Beast Boy walked out into the sunlight, hand lifted to shield his eyes from the unrelenting rays. He frowned slightly. It had been a year since he had last seen it, a year since he had felt the warm sun beat down upon his shoulders. And it had been a year since he had defeated the Beast and a year since he had seen her.
The Beldienhiemer Penitentiary had been his home for the past three hundred and sixty five days, its white brick walls rising towards the sun like a beacon of hope. But looks were deceiving, he murmured to himself, hands dropping limply to his sides. For inside, where his sins had haunted his mind, there was no light, no hope, no future, only metal walls and unforgiving pillars of sleek iron. Officers had meandered about, watching with detached eyes as he sat within his cell.
He had been the only prisoner there, for Cyborg had made arrangements. He did not want to take any chance of other convicts trying to kill him, for it had been obvious that Beast Boy would not fight back if the time ever arose. So he had spent his time alone, with no one to talk to, and his heart hardening with his guilt until it shattered into nothing more than dust.
They had tried to visit of course, but Beast Boy had refused to respond to anyone. She had come once; face pale and mouth turned down in a frown as she pressed her hand to her stomach. She had sat down in front of his cell, hands fisting against her shirt. He knew, though he refused to look at her, that she was uneasy, that being in his presence drug up a painful memory that ripped away at her soul. It killed him to know that she sat near him, unsteady and disgusted. That one brief moment with her inside his mind was like a dream, a wavering hallucination that he couldn't grasp with both hands.
She told him that Robin had not been killed. He had suffered a cracked skull, but there had been no swelling or internal bleeding, and at the moment, he was peacefully sleeping at the tower, where Starfire kept a close watch on him. She had survived as well, with nothing more than a few hundred stitches and bound ribs. Raven had mentioned nothing of her own scars, but before she could utter another word, she had bounded off to the nearest bathroom, where he was sure she had thrown up everything she had eaten the previous morning.
Cyborg had come then, his tone as lighthearted as it had been at the tower before things had tumbled down hill. He had apologized for Raven's sudden disappearance, and had tried futilely to joke with him. But he had not responded, merely sat in the single dingy chair that cell held, back faced toward Cyborg. He had given up, promising to come back. And he did, along with the entire team, every day for three months. But Beast Boy had been unresponsive, body as still as death.
He stopped coming, then. They all stopped coming. They called, sent notes, but he refused them all. And now, his time had come, and it was finally time to face the real world.
Beast Boy jerked away when an officer laid a reassuring hand on his shoulder. The officer sighed, reaching down to pick up his bags. "Your family is here, Beast Boy. They're waiting outside the gates."
Beast Boy flinched, and said, his first words in an entire year, "I have no family."
The man behind him sighed once again and moved in front of him. "Follow me, please."
The wind tugged at his long hair as Beast Boy hesitantly followed the man. His heart pounded roughly against his chest, his blood roaring loudly in his ears. Fear clogged his throat; nearly forced him to turn and run back into his cell, where he could hide once again from his past. It was sheer willpower that kept his feet moving.
He could see the T-Car from where he stood and froze when he watched his four teammates pile from the car. But someone reached inside the backseat, bent at the waist while Starfire moved to the other side. He couldn't tell what they were getting from where he stood, but something pulled relentlessly at his heart, and the fear mounted again.
"I can't do this," he murmured, voice hoarse as his hands fisted tightly. Blood seeped between his fingers as his dagger-like claws pierced his skin.
The guard turned to him, blinking rapidly. "Can't do what?"
"I want to go back."
He stared, couldn't help, before a laugh bubbled in his throat. "Ya know, in all my years of working here, I have never heard of a prisoner wanting to stay here."
"Take me back."
The guard shook his head. "No can do, sir. I have strict orders to hand you back to your team. You can run if you like, but you won't get far, especially with those bracelets. They won't let you shift, so…"
Horror clenched his gut as Cyborg waved heartily and called out his name. It was then that Raven moved back, a yellow baby seat held in her small hands. She sat it down softly, reaching down to undo the buckles and pull the baby from the seat.
His eyes widened painfully as Raven snuggled the infant in her arms, lifting her head slightly and meeting his gaze head on, though tall barbed wire fences separated them. His legs gave out from under him them, knees slamming against the concrete and shoulders slumping.
The gates open with a groan when the officer gave a signal to the tower guard. He sat Beast Boy's light bags down, grimaced at the broken boy on his knees, and patted his shoulder, oblivious to the raw fear that tightened the boy's muscles and clouded his eyes. "Let's hope the next time I see you you're kicking bad guy butt and not back in here."
The guard gave a small, informal salute as the four Titans moved toward their fallen teammate before turning on his heel and striding back toward the prison.
Cyborg walked up to him, flinching slightly. "I told her she should have warned you, but does anyone listen to me? No, they all have to be stubborn." Cyborg studied him with a calm gray eye before he reached down and hefted Beast Boy's limp body up.
"You look like hell, man. Seriously." Beast Boy snapped out of his shocked daze when Cyborg crushed him against his metal chest, arms wrapping tightly around him.
"We've missed you at the tower, Beast Boy. It'll be nice to have you back."
Beast Boy felt the panic seep into his bones as Starfire moved toward him, another car seat in her hands and a wide-eyed baby peering up at the sky with soft blue eyes.
Cyborg dropped him to his feet, hands resting on his shoulders when he teetered. He moved back, however, when Starfire handed the baby to Robin and turned to Beast Boy, eyes flooded with tears.
He tried to jerk back when Starfire grabbed him, burying her head against his neck. "We have missed you so, Beast Boy! Nothing has been the same since you left, and the tower has suffered through bouts of indissoluble silence. Well…until Phoenix and Morgana (pronounced Mor-gah-nah), but…It has been so lonesome!"
She pulled back with a soft grin, before reaching forward and pressing her lips against his forehead. He jerked back as if slapped and her mouth turned down in a frown. She lightened instantly, however, when her baby cooed gently.
She turned around swiftly and unbuckled her child, lifting it in her arms. She turned to him with motherly adoration in her eyes when her baby lifted tiny fingers to curl around her hair.
"Beast Boy, this is Phoenix Grayson."
He snapped his body back, however, when Starfire made a move to offer him the infant. Her frown was back, but she pulled the child closer to her chest and murmured something soft to the boy in Tameranian.
His wild eyes jumped to Robin, who moved forward to lay his hand on Starfire's shoulder. A gold ring glinted on his wedding finger as he dipped his head in greeting.
"It's good to see you again, Beast Boy. We…look forward to things going back to the way they were."
He smiled unmasked blue eyes bright with happiness. "Beast Boy…I think that there's someone you should meet."
And they parted as Raven walked forward, strides confident and eyes soft as she stood before him, the bundle in her arms shifting slightly. He tried to move, to run away and hide for the rest of eternity, but Cyborg pressed a hand to his shoulder blades, keeping him still.
Raven tilted her head up to watch him, lips curved. There was a slightly scar across her bottom lip and one that peeked from under her black blouse, near her shoulder. He remembered it, remembered the feel of her blood on his hands, and fought back the bile that rose in his throat.
Raven's eyes locked with his as she gently reached down to move the soft yellow blanket from the child's pale gray skin. "Beast Boy…this is Morgana…your daughter."
The shock was too much for his tattered mind, and before anyone could understand what was going on, Beast Boy collapsed.
Raven cursed under her breath, arms folded beneath her breast as she paced the infirmary floor, Morgana watching her blandly from her rocker. Raven stopped mid-pace, shoved her hands through her hair, and dropped down so she was eye level with her daughter.
"Your mommy's an idiot, Gana. I should have gone about telling your dad a little more smoothly." She sighed softly. "I can't believe I just popped this on him. I knew that he was unaware of you, despite all the phone calls and letters, but just walking up with you and saying he was a father? Stupid."
Morgana blinked sluggishly before her eyes drifted closed, obscuring pale green eyes, stripped with a strange mixture of gold and amethyst. They were beautiful, Raven admitted as she gently stroked the tuft of pale lavender hair. It was amazing how something so pure and innocent could come from her. She sighed again, eyes sliding toward the prone figure of Beast Boy.
She should have known things would have gone down hill when she showed him their daughter. It had been wrong to shove the sudden knowledge on him, especially after he had spent the last year in agonized solitude, no doubt pounding himself into the ground with the constant barrages of guilt. Beast Boy could harbor so much pain on his shoulders at his own doing that it was no surprise he had walked from the penitentiary as a mere shadow of the man he had once been. It had killed her, watching him as he deteriorate and their child grew within her womb, knowing that he was pulling away from them, away from her.
It had been his idea to lock himself in the penitentiary, his idea to have his powers locked under those stupid alien bracelets. It had also been his idea to ignore their presences and pretended as if there was truly nothing left of his life.
She ran her finger down her daughter's silken cheek before standing and plopping down rather unceremoniously into the chair at Beast Boy's bedside. Gently, she laid her hand against his, marveling at how warm it was despite the ice that chipped away at his heart.
He would try to pull away, she knew, would try to dislodge her from her idea that they were supposed to be together. She knew he would do everything in his power to find away out, to save himself from a happy life. He wanted pain, would try and force it into his heart, but she refused to allow it. She had spent the last year of her life trying to find ways to prove her love, and the last three months praying that Morgana would have some effect on him.
It scared her to think that he might not want anything to do with either of them, no matter how many tactics she used. But during the time he had been locked away, Raven learned to thrive on hope and not despair. Things would go right with them, and if they didn't, she would still have Morgana, and maybe then she could try and make Beast Boy take part in his child's life.
She had scenarios planned for almost all outcomes, and all of them had a slim thread of happiness. She found that, since her baby had been conceived, happiness had dispersed the darkness that lurked within her. It had been Morgana who had shown her that life wasn't as bad as she had made it out to be, that there could be light within an unforgivable hell. Without Morgana, she would have broken long ago.
Raven studied his features, nothing the way his skinned hugged his cheek bones and sunken eyes, the skin beneath them smudge with fatigue. "So," she murmured, lifting his hand to gently caress his cheek, "you haven't taken care of yourself."
She could stop the flinch when she moved her hand down his chest and felt the protruding ribs sharp against his skin. "You were starving yourself. Dammit, Beast Boy. Why do you do this to yourself? None of this was your fault, and yet you punished yourself to the brink of being deathly malnourished."
She moved her hand so it rested above his heart, felt it pound erratically against her palm, and glanced up to see his brow marred. He was submerging himself back into the past, where the Beast had taken hold of his life. It destroyed her to watch him suffer and Raven wished she could stop it, stop the heartache and agony that warred inside his mind.
"Beast Boy," she whispered softly, lifting her free hand to press it against his forehead. "I need you to wake for me. Please. I need you to open your eyes so I can figure out what we do next."
Knowing what she would have to do, Raven called Starfire on the intercom and asked her to get Morgana for her. When Star carried her baby into another room, Raven perched on the side of his bed and let her eyes flutter closed.
She breathed her incantation, forced her body to relax, and let her spirit drift inside his mind.
"She was pregnant. Oh God, she had a baby." Beast Boy shoved his hands through his long hair, eyes wild. "He go her pregnant, that bastard. Dammit, what I wouldn't kill to have him here so I can murder him once again." He was pacing rapidly now, muscles bunched beneath his skin.
"What am I to do? How can she sit there and look at me when I…I mean the Beast…got her pregnant against her will? Jesus, that poor child was borne out of rape, not love…at least, the Beast didn't love her. How can things have turned out like this? I thought that once I returned, everything would be fine and I could leave without a second thought. But a baby? How can I leave knowing that she's raising my child…I mean his…dammit! I can't leave her alone with a baby. But I can't stay, either. What the hell am I supposed to do?!"
Beast Boy plopped down, his energy drained, mind racing with possible outcomes. He leaped up a second later and resumed pacing when a new idea popped up. "I have it! I just…won't wake up. I'll stay here forever, and then I won't have to make any rash decisions. Weak, yes, but it'll be better for everyone. Ha! So simple. Hide in here forever. Why did I not think of this before?" But he sighed softly, plowing all ten fingers through his hair. He flinched when his claws nicked his scalp. He really should have cut those after an entire year…
He didn't see her, couldn't feel she was there until she said softly, "She needs a father, Beast Boy."
He yelped, whirling around and heart pounding roughly against his ribs. He scrambled backwards, trying to force a hefty distance between them. "Wha…what are you d-doing here?"
And after an entire year, Beast Boy was finally forced to see her. She was still beautiful, hair longer now, hitting just below her shoulders and eyes soft with emotions. Her body had filled out more, probably because she was now a mother…
Panic raged again, smothered his logical thinking and locked the breath within his lungs so he was gasping for air. The guild claws in his stomach as he moved away from her again. His back hit solid wall, caging him in as she walked forward slowly, hands fisted lightly at her side.
"Please stop running, Beast Boy." She reached out a slim hand and pressed it against his chest. He flinched against her touch.
"He…oh God, Raven. I am so sorry. If I'd have known…"
"You would have run," she admitted softly. "You would have run from us, from her, and would have never looked back."
He felt the tears clog his throat, felt the horrible burn behind his eyes and wished for the umpteenth time for death.
"She's three months old now. When you come back, you can be the father she needs. I can't do it alone, Beast Boy. Morgana…she needs you." Her eyes drifted down to the ground, teeth worrying her lower lip. When she glanced up, her eyes were bright with pain. "I need you. Don't…don't abandon me again, not when I need you most. You did it once, but now's your time to atone for it. Come back to me, Beast Boy. Please."
He flinched again, hands fisting against his sides. "How can…how can you still want me? I…he raped you and got you pregnant…with my body. I let him. Can't you see that it was my fault? If I'd have tried harder, fought more against him—"
She shook her head and lifted a slim finger to his lips to stop him from talking. "Don't you see? Morgana is the best thing that happened to me. I don't care how she was created, because no matter how you look at it, she is the one thing that holds me to this world. How do you think I handled it when you left? I needed you to take away the nightmares and console the tears, but you were dead set on leaving me."
"I had to be punished."
"No, Beast Boy. That wasn't punishment. It was hiding. The only one you punished was me for leaving me alone to deal with all the agony. I could handle the wounds without fail, but my mind was riddled with such hurt that it became hard to breathe. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't live those past few months. All I wanted was you, but you were hiding away from me, from your problems."
He jerked as if slapped, eyes wide with desperation. "I was trying to atone—"
"Dammit, Beast Boy, you were hiding! You couldn't stand being around me because it brought back memories, but how the hell do you think it felt when I came to see you and you refused to acknowledge me, as if I was something beneath you, something sick and disgusting? You turned me away when I need you most, so don't give me your bullshit about atoning for your sins. If you wanted to atone, you would have stayed with me, helped me through all the pain the Beast put me through. You could have faced your fears, could have help me through my depression, but you hid like a coward. No one faulted you for anything, but you just had to punish yourself because then you wouldn't have to deal with the Beast's trash!"
"No! You left me there to suffer so you could hide away from mistakes that you never even made. It was a different fucking being, someone who was stuck within your mind, and you blame yourself? He used your body, but that was it! Did you tell him to rape me? Did you tell him to try and kill me? No, god-dammit, you didn't. You couldn't have stopped him if you had the strongest will in the world. I'm not stupid, Beast Boy. You had no part in my pain, and in the end, you killed him, but oh, let's run you into the ground for no fucking reason! Yes, let's run away so Raven can deal with everything shoved on her and nearly break under the pressure. Let's hide like a coward while she raises a child by herself, and hey, while we're at it, let's lock you inside your head so she can go on handling everything by herself, let her raise our child because you have to find a reason to blame yourself for something that you couldn't have stopped."
She jerked her hands from his skin like it had burst into flames. "You weren't there when the morning sickness hit, you weren't there when I went through all the disgusting food that I just had to have. You weren't there when I found out she was a girl, and you weren't there when I saw her little heart beating for the first time." The pain weighed down on her heart, and before she could stop it, the floodgates crashed open and she was sobbing for the first time since she knew she would have to handle everything alone.
"You weren't there when she kicked for the first time, or when my water broke. Dammit, you weren't there when I went into labor or when she was born. You weren't there when she wouldn't go so sleep and I would stay up until odd hours until the morning, rocking her to sleep while I prayed that you were with me, giving me some sort of comfort. I tried over and over to contact you, hoping that you would answer and know about Morgana, but you refused. I couldn't even get inside your head because you blocked me out. It's a bloody wonder you let me in here now.
"Tell me, where the hell is penitence in that? Shoving me away while you drowned in your own sorrow for no reason? I was the one who was punished because of you. I was the one who had to suffer while you shoved me away time after time. I was the one who paid for you selfishness. And now you want to lock yourself inside you mind so you can get away from the guilt? Be my guest, jackass. I lived my life alone for the past year, and I can do it again. Morgana will not be punished because of your stupidity, and I will raise her with love, despite the fact that her father refuses to have anything to do with her because he's a fucking coward!"
She gave the tears no heed as she shoved her fingers through her hair and gave a hollow laugh. "And you know I actually planned on coming here to try and get you back? I wanted to come inside your mind, prove to you that I love you and want you to be there for Morgana. But you know what? I don't think I'll even get through to you. You feel so sorry for yourself that you'll hurt anyone close to you. I won't put Gana through that. She deserves better than someone who blames himself for something so pitiful while I suffer. Stay in here if you like, but I'm tired of waiting for you to grow up."
Raven closed her eyes as she turned her back on him, hastily wiping away the tears. She hadn't meant to blow like that, but he had been so damn pitiful, so damn condemning for no reason that she had just ruptured. Well, so much for ending up with a happy ending, she murmured to herself, and, ignoring the pleading voice of Beast Boy, drifted back to her own body.
Raven moved off the bed once her spirit returned, rubbing her tired eyes as her feet touched the floor. So it's over, Knowledge said softly within her mind. There's nothing left with him now.
"Yes…it really is over." Her heart clinched, tears clogging her throat, but she refused to let them fall. No, when she walked back into the main room, she wouldn't let her daughter see her pain. Despite the fact that Morgana couldn't comprehend her mother's agony, she didn't want her daughter to grow up surrounded by pain and sorrow, as Raven's mother had put her through. It wasn't fair to the innocent Morgana and she swore she would raise that child right, no matter how little confidence she had in herself.
So she swept her hand across her eyes, straightened her shoulders, and walked toward the door. She knew that once she crossed that threshold, she would forget about Beast Boy. She would stop praying for his return, stop asking for him to get to know his daughter. She would stop wishing that he cared enough for her to want to right his wrongs, no matter how miniscule they were. And it would be over. For good. She would start a new page and burn her past. Morgana was all she need now and was all she needed to make this life enjoyable. She didn't need him, though her heart wept with her loss.
As she approached the door, trying futility to stomp down the pain in her chest, he called her name, voice hoarse from misuse. Her body stiffened as her feet froze. She wanted so badly to turn, so rush to him and rain kisses (and random hits) over his face. Raven forced her body still, however, refusing venomously to give into her weak heart. Her defenses had broken down since Morgana, but now it seemed like a weakness. It was a double-edged sword that ripped apart her soul and left her bleeding.
"Stop, Rae. Please." She closed her eyes as she bit back a groan. His voice was pleading, tugging at her and nearly forcing her to turn to him.
"I've said all I have to say, Beast Boy. Anymore and I'll need a dust pan to sweep up the pieces."
She heard him move, bit back a flinch when his scent washed over her, but he didn't touch her. She was thankful for the fact, for she had no idea how she would have reacted. With her luck, she would have burst into uncontrollable sobs. "I…haven't said what I needed to."
She folded her arms beneath her breast as if cold. "You had plenty of chances to say what you needed when you locked yourself away. You could have at least written back."
"I am so sorry," he murmured, pain lacing his words. "I…I didn't know I was hurting you."
"Oh, don't give me that bull. You knew good and well that you were punishing me. Were you so disgusted at me that you couldn't even look at me? Did it sicken you to look at the Beast's garbage?"
He looked horror-struck, face draining of color. "Oh God, Raven, how could you think—"
"What else was I supposed to think? You refused to look at me, to talk to me, to even acknowledge I existed. It was all I could think. You were revolted because he destroyed my body. I wouldn't be any use to you anymore because he took everything away."
He did touch her now, gently grabbing her shoulders and turning her to face him. His hands lifted to her jaw, cupping her skin tenderly. She tried not to flinch as memories roared into her mind.
"How could you ever think I would look at you any differently? It's not your fault…it never was your fault."
"It's not yours either, and yet you hurt yourself, hurt me. Where's the logic in that? Why would you leave me alone just to force yourself into oblivion?"
"Raven, you don't understand."
She forced her eyes to his. "Then make me."
He started at his hands, resting so casually against her shoulders before drawing back slowly, hands clenching.
She barked out a hollow laugh. "You can't even stand to touch me."
"No." She shook her head, stepping back away from him. "No more, Beast Boy. You've proven that you don't want me, and it's obvious that you…don't want Morgana, so I think it best that you lay down. Once you feel better, you can leave, and forget all about us."
She walked away from him, arms tightening around her torso. She wouldn't give into the helpless tears that clogged her throat. She was stronger than that, had proved it many times when she struggled through motherhood alone. Robin had helped for the first week of Morgana's life, but Phoenix had been born and he had wondered off to do his fatherly duties. Cyborg hadn't been much help, for he flitted around the baby and panicked over each cry she gave. He wouldn't even hold her, for fear of crushing her in his metal arms. But she had handled it and she would keep on until Morgana no longer needed her. She didn't need a man in her life, not when Morgana was the only person in it. Maybe, one day, if Morgana really need a father, she would look, but now, there was no need.
"Listen to me."
She sighed, turning around to face him to stop it all; to severe all ties with him. But one look at the power in his eyes put a halt to all logical thinking. Emotions she had long buried clogged her throat, for the last time he held such strength in his eyes was when the Beast had been dormant and he was laughing and joking with vigor.
His hands hovered over her shoulder before he jerked them back with a curse. Her eyes fluttered shut as her heart gave an uncomfortable tug. "Stop, Beast Boy. If you can't even touch me, then—"
"Dammit, Rae, if you'd shut up for a minute and listen to me, when can get through this a whole lot faster."
Her mouth snapped closed in aggravation, eyes narrowing as she ground her teeth together. "Fine," she bit out, hands fisting.
Beast Boy shoved his fingers through his hair before he started to pace. She refused to follow his movements, so she set her eyes straight ahead.
"Rae, I can't touch you because I know it bring back memories. My skin can't touch yours because I'm reminded of watching him hurt you while I sat back and did nothing." He held up a hand when she opened her mouth to protest and she turned her head away with a growl.
"I'm scared to death to touch you because he hurt you with my own hands, and I'm terrified that you'll jerk away from me because of it. I can't stand the thought of you pulling away from me, so if I don't touch you, you won't have to. I don't want to put you through those memories when I can prevent them."
"Then why did you jerk away from me when I touched you?"
His hands fluttered helplessly at his side. "It's because when you touch me, I want nothing more than to hold you."
She hesitated at that. "You don't want to touch me, I understand, but why did you push me away? You didn't have to touch me to help me, Beast Boy."
Wearily, he rubbed his palms over his face. "Rae, I ignored you because I thought you were forcing yourself to be kind. You didn't want to be there and it was so obvious. I figured that—"
"You're right on one part," she murmured. "I didn't want to be there." She grabbed hold of his arm as he passed by, ignoring the way his muscles stiffened beneath her touch. "Beast Boy, I didn't want to be there, but it's not the reason you think. I didn't want to be there because you were forcing yourself to suffer for no reason at all. You belonged at home with your team, not there. You went through a year of solitude for stupid reasons and let me suffer, so I'm going to turn back now and go to my daughter. I won't be trampled on again, Beast Boy."
He reached out when she turned from him, hands tightening slightly over her upper arm. She did flinch this time, lips pressed together as she unconsciously stiffened as she waited for a blow that would never come.
He pulled back. "See? You cringe when I touch you."
She twisted around, chin jutting upwards as her eyes clashed with his. "And you expect differently? Beast Boy, I was raped. I flinch away from everyone. It's not just you. The only person who can touch me is Morgana. Starfire, Robin, and Cyborg all get the same response from me. I can't be touched unexpectedly without lashing out in some way. Never think for a moment that I'm pulling away from you. I'm pulling away from memories that I've been haunted with for a year now."
His eyes were dark again, coating his irises black as he stared at his hands, palms turned upward. "It was these hands that hurt you, Raven."
Hesitantly, she laid her palm against his. "These hands ever hurt me, Beast Boy. It was the Beast's. Just because he took over you body doesn't mean that it was you who did all those horrible things. Don't you understand what I'm trying to say? It was never your body that hurt me, not when your mind was being locked away. If your body is held hostage, it's no longer yours."
His wounded eyes searched hers as her fingers curled around his hand. "But how could you stand looking at this pitiful excuse for a body when it hurt you so bad?"
Her fingers moved over his wrist, gently tracing the vein which throbbed with each beat of his heart. "When I look at you, I don't see the body that caused me so much pain. All I see is the innocent boy whom I fell in love with. But of you can't live with what the Beast did, then I won't ask you to stay. Looking at me must be hard, I know, but I can't wait while you decide if I'm worth it or not. I have a daughter to raise."
When she tried to pull her hands away from him, however, his fingers closed over her, preventing her from moving. "Hear me out, Raven, without interruptions."
Before he could say a word, however, the infirmary doors opened with a swish and Starfire walked in with a wailing infant. Her cheeks were flushed with slight panic. "Raven! Morgana will not stop the wailing and I tried everything. Food, diaper change, toys, her favorite blanket, but nothing stops it. Phoenix is upset as well, and Robin is no good when it comes to upset babies and—" She broke off her own sentence when she noticed Beast Boy. His wide eyes were on the baby in her arms.
"Oh…Beast Boy. I take it you are fairing better?"
He could only nod as Morgana's sobs rose drastically in volume. Raven glided forward and lifted her daughter in her arms. Above the cries, Starfire said, "I am sorry I was of no help."
Raven shook her head absently as she adjusted the infant in her arms, gently laying her over her shoulder and patting her tiny back. "No problem. She just has a stomach ache. She's been quite gassy the past few days. It'll be fine in a minute." As Starfire turned to leave, she added nonchalantly, "Take Beast Boy with you. He's fine enough to lie in his own room."
Starfire eyes were hesitant as she looked at Beast Boy. He shook his head, eyes steady on Raven's—no, their—daughter. "Umm…"
"Go, Starfire." Beast Boy said softly.
She nodded and walked out of the room, throwing one last glance at Raven, who was walking slowly across the floor, hands soothing on her daughter's back. "I know it hurts, baby, but it'll be gone in a minute." She laughed softly when Morgana hiccupped, tiny body jerking slightly and sob catching. "Shh, it's okay. Momma's right here."
Beast Boy watched her as she cooed to her child, eyes soft and tone soothing. Raven knew her daughter, for the crying stopped a few minutes later. Now, all the baby did was hiccup now and then.
With nothing distracting her, Raven glanced at him before turning her body away. "Now's not the time to discuss—"
"Can I hold her?"
Raven turned quickly to face him, disrupting Morgana and causing her to cry softly. Quickly, she murmured to her until the baby was a peace once again.
"What?" Raven knew she had heard wrong, though it did nothing to stop the erratic beating of her heart or the hope that bloomed within it.
Beast Boy regretted asking almost immediately, for the joy in her eyes nearly undid him. He had so much to really atone for, and maybe, holding his daughter would pave the way to fix all the pain he unknowingly shoved on Raven.
"Can I…hold her?" He asked again, slowly, almost as if weighing his own words.
Raven stared at him, body unconsciously bouncing Morgana as her mouth opened in bewildered shock. "I…umm…you want to hold her?"
He nodded hesitantly, hands clenching and unclenching at his side. Raven glanced down at the infant, almost as if debating if she should risk it. Beast Boy hastily said, "You know, never mind. Don't worry about."
It was obvious she didn't trust him, and it was understandable. He had left her alone for reason that he now realized were stupid. Putting her baby in his arms would be stupid, especially when his hands had hurt her, no matter how many times she denied it. Besides, he thought sadly, I don't know if I could manage to hold her without breaking.
Raven frowned slightly, glancing down at Morgana with raw adoration. "Come get her."
He stared, eyes widening. "What?"
Her chin jutted up defiantly, and Beast Boy didn't realize how much he missed it till his heart thudded pleasantly inside his chest.
"Prove to me that you really want to try, if that's the case. I'll toss out the past if you can come here and take her, without me handing her to you. I want you to come to me and get your daughter. It'll mean you have to touch me, however, and if you do, I can promise you the only one who'll pull away will be you."
Her eyes flashed with heat, reminding him of the past, back into the days when he was falling head over heels for her despite the fact that the team had just been started. "I…"
"If you don't come to get her, then there is no chance for us. We can't repair things if you don't. I'll understand completely if you don't want anything with me, considering my body isn't something pleasant to look at and my people skills are a bit rusty. I understand if nothing between us can ever be mended, but I do ask that you at least get to know your daughter. If not, then I can handle that as well. I can raise her on my own, though I'd rather have you with me. But now, the decision is up to you. Remember, I won't wait forever."
His mind raced as his pulse pounded in his throat. His mind begged him to turn tail and run away from this, to bury his past and start on a future that didn't entitle waking up every morning to the woman whom his personality tortured unmercifully and the daughter who was created out of hate. But it was his heart that soothed the hesitation and made his feet move toward them slowly, his heart that consoled his spirit as he reached out with hesitant hands to touch the baby.
His fingers hovered over her cheek, his entire body shaking with uncertainty. Raven watched him intently, amethyst eyes searching hims for any sign of emotions. All she could read was the insecurity, the sorrow, and the hope at hopefully starting anew. Her heart leaped into her throat when he allowed his finger to touch their daughter's silken cheek, still wet with tears.
And he took the baby into his arms without a thought, holding her close to his chest as all the pain, all the guilt and agony vanished without warning, replacing it with something heavy and wonderful and mind-numbing. His heart fluttered when his daughter open amazing green eyes to watch him, tiny hand fisting against a strand of hair that brushed against it.
Beast Boy smiled softly, mouth soft with unsuppressed emotions. "Hey, little one. Guess you have no idea who I am. That's my fault. I hid away from you like an idiot, blaming myself for hurting your mother. I'm pretty stupid, Morgana. Well, it's not surprising, really, considering my childhood." Gently, he removed his hair from her grasp and replaced it with his index finger, marveling at how tiny her hand was when it wrapped around it, pale skin clashing against his green.
"I'm so sorry I was never there for you, little one. I wasn't there for the most important moments, like your first breath, or first cry. But I swear to you I'll be there from now on, no matter how much guilt ways down in me. I'll be there for your mom, too," he said softly, but his eyes were on Raven. "That is, if she'll have me, after I screwed up so much."
His eyes fluttered down to his child once again, smiling again as her eyes roamed over his face in avid fascination. "I hurt your mom without thinking. I locked myself away from her, shut off my mind so she couldn't contact me, all because I thought that looking at me or hearing my voice would destroy her again. I thought if I stayed away from her that she could heal, that cutting all ties with her was in her best interest. But I was wrong. I hurt her, and you, too, though I'm sure you don't realize it."
He didn't realize he had moved toward Raven until he glanced up and found her watching him with bright eyes, small hand reaching up to move a tuft of dark lavender hair from Morgana's forehead.
"She looks exactly like you," he said softly. Morgana's yawned loudly, drawing a chuckle from Beast Boy's chest as her eyelids slipped down over her eyes.
"She's quite taken with you."
His eyes slid over Raven's features, doubt clouding his eyes. "Do you want her back?"
She shook her head, taking a slow step back. "She's content where she is."
Beast Boy stared down at the infant once again. He knew, without a doubt, that this was not the Beast's child, as he had thought when he saw her. No, this was his, no matter if the Beast had raped Raven. This was his child, his responsibility, and his hew future. The Beast seemed like a distant past now, locked away with the guilt and pain that he had lived with the past few years. Morgana washed all those horrid memories away, replacing it with utmost love. This child belonged to him, belonged to Raven, and he would be damned if he let it all slip through his fingers.
"I'll make it up to you," he said softly, his eyes lifting to Raven's. "I'll make up for everything I missed out on. I…won't run away anymore. Raven…I'm yours. That is, if you'll have me. I did screw up quite badly, now that I think about. Locking myself in the penitentiary was stupid, but I just couldn't go back, not when I was so sure that Robin and Starfire had been killed. It was hard, but now... now I'm ready. For everything. I want to be with you, Rae. Morgana as well, and I swear on all that is holy, I will stop blaming myself for what happened. I'll fix his wrongs, and my own as well. Morgana won't grow up without a father. Will you…forgive me?"
He frowned when she sighed heavily, hands lifting in a shrug. "I dunno, Beast Boy. You do look like a girl, you know, with all that long hair…what will people think when they see me with you?"
"Raven," he said, voice dull with annoyance. "I do not look like a girl."
A smile twitched at the corner of her mouth, but her face was nonetheless composed. "Get a hair cut and I'll think about it."
She pressed her lips together at his amusing look of irritation before her looks smoothed with seriousness. "Beast Boy…you do know that it'll be awhile before I can…handle…sex, right? I mean, despite the fact that I have Morgana, I'm still as virginal as I was before. It might take a lot of time for me to warm up to the idea. I…understand completely if you can't handle that and go off on your own, but just promise me you'll still come to see Morgana—"
She jerked in surprise when he laid one long finger against her mouth, Morgana adjusted comfortably in the crook of his free arm. He smiled softly, though his eyes were still dark with uncertainty. "I don't need sex, Rae. Not when you're giving me another chance. I feel like I'm the one who should be giving you something."
Raven moved in front of him, rising on her tiptoes ever so slightly to peer down at her daughter's face. "There is something you can give me, Beast Boy, but it all depends on if it's there or not."
"I'll give you anything I can, Rae. Just tell me what it is."
She watched a stray strand of hair fall over his shoulder and reached out to gently curl it around her finger. Hesitantly, she let her eyes met his. "All I want is…your love." She added hastily, "But I am completely okay with you not loving me, what with our rocky past and all—"
She growled and forced a scowl to her features. "What? It's not wrong to ask for the person you love to love you back, right?"
Beast Boy rolled his eyes. "Don't get defensive."
"Well, you asked, so I answered. Now, it would make more sense to lay her down than having you lug her around—"
"What's with you and never letting me answer?"
She scowled, hands moving away from him so she could fold her arms over her chest. "What's with you and always interrupting me?" She retorted quickly, mouth twisting with a frown.
He raised an eyebrow, his heart amazingly light after being so hollow for so long. "Touché," he murmured with a smile, watching the tick form on her forehead.
"Fine," she snapped, hands itching to smack his smirk right off his face. "What were you going to say?"
He shook his head at her anger, marveling how well Morgana was handleing it. She was still peacefully sleeping, mouth twitching every once in a while, almost as if she was amused at her mother's attitude.
"I was going to say, before you so rudely interrupted me, that I can't give you something you already have."
Her scowl faltered as a blush bloomed across her cheeks and down her neck. "That was corny," she said sulkily after a long, uncomfortable silence.
Her shoulders stooped in embarrassment when he burst into uncontrollable laughter, trying desperately to muffle it when Morgana jerked awake in his arms with something akin to annoyance skittering across her features. Beast Boy knew he was imagining it, but it made the laughter increase nonetheless.
By the time the mortification had passed, Beast Boy was snorting his amusement and Raven had no other choice but to pull Morgana from his arms. He moved away from her, hands flittering quickly as he tried to stop his laughter. Sentence broken by amusing—and rather loud--chuckles, Beast Boy said, "God, your face. Priceless. Can't believe you said that of all things." He snorted again, hands shoved nonchalantly through his hair as a grin fought to be seen. "I practically proclaim my love, and you call me corny. That is…God, I've missed that."
Raven glanced down at her daughter as the blush crept back up. She couldn't help but mutter to her daughter, "Do you see what your father does to me? Only man to make be blush while he sits there making fun of me." Raven swore she saw a ghost of a smile dace over her daughter's mouth, but she knew it had to be a trick of the light.
"I'm sorry, I really am, but it was just something you would have said before everything started to crumble. It…feels really good to laugh again," he added softly, swiping the back of his hand across his eyes to catch the tears of laughter that threatened to fall down his cheeks.
"At my expense, nonetheless," she scowled, but her eyes were soft again.
"Well, of course." He moved toward them, thankful that she didn't flinch away from him when he was within touching distance. "But all corniness aside, I really do want to be with both of you. I'm already madly in love with Morgana, even if I've only known she existed since today. But you…well, you I've been in love with for years. It just took me awhile to realize it."
He trailed a finger over his daughter cheek again. Raven watched it, heart pounding roughly against her ribs. "So…what do we do now?"
His eyes lifted to hers slowly. "The real question, I think, is where do we begin?"
"Come on, baby. Come to daddy. There's a good girl. Now walk to me. Yeah, that's it, little one. You can do it. If I can walk, than it's a sure sign you can."
"Got the camera!" Cyborg quickly popped the tape into the recorder, pressed record, and giggled like a little girl when Morgana made a move to walk by herself for the first time.
"Come to daddy," Beast Boy cooed, crawling down on all fours so he was eye level with his daughter. Morgana watched him before bursting into adorable laughs, her face crinkled and eyes light with amusement
Starfire smiled as she watched, handing her curious son a toy as he observed Morgana with fleeting interest. Her husband was right beside Beast Boy, trying to tempt the toddler with a treat.
Raven held her daughters hands as she teetered on tiny legs, long hair falling over her should as she leaned down to ask Morgana, "You ready? You want to walk to daddy?"
Morgana giggled, bouncing in joy when Cyborg plopped down beside his two male teammates, recorder steady in his hands. "I'm going to let you go now, okay, munchkin? Ready?" Raven asked with a grin.
"One." Morgana squealed, hands tugging to loosen themselves from her mother's soft hands.
"Two." She was bubbling with excitement now, tiny body nearly quaking with delight.
"Three." And the second she was let go, Morgana took off, legs bowlegged as she waddled to her father. She nearly fell once, in which all adults jerked up to catch her, but she regained her balance quickly and was moving again in no time flat.
Beast Boy was almost as excited as the toddler, body bouncing with excitement. He laughed and scooped his daughter up high, raining proud kisses over her face while she chortled. "There's my girl. Knew you could do it."
"Ha! Got it all on tape, right along with Phoenix's first steps. This, my friends, is a masterpiece. I need to make thousands of copies so if it gets lost, then we'll have a butt load." Cyborg cackled as he held the recorder to his chest. "Must go do this now!"
Starfire watched Cybog dart off to his room in amusement, eyebrow raised and grin dancing on her mouth.
Raven shook her head. "How interesting." But she smiled, her body relaxing as Beast Boy tossed their daughter into the air, grinning at Morgana's high gasps of laughter. Two years had passed since the Beast had been let loose, yet it all seemed like it was nothing more than a dream.
Beast Boy stopped blaming himself for the Beast's actions, and was now as happy as he had been when the team had first started. The light now bled back into his eyes and he proved to be an amazing father, never once complaining when he changed diapers, or soothed tears. He was kind and patient, always laughing at his daughter's antics.
He had waited while she tried to adjust to having him around, waited while she tried to console her fears of being touched. Raven was now comfortable with kissing and skin contact, though she was still wary of anything beyond that. She had tried once, but the panic had set in and they stopped as she fought back the agony the memories brought up. Beast Boy had handled it perfectly, and even told her that when she wanted it, she would be the one to initiate contact.
And now, as she watched his chuckle at something Morgana did, she felt the familiar tug at her stomach. This time, however, it was accompanied by something foreign. She knew what it was without thought, and her body softened completely. Raven smiled as her body finally broke away from the memories and reached out for new ones. Now, she was completely ready to give Beast Boy the last part of her.
Gently, Beast Boy tucked his daughter in, brushing his mouth over her forehead before he laid a large hand over Raven's.
"Can you believe she walked for the first time? It was amazing. Who would have thought that something we do everyday would end up being one of the most important things to witness in Morgana?"
"Hmm…you know, she taken on more of your personality that anyone. I've never seen such a happy baby before." Raven leaned back against his chest, smiling knowingly when he stiffened slightly.
"I know. She never really causes us any problems."
Raven shook her head, a smirk dancing on her features as she turned in his grasp, arms snaking around his waist. His eyes widened as she slipped both hands under his shirt, fingers dancing slowly up his back.
"I've been thinking that we don't have enough fun," she said nonchalantly, eyes laughing as his body twitched.
"Not…enough fun?" He squeaked before clearing his throat and added, his voice much deeper, "I don't think I understand."
He stumbled back when she pressed forward, forcing him to move toward the door, smirk widening when he nearly went sprawling as he tripped over a toy. "We don't have much fun. Robin and Starfire get to play all the time when Phoenix is sleeping."
"Really?" His voice raised an octave higher as they walked from their daughter's room.
She pulled back away from him, letting her fingers skim over his ribs as she turned her back to him, hands clasping innocently behind her. "I was thinking of a game," she said casually, a girlish skip in her step.
She smiled as she turned the corner. "Must you repeat me? Yes, a game."
He fought back the urge to hook a finger in his collar and pull the material away from his tight throat. There was something in her tone that had his blood boiling in his veins and his body responding with vigor.
They made it to her door, Beast Boy's heart beating frantically in his chest. The door swished open, but Raven made no move to walk in. From where he stood, he could see the bed and his heart stopped completely. Raven had completely redecorated her room, tossing away every piece of furniture that reminded her of the Beast. The walls were pained a dark purple, the bed a stark white against the darkness. It was rather catchy, he admitted, doing everything in his power to stop thinking about taking Raven to that innocent bed.
"What…kind of game?"
She threw him a mischievous smile as she backed into the room, making sure the door stayed open as she tapped her finger against her mouth. "Well, since you asked so nicely…I was thinking about playing…" She grinned widely now, noting the way sweat beaded his forehead.
"Cops and Robbers."
Raven threw back her head and laughed when Beast Boy choked and grabbed a hold of the front of his shirt, the material bunched in her small fists. "Unless you have something against the game…?"
"No!" He snapped quickly, eyes wide with shock. "No, good game, very good game."
Suddenly, his eyes darkened with heat and a roguish grin spread over his full mouth. "So long as I get to play the robber."
Raven chuckled and gently pulled him into her room, the doors swishing closed behind them.
Well, that's it, folks. The Beast Within had finally been completed. Hope it satisfied you, because I'm quite proud of it. I think it was a cute way to end it, but if you're unhappy with it, well…
My baby Delani finally had her kittens today. It's her first—and last—litter of kittens. She had five, which is quite amazing, and all of them are healthy, so this chapter was written in my excitement of it all. I've waited for what seemed like years. So, this chapter is dedicated to Delani and her tiny kittens.
Okay, you stop laughing now…