Another year and it's time for the Teen Titans Secret Santa! 2015's piece goes to Kuumba the Dreamer! Happy holidays my friend!
As always, thanks to kdubbz1075 for organizing this annual event! I really do look forward to it each year.
The Ebb and Flow
"You do know that most people don't celebrate the midnight after New Year's Day, right?"
The wind picked up just slightly, an invisible jet of frigid air coursing gently over exposed skin, soothing an underlying unrest. Fine hairs stood on end, but Beastboy didn't pay any mind. His eyes fixed upon the cityscape across the bay, while stratiform clouds snuck silently by overhead in the darkness. Drifting in the night abyss wasn't normally something that appealed to him. It was much quieter than he was used to, or maybe his thoughts were louder. For that reason, it was no surprise that he might have run into Raven up here.
Beastboy's chest rose and fell with silent respirations, while Raven drew a deep inspiration followed by a brief pause as her lungs adjusted to the cold. The air then came flowing out smoothly, her frame relaxing but nevertheless maintaining postured shoulders. She was in no rush, and rather was actually curious as to the reason for her visitor.
Another gust tip-toed by, weaker than the previous one.
Beastboy's breaths remained steady as he stood firm in the ebb and flow of the cold night air. Raven couldn't help but notice, and started to wonder who this really was. Who would appear exactly like her Garfield but also like somebody else? His inner turmoil flowed over her like a stream over smoothened stone, and she was able to detect flavors of deep-rooted frustration and apprehension. Her brow furrowed out of some combination of surprise and concern. These feelings had the qualities of those with a long history.
She perceived a ripple in the tension, followed by walls going up. Walls she knew well.
"Well you know me," Beastboy chirped with an unexpected amount of pep, turning to face Raven with a toothy grin to match. "The party's never over with Beastie!"
Oh no he didn't.
He should've know it was too late for that. Raven stood her ground while her hood swayed, not ignoring his gesture but absorbing it fully while maintaining eye contact.
Beastboy looked back at her, their eyes pouring into one another's, and the angles of his mouth softened for a moment before the rest of the veneer fell from his face. Muscles relaxed, and he felt thoughts which had previously struggled for air now come floating freely to the surface.
He often wondered how she was always able to do that—to dissipate his barriers—just by looking at him. By looking into him with those amethyst irides. Despite what she could probably accomplish with the aid of her powers, there was nothing supernatural about her effect on him. Nothing probing or suggestive. She would simply look at him quietly, her brow relaxed. He would notice the way her lips just slightly parted as she waited for him, sometimes revealing a glint of moisture along the inner surface. It was an unassuming, humble offering to simply be with him, and he came apart every time.
Man, he really knew how to pick 'em.
He turned to face the cityscape again, a tired sigh venting out. He spoke out into the bay, "What if it really is never over with me?"
"What if what is never over?"
He paused before replying, "I don't know. The party. The jokes. All of…" he gestured to his torso… "this."
Raven studied his back, the form-fitted uniform disclosing his contours even in the dark.
"What if I'm always just gonna be the comic relief guy?"
There was no verbal response, but then, he knew there wouldn't be one. He knew she was still listening, not to his words but the emotions he was sure were radiating from him. Meanwhile, Raven was silent while she let those emotions wash over her.
Tension, something she didn't frequently associate with Beastboy.
Release, ebbing and flowing like the tide.
Discontent, and a lot of it. It also felt deep-seated, so much so that she wondered if she'd been oblivious to it earlier.
Fear. Or maybe anxiety. Or apprehension. They were often hard to tease apart.
There were countless others, swirling around and making little eddies in the current that was flowing over her.
Raven relaxed and smiled inwardly as she felt that last one. To an empath, it was Beastboy's emotional signature. His flavor. And it was still there.
But still, his question deserved a response. And if the changeling wanted a partner for his introspection, then Raven would certainly accommodate him.
"Who else would you want to be?" she challenged, already with some guess at his answer.
"I don't know…" he lied. "I guess more like… Robin or Cyborg."
"Why would you want to be more like them?" she responded, still standing at a slight distance for the moment.
"Cause they're leaders. They're tough and smart, and they always step up when things get tough." He sighed, "I feel like I'm always just… following."
This was followed by silence. Thought. And then rather suddenly, Raven was standing next to him at the edge of the rooftop, and they both gazed forward.
"Don't be Robin or Cyborg," she monotoned calmly. "It's pointless to try to be someone else when there's so much good in you."
"I know…" he admitted, although she could feel that his turmoil persisted. "But look at us. We're super heroes, and the only name I've made for myself is the jokester."
"That's not true. And besides, the Flash jokes a lot, too. There's no rule against it."
"All I know is, I don't want to just be the underdog every time. I'm sick of being the guy who nobody expects to save the day. The guy who just stalls for backup."
"Beastboy, nobody thinks of you like that."
"Bullshit, Raven. Robin and Cyborg and the Flash have saved the day so many times, but nobody ever relies on "Beastboy"."
"That's also not true," she pushed back. "I rely on you."
Beastboy was caught off guard and his next words dissipated from his tongue. He turned to face the sorceress, hoping to read some kind of emotion on her face, but instead only saw the side of her hood and some purple locks swaying in the breeze.
Raven continued, "I admit, your pranks grow tiresome sometimes. And sure, some super heroes are driven by overcoming physical challenges. But even without your jokes, you have a way of lifting people up and making those around you happy. You inspire people not through toughness, but by giving them hope." She paused for a moment, planning to consider her words but they came out on their own: "And I rely on you for that."
He thought about this, while the empath felt his emotions stirring and swaying—settling down, kicking up, and then settling again repeatedly, but each time more organized than the last.
"You really rely on me?" he asked.
She rolled her eyes but smiled softly. "Beastboy, we've had that conversation several times before. You just want me to say it out loud again."
He chuckled and replied, "Well a guy can try." He paused while the moment passed, and then asked with a lower tone, "I just want to know that I'm growing. That what I am now isn't it."
"That's normal," Raven reassured him. She pulled her hood down and the night air immediately brushed along her newly exposed skin. "If you want to strive for more, then strive for more of what makes you 'you'."
The corners of Beastboy's mouth turned slightly upward before he asked, "Do ya think it's too late for a New Year's resolution?"
His hand found hers and took hold, her gray skin smooth against his calloused pads. Without breaking her gaze on the bay, her fingers found their way between his and the two hands interlocked. For a demi-demon, she was always unexpectedly warm.
"I don't see any problem with it," she monotoned. She squeezed his hand in approval, leading to a renewed grin emerging on the changeling's face.
"Then it's settled!" he said. "It's gonna be a big year for Beast Man!"
She rolled her eyes, but nevertheless found herself smiling again. One day she would figure out how he did that.
Author note: For such a simple conversation, this was harder than I thought! Maybe it has to do with sleep deprivation. Tell me if any parts are awkward or out-of-character! Or just tell me anything. Thank you!