A/N: Standard disclaimers apply.
Chapter 1- Enter Change
The clatter of dishes downstairs was what warned Raven Roth that she had mere minutes to get up and get ready for school before her private-room laws were violated and she was made to.
For the past hour she had been staring up at her ceiling, watching as sunlight seeped across the gray, eventually playing off the glass raven figurines strung above her bed. It was mornings like these-warm and serene-that made meditation within the deep folds of her blankets all the more appealing…and getting up for school less so. But when yet another warning sound (this time the metallic clash of the cutlery drawer being forcefully closed) rung out from beneath her, she pushed back her summer-tinted thoughts of lethargy and solitude and forced herself to roll out of bed. She was not prone to laziness.
Moments later, after brushing her teeth and taking a quick shower, she was hurriedly pulling a gray t-shirt over head whilst using her powers to pack her worn, black knapsack when there was a soft knock on her door,
"Raven, I am leaving to attend a meeting at headquarters, I trust you're awake and ready for school."
Said girl rolled her eyes; Azar knew she was ready through the especially strong psychic connection forged between them. Her statement was simply a subtle means of informing Raven that her breakfast was ready and that she needed to leave her room. What was it with high-ranking mystics and not saying what they meant? She pushed the stray thought aside; such trivial ponderings would only lead to a lapse in focus.
Taking a moment to steel herself, Raven mentally opened her bedroom door and faced her guardian, aware that the apathetic expression across from her mirrored her own.
"Yes Azar, I'm ready. Good luck at your meeting."
And with that terse, purposefully straight-forward, reply she walked pass the regal woman and down the stairs.
Her morning routine started as soon as her foot left the last step and touched down on the carpeted floor of the sunlight-flooded living room. It consisted of first, allowing her eyes to adjust to the brightness of the room (the second story of her house was dark in comparison to the first for some reason) before she then made her way to the kitchen, placing her knapsack next to the front door in the process. Once in the small kitchen, she then set about making her breakfast; breakfast being a single cup of herbal tea.
As usual, the red tea pot was half full and ready for her to use, the water within steaming but not scalding (just as she liked it); taking a mug out of the dishwasher (the green one with small paw prints painted, rather badly, in random patterns on it) she reached above her head to open the cabinet holding her container of tea leaves, adding the appropriate amount of the latter to her mug before adding in the hot water.
All of this was done with an ease that suggested that such preparations were done on a daily basis, which was indeed the case. Still, the sheer routine of the process was soothing, one of the small constants in Raven's life. She internally smiled at the thought and walked over to the round table at the far end of the kitchen, sitting in the chair closest to the window and gazing thoughtfully down at her drink; she could feel the warmth seep through the mug cupped in her hands.
For the briefest of moments all was quiet and still, save for the hushed ticking of the clock in the kitchen.
Then the morning routine ended, the unpredictable mess that was reality kicked in. Its very embodiment making itself known by tapping erratic beats against the edge of the table with his fork whilst tilting in his chair,
"Oi, pass me some of that syrup will ya?"
The requested object-held in a ceramic, brightly-painted container-was encased in black energy and floated into the outstretched green hand which eagerly grabbed at it, pouring liberal amounts of the sugary, sticky substance onto a half-eaten stack of already soggy tofu waffles.
"Thanks Rave." (This said around a mouthful of waffles and a gulp of scalding hot chocolate)
She didn't even flinch at the nickname, merely glancing at Beast Boy in acknowledgment before taking a sip of her own drink. Once upon a time (only two years ago actually), she would have pinned the changeling to the ceiling for having referred to her as anything but Raven. Her constant threats (and occasionally execution of them) did manage to scare him out of calling her Ravey, Raevangelion, Ravenescence and Ravester; but the nickname ("pet name" as Cyborg called it) Rave seemed to constantly slip out, until she finally confronted him about it…
"WHY do you insist on calling me by that ridiculous name when I already have a perfectly suitable one you can use? I highly doubt two syllables is too much to handle, even for you."
"I dunno, Rave-"
He gulped and hurried on, "It just suits you? I mean, Rae is way too cute and it makes me think of Sailor Mars…and I mean, she's hot and everything-"
"-but waaaay too cutesy-la-la for you. And 'Raven'? Dude. C'mon, everyone uses that. So really all that's left is Rave."
"Great. Rave. As in raving lunatic. Thanks."
"Dude, you so know that's not what I mean. It's like, the sound of it fits you know? Rave. Short enough for a nickname, not cute, not normal and a little dark. It just fits."
"….You have way too much time on your hands."
He grinned triumphantly, knowing he had won, "I would have a lot less if you agreed to play some video games with me."
"Sorry, I'll have to pass on the voluntary brain rottage…"
"Hey, what're you smiling at?"
The small curve at the corners of Raven's lips abruptly dropped into a frown,
"Oh please, you so were," Beast Boy insisted, standing up and following her to the sink to quickly rinse both his plate and fork as well as Raven's now empty mug, "One day, you just watch yourself. I'll have a camera and then I'll have, like, hardcore evidence. Proof of all the jooy and happiness I bring into your life."
"And then you'll throw a party I'm sure," she added dryly; she couldn't help rolling her eyes at the solemn nod he gave,
"Totally, party hardy and all that. Plus it'll be the perfect excuse to invite our new neighbors over."
She paused halfway out the front door and turned to quirk a brow at him, "Um?"
"What, you mean you haven't noticed the moving van across the street?" He motioned behind her with a nod of his chin.
"…Well. Now I have."
They walked down the pathway and out the partially dilapidated front gate in silence; it wasn't until they had walked well pass the large moving vans that Beast Boy opened his mouth to begin his typical morning-walk-to-school conversation.
"So, what do you think they're like?"
"You know, them. Our new neighbors."
"Why would I know, let alone care?"
"I dunno, can't your powers, like, pick up people's thoughts or something like that?"
"I've been telling you this for the pass three years; I can only read other people's thoughts if I try to. I'm not some psychic antenna."
He held up his hands, attempting a placating gesture, "Eesh, okay, take it easy. Psychic antenna, I'll remember that this time."
"You're an idiot."
"That's why you love me."
A beat of silence.
"You think one of them's a hot girl?"
He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets, parrying her deadpan stare with a lop-sided grin, "What? Oh come on, you can't say you don't secretly hope that our new neighbor is some uber hot goth dude who'll read artsy-fartsy poetry to you."
"Yes I can."
They both greeted the cyborg without looking up from the sidewalk.
"Morning," he returned, squeezing between the pair, "So, what is it that Raven can do?"
"Rave claims that she doesn't hope that one of our new neighbors isn't a hot, single guy when I KNOW that she's secretly plotting to go across the street after school with some jell-o just in case there really IS some creepy-attractive guy she needs to seduce. Hey!" Beast Boy stopped his wild gesticulations to grin excitedly at Raven from where he was balancing on the sidewalk curb, "Maybe he'll have a sister! Yeah, then we can go on, like, double dates and stuff and that way we can date but still see each other since you know you're gonna miss seeing me all the time."
"One, jell-o welcoming is more your form of harassment, two, dating isn't exactly at the top of my priority list and, three, I highly doubt missing you will ever be an issue."
Beast Boy's face momentarily flashed hurt before it settled into an expression of exaggerated disbelief, "Uh-huh sure. That' s just what you want us to think."
"Oh come on BB, not all of us are horn dogs like you. SOME of us actually have interests other than meeting hot girls."
"Yes, obsessing over the chunk of metal that is your car is so much better," Raven muttered.
"Ha, that's great! And like the fact that Jinx hangs out at that auto place with Bumble Bee has nothing to do with you trying to pimp your ride all the time," Beast Boy added, laughing at the scowl now on his friend's face.
"Whatever. Weren't we supposed to be talkin bout Raven here?"
"All that there is to say has been said." she said, voice slightly muffled as she tugged on her signature blue hoodie and pulled the hood over her head, "And I thought we were discussing Beast Boy's one-track, hormone-driven, rather simple mind."
"Hey, my mind's not that simple, I mean, I think of things other than girls!"
"You forgot about tofu, video games and mopeds," Cyborg continued, grinning.
"The latter of which he wants just to attract girls. So he has a three track mind: video games, food and blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-chested bimbos," Raven turned to smirk atthe greenboy,"What a fascinating life you lead."
Beast Boy puffed up indignantly, "Yeah, well at least I can attract people, unlike SOMEone I know."
"You wound me."
"Yeah? …Well good."
"Again, your wit astounds me."
"Dude, what is your problem Rave? Jealous that I can actually feel attraction towards people," Beast Boy snapped.
Raven jerked to a stop, eyes widening momentarily in shocked hurt; then they narrowed, glowing a menacing white from within the ridiculously deep shadows of her hood. She clenched her fists, simultaneously closing her eyes tightly.
No, she couldn't let that comment effect her, Beast Boy was just being his usual loud-mouthed self, he didn't mean it. She knew that it was instinct to lash out and retaliate when hurt, but she also knew that her form of retaliation could potentially hurt Beast Boy a lot more then he deserved. Plus, the comment was pretty accurate any way. Which is why it had hurt. But that didn't matter, anger was pointless.
Raven opened her eyes in time to see Beast Boy abruptly stop a few paces a head of her; Cyborg stood a little behind him, looking nervously between the two,
Beast Boy slowly turned and cautiously met her stony gaze,
"A-are you su-"
"GO." Her eyes suddenly flared white again, effectively sending both Beast Boy and Cyborg scurrying away from her.
She waited until her two companions were walking several feet ahead of her before she heaved a sigh, her shoulders sagging as she stared down at her feet. Usually she would be able to handle Beast Boy's off hand comments concerning the "creepily," rigid control she held over her emotions, her typical reaction being a sharp reprimand or an occasional wedgie, courtesy of her powers. But lately her emotions (and thus her powers) were being unusually volatile, with the strangest things setting them off: shy glances between Starfire and Robin would cause stabs of envy, being sandwiched between Cyborg and Beast Boy (knees occasionally brushing as they played video games and she read) induced gentle waves of content affection, the disappearance of light from Beast Boy's bedroom window late at night left her with a feeling of aching loneliness.
Raven wanted to dismiss her sudden sensitivity as merely another teenage phase-just another side effect of puberty-but her unusually intense emotional state wasn't the only disconcerting change in her life. She could easily rationalize her unruly mood swings and the destruction they wrought, she couldn't rationalize recurring dreams thick with the metallic smell of dried blood, rife with flickering images that made her skin crawl with icy pale spiders spinning webs of delicate golden hair that wound themselves about her throat until she couldn't breathe.
Something was coming, that much she knew. But what and when?
The obnoxiously high-pitched sound of a school bell pierced through Raven's dark thoughts, rudely bring her back from a world of shadowy terror to one of books, math and a painfully strict tardy-policy. Yeah, something was coming all right: a detention if she didn't hurry her butt up and get to class.
She could have probably made it if she ran; she wasn't so distracted by her thoughts as to have stopped her daily journey through the park and to the front of P.S. 19, where she stood now. But Raven didn't like to run, least of all in a frenzied attempt to get to class on time. On the other hand, she didn't want to be late either and suffer through a mind-numbingly dull hour of detention. That left only one other means of getting to class on time, one which she resorted to only because it was efficient and not because she secretly enjoyed it or anything…
Her eyes began glowing a soft white as she lifted her arms, and her breathe caught as it always did at the sudden exhilarating sensation of flight. She soared upwards-through the floor boards, rusty plumbing, chipped ceiling plaster-until she arrived on the fifth floor. At this point she resumed her normal form, feeling a strange pang of regret as she did so. The emotion caused the tips of her fingers to tingle slightly with power, a black spark racing quickly up to her knuckles.
At first Raven thought this was the reason why the room had suddenly grown quiet; her teleporting into class, though rare, wasn't an occurrence that would utterly shock them into silence but any other display of her powers might. It wasn't until she turned to put her knapsack down by her desk that she discovered the true source of the heavy tension in the room: someone was sitting at her desk.
No one sat at her desk.
And if that wasn't bad enough, the girl who dared to perform such a deed was-in a word-cute.
As in beach blonde, golden-skinned, thin as a faerie cute. The kind that's quirky and weird, that wears halter tops and ripped jeans and goggles (the straps worn with use) on the top of her head. She was the kind of cute that drove with the windows rolled down blasting fast-paced music, middle finger at the ready in case some idiot tried to cut her off: punk rock, fun-loving, regular little rock-n-roller cute. Basically everything Raven was not.
And she was glancing shyly at Beast Boy out of the corner of her big baby blue eyes.
Raven stepped forward (incidentally hiding Beast Boy from view) and looked coldly down at the head of blonde hair.
"You're in my seat."
The girl looked up at Raven in surprise, flashing an apologetic half smile which quickly faded once she realized it wasn't going to be returned, "Oh, sorry bout that. Didn't know we had assigned seats."
Both girls turned at the sound of Beast Boy's voice, one with an expression of surprised curiosity openly displayed on her face, the other with only a single brow arched.
The green changeling quailed slightly under Raven's gaze, but as his eyes rested on the new girl he seemed to gain courage. At least, enough to direct a grin at her,
"You don't have to move, Rave's just being possessive. C'mon Rave," he craned his neck to look up at said girl, his tone abruptly changing from comfortingly suave to wheedling, "Cut the girl some slack, she's new. And a little change of scenery wouldn't hurt ya, would it?"
"Dude, c'mon don't be like that." He peered pleadingly up at her, the tip of a small fang peaking out from the right corner of his lips. Damn, he just had to do the face. She internally sighed in defeat.
Who was she to stop his fondest day dream from coming true?
Her gaze briefly flicked down towards the new girl,
"Don't get too comfortable," she muttered, picking up her backpack and making her way to an empty seat at the other side of the room.
Someone in the back of the classroom made a noise that sounded suspiciously like the cracking of a whip, nervous titters rippling throughout the room as a result. And though Raven turned and allowed her eyes to glower in warning, she couldn't have agreed more.
She had been pretty much been whipped.
And Raven didn't do whipped.
For some reason she had the distinct feeling that she wasn't going to like this girl.
The rest of the school day passed with little incident; the new girl-her name ended up being Terra, a name just as in-your-face-cute as her appearance-was invited by an obviously enamored Beast Boy to eat lunch with them off campus in the park. While there, not only did she prove to be a great conversationalist, but she also managed to win over Starfire by scarfing down the alien's normally unpalatable food, charm Cyborg with her extensive knowledge of cars, earn the respect of Robin when she demonstrated her-literally earth-moving-powers by creating a boulder table for them to eat on, and overall succeeded in thoroughly irritating Raven.
As for Beast Boy, he fell for her as soon as she laughed at the first of many corny jokes he had spontaneouslly decided to deliver in the middle of trig. That was first period, and from then on the pair was inseparable, attached at the hip like some annoying perpetually giggling, blushing creature that just happened to be in all of Raven's classes.
Even now, as they allheaded home from school, the two were walking a head of everyone else, side by side, talking about the latest version of Night's Fury II: Persephone's Vengeance. Raven couldn't help noting how close they were, so close that their arms were pressed together , the tips of their fingers lightly touching. How could Beast Boy be so physically comfortable with someone he just met?
Not that Raven was jealous. Raven didn't do jealousy either. She was just suddenly resistant to change, that's all. Just another stupid teenage phase where she wanted everything to stay the same, where she didn't want some pretty blonde moving in, forever disrupting the daily routine she was so used to. A ridiculous phase really. People come and people go, there's nothing you can do about it.
Raven mentally nodded, satisfied at having calmly reasoned out the cause for her less-than-friendly feelings towards Terra and deciding to reward herself with a cup of herbal tea when she got home. She actually smiled at the prospect (though it was hidden from her companions by her hood); yes, she would go home and curl up on the couch with a good book and a steaming cup of herbal tea. Then Beast Boy would come in tossing a half empty bottle of Mountain Dew (he usually drank Pepsi but the meeting of Terra would probably give him reason to celebrate, thus he would be drinking a more sugary beverage) from hand to hand before throwingit on to the couch . He would then set start setting up the Game cube and Cyborg would let himself in, reeking of sweat and dirt from football practice, and use her shower. Then they would both sit on either side of her (just to annoy her), and would play video games until Beast Boy whined about hunger pangs and they would order pizza or go over to Robin and Starfire's and eat something Alfred cooked and things would go back to the way they had been for years: an organized chaotic contradicting mess of teasing, laughter, pizza, novels and video games.
"…well the house is a mess, but the TV's all set up; you wanna come over and play some NF with me?"
"Totally! I'll see you guys tomorrow all right?" he flashed Raven an excited grin before waving and hurrying after Terra.
Raven watched the pair go, pale hands wandering up to pull her hood closer, deepening the shadows it threw across her face. How ironic that her earlier nostalgic thoughts were so quickly disproved. Beast Boy would not be coming over after school. There would be no video games, no triumphant shouts, no furiously moving fingers, comically glazed eyes or plain vs. pepperoni battles. She would go home and make herself a cup of tea from the left over water from that morning, she would pick a random book from her mother's dusty bookshelf and she would curl up on the couch, book open on her lap but her eyes constantly wandering to the blank TV screen in front of her…
She turned to the sight of Starfire stepping towards her with Robin carefully watching the exchange a little behind her.
"Perhaps you would care to join Robin and I in the doing of homework at our house?"
Raven hesitated, and looked over shoulder, eyes glancing first at Beast Boy and Terra's figures disappearing into a brown house, then they traveled across the street to rest on her own small, white house; the two front windows and her bedroom window were all dark.
"…You wouldn't happen to have herbal tea, would you?"