Can you believe it, I actually wrote something! After Angel Tears, I didn't think I had it in me, but after two months I guess I'd better have it in me. As usual, thanks to all my buddies that I wrote with during the summer; it's you guys that keep me in it.
This time it's a one-shot (always wanted to try one of those), and it's about something kinda personal that I've noticed about myself.
Shed No Light
Beastboy's eyes gradually opened as he slowly awoke from a light slumber, finding himself lying back on the sofa in the main hall of the tower. He could hear the television still on from the movie the team had been watching, although his eyes hadn't yet adjusted to the darkness.
"Musta dozed off..." he muttered, struggling to sit upright. When his eyes came into focus a few moments later, he found three of the other Titans fast asleep as he'd been. He glanced at his watch—2:18 am—and then back at the team. Robin and Cyborg were each spread out, with drool hanging from their mouths, and Starfire somehow lay facedown off the edge of the sofa. Some crime fighters...
"Heh, guess we all dozed off," he said to no one, in some way finding irony in the idea.
"Yep, we all dozed off," came a sarcastic reply out of the darkness.
Idiot, she'd been hovering over the sofa right between Robin and Starfire. "Sorry," he said. "I didn't see you there. Guess I'm kinda used to seeing you meditate."
"...Yeah." Unconcerned, uninterested. Conversation over.
Silence blanketed the room—even the television made no noise, though it was there. Turning away from Raven, Beastboy lie back down and sighed. His eyes wandered about as the television image flickered, the only illumination in the dark and quiet room. The lack of sound was almost unnerving; it was remarkable how completely still everything was. He exhaled as he let his thoughts drift freely. He thought of nothing in particular, though for some reason he didn't want to go back to sleep. There was some energy or inspiration to stay awake, as if there were something different about the world that he didn't want to miss, so he simply lay there on the sofa, eyes and mind wandering aimlessly.
His eyes spotted a stinkball—a crumpled up ball of dirty laundry—on the floor in the corner of the room. The far corner of the room, probably because it stunk so badly. Cyborg had always been the better player in that game; Beastboy usually found himself on the receiving end of that atrocious stench, although it was still fun to try. Then again, he smirked, there was that one time when Cyborg got what was coming to him—Raven sure put him in his place.
Beastboy had never expected her to join in like that, yet she'd played stinkball with them for more than two hours, hunting them down with the ball and getting hit herself a few times. He could have sworn that once or twice he'd even heard her laugh as she ducked frantically for cover. He hadn't thought about it then—what with the pending threat of projectile stinkballs—but he realized now that it was the only time he'd heard her laugh. She was usually so shadowy and serious. He remembered after the stinkball game she'd actually eaten during dinner—the Titans had been shocked but they didn't say anything for fear of ruining it.
But that was only once. Sure, she'd had a few other, less notable moments, but Raven was usually a dark person. No, dark isn't the right word.
Isolated. She was different from everyone else, no thanks to her powers. She believed that they set her apart from them. She always appeared uninvolved and unaffected by what went on within the team. She appeared as if she didn't care, but Beastboy could sense, or at least he thought he could sense, a great stress in her. Maybe there was something to that animals can sense emotions thing; whatever it was, he could tell. He could sense it in her whenever they were having a group moment. He could sense it whenever she abstained from playing volleyball with them or watching movies with them. And he could sense it every night at dinner, when the rest of the team was talking and laughing and she remained silent.
There was only that one time—the stinkball night—that he'd seen her truly alive and content. He tried continuously to recreate that happiness in her, though he could only hope that it was working. He was the only one who could sense her discomfort, and he wanted so badly to help her.
Help is a bad word, too; it makes her sound weak, and Raven definitely isn't weak. Still, he could feel her pain and her longing. There was just that barrier—pitch black like her powers—that was keeping her locked inside herself. She was wanted to break through it, and he wanted so badly to help her; if he only knew how...
Something began to swell within his mind, but somehow it felt as if it weren't him. He'd noticed it slightly during the last few minutes but had paid no attention to it. Suddenly it stopped swelling and disappeared completely.
Beastboy glanced around the room, as if it had a physical form and had gone somewhere. He noticed Raven. Her eyes were open, watching him distantly. She quickly closed them, blushing before returning to her meditation.
Had she been...
He grinned at the realization, despite all the questions and concerns now swarming his mind. He easily dismissed them; even to someone like Beastboy, it was nice to just lie there. No bad guys robbing banks or taking over the city. No training or chores, no jokes or mockeries. No inner beasts lashing out at people.
It hadn't worried him much lately—his inner beast, as he called it. He'd accepted it as a part of him, and had grown used to its influence. Even now, he could feel it inside him. It was asleep, its tranquility blending perfectly with the rest of the world.
But this hadn't always been the case; when the beast had first expressed itself, it had been violent. The others told him that he'd only been protecting her, but he knew it wasn't true. He knew that there'd always been a violence embedded within him. Deep within him, but it was there nonetheless. He hated himself for it. He was supposed to keep it inside; he was supposed to control it, but he didn't and it had hurt someone—badly. How could he have been so weak?! How could he have let it out?! It didn't matter what the others told him. They hadn't been there to see it. It was he that had lost control and attacked her; it was his fault she'd gotten hurt. Hell, he'd almost killed her, even after she'd finally started to open up to him. He just hated himself for it; she'd trusted him and then he goes and—
"Don't worry about it," came a voice within his head.
He looked up and turned toward her, a shocked expression on his face. So she had been...
"But I could have killed you," he said aloud, jumping to his feet. "You should have seen yourself, and it was my fault!"
Raven's face remained expressionless, her violet eyes on his. "No," she replied. "You did the right thing. It had to be done."
"What do you mean? I didn't have to hurt you!"
"But you did have to let it out," she explained. "It would have been worse to keep it locked inside you forever. And don't worry about me. I'm fine."
Beastboy could only stare in awe; she simply hovered in place, concealed by her dark hood, her face emotionless yet dazzling nonetheless.
She had a point. Even in light of what he'd done, he had to admit that it would have forced its way out sooner or later, and keeping it bottled up would have made it even stronger. And this was coming from Raven; she should know better than anyone what it's like to suppress emotions. G-d knows the poor girl had it much worse than him. It's just that the beast was so strong—too strong to let out and then keep control. That was what scared him; it would always be there inside him, waiting to lash out on another rampage, and he'd be powerless to stop it.
She rose up and levitated over the sofa, heading towards her room. Conversation over. Or was it?
"Hey Raven, " Beastboy called softly, "Do you ever feel like it's... too much?"
She stopped and stood with her back to him, waiting for him to go on. He could sense that tension in her again, building up slowly with every passing moment.
He continued, "I mean, what if I can't take it any more? There's no way out!"
He let himself fall back onto the sofa next to Cyborg, his elbows leaning on his knees. There was a long pause, during which the stillness resumed and the random noises of the television were the only sounds. Raven thought, then turned and hovered back around the sofa to stand in his view.
"You have to deal with it; it's a part of you," she replied.
"So what? You're saying I'm screwed? I've got no choice?" She was right of course. This thing had always been a part of him, and it felt now as strong as ever.
"It'll get easier."
Still, it was like having to control a whole separate mind—having to suppress every urge and emotion lest it get out of control. Would this go on for the rest of his life?
It sucked, but at least it wasn't all the time. It was always there, but it wasn't always nagging and scratching at him. Some the time it was dormant, or asleep as it was now.
He sighed, about to let the subject go when he sensed her tension again. It flared up, as strong as he'd ever felt it, despite her efforts to suppress it.
She wasn't fighting a beast; she was fighting herself. She'd been cut off from society by her powers, and her life was a constant struggle for control. And now, Beastboy felt first hand her stress and anxiety. His instincts told him she was fighting it right then; she was is pain, and there was nothing he could do about it.
There had been another long silence, during which Raven had watched as Beastboy thought about what she'd said. Hopefully, it would get easier.
Beastboy looked up suddenly and asked, "What about you?"
He could tell by her face that she hadn't expected the conversation to turn to her.
"I'm fine," she replied as she turned away.
"You sure?" he repeated.
She didn't answer right away, but merely stood with her back to him, hiding within her cloak. It didn't matter what she might say right now; he could see right through her, and he could see how alone she was inside.
"Raven?" He rose to his feet and took a step towards her. She jumped at the sound, then re-stabilized.
"Yes," she said, quickly now. "I'm fine."
She didn't leave.
They stood still, her back to him. They both stared down at the floor in front of them, struggling against the vacuum of stillness and flickering television light. It was on the tip of his tongue, but he couldn't bring himself to break the intense inertia of the room. For some reason, it didn't help him any to be able to feel that she was under just as much pressure as he. Instead, it only made it worse to know that she was hurting at that very moment, standing just ten feet in front of him.
"Raven, I..." He paused, finding the right words, before, "After I turned into that beast, I've changed a lot. But I'm glad 'cuz I... I think... I think I understand you better now." He looked up at her and finished, "Now I know what it's like to have to hold something in."
She looked up as well, her eyes subconsciously detailing the wall as she listened, and now there was someone else like her. She turned around and looked into his eyes, her own vision getting blurry.
"It's so hard," she tried to say calmly, but her voice cracked and her face went red. Beastboy was surprised, but tried not to let it show. She continued weakly, "It's always trying to come out... It never stops."
"Maybe you don't have to hold all of it in," Beastboy tried. She looked away, immediately discouraged and saddened. He stepped closer and put his hand on her shoulder, then added, "I'll help you; you can do it."
Raven was quiet for a moment. She turned her view back to him, and he could see the water in her eyes.
"But what if it doesn't work?" she reasoned gloomily. "It'll make it worse. I'll hurt somebody—"
"You won't," he insisted. "You're stronger than you think, Raven. You can do this."
"I don't know..."
"I do," he said strongly. Her eyes drifted downward again, but he put his free hand on her other shoulder and continued, "Remember, you don't have to do it alone. I'm here for you. We're all here for you." He looked hard into her eyes, locking them in place. "You're not alone."
He kept his hands gripping firmly onto her shoulders—he wondered if possibly too firmly—as his words sunk in.
Raven's eyes were on his, and after a moment she understood what he meant. Blushing, she put her arms around him and pulled him into a light hug—just enough for his warmth to touch the emptiness she'd grown so used to. He held her close, savoring her scent until he felt her let go.
Her arms slid off him and she backed away, wiping her eyes as her face was hidden once again behind her hood. She appeared back to normal as she rose off the floor and levitated around the sofa and out of the room.
Beastboy sighed, a great weight lifted as he plopped back down next to Cyborg, careful not to wake the radically positioned teen as he slumbered soundly. The television images reflected strangely on the metal of his body... could he feel his titanium parts? Beastboy pondered this for several minutes until the quiet tranquility had slowly put him to sleep.
It was 2:46 in the morning, and four teenagers lay asleep on the sofa.
Not long after Beastboy had fallen asleep, he was awoken by small footsteps, and opened his eyes to find that Raven had come back. Neither said anything, and Beastboy remained perfectly still as he watched her walk calmly around the sofa, her hood pulled down to reveal her dark purple hair.
To his confusion, though, she walked past her spot between Robin and Starfire, and instead stopped in front of Cyborg. A dim darkness gradually enveloped the sleeping body and slowly lifted it up into the air, carried it over Robin, and replaced it next to Starfire.
Then, still saying nothing, Raven sat down in the space she'd made next to Beastboy, bringing her knees up in front of her and resting her head on his shoulder. Beastboy swallowed his initial astonishment, gazing at the way her hair had draped over his shoulder and allowing himself to savor her scent once again. He wrapped his arm around her body and she snuggled unconsciously into him.
You're not alone.
It was 2:48 in the morning, and five Titans lay asleep on the sofa. And this time, the television shed no light.
And there it is. I'm hoping that you picked up on most of the symbolism because otherwise it probably looks kinda weird. I'll give you a hint; the television was a very important part of the story.
Oh, I want to give credit to "So Cold" by Breaking Benjamin and "Shimmers" by Fuel; they were both big inspirations to this fic.
Thanks again to Brogramn, Lo of Popstar, Poopy Penguin, and Fred the Mutant Pickle, among everyone else that wrote with me last August. Man, those were good times, right?
Till next time,
TERRA FOREVER!!! HAHA!!! (I guess that only makes sense if you're one of the guys listed above, heh heh.)
PS. (I had to have one of these, right?) I'm gonna change my pen name on this site to just "ssj". One of you gave me that nickname a while ago and I like it better now.