Ok guys! There will finally be some fluff in this chapter! I'm really happy to say that the worst has passed, and our 2 favorite heros are on their way to happiness :)
If you have a minute to leave a review it would be much appreciated, I love getting feedback!
The songs for this chapter are Riptide by Vance Joy, and Sweatpants by Childish Gambino
Raven was in the common room when she felt his presence. She practically ran to the doors and, as he entered, flung her arms around him in a crushing hug. She felt the air leave his lungs but she didn't let up. She didn't care how uncharacteristic it was of her, she needed him to know she wasn't giving up. She needed to know he wasn't, either.
"I'm so sorry," She whispered into his neck, not caring if she was making a damn fool of herself. "I'm so…. Please stay." She felt his arms wrap around her as he relaxed into the hug. She breathed in his scent, letting it flood her senses. He felt so right.
"I'm not going anywhere." He murmured as he buried his head in the crook of her shoulder. She felt his breath against her neck and felt his hands run down her back as if he couldn't pull her close enough.
There was a loud cough behind them, and the broke apart to see Richard standing a few feet from them, his arms crossed and his gaze harsh. Victor was standing a few feet behind Richard, looking tired and drained.
"Good of you to join us." He said. Changeling nodded, though he knew Nightwing was anything but grateful for his return.
"I, uh, needed some time." He explained, and Nightwing's eyes narrowed. He looked at Raven, and she winced under the force of his stare.
"What do you have to say for yourself?" He asked, not unlike a scolding parent. Raven frowned. She shouldn't have to explain herself.
"I'm sorry, but some things can't be helped." She replied, and Nightwing's expression went from pissed to livid as he took a step forward, his fists clenched in anger.
"Some things can't be helped? Starfire getting beaten into unconsciousness couldn't be helped? Us losing a fight to a group of criminals we would normally handle in an hour? Are you kidding?"
"Look, man, it's not-"
"Don't try to defend her. Starfire is in the infirmary unconscious because of her. We lost a fight because of her!"
Garfield paled at the realization that Starfire was hurt, but he stood his ground all the same; his instinct to protect Raven from Richard's fury greater than any other emotion he felt. "It wasn't her fault! I chose to leave, blame me!" Changeling's voice was low and dangerous as he almost snarled at Nightwing. Nightwing glared at him, his eyes almost calm, and that was so much worse than when he was angry. When he was angry, she knew what to expect. Calm Nightwing was unpredictable Nightwing. Calm Nightwing was terrifying.
"I expect this kind of thoughtlessness from you, Garfield." Richard paused, sizing them both up. "But not from you, Raven. You both have endangered this team. This behavior is nothing short of unacceptable." He said, "I expected so much more from the both of you." His statement was directed at the two of them, but his gaze was fixed on Raven. She felt herself begin to shake at the realization that he was so angry with her because she was the one he trusted the most. She should have known better. She stared down at her feet, trying to keep herself together. Of course that was why he was so upset. He trusted her, and she let him down in the worst way. He and Garfield didn't have the same kind of bond that they did. Just like Garfield and Victor were best friends, Richard had come to consider Raven his best friend. She clenched her eyes shut at the hurt she felt radiating from him.
"Things have just been difficult recently, we weren't trying to hurt anybody." Raven kept her voice as even as possible. "We never meant-"
"Tell that to Starfire when she wakes up." Nightwing said, and, losing his control, kicked a chair out of his way as he stormed from the room. The chair clattered to the floor, two of the legs splintering. Raven flinched at his outburst, but Changeling only clenched his fists at his sides.
"Guys..." Cyborg started, but Changeling cut him off.
"Save it." He said, and he too left the room.
Both Cyborg and Raven watched him leave. Raven felt utterly helpless.
"Please, just.. I don't need this from you too." Raven interrupted Cyborg wearily. She rubbed her hands over her cold arms, trying to subdue the cold that felt bone deep.
"I wasn't going to lecture you. Believe me, getting it from Richard is more than anyone needs." He plopped down on the couch and motioned her over, patting the spot next to him. She sat down, and laid her hands on her lap. "Some of the blood on Starfire wasn't all hers." He said, and Raven looked at him quizzically.
"So…?" She asked, unclear about what he was trying to say.
"So… so it came from you." He finished, meeting her eyes with a knowing look. She gulped and looked down. "I decided to run some standard tests and… well I don't need to say it, do I? You know what I found." He said, trying to be as direct as possible while simultaneously dancing around the subject. Raven nodded numbly.
"How did my blood get on Starfire?" She asked quietly. Cyborg shrugged.
"Must have been when you teleported her. You were kneeling right over her." He mused. "Doesn't really matter, though. What matters is what's happening with your… erhm, body." He finished awkwardly, and she felt herself blush, though her face remained stoic. "So that's what's been up with you and Gar?" He asked tentatively.
Raven sighed and nodded. "I guess there's no point in denying it now."
"How did it.. I mean, what even happened with you two?" He asked, his voice a mixture of genuine curiosity and confusion.
"I wish I could answer that, but sadly I have no idea." She stared out the floor to ceiling windows that lined the common room. "I'm part demon. My hormones should only be able to affect other demons, but for some reason it has affected Gar as well." She fidgeted with her hands nervously. "My best guess is it has to deal with how he's … um, basically an animal, for lack of a better term. Animals go through heat much the same way demons do… It stands to reason he would be triggered by it." As Raven spoke her face grew continuously redder. She had never spoken so openly about this before with anyone other than the monks of Azarath. And that was awkward enough.
Luckily, it seemed Cyborg was just as embarrassed about it as she was. "Well look, I'm not promising anything, ok, but I might be able to come up with a serum that could.. repress those, erhm, urges."
Raven's eyes widened in surprise. Could it be possible? A life without the threat of her demonic hormones putting everything she knew and loved in jeopardy? She tried to keep the hope from showing all over her face, but she couldn't help it. "You would try that? For me?" She murmured, almost in awe.
"Of course Rae, you know I'd do anything for you. Plus, after this whole mess I think it would be easier on everyone." Cyborg offered her an understanding smile. "There is one other thing, though." He said, his tone turning somber once more.
"Which is?" She asked.
"Gar… This is real for him. Look, he may not have ever shown it, but he's always had a thing for you. If this is just your hormones causing you to act this way with him, then it might be better for you to back off." Cyborg said, and Raven stared down at her hands. " I'm not saying you're doin' anything on purpose, but if this isn't real to you, you'll only hurt him."
"I know, Victor." She paused, picking at the skin by her thumb nail, contemplating how honest she wanted to be with him. She looked up at him, "The thing is, it is real for me. Now, at least."
Cyborg looked surprised, "I didn't.. I mean, I just never thought you were interested in him."
"I'm good at hiding my emotions, Vic." Raven quipped, a small smile on her face. Cyborg chuckled at her, a deep, lyrical, pleasant sound.
"That you are." He replied, and then stood up. "Well then, you might wanna go talk to him. Richard upset him pretty bad."
Raven nodded, and watched her metal friend exit the room.
Raven had intended to give him space. She really did, but as she passed his door on the way to her room, she realized she couldn't. She stepped up to his door, sensing his presence in the room.
"Garfield?" Raven said, leaning her forehead against his door. She felt his presence on the other side, though he remained quiet. "Please…" She whispered, though she wasn't sure exactly what she was asking for. Please open up? Please let me help? Please don't leave me again? She felt like crying, and she knew it was just the hormones pushing her over the edge. She normally was not this emotional. At least, not on the outside. She had mastered keeping everything to herself. But as of late all her careful planning and training had flown right out the window, leaving her with nothing but doubts and conflicting emotions that left her absolutely helpless.
"I'm sorry." She heard him whisper through the door, and felt him as he leaned his head against the door as well, almost in the same spot she had. Somehow, the feel of him next to her, separated only by the door, made her heart race. She couldn't deny their connection any longer. How she had lived with him for years and never noticed was astounding.
She frowned, "You have nothing to be sorry for. It's me who-"
The door slid open to reveal a weary looking Garfield. His hair was mussed as if he had been raking his hands through it, and he had dark circles under his eyes. Somehow, he still affected her, and she felt heat pool in her stomach.
"Don't say that. Just… just don't." He said, not moving, not reaching for her, only standing in front of her, emotions laid bare. "I can't handle it if you apologize for this. This isn't your fault, I know that now. This is a product of shit luck, and somehow…" He paused, and she could tell he was debating something. "Somehow it's everything I want."
She felt her breath catch in her throat as she watched his face, his eyes so honest. She couldn't take it any longer, she stepped forward and wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing him down for a kiss. This kiss, though, was nothing like the rest. Their other kisses had been hungry, frenzied, a product of uncontrollable lust. This kiss was hesitant, soft, and made her knees weak. As if he sensed her unsteadiness, he lifted her around the waist and she wrapped her legs around him. He carried her over to the bed and gently laid her down. He settled over her, brushing stray hairs from her face. She lost herself in his gaze, realizing that no one had ever looked at her like that before. She hesitantly reached a hand up to run across his cheek, and was almost surprised by how warm he was.
"Raven…" He murmured, his hands coming up to cradle her head. He lowered his face until his forehead was against hers, the weight a pleasant feeling.
They stayed like that, just holding each other, for how long Raven didn't know. All she knew was that she finally felt alright. She finally felt whole, here with him, in his arms, in his bed.
For the first time since the week began, everything felt right.
Raven felt the sun on her face, and she smiled , rolling towards it. That is, until she hit something warm and solid. Her eyes shot open and she gasped at what she saw. Garfield. In bed. Shirtless. She sat up fast, pushing her hair out of her face and taking calming deep breaths. The sight of him laid out, his head resting comfortably on his arm, his chest rising and falling, made heat rush to her cheeks. The covers had pushed dangerously low around his hips, and she noticed he was only in boxers. When had that happened? She wondered, trying to recall details from last night. She had fallen asleep in his arms, nestled against his chest. She looked down at herself, and realized she was only in her tank top and shorts from yesterday. She let out the tiniest squeak at the situation, and glanced around the room for her sweatshirt.
"Morning." Raven whipped her head around to see Garfield looking at her, a small smile on his face.
"Morning," She said hesitantly. "I should.. I should probably go check on Starfire. I feel up to healing her more today." She pushed the covers back and began to stand up, but he caught her wrist gently, halting her.
"Wait," He whispered, and pulled her until she was back in bed, flush against him. "This is the first time we've woken up together. I want to remember this." He said, and he kissed her temple. She looked into his deep green eyes, and the love she felt terrified her.
'No more running' She thought, and she leaned forward to press a kiss of her own to his cheek.
"We should do this more often." He said, and his hand drew lazy circles on her back. "I could really get used to waking up in the middle of the night with you by my side. Being able to roll over and hold you against me." He paused, "I want this, Rae." He murmured, "I want you."
She opened her mouth to respond, just as there was a knock on the door. Her mouth snapped shut, and Garfield groaned, sitting up. He got up and walked to the door, not bothering to put a shirt or pants on. Raven barely had time to scramble out of bed before the door slid open. Richard stood in the doorway, his face only barely veiling his surprise at finding the two of them together, in somewhat indecent attire. He glanced from Changeling's bare torso to Raven's short shorts, and cocked an eyebrow. Raven felt her face flush, but Changeling showed no signs of embarrassment. On the contrary, he stood with arms crossed, completely at ease.
"Well, I had come to tell you that Starfire's condition has improved greatly, and she will definitely make it." He paused, "Now I know why you didn't answer your door, Raven." His tone was almost accusatory, and she didn't like the insinuation that she and Garfield had been doing… things. "So, is this what's been happening between the two of you?"
Raven stared at him, unwilling to accept his bait. Garfield, on the other hand, had no problem doing just that. He chuckled, and shook his head slightly. "And how is it any of your business?" He quipped, his lazy smile gracing his handsome features. Raven tensed in preparation for Richard's anger. She glanced at his face; his lips had formed a hard line, and he narrowed his eyes.
"I think it is one hundred percent my business, since your… nightly affairs are interfering with our day job." Richard said and he stared right at Raven. Raven flushed even more, and felt her hands shake in anger despite herself. Godess, if only she could get her emotions under control!
"Screw you, Dick." She bit out, shocking both of her male companions. Garfield's head whipped around to stare at her. She was clutching the hem of her tank top in her hands to keep them from shaking. Richard simply stared at her, his gaze never wavering.
"Honestly Raven, I used to think I knew you the best, but I don't know this person. I don't know this person who puts her friends in danger for… for sex."
Both Garfield and Raven spoke at the same time, both equally outraged. Richard held up his hand, halting them.
"The details are not important. I don't care if you're freaking dry-humping, you've put this team in danger and it ends. Now."
Raven and Garfield both stared at him in silence for a moment.
"What.. are you saying?" Garfield asked slowly.
"I'm saying that either this relationship, or whatever the hell it is, ends now, or your probation will be permanent." Richard turned on his heel and stalked back down the hall towards the infirmary. Garfield slowly turned so he was facing Raven as the door slid closed. His face was red from anger, and he clenched and un-clenched his fists.
"I don't.. I can't.." He stopped, closing his eyes in an attempt to calm himself.
It was hard to believe that not moments ago they had been intwined together in bed, at peace. It felt like she had just gotten him back, like she had finally accepted everything she had been running from. And now it was all going to be taken away? No. She wouldn't let it.
Raven turned towards the large double windows and stared off into the bay. Her face, she was sure, was nothing short of despondent. She felt Garfield behind her, wrapping his arms lightly around her waist, pulling her flush against him. This softness was new territory for them. So far, their actions had been ruled by lust and hormones. But Garfield was being gentle, and kind, and she felt at home in his arms. His breath tickled her ear when he spoke.
"You don't need to worry. Star is strong, she's gonna be fine. Richard will come around, he's just scared for her. I would be too if it were you lying in the infirmary now. I'd want to kill anyone who hurt you." He paused, his breath steady against her sensitive neck. "I'm going to take care of you. I'm not going anywhere."
She turned her head to look up at him. His face was earnest and for the first time in her life she actually felt the desire to let another person take care of her.
"Just tell me what I can do to help." He murmured against her hair, where he placed a kiss.
"I… I would like a bath." She said quietly, and she felt him still behind her. She tensed, waiting for his response. Would he refuse? Was it too intimate a request? Was it too much, too fast?
"Your tub or mine?" Was all he said, and she let out a breath she hadn't realized she was holding.
"Yours." She replied, and then teleported them there.
If Raven had been searching for a defining moment, this was it.
Somehow, both of them had fit into his tub. She was sitting with her back to his chest, nestled between his legs. His arms were wrapped around her loosely, and as she watched him lather the wash cloth and press it to her shoulder, she felt an unbelievable peace overcome her. Her eyes fluttered shut in appreciation, and she let out a soft moan. She felt like she was content for the first time in her life. She leaned in to his touch, and he proceeded to wash her back in soft circular motions with one hand. The other hand came up to thread through her hair, and he lightly massaged her scalp. She let out a hum of appreciation. There was nothing sexual about their actions. He was merely doing what he had said he was going to: he was taking care of her.
"Rae?" His voice came quietly, tentatively.
"Hm?" She replied, eyes still shut in reverie.
"I want to say it." He murmured, pressing a light kiss to her temple. Her eyes opened slowly, and she turned her head slightly to look at him. She knew exactly what he meant.
"You don't have to. I already know." She said, bringing a wet hand up to lightly touch his jaw. The tips of her fingers ran over his stubble, and she wondered if anything had ever felt so comforting as touching him.
"I know you know. But I want to say it out loud." He replied, pulling the wash cloth away and cupping his hands in the water. He brought the water up and rinsed her back. She kept her eyes on him while he did so. "You don't have to say it back. Hell, you don't have to say anything. But I want- no, I need- to say it out loud." He paused, and, turning her to face him, cupped her face in his strong hands. "And I want to see your face when I do." His voice was so soft that if it weren't for their close proximity, she wouldn't have heard him. She felt her breath catch in her throat as her emotions threatened to overwhelm her.
"Say it then." She whispered.
He leaned forward and pressed a kiss to her forehead. Pulling back just enough to see her face, he murmured, "I love you."
Her eyes shut at his admonition, and she felt a genuine smile on her lips. He kissed one of her eyelids, and then moved to her cheek, murmuring her name and repeating those 3 words. "I love you, I love you, I love you.." He whispered like a mantra, showering her face and neck with warm soft kisses that left her nearly breathless. He finally pulled back, his hands still cupping her face, and looked her straight in the eyes.
"I love you, Raven."
She felt her heart beat out of her chest, her breathing unsteady as she searched his face. At the beginning of the week she had been so sure of herself. She had thought she knew what she wanted. But everything had changed the minute she caught him out of the air. Everything had changed for her, and she never wanted to go back. Before she could even really register what she was saying, she whispered back, "I love you too." And just like that, she knew her life would never be the same. Just like that, everything changed. Every fear that had been holding her back, every regret, every doubt she had was squashed by the look in his eyes. She wasn't sure of much in her life. So many things were uncertain. But now, looking at him, she knew one thing for sure. He was in love with her, and he wasn't going anywhere.
And, she knew, she wasn't either.