I am SOOOOOO sorry that it took so long to get this chapter up. Really, I apologize. I got caught up in other crap. Happens sometimes, ya know?

Hope this lives up to your expectations. I love you all for waiting so patiently. :D

Chapter Seven

I didn't bother to meet up with Robin and the others once I got outside again. I immediately morphed into a hummingbird so as not to be spotted by any of them, and I flew. I flew until my arms were screaming at me to stop, and then I flew some more, up and up and onto the rooftops. And then I became myself again and I ran, crying, sobbing, my heart aching with a deep, unbridled pain unlike any injury I had ever sustained before, physical or mental. All the while my mind was crying at me:

How could he have done this? How could he make me believe that he cared, and then just…OHGODIHATEHIMIHATEHIMWHYDOESHEHAVETOBESO…so…

I slowed down and wound up tripping over my own feet, scraping my chin on the cement roof and knocking my funnybone nastily. I didn't care. I folded my shaking, tingling arm under my eyes and I lie there on the roof, weeping, not caring where I was or what might happen to me. All I cared about at that moment was the fact that he had lied, and played me for a fool. I hated Starfire. I hated Robin for loving her. I hated her for not having been smart enough to love him back sooner, so I could have spared myself this miserable delusion. I hated myself for wanting her to love him back, even now; for wanting him to be happy. I hated myself for still loving him.

It hurt so much. It was just too complicated for me to handle.

I pulled my face out of my arm and stared at the blurred cityscape around me. I could see Titan Tower off in the distance; a bright, yellow "T" on the deep blue slice of the afternoon horizon. They're probably wondering where I am, I thought bitterly, turning my green eyes back to my gloves. My hands were trembling badly, and I had torn the palm of my left glove open when I had fallen. There was no way I could go back to them, now. There was no way that I could look any of them in the face; especially not Robin and Star. They would be exchanging…those looks. I didn't know how I would be able to deal with it, from now on. Even if none of them knew it before…they would notice me being depressed. Someone would find out. Someone would find out.

But what about that mark on Starfire's door? I asked myself. What did that mean? Is she marked for something? Is that hooded man going to come and attack her? And how is Slade involved in all this, anyway?

Too many questions. I wiped the tears from my eyes and forced myself into a rather unstable standing position, rubbing at my chin and wincing as I saw a red stain appear on my glove. Blood. It figured. "…I have to go back," I muttered to myself, shaking my head and slicking my hair back. "They'll ask questions if I don't. Okay." I closed my eyes; took a deep breath and let it out slowly. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end for some strange reason; a weird, dark scent drifted into my nostrils. "Relax, Beast Boy. You can do this. Only a few hours until you can go to bed and worry about it some more. Tough it out, dude. Just tough it out."

"Things will be better soon," a soft, breathy voice reassured me, making my eyes snap open. I swore that I felt icy fingers caress my neck for a split-second before I whirled around, wide-eyed, to find no one there with me. I shuddered violently, paranoid and freaked out. I couldn't tell any of them about this, could I? Because I was never here. I never ran off.


I ground my teeth and morphed into a pterodactyl, zipping down in between the buildings and landing sloppily beside the museum. I ran out front and took my place beside an unsuspecting Starfire just as Cyborg and Raven burst out of the building. They too gathered around Robin, who rose from his spot on the ground looking very dissatisfied about something.

"Did you find anything else?" he asked Cy and Rae quickly, "another note or anything like that?"

"Nah, man," Cy murmured, cracking his knuckles with a weird, metallic crunch. His eyes focused on me, and I struggled to ignore them, even when I felt his gaze turn from that of discontent to one of concern and confusion. "…Beast Boy…you're bleeding. Dude…what happened?"

All of their eyes sped to my face.

Oh, no.

"I…I just…I fell. It's nothing," I growled, half-truthfully, and I could tell that none of them really believed that this was the whole story. Raven, however, seemed the most concerned that I was lying. Her strong purple eyes stayed fixated on me, even as Robin turned hesitantly back to the bombs. He looked older, his face creased with lines of worry and stress. I swiped at my chin and wiped the blood off angrily. Starfire was looking at him.

He sighed heavily. "These are done. There's nothing else here, then, if you two didn't find anything…" he looked very unhappy. "…Damnit…all right, then, Raven, let's head back…"

It was like it had been last night. Raven muttered her magic words and became a great, dark bird, enveloping us all and soaring back toward the tower. Within her void, I curled in on myself, alone and in pain.

Things will be better soon.

I ran my fingers over the dark bruise on my jaw and doubted those words.

I told them all that I was tired and I needed to be alone for a while when we got back to the tower. They all watched me walk down the back hallway with concerned expressions, and I heard them talking about me even as I turned the first corner. I had a feeling that they would be sending someone in to talk to me, and I had an even greater feeling that that someone would be either Raven or Robin.

For Robin's sake, I hoped it would be Raven. I didn't know if I could stand to even look at him anymore without sleeping on it, first.

Walking down the empty hallway, I wrapped my arms around myself and ground my teeth together, biting back the tears that threatened my eyes, now. I had known…I had known this would happen…it shouldn't hurt like this…it shouldn't be this bad...But all I could think about was his handsome face; his warm hands; his enchanting scent. His beautiful body. He was perfect in every way, and I couldn't just let him go like that. He was bound to me, now, and if I tried to just drop him, my lifelines would be severed, and I would be damaged beyond repair.

I buried my face in my hands and turned into my room, locking the door behind myself and leaving the light off. Enough light was making its way in through my window; coming in and invading my territory. Just like Starfire was. I shuddered and hated how everything in the world seemed to somehow remind me of the two of them being together. I collapsed on my bed and my fingers sought the glove beneath my pillow, tangling with it and dragging it to my chest. I pressed it into my broken heart and started to cry.

Robin, you hurt me so bad…but I still love you more than anything…

How in the hell would I face him tomorrow, I wondered? How would I be able to spar with him if the mere thought of him now brought me to tears? I wondered if I would be able to convince him that I wasn't feeling good, and that we should delay our little agreement for a few more weeks. I doubted it. He was too smart for me to outwit like that.

I heard my door unlock and open, and had no time to react; I curled into a tighter ball and spat: "Go AWAY!" clutching the glove into me as if it meant my life or death. There was a brief pause, and then the door slid shut once more. Then the air staled, the sunshine faltered, and I felt her demonic presence behind me.

"…I need to talk to you," she said in that biting, monotonous voice of hers. I didn't acknowledge her, and she sat on my bed, staring at me. "…You think I can't see it, but I can. There's something strange going on between you and Robin. And if you want help, all I can say is that I can help you. But first you need to tell me exactly what's happening with you and him."

I sniffed and loved her for not leaving me alone. "…N-nothing, now. It's over. He b-broke it."

"Beast Boy," she said, and it sent an icicle shooting down my spine. "…Obviously you're not okay with that, are you? Whatever was happening…you want it to come back. But now you're too upset by the fact that it's gone to do anything about it."

"…R-right." I pulled the glove under me, so that she couldn't see it. She was very quiet for about a minute, and then I felt her long, sharp fingers on my shoulder.

"…I need you to talk to me, Beast Boy. Tell me what's hurting you like this."

I rolled over and looked at her, wishing she could have just reassured me that things would be okay and then let me cry against her shoulder. I sniffed again and wiped my nose. "I came in h-here because I don't w-want to talk about it," I told her angrily; her mouth remained an emotionless line on her pale face, her gray lips untainted by feeling, though her eyes swirled with doubt and question. My eyes narrowed and filled again; tears crept past my eyelids. "…It's about h-him and Star, okay?"

Raven stared at me for several long, laborious seconds, and then she bowed her head, her fingers grasping my skin for a brief moment in her own version of comfort. She looked very deep in thought for a while, staring down at my bed, and then her eyes met mine once more, sad and deep and dark. "…Is that why you ran off earlier? Because he was comforting her, and you smelled her on him?"

My eyes widened in disbelief. How could she do that…?

"Were you afraid that they had kissed?"

I blushed and hid my face in my bed sheets, murmuring out a confirmation. I felt the pressure of her eyes leave me and wander instead to my windows. "…They didn't kiss. I was there, I saw it. You know that Starfire wouldn't do that, anyway. It's not…in her nature. She was just feeling uneasy about being outside so soon after that sign appeared on her door, and Robin hugged her and kissed her, one time, quickly, on her cheek. It was all comforting, though, and nothing sparked between them when he did it. But tell me, Beast Boy…why would you be concerned about something like that, anyway?"

I trembled against my mattress and said nothing, wishing she would stop prying into me like that. Her arm traced across my belly and her fingers closed around Robin's glove, hidden beneath me. She pulled the wrinkled gauntlet out and set it beside her on the bed, staring down at it with pained eyes. I made no move to retrieve it.

She knows everything, doesn't she? She just wants me to admit it, I realized, and for some reason, now, it was okay. Because she wasn't freaking out about it, I suppose. I turned over once more and managed to look at the blur of dark blue and white that was her face, liquid streaming down my cheeks. She lowered her head again and closed her eyes solemnly.

"…I know there's more to this than you'd like to tell me…but you know that I want to and can help you. I can sense it," she sighed, keeping her face down. I choked on a sob and sat up, and she looked at me. When our gazes met, I, strangely enough, felt a wave of pure warmth wash over me. I fell forward and locked my arms around her.

"…I…I kuh-can't stop th-thinking about him," I sobbed, dripping tears onto her cloak. "…H-he's b-buh-beautiful, Rae, and I w-want him, but S-Starfire has him, and I j-just…oh, G-God…I l-love him, Raven…but you can't m-make it better…n-no one can make it b-buh-better but h-h-him…"

She was quiet for a long, long time, sitting there stiffly with my arms wrapped around her torso and her hands limp at her sides. I could almost feel the air around us quivering as she thought, as if her brain activity were sending subtle gusts of energy through the room. I trembled and quaked against her, wishing that things could've been different between us a year ago, when I had wanted her, instead. I felt her hands come to rest upon my shoulders, and she patted my hair hesitantly; even this was a surprise. Our relationship—hell, Rae's relationship with anyone—had never really been very physical. She wasn't a very touchy-feely kind of girl, and maybe, I thought, that was why she had never liked me back. Because I enjoyed the thought of hugging and kissing, and didn't cringe away from the mere idea of sex, unlike her. Her hands were icy cold through the fabric of my uniform, stinging icicles that I never wanted to leave me, because I would never have the alternative warmth of Robin's fingers that I so craved.

"…You love him," she echoed me softly, and I felt her fingers trail down my arm, to curl around my own. I squeezed her hand back, and she bent down and pressed her cheek into my scalp, sighing sadly. I could feel her negative energy, emanating off of her and out into my room. My breath nearly left my mouth in wisps, it was so cold around us. She shook her head slowly. "…You do realize…that you have no chance with him whatsoever, so long as he's in love with Starfire?"

I nodded, wanting him, wishing he had come in instead of her. Her eyes found his glove again, and her chest rose and fell in a pattern synonymous with a sigh. "You can't keep that. He's bound to notice that it's missing."

"So wuh-w-what," I growled, and it was not a question in any way. "Maybe if he r-really wants it back, he'll kuh-k-come in here and f-find it, and then I'll h-have a r-r-reason to tell him how I fuh-f-feel."

"You have a reason, anyway," she whispered, smoothing down a stray lock of green hair. My heart had never felt so raw, before. "…The feelings exist in the first place. That's reason enough to scream it to him every single day for the rest of his life. Believe me, Beast Boy, you can't keep things like this bottled up inside. Love is the one emotion that should not be suppressed, because it's the one that causes you the most pain, if you do keep it inside."

I clung to her as if she were a life preserver, and my room were filling up with water. "…And what do y-you know about l-luh-love, Raven?" I asked her bitterly, and miraculously enough, I felt her smiling down at me. I looked up into her pretty face.

"…I think that everyone in this tower has had feelings for Robin, at some point," she said quietly, and at that moment, her voice was the most beautiful, dulcet thing I had ever heard before in my life. "…Even Cyborg. I mean…I get it…what's not to like about him, right? He's strong, he's smart, he's loyal, he's trustworthy, he's handsome…he has everything that people want out of a lover. And best of all, he knows how desirable he is, and yet he doesn't brag about it at all. He treats everyone with respect and caring, and takes everyone in as his brother or sister."

"Except for me," I contradicted her, wiping my nose, and her eyebrows furrowed. "He's always t-treated me like dirt. And he's said h-h-himself that he doesn't believe I'm always able enough t-to help you guys fight the bad guys off. He doesn't buh-b-believe that it's p-possible for me to be serious about fuh-fighting crime. But it is. And still, he's m-making me prove it t-to him by sparring with him t-t-tomorrow. If I can h-hit him once, he'll t-trust me and l-let me fight."

She was quiet for a few seconds, just staring down at me, and I couldn't stand the silence.

"That's all I w-want, Rae. I just w-want to be g-good enough for him. B-because if I am…then maybe th-the heartache will leave me the h-hell alone."

…She sighed again and pulled me into her, actually embracing me. I closed my eyes into her shoulder and loved her dearly. "…Beast Boy…I'm no expert on Robin…but believe me, he does respect you, maybe the most out of us all. Everyone else sees it. When he looks at you, he just has this…light that goes on, in his face, in his smile…he cares a lot for you, and he does hold you in high esteem, whether or not you realize it. He just…doesn't let you fight all the time…because he doesn't want you to get hurt. He's just trying to protect you."

"Yeah, well, s-sometimes I just wish he'd b-buh-back off," I growled, sniffing. She smelled like rotting flesh and wandering souls. "I'm n-not a baby."

"Then prove it to him," she whispered, patting my hand a final time before she rose from my bed. She flipped her hood up and stared at me with that dark, strangely angelic face of hers, a faint smile gracing her lips. "Tomorrow, when you spar with him…I know as well as you do that there's almost no way that you'll get a punch in edgewise. So if you'd like me to…I'll come in and…watch."

I stared at her; wiped my eyes. "…Y-you…you mean you'd use y-your powers to h-help me ch-cheat?"

"I'd help you prove to him that you're more able than he thinks. I know you're a strong fighter, Beast Boy. You shouldn't have to do this to earn his trust on the battlefield." She waved at me vaguely before turning around and drifting ominously toward my doorway. I watched her the whole way.

"…R-Raven!" I called to her, and she stopped for a moment, looking over at me again. I swallowed my tears thickly. "…I…I mean…th-thank you…"

She nodded at me and left me alone, and I fell back into my pillows as the door closed behind her, staring up at the ceiling. I grabbed Robin's glove and kissed it. My heart certainly felt much lighter, but now I had to worry about him finding out about Rae helping me to beat him tomorrow.

Oh, God…when does it END?