Another Beast Boy and Raven Fic, but 8x longer than the last! Feel free to toss me a review if you would be so inclined - I appreciate the feedback.
Dressed to Express
"I am very much excited for this magical evening, Friend Raven!" Star giggled, twisting up into the air with her gown twirling around her. "I bet you my lucky glorpnoff that Robin will never figure out who I am with my mask on!"
Raven looked at her flatly from her seat beside the vanity table, fastening her ebony earrings with delicate hands. "Star, your skin is orange, your eyes are green, and you are currently flying."
Her buoyant friend began to sink ever so slightly, a pout of remorse fluttering across her face. "But – but – "
Raven looked at the disappointed little Tamaranean, and promptly regretted her quick words. "He's a boy, though," she supplied, trying to perk up. "Boys are never very observant."
Star brightened automatically. "Glorious! I may have a chance yet! My glorpnoff is saved!" The young woman spun then, her glittering emerald dress exploding with yard upon yard of tulle poofing out much like it had when Raven had first tried to help her into it. She acted so much like a child sometimes that it was hard to remember she was turning 19 in two weeks.
Raven, by contrast, had matured with her age, small amounts of anger and depression melting away as weeks passed. With Trigon gone for good, and her friends to talk her through it, Raven was allowing herself to let go of her shadowed self more and more. She still wore her cloak, and her uniform would always be dark and gloomy, but she found herself craving human contact more and more. Feelings that had long been suppressed due to their untrue lack of necessity seeped back into her mind. Her emotions for others, much like her own thoughts, were beginning to surprise her.
And so, when Starfire had asked her to participate in the "festivities of masquerading" that Bumblebee had decided to orchestrate, her answer had been a hesitant yes. They had spent an immeasurable amount of time trying on dresses – Star, because she was indecisive, and Raven, because NOTHING seemed to actually cover her up like clothing was SUPPOSED to –, getting burned by hair curlers, and poking eyeballs out with mascara wands, and as frazzled as the whole experience had left her, Raven couldn't help but admire her reflection in the full-length mirror in front of her.
Sure, vanity wasn't considered a virtue, but she had to admire the way red looked against her pasty skin. A crimson, strapless bodice hugged her thin waist and chest, flowing into a long skirt with a slit that made it walkable. An overlay of black lace helped her maintain a sense of modesty, reaching from her navel to the base of her neck, and then to her elbows. She felt pretty, or at the very least, passable, with her hair curled and nails painted black, minimal makeup, and the flats that she had insisted on wearing (to Bumblebee's chagrin).
"Rae, Star, you guys almost ready?" Bee grinning with reckless abandon as she glided into the room, the gathered fabric of her gown billowing out behind her in glamorous movie-star fashion as wide stripes of yellow, white, and black rippled with excitement. "The limo is here! Gah, is my hair falling out already?!" She shoved a bobby pin back into her voluminous bun, then grabbed the hairspray resting on the counter.
"You're too young for that, silly!" Kole giggled as she walked in, then immediately began to hack on the cloud of aerosol wafting through the air. Argent and Jinx waved off before it could affect them.
"Oh Sweetie, I'm sorry." Bumblebee apologized fervently, but Kole laughed it off.
"I'm fine. Actually, I'm excited! I've never been to a masquerade before. Thanks for organizing this, Bee!"
"I too have much of the excitement!" Star added, landing with a flump on the carpeted floor. "Do tell us, how will this masquerading take place?"
"After the last of us get there – which will be us, because I want all those jealous stares on ME, I mean, US – masks are on for half an hour. After that, it's free reign. I've got this awesome gong this that'll sound off when it's time." She led the way out the door as manicured hands grabbed clutch bags and purses. "Granted, we'll probably know who everyone is because a lot of us wear masks, but maybe with the fancy dos and spiffy duds, we'll have a chance at some anonymity."
"Sounds rather diverting," Argent said, holding the door for the rest of the girls.
"Sweetie, you have no idea," Bee simpered, a gloating expression settling over her features. "I'm just excited to see Sparky with a little bit of spit 'n polish."
"Or Robin wearing a suit!" Star joined in, clapping excitedly.
"Or Kid Flash in black," Jinx added, swishing the shining metallic onyx of her dress.
"Or Gnark wearing clothes!" Kole cried happily, as Jinx muttered something to Argent about exceptionally low standards.
The group's eyes turned to Raven, and she blinked. "What?"
"Aren't you excited about seeing a certain someone all dressed up?" Jinx asked, bumping against her with a bare shoulder and a suggestive wink.
"I don't – "
"Maybe even with his hair combed?" Argent winked.
"Now see – "
"And smelling like something other than B.O. and old pizza?" Bee added dryly. "I mean, if you're lucky."
"Fine, you know what I'm excited for?" Raven snapped, trying fruitlessly to control her blush. The girls looked at her expectantly. "I'm excited to get in that limo, because that poor man holding the car door open has been standing there for the past two minutes, and I'm starting to feel sorry for him."
The ride to the ballroom the Titans had rented was long and filled with incessant chatter, but for the most part, Raven was left to herself. I doubt he even showered, Raven thought to herself, although she knew for a fact that he had. As of recent, the 18-year old boy was maturing as well, devoting himself to a once-a-month room cleaning and finally giving in to the shower regiment that Robin had tried to implement when his 'natural teenage aura' began to interfere with the ability of the other Titans to hold in their lunches. But there was more to Beast Boy now than the fact that he smelled better, and it was filling Raven's head with questions.
He had started spending more time with her, even showing interest in her daily activities. He had made her tea on more than one occasion despite his insistence that it tasted like hot grass water, and often he would join her during her morning meditations, morphing into a lizard or a cat and soaking up the first rays of sunshine that crept over the open water far below the roof. Even stuff as simple as playing video games when Raven was reading on the couch, asking her about the harder puzzles during quests to see if she would answer.
But his actions weren't the only thing that sent strange emotions pulsating through her veins. Sometimes his strong hands would brush against hers as if on purpose, and he would stand closer to her if they ever could hold a conversation past their bickering. And, as constant as their arguments were, Raven couldn't help but glean a sense of playfulness in Gar's words. It was like he enjoyed riling her up! Azar, what was so fun about that?! And he liked to tease her about her height, now that she was the shortest Titan out of the five. He had almost three inches on her now, and mussing up her hair as he walked by was his new favorite pastime, despite the bruises it brought him on his muscular green arms. Every once in a while, though, Raven would catch him looking at her, comfort in his emerald eyes and a lazy smile on his lips. She wasn't dumb. She knew he had some sort of infatuation with her – but what kind of infatuation? And how far did his feelings run? Maybe he's just being an idiot again,she concluded, as the group arrived at their destination.
"Alright, ladies," Bumblebee cried, "let's get ready to party! Time to strut your stuff!" And she did, working her too-tall heels all the way to the open doors of the extravagant mansion. The girls followed in an orderly fashion, securing their masks to their face to ensure they didn't fall off. When Raven passed through the front doors, her red lipped mouth fell open. She had never seen anything more ornate and gorgeous. It was like the ballroom out of the Disney movies Starfire had roped her into watching – Beauty and the Beast? – complete with arched doorways, golden accents, and a ornate tile dance floor. Leaning up against walls stood the men of the Titans gang, immersed in idle chatter in their sharp suits and tuxes. Nearly all of them widened their eyes and fixed their posture as soon as the ladies walked in. Trying to convince herself that she wasn't looking for anyone in particular, she was still disappointed to find no trace of Beast Boy in the crowd. The music started picking up the pace as Bee moved to the right of the DJ, grabbed the mike, and began her announcements, thanking everyone for coming, explaining how the masks would work, and displaying her magical gong setup with pride. "Now, are y'all ready to have some FUN?!"
The group cheered, fists pumping in the air, and the party was underway. Raven watched from the sidelines with a glass of sparking punch, taking in the hormonal frenzy the group seemed to be bathing in. After a song or two, a mildly depressed Starfire drifted over to her with Robin in tow. "Friend Raven, I am sorry to inform you that my glorpnoff is now yours for the taking. Robin was not fooled at all!"
"I'm sorry, Star," Robin said with guilt in his voice, despite his confusion over what he was supposed to have remorse over. "I didn't mean to – "
"It's okay." Raven brushed him off. "I gave her false hopes, after all." She turned to her friend, taking in the Tamaranean's pouting lips. "Star, you can keep your glorflop – "
"Gesundheit – as long as you want. We didn't, uh, pinky swear, so it doesn't count."
"Really?!" Starfire crowed, clasping Raven's pale hands tightly. "Oh my friend, I am so lucky you are so forgiving! I must tell Argent of the great news! She will be delighted to hear of it."
"Star, I don't think Argent – " Robin trailed off as Starfire disappeared into the crowd. " – nevermind." He turned back to the gothic empath next to him, letting out a short sigh.
"You did well," Raven offered, shrugging. "You know, for not quite knowing what was going on." The two of them laughed. "Say, have you danced with her yet? That was all she could talk about this afternoon."
"Yeah." He blushed, scratching the back of his neck. "It was a little weird at first, but fun. What about you?"
"Have … I danced with Starfire?" she asked dryly, taking another sip of punch. Raven could tell he was giving her a look even from under his mask. "What?"
"You know what I mean, Raven."
Now it was her turn to sigh. "I don't really … dance. And no one has really bothered me about it."
"Then let me be the first," the Boy Wonder supplied. "I can teach you the basics. You might need them later tonight," he added, wiggling his eyebrows.
"With who?" the empath asked dryly, flicking a lock of curled hair behind her ear.
"Do I really have to state the obvious?"
"Seriously, does everybody think I like him except me?!" She crossed her arms in frustration. "Ugh! I haven't even seen him yet tonight!"
"Which means you've been looking for him."
"I have eyes. I have been keeping them open since the moment I walked through those doors. That doesn't mean I've been looking for the little green thing with every waking moment."
"Fine, fine," he amended. "Forget about it. Can I teach you how to dance yet?"
It took about ten minutes for the pupil to get better than the teacher, and after that, Raven was bored again. She almost wished Beast Boy were here to bicker with like they always had in the past – at least that was some sort of entertainment! Anything more than pacing the edge of the ballroom in her silly little mask, wondering where –
"Ack!" the normally-composed teen exclaimed, arms flailing as two hands grabbed her and pulled her out onto the balcony. "Get – a – way!" Raven spluttered, fighting off the warm arms that held her to face her assailant with black energy writhing at her fingertips.
"God, you're pretty when you're angry," the young man said, stepping out of the shadows with his hands on his hips.
"Beast Boy?!" Raven exclaimed, her magic funneling back into her bloodstream as she tried to disregard his disguised compliment. "Why the hell did you just try to kidnap me?"
"For fun?" he suggested, shrugging. His well-fitted suit shrugged with him, and he pulled at his bowtie. "God, this dang thing itches."
"So take it off."
"Nah. Robin told me it was a total chick magnet, so I can't ditch it. But this – " he shrugged out of his suit jacket. "This I can take off."
And Raven was very glad he had, as it revealed his nicely sculpted arms just under his dress shirt. Azar! What was wrong with her today?
When he glanced back to her, his eyes widened, and she took a half step back. "What?"
"Wow. You really are pretty tonight."
His soft words, dripping with the undertones of a deeper voice, didn't help the blush that spread across her face. "Shut up."
"I'm being serious," he said, taking a step forward. "Red's a nice color on you."
Raven looked away, fiddling with the satin of her skirt.
"Helloo?" he asked, waving a hand in front of her face. "Is Ravey-poo home?"
Her glare to him probably included an extra set of eyes, because Beast Boy nearly wet himself as she loomed over him. "Apparently so," he whispered fearfully, eyeing her.
"What are you even doing out here?" Raven asked, leaning against the golden railing with her elbows. "All the fun people are inside, dancing."
"I dunno," he admitted, shoving a finger under his simply black bandito mask to itch his eye. "Just wasn't feeling it yet, I guess.
Beast Boy? Not feeling the social vibe? "Are you sick?" she asked, a mild look of concern washing over her. Tendrils of her power twisted around him, trying to decipher how he was feeling – but all she could glean was a sense of mild embarrassment and something she couldn't quite put her finger on.
"Nah." The two looked out onto the pond far below, the dark water reflecting the night sky back up at them. "I just needed a break, s'all. There's too much fancy all in one room. I'm not used to that."
"You're used to congealed Chinese food and stale potato chips," she remarked dryly, a black fingernail tapping on the balcony.
"Exactly!" Beast Boy cried, throwing his lanky arms up into the air with enthusiasm, nearly taking one of Raven's earrings with him.
"Watch it!" she cried, and regret consumed his features.
"Sorry, Rae!" His hand pressed against her ear, rough callouses contrasting with her silky skin. "You okay?"
The gentleness of Gar's touch was unfamiliar to her. The urge to break things around her strengthened as emotions surged back to her. She had thought she was past it at this point, but something in Beast Boy just seemed to break her concentration. "My name is Raven," she muttered at last, "And yes, I'm fine."
"I like Rae better." His hand lingered, slipping a lock of hair behind her ear.
"Do you make it a point to try to annoy me?" Raven asked, trying to stay mad at him.
He smirked down at her. "Every day of the week."
"Because you react so well, Rae!"
"I'm going to hit you."
"Raeeeeeee – " she shoved his shoulder " – ven. Raven."
Her violet eyes narrowed. "Are you trying to be cute?"
He leaned against the banister, hip to hip with her. "Is it working?"
"Nope." Oh, she hoped she was a good liar.
He was less than a foot from her face now, green eyes glimmering from under his black fabric mask. "You sure?"
"BB, you always act like this."
He tugged on her sleeve, feeling the softness of the lace. "Doesn't mean I don't mean it," he mumbled.
"But you've been even more confusing as of late."
His gaze slid over to meet hers. "And that means?"
She floundered for words, "Making me tea. Spending time with me in the mornings. Having a vague interest in what I'm doing."
"Wasn't I supposed to?"
He smiled. "Yeah. I was hoping you would."
"And why is that?"
Gar met her eyes then. "Because I want you to know that I care about you, and that I want to spend time with you."
Raven blushed then, flustered. Beast Boy, care about her? Spend time with her? The rest of the titans would have laughed at his words had they known what he had said, but her brain pulled her back to reality. "Gar … " she breathed, unable to break his gaze by looking away.
"And it's not like you hate it, do you?" he asked. "I've tried to be nicer, because God knows the last thing I want to do is make you hate me. You mean the world to me, Rae."
The small plant resting on the railing behind Beast Boy flew off into the air, dirt and pottery exploding out into the night before dropping to the ground. "Your hair is going nuts right now," he chuckled, leaning against her at the hip. The low sound of a gong filtered through the hall as excited cheers echoed around it, the entire group elated for the unmasking. Garfield untied his own and let it flutter to the ground, revealing his pinkish cheeks as well as the rest of his face. There was something poignant in his expression, tugging at the emotions embedded deep in Raven's heart, that made him seem so vulnerable in the soft moonlight, and the young girl couldn't help but stare at the perfect picture that he made.
"Hey," Gar said gently, his low voice interrupting her thoughts. "You can take your mask off too, you know. No more hiding from me." And with that, he reached around and untied the ribbon that held her lace mask to her face.
"You mean the world to me too," she whispered, almost by instinct. His pointed ears seemed to perk up at her words, and his eyes widened.
"Raven," Gar murmured, the hand that had unfastened her mask gliding down to clutch her wrist. "What did you just say?"
Raven froze and turned away, astonished by what had just slipped out of her mouth. Stupid Raven, letting herself get carried away! "You heard me," she sniffed, her back to him as she crossed her arms.
"Come on," he murmured in her ear, hands on her waist as the empath tried very, very hard not to break the light fixture she was currently facing. "You mumbled a word or two."
"It was clear as day."
"Nope. Remember, I don't listen well."
She snorted. "You're telling me!"
"Come on, Rae."
She looked over her shoulder at him, taking in his playful half-smile. "Not in a million years."
He tried again. "Raven."
The empath whipped around to face him, ready to give him the chastising of his life, but then Beast Boy did something she thought he would never do in a million years – he wrapped his arms around her lithe form, pulled her up onto her tip-toes, and kissed her. His lips were soft and supple, molding to hers in puzzle-like perfection, and adrenaline thrummed through her veins as she soaked in his fresh scent.
This time, the light fixtures did break.
"You're going to have to pay for those," he murmured to her when they pulled away for air.
"We're having a moment here." She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck. "Don't ruin it."
"M'kay." And he kissed her again, a thumb stroking her cheek lovingly.
When they finally made it our into the ballroom, a flood of people came up to greet them. "Where were you, Raven?!" Bee exclaimed hands on her hips.
"We have not seen you or the Beast Boy in many minutes!" Star added worriedly. "Did you get lost?"
"Just out on the balcony," the red-clothed girl explained, reassuring her friend. "We didn't get lost."
"What were you guys doing out there, anyways?" Robin asked, laughing. "The party's in here, remember?"
Beast Boy smiled, the arm around Raven's waist tightening as he looked down at her. "Just – "
" – talking," Raven finished, trying not to lean too much on BB's shoulder so as not to give everything away.
Cyborg coughed a phrase that sounded a lot like "bullshit, grass stain" under his breath, and Bee and Jinx giggled.
"Come, friend Raven," Starfire grinned, grabbing her friend's hand. "Let us go get more of this delicious beverage they call 'punch!' It tasted so much like Galfore's fernshplot from my home planet!"
Raven allowed her friend to pull her away with one last glance at Beast Boy, helping herself to the extravagant snacks she had ignored earlier. When she returned to the huddle of teenage boys ten minutes later, she heard the tail end of the sentence Garfield was saying to Robin. " … and that's why you were so right – this bow tie totally is a chick magnet!"
She glared at the back of his head, fumes of anger drifting from her ears. Robin's eyes widened as he glanced behind his green-skinned companion, shrinking back a little even though he wasn't in trouble. Seeing his fearless leader shrink back in fear, Beast Boy stiffened and turned around. "Oh," he squeaked softly. "Hey Rae! I was just about to, uh, go find you."
"He wants to dance with you!" Robin added, gently grabbing Star's hands and pulling her away from the pulsating mass of dark energy surrounding Raven.
"I do?" BB threw over his shoulder. His head whipped back to look at the glowering girl. "I mean, yeah! I totally do! Why don't we just … " Timidly he grabbed her hand and led her away from his concerned friend, until they were still a safe distance away from their friends and amidst the foray of couples. "So, um … "
"Not cool," she seethed, the hands on his shoulders digging in painfully. He winced, looking apologetic. "How many people did you tell?!"
"Just Robin!" he exclaimed. "Just Robin, I promise. I didn't mean to – "
"It sounded a lot like bragging to me," Raven growled.
"Rae, I swear," he murmured, the arms around her waist tightening. "I'd been asking him for help from day one – I figured he deserved to know. It's not like I went into detail or anything."
Her glare faded a little. "What do you mean, since day one?"
Gar turned bashful then, not quite meeting her eyes. "I mean, ever since I figured out I liked you, I wasn't sure what I should do about it, and I had to ask someone, or nothing would have ever happened. You get me, don't you?"
Her lips pursed. "Maybe."
"Come on," he murmured, resting his forehead against hers. "Am I forgiven?"
She thought about it for a moment, thought about the emotions he stirred up in the pit of her stomach and her limbs and her fingertips, and bit back a smile. "Depends on how many times you step on my toes for the rest of the night."
He laughed. "Oh man. I'm sunk." And then the young couple kissed again, this time not quite as worried with who saw or what broke.