Dark Side of the Moon
Summary: In the bloody light of sunset, Raven observes a disaster scene with Beast Boy. Her only thoughts are of her friends and being alone. But would being alone with Beast Boy really be so bad?
Author's Note: This was an experiment (a one-shot fyi, so no hoping for more). To test to see if I could write good BB/Raven chemistry. And it was so hard to keep them both in character and keep up the romance. I swear, to find a story that can do both, I'm giving the author a prize because s/he's truly talented. This is probably all the BB/Rae stuff you'll see from me. I find the task just too challenging. But perhaps when I develope my skills more (with some help from Napoleon Dynamite ;-)), I'll take up the challenge and see where I go. Well... enjoy the experiment for the time being anyway.
The debris was everywhere. Sirens screamed. She surveyed the scene in the crimson bath of sunset. The fading sun struck a pool near her feet in such a way it shone white, blinding. She wished it were water that coated these streets. But she knew better.
A hand on her shoulder called her attention from the wreckage. She turned to the face of her companion, inwardly shaken, outwardly stoic.
"Where are they?" she asked him, her voice somewhat wispier than usual. The boy smiled sadly and shook his head.
"Eye witness reports saw them enter before it exploded," he replied, quietly.
Raven pulled away from his touch and looked around her. A man and woman, on their knees; she was in his arms, sobbing. A little girl, her abandoned teddy bear fallen to the torn up asphalt of the street, stared blindly at the smoldering wreck of the church she went to every Sunday. A teenage girl, screaming hysterically, a friend trying to hold her back as another friend dialed a cell phone desperately. Tears were as common as the blood on the streets.
"Sick..." Raven muttered. "Disgusting, perverted..."
Amazingly, Beast Boy laughed. "Star sure picked a day, didn't she?"
Raven turned on him savagely, baring her fangs at him like a vampire. "Don't you dare make jokes like that now. Please, I just want to find them..." She quieted as her despair overwhelmed her anger. And yet, unlike the woman in the street, her eyes were dry.
"I spoke to a paramedic still searching for bodies..." said Beast Boy. "They..." he coughed and swallowed. "They've found the charred body of a young redheaded girl..."
Raven held up her hand, halting him in his explanation.
"This isn't happening," she whispered. "It's not possible."
Beast Boy wrapped his arms around her and strangely, she stood stalk still. She didn't push him away, but she didn't return the sentiment.
Raven felt her heart swell with anxiety and cursed herself for letting it swell so much. She pushed it down, screwing her eyes shut tight as she leaned her head on Beast Boy's shoulder. Where were they? They couldn't leave her here. Her and Beast Boy. She shivered at the thought of living with him alone, dealing with him... alone...
Alone... With Beast Boy.
She frowned at the thought, then shunned it. She wasn't going to be alone. Never again.
"Sick..." she repeated.
She felt Beast Boy lean his head on her shoulder. "I know it's sick," he whispered in her ear. "But it happened. You can give it all the adjectives you want, it won't change anything."
"Who would do such a thing?" she found herself wondering, in shock. "Who could slaughter a crowd of people then... herd the survivors like sheep into a... a church for God's sake!"
"God knows, Rae," Beast Boy whispered. His voice was strained. "Damn, Star sure picked a day."
"This isn't Starfire's fault," Raven said, subconsciously raising her arms and returning Beast Boy's embrace. "She was curious... as usual. She's been studying religious theory... Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam... she wanted to see a Christian service in action."
"She sure saw one," Beast Boy muttered.
"Why didn't we get here on time?" Raven muttered, shaking her head. "Why the hell did you have to stop for Chinese?" Raven pulled away and turned to Beast Boy angrily. He couldn't help but grin and he shrugged.
"Hey, spring rolls saved your life, Raven."
Raven rolled her eyes and looked up at the sky. "God damn..."
A crystal tear escaped the corner of her left eye. Nearby, a fire hydrant exploded. Beast Boy dabbed it away.
"Hey, come here..." he pulled her into an alleyway and looked her in the eyes. The fading light, dim in the alley, gave her face an eery moonlike glow. He gripped her by the shoulders as she leaned against the brick wall. The sirens were still blaring. "You have to keep yourself together, OK? We're... we gotta be strong."
Beast Boy seemed taken aback by the question as he let go of her shoulders. "I... well, your powers–"
"I get that much..." said Raven slowly, eying him curiously, almost accusingly. "But you said we."
Beast Boy turned away from her, and she wondered at his sentiments.
"I... I mean, we... we mean something to them. Those people out there." He nodded to the mouth of the alley. "They look to us for strength. We gotta give it to them."
"Again, I ask you why," Raven repeated, slowly approaching him as he sat on a tipped over trash can like a log and buried his face in his hands. "Who gives a damn anymore about those people out there? Beast Boy... you have the right to grieve..."
"No I don't!" Beast Boy snapped at her, but didn't look up. "Not me. Not... No. I can't."
Raven sat down next to him and wavered a little. She doubted the tin's durability. She wasn't quite sure what to say to him. "Beast Boy... I... why do you treat yourself like... like..."
He looked up at her at her loss for words and smiled with morose humor as if he'd just caught her in a trap. "Like you?"
She was angry and she showed it by breaking the drainpipe above them and drenching the shape shifter in muddy water.
Beast Boy only rolled his eyes and sighed. "Damn. I just had this dry cleaned."
Raven had to give him a dim smile. "Send me the bill," she said simply, her eyes narrowing.
"Cyborg takes care of the finances... I'm no good with that stuff..." Beast Boy muttered.
Raven sighed and took a deep breath. "Well, I'm good at math," she said. "I'll... I'll take over. For a while. Until we get things... sorted out."
Beast Boy buried his head in his hands again. "Aw, Rae, what are we gonna do? They were... They were everything to this team. Them and you. Now all you have is you... and, well, me."
Raven paused, contemplating his words. "You make that sound as if it's a... bad thing..." she said slowly.
He looked up at her with tired eyes. "Isn't it? You can't stand to be in the same room with me more then ten minutes. You, Miss Queen of Darkness, brooding about with her nasty big powers, all great and mysterious. Starfire with her mega-starbolts blasting away at anything evil, fighting for righteousness, nothing more and nothing less. A truly honest and good soul. Cyborg, the big guy, our own personal Terminator, walking atom bomb, destructive, mature, and always good for a laugh. And, of course, Robin with his killer leadership skills, always knowing what to do... I bet if he were here now, he'd know what to do."
Raven stood and faced him, frowning at him as if he were the second stupidest thing on the planet, next to a gumball. "You idiot," she said, backing up her expression. "You think worth lies in ability and weapons? You add... so much to this team..."
"Oh yeah? Like what?" Beast Boy muttered.
Raven tilted her head, looking at him as though he was stupider than a gumball. "Oh, let me think," she said evenly. "You've gotten us out of a lot of scrapes, you know that? Like when you were abducted by... by..."
Beast Boy grinned at her. "By aliens? Go on, Raven, say it, it's not so absurd now, is it?"
"Quiet, you," Raven snapped. "And yes. We needed you. We missed, you dammit. Can't you give us a little credit for that one? If you hadn't shown up when you did, we would have lost you for good. And then where would we be?"
"Probably not here," Beast Boy muttered. "I was the one who suggested Starfire get out, see the church."
"Oh really?" Raven said. "And were you the one who gave the terrorists means to attack that church?"
"Uh, no," Beast Boy said, then paused. "But I did give a case of plutonium to Slade. Do you think that was a bad idea?"
Raven closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to ignore Beast Boy's idiocy. "Look, just do me a favor and please get out of the self-pity rut before I kill something. Knowing me, that's no exaggeration, and knowing you, I'd stay out of my line of fire."
Beast Boy gave her a weak smile. "Thanks, Rae," he said. "You're the best."
Raven eyed him suspiciously. "This was... sarcasm, yes?"
But he leapt up and hugged her. Her eyes went wide.
But then, she felt the coolness on her shoulder– water, sinking through her clothing. Her tension dissolved and she rolled her eyes as she sighed and let him hug her reluctantly. Slowly, rather awkwardly, she returned the embrace. "Shh," she soothed. "It'll be alright."
"This isn't how it's supposed to be," Beast Boy said, his voice strained. "You're supposed to fall apart in my arms. That's how it works, see. Then I tell you everything will be alright and then you look deep into my eyes and then there's a kiss and then they roll the end credits and everyone in the audience is crying. Now I look like a pansy and no one likes a dashing young hero who also happens to be a pansy because the movies don't work that way and–"
"Oh. Sorry..." He sniffed and her heart wrenched as the fire escape above them lurched forward. She rolled her eyes.
"Beast Boy, this is stupid," she said. Instantly, he jumped away from her, dusting himself off, his eyes puffy but dry again as he rubbed them.
"Right, right," he said, looking away. "Sorry for being..."
"Not you," Raven snapped. "This... whole thing. The shooting, the bombing, our missing friends... you needing someone to... I can't and it's... Well..." And the fire escape fell to the ground with a crash. She stomped her foot. "God dammit!" She sighed and closed her eyes. "Friends are friends. Things happen. They're gone, we'll deal. It's no big deal. No big deal..."
"Yeah," said Beast Boy as he sat on the fallen trash can, almost scoffing. "No big deal. You keep telling yourself that, Rae. Go on ahead and just keep denying it. That's right."
"Shut up!" Raven screamed and the trash can beneath Beast Boy went flying and landed over his head with a clatter. She took a deep breath and continued through gritted teeth. "Look, this is how I deal, OK? Just... Just let me."
Beast Boy lifted the trash can, a banana peel drooping off his ear as he looked at her with one timid eye, not sure what to say. "Well... we could always get more spring rolls."
Raven said nothing as she looked away from him resolutely. She was muttering to herself, Beast Boy couldn't figure out what. She was probably trying to keep her powers in check, meditating of something.
She must really be going nuts, he thought to himself. He'd never seen her like this before. His own grief somehow seemed to take a back seat to her pain as he watched her with her eyes closed, mumbling and shaking, trying to find solace in apathy, that dearest apathy she clung to with all her might.
He threw the trash can off his head and removed the old newspaper that was covering his hair. He approached her, not knowing what to do or say. He wasn't one for being serious and she wasn't one for comforting. The best he could do to help her in that was to be stoic, so she wouldn't feel like she had to comfort him. As for being serious...
Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg were as good as gone. Though he'd deny it to anyone who asked him at that moment, his heart was shattered. Raven seemed like the only living thing that could help pick up the pieces again. But by looking at her, she seemed a little too wrapped up in her own heartbreak.
Beast Boy looked away down the ally, his usual upbeat smile anywhere but there. He looked back at the wreck of a girl before him, muttering and grasping for something to hold onto, anything but the grief.
He didn't want to. And maybe it would only have to last a while before things could go back to the way they were. He didn't really know. But he knew then that he had to grow up a little. His friends were dead. And Raven was an apocalypse waiting to happen. And it was then that he realized that it wasn't him who needed to be taken care of. For once, he had to do the comforting, he had to do the taking care of. For Raven's sake, and even for his own. Yes. He did have to grow up.
Closing his eyes and letting go of infantile defenses and hopes, he drew nearer to her, banana still hanging from his ear. He was inches away from her face and heard every word she said.
"Azarath metrion zinthos. Azarath metrion zinthos."
Granted, it was her usual mantra, but something about it comforted him as well. It was normal. It was normal to have Raven there, chanting and meditating, and just being Raven. For the second time that day he embraced her, but this time it wasn't the tight, needy grip he had given her before. It was loose, kind, and consoling.
Her chanting became louder and more forced as she squeezed her eyes shut and balled her hands into fists, saying the words as if they would stop her from exploding. She was speaking them now, forced and hurried, trying her hardest to ignore the warmth emanating from Beast Boy's loving heart, trying to make the thoughts and emotions fly away. But she couldn't. And soon, her chanting was broken with scattered sobs until she fell, her tension dissolving in his arms like sugar in tea. She lost all feeling in her legs and collapsed. He followed her to the ground and let her tears consume him. He didn't even worry about the growing orb of dark energy that surrounded him. For a split second, the whole world was painted black and yet neither of them cared because it was a brighter world than any they would ever see again.
Soon, the girl quieted down and shook her head, angry at herself for losing control. The black dissolved as she regained composure with deep breaths, her eyes wide open as she stared over Beast Boy's shoulder, the taste of salt still fresh in the back of her constricting throat.
"Hey Raven..." Beast Boy whispered into her hair. "Um... remember what I said? When I was ranting about movie endings..."
Raven pulled away from him but only far enough to look him in the eye, searching. He was biting his lip.
"Um... would living with me really be, you know, so bad?" he asked, awkwardly.
She smiled at him and he leaned forward and kissed her.
Water pipes all around them burst and more drainpipes fell away from the buildings. A nearby fire hydrant exploded and soon, it was like it was raining but the two teens didn't seem to care, soaking wet and lost in each other and their grief, at last finding that elusive solace. And for a moment, she felt like he would never go and he felt like she would never have to hide her emotions again. But then again, they were both wrong.
They broke away but the water was still pouring and flickers of black energy remained in the air. Beast Boy looked up at the water, his green hair plastered to his forehead.
"Wow, sparks really flew with that one," he said. She smiled and hugged him again and squeezed her eyes shut.
"No," she whispered in his ear. "I suppose it won't be that bad living with you after all."
He closed his eyes and smiled.
"Except," she whispered, her voice more serious, "for the fact that you have a rotten banana peel hanging from your left ear."
His eyes snapped open and he bashfully tore off the banana peel with a sheepish laugh. "Uh... heh heh?" he said, putting his hand back on her back as she rested her head on his shoulder.
"But I suppose that won't be your everyday accessory," she said with a sigh.
"Only on formal occasions," Beast Boy replied.
"Wow, BB, what'd you do to piss her off this time?"
Instantly they broke away from each other and coughed looking away, guilty and nervous. And then, they acknowledged the voice and realization dawned. They looked back at each other, shocked and hope rising and then looked through the watery curtain to see a large blurry outline of silver. Beast Boy squinted to make him out better, but he helped matters, stepping through the waterfall as though stepping through the gate to a new dimension, all smiles and soot.
"Cyborg...?" Raven asked, hesitantly. The worn half-robot smiled and limped over to them.
"Cyborg!" Beast Boy screamed, running over to his friend and transforming into a grizzly to give him a literal bear hug.
"Hey, easy with the claws there, man!" Cyborg said.
Raven looked at him in disbelief. "You look like you've been in a war zone."
"Yeah, well, being blown up can do that to you," he said with a shrug. Beast Boy let him go and morphed back into his usual form.
"Dude! We looked everywhere– we came, and then– the fire, the explosion– oh god, we thought– the paramedics– oh god, Starfire! Holy– Robin!"
"Calm down, man," said Cyborg. "Star and Rob are just fine. I woke up after the explosion a little cut up and rusty, but I'd been nearest the door at the time, so I was mostly thrown away from the church, but when I heard that thing go off I ran like hell. You should know it takes more than a little bomb to take me out."
"And Robin and Starfire? You said they're OK?" said Raven, a little too eagerly for her character.
He looked over at her and nodded. "Took us a while, but we regrouped, Starfire and I. From what I could tell, the second she realized what was going to happen, she grabbed as many people nearby as she could and flew straight up throwing starbolts at the glass ceiling. She saved a few lives, bless her, which was more than Rob or I could do. Rob, man, he was probably the worst off though. Yeah, he's with the paramedics, at the hospital by now. When Star and I saw him getting up into that ambulance, damn I don't think I've ever been that scared in my life. But the guy there said he was alive, a little bashed up, but alive and that he'd be doing better as soon as they treat the burns and cuts." At the look on their faces, he repeated the statement. "Minor burns, but quite a few cuts. They said there was some glass in his wounds, which means he was thrown through the window probably, but he was found under a sheet of metal which must have shielded him from much of the blast. You know Robin, he's a smart kid.
"Anyway, Star went with him in the ambulance and I went out to look for you. For the life of me, I couldn't find you, and all I could think about was what if you guys got there before the blast and got caught in it? Then I see this geyser go off in this alley and I recognized Raven's trademark explosion. Wow, man, that was scary, let me say. God, I can't imagine what you guys must have been thinking. Were you guys OK? Would you guys have been OK if something had happened to us?"
Raven didn't know what to say. Instead, she looked at Beast Boy, who was looking at her. She gave him a weak smile and looked at Cyborg.
"We would have been lost without you guys," said Raven. "Beast Boy and I realized that we're both bad at math. Where would all the money go?"
Cyborg folded his arms in mock offense. "Gee. You think I'm dead and all you care to think about is how the bills get paid."
Raven looked past him at Beast Boy and still grinned. "Yeah, it would have been a really hard time. With the bills and money. And with Beast Boy. But... we might have made it through. We might have gone on." Then, her smile disappeared and she looked at Cyborg and shook her head. "But I never want to test that theory again, do you hear me?"
Cyborg smiled and nodded. "I got you, Rae. Believe me, I don't want to either. Come on, let's go see Robin and Starfire."
Cyborg led the way out of the alley but Beast Boy waited for Raven to catch up.
"So..." he said, eyebrows raised. "Not that bad living with me, eh?"
She glanced at him and smiled in the back of her mind. "Maybe, some day, we'll see."