Raven always knew that his personality was a front. No one could be that naive and childish all the time. No, she wasn't completely unaware of the darkness that hid inside him, although for a long while he had managed to hide his true self from her. He was so adept at playing the happy-go-lucky fool that it stayed the primary focus of his being and his public self - the side that all the teammates saw. But that night of her birthday, when Robin had consoled her, when her teammates had a flash of insight into her prophecy, she felt his true self come through. She saw a lightning-quick glimpse of the man hiding under the guise of a boy, and she suddenly realized that he was simply playing a part.
His worry and fear were so strong that night, that it nearly pushed her back unto herself, and she stood in front of him for a long moment staring at Beast Boy as if he was the strangest creature she had ever met. And in another second, that man inside him was gone, back to hiding behind the facade of someone silly and strange. She had never experienced something like that from him, not even during his bout with the beast hiding inside. Even then he hid the man he truly was, and the person he tried so hard to keep hidden stayed deep within his secret depths.
Raven became fascinated with seeing glimpses of the man under the boy, and she constantly watched him out of the corner of her eye, looking for signs of that person within him. She quickly discovered that he was always giving hints into himself, subtle moments where the true Beast Boy would be exposed and then disappear behind a bad joke or silly prank. Most of the time, if Raven truly concentrated, she could feel his subtle disgust and remorse at the pranks he pulled. The frustrating feeling of confliction that he had to keep up the ruse in order to save his face in front of his teammates.
He wasn't stupid, far from it in fact. He was well-educated, smart, clever, and Raven assumed witty (although she had never heard him talk that way - yet). If she pieced all the little parts together, she could see a full image of the man he was. But he chose to keep his pains hidden underneath the costume, because it was always easier to play the stupid one on the team than to face the responsibility and memories that came with being honest. It was easier to hide behind the safety of silliness than to truly understand yourself. And Raven, try as she might, could not fault him for trying to run away from his past. She knew all too well there were real reasons for hiding from your past.
"You're quieter than usual."
Raven glanced up at the subject of her thoughts as he plopped down next to her in front of the television. He picked up the remote and spun it around in his hands, but didn't turn it on. There was an internal war as he fought against the mask he wore, and then caved under his own pressure and clicked the television on to some bad sci-fi movie. A minute ticked by before he looked over at her, anxious to fill the silence between them. In silence a person tended to let their guard down, and Raven knew he didn't want that.
"I think you've said like ten words all week."
"I'm thinking." She kept her voice even and pragmatic, rather than accusing. After all, he wasn't stupid.
"About unicorns and rainbows?" He grinned, but Raven was beginning to learn his tells. The slight raise to his left eyebrow as he strained to show his teeth. The way his lower lip twitched when he wanted to stop but forced himself to continue. He was faking it.
"Gumdrops and teddy bears, actually."
His smile fell for a moment before turning genuine, the slight spark of friendship behind his eyes. "Raven: Queen of Snark."
"Mm..." She turned and watched the movie with pretend interest, fighting to keep herself from stealing glances at him. From her peripheral vision she could see his face slide into something stoic and unknown, retreating for a moment into his own inner-self. But when he caught her sideways stares, he pretended to have enthusiasm for the movie, acting as if it were actually interesting or good.
Raven couldn't take it any more. "Why do you do that?"
"Do... what?" He glanced over at her, shock and a little bit of fear in his face.
Raven opened her mouth to point fingers at him, crying for him to finally show the man he was hiding underneath. But seeing that fear in his eyes made her question her own actions. She, of all people, knew the importance of respect and privacy, and if Beast Boy wanted himself hidden, who was she to stop him? Who was she to force him to show something he wasn't ready to yet?
"Like... these movies. I mean, they're so... bad.." That was a terrible save, but he seemed to buy it.
"I don't know... they're just a way to escape." He shrugged and looked at the TV again. "They're just a way to forget that we deal with some seriously messed up shit everyday. And even though they're bad, they're always there to distract me for even just a few hours. Make me forget about... what we do."
There it was again, that flash of man. Raven stared at him, intrigued. "There are other ways to deal with it, you know."
He forced a grin again, his tells perfectly evident in his face. "Are you coming on to me?"
"What!? No!" She pulled back and glared, insulted that his mind (even his front) went there. She crossed her arms over her chest and moved farther away from him, grumbling under her breath. "I just meant you can talk to me... if you ever wanted to. We can work through it together... but if you're going to keep hiding from me..." Raven bit her lip, shocked she had let those words escape.
"I don't hide." He rolled his eyes; another one of his tells. "I'm right here... besides, you're always so damn distant, I didn't think you'd want to talk to me... ever. You're not exactly the touchy-feely type. I don't think I've ever seen you share willingly."
Raven tapped her fingers on her thigh, feeling her patience start to wear thin. She wasn't trying to force him into something he wasn't ready to give, but she also knew the pain of suffering alone. She sighed in defeat and stood up, sensing he didn't want her to be around anymore. She'd come too close to figuring him out, and that frightened him more than anything.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to push." She moved toward the door, but stopped before she left his side. "I just want you to know that I'm here for you, and while I haven't always been 'touchy-feely' or 'willing to share' as you put it... I can tell when there's darkness you're trying to hide." She gathered herself and walked away from his shocked stare. "You may have the other's fooled, but not me."
"You know nothing about me, Raven."
And there it was, that man hiding under the child, staring at her.
Raven opened the door. "I would if you let me in." With those words, she disappeared into the hallway. She heard his footsteps follow her to the door, and felt the push of a man against her powers. Anger, sadness, shock, frustration all slid against her senses, forcing her to stop in the middle of the hallway and stare at the closed door. He was staring back at it, trying to think of something to say, and trying to understand what he needed to say. Minutes passed and neither one moved, trying to think of something to fill the silence and repair their words.
"There's so much death."
Raven swallowed and ran her hand down the closed door, feeling his body on the other side.
"We've been forced to watch our friends and innocent people die."
She held her breath, waiting for him to speak again.
"I've been forced to live a life I don't truly understand or even want because there is nothing else for me to do. I've been forced into this because I'm a freak of nature, and a bastard of outlandish and terrible experiments. I'm stuck pretending to be this person because if I try to be anything else, or complain about what I am or how I feel, I'm constantly reminded of how lucky I am and how grateful I should be." He opened the door and looked down at her. "And I'm tired of always trying to keep this up. Trying to keep me hidden because no one understands... because I don't understand."
Raven moved forward, and wrapped her arms around him. He buried his face in her hair, and they both stood like that for a long moment, waiting for something to happen or someone to break. When they both remained calm and peaceful, Raven looked up at him.
"I don't always understand... but I am always here."
With those words, Beast Boy dropped the facade and let his true self shine through his face. He nodded slowly, pulling her even closer into his embrace. Through their touch, Raven could feel every part of his unguarded soul, and it was both beautiful and tragic. Finally, she understood the man that hid behind the boy.
I don't know what this is. I just happened to have some free time this afternoon while I was sunning by the kiddie pool in my yard and I wanted to write. So... this came out. Anyway, thanks for reading.