title: a tinge of insomnia
pairing: beast boy/raven
genre: fluff. well, sorta. still not good for my allergies; fluff makes me woozy. a little bit of angst, i guess. that would explain the yelling.
rating: mmm. . . we'll go with pg. no dirty language or kinky jokes O_o which is a big deal, coming from me, the random obscenity stringer.
disclaimer: i don't own the teen titans. obviously. because if that was the case cyborg would have better lines, robin/starfire wouldn't be so boring to sit through, and the chemistry between raven & beast boy would be so thick you could get lost in it. oh wait, scratch that last one, it already is. good work, guys.
summary: beast boy can't sleep. at least, not unless he pays raven a visit every once in awhile. multiple personalities, emotional outbursts, and almost entirely told in dreams.
notes: i can't write raven/beast boy; ideas just don't come to me. the problem is i see them as such an obvious couple. argh. plus i'm way too stubborn about that canon thing, what with raven not being able to express her emotions. creates a bigger challenge when i write stuff, and i am all about the canon, baby. anyway, this was one of the few--FEW--ideas that popped in my head, so i took it and ran with it. hopefully it didn't tailspin out of control toward the end.
to wingzero again: this is, like, the 3rd time i've stiffed you on beta-ing. but since we're both busy, and i'm not sure whether you're a teen titan fan or not, my apologies again. i'll write you that ppg fic, i promise :)
to any teen titan fans reading this: i'm always stiffed for ideas. plus, i'm a horribly slow writer. i started this fic around two months ago. just to put things in perspective for those of you who constantly ask for the next chapter.
end painfully long author's notes. enjoy!
A Tinge of Insomnia
It started out of boredom. Sheer, unfiltered, inescapable boredom. With just a tinge of insomnia to boot.
The night it started Beast Boy had been flat on his back on the floor (having given up on the bed), his eyes tracing shapes in the stucco of the ceiling. He cast a furtive glance at his bedside clock and read 3:49 am.
"Great," he muttered. The past 8 times he'd looked at it the time had read 3:49 am.
Groan. "There's nothing left to do," he whined, ticking off mentally all the things he'd accomplished in the hours he'd been awake. He'd uncovered all the secret levels and characters in Regal Clash on his Funstation. He'd memorized the lyrics to all his favorite songs. He'd even gone so far as to read yesterday's newspaper, and idly wondered about the future of the shrinking pond of Wooden Palisade Park in Missouri (those poor ducks). And now, now he was contemplating flipping through the encyclopedia looking up random animals and seeing how many he could morph into successfully.
The levels of lame absolute he would sink to, however, kept him from reaching for the dusty tome shoved somewhere under that mess he was, on occasion, known to call a bed.
Not that he hadn't tried to get to sleep or anything. He'd attempted the sheep counting (4,193,298,317 before he called it quits), 6 glasses of soy milk (that had just given him gas), and the weather channel (Missouri was getting rain; that oughtta help out that pond) to no avail.
He sat up and looked at the clock again. 3:50 am. And he was still very much awake and still very much bored.
"Oh well," he said out loud, and obviously to himself. "Might as well go for a walk around the tower."
During the act of polishing off the carrot sticks he'd appropriated from the kitchen, Beast Boy's attention was caught by a faint hum in the hallway. He quirked his ears. "You telling me someone besides me is awake?" he wondered out loud, and headed for the buzz's source while popping another carrot in his mouth.
Beast Boy padded softly along the hall, the hum growing into a dull drone that he still couldn't quite place, and he followed it until he came to a stop outside Raven's room. Her door was ajar, and a thin sliver of dim light filtered into the hall.
"Wow. Door's open." The drone that had been a hum he could now make out to be a chant, but it definitely wasn't Raven's voice. He instantly tensed. Was she in trouble? Under attack? Being held hostage?
The idea of Raven being incapable of fending for herself seemed a foreign concept, but still. . .
"Better safe than sorry," Beast Boy whispered, and morphed into a mouse, shoving aside any apprehensions he had about entering Raven's room without her permission and scampering through the crack of light.
Well, empty save for the sleeping Raven at the foot of her bed, her hands curled clumsily around a book too intimidatingly large for Beast Boy to vest any interest in. Beast Boy morphed back and glanced at her stereo. The empty CD case next to the speakers said "Gregorian Chants." Well, leave it to Raven to have great taste in music.
"Guess she fell asleep meditating or something," he said quietly, flipping the off switch on the stereo before moving to the bed to tug the book out of her hands. He let out a quiet groan at the sheer weight of it. "Good grief," he gasped, dropping to the ground on his knees, the massive tome nearly crunching his fingers against the floor.
His right pinkie just barely made it, and he shook it off and stuck it in his mouth to soothe it. Level with the bed, he blinked at Raven's dormant form, an uncharacteristic expression of tranquility on her face.
'I guess it's good to know even Raven's sleeping well tonight,' he thought to himself, standing and wiping his finger against the side of his leg. 'Better get out of here before she wakes up—I'd be royally screwed if that happened.'
As he padded softly past her desk something flickered and caught his eye, and he turned, casting it a curious glance. A familiar looking mirror laid on its surface—or, not mirror, but portal to Raven's mind.
'Definitely don't wanna go there again,' Beast Boy thought, and would've left just then, but at that moment the glass flickered—which wasn't typical mirror behavior, particularly when the only light on in the room wasn't flickering itself. Of course, this wasn't a typical mirror.
All the same, this was a typical Beast Boy, and his curiosity got the better of him. He stepped up to the desk, minding his distance, and peered at the glass. Instead of seeing himself, everything was dark and still, save for a small light—a star?—winking faintly. A barely audible sound seemed to be coming from it—no, a voice.
"Weird," he whispered. Forgetting about the whole minding your distance thing, he took a step closer to get a better look.
A split second later he realized that had not been a very smart idea.
Almost instantly he felt his feet defy gravity and "fall" from the ground, and before he had a chance to even blink he tumbled somewhere and hit something that made a noise sounding suspiciously like "oof."
He shook his head and looked around. "Oh. Great. Raven's gonna skin me alive."
"Good assumption. But that's going to be a bit difficult if you don't get off me."
Beast Boy's eyes widened and he whipped his head downward, where a very disgruntled looking Raven had her head twisted around to glare at the green kid who'd landed on her back.
"Eep!" Beast Boy scrambled off, instantly getting on his knees and holding his hands up in what he hoped was an effective plea for mercy. "I'msorryIcouldn'tgettosleepsoIdecidedtogoforawalkaroundthetowerandthenIpassedbyyourroomandIsawthislightandIheardthissoundsoIcameinbutyouweresleepingsoIwasleavingbutthenIsawthemirrorand—"
"Geez, calm down. And try taking breaths between every few words, for crying out loud. I can barely understand you."
Beast Boy blinked, wondering which Raven he'd landed on (probably Civility, since she seemed very nonplussed by the whole falling on her bit) and cast a subtle glance up.
He blinked again and sat up. "Wha. . . Which Raven are you?"
Raven tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. "Uh, I was under the impression there was only one of me."
Beast Boy just blinked some more. ". . . Is. . . Is your hair. . . up? In. . . a bun? And. . . and curled?! And you're wearing earrings! And. . . ohmyGod. . . is that a DRESS?!?!"
She pulled in a corner of her mouth. "Um, yeah. I've heard girls usually fix up their hair and wear a dress to their high school prom."
Beast Boy's eyes ceased their blinking and he merely goggled. "'PROM?!?!' Dude, what planet are you—"
"What are you doing here, anyway? You go to a high school in the other district. Did you come with someone from my school? Oh, she must've ditched you for not dressing up. That's not very classy, Beast Boy—"
"HOLD IT!!! What the heck's going on?!?!"
Raven knit her brows together and replied, "You tell me."
"Look, I just need to get outta here before the real Raven shows up and butchers me for getting into her mind again—"
Raven snorted—snorted!—and said, amused, "Man, sounds like you've been having some weird nightmares, Beast Boy."
He scrunched his face at her and said, "This wasn't a nightmare—"
And he paused.
Raven was sleeping. And when people slept. . . they had dreams.
"This is all a dream," he murmured aloud, his eyes widening.
Dream Raven had a skeptical look on her face. "Well, I wouldn't call it a dream. The dance was really boring. I ditched my date to come out here and get some fresh air."
Somehow, the idea of Raven having a date with anyone was enough to send Beast Boy's mind into a state of bafflement. He opened his mouth, about to say something to poke fun at that, but realized she wouldn't much get it anyway, since it was all, well, a dream. "Um. . . don't you think he's missing you?"
Man, that sounded weird.
Raven pursed her lips and shrugged, heels dangling from her left hand as she pulled up her knees and crossed her arms around them, riffling the skirt.
Heels. Skirt. Pursed lips.
Beast Boy knew he was going to be giving Raven funny looks for a month after he got out of here. Assuming he ever would get out.
"I said I needed air. He said okay. And it doesn't make a difference to me if he dances with anyone else. It's just prom." She dropped her shoes and stretched back, lying spread-eagled on the grass and sighing heavily. Then she turned, propping her head up on one elbow and resting the other in the curve of her stomach. "And what are you doing here, anyway?"
Momentarily distracted by Raven in a dress, Beast Boy shook his head and focused on her face, coming up with a quick excuse. "Uh, it's a long story."
Raven shrugged. "I've got time."
". . . It's a long, boring story."
"Then I'll take a nap." A corner of her mouth quirked, and though most of him was reeling from the fact that Raven was wearing sparkly lip gloss, for God's sake, a part of him stood aside and thought, 'That's almost kinda cute.'
He blinked and blamed it quickly on sleep deprivation, but couldn't help smiling himself. Man, it'd be great if the real Raven was this easy to talk to. He tipped his head back, looking at the dream sky. "Well, once upon a time—"
"What'd I tell you!"
"You said it was LONG and boring. That was just plain boring."
"Geez, you—" He flipped his head around, grinning widely, to look at her. "Just—huh?"
The dress had disappeared, as well as the updone hair, earrings, heels, and lip gloss. In its place was the normal Raven attire, but in pink. Happy Raven?
Still in the propped elbow, hand on stomach pose, Happy Raven giggled. "'Huh,' what?"
Beast Boy looked around—they were still in the same grassy field, faint stars scattered across the night sky. He blinked and looked back at her, slowly piecing things together. "Are. . . are you happy talking to me or something?"
Happy Raven smiled beatifically, and quipped, "Of course I'm happy. Talking to you always makes me happy."
The shock that entered Beast Boy's expression dotted hers seconds later, and before he had a chance to ask her what the heck that was supposed to mean he'd blinked, and he was curled up on the floor of Raven's room, vision and head a bit fuzzy.
He shot up and looked around, scratching his head. Raven was still asleep. How'd he get back here? Had he fallen asleep? Like, dropped to the ground due to sheer exhaustion or something?
He glanced around for a clock, spotting a rather formidable looking one on the wall, reading 6:42 am. The sun was probably out by now.
Beast Boy decided to think on this a bit more. But maybe after getting out of Raven's room before she woke up—and he was under the impression that she wouldn't be as near pleasant as she had been in her dream.
'Or was it mine?' he wondered to himself as he slunk through the doorway and bolted back for his room.
He went back that night, transforming himself into a mouse and sticking to the shadows, waiting in the hall for Raven. When she walked past he pressed himself to the wall as close as he could get and scampered in after she'd opened and walked through her door. He darted to the nearest corner and curled up, waiting for her to fall asleep.
After watching her discreetly all day, she hadn't given any indication that he'd appeared in her dreams last night, and he was now hypothesizing that maybe the dream had been his and not hers.
But he just wanted to be sure. For whatever reason.
When an hour had passed after she curled under the covers and her breathing had slowed, he scurried to her desk, transformed back, and peered into the mirror again.
"Hey. What are you doing back?"
Beast Boy looked up at the Raven perched up in a tree, sky blue robes and lazy drawl to her voice. "Just came for a visit. What are you doing up there?"
Raven shrugged. "Enjoying the view."
A moment passed. Then, "Wanna join me?"
He felt himself smiling in spite of himself. "Ok."
The night after meeting Relaxed Raven, he went back and met Intelligent Raven. She made his head ache with all her needlessly wordy responses, but once he suggested they play a game or something her eyes lit up and she eagerly suggested, "Chess?"
In moments she'd magicked up a board and pieces, and after explaining the basics they started playing, chatting comfortably in between moves.
"This is my favorite game," she let slip, after taking out one of his bishops with her knight.
"I can see why," he muttered. "You're winning."
"Actually, this is the first time I've ever played with anyone."
He pushed a rook forward with his finger absentmindedly, directing the bulk of his attention to the conversation. "Really? Then how do you know it's your favorite?"
As if she wasn't thinking about what she was saying, Raven almost instantly replied, "Because I'm playing with my favorite person."
They both blinked in surprise, and he saw her bite her lip and hastily claim his rook with the same knight she'd taken his bishop with.
He kept going back, night after night.
Sometimes he played chess or mind teasers with Intelligent Raven (neither of them ever mentioned the first game incident ever again), sometimes he sparred with Brave Raven (she kept beating him! How was that possible?!), sometimes he just did stupid stuff with Happy Raven (at least someone was laughing at his jokes), or sometimes he just laid back on a rock, in the grass, or in a tree with Relaxed Raven, commenting idly on the shapes the clouds made (it was always daytime when he spent the evening with her) in the sky.
Every morning he managed to wake up before the real Raven did, with ample time to slip back to his room. She still hadn't given any indication that he was showing up in her dreams. Which was just fine with him, actually, because if she started showing the slightest bit of suspicion, well, to put it lightly, his goose was cooked, and he'd have to stop visiting her every evening.
For some reason just the thought of not being able to see her other sides each night bothered him more than he felt it should.
"Ha ha! I win again!" Brave Raven cackled triumphantly, boot planted on his stomach.
He smirked. "That's what you think!" He twisted his leg around hers and toppled her, the surprised noise she made sounding something like a squeal. But the squeal of someone who was having the time of her life.
Beast Boy transformed into a boa constrictor, instantly coiling himself around her and pinning her limbs together.
She laughed and twisted back and forth, overbalancing in the process and landing on the ground in a snake-entwined heap, still trying to kick out of his grasp.
"Hah! Say it! I win!" Beast Boy gloated, forgetting that Raven didn't speak snake and he wasn't exactly speaking English anymore. His forked tongue flicked out against her neck, and she erupted into a fit of riotous giggling.
"Ahahahahaha!!! That tickles!!! Fine, fine!!! Give, give, you win, hahahahaha!!! You win, you win you win!!!" she shrieked, sitting up.
He transformed back to his human form, laughing along with her as he grasped her from behind, arms still wrapped around her stomach. Her hood had fallen back, and he bumped his nose against her neck, his laughter diminishing.
Giggles subsiding, she lightly touched his hands with hers, and said in a more subdued voice, "You win."
When he didn't respond she twisted around in his hold, the last traces of a smile fading from her lips, and her cheek brushed against his. His breath caught in his throat as she leaned closer, face flushed pink from their sparring. Probably. Maybe not.
He blushed and tried to pull back, and she whispered, "Scared?"
Try as he might, he couldn't come up with a witty retort. So he decided to be honest.
Eyes wide, he nodded, once, and barely.
In a voice even quieter than before, she murmured, "Me too."
They stayed that way for a moment, his arms locked clumsily around her, faces unbearably close.
And then she whispered, "But that doesn't mean I'm chicken," and closed her eyes and leaned forward, pressing her mouth to his.
When he went back that evening he saw Timid Raven for the first time since he'd started his nocturnal visits.
He was lying on a warm rock with Relaxed Raven, who hadn't said a word since he appeared, and he'd been in the middle of working up the nerve to reach for her hand when the atmosphere fizzled for a moment, and suddenly Timid Raven was at his side, grey robes swishing.
He sat up and looked at her, immediately asking, "Is there something the matter?"
She only looked at him, then looked away, shrinking a bit.
"What's wrong? Are you scared?"
She hunched over and gave the most imperceptible of nods, still avoiding his eyes.
He pried further. "Of what?"
Casting a furtive glance at him, she raised a trembling hand and pointed. "Of that."
Beast Boy turned his attention to where she was indicating, and saw that his hand was remarkably close to that of Relaxed Raven, who had dozed off.
Glancing back up at Timid Raven, who was still pointing, he swallowed and reached his hand up to hold hers instead. She gasped, and Relaxed Raven disappeared. "Wh—What are you doing?"
"You're scared of me?" he asked her gently as he stood, tugging her a bit closer.
"N-no!" she replied, too hastily and too loudly. After a moment she slumped her shoulders and her hand clenched in his. ". . . Yes."
She cast a nervous glance at his eyes. ". . . Very."
"Well. . . " He reached his other hand up and pressed it to her cheek, not believing his daring as he leaned in. She made a strangled choking sound, but didn't pull away.
Just before their lips met he whispered, "If it's any consolation, I'm terrified."
"Stop it, Beast Boy."
Beast Boy whirled around the moment he'd fallen through the mirror, not met with Brave Raven or Intelligent Raven or Happy Raven or even Timid Raven, but with the real Raven. Looking real pissed.
He swallowed, trying not to remember how tense Raven had seemed today in the tower, how often he had caught her glaring at him from under her hood. "Stop what?" he asked, trying to play innocent.
"Stop getting into my head when I sleep," Raven clarified, taking a threatening step toward him.
He didn't back up. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't play stupid. I figured it out. You've been coming here at night, messing with my head and with all my emotions—"
"What are you talking about? Where's your proof?"
She glowered at him. "The first night you showed up I was having a dream about going to a prom," she growled, with apparent difficulty admitting it. "The next night we sat up in a tree. The night after we played chess. Is that proof enough for you? I know what you've been doing, I know you've been sneaking in! And I want you to stop!!!"
In the back of his head Beast Boy heard a voice saying, "Goose. Cooked."
"So quit playing innocent!!! I don't want you in my head, ever again!!!"
The word was out of his mouth before he could stop it. "Why?"
Raven grit her teeth and snapped, "'Why?' 'Why?!' Because it's my head!!!"
"But they're just dreams," Beast Boy countered.
"No! It doesn't matter!!!" One of the rocks next to them exploded as Raven pressed her hands to her face and tried to keep her voice level, failing miserably. "You don't understand!!! When you get in here and—and—and screw around with my emotions I can't keep them under control!!! Everything goes ballistic!!! I go ballistic!!! And lately, I've been going ballistic because of YOU!!!!"
Beast Boy ignored the sting her words sent through him and grabbed for her wrist.
Her eyes went wide with shock and she gasped, and the atmosphere began fizzling out of control and shifting, as if someone was turning the dial on the television and trying to get a clear picture. A frantic sparked glinted in her eyes and she tried to yank her arm away, various explosions of various things Beast Boy wasn't paying attention to going off like gunfire all around them.
"You have to stop!!! Let go!!!"
He clenched his teeth and pulled as hard as he could so Raven lost her balance and fell against him, and he clutched her stunned form to him and whispered, "But I can't," before she could pull away.
He felt her body go rigid, and the explosions intensified, and out of the corner of his eye he saw every one of her emotions flickering, appearing and then disappearing, a mixture of Happy and Timid and everything else and others he couldn't recognize.
She regained her senses and struggled to push him away. "You have. To. Stop. Let go."
"I can't," he repeated, and maybe it was the tinge of desperation in his voice that made her halt in her movement, and he curled a hand around her neck and tipped her head up to his.
"Why." She whispered quietly, not looking at him so he couldn't tell she was begging for an answer.
"It's just. . . I can't sleep. . . I sleep better when I see you—"
She didn't respond, and he tilted his head a little, just a little, and his lips brushed against her cheek. "And it's just I think I maybe l—"
He didn't finish, or maybe she didn't let him, but in any case before either of them knew it they were kissing each other for real and he remembered seeing her eyes close and how her fingers curled around his shoulders and everything went pitch white for a moment—
And then when he opened his eyes he was on the floor in his own room, and it was 10:30 in the morning, and when he went down for breakfast she wouldn't meet his eyes.
Beast Boy did not return to Raven's for a week.
During the last seven days they had avoided contact with each other as much as possible, talking only when absolutely necessary, and even then it took an amazing amount of self-control. Beast Boy wasn't sure how she did it.
And it hurt, maybe just a little. Because he wasn't sleeping well at night, and this definitely wasn't a good thing, and everyone else was starting to get a little suspicious. And he and Raven weren't talking.
And that hurt, maybe just a lot.
On what would've been the seventh evening without sleep, she sent him a note asking to talk with him in her room. He stared at it for hours, and at 2:41 am finally worked up the guts to go.
The door was open just a crack when he got there, and he shut it quietly behind him. She was asleep, he figured, and when he glanced at the bed he confirmed it.
Raven had curled up on top of the covers, and he stood by her side, ignoring the pull in his chest. Instead he knelt on the carpet, crossed his arms on the mattress, and rested his head on his hands, level with hers. He could hear the slow, deep steadiness of her breathing; she was so close.
After some endless minutes of just watching her in her sleep, he reached a hand to gently stir her awake, but it bumped into something, and then was somewhere else entirely.
Glancing at his hand in surprise, he realized it had entered Raven's mirror, which she clutched loosely in both hands at her side. The blood pounded in his ears, and he tried to shoot down the urge to follow his hand.
As it turns out, he didn't need to. Something—someone—grabbed him from the other end and pulled him in before he could yelp in surprise.
Beast Boy whipped around, blinking to focus in on a grassy landscape and dark sky. 'Oh, great,' he thought, 'the one time Raven wants to talk to me I jump into her mirror to really piss her off. Fantastic.'
"Hey," the voice repeated. "I'm over here."
Beast Boy directed his attention to the voice, and blinked. It was Raven, naturally, but in the prom dress and with the updone hair and casual tone he'd met the first night. His heart swelled, and he realized they were still holding hands.
"Sorry about yanking you in like that. It's just, I've been waiting for you for hours."
He shook his head. "No, it's. . . it's no big deal. But I need to get outta here, before Raven—"
"I haven't seen you in so long. I thought you weren't going to show up."
'I shouldn't have,' he almost said, but he knew it would hurt her, so he kept it to himself.
A thin line had appeared between her eyebrows. "I've missed you."
And just like that she stepped up, closing the distance between them, curling her arms around him and burrowing her face in his neck.
Every last muscle in his body tensed, and she only whispered urgently against his skin, "I missed you. I missed you."
All Beast Boy could think about was how much Raven was going to hate him when they woke up, but at the moment it seemed not to matter, not when she (which emotion was this, anyway?) was hugging him and mouthing words against his skin. He wrapped his arms around her and said, "I'd miss me too, if I were you."
She laughed into his shirt and pulled back, just a bit. "Don't get cocky."
"You love that about me," he said without thinking.
"You're right. I do," she said, and she wasn't thinking either.
"Look," he finally whispered, "do you mind me coming here?"
Everything flickered, even her, and for a second he thought he saw the real Raven, cape drawn and hood back and hair touching just about her shoulders, standing right in front of him with her hand in his. In another instant she flickered away, though, and it was just Raven in a dress that looked right on her, simply because it didn't look right on her.
"Only if you don't come back," she replied.
He looked at her face, set and questioning and wanting, and realized it didn't matter whether she was real or a dream or a figment of his imagination, because it was still her. Even if just a little bit of her thought that way, it was still real. It still counted.
So he pushed aside the questions nagging in the back of his mind, like what would happen if their friends found out, what would happen when it started getting to be too much for her to handle and things started exploding in black smoke left and right. How this would play out when they were fighting someone, and she got hit. What things would be like when they were both awake.
Those things seemed so minute, so unimportant at the moment, and he just pulled her into his arms and brushed his lips against her forehead. She was hesitant. "Are you going to come back?"
"I'm not sure," he answered, and he felt her body go rigid. He squeezed her reassuringly, pressed his mouth to her ear, and whispered, "Ask me again tomorrow."