Stay and Drown

Summary: Takes place after Switched. Starfire takes Raven up on her offer to go to the mall after the two girls are done meditating. The ditzy alien and the emotionless Goth…who knows what might happen…

Disclaimer: If I owned Teen Titans, there would be a way for Raven to force Trigon to leave her alone forever, Beast Boy would have a moped, Terra would be alive (but not paired off with Beast Boy), there would be more episodes with Blackfire in them, and Slade would NOT be working for Trigon. So needless to day, I don't own the show.

Pairings: RaeStar

Author's Notes: Yeah, it's shoujo-ai, but it's pretty mild, and not fluffy. And the girls may be slightly OOC, because I haven't seen many TT eps…just, like, 10 or so…whatever. Tell me if they're OOC, okay? (Aside from the shoujo-ai aspect, obviously.) The song I use in this fic is (doy) Finger Eleven's Stay and Drown. Good song, and I thought it fit. Oh yeah, and this fic definitely won't make as much sense if you haven't seen the ep.


Why did I suggest this again? Raven wondered.

Starfire was holding her hand, tugging her through the small foyer between the first and second sets of doors leading to the mall. Raven wrinkled her nose slightly; there were always chain-smokers expelling grey, acrid clouds in the foyer, because there was no smoking allowed in the mall.

"Please hurry, Raven! I am eager to try the Earth custom of shopping with a friend!" Starfire cried happily, oblivious to the rancid smoke.

"I'll hurry, but only because I hate secondhand smoke." Raven sighed in her usual dry monotone. She had been hoping that the meditation would calm Starfire down before their mall expedition. Shopping with a not-so-hyper Starfire might not be so bad.

But obviously, Raven's hypothesis hadn't been quite as accurate as she'd hoped.

"Oooh, where shall we go first?" Starfire squealed joyfully. Quite a few other shoppers stared, distracted first by Starfire's outdoor voice, and then by the fact that two popular teen heroines were standing in the mall just like anyone else. A little girl in a stroller pointed a chubby finger at the two teenagers and yelled (in a voice that sounded oddly like Starfire's), "Teen Ti'ns!"

"Star, maybe we should have changed." Raven mumbled. She indicated her navy-colored cape and Starfire's loud, purple, obviously not Earth-style skirt and halter-top. "We stick out like a raven and a hummingbird in a field of sparrows."

Starfire (of course) didn't care. "Raven, I am thirsty. Might we try a place Beast Boy recommended…the 'Bucks of Star?'"

"You mean Starbucks?" Raven shuddered at the thought of Starfire on caffeine. Considering that Beast Boy was the source of Starfire's idea, getting the alien caffeine-high was probably the intention. "On one condition."

"What?" Starfire's attractive features were arranged into a picture of confusion. "Condition, similar to air conditioner?"

Where in the name of Azar did she get that Raven wondered. Have Cyborg and Beast Boy been confusing her on purpose or something? "Starfire, it means that there's something you need to agree to before I'll go."

"What is the…con-di-tion?"

"Try decaf."

"Friend Raven, what is this 'decaf' of which you speak?"

"I means," Raven explained, irritation seeping into her voice, "that you'll get coffee that doesn't have caffeine in it. Caffeine…" I'll make it easy for her. "Caffeine will make you go insane."

"That does not sound pleasant," Starfire said hesitantly.

"Exactly. So you should get decaf."

"Thank you for the warning, Raven, I will," the Tamaranian promised.

"And, Star?"

"Yes?"

"You can let go of my hand now."

After the two girls had found Starbucks (and Raven had taught Starfire a lesson in reading Earth maps, especially those with arrows saying "YOU ARE HERE" found in malls) Starfire ordered a decaf cappuccino (Raven had to help her pronounce it) and Raven, as usual, had tea. Starbucks didn't have her preferred kind, though, so she decided to try a Japanese tea called chazriki. Supposedly, it was good for suppressed rage; the kind of thing Raven would need on a mall trip with Starfire.

The two girls sipped their drinks, Raven slowly and methodically, Starfire sporadically, speaking absentmindedly to Raven between swallows.

"Friend Raven? Are you listening to me?"

"Not really," Raven replied honestly, setting her cup on the surface of the table. "What?"

Starfire interlaced her long fingers and glanced shiftily into her lap. "I…am not sure if I know the correct way to say this…"

"What's wrong, Star?" The alien princess was almost never like this. But despite the fact that Starfire was obviously troubled, Raven hastily squashed her concern. This wasn't the greatest place for her powers to make things explode.

"Were you truly thinking of me not talking? When you were in my body, trying to fly? Does my voice displease you?"

Raven inhaled deeply. She should have known that telling Starfire what she was thinking when she was able to fly would hurt the Tamaranian's feelings. Starfire could be sensitive as a baby. "I don't mind your voice. But we were in a difficult situation, and you were talking a lot, and it was distracting."

Starfire hung her head slightly. "I apologize."

In spite of herself, a small pang of guilt stirred in Raven's chest. Her napkin flew off the table and into the ceiling. "It's not your fault. You just talk a lot. It's the way you are."

"And that annoys you?" Starfire sounded surprisingly plaintive. Since when did she care so much about what Raven thought?

"It did at that time." Raven admitted. "Don't feel bad."

Starfire smiled tremulously. "But there is something else…"

"What's wrong?"

Starfire bit her lip and took another drink for her plastic Starbucks cup before asking her question. "Why are you so displeased when I hug you? Do you not enjoy my friendship?"

Another surprising question. Raven hadn't known that Star put so much stock in Raven's opinion. "Don't be stupid, Starfire. Of course I don't mind that you're my friend. I just mind that you practically crush my ribs when you hug me. And you know I don't really like being hugged by anybody."

"Oh…well, Robin also expresses unhappiness when I hug him. Do you believe it is because I 'crush his ribs?'"

"Probably. You're a lot stronger than you look." Raven almost added, "Don't worry, Robin is crazy about you, you know," but at the last second, decided not to.

"Raven…could you please show me how to hug you…I mean, Robin…without causing injury?"

Was she serious? In the middle of Starbucks? Well, she was Starfire. Outrageous little alien.

Raven stood. I can't believe I'm doing this. "You're going to have to stand up."

Starfire obeyed, and Raven approached her. Starfire was just slightly taller than Raven. Trying to quash the conflicting emotions of sympathy, embarrassment, and something Raven couldn't identify, she spoke. "It goes something like this…"

The smaller girl carefully slipped one arm around Starfire's slim waist, and lightly draped the other arm around her neck, letting the alien girl lean into the embrace. Raven found suddenly that her head rested perfectly on Starfire's shoulder.

Starfire stiffened abruptly, letting out a sharp sigh.

"Are you okay, Starfire?"

The Tamaranian relaxed, slowly slipping her arms underneath Raven's cloak to wrap around her back. "I am fine, Raven. Is this right?"

To say the least, Raven wasn't used to such an intimate position, especially one so close to Starfire. Well, Raven hadn't experienced a gentle embrace from the overly hyper alien, anyway. "Yeah, Star…you're doing fine…" Raven's voice had a deeper rasp than usual. No…I can't be enjoying this…this can't be happening…Starfire is not holding me this gently, she's not stroking my back like that…oh God…

Starfire slowly ran her hand up and down Raven's spine, wondering if she was doing it correctly. She felt Raven's chest press into hers as the Azarathean inhaled deeply. "Friend, am I hurting you?"

"Not at all."

I have to get out of this before I make something explode.

"Starfire, you can let go of me now."

"Am I not pleasing you?" Starfire whispered in a tone of considerable dismay.

"My powers can be volatile when I feel anything, remember? You experienced that firsthand today."

Slowly, Starfire let Raven go, letting her fingertips brush the telepath's waist. What is she trying to do? Raven thought, trying to make sense of the alien's actions. She sat back down, trying to appear as though the past minute hadn't had any effect on her. Starfire was less successful. Her cheeks were flushed and she was avoiding eye contact with Raven. Being me and having my stupid powers probably confused her, Raven decided, going back to her tea.

The two girls sat in silence for a while. Raven would have been lying if she didn't notice the absence of Starfire's happy, absentminded chatter. She had expected to enjoy (or at least, as close as she can get to "enjoying") Starfire not talking, but she almost missed the other girl's incessant babble. It wasn't like her to be so reclusive.

Starfire placed her empty cup on the table and finally spoke. "Raven, I am finished. Might we commence with the shopping now?"

Raven took a final sip of her chazriki. The soothing warmth helped her quell the emotions she'd been battling a few minutes ago. "Where do you want to go?" Raven suddenly pictured Starfire dragging her into some preppy store like Abercrombie & Fitch and trying to get her to wear pink. If something like that happened, Raven could only hope the chazriki would keep her from breaking windows.

"I do not know," Starfire admitted. "You know the earthly shopping places better than I."

Is she serious? Last time she went shopping she tried to buy the whole mall…"I don't get out much either," Raven reminded her. "But there is one store that I like." She actually almost smiled at the thought of Starfire in her favorite store. This was going to be good.

"What is this store?"

"Hot Topic."

Being herself, Starfire didn't know anything about Hot Topic. Raven led her through the mall's wide corridors, predicting the look on Starfire's face when she saw the inside of Raven's favorite store.

"Here we are." Raven said in her usual monotone, glancing up at the crimson, gothic-style letters over the entrance to the store.

"Oh…my," Starfire whispered. "How strange…there are no places like this on Tamaran."

"Come on. I'll show you around."

Tentatively, Starfire followed Raven into the dark interior. Music blared inside: Finger Eleven's "Stay and Drown."

If I wait to wake you I'll never ask you
Would you take my hand in the deepest end?
Would you stay and drown in me?
Take my hand in the deepest end
My open eyes see everything

Raven strolled around with the casual ease of a veteran Hot Topic shopper, studying a rack of shirts that read: "I'm a nice person. Come closer." Sweetypuss, the psychotic kitten, was standing over the words, holding an axe.

"Hey, the prep store's that way." A dark-eyed girl with red-streaked hair and a Sum 41 T-shirt standing behind the counter pointed at Starfire. Starfire blinked in confusion.

"Were you addressing me?"

"She's with me, Kat," Raven said, drifting over to Starfire.

"Well, hey, Rae," Kat grinned. "Haven't seen you in a while."

"I've been busy."

"Yeah, I know, little miss Teen Titan. But tell your friend she's got to get out of that ensemble and into a decent band shirt if she wants to stay."

The corners of Raven's mouth almost turned up. Kat had a tendency to do that.

"Come on, Star. We can find something for you." Raven took Starfire by the arm and led her to the rack of shirts she'd been examining. "Here, Starfire. This one's pink, but it will do."

Raven handed Starfire another Sweetypuss T-shirt; this one depicted the wide-eyed, Gothic cat with her arms spread, saying, "Your soul is mine and I'll take some candy too."

Starfire read the words aloud and laughed brightly. "That is much more humorous than any of Beast Boy's jokes!"

"Do you have any money, Starfire?" Knowing her, she'd forgotten that you needed money to shop.

"Why yes, I do." Starfire sounded surprised that she'd remembered. Raven was too.

"Do you have 20, then? This shirt costs 18.95."

"I believe so."

"Okay." Raven walked to the wall of the store dedicated to music T-shirts. She selected a black Evanescence tank top with Amy Lee sitting cross-legged on the front. "I was wondering when these would come in."

She tried to turn around, but Starfire was right behind her. Raven stifled a yelp, and her hair flew up and briefly took the shape of her namesake avian. Raven hastily smoothed her violet locks, asking irritably, "Star, what are you doing?"

"I did not wish to be directed to the 'prep store' again."

Raven shook her head. "Let's go try these on." She led the taller girl to the back of the store where the fitting rooms were. She opened the door to the girls' room for Starfire. "You can go first."

Slowly, Starfire slipped inside and Raven closed the door. But of course, Starfire couldn't do anything related to Earth-shopping by herself. "Raven? Will you please enter? I require your assistance."

Raven sighed and opened the door, entering the room. "What?"

"The clasp on my top is stuck. Will you please undo it for me?" Starfire turned so her back was to Raven and pulled her thick auburn mane aside.

The faintest of red tinges rose to Raven's cheeks. "Can't you do it yourself? I mean, I'm your friend, but don't you think that's a bit strange to ask your friend to help take your shirt off?" Of course she doesn't. She's Starfire.

"I apologize…I did not…I am sorry." Starfire said weakly. "I was not aware this situation would make you uncomfortable."

Raven almost left, but something in the alien's voice compelled her stay. She sounded even more hurt than earlier that day when Raven had confessed that "you not talking" was her happy thought.

"It's okay, Star." Raven moved closer and gently tugged at the clasp below the nape of Starfire's neck. "This really is stuck…" Raven pinched the cloth of Starfire's shirt closer to the clasp before pulling again. The clasp came undone and Raven brushed the soft material away from her friend's shoulders.

"Thank you, friend." Starfire smiled as Raven's warm hands lingered on her shoulders for just a millisecond longer than necessary.

"It's nothing." Raven left.

Starfire emerged a few seconds later, wearing her Sweetypuss T-shirt. It was a size too small, but hugged Starfire's body slightly rather than hanging loosely and awkwardly.

"Nice." Raven commented, surprising both herself and Starfire by not sounding sarcastic at all.

Starfire flushed a little. "Thank you, Raven. Your turn." She held the door open for Raven. The telepath slipped inside and quickly removed her long cloak to slip the tank top over her head. She examined her reflection. The top did not suit her long-sleeved, legless leotard, but that wasn't the point. And it also wasn't really what Raven was looking at. She whisked her head to one side, then the other, examining the way her short, silky violet hair brushed her face. In spite of her large, clear amethyst eyes, porcelainesque skin, and delicate features, Raven knew she wasn't half as beautiful as Starfire. Why do I suddenly care what I look like? It's never mattered before… Raven shook her head again, this time to clear her mind. This day has been so weird. I hope I can get Starfire back to the Tower soon.

Raven changed back into her cloak and sauntered out of the fitting room.

Starfire's face fell, her emeraldlike eyes baleful. "I did not get to see you in your new shirt."

"It doesn't really work with this." Raven held up a handful of her cloak.

"I have never seen you without it…I suppose I was merely curious." Starfire said absently.

Whatever… "We should pay for these." Raven held up the carefully folded Evanescence top. Starfire nodded wordlessly.

The two girls paid for their new tops. Kat rung them up. "See you picked out the new Evanescence shirt, Rae. Nice choice." Kat commented. She glanced at Starfire, who was still wearing the Sweetypuss T-shirt. "Much better." Kat looked back at Raven. "Bring her back sometime."

Raven and Starfire left, Raven quietly humming the tune that had gotten lodged in her head when they first entered the store.

Good God have I been dreaming
This paralyzing feeling
Was I left alone?
Where have you gone?
Are you somewhere else just sleeping?

Later, Raven sat in her room, hovering a few feet off the ground, meditating. Trying to erase the emotions that had surfaced during her mall trip with Starfire. Why had she agreed to that, anyway?

"Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos. Azarath…"

There was a light knock on the door. Ordinarily, that wasn't enough to rouse Raven from her meditation, but she couldn't seem to attain the deep level of concentration she did ordinarily. "What?" There was an edge to her voice. What is wrong with me today?

"Raven? It is Starfire. May I please speak with you?"

"Come in." Raven said solidly, placing her feet on the floor.

Starfire was silent. "Did you just request that I enter…your room?"

"Yeah. Get in here."

Did I just ask STARFIRE to come in my room? Well…I suppose I didn't want the boys to hear us talking. But still…this is my room. No one ever comes in my room. Ugh, there really is something wrong with me.

Raven ex

tended a wrist encased in her telepathic magic and slid the door open.

Cautiously, Starfire floated into Raven's room.

"Raven, I wish to talk to you…about what happened today."

"The Puppet Master?" Raven took a seat on her bed. Her hood had been up, but now she slipped it off.

"No…" Starfire sat down delicately next to Raven.

"What, when we went to the mall?"

Starfire nodded slowly. "Something…I felt something strange…when I was around you today. Strange…but pleasant. I do not know how to describe it. It was similar to how I feel around Robin…"

Gently, Raven placed her arm around Starfire's waist. Surprised, the alien leaned onto Raven, placing her cheek on top of the telekinetic girl's head. "Something that makes this feel really, really good?" Raven offered.

"Yes…" Starfire trailed off. "I feel…attached to you…do you understand that?"

"Yeah, Star." Even Raven was surprised by the softness in her tone. "I think I feel that way too." She leaned closer to Starfire and slipped her other arm around the Tamaranian princess' back.

Starfire sighed and hugged Raven fiercely, almost hard enough to hurt; but remembering what the smaller girl had "taught" her earlier, softened her grip. Finally. This was what she had been longing for all day; to be this close to the cold, bitter telepath, break her out of her shell, and to feel Raven's supple body against her. And maybe…maybe she would even get to see Raven smile.

Without any warning, Raven pulled away from Starfire's warm embrace.

"No…we can't do this." Raven tugged her hood up, hiding her plain face from Starfire. She shouldn't even have to look at me, the half-demon rape child.

"But Raven, why?" Starfire reached for her friend, but found her hand brushing Raven's dark magic shield.

"I can't believe this. We get switched to each other's bodies, get switched back, go to the mall once, and suddenly we're crazy about each other. Things don't work that way."

"Why not?" Starfire cried.

Raven glared coldly at the alien. "First, getting our souls moved around probably altered our emotions, maybe by causing a disturbance in our brains when we switched back. Second, you're a Tamaranian princess, and I'm a satanic hybrid who was only born because my demon father wanted his bloodline to continue." The empath turned away, pulling her cloak up with one hand to completely cover her face. "And third, no one could ever care about me." Her voice was barely above a whisper.

"That is not true!" Starfire wrapped her arms around Raven from behind. "You can sense the emotions of others! Can you not tell that I care for you?"

"I can sense it. But I don't think you mean it." For the second time, Raven pried herself from the Tamaranian's arms. "Go back to your room, Starfire. When you wake up tomorrow, you'll be embarrassed this ever happened."

Starfire began to cry softly. "Raven, do you truly believe that no one loves you?"

"Yes."

"But why? Your father's crime does not lessen you!"

"It makes me a half-demon rape child. Starfire, if you only knew what it's like to wake up every morning and know that I can't feel anything, because if I do, my powers will go out of control and I could hurt somebody. And there are other things too…" Raven's voice cut off. "There are things about me that no one should ever know."

"But Raven, I have been you. This morning, I experienced the difficulties of controlling your powers." Starfire glanced at her hands. "I could never imagine suppressing my feelings the way you have to. And I wish I could help you!"

"There's nothing you can do, Starfire. There's nothing anybody can do. And it's not just controlling my powers. There's something that was seen in my future that hangs over my head every day."

"What is it? Please, Raven, tell me."

"I can't. I can't tell anyone. Did you have access to my memories when you were inside me today?"

"No. I did not."

"Good. You don't deserve to see some of the things in my head. The nightmares I get."

"Perhaps if I stayed with you, your nightmares would not plague you." Starfire suggested.

"I doubt it."

A heavy, uncomfortable silence hung in the dark room, as if the air had turned to gelatin. Neither girl moved. There was no motion at all, as if an icy hand had reached out and frozen the two Titans. The refrain that hadn't left Raven's mind since the mall trip strengthened:

If I wait to wake you I'll never ask you
Would you take my hand in the deepest end?
Would you stay and drown in me?
Take my hand in the deepest end
My open eyes see everything

Slowly, Starfire reached for Raven again, this time succeeding in pulling her into a compassionate hug. Starfire pushed Raven's hood down, stroking the telepath's soft hair. Raven groaned softly and gave in, throwing her arms around Starfire with startling intensity. A few spellbooks and novels shot off Raven's bookshelf, the pages ripping themselves out.

"Shhhh," Starfire whispered gently, rubbing Raven's back the way she had in Starbucks earlier. "I do not care if you are half a demon, Raven." As if to prove her point, the Tamaranian leaned down to kiss Raven's cheek. The shorter girl closed her eyes as Starfire pressed her face into the warm, welcome softness of Raven's neck.

Raven began caressing Starfire's long red mane. "I still don't know how you stand having this much hair, but it suits you."

After at least a full minute, Raven pulled away, but slowly, twining her fingers with Starfire's. "You should go. God only knows what the boys will say if they find out I let you in here."

Starfire hugged Raven briefly. "You are saying we should keep this a secret?"

"Probably…we'd never hear the end of it if we told them."

Starfire giggled. "Very well, I will not tell the boys." She got off Raven's bed and walked to the doorway, where she lingered for a few seconds. "Good night, dearest Raven."

Raven lay back onto her pillows as the song continued in her head:

But I'm passing all the days through a windowpane
And as the scene would change I'd stay the same
This paradise was nothing new
but the paradise gets tired of you
A single conversation
Stole my attention

Would you take my hand in the deepest end?
Would you stay and drown in me?

Take my hand in the deepest end
My open eyes see everything

My open eyes see everything
And you see nothing
And don't forget it

Take my hand in the deepest end
Would you stay and drown in me?

Raven's lips assumed a content, unfamiliar, and very slight expression. Yeah, I think she would. "Good night, Starfire."