gloves Raven was certain his fingernails would be digging into the rough skin of his palms.
Nonchalantly, the man stood up, but he didn't take his eyes off Raven or Beast Boy. Despite his air of indifference, every move he made and every word he spoke seemed very deliberate and carefully chosen. He seemed like the kind of guy who knew just exactly how to get under someone's skin.
"Easy there, pal. I won't bite," he teased Beast Boy, smirking when the changeling emitted a low growl in response. His focus then switched to Raven though, and she wanted to claw his eyes out when she saw the way they were raking up and down her leotard-clad body in lustful appreciation.
"Stop looking at me like that. I'm not some pin-up for you to get-off on," Raven told him darkly. Her fingers itched to use some of her power.
The man was grinning again as he playfully held up his hands as a sign of mock submission. "You know, you're not nearly as much fun when you're sober, Raven," he commented smugly.
Raven felt her heart plummet into her stomach. She knew by the way he'd said it that it was supposed to indicate something significant to her, but with all the adrenaline pumping through her body her mind couldn't bring itself to focus on the subtext of his statement.
"Don't talk to her like that," Beast Boy fumed beside her. He was starting to pace back and forth, like a predatory lion. "In fact, don't talk to her at all."
That snapped Raven right out of her thoughts. She suddenly glared up at Beast Boy. "Beast Boy, stop acting ridiculous. I don't need you to 'defend my honor'," she said. Guilt barbed at her the second the words left her mouth. She hadn't meant to snap at him like that. There were just too many things happening at once.
"Ooh, castrated," the darkly-cloaked criminal goaded. He was enjoying all of this immensely. "You gonna take that from her, Beast Boy?"
"SHUT-UP," Raven and Beast Boy spat before turning back to each other.
"Jesus, Raven, what the hell did I ever do to you? For one second can you just act like we're on the same side?" Beast Boy demanded angrily. His eyes were clouded with hurt.
Raven pursed her lips. She couldn't help it. "Look, I'm sorry if I wounded your feelings or whatever, but this is hardly the time or the place for this conversation," she retorted with as much control as she could muster. "Maybe if you'd stop acting like an overly-possessive meathead boyfriend we could've taken this asshole down already!"
Everything sort of stopped in that moment. Like the particles in the air ceased their movement and the oxygen somehow evaporated. Or it must have evaporated anyway somehow because for some reason Raven was having trouble breathing properly.
That was too much, what she'd said. She knew as soon as she'd finished speaking that she'd crossed some faint line in the sand that she hadn't even known existed up until she'd so gracelessly crossed it.
When she finally mustered enough courage to actually look Beast Boy in the eye, she immediately wished she hadn't. He was beyond hurt. She could see that he was definitely furious, also mortified. But there was something else she couldn't quite read in his expression. Something she wasn't sure she wanted to know.
In the shock of her words he'd also been somehow stunned into silence. Raven didn't know if that was better or worse.
"Well," The criminal cleared his throat. Even he felt a little awkward about all this apparently. "Got police to baffle and items of considerable value to heist. You guys tell Robin that Red-X says thanks for the suit."
Raven glanced at Red-X numbly. Admittedly, she'd forgotten he was even there. She was sure Beast Boy had, too, but she didn't have time to gather herself or absorb whatever the hell Red-X just said about Robin. Because her mind was just now registering what he'd said about leaving. And in its temporary state of confusion, her brain was only able to string together this combination of words: Stop the Red-X.
With uncharacteristic, single-minded recklessness, Raven lunged at him, throwing all of her body weight into the first punch. She'd hoped she'd managed to secure the element of the surprise, but Red-X was much more agile than she'd anticipated. As swiftly as the blink of an eye, he dodged her, and Raven had to dive into a roll in order to avoid a serious collision with his clenched fist.
Behind her, she heard Beast Boy morph and make his move. When she turned around she saw that he'd chosen the form of a tiger, and it pleased her immensely to see Red-X hesitate a little in his footing as he narrowly avoided Beast Boy's razor-sharp claws. Now was her chance. "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos!" she cried fiercely. At once, dark power ignited viciously from her hands and she channeled all of her aim toward Red-X, sure that this time she'd get a hit.
As if sensing her attack though, Red-X easily jumped away from it, and Raven could feel her teeth grinding as the tendrils of her power instead collided full-force with a very surprised green tiger.
"Beast Boy!" she cried out, panic completely overtaking her voice. Forgetting all about Red-X, Raven ran to Beast Boy's collapsed tiger form. She knew it had all been unintentional and an accident, but a part of her still wasn't sure if she could ever forgive herself if she had managed to worsen his injuries. Or worse.
As she checked over his body, she found, thankfully, that his body showed no serious signs of damage or re-injury. And though he was unconscious, his breathing was stable. About a second later she heard Red-X addressing her in the distance.
"Let's not do this again real soon," she heard Red-X say. Finally she looked up at him, shooting him the sharpest glare she could conjure. Her cruel disposition seemed to leave no impression on him, however. In fact, he seemed to be grinning back at her under his mask.
"Give me a call though if you ever feel like reenacting the other night, Raven," he taunted arrogantly. "I like a girl with some fight in her." And with a mock salute, Red-X leapt over the side of the building, disappearing into the night as if he had been a simple hologram and nothing more. Raven didn't even bother trying to go after him. She couldn't even process what had just happened, let alone try to take him down by herself. He could wait.
Anxiously, Raven pulled out her communicator and flipped it open. Robin's face appeared on the screen almost immediately. Cyborg and Starfire's concerned expressions were visible in the background as well.
"What's wrong? Did you find something?" Robin asked. He still seemed restless, even though it was well past midnight now.
"I'm not even sure where to begin," she said, looking down worriedly at Beast Boy's still form. He had unconsciously morphed back into his human form and his chest was steadily moving up and down as his breathing relaxed into a state of blacked-out serenity.
Robin nodded in understanding, his expression somber. "Hang on, we're heading your way —"
"No," Raven stopped him. "We're coming back to the Tower. I'll teleport both Beast Boy and myself."
She snapped the communicator closed before Robin could argue with her and mentally prepared herself for the teleportation process. Suddenly, Beast Boy began to stir next to her. He was murmuring something. "What?" Raven asked impatiently. "What are you saying?"
Beast Boy groaned in response, but when he spoke again it was noticeably clearer. "I said I'm fine. Go after the X guy before we lose him."
Typical Beast Boy. "You're a little late in those instructions, Garfield. He's already gone. He practically vanished into thin air as a matter of fact," Raven told him quietly, still incredulous to everything that had happened in the last hour. The pangs of guilt were beginning to subside a little now that Beast Boy was awake and coherent, though. "Can you stand?" she wanted to know.
With gritted teeth, Beast Boy nodded. Even if he actually couldn't stand, Raven was sure he still would've said yes. "Yeah, I think so. It doesn't hurt as much as before."
Guilt crashed against Raven like the tide rushing back to the shore. Gingerly, she helped Beast Boy to his feet. When he was ready, she uttered her sacred mantra, and the two heroes were swallowed up into the ebony darkness of her power.
Thanks for reading! And once again, thanks for being so patient. You guys are the best.