Hey guys! Here's the next chapter, and you didn't have to wait months for it! The songs for this chapter are Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve, and Black Beauty by Lana Del Rey.
Thanks for the continued support, reviews are always appreciated.
Raven walked through the tower doors, exhausted and wanting to forget the past few hours. She trudged up to the kitchen, intent on getting some tea. She walked into the kitchen, having to practically drag her tired body the whole way.
"So, are you ready to tell me what the hell is going on between you and Garfield?" Nightwing was sitting at the table, waiting for her return. She stared at him, wary. The last thing she need was the 3rd degree from the boy wonder.
"Excuse me?" she asked, though she knew very well what he wanted to know.
"What did you do to him?" He asked, and Raven felt her cheeks heat, but stayed silent. Nightwing stared at her for a moment before continuing, "All I know is you two came back and he was practically incoherent. He's locked himself in his room, and he won't talk to anyone." Nightwing said, and he stood and crossed his arms.
"It's really, really none of your business Richard. Let it go." She bit out, and turned to leave. He caught her arm, and she looked at him, glaring daggers.
"I want to trust you, Rae, but lately you've been so secretive. You won't come out of your room and I know something's going on with you two. I'm not blind. And if you won't tell me what's happening then I have to assume the worst."
"Don't patronize me, Richard. You might be our leader but you are not in charge of my personal life." She said, yanking her arm from his grasp.
"It's my job to keep you safe!" He exclaimed, frustrated, and her heart softened. She knew he worried about her more than he should. Or maybe just the right amount, and she just didn't want to admit she needed it.
She stared at him quietly for a moment, assessing him.
"I know. I just.. I need you to trust me to take care of this myself. This is one thing you just can't help me with. And look," she replied, "If it ever happens that this endangers the team in any way, you know you'll be the first person I come to. But as of now," her tone turned serious as she stared him down, "you need to back off."
"Promise me?" He asked, his body tense under the weight of their conversation.
"Yeah. You know I do." She sighed, and reached her hand out to touch his arm lightly. "Richard, I'm not trying to keep secrets from you. But this is mine to deal with." Her eyes searched his face, hoping he'd understand.
"No offense, but the last time you said that the world almost ended." He said, and there was a hint of a smile on his lips. She rolled her eyes.
"Yeah well I've gotten better about things like that." She said, "Trust me, this isn't apocalyptic."
"Ok Rae. Yeah." He replied, and gave her a small smile. "But, leader duties aside, you know you can always talk to me, right?"
"I know. I really do. and trust me, if this was about anything else I would. But I can't." She replied, and turned to go.
"Just as long as you know." She heard him say quietly as she left.
She decided to forgo her tea in exchange for much needed sleep. As she walked down the hall she felt exhausted. Richard knew her so well, of course he would know something was going on between her and Garfield. She closed her eyes and rubbed her temples as she walked to her room.
Suddenly, she ran into something hard and metal, and her eyes popped open.
"Maybe you should look where you're going, Rae." Cyborg chuckled, steadying her as she wobbled from impact.
"Sorry, It's been one of those days." She muttered, and Cyborg frowned.
"This wouldn't have anything to do with how green bean was buggin' earlier, would it?" He asked, crossing his arms. Raven sighed. Had everyone noticed how upset he was?
"Look, everything's fine, we just had a..." She searched for a word that would explain the mess that had happened earlier, " an argument." Raven replied, her voice even, though she was feeling anything but calm.
"You guys have gotten into plenty of fights before. This time was different." Cyborg replied skeptically.
"What? Are you here to make me feel bad about it too?" She snapped, and then seeing the look of confusion on his face, felt bad.
"Whoah there, I was just trying to make sure ya'll were ok." He replied cautiously, clearly not wanting to piss her off any further. "So... are you? Ok, I mean."
She sighed, and nodded. "I'm sorry. Like I said, one of those days."
"Is he ok?" Cyborg asked. Raven would have given anything to have been able to say yes.
"I don''t know what you want me to say." She deadpanned, opting to avoid the question.
"I'm not trying to get up in your business, but you know I gotta worry about you two. There have been times I thought you would kill each other."
'That is so not the problem,' Raven mused to herself, and the memory of discarded clothes and his hips grinding against hers flashed unbidden through her mind. She felt a shiver go through her.
"I just wanna make sure you both are alright." He said, his expression was concerned and caring. She nodded, and tried to ignore the knot in her gut as she thought about Changeling's words. He was far from alright, and she knew it. And, she knew it was all her fault.
"I'll be fine." She paused, "We'll be fine." she amended, and then pushed past him on her way to her room.
Once inside her room she dropped her cloak on the floor and stepped out of her suit. Shivering in the air conditioning, she grabbed some sweats from her dresser and quickly pulled them on. She ran a brush through her hair, which had gotten knotted from the fight, and pulled it back into a ponytail. She could only put about half of her hair up because of how short it was, but it was enough to get it out of her face. She looked at her reflection, staring at her large violet eyes, her silky lavender hair, her button nose and full lips. She knew she wasn't close to Starfire where beauty was concerned, but maybe she was pretty. She certainly wasn't ugly, at least. But no one had really showed interest in her before Garfield. There were a few here and there, but none that made a constant effort, and none that she could really see herself with, anyways. Maybe that was what was so hard about all of this: she could really see herself with him.
She sighed and turned away from her mirror, shutting the part of herself that cared what other people saw when they looked at her away.
She laid back on her bed and closed her eyes and envisioned dinner dates and late night movies and taking naps together and dancing (because he was the only one she ever wanted to dance with, anyways), and all the things she didn't want to admit to herself that she actually wanted. She ran her fingertips over her smooth cheek and contemplated what it would feel like if it were his hands. 'You can't hide forever,' She mused to herself, 'Eventually, you're going to have to tell him how you feel.'
Suddenly the weight of the day hit her and she was exhausted. She drifted off to sleep, still thinking about what a life with him would be like.
Raven woke up disorientated. It took a few minutes of blinking in the dark for the events of the previous day to flood her mind. The reminder of her actions still made her feel like crying, but there was no way she'd let herself do that. Instead, she picked herself out of bed and checked the time. It was 7 a.m., and she had slept for 10 whole hours. Somehow, she was still tired.
She checked her face in the mirror, sighing at her ruffled bed head. Once she had run a brush through her hair, she decided to grab some tea. She was making her way towards the kitchen when she stopped, sighing. She felt Changeling moving around his room down the hall. He was up pretty early for him, and she knew she should go talk to him.
She mustered all the courage she could, and knocked on his door. There was silence, so she tried again. Finally, frustrated, she slid the door open and peeked inside. Changeling was zipping up a backpack, his back turned to her.
"If I wanted you in here I would have opened the door." His voice was cold as he spoke and she winced at his unfriendly tone.
"I needed to make sure you were ok." She replied, her voice small.
"Well guess what, Rae," He said, turning to her, "I'm not. I just watched the woman I-" He stopped short, closing his mouth for a moment. Her eyes widened as she tried to finish the sentence for him in her head. 'Love? Like? Care for?' Her mind went through the possibilities.
"You kissed someone else in front of me. Of course I'm not ok." He finished. "Just.. just tell me. Did you want that to happen?" He had crossed his arms, and his fingers were digging into his biceps, leaving little red marks.
"I already told you I didn't." She replied cautiously, not wanting to start an argument.
"Then why did you do it?" He asked, clearly not believing her.
"It's not as simple as that." Her frustration spilled out and she couldn't hide it in her voice.
"Make it simple." He said, equally frustrated.
"I-" She bit back her groan of frustration, "I can't. You don't understand what this is like for me."
"Then tell me." His gaze was unwavering and it unnerved her.
"I know you feel it when you're around me, that aching urge to jump into bed with me." She flushed from her own words, but pressed on, needing to say what she had to say, "Can you honestly tell me that it doesn't overpower you sometimes?"
He stared at her, and she felt his eyes travel down her body. She swallowed, hard, but kept her eyes on his face.
"You've made it abundantly clear that you won't let anything happen between us, so no, It doesn't overpower me." He said, his tone cold.
"Maybe I'm not that strong." She whispered, meaning to sound firmer than she did, but her voice cracked and she looked away. She could feel him watching her, and it made her want to run to her room and pretend none of this was happening.
"That's bullshit, Raven." He said. His tone had softened, though his words were harsh. "You're one of the strongest people I know. The last thing you are is weak."
"I wish I could believe that. Really, I do." She paused, "But, I don't."
"Well I can't convince you otherwise if you won't let me near you." He replied, and grabbed his backpack. Her eyes zeroed in on the bag, as if realizing it's existence for the first time.
"Are you going somewhere?" She asked, trying to keep the hurt from her voice.
"I need some space." He bit out.
"For how long?" She gulped, suddenly worried, and feeling more guilty than ever.
"I don't know." He paused, seeing the barely veiled look of panic in her eyes, "For a night, maybe." He sighed, and walked to the door, so he was right in front of her. "Don't worry about me, I won't do anything stupid. I just can't be here right now." He said, and then he leaned down and placed a small kiss to the side of her temple. Her eyes stung with tears she knew would never fall, but her eyes ached all the same. She looked up to his face, and saw the hurt in his eyes clear as day. He straightened his shoulders and then pushed past her, walking out the door. She leaned back against the wall, closing her eyes for a moment.
How did things get so messed up?
When Nightwing walked into the kitchen an hour later, Raven was sitting on the floor next to the fridge, cradling a mug of tea. She didn't look up when he entered, just raised her cup to him in her only acknowledgment of his presence. He stopped in his path to the fridge and watched her for a moment.
"So, You still won't talk to me?" He asked, and her eyes flicked up to meet his. His expression was worried, and a little hurt.
She frowned, "I wish I could." She paused, "Gar left this morning."
"What?" Nightwing replied, his tone tense. "I thought you said you would handle this?"
"And I will." She deadpanned, feeling her skin flush.
"This isn't handling it, Raven. This is the opposite of handling it." His face was getting red from the anger. "Why did he leave? What did you do?" he asked, his tone accusing.
"I'm doing the best I can!" She exclaimed, trying to ignore how fast her heart was beating. This was not a conversation she wanted to have right now. Or ever, really.
"Then let someone help you!" He exclaimed back at her.
"Just leave me alone. I don't need this." She stood to go, and tried to push past him, but he grabbed her arm, sending tea splashing over the side of her mug. The spill went unnoticed by both of them.
"You told me you'd tell me if this endangered the team! You promised." He said, his voice low with anger.
"And I'm telling you now. We'll be fine without him. He's only going to be gone for a night." She replied, trying to keep her voice as emotionless as ever, but was finding it more than difficult, and she could still hear the anger spilling through.
"How can I trust you when you won't tell me what's going on, and when a member of our team leaves because of you." His grip on her arm tightened slightly, and she felt nauseous suddenly. Everything was too messed up.
"It's not as simple as you're making it!" She said, and her voice shook.
"Well it's probably not as difficult as you're making it." He replied, his tone heavy with sarcasm. She flinched and tried to pull away from him, but he held on.
"You don't know what's going on, so don't presume to-"
"I don't know because you won't tell me! You're keeping secrets and it is getting dangerous." He interrupted her.
"Just, Raven, you better hope for your sake that we don't need him in the next 24 hours. Because if anything happens, I'm holding you responsible." He released his arm, and turned on his heel, leaving her in his wake.
She felt her arm sag, and the remaining tea spilled from her mug. She glanced down at the wet floor, and frowned.
This was not how she had anticipated this day would go.