Author's Note: Well, vacation is over and now I'm worried about school. Junior year is supposed to be the hardest, so I'm going to have swimming, school, the ACT and my story to do all at once. I mean, I started writing this towards the end of Sophomore year when I was more available; I can't imagine how hard it will be this year, but I'll definitely try my hardest to keep updating ASAP :) Happy reading!
A Previous Summary: For several days, Raven is isolated within the Infirmary as she undergoes treatment. Fearful of her nightmares and debating her options of escape, the Titans must closely monitor her condition. During this period of time, Raven finds herself productively practicing her abilities, although she decides to be discreet about it towards the other Titans. Not long afterwards, Robin insists that she relocates to another room, hoping that she'll be happier in her old bedroom. He even suggests formal training with Starfire the next day to help her. Raven feels thankful of the Titans' trust in her, however she doesn't return the favor. Ignoring her chance of escape was a hesitant step in the right direction, but she's heavily concerned about regretting her decision in the future.
Chapter 9: Progressions into Normality
I opened my eyes to a distorted view of the ceiling. The indigo blankets had shifted during the night and a few pillows were scattered among the floor, most likely due to my active nocturnal interactions. Drool had dribbled down my face as I slept and my hair lost all sense of decency. I sat upright, groaning as I mulled over my thoughts.
I guess I was swimming in my sleep, I told myself as I surveyed the scene.
It's weird, though. I don't remember my dream.
Was I even dreaming last night?
I thought I was...
I didn't bother to make the bed when I rose from the mattress. I stretched my sore muscles for a while, arching my back as I yawned. The ticking clock beside my bed read 8:47. I had slept for nearly the entire day yesterday, and I even went to bed early as well. However, I couldn't overcome the sense of grogginess. I felt like I could take another nap.
I quietly left my room and made my way down the corridor that basked in the natural light of the arousing sun. I took a turn into the bathroom since I figured that I needed to clean myself before a familial breakfast with the Titans. I splashed my face repeatedly with lukewarm water, scrubbing away the grime and filth from my previous slumber with a fresh towel. My teeth were brushed thoroughly and I even applied deodorant, knowing that I wouldn't have time to shower until tonight. However, it took longer to manage my untamed coiffure.
I scraped a comb through my scalp, withdrawing clumps of purple hair. The tips of my fibers were frayed and I had to work out the numerous tangles, which only seemed to damage my hairstyle. I sighed as I leered at my horrid reflection. I was disappointed with my appearance, but I decided to leave the bathroom anyway. I didn't have much patience left to care for my hair.
It took me a while to travel through the building. The sleek interior and the modern architecture made it difficult to navigate the labyrinth of hallways. I eventually found the elevator and went up a floor, proceeding down a hallway to a pair of doors that slid open automatically as a greeting. The Titans were present in the Main Ops room, each individual submersed into a task at hand. However, once I had entered, my presence wasn't noticed right away, to my relief. I was thankful to be spared the attention.
From where I was, I could see Cyborg in the section of the room that was designed as a kitchen. His actions seemed erratic and improvised, yet he performed them fluently, as if he had rehearsed it numerous times before. The mechanical man wore a large chef hat as he enthusiastically cooked a meal that could've fed an army. Scrambled eggs were sizzling in a pan on the stove. The sweet juice of oranges was being extracted from the ripe fruit. In the oven, yeast made the buttery rolls of dough rise as they baked to achieve a crispy, golden shell. Cyborg easily juggled each activity as he chopped fruit on the counter, neatly organizing the geometric slices onto a large platter. He tossed the paper-thin knife into the air, having it perform a couple somersaults before landing perfectly in his hand. Cyborg grinned to himself and began to sing along to the radio that was perched on the counter beside him, providing music as another source of entertainment.
Starfire was seated at a chair in the kitchen, accompanying Cyborg as he prepared breakfast. In her lap, she cradled her pet, the mutant larvae that she had shown me earlier. She fed Silkie like a baby, nursing him with a bottle of formula, no doubt a concoction of alien ingredients from Tamaran. Once he had drained the bottle, he belched loudly, provoking a laugh from Starfire.
"My little bumgorf!" she squealed, giving Silkie a bone-crushing hug.
As Starfire nuzzled her face with the animal's, it responded by licking her cheek, leaving behind a gooey trail of slime. I was disgusted, but Starfire seemed overjoyed by Silkie's actions. She laughed and, in return, licked the larvae back with a long purple tongue, most likely due to her alien physiology. I decided not to question it, despite my confusion.
Confined to the opposite side of the room, Robin stood alone, his back facing me. He was busy reading an illuminated screen, displaying graphs of information that I couldn't decipher. Occasionally, Robin stopped to rub his chin as he considered a thought, then continued to furiously type on a large keyboard.
I didn't know how to approach the social activity. By all means, I would avoid having to speak with the teenagers if I could. I felt too insecure and exposed around them to interact. They've treated me for a little over two weeks, and I am thankful, but I still refuse to trust them. There are all sorts of secrets that they could be harboring from me.
My glance momentarily drifted to the large window. During the incident where I attempted to escape, I blew out window using only the sheer power of my anger, which had come out of nowhere.
At least they fixed it, I thought.
So that's another to the list of apologies, huh?
While considering if I should attract attention or retreat back to my bedroom, I mentally counted the heads in the area.
Wait, I told myself. Someone's missing.
Realization struck the moment the doors behind me hissed away. I nearly tumbled down the small flight of stairs when the entering individual collided into my back. I staggered forward, tripping over my inactive feet, but I regained balance without a problem. My head whirled around.
"Oh," Beast Boy said awkwardly, avoiding my eyes. "Hey Raven."
I could sense Robin carefully watching us from afar. When I looked his way, Robin's gaze fell, busying himself with the equipment before him. His suspicion made me feel self-conscious of the situation.
"Didn't see you there," the green changeling confessed. "Sorry about that."
I held back the urge of frustration, despite my emotions.
"No, it was me," I announced submissively. "I shouldn't have stood there anyway."
Beast Boy nodded, unsure if he wanted to continue the conversation. Thankfully, during the encounter, Cyborg saw us and decided to intervene.
"Yo, Grass Stain!"
Beast Boy turned to his friend, his embarrassed expression replaced with a relieved grin.
"Get your green butt down here, man! Breakfast is cooking fast."
"On it!" he answered with determination and then faced me once again. "So, I should-"
Beast Boy gestured to the kitchen, wearing a sympathetic smile. He carefully walked around me, as if he wanted to prevent direct contact, and trekked to the counters to provide assistance.
"Glad you're out, Raven!" Cyborg called to me.
"Thanks," I called back.
I didn't know what else to say. Remembering all the apologies I had to make, I decided to ask a question.
"Is your chin any better?"
Cyborg was confused at first, his hand reaching for his jaw, but he then he remembered. I had kicked him in the face that same day I was running away, and I wanted to be sure that there weren't any hard feelings.
"Oh, oh yeah I'm all good," he said. "I've been worse, trust me, but you had a lot of fight in ya."
I smiled softly then sighed, watching as the Titans worked together to set up the meal. Cyborg beckoned for me when he saw how quiet I became.
"Well c'mon now. Don't be shy."
I hesitantly scaled down the steps, joining the mass of Titans who were eager to eat. Everybody was grabbing dishes to bring to the table, so I contributed by grabbing the platter of sliced fruit. I sat in a booth at the very end of the table as the Titans settled into their seats. The meal had been laid out before us, like a personal buffet, with enough food for several helpings. Cyborg was shoveling up an endless amount of scrambled eggs while Robin stacked buttery rolls and fruit onto his plate. Beast Boy was dining on a block of a gooey, white substance, which I had presumed to be the disgusting tofu that Cyborg had mentioned. Starfire was also consuming large quantities of the breakfast, as well as alien foods that I couldn't recognize. Instead of the provided orange juice, she drank from a mustard container, nearly gulping the entire bottle in a single swig. Silkie ate beside her at a competitive rate that inspired choking as a danger.
And yet, I remained still.
I silently observed the camaraderie between the unsupervised teenagers. Their relationship advanced beyond an amiable phase. In fact, they functioned much alike a family without the need of parental guidance. Robin and Starfire were eagerly chatting together, each bearing a smile that would only surface during an entertaining conversation. Starfire would occasionally giggle and playfully shove Robin, to which he would blush, pleased to see the tangerine girl enjoying his jokes. Meanwhile, Cyborg and Beast Boy were waging an active war by flicking missiles of food across the table. After concocting the clever idea, Cyborg calculated his aim and launched a grape at the distracted leader, thinking that Robin wouldn't notice. However, Robin's reflexes were swift and he deflected the grape, which only proceeded to land in Starfire's hair. She laughed hysterically before withdrawing the fruit and popping it into her mouth, commenting about its taste.
Laughter radiated from everyone.
Everyone, except me.
Their childish manners were hard to understand, especially when their dwelling seemed professional. It was utterly chaotic, and yet, they didn't seem to care. They had fun by playing with their food and telling jokes, their voices raised at certain times. But I didn't participate in the activity, feeling disconnected with the Titans. Robin realized my social exclusion and cleared his throat.
"So Raven, how did you like the room?"
"It's nice to be alone for a while," I replied with a useless shrug. "Thank you, though."
"It is comfortable, yes?" Starfire chimed in, insisting for my participation.
"Everything is just fine. I think that it's way better that the Infirmary."
"We figured that you would," Robin agreed. "It took a while to get into it, since you never told us the password, but we're glad that you like it. In a way, it's like another stepping stone to recovery."
"And you are well on your way," added Starfire.
Cyborg frowned and gestured to my vacant plate with his fork.
"Aren't ya hungry?" he asked me.
YES, groaned an annoyed voice within my mind.
"No, I'm okay," I apologized dismissively.
"You have to at least try something," Robin encouraged me.
"Really. I'm fine."
"Can I get ya anything?" offered Cyborg.
I shook my head in denial.
"Please, Friend Raven," Starfire pleaded. "You will need the energy. I ask that you eat until you are satisfied."
"Here," said Cyborg. "Have some of this."
I winced as a dollop of scrambled eggs plopped onto my plate. Robin passed over a flaky roll of dough and Starfire proposed that I drench my entire meal in mustard. The food before me was anything but appetizing.
Why must they care so much? I thought angrily. Why can't they just leave me alone? I didn't even want to show up here anyway!
But I'm starving...
As if I'll admit that! I don't need their help!
Poison! There's STILL a chance that it can be poisoned!
I THOUGHT WE'VE BEEN OVER THIS.
In response to my thoughts, I shoved the platter away from me. The Titans exchanged confused expressions while my cheeks inflated with embarrassment. Just then, a jet-black mug was placed in front of me. I mentally squealed when my nose detected the comforting fragrance of vanilla that breathed from the murky brew. Before I could express my gratitude, Beast Boy returned to his seat without a word, picking at his food to distract himself from me. I somberly began to drink the herbal tea, trying my hardest not to appear guilty.
What kind of person AM I? I punished myself. They're only trying to help!
It was very kind of Beast Boy to make this for me.
Just add it to the list of what I need to thank him for already...
Starfire hesitantly stood up and approached me, her hand contacting my shoulder as she spoke.
"Come, Friend Raven," said the green-eyed alien once my mug had been emptied. "There is much that is to be learned in your first session of training."
The tangerine girl and I traveled to the personal gymnasium built within the Tower together, a glass of water in Starfire's hand. It was obvious that the room was used on a daily basis. Apparently, staying healthy was a requirement for their profession, which remained a mystery to me. Each adolescent seemed to have received training at some point according to their skills. Robin possessed agile, athletic movements during combat; Cyborg's tall frame allowed him to dominate in power and strength; Beast Boy had a lean physical condition, which allowed a quick transition into animals; Starfire's slim figure and flexibility enhanced the speed of her flight.
I didn't know what I had that was special against the Titans.
With that in mind, I grew anxious as I surveyed the exercise machines, fearing the idea of having vigorous workout routines and strict, exclusive diets involved in my training. It wasn't something that I'd be willing to do. The teenagers insisted that they could help me with my abilities, even though I already had a basic yet confident understanding. I could only learn from them, so I assumed that it wouldn't hurt to try a day in order to improve. However, I hoped that it wouldn't become a regular event.
Bonding with the Titans was the last thing that I wanted. I found it hard to believe their logic, despite the constant hospitality, so it would be risky to present my trust. With that, I refused to establish a relationship. They seemed kind and caring, which was pretty convincing, but I still know nothing about them. They were my captors, after all! I wasn't planning on escaping anymore, but that doesn't mean I want to be restrained as a hostage.
In the gym, Starfire guided me to a large foam rug where gymnastic routines would be performed. She didn't even bother to turn on the lights as we entered. Starfire set the glass of water aside, plopped to the floor that was imbedded with springs and crossed her legs as the rug rumbled under her weight. A hand patted the floor in front of her.
"Please sit," Starfire beckoned me.
Warily, I sat down and mirrored the alien's appearance. I conformed to a stiff posture, dropping my shoulders back so my head could be held high. My legs adopted to the lotus position and my hands rested on my knees, my palms facing the ceiling. Starfire closed her eyes, sighing before she spoke.
"Inhale," she commanded me.
"What are we doing?" I inquired suspiciously.
"We need to relax," Starfire answered simply. "Now, in you breathe."
"Why are we doing this?"
"To relax ourselves."
"But I'm already relaxed!"
"Do not slouch, Friend Raven."
I muttered an apology as I straightened my back, keeping a tense figure.
"The goal is to be calm," Starfire informed me, her eyes still shut. "To be flexible and at ease while sustaining a powerful form."
"But what exactly are we-?"
"Shhhh," she alien hushed me. "Inhale, Friend Raven."
With a sarcastic roll of my eyes, I took a deep breath through my mouth and I exhaled through my nose, as instructed by Starfire. We repeated this several times together, stirring up the silence in the unlit room. I groaned in frustration, throwing my hands up into the air.
"Where is this going?" I demanded.
A green-sclera eye merely peeked at me.
"Patience," Starfire whispered before shutting her eye once more.
"I'm serious, Starfire."
"As am I."
With an irritated grunt, I stood up and began to march across the room.
"This isn't worth my time," I ranted as I strode towards the exit. "This isn't helping me at all!"
"Friend Raven, wait!"
Starfire's flight excelled until she became the barrier between me and door. Her hands her were raised to prevent me from exiting.
"You cannot leave just yet. I ask for you to comply. This is how you will train."
"By teaching me how to breathe properly?" I retorted.
"It is a progression," the hovering alien explained. "You must achieve a stable peace before we proceed to the next action in the succession."
"And exactly how long will this take?"
"It will also require patience," added Starfire. "But you must trust me."
I reeled when Starfire said the word trust as if it had set off a warning signal in my mind.
"Fine," I said at last, even though I didn't agree to my statement. "Train me, then."
Starfire and I sat down once again and we each folded our legs comfortably. We evenly breathed together before Starfire provided more instructions.
"Now, repeat my words: Azarath Metrion Zinthos."
"Repeat it, Friend Raven."
"Why? What does it mean?"
"I am not entirely sure-"
I interrupted Starfire with a groan of frustration while she tried to protest.
"But Raven! You must say it! The meaning of the phrase may not matter, but it is important that you state it!"
"What kind of yoga is this?" I said, my voice becoming animated.
"This is a meditation ritual," the tangerine girl answered. "These are sacred words to you."
"What a waste of time," I murmured to myself. "Meditating? What good is that-?"
"You may not trust me, but can you believe me?"
"Is there a difference?" I countered.
"There is if you prove it."
I paused, digesting her thoughtful words.
"Please, I encourage you to try it. Perhaps your belief will persuade your decision."
"Alright," I sighed in defeat. "Just tell me what to do."
"I don't need praise," I muttered stiffly, but Starfire's happiness never wavered.
I listened to the alien's instructions carefully. My breaths were deep and my posture was ideal, as Starfire had wanted it. With a calm pulse and closed eyes, I repeated the strange words.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos..."
In an instant, my eyes snapped open, my heart convulsing with excitement. Out of the corner of my eye, Starfire wore a grateful smile.
There was a difference. A big difference. It surprised me how much I could change after three lyrical words, but I felt it. I felt it. But what did I feel? What was the difference that had impacted me so majorly?
"How?" I uttered, gaping at Starfire.
"It is your Clones of Emotion," she replied happily.
"Emoticlones," she clarified. "It is your emotions that affect your abilities."
It was how I felt, I thought to myself. It was ALWAYS about how I felt. A part of me knew that feeling, mostly intense focus, allowed me to use my power, but I didn't think that it was the cause of my abilities.
The light bulb.
This whole time, my feelings were linked to my powers and I had no idea.
No wonder they were worried about me. If I got too worked up, who knows what I could've done!
My anger did cause a lot of problems...
And solved some too.
But how can this be true? I asked myself. Why is it like this?
It all made perfect sense, but it was a surreal theory to understand. I craved for more knowledge of the subject.
"So where are they?" I asked. "These Emoticlones that affect me, I mean."
Starfire tapped her head as she whispered, "In your mind."
"Can I talk to them?"
"I am afraid not," the alien apologized. "Nevermore seems unstable now. It would be unwise to enter until your recovery is most evident."
"It is the domain where your Clones of Emotion reside."
"So that's what you were talking about," I said.
My hand absent-mindedly reached for my forehead but I hesitated.
A whole another world in my head? I thought.
Yeah, it's not as interesting as you think.
It's cozy up in here!
"My thoughts," I murmured in a hushed tone.
"Yes, your thoughts and emotions are vital towards the use of your powers."
Upon detecting my confusion, Starfire began to elucidate.
"As you are able to see, when your power has a black hue, it would mean that your emotions are not balanced. In numerous cases, it would be the cause of an emotion that is being released more than another. Such imperfection is not dangerous yet typical. However, when your powers are at their peak, they would be white. I have seen you use your abilities as I am mentioning for only a few occurrences. It is apparently difficult to master an ideal balance for some feelings are stronger than others."
"Like my anger," I whispered, to which Starfire nodded somberly.
"And to your Clones of Emotion, since they each possess a unique tint to their powers, to use your ability towards a singular emotion and to exclude all others would give your energy another hue."
"Oh," I commented. "They each represent a piece of me according to a certain color?"
"Precisely!" Starfire enthused.
"So, if I were to only use my anger..."
"Then the energy from your hands would be red," Starfire informed me. "Due to the color of your present soul."
I silently recalled the other day when I was discreetly playing in the Infirmary. I remembered how the color of the force had strobed red several times before it returned to its natural pigment.
My anger must've made an appearance, I told myself. I better be more careful about that.
Yes, you should...
"What others are there, then?" I questioned the tangerine girl.
"Rage is most known to me, but I do not know the exact number of the Clones of Emotion that you possess."
"Oh, well, does this mean that I have to control my emotions at all times? Isn't that hard?"
"I would assume as such. We never disrespected your emotions, Friend Raven. We all knew the procedures you endure on a daily basis to submit your emotions. Meditating is a skill that we have practiced that will surely help. However, it can be a tedious task to complete."
"Everyday?" I asked, slightly startled.
"Your powers are fueled by emotion. You have told me once that the more you feel, the more energy you are able to release. However, your emotions are delicate. You can be easily distraught or distracted. It requires intense focus and concentration."
I looked down at my hands as the alien spoke. They quickly sparked with a weak flash of dark energy before evaporating. I closed them in defeat, questioning if I could even control my emotions.
"Yes, your powers are very demanding, yet in the past, you were able to use them to your benefit. What trouble is there for you to not believe in your abilities?"
"How about my amnesia?" I asked sarcastically.
Starfire smiled kindly at my response, despite my hurtful intention.
"You lack simple information, Raven. We are contributing our knowledge for you to learn and study. It will take time for the missing memory to return, as well as for you to complete your training, but that does not mean you will never do what you have done once before."
"Who says that it'll ever return?" I retorted.
"You are learning what you knew before the amnesia. After the teachings, everything will be normal, yes?"
I shrugged in defeat.
"I don't feel the same. It doesn't feel right. I have no idea what I was like before the amnesia."
"And we do," Starfire assured me, gesturing to herself. "If you allow us to help, you will recover in little time."
I nodded, even though I doubted her words. Starfire smiled at my approval then proceeded to teach me.
"Now, about that lesson..."
"I'm going to try to use it again," I replied with determination.
"Very well. However, I do not want to complicate this period of learning, so I request that we should begin with the simple tasks."
"When we had switched, I was able to use your powers to lift and relocate solid objects to my advantage."
"Wait, when we switched? What do you mean by that?"
"Long story," Starfire sighed before continuing. "This skill is the primary succession that should be mastered before all others."
The female alien gestured to the glass of water in her hand. She placed it on the shock-absorbent ground then backed away, giving enough space for my powers to be isolated from outside sources.
"You are to lift the glass," Starfire ordered me. "Slowly and carefully. Use your abilities to manipulate the cup."
I took a wide stance, raising my right hand to aim at the glass cup filled with water.
"Think," Starfire encouraged me. "Concentrate. Use the mantra that you had said during meditation."
As I spoke the words, I gasped when I felt the controlled effects of my ability for the first time. My hands were concealed in a black aura, but they never shivered like they normally would. I watched with exhilarating triumph as a blinking force enveloped the cup, like a secondary layer of skin, and start to rise. As I lifted my hand, commanding the glass to do the same, the energy began to evaporate. I lost concentration immediately and the cup fell from its height, causing it to land and spill its contents onto the floor.
"You must speak in a monotone," Starfire instructed me. "That may have been the reason why your energy was not strong enough to continue."
"The pitch of your voice can also affect your abilities. The difference between shouting your mantra and whispering your mantra is significant. To speak in a controlled tone is the first step towards monitoring your feelings."
"Have I always done that?"
"Always," she replied with a smile. "Individuals have often received the wrong impression."
"Great," I muttered, shaking my head at the carnage by our feet.
"Yes, it is difficult," the alien somberly agreed. "But it is who you are. You should be proud of your being."
"I know, but what am I?" I inquired. "I mean, WHY do these Emoticlones exist? What's their purpose anyway?"
"Well, your Clones of Emotion have a special requirement to express the feeling of which they represent. A prolonged period of time without the release of stress can be dangerous. By restraining each Clone of Emotion, you will begin to suffer and decline in health. Your powers may become nonexistent. In favor, it is most beneficial if you meditate on a daily basis, or be sure to express each feeling you possess before it becomes too overwhelming for you to handle. However, it is vital that you release the energy in a controlled fashion, for the more you feel, the more powerful the Clone of Emotion that you are experiencing will become."
"So," I concluded. "If my anger needs to be released..."
"You must be careful," Starfire informed me. "As you relieve the stress, Rage can use the energy to empower herself, which is a threat for every Clone of Emotion."
"How am I supposed to control it?" I asked her. "I need to be angry but I can't be too angry? That doesn't make any sense."
"You must find that perfect balance," she instructed me. "A balance between suppressing your Clones of Emotion while relieving the stress they produce from within Nevermore. They are restless, Friend Raven. They will not stay dormant for long periods of time."
I sighed mournfully, easing my thoughts.
It's like taking care of a bunch of babies in my mind, I said mentally.
Well that was a nice comment! a sarcastic voice quipped in response.
"Okay," I said at last. "I'll try it again."
Starfire grinned at me.
"We will have many tasks to accomplish. Let us begin!"
For the rest of the day, Starfire and I were engaged with intense training. Our schedule was booked solid with activities to accomplish. We had to meditate for a while, in order to calm my nervous antics and wild emotions. Afterwards, we would proceed with the basic succession of my abilities. I demonstrated what I already knew to Starfire, and performed them once again using my knowledge. Creating beams and blasts became an easier skill. Starfire even helped me improve my technique for future reference. To demonstrate my aim, Starfire placed objects across the room as targets for me. After blasting each one away, I received the applause of a grand audience from the green-eyed alien.
"Glorious!" she had exclaimed as she cheered for me to continue.
By the end of the training session, we were both exhausted. My limbs were quaking with fatigue due to the prolonged period of time without exercise, and even Starfire seemed tired, but she was pleased nevertheless. The alien's praise never ceased, even as we traveled upstairs together.
"I am proud of your skills, Friend Raven," she said as we migrated onto the elevator. "But there is much improvement to be achieved."
"What do you suggest?" I asked her, clicking a button.
"May we continue the training tomorrow? I will make the promise that it will not be as difficult."
I shrugged as the platform surged upward.
"If you think that it's the best idea."
"It will be most beneficial," enthused Starfire. "Do you wish to continue with me?"
I turned to face Starfire as the elevator came to a halt. She grinned brightly, her green-sclera eyes sparkling with excitement.
I don't want to bond with them...
But I want to learn.
There's so much to explain. Is it really worth it?
I returned the alien's smile with a timid version of my own.
"Of course I want to learn from you," I told her. "I greatly appreciate your help."
When we arrived in the Main Ops room, someone had ordered a huge stack of pizza for dinner. The Titans were gathered around the crescent-shaped couch as they ate, a TV show being displayed overhead. They laughed and chatted amongst themselves nonchalantly, dining over a slice of pizza, but the whole situation made me feel uncomfortable already. Starfire had offered for me to join them in "the potato-ing of the couch" but I refused as kindly as I could. I lied about being too tired and I told her that I would see her in the morning. Although she was disappointed, she bid me a "farewell" as I stole a piece of pizza for the walk back.
I took a longer route through the building, traveling through the stairwell instead of the elevator. However, I didn't turn into my hallway. I entered another hallway, similar to the corridor where the female rooms were located. After reading each sign, I stood in front of a paneled door and forced myself to knock a couple times, praying for an answer. There was a loud rustling behind the wall, followed by the thumping of a pair of feet before the door slid partway open.
"Hi," I greeted lamely, fumbling with my simple greeting.
I had immediately noticed the green changeling's absence from the gathering in the Main Ops room, so I took the opportunity to speak to him in private. I had been meaning to talk to him for a while now and I didn't want to delay the awkward conversation any longer. Apparently, I had caught Beast Boy by surprise when I showed up at his dormitory.
He must've been sleeping, I thought as I observed his slightly damp and shaggy hair.
Or showering, another voice piped up.
Well he's still in his uniform, unless he changed back into it...
I stopped all other thoughts to prevent distraction, realizing how intrusive they were becoming.
"Raven?" he asked me, unsure of my arrival. "Is something wrong?"
Beast Boy didn't open the door any wider. Through small cracks, I could already detect the mess beyond the entrance of his room. My nose tingled with the smell of a wet dog, which radiated from his body like a natural cologne.
Yup. He definitely just showered.
"I, uh...I needed the thank you," I announced nervously.
"Huh? What for?"
Beast Boy reeled a bit, almost appearing hurt.
"You stopped the panic attack," I protested. "You were there after the nightmare. And you made tea for me. I know it sounds stupid but I have to thank you for that."
"There's really no need," he assured me. "I just wanted to help."
"You did, and I'm so grateful for that."
"It was nothing."
"It was something, and it meant a lot to me, so thank you."
Beast Boy blinked his glassy eyes several times, as if evading tears. He nodded briskly as he stared at his feet. I turned to walk away, not knowing how else to end the conversation.
I stopped and glanced over my shoulder, expecting Beast Boy to speak.
I smiled softly.
"See you tomorrow."
So much for 'refusing' to bond with the Titans, a voice snarled as I sauntered back to my room, hiding a blush that was conforming to my cheeks.
Author's Note: So what do you guys think so far? Any requests, ideas or suggestions? I'm open for questions too (and of course I'll try to update sooner)! Hope to hear from you all soon :)