Sooner or later, I like to believe that all of us go a little crazy. We get scared, we feel small, and we latch on to anything that makes us happy. Some of us smoke. Some of us drink. Some of us do both those things and still have money for massive amounts of comic books and Teen Titans VCDs.
So I thought I'd write a story
I proudly wave the banner of the Robin/Raven pairing! Who's with me?
On with the show.
To Take a Dare
a first ever TT fic by Serena.
Um, Serena4. Sorry about that. Maybe I should change my name?
Chapter One: When First We Practice To Deceive
"The greatest dare is to tell the truth."
(Madonna, Truth or Dare)
Trust Beast Boy, to immediately turn funny-side-up. There was no point in even asking—he'd always pick Dare.
Cyborg cracked his metal knuckles. It was obvious he was putting his electronic brain on overdrive in order to come up with the perfect dare. Unfortunately, Beast Boy hadn't picked Truth once during the entire game, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to think up bigger and better dares every time. Everyone seemed to share the same opinion, but only one player voiced it aloud.
"Beast Boy, this is getting ridiculous. You have to pick Truth next time, okay?" Robin tried to hide his smile, but was mostly unsuccessful in the attempt.
"That's because you cannot stop the Daremaster!" Beast Boy crowed, hopping up to the back of the leather sofa.
Rain tapped against the windows of Titans' Tower as if it wanted to come in. It had ruined the evening's game of volleyball, which in turn had ruined exactly one window, which was now covered by a pizza box taped to the frame. The box was slowly soaking through, evidence of how long the storm had been going on.
So the Titans had adjourned to the rec room, and the truth-telling and dare-taking had begun. The dares had been difficult to come up with straight out the gate, since Starfire already liked to drink mustard, but the game had been mostly successful until Beast Boy absolutely refused to the tell the truth. Now Star and Robin were racking their brains as well, trying to come up with a dare bad enough for their friend.
"Perhaps we should dare him to snoogle a morflerrk?" Starfire asked, to which she received raised eyebrows.
"We're kind of short on...morflerrks...around here, Star," Robin said by way of evasion. Luckily she accepted the explanation and nodded, while Robin propped a hand under his chin in what had come to be known as his "thinking" look.
The dare came from an unexpected corner—the corner Raven always curled up in with a book. She had been sitting with her pale, shapely legs folded beneath her, amethyst eyes more interested in Slaughterhouse Five than in the game, but nine dares for Beast Boy had apparently been too much for even her. She unfurled from her corner of the sofa, beckoning Cyborg closer with one slender hand. Curious, the metal man rose from his place beside Starfire. He passed both the Tamaranean and the Boy Wonder, leaning close to Raven to hear the secret. Everyone was watching now, curious at the dark bird's show of attention to their game.
Cyborg broke the silence not with a word, but with a grin that he quickly turned on Beast Boy. "I dare you to keep quiet for fifteen minutes!"
Beast Boy's eyes widened, mouth opening as if to say not cool, then snapping shut defiantly in order to spite them and keep the dare. He glared over at Raven, but everyone else was smiling.
"Nice one," Robin chuckled.
Starfire clapped her hands gleefully. "Raven! You are playing with us!"
Raven blinked at that, as if the idea hadn't even occurred to her. She looked as though she wanted to protest, but said nothing. She lifted her book again warily, her amethyst eyes leaping nervously from the text every so often.
"Since BB can't talk for fifteen minutes, I guess I ask again," Cyborg said, with the pleasant tone of a megalomaniac. "Robbie, Truth or Dare?"
All unmasked eyes turned to the masked ones. Starfire especially turned in her seat, expectant, unsure if she would rather him choose Truth or Dare. Raven raised both her head from the Vonnegut and a brow at the Tamaranean's obvious affections towards the Boy Wonder, but said her usual nothing.
Robin was calm as the sea, head tilting to one side as he considered his options. Finally he said, "Truth."
Beast Boy couldn't keep his dare. "Borrrrring."
He was immediately thwacked with a pillow by Starfire, the pillow thoughtfully provided by Raven.
Cyborg pointed a finger at Robin like a spear. "What's your deepest, darkest secret?"
The smile flashed onto Robin's face quickly, and it was obvious that they weren't going to get the truth out of him. He made something up almost instantaneously. "Sometimes I eat Oreo cookies in the middle of the night for no reason."
Raven had to fight not to look up from her book that time. No one else bothered to hide what they were thinking—what secret could be so deep and dark that Robin wouldn't even consider telling them?
"No faiiiirrrr, man!" Beast Boy chucked the pillow at Robin, who ducked. The pillow bounced off Cyborg's metal chest. Beast Boy hopped over Starfire, intending to prolong the pillow fight, but the Tamaranean interrupted. "Is the game over?"
Everyone looked up, but it was Robin who answered, not with a word, but with a question.
"Raven. Truth or Dare?"
The owner of that name didn't bother to hide her surprise, lilac eyes snapping open and the book falling from her hands completely. They all waited, watched her with steady gazes. Raven opened her mouth to say her usual, no, but their faces stopped her. Cyborg's easy smile was trained on her, a smile that demanded nothing. Beast Boy's eyes were bright and shining, ready for a laugh and a good time. Starfire's face was hopeful; she was always trying to draw Raven out of her shell. And Robin...
That unreadable face held a challenge. Come on, he seemed to tell her silently. You're not made of stone...are you?
She allowed a sigh to slip past her lips as she weighed the deadly options. There was no telling what they'd dare her to do, so..."Truth."
Robin's grin, for possibly the first time ever, could be called wicked. "What's your deepest, darkest secret?"
Their gazes dueled over the table, under the eyes of their teammates, as she answered the question and the challenge in all their faces. "Sometimes, when I'm alone in the tower..."
Beast Boy's eyes twinkled, as if he knew something good was coming. Starfire giggled.
Robin's face remained empty, waiting, but the muscles around his lips twitched and tightened, suppressing a smile.
Raven almost wanted to smile herself as she finished her sentence. "...I sing."
The reaction was instantaneous and loud, punctuated with a pillow to the back of Raven's head, courtesy of Beast Boy. "You have to tell the truth!" he squealed.
"Oh Raven!" Starfire clapped her hands innocently, a happy child. "What do you sing?"
"She doesn't sing, Star, she's teasing," Robin said, chuckling. "Good one, Raven."
Cyborg chuckled and shook his head. "No point in playing with you guys."
"Pillow attack!" Beast Boy leapt over the back of the sofa, whacking Starfire with the pillow. Cyborg seized another pillow, ready to back Star up. Robin watched the battle, unsure of which side to align himself on.
Raven collected her book, ready to retire to her room. She didn't look back, feeling the weight of a masked gaze between her shoulders.
She bit down on a rare smile. Her deepest, darkest secret?
She liked them. All of them.
There were few pleasures in life akin to the warmth that coursed through the veins during a cup of herbal tea. Which was why Raven was at the stove, a rare ghost of a smile playing about her lips in anticipation of liquid herbal calm. She turned the knob and watched the flame flicker blue beneath the kettle.
"Deliver a favor to my love..."
The whistle of the teakettle was a discordant note against her song.
"Deliver a favor to my love..."
"Truth," someone breathed from the doorway.
Raven whirled, startled by the voice, to see Robin standing behind her, a look of awe on his face. He was looking lazy and dangerous, leaning on the doorframe, one long muscular arm stretched above his head.
Embarrassed, she fought her blush as she muttered, "What?" peevishly.
A small smile crept across his face. "I didn't know you could sing. You thought you were alone?"
She frowned at him, blushing deeper. The answer to that question had been yes, but she remained stubbornly silent, backing up and finding that the stove was preventing her escape.
"You thought you were alone," he said, walking closer, a look of amusement on his face. "I thought you were teasing us about the singing. I didn't think that when I said truth...that you told the truth."
"The only one who wasn't truthful during that game was you," Raven snapped, not liking how he made her feel self-conscious. "Although I was not surprised."
Now his masked eyes widened. The look of amusement was gone; she had succeeded in shocking him.
Herbal tea wasn't worth this aggravation. She turned to abandon the teakettle and leave the room, but a firm grip on her arm stopped her. She tilted her head to look into his questioning face.
"Raven," he said softly. "When have I ever lied to you?" Realizing she was about to mention Slade, he added quickly, "When it was important."
Sighing, she turned her face away so he wouldn't see how bothered she was. "You don't lie to us, Robin. You just don't always tell us the truth."
"Tell you the truth? I'm nothing but truthful!" he retorted, trying to regain his old amused chuckle. "I'm the soul of honesty."
Raven's eyes hooded themselves. "Why does the soul of honesty wear a mask?"
Now he looked upset. "...Raven?..."
Shrugging out of his grasp, she returned to her tea, feeling calmer already as the steam rose from the cup. She cupped her hands around its warmth and lifted it to her lips, but then turned her head to see Robin still staring at her, looking hurt.
What was he so upset about? He wanted the truth, didn't he?
Morning at Titans' Tower. The sun created dancing sparkles on the bay, but none of the Titans were currently in a position to notice.
Robin used Cyborg as a boost, leapfrogging over the metal man and delivering a vicious roundhouse kick to a green gorilla that presumably contained Beast Boy. Meanwhile, Starfire and Raven were above the boys' heads, engaged in a game of chicken that involved breakneck-speed air travel towards one another. Extending one arm, Raven managed to clothesline the Tamaranean as she passed, knocking her out of the air. Star hit the ground hard, a stray star bolt zinging from her hand a minute too late. Raven easily dodged the belated counterattack, leaving nothing between it and Cyborg, who had tried to snatch her out of the air. Cyborg threw an arm up to block, but the bolt threw him to the dirt, disorienting him.
Raven's cloak swirled around her as she turned her back on Robin and smiled down at Cyborg, ready to deliver the knockout punch. She extended her arms gracefully.
"Azarath, metrion, zinth—"
Raven didn't get to finish her chant. Behind her, Robin extended his arm, his quarterstaff spinning hypnotically in one hand, He almost nonchalantly swung the staff at Raven's ankles, sweeping her feet out from under her. The dark bird flipped a complete 360 in the air before landing in her own surprise.
"Ouch," Raven said, throwing back her hood and turning a questioning face up to the Boy Wonder. "What did you do that for?"
Robin glared through his mask as the others made sounds of surprise.
"Chill out, dude," Beast Boy said, shifting back into human form. "You didn't have to hit her from behind. We're only practicing."
"Robin," Starfire said wonderingly, "that was not...nice!"
Raven stood up and brushed herself off. "Yeah, way to be a jerk," she added, levitating upwards to perch across from him on a small rock.
"Well, to be honest, Raven," Robin said, stressing the word honest as he thrust his face close to hers, "you turned your back on me. That was sloppy!"
Staring calmly into his flushed, warring face, she said slowly, "I take this to mean you're still upset about the other night?"
Without answering, Robin kicked Raven's rock out from under her. For the second time in as many minutes, she was on her ass on the floor. More exasperated than surprised this time, she sighed. "You are still mad."
"Rob!" Cyborg said in disbelief.
Robin ignored everyone except Raven, who he pointed an accusing finger at. "You see! Sloppy!"
Raven growled. "You are asking for it, Bird Boy."
"You bet I am!" He stood cockily on his platform, crossing his arms. "You aren't even defending yourself! You're fighting like a halfwit with a hangover."
Raven felt her vision blur with anger and her fists curled, dark energy sizzling and popping throughout her being. "That does it."
As soon as she leapt to her feet, a hand grabbed her arm, not to hurt, not to hold helpless, but to persuade.
She shot a slant-eyed glare towards the Tamaranean, looking pointedly at the offending hand on her arm. "You're touching me."
Starfire was not deterred. In fact, she gave Raven's arm a squeeze. "No more mean talking!"
Likewise, Cyborg was holding Robin off his feet. The Boy Wonder's steel-toe caps were waving as he struggled for purchase in midair. "Put me down, you overgrown tin can!" he snarled. To Raven he spat, "This isn't over by a long shot. Do you hear me?"
Raven's teeth grit, but Starfire gave her a shake. "Raven, perhaps we should adjourn inside? I feel that I am not centering as well in my meditations. Perhaps you could teach me?"
Beast Boy fielded Star's fly. "Come on inside, Rae. I'll brew you some herbal tea."
"This session's over," Cyborg agreed calmly, as if he weren't holding a still-struggling Robin helpless. "Let's head in."
Raven and Robin glared at each other for a minute longer, and then Raven allowed Starfire and Beast Boy to lead her inside.
Dinner had never been such a silent affair. Cyborg was shoveling food into his mouth at only about halfspeed. Beast Boy kept shooting wary glances at Robin, who was sitting next to him and glaring at Raven, who was sitting next to Star. Likewise, Star was trying to ignore the way the demon girl's barely leashed emotions were making the soda bubble.
"So what'd everybody do today?" Beast Boy asked, trying for normalcy.
Raven and Robin were still busy glaring at each other over the table. Luckily Starfire jumped right in and began telling a complicated story about her day that involved butterflies and a tree and a near-fatal fall. Beast Boy heaved a sigh of relief. Everything was fine.
Until Raven asked, "Is there any more pizza?"
Robin calmly reached over the table, took the last slice from the greasy box and bit into it. "No," he said nonchalantly, spearing Raven with his masked eyes.
Raven slammed a fist down on the table, and Star's soda boiled over, spilling onto the table and the Tamaranean's hand.
Cyborg had had it and slammed a fist of his own down, making the cups dance. "Will you two give it a rest? You're acting like three-year-olds. What's your problem?"
Raven mumbled something.
"What?" Beast Boy asked.
"I said, no problem," Raven repeated, a little louder, giving Robin a look.
Robin sighed to let everyone know it was an effort. "...No problem," he agreed finally, after a long pause. "Is there any more soda?"
Raven quickly took the bottle of Pepsi and poured the last of it into her cup. She didn't even look at Robin as she answered, "No."
Everyone gave up and ate their pizza, leaving the two birds to their glaring contest.
It was getting hard to tell the difference between the backs of her eyelids and the ceiling.
Raven didn't get it. She had only seen Robin angry, really angry, over one thing—Slade. While the other Titans worried over Robin's obsession with their nemesis, Raven had secretly admired the passion of his anger, the single-minded focus of his rage. She was intrigued by how deep his feelings could run, she for whom feelings so deep were fatal.
Feelings so deep...
But she had never thought he would turn that anger on her.
She and Robin had never been the closest of friends, but she hadn't thought he could get so annoyed at her. What had she done that had offended him so? She knew it hadn't really been because of the training exercise. She hadn't really been fighting at her best, but it had just been an exercise. He was angry about what had happened in the kitchen—because she had accused him of being a liar.
"He doesn't tell the truth," she growled, clenching her fists and repeating it over and over. "He doesn't...he doesn't...he doesn't."
Restless, she threw the covers off and stalked out into the hallway, blending with the darkness of the midnight corridor. If she couldn't hit Robin in the face, she'd hit the next best thing—the sandbags he loved to pit his strength against.
Robin had never had trouble sleeping. He had always figured it had to do with his lifestyle—when you spend most of your time running for your life or pounding the hell out of bad guys, you don't find it hard to be exhausted.
But tonight was different.
Tonight he squirmed and squinted. Tonight sleep would not come.
He gritted his teeth. It's all her fault.
There was no questioning who the her was. He could still see Raven's eyes smoulder as the words dripped from her lips like poison—how he hid behind his mask, how he never told the truth. She was basically saying that his whole life was a lie—was that it?
And why did she care?
He couldn't understand that look in her eyes. She'd made it sound as though she cared about the mask, about the truth, she who hid behind her cloak and wouldn't show her smile to the world. She who loved the dark so much.
He rolled himself in the sheets, wrapping himself in them. What was her problem?!
He couldn't sleep and it was her fault. He needed to tire himself out, stop his brain from whirring. He slid out of bed, one hand patting across his nighttable for his mask. Once he found it, he fixed it over his face and felt safe enough to pad down the hall barefoot, knowing a workout would calm him down.
Raven slammed a fist against one of the sandbags, imagining that it was Robin's smirking face. "Take that," she hissed. "And that! And this! You smug, arrogant—"
"What are you doing in here?!" someone growled.
Caught off-guard, Raven lost her balance in the middle of her roundhouse kick and stumbled, hanging onto the sandbag for support. The chain jingled as she regained her feet and saw the intruder.
Standing there before her, livid with rage, masked face twisted into a snarl, was the Boy Wonder himself. All he was wearing were a pair of baggy black shorts. His feet were bare and his hair was tousled, as if he'd had a restless night before he'd come down here. His arms were crossed over his bare chest, the tension in his muscles betraying how much he wanted to forcibly remove her from the room.
They were nice arms, Raven couldn't help but notice.
Crossed over an equally if not nicer chest.
Shaking her head as if that would physically shake the thoughts from her head, she reminded herself that it was just once more facet of his arrogance. The boy was so in love with himself that he probably thought everyone wanted to stare at his half-naked body.
Admittedly gorgeous half-na—
"Robin," she said flatly, hooding her eyes.
"What," he repeated, "are you doing in here?"
"I'm guessing the same thing as you," she sighed, letting go of the sandbag. "I felt like working out."
"Well, your session just ended," Robin spat. "Time to let the big kids play, okay?"
Raven's eyes widened. "What?" she said. "I am just as much of a Titan as you are, and I have just as much right to be in here as you do!"
"This is my place!" Robin argued. "You don't see me hanging out in your creepy magic mirror!"
"Those are fighting words," Raven hissed, her dark eyes narrowing to slits. She curled her hands into fists, ready to take him on.
"No, these are fighting words," Robin chuckled nastily. "Get out of my training room, or I'll tell everyone you sing while the kettle's boiling. Hey, Raven, do you take requests?"
"How about Bye, Bye, Birdie?" Raven felt her lips twist into a sneer. "That almost sounds like blackmail."
He matched her sneer with one of his own. "I'd say it isn't what it sounds like, but it is."
"You don't scare me," she answered recklessly. "Go ahead. Tell them. I'll sing them the entire new Taking Back Sunday album if it makes you happy."
His sneer relaxed the tiniest bit, lessened almost imperceptibly. "I didn't know you liked Taking Back Sunday."
"You know nothing about me." She dropped her fists, her voice flat with disgust. And that was the bottom line, really.
It seemed to anger him, just as her remark in the kitchen had angered him. He clenched his fists, nearly shaking with rage. "Get out of here!"
"Make me," Raven challenged, enraged herself.
Robin dropped his fists, his body relaxing into the cross stance, one leg behind the other. Raven didn't know a whole hell of a lot about kung fu, but she knew enough to know that such a stance was perfect for instant lateral movement, and even had enough time to realize that she'd gotten in over her head.
Robin's voice was barely above a whisper as he said, "You asked for it."
And then he was coming at her.
This is my first Teen Titans fic, so I'd love reviews. You know, how's my driving and all that. So if you have any heart in you at all, please click that little button and make my day. I only have one rule, the same as it's always been—please be constructive, okay? Fair deal?
Truth or Dare: I know it's a worn plot piece, but I have a soft spot in my heart for the game of Truth or Dare. And that is a much funnier story that you will not get to hear.
Slaughterhouse Five: I decided to lay off poor Edgar Allen Poe and give Raven something else to read. Slaughterhouse Five is an awesome book, and I think everyone should read it. The idea of memory functioning like that makes me smile on bad days and sigh in relief on good ones.
"Deliver a favor to my love": In the kitchen, Raven is singing "Cuts Marked In The March of Men" by one of my favorite bands in the entire world, Coheed and Cambria. That song can be found on the album In Keeping Secrets of the Silent Earth:3.
Taking Back Sunday: Raven strikes me as an emo kid. Robin strikes me as a closet emo kid. I'm thinking of giving one of them a hoodie in a later chapter because it would amuse me.
Oreo cookies: I have no idea why I picked Oreo cookies. I think I just wanted to pick something absurd that Robin could say right away, making it obvious that he wasn't telling the truth. I don't know, my friend Rai laughed. I couldn't think of anything!
Hey, did you press that button yet?
Next chapter: Robin vs. Raven in a two-thirty AM training room. Something's probably going to get knocked over.