Three Years 2

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

Then I thought of all the little things about Raven. It was the smallest of details that makes me think about her for a whole hour or more. Physical appearance details, personality details, her preferences, and the little actions she does. Like how there are small indents on the top-sides of her ears, something that was there from the days in her childhood. The cuts on her ears were now smooth, me having touched them a couple of times. I first noticed these unusual features when I was rubbing my thumb on her ears. They're so soft.

Another thing she would do was a little action that made me smile and tease her each time she did it. Whenever we bought, found, or received candy, she would take all the blues and eat them, giving the others to me. And if there weren't any blues, she would take the reds. If any time I had a quarter or two, I'd stop by a gumball machine and keep putting in quarters until I got a blue, or until I ran out of quarters. Or when I'd have Tropical Skittles she would take the bag from me and dump it in a bowl, distributing the candies by color. She'd have the blues and reds and I'd have the rest. When I asked why she did that she'd say that no matter what candy she ate, every blue or red-colored piece tasted the best. I disagree every time. The greens taste the best.

I looked at the grandfather clock and noted the time. Thirty minutes after seven. She was taking a long time. My anxiety started to dwindle as I realized that she wasn't coming at all. I tried to dismiss my sorrow by thinking about Raven and who she was more.

One personality detail that I notice about her is her defensive ways. The way she has a giant attitude inside that petite body of hers. It's endearing and aggravating at the same time. I tried asking her why she acted in such a way at times, but most of the time she ignored me. At the few times, she responded with a rejection. But just recently, I've actually gotten an answer to my constant question. She said that it is something she picked up from her childhood. She said that when she was small, no one would take her seriously and would tease her about her height. So she defended herself by being blunt and … rude, if that's the right word. I replied saying that it didn't make sense, and for the first time ever, she didn't reply with a sarcastic insult. She said that she was an insensible child that would do anything to be heard and it just stuck to her ever since. That was the first time she gave a reasonable answer without saying it was personal.

—••••••—

–FBS: Three–

8/19/03 Tuesday

I glare at the window as she walks, as she mumbles things to herself, as she stocks books in the order of the Dewey Decimal system, as she catches my gaze and rolls her eyes, and as she tries to avoid her blonde colleague. I softened my gaze when she wasn't in my sight or when the cute girl would see me and wave with a smile. I knew the blonde questioned why I wouldn't go in, I just couldn't tell her that I was threatened with a restraining order through the glass. That and I couldn't tell her in person because, again, I was threatened with a restraining order. So I was limited to glaring, waving, and smiling.

"This is ridiculous. I can just walk right in. She didn't mean what she said yesterday. You can't put a restraining order on someone who didn't do anything wrong. Right?"

I was talking to myself again. I've been doing it for the first five minutes of my lunch break. Questioning, conversing, and thinking to myself. So, deciding I wasn't going to just stand there like a creeper and drive myself crazy, I breathed in and opened one of the doors. I jumped when I heard a bell, and thought to myself that the bell was a new addition. Rachel must have put it there to know when someone came in, to know if I ever came in her precious store.

I snorted.

"Real professional, Rachel."

"Hey, G!" A voice shouted.

I jumped again and faced the blonde girl. Tara was it?

"Oh," I blushed. "Hey … Tara?"

"Yup, that's mah name," she smiled. "So what'cha doin' behind the window looking like a creepy molester?"

I blushed even more. "I'm not a molester! I actually can't be in here right now. Or ever," I chuckled.

"Why? Boss said he doesn't like you visiting the competition?"

"No, but have you seen Rachel?" I asked, trying to find her by looking around. "I just saw her in here."

"Ah," she grinned. "So that's why you're by the window all the time. You like 'er!"

"What?!" I shrieked. "No!"

"'Ey, why not? It's a good thing. Someone needs to like her around here," she mumbled.

"It's not that, I just don't really know 'er that much, ya know? So I don't like her."

"Uh-huh. Well ya just missed 'er. You an' her must not like each other 'cause she just sneaked out through the back door for her lunch break. Now I know why. She must've knew you were coming."

I sighed and hunched my shoulders, aggravated with Rachel without even talking to her.

"Ugh! Do ya know where I can find her?" I asked.

Tara nodded. "I think she usually goes to the Starbucks across the street. You're not the only one who wants to get on her good side."

I smiled once again at her. "Thanks, Tara! I owe ya one!"

She grinned as I backed out. "You can put in a good word for me! That'll make us even."

I gave her a thumbs up and ran off.

As I passed a few small stores and such as I ran, I began to see the Starbucks. Then as I got closer, I began to realize how empty the small business was. From the inside and out all I saw were empty cups on empty tables with scrunched up napkins. There was no sign indicating that it was closed so that was a bit peculiar. So when I came behind another window once again, I looked in and saw Rachel sitting on a one-sided booth with a leg over the other. A cup of tea was in her hand and she had a small smile on her face. It was my first time seeing her happy.

Then I soon noticed another figure, sweeping the floors with a broom or something. And judging by the figure's body and hair, it was a male. A guy with pale skin and light hair. A guy with a flat chest. A guy that was pretty tall. A guy with the capability to make Rachel smile! A guy that seems to be friends with Rachel! Out of all the people to be friends with, this guy picked her! How in the world was that possible?!

Rachel's head tipped back as she smiled even wider by just a bit, as if silently laughing. He must have said something pretty funny for her to laugh like that. And when she scanned the windows, our eyes met, and I suddenly felt cold. Her stare narrowed down to me and I felt myself ice up. What was she going to do?

My question was answered as she turned back to her friend, rather abruptly. He must've called her attention. She then nodded and put her cup on the table, standing up and walking over to the door next to me. I cursed repeatedly as I understood the definition of true fear.

Rachel was suddenly next to me, face unimpressed with a hint of anger. I smiled shyly and faced her, waving at her.

"Why are you following me?" She asked.

"I'm not following you," I defended.

"This is the second time I see you standing outside a window. And don't tell me it's a coincidence."

I remained silent.

"I was serious on that restraining order business. Either leave me alone or a lawyer will get involved."

I smiled again, but with sly. "As if. You couldn't get rid of me even if I was six feet tall."

She glared. "Can't you just leave me alone?"

I looked inside the Starbucks and studied the guy inside again. "So who is he? A boyfriend?"

"What? No. That's none of your business anyway. Just leave."

"Hell no! And miss out on meeting the only person that can be allowed to associate with you? As if. I wanna meet him."

Her eyes widened. "Not a chance. You'll dumb him down with your idiocy."

"Aw, come on! I just want a coffee," I smiled.

She groaned and I walked into the small building, feeling the cold grab me by the arms. I looked at the guy and got a good look at him. He was a tall, skinny, light-haired guy with really cool eyes. I wonder if they're contacts or not. I wonder if he even is human. No person could have enough patience to deal with Rachel as a friend. I can't even deal with her as a stranger. But maybe she's a different person once someone gets to know her. I wonder if this guy knows how she really is. I wonder how she really is. I wonder if I'll ever get to meet the real her. So many mysteries.

The guy looked at Rachel first before at me, faking a smile and walking to the counter. Rachel sat back down on the one-sided booth and resumed drinking her drink. After ordering and going through that whole process, I sat down in a chair in front of the peeved woman that hated me so. I stared at her blankly and she stared back, silently trying to make me uncomfortable enough to leave, no doubt. But I wasn't going to back down easily. So I put down my drink and crossed my arms.

"So how long does your lunch break last?" I asked, voice dead.

She didn't answer, only sipping a clear substance. Must be tea.

"You usually come here for lunch?"

Again, no answer.

"Do you have more friends?"

No answer. She must really be focused on getting rid of me.

"Go to school?"

No friggin' answer, once again.

"Can you answer me?!"

I was beyond angry and she raised an eyebrow at me.

"Anger issues," she mumbled, as if studying me and noting things down.

"I don't have anger issues! I'm just getting frustrated with you. I want to get to know you, be your friend, and you're not even making an effort to let me in! It's like you don't want to be friends with me!"

"That's because I don't want to. I thought you picked that up already," she said.

"I didn't because I don't want to leave you alone. I want to be your friend, Rachel! Why can't I just be that?"

I now sounded desperate and exasperated, my true feelings at the moment.

She didn't answer right away. "I don't trust you. Not enough to allow you to be a friend."

"Then what can I do to earn you trust?" I asked.

"How am I supposed to know? You just have to earn it without trying. If that's possible."

"What do you mean 'if it's possible'?"

"I know what type of person you are. I don't have the time to be acquainted with people like you."

"That is so judgmental! You don't even know me! You don't even know my last name, or eye color. How do you expect to know my personality?"

She was quiet and I knew I had gotten something through to her.

"You're right, that is judgmental. But I don't want to be with someone as clingy and annoying as you."

"What?!" I exclaimed in ridicule. "You don't even know me! I'm not clingy!"

"You've been stalking me since Saturday."

"Not true. I'm just interested in you. I want to know you. I know it sounds weird but it's true."

"I've noticed that."

"Then give me a chance! Please?" I asked.

She sighed, staring at me with tired eyes. " … fine. But if I don't like you, you leave me alone."

"And how will I know that?"

"Trust me, I'd tell you," she said.

"Okay," I smiled. "Thanks, you won't regret it. I'm awesome."

"Yeah, sure."

Rachel looked away to the window and waved me off. I caught her hand, surprising her, and shook it firmly, and left before she could respond. While walking away from Starbucks, I saw the pale guy smile at her and she smile back. I scoffed and continued walking. I checked my watch and realized that I was going to be early getting back to work. I smiled. Today was going to be my day.

—••••••—

–CUR–

8/16/06 Wednesday

That happy smile never came off that day. So many good things went down that I found it impossible to resist the urge to smile. All I thought about was how smooth it was probably going to be with Raven after that. I thought that she was going to be nicer after that moment. I was so jittery and had so many high hopes for the next day, to see her. I was happy because I was going to have a new friend. I was going to have a friend that I was going to see every weekday, not one too busy and too far.

That was not what happened, though. It went on completely different. Raven was a bit more willing to talk to me, she made less threats, she didn't tell me to go away as much, and she was very strict on what I was to know about her. I was expecting her to be more friendly and more open, but all I got was the same person, just without restraining order threats. But I wasn't as disappointed as I was supposed to be. I still got to know her a bit more than I could've before she decided to give me a chance. She told me that she didn't go to school, that she had been home schooled all her life and she knew all that she needed to know about things. I can back that up, she is a very intelligent person indeed.

What I also learned that day was that she didn't like talking about her life before turning eighteen, before being a legal adult. Every time I asked, she would shake her head and say she wasn't ready to discuss it with me yet, I was too unfamiliar with her. I think she wasn't ready herself to go through the memories again. But all she described about her childhood was that it was traumatizing and full of hostility. I took her word for it then, able to tell that she had quite the baggage from her eyes and personality.

—••••••—

–FBS: Four–

8/20/03 Wednesday

"So what is so bad about your childhood that made you traumatized?" I asked again.

Rachel sipped her drink and glanced at the people passing by. "It's what happened during those eighteen years that are painful."

"Can you tell me which memories those are?"

"No," was the answer once again.

I groaned and stared up at the sky. "Why are you being so frustrating? I just want to know you, I thought that was the deal."

"I consider my past life very personal. That's all there is to it."

"Then do you want to know anything about me? I'm an open book … on some topics. More than you, that's for sure."

"Not really. Not unless you really want to tell me," she said calmly.

"Well, I don't go to school, much like you, I've been home schooled since I was little by my … parents. I just don't want to go to college, I think it's too hard for me."

"Interesting. How are your parents now, if I may ask?"

I tensed, feeling a spot in me throb with pangs. "They're far. Real far."

She arched an eyebrow. "Okay, then. Sensitive topic on the first try."

"Yeah," I leaned back in my chair, smile gone. "On other matters, I don't really live in a big house. More of an apartment a few blocks away, but it's comfy. I could've bought a nice house but … I didn't want to spend my inheritan– uh, money. I might need it in an emergency one day. You'll never know what'll happen."

She squinted her eyes in the slightest, as if studying me again. "You seem to give a lot of information away, just freely."

"Yeah, I don't mind. I know who I'm talking to."

"Your words slipped, too."

I tensed again and I felt an ache in my spine. "So I did. My bad."

"Right."

My fingers tightened on the arms of the chair. "I have a bit of a stutter sometimes. I tend to trip over myself when talking fast. Everyone has it, some more than others."

"Very true, Garfield."

"My last name is Logan actually. Garfield Logan. It was my dad's surname."

"Was? You're saying it as if your father is dead." She paused and studied me again. "He is isn't he? Both of them."

I remained silent and stared aimlessly at the table with a stern gaze.

"I'm sorry for asking that," she said quickly. "It's still a sensitive topic. You have been leaving little hints and I just put it together. I'm sorry."

"That's okay. You didn't mean to touch unsafe grounds." I relaxed and closed my eyes. "Now, tell me something about your parents."

I didn't see her expression but I heard a light gasp from her, as if offended by the thought of her parents.

"My mother and father are dead."

"No they aren't," I said calmly.

"Yes they are."

"No they aren't. I'm not an idiot, Rachel. I can tell when someone is lying. They're not dead, they're dead to you."

Another surprised gasp came from her. "How would you know?"

I looked up and met her eyes. "It's like you said, you left little hints and I put two and two together. You had a traumatizing childhood, you don't want to talk about it. They must be dead to you. If they were dead you'd probably be less unhappy."

She squinted at me in the slightest. "You're intelligent when you want to be, aren't you, Mister Logan?"

"Yes," I said. "I only act dumb. With society today, people will expect less from me if they see me as stupid. At least, that's what I think."

Rachel nodded and she looked impressed. "That's somewhat true."

I smiled slyly. "So are ya gonna tell me why your parents mean nothing to you?"

"No."

I groaned and she smiled just the slightest.

—••••••—

–CUR–

8/16/06 Wednesday

That was the first time she ever smiled at me, and right then did I know that she was beginning to take a liking to me. Not quite as a friend yet, but as a tolerable acquaintance. Then was when our friendship truly took a start. Well, that's what I like to believe. Then did I think I was her friend. But for her, I think she thought of me as a friend in later times.

—••••••—

–FBS: Five–

8/21/03 Thursday

Starbucks was once again the scenery for us, sitting on a table outside with our drinks, on our lunch break. I noticed something on our time together, something that she has been doing since I met her. She was squinting. Her eyes closing just the slightest at any time of day. It would be sunny and she would squint, which was reasonable, but then it would be cloudy and she would be looking in any direction, squinting. As if something bright was in front of her was how her eyes looked. It confused me.

So I asked her.

"Hey, Rachel? Why do ya always squint?"

"Excuse me?" She asked.

"Why do your eyes always squint, and eyebrows always … come together? As if you're mad."

"It … was caused from things in my childhood."

"Can ya tell me?"

She sighed. "When I was "bad", according to my … father, I would be forced to look directly at the sun outside or at his desk lamp. That happened frequently so the habit of squinting and eyebrows furrowing stuck."

"Wow," I gasped. "That's terrible. Now I know that your dad was an asshole."

"Yes. A big one."

"So your father used to … abuse you?" I asked nervously.

She drank her tea and set it down, crossing her arms after. "Yes."

"How?"

"Verbally, mentally, and physically."

" … can ya tell me more?"

"No," she said sternly. "You know enough."

I looked down at my drink. "Okay. Fair enough." I breathed in. "Can I share something?"

She waved her fingers at me.

"I lived in Africa when I was little. With my parents. They were … some kind of scientists, I forgot the name. They were the best of parents to me. We played with the animals there, studied them, and I watched them work. I'd come along because I had nowhere else to stay." I paused. "That was where they died, in the beautiful continent Africa, right in front of me."

Rachel noticed my angered grip and her own tightened hands softened.

"I could've helped them, and I didn't. I couldn't."

She didn't even reply, didn't tell me that it wasn't my fault, like everybody said when they heard the story of my parent's death. At first I thought she didn't care, or that she agreed it was all my fault. But actually, I then realized, during my silence, that she was not speaking because she didn't want to interrupt me, out of her own interest. Rachel, the uninterested woman, was engrossed in my story and wanted to hear more of it. That was a surprise to me. I continued with my story despite my growing feelings.

"So I inherited money, but not much, we weren't the wealthiest of families. I was adopted several times, but I'd rather not talk about it, much like you. But my current family are wealthy, pretty wealthy. I like them, but my dad can be a real jerk at times. They're still good people though."

" … you blame yourself for your parents," she said without question.

"Yes. I could've done something, but I didn't."

"Okay then."

I looked up at her, surprised and in question. Most people told me not to think that way. And now this woman was okay with my blame. I didn't know what to do.

"You're not gonna tell me it's wrong to think that way?"

"No, many people blame themselves for the death of their loved ones. It's only themselves that can change their mind, not the words of others."

I stared down at my empty cup. "You're the first to say that to me. I've been getting tired of people telling me what to feel."

"Many people feel that way, yet they tell others what to feel. Ironic, isn't it?"

I smiled crookedly. "We live in a messed up world."

"I can confirm that."

I chuckled and that tiny smile reappeared on her lips. It was that kind of smile no one could get out of a person unless they pushed the right buttons, said the right things, and did the right moves. It was like Battle Ship, say the right coordinates and you got yourself right on target.

"See? We're getting along. And you thought it wouldn't work out." The smile was on my face again, brand new and real.

"I suppose. I guess you're not as bad as I thought you were. Still annoying and persistent, but tolerable to an extent."

"Good," I said. "I want ya to feel comfortable with me."

"I never said I feel comfortable with you, I said I can tolerate you. There's a difference."

"Ah!" I waved my hand at her. "I know you're comfortable with me." I looked at my watch and noted the time. "Well, I think we'd better go. Don't wanna be late."

Rachel nodded and we stood, packed up, and headed back to our workplaces, going back to our work personalities.

—••••••—

–FBS: Six–

8/21/03 Thursday

Later that day, after the tedious hours of work, I saw Rachel again. She was walking out the doors of the bookstore, hands buried in her jacket and eyes aimed at the sidewalk. She looked like she was mulling things over, as corny as it sounded. And the only reason for her to be in thick thoughts was our conversation earlier. She must've been thinking about what her father did to her, the things she won't let me know. That excited me even more. A hallowed secret like hers to be kept from me, only made me want to know more about it, like everyone else would.

I locked the doors to the building in a hurry, glancing back to make sure she was still walking. She might have been going in the opposite direction of my apartment, but I still ran to her. I didn't bother following her quietly like a stalker with horrible intentions, instead I called out to her and ran. She turned to me and hunched her shoulders, exasperated at my presence. I shrugged it off and shared the sidewalk with her, my hands in my pant pockets.

"Can I help you?" She asked in her own weird voice.

I shook my head. "No. I just wanted to walk with ya, if I can."

"I can get home myself."

"Actually," I said. "I was hoping we could spend a couple moments together after work. As friends … acquaintances?"

"Uh, I don't know. It's pretty late."

"Aw, but who goes to sleep at eight? Come on, it'll be fun. It has been."

"I go to sleep early, I wake up early."

"What is early to you? 'Cause mine is ten."

"I sleep at ten on a regular night, no later."

"Ah, my latest is one in the morning, on ordinary days."

"Lovely, now we can be curfew buddies," she said sarcastically.

I chuckled. "Yeah, but about these last two hours before your curfew …"

She sighed deeply and I could see her tired frustration with me. "What?"

"How about you come to my–"

"No."

I was surprised by her abrupt answer and pushed my hands deeper into my pockets.

"Okay, houses are out of the question. How about a club?"

"No."

"A café?"

"Not in the mood."

"A lounge bar? That can be fun for me and you."

She squinted, thinking it over. "Sure. Where is it by?"

"Uh," I scratched my head. "Maybe … the one by that barber shop? That looks like a lounge. Ever seen it?"

"No. I don't have time to explore this place. Never did."

"That's terrible. Why?"

"Not in the mood to talk about it."

"Okay. You said you were eighteen right?" I asked, pointing a finger at her.

"Correct."

"Hmm … we need some fake IDs."

"Excuse me? I am not going to drink any alcohol."

"Aw, come on! Let's have some fun!"

"No. Definitely not."

"Fine, but I will. It'll be fun for me."

I then remembered something and smiled widely. "Wait! I do have one." I skimmed through my wallet and pulled out the fraud ID. "See?"

Rachel glanced at it. "I can tell it's fake. The bartender surely will too."

"What? No, they don't usually hire smart people to work the bars. I would know. My friend's of legal age but he still uses his old fake ID. I don't know why. The bartender never noticed for years and still doesn't."

"Okay," she said mildly, a warning.

We finally made it to where I intended to go and stared up at the neon sign, broken and humming lowly. The exterior was mostly brown and black in shades of a dark gray, with bricks being the walls and some extras laying on the ground. It was a small building, but couldn't be any bigger than the comic book store. It was a pretty solid place. Rachel looked indifferently at it all, as if she had seen this place all her life.

I entered the building after her, her going in without hesitation. Weird. I would've thought she'd be cautious of everything. Oh well, she wasn't really frightened of anything.

As soon as the doors closed behind me, I was hit with the smell of cigarette smoke and strong liquor. It was mighty dim inside and there were small spotlights at the edges of the ceiling all around in a square, the only light sources. There were booths, tables and chairs, and stools and tables. It looked just like a dark café of some sort, I think. I've never been in one. But this place seemed promising.

I tapped Rachel's shoulder and I pointed towards a table. She shook her head and gestured to a booth next to the small bar ahead. I pursed my lips and nodded, walking towards it with her, but before we sat down, she went to the bar. I stretched to see what she was doing and was stunned to see her conversing with the bartender, almost casually. Then I wondered if she was giving me away or something, telling him that I was under twenty-one and that I had a fake ID.

The bartender nodded to her and continued to wipe the tables. Rachel soon came back and I studied the man at the bar. He was a bald man with stress lines on his forehead and a strong upper chest. I can't say anything about his full body, it was hidden behind the long bar counter. I turned back to Rachel and she was watching me, eyebrow raised. I smiled shyly and crossed my arms.

"Like the bartender?" She asked.

"No," I muttered. "I was just getting a good look." I looked down at the sticky table. "Did you … tell him my age?"

"No, why would I?"

"I was just asking. There was no other reason you'd go up and talk to him."

"Well there is."

I looked up and chuckled. "I guess you have more friends than people give you credit for."

"No one knows me."

"I guess so." I then grabbed my "ID" and stood up. "Well, I'm gonna get me a drink. Ya sure ya don't want one?"

"I'm sure."

I walked up to the counter and felt a sweat slide down my spine. I was nervous? I was just getting a drink. With a fake ID.

The bald man smiled slyly at me and put down the glass he was shining. I tried to smile back but it felt crooked, like I bet it looked as well.

"What would ya like, charmer?" He asked, voice old and heavy.

"Uh, water?" I squeaked.

He raised a brow and I cleared my throat. "I mean, a Heineken."

"Can I see some ID?" He picked up the glass and continued wiping it.

I fumbled with the plastic and pulled it up, showing it to him. He looked over it to me with a wider sly grin and then gazed behind me. I followed his stare and noticed Rachel looking back at the man with a pleading look. I turned back around, confused at that and put the ID in my pocket.

"Okay, charmer, I'll give ya the Heineken, even though you're underage. But since ya brought an important little lady, I'll give ya two passes. The second one's that the drink's on the house."

I was surprised by this.

"You know Rachel?" I asked.

He looked down. "Is that what she's calling herself these days?" He mumbled, then stared at me. "You treat her well, charmer. She a special one, ya hear?"

I nodded in frenzy and grabbed the drink he handed me. Before I left, he called me back, thrust a glass of water in my other hand and pointed to Rachel. I nodded again and hurried to the booth. I smiled shyly and slid the cup to her. She glanced at the bartender and nodded in thanks. Weird.

"That guy's weird. He talks like he knows you," I said.

"Weird," she agreed as she sipped the water.

A scrunched look appeared on her face, as if disgusted by the water's taste.

"Anything wrong with the water? I can take it back. It could be spiked, and I know you hate anything alcohol."

"No," she said. "It's nothing. I– … I smell your beer."

"Okay then, good."

I took the first sip of my beer and smiled brightly, diving in for a second swallow. The next fifteen or so minutes passed by quickly, and Rachel was getting more and more weird. While I felt a buzz in my head, I noticed a smile that appeared on her lips more and more. Then I saw that her cup was empty, probably inside her already. Suddenly, that smile left her face and she looked down, almost in sadness. I asked what was wrong and she shook her head, leaving me scoffing. Even when she was drunk she was stubborn as can be. I asked her again.

"This place just gives me nost–nostalgia. 'Ery bad nostalgia." She yawned. "What time 's it?"

I looked at my watch. "Eight-thirty. What do you mean bad nostalgia?"

Her head jerked forward, her hair hiding her face, except for that smile. "I used ta com' hea between the ages of sixteen and now. I'm pr'ctically best friends with the bartender."

I paled as I realized she was giving out information. Her information that she strictly refuses to give out. Crap. She's gonna kill me when she finds out after.

"Rachel–"

"Rachel? Who's that?" She asked in ridicule.

What was she saying? "You're Rachel."

"No. My name is Raven. He knows that," she pointed at the bartender.

"What? But you said–"

"I ch'nged my name, Garfield!" She said.

"To 'Rachel'? Why?" I asked, forgetting that I shouldn't have been asking her this.

"So that son-of-a-bitch won't find me! I don't want my father to find me and get at it again! I came here daily to get away fr'm him, but that was before I was eighteen. Now I'm eighteen, so I changed m' name. S'mple as that."

"Whoa," I sighed as I leaned back. "So you have been drinking? Since you were sixteen? To get away from your abusive dad?!" She nodded drunkenly. "Damn! You're more hardcore than I thought."

"Yup! Now ya know. Don't get Marcos in trouble for giving drinks to minors. He's like family to me."

"Yeah. No problem. He gave me a drink! He's okay with me."

Marcos seemed to have heard Raven's drunken exclamations because he appeared at our booth and smiled shyly at me.

"Heh, sorry, charmer. I forgot to take out the special ingredient tonight. I don't think she'll appreciate talking to you in a bar, drunk like hell. I'll take her home after my shift ends. Ya can go home now." I looked at him weirdly. "Don't worry, she's in good hands."

I nodded, remembering that Raven said he was like family. So I stood, put my hands in my pant pockets and headed out, looking back at Raven before leaving. She waved at me and then stared up at Marcos like a little girl would at a father. A real father.

—••••••—

Good day, readers. I got this up in fair time, I think. I hope it's going smoothly. I'm really liking where this story is going, even though it only has two chapters. Well, that'll be all.