Disclaimer: The Teen Titans aren't mine. If they were, well- let's just say that all this stuff I'm writing would be on television/published/making me money/paying for the as-of-now impending threat of college. As it is, I get nothing but the warm fuzzy feeling of writing, which cannot be sued for in a court of law. Yes, I know a musician's name has been mangled- his name's Jim Croce, and he has some really good music. I just was relying on the fact that the character heard the song, once, on the radio. I recommend his music to any and all people curious enough to check him out. Enough ramblings. Read and review.
Ten Things I Hate About You
I bet you think I'd never watch that movie. It's a "chick flick," after all, and doesn't have any especially morbid scenes. It wasn't written by Poe. There is nothing Gothic about it. No black color schemes, no especially somber scenes, no blood and gore and destruction- and a bit of humor, some actually enough to cause a small smile, if one is in a particularly good mood. In short, you'd doubt that I would ever be remotely interested in such a movie, even if it is based on a play by a pretty famous playwright (The Taming of the Shrew, by Shakespeare). I've read the play. If you take out the fifth act and just look at Katherine before, she was kind of like me. She was prone to a bit of violence, shown by cracking a lute over a tutor's head, and not at all interested in ever settling down. Still, this doesn't look like my usual movie. It's in color, they speak in slang, and they just barely touch on the original work.
Well, I've seen it. All you'd remember is the girl flashing the detention teacher. Before you suddenly decide to rent the movie, that isn't shown onscreen.Starfire rented the movie one night, when you and the other two were out at some "manly" event you didn't bother to invite us to. Starfire was hurt. I know that my company isn't exactly fun. I might as well be frank on all matters; my company isn't fun at all. I have the best of intentions (and you know what is said about those), but I don't know what to do, to think, to say, so I resort to stand-ins that I've read in out of date books. To get back on point- Starfire and I are like sisters now, since that business with the puppet guy, so she had a pretty good time. I'm hard to lie to, one of few nice fringe benefits. This note doesn't sound at all like me, does it? Well, there's the way I talk, and the way I write. Writing gives passive emotions, and there are enough wards on my room that I can write all manner of things I'd never say out loud. Such as: the mall actually isn't that bad. Well, I have something to get off my chest, and a letter is the best way to do it without you interrupting me. So, without further ado, the Ten Things I Hate About You. Finish this, or I'll say them to your face. In view of a major television network- that one reporter owes me a favor. I'll know if you've read this. I have my ways.
10) Your Tofu Obsession.
First of all, tofu is not remotely magical or even remotely benevolent. The ability to be made into everything from ice cream to hot dogs to chocolate to hamburgers is not necessarily a good thing. Yes, tofu is versatile. So is plastic. You don't see me eating that. The fights you have every morning with Cyborg are loud, obnoxious, and futile. Both of you are too stubborn to give in. Instead of open warfare, you should try subterfuge. You once ate a real egg without noticing (don't get too indignant- it was a completely sterile egg with no potential to ever have hatched. I'm mean, not evil- most of the time), and Cyborg once had a tofu burger patty. Plotting is much more effective when not broadcasted. By the way, if anyone else sees this letter, I deny everything and call it a very insightful forgery. Then, when they're not looking, I'll throw you out the window, then create a looping dimension so you'll fall at the almost speed of light for a year. To the rest of us, it'll be two seconds. You know I'm not kidding.
9) Horrible Jokes.
Yes, a few are funny. But the vast majority of the jokes are not. These clunkers are bad enough that each member of the team has, at one point or another, drafted a letter to the Human Association of Humor, All-inclusive. You're just lucky that you've had good timing with a joke to temporarily stop the send button from being hit. So far. Luck won't last forever. Besides, you really could afford to get some new material. Branch into political. You know that you could start something really funny if you brought out Democrats vs. Republicans. Robin would have to defend the elephants (Republicans, the silly lot of old men that never forget a single word of dogma except for when it benefits them) while explaining to Starfire the entire American political system over protests from Cyborg, a staunch Democrat proud to be affiliated with a donkey (Democrats, the jackasses that will happily go up against an incumbent knowing they don't have a chance and flailing blindly all the way without being much better). I'll be in the background of the three-ring circus, safe in my identity as an Independent. Besides, scatological (look it up, if you need to) humor is not funny. Well, mostly not funny, and even if it is, it's only because the joke is in such bad taste. You haven't caught me laughing yet, have you?
8) You're always there.
Whenever I turn around, you're there. If you're not, you're in waiting for another sneakinterruption of my meditation. Remember the incident with the puppet guy? Robin went straight for Starfire. You went straight for me. The same thing happened, even when we switched bodies. Not even something that drastic will help me out in avoiding you. You've snuck into my room, invaded my meditation, and are continually under my feet, at leisure or in battle. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, remember? Or, in our case, a few minutes of alone-time really will make a certain "Goth" less likely to kill you. I mean, you never feel the need to bother Robin when he's obsessing, Cyborg when he's working on his car, or Starfire while she's cooking (well, that's understood. I wouldn't bother my sister-of-sorts while she was remotely in the kitchen, but you also leave her alone when she's humming about mustard, of all things). But you always are there to bug me. What is this, some kind of screwy favoritism? Count me out. Give me my space for just a day, and maybe you'll see that smile you're always trying to find for me. Give me time- when it's time for me to really smile, you'll know. So will objects in the vicinity- in case you've forgotten, when I lose control of emotions, things explode and people get hurt. I don't know why you're so fixated on a smile, but you're going about this the completely wrong way.
7) You never listen when I tell you to leave.
I tell you to get out of my face. You still stand there with that stupid grin on your face, the stupid tooth of yours glinting against green skin and making you look less threatening then ever before- not a good thing. I threaten you. Your smile falters a little, but you make a final offer through some joke or attempt to include me in whatever the team is planning. I snap. I throw you out of a window, slam a door on your face, or do something equally drastic. I call you names, insult your intelligence, and say all manner of things that I don't really mean. You take it. You don't retaliate, you just look hurt for a minute and are back a little while later, bugging me again. Don't you at least have some sarcastic expression in your vocabulary? You're too forgiving, and you make me feel bad about myself. No one else has ever made me regret being rude- you're just that annoying. No matter what I do to you or about you, you keep smiling that stupid grin at me and trying again . . . and again . . . and again.
6) You're consistently too happy.
You make me want to punch you. I'll be sitting on my own on the couch, reading some dry treatise written by Azar in language that might have been modern and easy to comprehend about two dozen millennia ago. You'll bounce into the room, smiling and joking and making everyone else light up. Have you ever stood still enough to notice that? You make everyone else happy, just by walking into the room. When I walk into the room, smiles waver and people think depressing thoughts. You make me wish I could be happy. Do you know what would happen? My emotions would get out of control, Rage would get loose, my father would break free, and I would destroy your world. Just because I was happy. I wish I could be selfish, but I'd light up a room twice at the absolute most, and the price all would pay is much higher. I'll keep being the death of a good party, instead of the planet. Maybe some people just shouldn't smile.
Need I say much about this? You (Cyborg's in trouble, too, but he and I have had a few serious conversations involving him being extremely sorry- this could have had something to do with the love letter I found in his hard drive one time I was healing him, and my potential for the blackest of mail. No, you don't get details) broke into my mind, made Timid start to quietly dream and wish and hope, all things she had never dared to do, and Happy start glowing pink to prove how ecstatic she was. You helped me beat my father, and I can't forgive you for knowing why I'm so emotionless. It was easier when you just thought I was an uncaring freak. Having you feel sorry for me is unbearable, and the reason I'm still mad about Nevermore. That's when you started to get dangerously close to pitying me. I don't need that. If there's anything I need, it's a nice cup of herbal tea in a kitchen not disturbed by tofu, a relaxing day of reading without interruption, and a day without a single joke that gives the urge to smile (rarely, don't get a big head- I'll be only too willing to deflate it for you) or throw you out the window- which is becoming a pretty common threat, as I actually have done it more times than I've counted. I fixed the sprain you had once, when you landed on an arm badly after a fall from the first story. You actually thanked me. I threw you out the window in the first place. You're too nice, sometimes. You should have been angry, but you weren't. Why?
4) The Face
You know what I mean. That kitten-thing you do when you want to get your way. You know it doesn't work. You think I'm immune to small fuzzy animals. Well, really, I think you can be cuter in your (Hell, I'm telling the truth or nothing, so I'll be straight with you) usual form. Honestly. I mean, I don't know why. I don't have an ear fetish. Green reminds me of vegetables. The random tooth/fang-thing you have going on only proves you're a predator, one whose most common prey is tofu. So, just in case you're wondering why I wouldn't go to the arcade with you to play DDR even when you did make The Face, that's why. Besides, playing a completely ridiculous game and making a fool of myself in front of crowds who know me as Raven, the creepy Titan, sounds. . . fun. I might have a good time. If I suddenly become happy to be the (okay, so I have no metaphor for dance figures) dancer to your other dancer (I know, the comparison is the most horrible I've ever written, but I want to finish this in one sitting before I lose all feeling that makes me write this and delete the file), bad things might happen. I won't hurt anyone to have a night of fun. I have to choose, every day. Will I have fun, or will everyone else have fun? You know which choice I've always made.
3) You understand me too well.
You might not think this is a problem. It is. How am I supposed to keep a frosty I-could-kill-you-at-any-given-time ice-queen-worthy face in place when you know exactly what to say? I've been close to opening up far too many times. I trust you. I trust the team. I trusted- well, to be honest, I did. I just never admitted it. I was jealous. When I turned out to be honest about. . . her (I still can't say her name, after what she did to u- you), it only made me feel worse. When I'm meditating, dead to the world (except Starfire, when she's looking for someone- Robin and Cyborg know to stay away unless there's an emergency), you're nine times out of ten the one to bug me when meditating stops being relaxing and becomes (This is the most candid I've ever been- typing this gives it a certain detached anonymity that makes this possible) lonely. I yell, I threaten, I carry out my threats. Still, it's nice to know someone cares. I know by now that you're nervous about waking me. You still do it. You're either extraordinarily brave, or extraordinarily stupid. I haven't decided yet (but I think you're somewhere in the middle, leaning to the left).
2) You protect me too much.
You're always at my back in a fight. You think you're too weak to really fight. I know better than you do. Remember the time you were the Beast, and everyone thought that you were trying to hurt me? I knew better. I always knew the thing to attack me wasn't you. It wasn't some power of mine. It was intuition, the subtle kind my human half gives me, even when I could barely make out some being in the darkness. That wasn't a demonic power trip. That was a feeling I decided to go on, pure and simple. And when you did show up that time, protecting me even without the conscious thoughts that usually shoot through your mind, I knew that you cared on a deeper level. I know you'd do the same for any teammate. I guess the only reason you've never made a move on Starfire is that Robin has had a claim on her since Day One, when the Boy Wonder turned the slightest bit to Jell-o when she made the first of her naïve-to-the-extreme comments. That was the most he had ever fallen for anyone. This isn't a pity party, though. This is a list of the reasons why I avoid you, the reasons I think you're the most irritating creature to ever walk the earth (after Trigon, Malchior, Slade, Barney, and George W. Bush).
Well, I don't want to say this one outright. I'm a coward at times, I know. It's just- sometimes, things are too close to home. I've been meaning to say this for a while. My emotions finally came together and gave a verdict. I can tell you this without hurting anyone. Telling you should actually help me out, concentration-wise. Don't worry about me being crushed by rejection. I'm strong. I'm used to it- really, I am. Don't you dare fake something just for me. That would hurt more than you finally telling the truth about how much you hate me for the many times I've over-reacted to you enough to throw you out of a window. It's just that- this is really hard to type. I'm rambling all over, but I think you have a clue. If you don't, you're not nearly as smart as I think you are. That's right. I think you're smart. There's a brain in that green head of yours- I know it. You fight smart, you always know how to make me feel better, even when I pretend to be annoyed, and the time I really startle you with a hug (by the way, I still am thankful that you didn't push me away, and the whole "creepy" thing is completely forgiven), you don't say a word, tell me I'd come around, or push me away. You accept me. You always have. More than the others, you've always been around for me.
Cyborg's my big brother, ready to pound someone if I ever feel hurt. Starfire is my sister, always eager to take me to the Mall of Shopping or meditate or fly, anything normal sisters would do. Well, not quite, but you get the picture. Robin's not a romantic interest. He's too closed. I would only encourage his shell, as he understands and respects mine. He knows I need my shell now. You know that, someday, I'll need to abandon it and move on without the extra weight, and you want to be there to help me. This isn't just a process of elimination. This is more justification for what I'm going to tell you.
I love you, Beast Boy. I hate it. I hate the way I love you, the way I always lose my attention in meditation if I even think I hear your voice, the way I can't concentrate on my book if I even think of you, the way that I tried tofu once in the dead of night and thought it was horrible. I tried the nasty stuff, though, with you on my mind, and wasn't at all angry as I downed glass after glass of tea to get rid of the disgusting taste. I don't hate you. I hate the reasons that I can't help but love you. Love's a tricky emotion. The more you deny that you can fall in love, the more you think it's impossible, the more likely it is to happen. There's a thin line between hate and love, after all. The opposite of love is apathy, and when you're around, I have to feel something. Annoyance is safe. Love- isn't.
The One Thing I Hate About Myself
I'll never give this to you. I couldn't sleep. This was written in the dead of the morning, while the whole of the Tower was asleep and the rattling of my keyboard was drowned in the silence. I felt waves of bravery, of caring, of happiness that you would know. Then, timidity began to slink in. You'd reject me. You'd just read the title and think I hated you. You'd laugh about this and show this to everyone. I'd be too heartbroken to carry out my threats. I may have said that I'm invulnerable, but now more than ever, I'm not. After Malchior, I know just one sentence from you saying you don't feel that way will hurt me more than anyone would imagine. An unfeeling Goth can be shot down. Hearing "we'll always be friends" will kill me. I'll still be alive, still function, still fight crime, but I'll never open up again. My emotions were in shut-down mode after Malchior, dangerously close to dying. My father wouldn't have been able to take control, but I'd never have the chance to feel. Feeling is such a basic thing. Everyone takes it for granted. Blind people can, even if they don't have sight. The same for the deaf, the mute, those missing out on smells, those who can't feel a physical touch or pain.
You'll never see this. I will print up just one copy to look at, to watch the neat uniformity of black letters on crisp white paper. I'll smile and let thoughts of whimsy come to mind, and scenes playing out where I present the letter. I'll send it to you from an "anonymous" fan. You'll know who I am, and smile. For once, I'll make you smile. I'll slide it under the door to your room. I'll tape it to one of your many plastic bins oftofu. I'll put it under your plate at breakfast. The next time I throw you out the window, I'll give you this in the middle of a pile of mimeographed sheets about how cats land on the ground. Maybe next time you can change, if I throw you from a high enough window. When cats have enough time to go into free-fall, their landings are perfect. If it's from the first story, as it usually is, I'd just advise you to land in a shrub. You'd find this inside, and read it. Maybe I'd catch your interest that way, maybe I wouldn't- but in my imagination, I keep trying.
Your reactions vary in my daydream. At one moment, you proclaim you feel the same way. You send me a letter. You buy me a rose- I've always admired the vibrantly red roses on glistening dark green stems. I like the roses with thorns. The threat of a sharp point only makes the blooms smell sweeter, and what's a few pricks to a finger against the wonderful smell of a wild rose? You're watching the movies with me and the rest of the Titans, all of us on the couch. Instead of observing the cursory bubble of My Space, you put your arm around my shoulder in that horrible cliché of teenagers, one I thought I would never have happen to me. You've already surpassed all expectations Iever allowed myself to have.First the I-need-to-stretch-my-arm, then- the prom? Maybe, just maybe, you'd put on a tux if I promised to wear a dress. A pretty one- I wouldn't show up in some black corsetted model from Hot Topic. If I was going to the prom, with you- I'd want to look pretty. Go ahead and laugh- it's true.
Of course, there is always a second side, if not a third, a fourth, a twenty-ninth. You laugh, and think I made an elaborate joke. You get that disgusted look on your face, like the times meat is too close to you. You think that it's a fake, and are relieved that I didn't write this. There are too many possibilities. This is why I will never give you my list of ten things I love to hate about you. It's too dangerous. I can't split up the team, or take pity from anyone. The Goth fell for the funny, popular, self-assured joker that never shows the outside world his fears, if he has any. I won't be able to take it. That would hurt me more than Malchior or Trigon ever did. Malchior was spur-of-the-moment. You? I've liked you far longer. I've just been in denial, in the true tradition of teenagers. Maybe I am partly normal, after all. Alert the presses- the half-demon half-suicidal (only whispers of thoughts, I don't need a psychiatrist, it's just never pleasant or good for the mind to know that you're doomed to destroy the world when.I don't.) Goth has fallen in love. Funny, eh? Maybe you'll tell a joke about it to one of the many much prettier, happier, and more normal girls that have fan clubs running rampant across the country waiting for you to tell one of them a joke.
I'll just type it one more time. I feel strangely relaxed. I'll type it once more, print myself a copy, marvel at the things I'll never say to you, and then go to sleep. For once, I feel that my dreams will be pleasant. Good night, I hope you're sleeping well, I love you. This will be in the garbage when I'm done. That's a horribly undignified place for a note that I care about this much, but it's too dangerous to keep. There's to be no trace of it, no hint in my behavior, nothing but a few stray ashes once the incinerator does its work. This is the closest I've ever come to really telling you. There's an old tune I heard on the radio, something about having to say I love you in a song, by someone names James Croachi or something like that. How pathetic is this? People who speak in monotones don't sing, so they stick to typed and computer processed notes that will never be read. Maybe it's better that no one but me will ever see lines of black on a background of white. You need someone brave enough to say it to your face, laugh at your jokes, and cheer you up, if you're ever down. You probably are- you can't be as perfect as you seem, and that's just another reason I love you. I don't hate that one. It makes me feel like half-human might just be good enough.
She did just as she had written, marveling at the words that spread out on paper. Six pages, single spaced, all in uniform and neat printing unlike anything nervous hands would do. She took only a minute to wonder and what-if and think of what could be (should be, but she couldn't and wouldn'tthink that) before strengthening her resolve and slipping into the dark corridor. She passed his door, restraining the urge to knock and wait for him to answer before kissing him senseless. That sounded like a plan that would destroy several dozen lightbulbs and (possibly) a wall or six. Still, he just might think it a dream, and she'd at least know his reaction. That would more than likely be disgusted refusal, but she could dream that his eyes would widen, and he would confess that the feelings had been reciprocated ever since he met her. Well, even she wouldn't use such language in the situation, but it sounded nice.
She left the papers in a place of honor while she made herbal tea. She drank far faster than she usually would, almost scalding herself with boiling water. She was part demon, or she would have had severe burns. Demons had to havea high heat tolerance. She put away dishes quickly, rushing for a reason she couldn't explain. She tipped the outpouring of emotion on generic, safe printer paper into the trash, regretful and relieved all at once, and had her usual impassive face firmly established as she cleaned out her cup.
Suddenly, she understood her urgency. A very sleepy Beast Boy walked in, grabbing tofu ice cream from the freezer and digging into the off-color cookie dough-dotted vanilla with a spoon (Raven stopped from gagging, a stoic feat worthy of ignoring Mad Mod as he tried to imitate Austin Powers's "mojo," a disturbing sight that would no doubt make the entire team go into therapy) before noticing he wasn't alone.
"Don't you sleep?" she asked, skipping usual courtesies as usual. He didn't even notice anymore.
"I couldn't. Too much on my mind."
"Like tofu and bad jokes?" Why couldn't she stop? Almost everything she said to him was an insult. He never called her on it. Never. Maybe he should- or maybe she could change her words, future and present. "Sorry, Beast Boy. I mean, what's bothering you?"
He blinked, and not as surreptitiously as he would have hoped, pinched himself. Raven winced. Was it that odd for her to ask something so simple? She was worse than she had imagined. "It's about y- stuff. Just, you know, the usual, normal, average, teenage male stuff."
She would prefer a stagnant and rotting joke to such a cop-out answer. "Oh." She hid any emotion in that word, reverting back to wry humor to cover herself. "I don't even want to know what that implies." Time to get out of there, before there were the usualquestions. She was far too likely togive something away. She had to retreat."I was just heading back to bed- I'll leave you to it. Good night." She fled the room, but her hovering hid the running. She had to meditate. She wouldn't be sleeping any longer for the night.
Raven was so eager to flee the kitchen she didn't notice Beast Boy make a common mistake. He threw the spoon in the trash can, instead of the ice cream carton. The likelihood of this shorting the incinerator and causing it to burst into flames outside of the desired chute made Cyborg change the programming so the trash would only go down the chute every fifteen minutes, instead of instantly. When finding his spoon, he encountered a sheaf of paper. There were two options.
One: ignore it and stay up trying to imagine what it was, preserving the privacy of whoever had written it. Well, it had to be Raven, with the timing of the thing, unless Starfire, Cyborg or Robin had started nocturnal wanderings and had been in and out in the last fifteen minutes, when he was there for eight. Why would Raven take something from her room only to throw it out? She would never know if he glanced at it before throwing it back into the incinerator chute. But he still should preserve the common integrity of the Tower. But- trash cans were common ground. If you throw something out, someone will see it. The incinerator complicated matters from legal reasoning used by attorneys.
Two: read it. He thought the choice was obvious, and the papers were curiously heavy in his hands. The title caught his eye, even if there weren't any pictures.
Raven felt something catch on the back of her cloak when she left her room, hovering an inch higher than usual. Her emotions were stirred up. Walking now would be next to impossible. Besides, levitation was her usual transportation. She usually just didn't find a thorned rose hooked onto the back of her cloak after it had been set just where her door met the hallway. The rest of the way to the kitchen, she was on autopilot until she saw that her usual isolated chair was no longer alone. The chair next to it had a green-skinned occupant. Raven found a fresh cup of tea waiting for her, next to an extra plate of (ignored) tofu omelet.
The rest of the Titans came down to breakfast to find two teammates chatting. . . happily? The monotone sounded a little brighter, was interrupted by laughter, and the kitchen was abandoned, dishes and all. Instead, two Titans sat on the couch, violet-haired leaning on the grass stain, one smiling like a contented cat and one giving his trademark sharp-toothed grin. Every single lightbulb in a half-mile vicinity was nothing but fragments of glass, but she didn't care. This was her morning, her brief time to prove that she could feel. That afternoon, she would repair the damage. Beast Boy would understand.She smiled at the assembled team, feeling a complete euphoria that caused small tremors, tremors later predicted by geologists to be the prelude to a massive earthquake. They never did figure out why the disturbances originated at an area removed from the fault line.
"What? You all knew this was going to happen. Remember the fairy tale?" She drew a blank look. She continued, tiniest of smiles inching into place. "The Broody and the Beast- they get together in the end." Beast Boy laughed, Starfire giggled, and Cyborg and Robin stared. It was true- love really did do strange things to people. Robin swore right away that if he started cooking as horribly as his love, he'd confiscate his own pots and have them thrown into the incinerator through the bypass. Once he started producing things like that, he was done. Cyborg swore that he would never start to develop interests in planting flower gardens, like Bee loved to do. Dirt took forever to clear from circuitry, and fertilizer did odd things to his finish. Besides, he didn't have a gardening attachment. Promises made, they both began laughing at what she had said, more because Raven had such an expectant look ready for them than the joke was truly funny. It was more of a horrible pun than anything else, but it was a start. They were opposites- both could afford to explore the middle ground.
They all knew this was temporary. Raven would not allow wanton destruction to continue for long. She would bring her emotions under control, but everyone would finally knew how she felt. She was allowing herself one morning of happiness, one perfect time to remember whenever she was forced to supress heremotions. It was hard, but she knew he understood. She wasn't going to have to do everything alone. For just one morning, she would be a happy teenager- Cyborg thought he caught hints of pink in her complexion, but he could have been looking for them.
There was nothing funny about the moment, and that was why it made them feel like laughing. Love did the damndest things, like making the dark girl laugh as she leaned against the joker who hid serious thoughts behind a smokescreen of immaturity. As endearing as the scene was, the three observers could only wonder what changes love could make to them. They ignored the most obvious point. If they were changing for the one they loved, they wouldn't mind at all. Besides being the foremost cause of change in the world, love was also the greatest anesthetic.