She awoke with a start. The moon was gone. The room was dark and for a moment all she could do was panic as she fumbled her way nearly out of bed, desperately groping for a light switch as her voice came to her in the form of several short, staccato shouts. Her mind raced and for several painful seconds she could still see that terrible place, so strikingly real. She could feel the heat, smell the blood and decay, taste it in her mouth and down her throat. In the corners of her eyes she could see the bodies strewn about the landscape like dirty laundry, still as statues. Pulling the covers up tight to her chest she sat there, trying to calm herself. Her breaths came in short rapid bursts at first, but eventually slowed over time becoming steady. Sweat cooled on her brow as the fire in her stomach subsided and her body temperature returned to normal. Her eyes adjusted to the limited light and soon she could see. Rotating on her bed she brought her feet to the floor then quickly raised them again. The alien feeling of cold, hard and sharp gave her cause to retreat. Looking at her bedside table she saw the broken stump that was once her lamp and sighed bitterly.
Raising a hand, Raven conjured her powers. She scanned the floor. One by one the shards of broken glass levitated up into the air, hovering for only a moment before quickly finding a home in the trashcan by the bureau. Finding her carpet once again free of debris, she buried her toes in deep. She closed her eyes and rubbed her face. She massaged her eyes and let out a tiny gasp as her hands came back wet. The dream had been unbelievably intense this time. Deciding she wasn't getting back to sleep anytime soon she slid her feet into her favorite blue slippers, fetched her cloak and went for the door. Normally she would just spend an hour or so meditating in her room, but this time she felt she needed something different. She couldn't just sit there. She needed to go and do something. She needed to stretch her legs, maybe take a small walk around the tower. She tasted the dryness in her mouth and concluded that a stopover in the kitchen for a quick cup of tea wouldn't be out of the question.
As she made her way out of the room and into the hall she couldn't help but think. Sometimes she really hated herself.
The common room was a ghost town. It was still early and everyone but her was still in bed. The massive windows over looking the ocean were black and the only light came from the small bulb above the stove, the one no one ever seemed to turn off. She had been sitting there at the table quietly drinking her tea for almost ten minutes when the common room doors suddenly opened and in shambled a tired-eyed and dressed down Beast Boy. Wearing a pair of dark grey sweatpants and a faded Superman t-shirt he entered. Scratching the back of his head, tonging the small spaces between his teeth, he let out a lion sized yawn before making his way to the fridge. He didn't seem to notice her as he opened the door and began rummaging through, eventually arriving at some leftover Chinese takeout, his vegetarian lo mien with carrots and green peppers. She watched him as he dumped the remaining contents of the carton into a bowl before popping it into the microwave. She didn't say a word as he began half humming/half singing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song to himself, mumbling his way through the lyrics he didn't know but always finishing strong with "Heroes in a half shell! Turtle Power!" Then he turned and realized he wasn't alone and the look on his face said it all, equal parts "You're not supposed to be here" and "Oh crap is any of this going to be used against me?"
"Evening," said Raven in her usual quiet rasp.
"Raven," said the still somewhat startled Beast Boy. "What are you doing up?"
She didn't answer. Only held up her still steaming mug of tea.
"Oh," replied Beast Boy. "Tea. I see." He turned back to the microwave. The timer was still counting down and was almost a minute or so away from completion. "Tea," he said again. "Tea, tea, T for turtle," he babbled seemingly struggling to make conversation. "All these years, I never really figured you the midnight snack type."
"I'm not. I just...couldn't sleep."
Raven bit her lip as the microwave beeped. She sat in silence as Beast Boy returned his attention to his food and hoped he would forget his question entirely. Beast Boy was probably the last person she wanted to talk to right now. The green teen took a seat across from her as he placed his food on the table along side an unopened bottle of iced tea.
"Are you okay?" he asked
"You seem kinda edgy."
"I told you, I'm fine."
"You have a bad dream?" he asked.
Breaking eye contact, Raven looked down into her mug, raised it halfway to her lips. "No," she answered plainly.
"Ah ha ha, that's a yes," smirked Beast Boy. "You can't hide things the way you used to, Raven. I've become wise to your womanly ways."
"The thought of you being wise about anything much less anything related to women is laughable."
"Doesn't change the fact that I'm right. So come on, out with it."
"Let's hear about your bad dream."
"Aw come on. It'll make you feel better."
"I don't do-"
"You don't do dreams...? Oh come on, Rave. Could you have a little more respect for me? I mean I'm dumb but I'm not that dumb. Everyone has dreams."
"Everyone but me."
"If you want I'll go first. Tell you about the crazy one I was having tonight."
"Okay, so there I was. I'm not sure where, but I'm pretty sure it was Bambino's Pizza over on 3rd. I mean it didn't look like Bambino's; it looked like a big kitchen with cars parked all over the place but in my dream I believed it was Bambino's."
"So Cyborg's there and he's got these bowling balls. And he hands them to me and he's all like, "Dude, don't lose these," and I'm all like, "Dude, what?" and he's like, "Dude, seriously, bro, don't lose'em." And I'm just like, "Okay, I won't lose'em but I'd kinda like to know what you need'em for." And he's like, "Man, Robin needs me to fix all the pipes. And I'm like, "What pipes?" and he's like, "All the pipes." And I'm like, "Dude," and he's like, "Dude." Then Starfire came in wearing a monkey costume and then I woke up. Pretty crazy, huh?"
Raven's gaze could have frozen running water. The look in her eyes was a strange mixture of disinterest and irritation, and her mouth hung low in a distasteful frown. Nothing was ever more trying than Beast Boy's pathetic attempts to relate to her.
"Yes, well, that certainly was fascinating," she said rising, "but I think I'm just going to go back to bed." She picked up her mug from the table and went to the sink where she dumped the half full contents down the drain. Beast Boy unfortunately did not remain at his seat. As soon as she made her move to leave he was on her heels, begging like the bad puppy he always made of himself.
"Hey wait," he called to her. "Come on, Rave, I'm your friend. I know its bothering you, so why don't you just talk about it. It'll make you feel better."
"If you were really my friend then you'd know when to stop bothering me and just…let me handle it."
Turning her back she was nearly out the door when the green boy called to her again.
"Why do you always do this?" questioned the changeling, his voice becoming sharp. "Just when I think things are cool between us and maybe we can actually, you know, start acting like we're real friends and not just two people that...like...live next to each other-"
"You mean neighbors?"
"Whatever! You knock me back. You put up another one of your damn walls and treat me like I'm some little kid pestering you for a horsie ride."
"You know what I'm capable of."
"Yeah, and I also know you know how to loosen up and have fun every once in a while. You still like to act like your just this quiet loner when I know you're way more than that."
"Alright, so I'm afraid."
"And that's fine."
"No, it's not."
"Because...oh, just leave me alone."
"Not this time. I want to know. What's got you so shaken that you're up arguing with me in the middle of the night."
"Fine, you want t to know what I dream about? I dream about killing you."
For a moment neither of them spoke. A deep and terrible silence descended on the common room, blanketing the two of them like snow.
"Killing me..." said Beast Boy, not quite believing.
"You, Robin, Starfire, Cyborg…Everyone. The five of us will be somewhere like the park or the pizza place. We'll be having fun and then…out of nowhere I just lose control. No matter how hard I try I can't stop. Sometimes it's all at once. A big explosion of energy. It rips open the ground and I just watch as you all plummet to the bottom. Sometimes it's more personal than that. Sometimes I'll get you one by one. Stop Starfire's heart inside her chest. Rip Cyborg to tiny pieces. Tonight I force shifted you into a tiny mouse and then crushed you. I tossed you on the ground like a piece of garbage and stepped on you. It doesn't happen every night, but it never truly goes away. Every time I go to sleep I'm terrified of what'll happen. What dark fantasies I'll conjure." There were tears in Raven's eyes. She swallowed painfully as she pulled her cloak tightly around herself. She made a sound that was somewhere between a gasp and a whine as she looked Beast Boy square in the eye. "Happy now?" she asked bitterly. "Was it everything you hoped it would be?"
Beast Boy made a move like he wanted to speak. His mouth cracked open and his shoulders lifted ever so slightly, but in the end he remained silent. Raven didn't wait for him to find his voice. Turning her back to him she left the common room.
Sleep did eventually find Raven again. While no dreams troubled her the rest of the night, her encounter with Beast Boy remained fresh in her mind and greeted her upon waking. Not hungry for breakfast, she elected to spend the morning in her room. She showered and dressed, did some meditating and a bit of reading. She did her best to get her mind on anything else, but every tactic proved fruitless. There was no doubt in her mind Beast Boy would tell the others about what she'd said. She didn't blame him. If the roles were reversed she'd probably do the same thing. She thought of having to leave the tower and a fresh wave of sadness overcame her.
Then there came a knocking at the door.
"Who's there?" she called hesitantly.
There was no answer, only another knock.
Raven pulled her cloak tight. The material bunched in her fist as she held it over her heart. She wasn't certain she wanted to see anybody but didn't necessarily believe she had any choice. She went to the door. With a wave of her hand she opened it.
There was nothing that could have prepared her for what happened next. Her mouth opened but no words made it passed her lips. All at once the world turned black, vanished in a sudden explosion of cream and custard. Her tongue tingled at the sensation of unexpected sweetness as the pie filling entered her mouth, muffling her surprised scream. Her hands instinctively leapt to her face and began frantically wiping away crumbled fragments of crust and big gobs of meringue, and through it all she could hear his laughter. Past the sticky, white cream she could see him: Beast Boy, holding his sides and giggling like a six-year-old that just heard his old man fart.
Quick as lightning Raven felt a deep anger overcome her. Her fists clenched. Her teeth ground together. Her eyes burned bright red with a dark, hellish rage, and yet somehow, through it all Beast Boy kept laughing. His joviality over such an insult only infuriated her further. Towering over him, she let loose with a deep and menacing growl. That seemed to halt the green boy's laughter, though it did nothing to remove the smile from his face. That Raven would have to do herself. Capturing a thick dollop of pie from her now very messy bedroom floor in a field of dark energy, Raven buried the dessert chunk in Beast Boy's shaggy green hair. She didn't stop there, however. Beast Boy's eyes went wide and his mouth contorted into an agonized grimace as his underwear was suddenly pulled tight. A painful wheeze escaped his lips as the wedgie slowly, tortuously went atomic, going up, up, up until the waist band of his Mickey Mouse boxers arrived at the top of his pie stained forehead.
As the green boy staggered about the carpet, awkwardly contorting his arms in a vein attempt to free himself, Raven stormed into the bathroom, slamming the door behind her.
One ten minute shower later and Raven was somewhat surprised (and a little confused) to find she was no longer angry. Washed, dried and once again in clean clothes she stepped out of her bathroom to find Beast Boy, his hair still sticky with pie, on his hands and knees, a big blue sponge in one hand and a bottle of carpet cleaner in the other. Looking up as she entered he gave a small smile.
"I had the stuff with me," he said, gesturing to the bright red spray bottle. "It's powerful and I think I got to it fast enough that there shouldn't be any stains."
Raven didn't answer, only nodded.
"Anyway," continued Beast Boy. "I'm almost done. Then I'll get out of your hair."
Raven took a seat on the bed. "No rush," she replied.
"How do you feel?"
"Okay, I think."
Beast Boy made a few more passes at a particularly large spot with his sponge. When it appeared clean he stopped. He took a breath and looked up. "About last night…"
"Please, Beast Boy, I'd just like to forget about it if it's alright with you."
"No, just listen to me for a second." Looking down the green boy took another deep breath. "Sometimes...sometimes I have this dream where I'm in the wild. I'm a beast, a hunter looking for food. I look at my hands and their not hands, but these claws. These big black claws. I try to speak but I can't. Everything only comes out as a growl or a roar, and the next thing I know I'm pouncing on some poor helpless gazelle. I'm biting at its throat, digging into it with my claws. I can taste the blood and meat and in the dream it tastes good, like the best thing I've ever had. And then I wake up and every time for a few moments all I can think about is that taste and how much I want it."
For a few moments, Raven sat silent. "I know that couldn't have been easy to say," she said, once certain Beast Boy was finished. "And please don't take offence...but I'm not talking about some gazelle, I'm talking about you guys. You're family to me. The only family I have. I don't want to lose you. Any of you."
"My point is dreams are sometimes like that. They show you what you're most scared of as a way of reminding you what's most important. As scared as I am of losing what makes me human I still know I'd never do that to some poor defenseless animal. You're scared of hurting us but everyone knows you never would. Not in a million years."
"How can you say that? How can you be so sure?"
"Raven, I just deliberately made you as mad as I possibly could and still the worst thing you could think to do to me was pull my underwear up over my head. I mean don't get me wrong that still really hurt, but it's not exactly boot squishing either. You're worried about losing control but I think you know exactly what you're doing. You're not a monster." Raven had to turn away lest Beast Boys see the tears in her eyes. She rubbed them dry with her palms as the green boy (still somewhat gingerly) took a seat beside her. "And don't worry about the others. I'm no tattle tale. If you want we can keep this whole thing between you and me."
"Thanks," said Raven sniffling slightly. "Thank you, Beast Boy."
"No problem," he answered with a smile. "What are friends for?"
Looking into the green boy's eyes Raven could no longer help herself. Palming his face with one hand she pulled him close and placed a soft kiss against his cheek. Beast Boy appeared awestruck for a moment as a furious blush quickly spread across his cheeks. Raven's face then went deathly serious.
"If you tell anybody I did that, I'll kill you," she said. A small smile then spread across her lips as a somewhat larger one found its way to Beast Boy's. The two of them chuckled quietly for a few moments and then together made their way out the door. It was almost lunch time and both were starving.