Three Years

Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans or any real things I mention.

—••••••—

Key:

FBS— Flashback Sequence

CUR: Current Time

—••••••—

–CUR–

8/16/06 Wednesday

The grandfather clock chimed and notified the time of night. I paused in my steps and stared at the swaying pendulum inside the square container. It was already seven o'clock and I had already began to sweat. I continued to pace back and forth in my living room as I waited. My eyebrows slanted in a focused expression and it was then that I started to actually worry. I knitted my hand through my hair and scratched my scalp. I kept assuring myself that she will eventually come knocking at my door. That eventually, she will be here with me, talking to me, and sarcastically insulting me with small comebacks.

I loved those little witty attacks, even if they were meant to discourage me or put me down. I still enjoyed them, I still enjoyed her. The insults might have been all her, but she was still the most awesome person I ever came to know. She might have acted, looked, and spoke of dark things but she was more than that. I know that. I can see that. She was always alone and to herself but I knew she still wanted attention as much as me. I knew that she wanted friends. And now that I knew more about her, it was easy to tell that she wanted to feel happy, to experience given care, and to be someone's love interest. She was lovelorn and I, out of all other possible people, wanted to change that.

She only deserved such, considering the things she had to go through in her life. Her still young life. While only at the age of twenty-one, she had went through things not even some elders had heard of. She had the most difficult baggage I have ever seen in someone. It was only a matter of time before someone would show her something more than that. Someone to show her that there were better people, better feelings, better intentions that existed. Definitely not the type of style she grew up with. And I only wished and wished for that person to be me. And hopefully, only me.

I smiled, beginning to remember back to all the times she had talked to me about herself. When she would consult me with her past. Some were secrets, some were events, and some were confessions that she had carried with her through a decade or so. Maybe even more than that. All that I knew about her now was given to me through countless of times of me begging. I wanted to know more about her so I kept pestering her about it, resulting in her either giving in or beating me up, and then either telling me or keeping quiet. I liked it when she actually told me. Whenever she told me the truth about a moment in her childhood I would squint my eyes at her, a silent question if she was lying— she never did like being accused of lying out loud for some reason. Like the several times I caught her in the process of sharing something and she was not being truthful. She was only covering up the real thing just so I wouldn't get the chance to know her. I opposed that. And even though she knew that I could and would catch her, she still does it, hoping I would not detect the falsity. And to this day, after maybe three years or so, I still do not know the reason.

But what I do like about her is that everything that she is now has a reason. For instance, her appearance has a reason and cause behind it. Her way of speech has a tale to it, a little story from her childhood. Her personality was even altered, having a reason about why it's as cold and dusty and dark as it is. And most of those reasons were of her own will— tempted by yet another cause —or by an event or person influencing or altering her by force. There was never anything about her that was made or present by her own desire and want. So if she had lived a different life than she had, she would have turned out differently. I probably would not have fallen for her, I would probably not have to deal with her insults, and I would probably not even know her. So even though she hated her previous life, and I do too, I am also glad that she had such a hard twenty-one years. If not for that, then I probably would not be where I am today with her. And where am I? In love with her while being her friend.

Not that I'm complaining. She is the most beautiful person I have in my life. Beautiful on the inside and the outside. It was practically next to, damn near to impossible to not fall for her. Even if she was the total opposite, the totally darker shade of me, I still had these feelings. And the best part? I learn something from her every day. And sometimes, I learn something about myself along the way. She was the complete opposite, but made me realize my self by being just that. She was just that amazing.

I peered at the big grandfather clock once again and saw that it was fifteen minutes passed seven. I was shocked by that. So stunned that I paused in my pacing and sat down on the soft couch, eyes broad. Never, in the three years of knowing her, had she been late to any of our scheduled meetings or outings. She was always as punctual as a clock. What was wrong this time? Had something happened to delay her? Was she kidnapped, beaten in an alleyway, choked by men, or worse? Sidetracked by another man who was her lover? Did she even have a boyfriend? Were they rolling in her sheets right now? But that was not possible. She was not known to be submissive to anyone. And I think the title 'boyfriend' went under that category. She would never get distracted by something as petty as sexual desire. Right? I sure damn hope so.

"Raven. Where are you?"

I was expecting an answer. Like in those corny romance novels when the girl is mourning and then Fabio comes in on a horse, shirtless, and kisses her. Or when the timing is perfect: the girl is about to consider it over when the guy appears on her doorstep, resulting in a messy bed and torn clothes. But real life was not ever like that. People may accept other's offers of a relationship now and then, but there were never coincidences. That was another thing Raven taught me. I valued that lesson ever since I learned it. I listed it under the other things she has told me. I just never thought that it would apply to anything concerning her.

This time I wanted a coincidence. I wanted an occurrence that happens in a remarkable way, by chance. Right now. I wanted her to come walking through the door and kick it closed with her heel, like she always did. For her to collapse on her preferred armchair right by the door, hands smothered in her sweater's pockets, and slightly out of breath. I never knew why though. And then I would sit in my usual place on the carpet, leaning on the couch behind me, and turn the television on. She would watch with me for a small while before picking up a little black satchel and taking out a thick book. There would be a different book each week, the latest one thicker and older than the last. I would bring some snacks from the small kitchen, for her and me— a bag of Tostitos for me and a Lipton iced tea for her. She hardly ever asked for food, just her tea. Which was why I have a quarter of a shelf in my pantry labeled for cans of that stuff. I sometimes had some for myself, and then she would notice, just by looking into a container. Then I would just watch a show about celebrity gossiping, and her actually paying attention at times. She would snort at some absurd news, sarcastically reply to the host, and simply talk to herself. Saying, 'How seriously retarded some people were on this planet. Who even raised them? And why exactly did they have sex with a prostitute?'. I would only laugh and make jokes about some weird statements. But obviously I was not as funny as I thought I was. She had said so herself.

I exhaled happily, remembering once again what routine meant to me. Routine was hanging out with Raven in my small apartment, right after my shift at the comic book store and hers at the small book store next to mine, and spending the time we had until ten on the usual things. TV, books, snacks, and broken conversations. It has been that way for two years or so already. And it has not been different any other day, any other week, or in any other year. I intend to keep it that way for as long as whatever big force allows me to. Whether it be me or her or the neighbor next door that for some reason decides to bomb the place, it was going to stay the same way. That is, if I actually ask her out. Either way if she says yes or no the outcome would still affect our friendship. Hell, it would probably destroy me. I knew how she felt about emotions, let alone boyfriends. Even if I knew better than that, she still acted on her fake feelings. Like the time when I told her to smile and she took it as serious as to glare and not talk to me for at least four days, even if she so badly wanted to do so. She was just way too traumatized from her past life to do so. And I respected that, at times.

Then I began to remember something. A special little memory in the center of my mind where I intend it to be. It was superior in comparison to other clips of past events still in my head. For this one was the one when and where I met her. When I met Raven, the distinct jewel. And while I held other meetings with my other true friends in my head as well, my meeting with her was more than just bliss. Well … now it is. Before, while sitting through the memory for the first time, I was natural. I was calm and uncaring as to what should and could happen. I was just sitting by the counter, chin held by hand as I glanced over at every corner I could see from my position, visualizing only what I could not see. I was unaware, unconcerned, oblivious to any kind of girl right in front of my work building, right across the street. Not even one of my thoughts were on the female gender. My brain was as dead as road kill. I only first noticed her when she strolled by the large windows of the front entrance. She was calm, like me but without as much boredom, and stopped, jogging down to the book store with her hands in her pockets. I had not even noticed that book store before then and I've worked across it for three months almost. I had to walk right by it do the same thing she had done, only the opposite way, and different workplace.

I smiled to myself again. Those were good times. Almost as good as the times we had now. Only, we did not have each other back then. So this year was as good as ever, way more than before. I began to think about that day again. About how it went, what I felt, what she had said, what I had said, and what my boss had said. He had caught me several minutes after my lunch break had ended, outside the book store, peering through the windows trying to look for the girl I had seen and meeting her. Luckily I did not get fired. I would have missed out on a lot.

—••••••—

–FBS: One–

8/16/03 Saturday

I was peering into the building through the large windows, hoping that no one would see me. More importantly, I was hoping she would not be able to see me. My hands cupped around my eyes and pressed against the glass, trying to see without the light's reflections. But that still was not enough because not only was the sun an obstacle, but so were the bookcases right in front of the windows with books displayed. And to add to that, the check-out desk was nowhere near where I was standing. Meaning? I would not be able to see her.

I sighed.

This was going to be another mission impossible for me. The first one was trying to swallow my lunch whole without gagging and such so that when I'm done stalking, I won't complain about starvation afterwards. And the next was sneaking out from my workplace undetected— since it was preferred that employees eat inside the workplace, but not mandatory. With my coworkers being my usual lunch group, coming up with an excuse to leave was difficult since they practically had the psychic powers only existing in comic books. But I managed. Saying that I had to buy a few things from a store a few blocks away. That was the worst excuse ever, but they bought it. What dumb-asses. I could probably get away with murder if they were judges and juries. I think that was how court proceedings worked.

I backed away from the window and shoved my hands into my pockets, exhaled. It was going to be impossible for me to see her unless I go in personally, not in my mind. I sighed again and began my way to the double doors. What was I going to say? Was I even going to talk to her, or see her? Maybe if I just wander into the section she's in and just browse the books. And maybe she'd ask me if I needed help. Then, if it goes well, we'd have a nice conversation. That sounded nice. But what if she's at the cashier? Do I ask her for a library card? Wait, this was a book store! Not a library. This was going to be more complicated than I thought.

With a deep breath I pushed open the doors and entered, smelling the odor of paper and aging carpets. My nose unconsciously scrunched up and I tried to hold myself from running back and walking into a perfume shop. It smelled that bad in here. But I didn't expect anything else— it was my first time at a bookstore that didn't have any graphic books. And nothing in here was of my interest. There were probably books in here from the eighteenth century!

Wait, when was that again?

I shook my head from that thought. I then wandered further into the building and looked over some bookcases, book stacks, book tables, and books and more books. All that was around me was books. Back at the comic book store, there might have hung-up comics in baskets and comics in boxes and comics in stacks, but there were also action figures and collectables, role-playing costumes, and toys, and accessories, and household accessories, and even appliances. It was like a Rooms-to-Go, a Sears, and a Target all in one. But this place didn't have any of that. All there really was were books, books, books. Not even maybe some bookmarks on a cart, or some reading lights. Nothing but old, worn, dusty books.

I came to an isle and stopped, seeing something colorful. My eyes widened and I hurriedly chased after it, coming to a halt at a shelf. Right above my head, too far for me to reach by inches, was a journal— hopefully blank. But this journal was different. It had a certain design on it. It was of a superhero. One of my favorite superheroes that I've read and bought all the comic books about. I have maybe a gazillion posters of him. And there was just one thing amiss in my collection: a blank journal. And this was it. This was the most special day for me. I could tell already that I was led here on purpose just to find this.

I licked my lips, smiled, and reached for it. I groaned when I still couldn't reach while on my toes. I snarled and jumped, but almost fell forward and lost my balance. I glanced down and found a lower shelf right above my ankles. An idea formed in my head and I was filled with hope once again. I used to do it when I was little and couldn't reach something and I always turned out fine, but I was a man now, weighing three times as much than before, and I could break the wood. Or worse, someone could catch me. That had happened to me countless of times before and it had not been fun. Man or boy, I was still embarrassed at being caught.

But I needed it. And badly.

So I placed my foot on the edge of the shelf and applied pressure, hearing a small sound of creaking wood. Cold anxiety filled my chest and I lifted myself up, hearing a louder snapping sound. Oh no. Either this thing was going to break or I was going to get caught–

A throat cleared behind me. "Need help?"

My eyes were wider than before but almost popped out of my head when I heard the final snapping sound. The wood broke and I fell backwards, landing on my butt and hands. Ouch, that hurt.

I looked up and saw a blond girl right behind me. I blushed, feeling humiliated, and looked back down. "Uh–uh, not really."

The girl laughed. "Don't be silly, dude!" She pulled me up with a strong grip and I huffed. "I'm required to help. So … ya need help gettin' that book?"

I nodded, noticing how much taller she was, compared to me.

The girl easily snatched the journal and handed it to me. "Thanks."

She looked around before sighing. "Rachel! Clean up on isle whatever!"

I looked around. "Wait, you guys don't have isle numbers here?"

"Nope, we just follow the sound of our voices. So, I haven't seen ya around here before. New here, or do you just not like books?"

"Nah, I'm more into comic books. I work at the comic book store right across the street actually. I just saw someone come inside and wanted to know who they were."

"Ah, maybe that's Rachel. She's new to the business. Just arrived minutes ago." She looked behind me and smiled. "Oh there you are! I've been here for ages. Help this guy here won't ya? While you've eaten already, I'm starved."

The girl then turned to me and smiled again. "Hope to see ya soon, dude."

"Uh, it–it's Garfield," I said while holding the journal to my chest.

I turned to whoever the blond was talking to and felt my heart drop. It was her. The girl I had seen walk by the window. And she was a better site to see up front than from a distance. Her pale skin was of a beautiful tone, even if lighter than mine. Her hair was the same color I had seen through the window— a black with a purple tint to it —and in a boyish length. It wasn't up to her shoulder or neck, but rather up at chin length. A bob. Her eyes, although far for me to see clearly, were definitely covered with contacts. They had to be. No one had purple eyes. No one that was human or normal, that is. And she was taller than me by a few inches added. That was not something that bugged me because I knew I was going to grow out more. I was only eighteen.

I drifted my gaze from her indifferent eyes and blushed when she saw the mess I had made. The shelf was still broken, a kid's journal was hugged into my chest, and I was staring at a woman as if kept under a basement my whole life. I must've looked like a total loser to her. I know I did to myself. She shook her head in disapproval and walked toward the mess. With a frown on her face, she bent down and handled the situation my stupidity caused. She picked up the two ripped pieces of wood and slid them under her arm. I presented a shy smile. She only walked away into the employee room to deposit the garbage, then back to me.

"Come to the front and I'll check it out for you," she said.

"Okay," I mumbled.

I followed her to the front desk and placed the childish journal on the counter, her grabbing it and swiping it, then hearing the computer beep. Man, did that noise bug the hell out of me.

"That'll be five dollars, sir."

"Oh yeah, got it," I said, digging into my pocket, pulling out a five. "Oh, and it's Garfield. My name's, uh, Garfield."

She looked at me like she either wanted me dead or just didn't care for what I said. "I'm required to say that. I'm not exactly supposed to be that friendly with customers."

"Oh, heh-heh, I knew that. I work right across the street," I pointed to my job, "I get told the same thing. But I said that because … I wanted to, uh, be your friend."

"Friend? I'm just a stranger taking your money and putting it in a cash register, and you want to be my friend?"

"Yup," I said.

"Are you always that friendly or are you mentally handicapped?"

I almost frowned at her. That rude comment only made me think of her as a condescending person. Not only did she insult me, but she was questioning my 'being nice' act. What the hell was wrong with this women? I choose the wrong people to know and follow.

"Yes," I said confidently. "I happen to have many friends by being friendly to people. And I am not mentally handicapped, woman, but I happen to take that as an insult. That's very bad to say about mental people. They have feelings too, just many crazy ones."

"Are you done lecturing me?" She said, not caring for my words.

I almost growled. This woman was impossible to deal with. Even for me.

"Look," she said. "Just take your book and leave. I don't need to be talking to you."

"Actually, you do," I smiled. "It's the rules."

I put emphasis on the word 'rules' just to see if I could get under her skin. And it worked too. I could see a red fire in her eyes that told me that I was about to sign my death wish. I bet I was. This woman seemed like pure hell to be with, I can tell already. Who were her friends anyway? Did she even have any? How did they deal with her? Was she always like this? I wonder.

"So?"

"Tell me your name."

"My name? I'm not required to do that," she stated.

"But I want you to. The customer always get what they want, don't they? I can call that blond chick over here and tell her that you aren't telling me."

I didn't like that I was practically threatening her into giving me her name, but I couldn't help myself. I wanted to know.

"I can't believe this is happening," she muttered. "My … name is … Angela."

I grinned. Her eyes roamed the floors behind me and I didn't look back, keeping my eyes on her. I knew what she was doing. I've done it too many times. I'm practically an expert at it.

"You're lying."

"No I'm not."

"Yes ya are," I laughed.

She groaned, almost sounding like a growl of her own. "You're being an extremely annoying customer."

"Just tell me your name and I'm out of here."

"Ugh … my name is Rachel."

"You're lying again," I proclaimed easily.

She really was a bad liar.

"No I am not," she hissed.

"Okay then," I shrugged. "Bye. I'll see you later."

"You're coming back?"

"Don't sound so sad, I know you like my company."

"Sure."

"Say bye to that cutie that's on her lunch break. Seems cool."

I walked backwards towards the door and smiled at her one more time.

"Bye, Rachel."

She blushed and I headed out. When I got back behind the counter of my job, amazing enough, I got screamed at for being late to work. I knew I was going to be late when my lunch break was over. Thank goodness I ate before that.

I frowned and returned to my place on the counter. And then I smiled again.

"That is so not her name."

—••••••—

–CUR–

8/16/06 Wednesday

The smile never left my face as I recalled back to the first time I saw and talked to her. It was my first time inside a bookstore, first time noticing Raven, and first time getting screamed at for being late to work. It was a good day with a layer of bad. Or, a good day mixed with a little bad. Wait, wait … a good day sprinkled with bad pepper. Never mind. I never could get expressions right.

Then another memory filled my mind. It was of the day I first had a real conversation with her. We had talked, lightly insulted, and teased each other. Even though I did more of the talking and she did more teasing and insulting. That was the day I had my first hateful thought directed at someone. It was the first time that I disliked someone because of their personality. Usually I dislike someone because of their attitude towards me or something. Only if it's unfair, of course. But this time, out of all the people I have met and encountered, this girl, this individual, triggered a disgusting thought in me. Her personality made me dislike her, in a way.

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I disliked the way she said things. Maybe I disliked the way she kept insulting me and such. Or maybe I disliked the way she made herself into a hermit crab, like a recluse. I know I couldn't have hated her. She was funny, pretty, and smart. There were no flaws, to me. Sure she tried to hide her feelings, push people away, and insult people to make them hate her, but I know her more than that. I know who she truly is and what she truly wished to be. She wants to be the kind of person that doesn't have to care and stress as much as she does now. She says she doesn't want to be the girl in the shadows anymore, but the free girl. But she was tipsy that day so I don't know if she even knew what she was talking about, someone had spiked her drink that night.

And one time, at a very emotional time for the both of us, she had said that she wanted to be someone like me. I found that hard to believe since she practically despises me. She's said it a thousand times at least.

—••••••—

–FBS: Two–

8/18/03 Monday

"Hey, Rachel," I called to her.

I approached the back of the store, where I broke the shelf days ago, and saw her jump. She turned around and I could see her trying not to glare. And instead, she looked disgusted at my presence.

"Mister Garfield."

I raise a brow. "Mister? This isn't the 1800s, Rachel."

She raised an eyebrow this time. "1800s? People still say that today."

"Whatever," I waved it off. "So, need my help with anything? I have strong arms. But you've obviously noticed that already."

She rolled her eyes. "I don't need your help."

"Okay fine."

I noticed that she was dusting her hands off and looked around, as if making sure she was finished with whatever she was doing. Then, she looked at me, with those purple eyes that freaked me out for some reason, as if expecting me to say something.

"What?" I asked, getting uncomfortable.

"Aren't you going to leave already?"

"Ya have to ask?"

She sighed. "I'm going to lunch so you'll have to leave."

I smiled and grabbed my sandwich in a plastic bag and laughed at her exhausted look.

"I'm not supposed to have lunch with customers," she tried.

"I'm not a customer. I'm your friend that works across the street."

"Friend?"

"Yeah. Aren't we– hey! Where are ya goin'?"

Rachel slinked passed by me and was now heading out the bookstore entrance. I jogged after her and she walked faster.

"Hey! Why'd ya leave? I was talking to you."

"Which is exactly why I left."

"You're cold, girl," I hissed, joking with her.

"Finally noticed?"

I clicked my tongue. "So where are we going?"

"We? I'm going to Starbucks. As if I need to tell you that."

"Hmm. Starbucks is cool. I can get a caramel frappuccino there. Then Starbucks it is!"

When we got there, received our stuff, Rachel sat down at a one-seated table and looked up at me with a pretend-innocent face. I didn't even glare. I knew what she was trying to do. And getting away from me was not going to be possible today. Well, for at least thirty minutes. So I pulled up a chair to the other side of the table and smiled while taking out my sandwich. She needed to try harder if she wanted to get rid of me.

"So, Rachel, if that even is your name, what have you been up to?"

"I'd rather talk about the weather instead."

"Okay. It's a hundred percent chance you're not getting away from Hurricane Garfield today. So ya better start talking."

"Ugh. What do you want?"

"I wanna talk."

" … okay? What do you want to talk about?"

"How old are you?"

"Wow, getting straight to the personal things."

I chuckled. "Ah, yes. I will track you down and access your bank account just from knowing your age."

She growled almost. "I'm eighteen."

"Cool!" I said. "So am I!"

"Lovely," she said.

"So … what kind of things do you like? Activities, shows, stuff like that."

"I don't watch television. I read."

"That's it? Wow. Okay."

"I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't know what a real book is. Not that comic book garbage you read."

"It is not garbage!" I shouted.

"Fine. I really don't care."

I grunted and sat back down on the chair, sipping my drink.

"Got any friends?" I suddenly asked.

"No. I don't usually associate myself with people."

"Then do ya associate yourself with dust mites and lamps?" She glared and I smiled. "Sorry. What about that cute blond chick you work with. Aren't you friends with her?"

Her jaw tightened. "Tara? She's not my friend. I don't have any."

"Then I'm going to be your friend," I said.

"Isn't that my decision to make?"

"Well that wasn't going to happen any time soon anyway. Miss Antisocial."

She growled again and I began to get annoyed by that.

"Can you stop growling? You're not a bear," I snapped.

Suddenly, Rachel stood up from her chair, picked up her things and started walking away in the direction we had come from. I jumped up as well and scooped up my frappuccino and things, jogging up to her. I chuckled and tried to stay by her side without bumping into people on the sidewalk. She just kept looking forward, face blank and uncaring, it seemed.

"Okay," I breathed. "Okay, Rachel! I'm sorry! I won't say it again."

She stopped, and I realized that we had gone all the way back to her workplace, and mine. And I noticed that I was ten minutes late, again. She turned to me and I saw a new kind of hatred on her face. One that reflected off of me as well.

"Look, Garfield. I don't know why you're following me, but cut it out," she seethed silently on the empty sidewalk. "I just want to be able to work without having these visits of yours bothering me. I will tell you once, and once only, if you don't get away from me now I will issue a restraining order. Then we will see if you still want to see me."

Whoa. I didn't know she was capable of such threats. I wonder if she even meant it. I looked at her with surprise and stayed silent. When she nodded her goodbye and headed inside the bookstore, I felt a bubble of anger in me. I scowled and walked across the street and into the comic book store where I work. How dare she threaten me like that? I ought to put a restraining order on her for … for … wait, what's a restraining order? Doesn't it have something to do with keeping a stalker away from someone. I should have payed more attention in civics class.

I shook my head. She was bluffing, I said to myself. Tomorrow, let's see if she really means what she said.

—••••••—

'Story dedicated to 'Tsuki Neni'.'

Good day, readers! Ah yes, another story. A bit different from my other ones. Like the rating. I like it. Do you? I hope. And yes Raven's hair is not to her shoulders, but to her chin. As in, it's shorter. And this is Beast Boy's point of view now. My first time using 'first person' point of view. Any questions ask me. Well, that'll be all.