Raven couldn't believe that she was actually enjoying this. In fact, she was enjoying it so much that she was having some difficulty keeping her "dark lady" persona and a smile off her face.

She and Starfire were in kissing booths right across from each other at the charity carnival, and while Starfire's line was (as was to be expected) quite long, Raven's was longer still. And by the attitude of her "clients," she was indeed considered quite an intriguing "babe" by the local male population-and to judge by their nervousness, intimidating as well. She was very careful to allay their fears, asking each his name, thanking him for contributing to the cause, and while not smiling, behaving in a manner that put them at ease. And it was indeed the thrill of a lifetime to get to kiss the famous and enigmatic Raven, even if one had to pay.

Sometimes when an especially dorky or uncomfortable client took his place with her she would wonder if perhaps he was one of the shy, unattached boys who had taken time to write to her and tell her they would prefer her to any girl they knew. She was tempted to give these boys an extra kiss for free to show them that they were worth something and deserved someone's attention without having to pay for it; the only reason she did not do this was that it would not have been fair to the other customers.

Raven took a spare moment to glance over at Starfire, whose enjoyment was far more obvious, though she was careful not to allow her enthusiasm to embarrass any of the boys and young men who had come for this special treat. Starfire was intimidating in a very different way from Raven, and when she saw some less than handsome boys hanging around without getting in line, she smiled and waved at them to indicate they too were welcome and had nothing to fear. Star really was a good soul.

Of course, so was she herself, as she continued to exchange her own kisses for charity. But she liked to think that both she and Starfire were doing more than just raising money, important as that was, and giving homely guys an unusually thrilling experience. She liked to think that they were helping some of these people to gain a little confidence in themselves and not to feel so ugly or unlovable. They deserved it . . . they were certainly doing this for her!

And so the time passed and the embarrassment and other negative emotions she feared didn't even show up. Eventually evening drew on and Raven noticed that Starfire had actually finished kissing all her customers (Robin was the last) while she still had a little ways to go. But eventually the line came to an end and she had managed to contribute to an important cause while raising the spirits of some people who, like her, occasionally needed it. Finally the last person took his place in front of her. It was Beast Boy.

"Is my dollar as good as everyone else's for a kiss?" he asked her, a little uncertainly.

"Of course," she answered him flatly, having resumed her usual unreadable expression. This disappointed Beast Boy, as he was really looking forward to receiving a kiss from his secret crush while he could get away with it. At least she could give him the same friendly expression and voice she did everyone else! Oh well. Beast Boy placed his dollar in the jar and received his unemotional kiss. Great.

As he was about to leave the booth, Raven reached out and took his arm. "Wait."

"Huh?" he asked.

"That kiss was for your dollar, but you have some credit built up," she said. She had dropped her cold demeanor, but Beast Boy couldn't tell what precisely had taken its place. "You see, you really helped me the other night when I was feeling down and sorry for myself . . . so, I figure I owe you." And before Beast Boy could react she kissed him again, though there wasn't that much difference between it and the one he had paid for.

"So . . . now we're even?" he asked unsurely.

"Yes," she said in her usual tone, "all debts are now paid." She picked up the jar with the money in it and exited the booth from the back.

Beast Boy slumped from the disappointment. His head bowed toward the ground as he prepared to leave. "Oh well. See you back at the tower."


He looked up again. Raven was now in front of the booth. She sat the jar back down on the counter and again dropped her cowl from around her face. "One kiss was paid for. The second I owed you. And this . . . " she said, drawing closer, " . . . is my gift to you, because I want you to have it." And now the iciness was gone from her voice and her stoic mask dropped away to reveal friendship, affection, and gratitude as she enveloped him in her arms and gave him the kiss he had dreamed of for so long. He was still frozen with glazed eyes when she finished. Again she picked up the money jar and leaned into his ear. "See you back at the tower, my friend," she whispered. And she took the money and was gone.

"Well Titans, it was a bit unconventional, but I'd call it a successful mission," Robin smiled at his teammates. And it must have been very successful, since Bruce Wayne himself had called to thank them for helping to make the carnival a success.

"I was very glad to help!" Starfire beamed, aware even in her naivety that she had not only aided children in need but had helped to brighten the lives and raise the self-esteem of some young men who needed it.

All of them looked to Raven, who was now hidden behind one of her gigantic tomes and back to her usual demeanor. "What?" she asked them when she became aware of their attention.

"Um . . . uh . . . well, we were just wondering if you enjoyed it!" Beast Boy finally got the courage to say.

She gave him her usual inscrutable stare. "Well, I survived. It's not something I'd want to do every day, though," she confessed.

Beast Boy looked dejected, and the countenances of his teammates fell as well.

"Oh well. I'm going to my room," Raven announced, standing up with her gigantic book. "I'll be in there if you should need me for any reason."

"Meditating?" Robin asked.

"No," Raven said. Then she turned to Beast Boy and gave him a small smile. "I'm way behind on answering my mail."

Beast Boy smiled too.

The End