Disclaimer: Teen Titans belongs to Glen Murakami. I'm just here to drool over the animation and write about the characters.
Pairings: Primarily Beast Boy/Raven; peripheral Robin/Starfire.
Notes: Written post-"Nevermore." In case the summary didn't do its job, Closer follows the friendship (and eventual romance) of Beast Boy and Raven. Tell me in reviews or e-mails of any grammatical or plotty mistakes. This story has been complete for a while, but if you liked it, drop me a review, because I love to know people are still reading.
Chapter One: Rain
It wasn't a dark and stormy night.
In fact, it was a gray and mildly rainy afternoon, and in the Titans Tower, the Titans faced one of their most formidable foes – perhaps even the worst of them all.
The name of this foul adversary? Boredom.
Starfire leaned over the couch, watching Beast Boy and Cyborg play Kung Fu Karate Ninjutsu Master Part III: Sumo-Mania.
GAME OVER! the screen declared in a font that, to Beast Boy, seemed a little more smug than necessary.
Starfire cheered enthusiastically for Cyborg, unaware of the generous amounts of salt she was pouring on Beast Boy's wounded ego. "You have defeated the ninjas yet again!"
"YES! In your furry green face!"
"Dude," Beast Boy objected indignantly. "My face is not furry."
"I apologize. You're totally right. You just wish it was. Look at you, you don't even have peach fuzz." Cyborg patted Beast Boy's cheek affectionately.
Beast Boy flailed at his friend's hand, attempting unsuccessfully to avoid the condescending pat. "Like you're walking around with a beard? Yeah, don't even talk."
"That's 'cause I shave, little man. You on for another match? I'll bet you next month's dishwashing that I can beat all our high scores ever this time." He struck a majestic pose and intoned deeply, "For I, my diminutive friend, am the Kung Fu Karate Ninjutsu master."
"You can't beat the high scores we have now, dude."
"Why not?" Starfire asked, her voice lightly teasing. "Are you not the 'masters' of this game?"
"We beat every level, found every cheat code, annihilated every enemy, and scored every single possible point," Beast Boy told her gloomily.
"And...this is bad? You have achieved ultimate victory!"
"But now there's no point to it all."
Cyborg sighed dismally and sank back onto the couch. "I forgot we'd beaten everything." He groaned, "We've got to get some new games, man! I refuse to believe we've reached the maximum high score on every game we own. Refuse. There is something fundamentally wrong with the world when that happens. It's the goal, the nirvana of video games, but when that happens, when you achieve it...what's left?" He lay a heavy hand on Beast Boy's shoulder. The two looked together into the distance sadly, as if observing the bleak future ahead of them, comrades in a cruel world.
"...Well, what?" asked Starfire, obviously intrigued by video game philosophy according to Cyborg, but looking dubious as to where he was going with this.
"Nothing!" Cyborg declared. "Game over. There's nothing left to do but wait for the next game."
"It'd be nice to get part four of Kung Fu Karate Ninjutsu Master. I hear it's called Samurai Madness. Totally don't feel like going out for new games, though." Beast Boy gestured limply at the rain outside, which had just turned from a gentle patter to a downpour. "Look at that. It's completely nasty out there."
"What do you suggest we do?" Starfire said, stricken, looking as though the boys' angst-ridden and video-game-inspired existentialism was about to rub off on her.
"I don't know. You want to just play Kung Fu Karate Ninjutsu Master Part III again?" Cyborg paused. "For the trillionth time in a row?"
"Fifteenth," Beast boy stated dully.
"Really? I believe I counted sixteen. I may have miscounted," Starfire added diplomatically.
"It was seventeen," a voice interrupted. It varied just slightly from its usual monotonous level, laced this time with irritation. "For every time your victory cheers interrupted my meditation."
The three titans on the sofa turned to the large window where Raven sat, back to them. Three apprehensive grins appeared.
Beast Boy scratched the back of his head nervously. "Heh. Sorry, Raven. Uh. " He looked to Cyborg for backup.
"Yeah, we'll be quiet! No worries, right guys?" The other two nodded enthusiastically.
"Thank you." She returned to her meditation as the others let loose a silent, collective sigh of relief.
"Hey, guys." Robin strode into the room, rubbing his dark hair dry with a towel. He walked through the room and into the kitchen, but a moment later groaned and walked back empty-handed. "Where's all the food? The fridge is completely empty." He stood behind the couch, folding his arms. "Cyborg. Did you eat everything again?"
The accused party twisted around to face. "Hey. That's uncalled for. I'm hurt." He threw his hands up when Robin stared at him impassively. "Rob, what ever happened to innocent until proven guilty? There are three other people in the room, and you automatically think it's me? And," he added as he squinted his eyes suspiciously, "how do we know it wasn't YOU?"
The Boy Wonder rolled his eyes. "One," he counted off on his fingers, "I wouldn't complain and draw attention to it right now if it were me. Two, Starfire and Raven wouldn't clean out the entire fridge, as they respect the fact that there are other people in the tower who have to eat too. Three, Beast Boy wouldn't devour three pounds of roast beef, and four – you have sauce on the side of your mouth."
Cyborg quickly rubbed at his face. "I washed it all off!"
"Ah-HA!" Robin pointed triumphantly at Cyborg.
Beast Boy threw a disgusted look at his friend, scandalized. "Three pounds of beef? Think of the poor cow that had to give up its life for that."
Starfire looked at Cyborg sadly. "I planned to use that roast beef for my pudding."
The three boys shuddered as one at the thought of Starfire's pudding. "Now aren't you happy I ate everything? Uh. No offense, Star."
Robin rubbed his towel across his face, frustrated. "What are we going to do for dinner?" He looked outside. "I guess we're going to have to go out. Starfire, you up for the supermarket?"
"I love the market! I will purchase more pudding ingredients. Would anyone like to accompany us?"
"Like I said, not going out there." Beast Boy made a face at the weather outside. "No way."
Cyborg nodded. "For once, I've got to agree with BB. If I wanted to go out, I'd be out there getting some new games." He turned hopefully to look at the other two. "You wouldn't mind stopping by the game store and..."
Robin rolled his eyes and cut him off. "If we have time. Raven, you're not coming, are you?" He was answered with silence, and he nodded curtly. "Okay. Come on Star. If we're lucky, the jumbo mustard bottles are on sale today."
"Oh Robin, that would be delightful! Perhaps we..." Starfire's voice faded from earshot as she and Robin left.
Cyborg raised an eyebrow. "Those two are practically married already. I wish one of them would make a move."
Beast Boy laughed a little. "I don't know. Robin's way too uptight for someone like Star. It'd be, like, weird. They're best friends and all, but...well, maybe a pining look or two here and there. Or all the time. And Star's always hanging on to his every word like it's gospel. And he's always freaking out about her, all, like, 'STARFIRE!'" He waved his arms around in imitation. He frowned. "Fine, maybe you're onto something there. But you totally know he won't try anything on her. She's gonna jump him, you watch."
There was a little "blip-beep!" and Cyborg looked at a small screen on his arm. "Good thing I didn't tag along with the lovebirds. I gotta charge up." He hauled himself up. "I still haven't installed a charger in the T-Car."
"Hey. Hey! You can't just go shut down on me. I'm bored and video-gameless, here. What am I supposed to do?"
Cyborg rapped Beast Boy on the head with his large knuckles. "I'm sure you've got some ideas lurking around in all that fluff." Cyborg headed off to his room, chuckling.
"Some friend!" Beast Boy called after him.
He heaved a dramatic sigh. He was all alone, with nothing to do. "Now what?" he muttered. He looked to the ceiling to see if it held any answers. Finding it disappointingly lacking in entertainment, his eyes scanned the rest of the empty room.
He found that the room wasn't so empty, after all. He sauntered casually to the window and plunked down next to Raven. "Hey, babe, what's your sign?"
He noticed how silent the room was, save for the pattering of rain at the window. It hadn't struck him as unusual, but now he realized that Raven's familiar, muttered mantra was conspicuously absent. He snuck a peek at her. She sat crossed-legged but didn't hover above the floor, and instead of the closed eyes or unfocused gaze that usually accompanied her meditating, her dark eyes were trained on the rain outside.
"So much for meditating, huh?"
She looked startled and glanced at him as if just now noticing him. "What?"
"You're not meditating. Just staring at the rain?"
"I am," she said evasively.
He persisted. "Well. How come?"
"I feel like watching the rain." She gave him a look, making clear she had no wish to continue the exchange.
Beast Boy took the message and sat silently – for a few seconds.
Boredom set in again, suffocating as ever. "Why?"
Raven frowned at him. He looked back inquiringly, eyebrows raised, waiting. Finally seeming to resign herself to the fact that he wasn't going away until she answered, she said, "I like the rain, that's all."
He took up the thread of conversation again readily. "I'm not too much of a fan. You can't go outside because it's all slippery and nasty, and I always feel like I have to take a shower or something when I go out in it. Which is just weird, 'cause you're already getting all wet, you know?"
He wished he could tell if she were listening. "I guess," was all she responded with. She turned her gaze back to the rain, leaving him wishing he hadn't spoken after all.
But uncomfortable with the silence threatening to take over again, he asked, "So uh, why do you like it?"
She shrugged. "I don't know."
He nudged her. "You're killing me, Rae."
She narrowed her eyes, but added grudingly, "It's peaceful. I think about how it can be so different from how it is right now." She stopped, but Beast Boy waved his hand, encouraging her to continue. Raven frowned again, but did so. "It's soothing, but it can be a storm, flooding rivers and streams. It changes, like human nature. But we have no control over the weather like we do ourselves. It's very free," she added, a little wistfully.
"That's pretty deep."
She shook her head as if shaking the thoughts from her brain. "Just something that was on my mind while I had some time to think."
Beast Boy snapped his fingers and pointed at her, grinning impishly. "That's it! You'll just have to spend more time with us, then."
Raven rolled her eyes. "You say that like having time to think is a problem. This," she said, looking at him pointedly, "would explain a lot."
"I'm just saying, you know?"
"I ate that tofu garbage with you yesterday, at least."
"You said you liked it!" He put a hand over his heart, wounded. His tofu was not garbage.
"I didn't feel like crushing you like that, not when you were so happy at someone actually trying your cooking. It's cheeseburgers and filet mignon for me from now on."
"You hate fast food," Beast Boy said, put out.
"The filet mignon, anyway. I admit I was kidding about the burgers."
"Raven? Joking? Somebody alert the presses!"
Raven said dryly, "You of all people should know why I don't joke around, especially after yesterday."
"I – you're right. Sorry." He made a valiant effort to lighten the mood again. "Happy Raven was pretty funny. Good taste, too. She liked my jokes." Maybe another reminder of the day before wasn't the greatest idea, he thought too late, and winced.
He spotted a flash of her smile before she ducked her head. "Don't let it get around."
He laughed, but pantomimed zipping his lips. "I'll take it to the grave."