Before I begin I would like to dedicate this chapter to the following people:
Lizzy0888-my 100th reviewer! Yes, you all helped me get there (and thank you for that) but she was the actual hundredth person.
ZodiacFire- who is fulfilling one of my TT fan fiction whims. She's an awesome writer and does really good character cameos. Check out her story Tone Deaf, which she is writing to satisfy one of my fan fiction whims.
AN: As I sit here and go through the reviews, I am starting a tad bit guilty for not updating sooner, but hey; I'm still hitting my quota for the most part (at least one story/chapter update per month). Thank you all for reviewing…it really encourages me to continue with this story. I know, I'm sorry; I'm such a slacker when it comes to updating, but I do have two valid excuses besides laziness: I have an internship for the summer and the next school year so that takes up a ton of time and next year, fall 2005, I shall be heading off to college so I must do some research on that.
Review responses: Thank you all so much for those reviews. They really make my day . I love acknowledging everyone personally and extensively, but I was afraid that it would take up too much space in the chapter so for review responses for the last chapter, refer to my profile (it may take a few hours for to load up the revised profile though) where everyone who reviewed has a response.
Chapter 7: Raven's Pudding
Come back to me.
Sing your hymns again,
Come and invigorate my senses,
Fill me with the hope I need to continue once again.
I can no longer see the beauty nor the meaning of my works.
They all seem so foul, so putrid now
With line after line of meaningless clichés;
I see nothing- absolutely no potential in any of my old foolish works.
Even that most treasured poem,
Drips with the blood of imperfection.
Muse, come back to me,
And stop the ugliness from continuing.
Stop this intense misery
That tortures my soul
Let it all just die
She has not returned for quite a while now
And I no longer wait for her return.
The harvest moon is bright
And perfect for the end.
I toss my poems, my beloved stories, my life work
Into the bon fire.I watch the flames sparkle and dance
As I feel my spirit burning and withering away
Along with the fire's ashes.
Raven read the poem before her again, hoping to see some redeeming points within it as she sipped a cup of herbal tea at her kitchen table. Come and invigorate my sense…just what the heck was I thinking when I wrote this. She cringed as she continued on to the next stanza; it was such a flat, disgustingly boring poem that really said nothing significant at all. Sadly, though, she had to admit that "Withering Away" had been the best poem she had written over the past month.
Writing, poetry, it was everything to her (or rather, they used to be everything to her). Everything and anything she had really cared about. Months ago, after dropping out of college, stopping a year and five months short of receiving a degree psychology, it was just wonderful. Waking, sleeping, and writing whenever she pleased, not having to be hindered by all the work she had to do for class when she could be writing. Words just seemed to slip from her pen, rearranging themselves in lustrous phrases and coming together to form poems that she was very proud of.
But then, real life caught up. Rent, bills, food, the costs of living just piled up when her parents or rather, her father, refused to fund her activities once she dropped out. Not that she wanted any of her father's charity, anyhow, but since he had basically forced her to major in psychology, she figured that having him fund her education was only a ploy for his next campaign- Re-elect Trigon for Mayor: statesman, gentleman, and family man.
It would be a gross understatement to say that she disliked her father-the epitome of the corrupt politician. Sure, he's been in the mayor's office for a term, winning overwhelmingly against his opponent, but it was only because he had so brandished the reputation of the former mayor by exacting all his dirty, little secrets that it was rumored that the man had left the country and changed his name. Somehow or rather, Trigon would always find a way to obtain the dark secret in the lives of political dissidents and to, in a way, blackmail them into going through with his agenda. Slick and ever the elusive mayor, people either feared him too much to go against him or could simply find no evidence that he was involved in the immoral attempts to discredit his opponents, though it was clear that he had some sort of connection to underhanded means. And they still called home a democracy, how utterly ironic.Machiavelli was Trigon's hero, The Prince-his guiding principles to being a politician. "Make the people fear you Raven, that's the key to power." And with a smug, slick chuckle, he would act as if he had just discussed something extremely important and philosophical with her. "As you can see, my friends, my daughter and I have a perfectly open relationship. Isn't that so Raven?" He would give her a glance that shot with daggers as he causally draped an arm around her and tightened his grip ever the slightly to remind her that he was in charge of her life despite her spirit of rebellion. She may choose to run away from home, from her past, but they would always be connected by blood. She utterly despised him, eagerly anticipating when she could leave home because deep down inside, she feared that some of his corrupt ideals would seep within her mind where she could not escape them… And these thoughts kept boring down upon her mind. Yes, she enjoyed psychology, but the fact that her father had intended the major for her prevented her from truly enjoying the subject. She wanted nothing to do with him. The anger that had built up inside…and so, she discovered writing. At first, she merely jotted down thoughts in a notebook, but as time passed, the haphazard phrases and sentences began to flow, to convalesce into an entity. And soon, she found herself spinning just pages and pages of descriptions that meshed into poems, truthful poems that allowed her to express her innermost feeling. It was an escape from a world she wanted no part in, and it was wonderful in the beginning. But the real world had caught up. Money for food, for rent, for basic needs, she soon realized that she lacked all that. After going through several meager pay jobs, a chance meeting led her to work at The Muckrakers, which unlike her other jobs, had an adequate, but still not extravagant or distinctly comfortable, pay. It was an immense amount of work, though, and it soon consumed all her time, leaving her little time to pursue her true passion, to be a writer and to just be able to string little pieces of written art all day.
"Raven, are you in well being? You seem to have less of a predilection to speak than you would in times of normalcy. Tell me, what is weighing down upon your mind today?" Starfire's awkwardly constructed words awakened Raven from her thoughts.
"Oh, just tired." She replied tersely as she sipped a bit of herbal tea from her cup. Apparently, the answer didn't satisfy her bubbly friend. "Friend Raven, you look not in good disposition. Perhaps, if I rush to my sister's home establishment, I may be able to produce a most invigorating Pudding of Vitality of your exhaustion. Come Raven!" Star stood up with a start, always eager to whip up her infamous puddings.
Oh God…not her pudding again. Raven gulped slightly, remembering her last "encounter" with the pudding. After having a pretty nasty day at work, she had acted slightly moody around Star, refusing all of her friend's attempts to make her go shopping or fishing in the local city lake ("Star, for the last time, we city dwellers have to follow laws about this sort of stuff. In your home, you may have been able to fish wherever you pleased, but here, you can't." "But dearest female comrade Raven, it would cause so much enjoyment on my part and yours. You could perhaps, after fishing successfully, bask in the rays of the sun of joy again." "It's night time." "I was speaking figuratively.") To make a long conversation short, somehow or rather, Raven refused all of Star's attempts to cheer her up to such a point that Star believed that Raven was furious with her. Yes, Raven was rather annoyed with her, but not furious, to say the least, or not as furious as she was, after she consumed the Pudding of "Friendship and Forgiveness."
Star's eyes began to water as she watched Raven refuse the mess she held out-the dreaded pudding. "Raven, you do not wish to partake in consuming this Pudding of Friendship and Forgiveness? Are you indicating that you (at this point, the girl's voice began to crack) no longer wish to remain friends with me?"
"Uh…no…no, definitely not that. I just had a rough day, and I'm in no mood for pudding right now, no matter how appetizing it appears to be." She cringed at the appetizing bit of her statement. The pudding looked anything but edible. In fact, it seemed to take a life on its own…maybe she was losing it, but the brown-yellowish dough/liquid substance seemed to have just twitched.
"It is all right. You have no need to remain polite if my presence has become a great annoyance. I am sorry for forcing this friendship upon you. I believe that I shall leave now." With her head hung down, Starfire shuffled dejectedly towards the door. I don't believe this. Raven sighed. After all, Starfire was her best friend, despite all of their many differences. Sure, they got on each other's nerves (or more accurately, Star got on Raven's nerves), but emotionally, they did indeed help and support each other most of the time. With the thought of old memories, Raven picked up a spoon and dug away at the pudding. "Hey Star…look" She tried to manage some enthusiasm. "I'm eating it now." With a gulp, she swallowed the bit of pudding on her spoon, and felt her throat begin to burn.
"How was it? Does it not tell of the glories of friendship?" Starfire now beamed, reassured that Raven was still her friend. "Uh…yes, in a very unique kind of way-in fact, in a very unique kind of way. So what's in this Pudding of Friendship thing?" "Well, in my home, it is important to adhere to the strict standards of pudding creation. However, because I wanted to combine the positive effects of both the pudding of friendship and forgiveness, it involved a complex concoction of a mixture of the ingredients of both. In all honesty, after the straight combination of both puddings, the taste was terrible. So to alleviate the terrible taste, I placed several bottles amount of mustard within the pudding. Does it not taste better-"
Raven gasped and rapidly interrupted Star. "Mustard!" Why she was extremely allergic to mustard! That probably explained the burning sensation within her throat. She choked out half coughing and wheezing. Slightly concerned, Star answered Raven's exclamation. "Yes, mustard. Is something wrong…oh my! You are coughing! Oh Raven, I am sorry. I presumed the pudding to be edible!" In a splutter of apologies and several spasms, Raven somehow managed to explain her allergy to Star and got her to call an ambulance…thus leading to a very unpleasant, one week stay in the hospital followed by months of deep apologies from Starfire.
So it was no wonder that Raven had so dreaded another encounter with the pudding that she was willing to do anything to avoid it…even act happy. "Actually, I feel and less sleepy suddenly. It's the tea…yup definitely the tea." Raven managed a slight smirk to increase assurance that she wouldn't have to suffer through Star's pudding. "Are you sure friend Raven? Perhaps for assurance, we could- " "Honestly, herbal tea really does it all. Want some?" With an eager nod, Raven poured a cup of the tea for her while breathing a sigh of relief. No allergic reaction for her today.
A knock came from Raven's door. "Probably the guys." She muttered to Starfire, who eagerly went to open the door. "Greetings Cyborg and Robin…Raven and I were playing the role of elderly maids."
"Elderly maids?" Cyborg asked in a brief moment of confusion. "Oh, you mean old maids."
"Yes, old is the correct word. I apologize for the confusion."
"No prob, Star, so what's cooking today in Raven's café?" The former athlete causally asked. Raven shrugged and rolled her eyes slightly. "You'll never guess." "Oooo…could it be herbal tea?" Cyborg guessed with forced enthusiasm.
"Wow…how could you ever guess…you must be psychic or something…" However, amidst their bit of banter, she noticed that Star had been particularly quiet. Of course, Star had become preoccupied with Robin who seemed to be in one of those moods.
Star sat across from him as he stared at the newspaper folded out before him seemingly studying him features, though she did seem disturbed that he had yet to say a word. Pausing for a moment, before saying a word, she looked slightly edgy and nervous. "Robin, are you in healthful being?"
"Oh yea, sorry, this news just has been getting to me. Here look at this: No Leads on the Whereabouts of the Injustice League-Justice League Baffled and The Ins and Outs of Wayne Corps." He groaned after reading the last headline. "Cy, Bruce definitely won't be happy when he reads that. I swear, Slade or that Gizmo must have been interviewed and half of this stuff's been spun purposely so that we look bad."
Cyborg shook his head as he began scanning the article. "Man…well it isn't that bad."
"Not that bad for you, but Bruce's been cracking down on me, more than he usually does." Robin added as he sighed.
"I am sorry for your misfortunes." Starfire finally managed to say after watching his depressed form. She looked considerably subdued and even slightly despondent afterwards, as well.
It was obvious to Raven that Star and Robin clearly had something or rather going on in between them, though they both seemed completely oblivious. She honestly did try to direct Star to him actions ("I'm sure Robin isn't mad at you. He was clearly blushing today." "Blushing? I do not believe so Raven. Most chances than not, Robin must have accumulated mosquito bites from the picnic we reveled in. The redness was surely due to the bites of the insects, not of blushing…") and clearly, it was hopeless.
And Raven wasn't the type to initiate "girl talks." After the pudding incident, she could not help but to envision the worst-case scenario while girl talking. In her mind, Star would ask to "engage in an intimate conversation between two female" with her. After much begging and pleading on the part of Star, Raven would finally reluctantly agree to talk with her, but haplessly, in a flash, Star would smile brightly, whisk out a bowl of pudding (most probably the Pudding of Truthfulness and Confidentiality), and stuff spoonfuls of it into Raven's mouth to ensure the proper environment for a friendly, intimate conversation.
As the others all settled and began to have their own conversations, Raven returned to her notebook and flipped the page, preparing to read more disappointing poetry. She sipped her tea again, and noticed that something or rather someone was missing from the background chatter. Of course, Beast Boy wasn't there. Strange as it was, without his lively chatter, the room felt slightly emptier.
A.N.: The chapter was originally supposed to be longer, featuring a bit of Beast Boy as well, but it was getting long, so thus ends Chapter 7. And once again, I love receiving reviews of any sort, so please tell me what you thought of the chapter.
Side note: Who Needs Love Anyhow- a BB/R and S/R/S fic I'm beginning where they are all in college, so if I'm slow with updates (as usual), it'd be nice if you could check it out.