Here it is- fluff! Yes, the title is Bubbles- this was inspired by the act of (you'll never guess) - blowing bubbles, while watching little kids. I'm making up a past here to fit around concrete details, but it fit and the actual is too hazy. I still don't own the Teen Titans.This story is the tiniest bit OOC, but if you catch people in the right mood, with the right questions- just read and review. You'll see.
There was nothing to do. Cyborg was out on yet another date with Bumblebee. Robin had taken Starfire out to see the sequel of Wicked Scary- for the eighth time. She didn't mind the excuse to hold on to him, and he (would never say so out loud but) needed someone there who could light up the place if needed. Raven was not at all in a good mood.
At breakfast, she had left the room when Cyborg opened his mouth to begin the daily ribbing about the merits of meat vs. tofu. The ribbing was now short, with specified rules. They each had two insults, the winner as judged by other Titans (Robin and Starfire participated every time; when Raven did, the winner was the one to not be cut down with some scathing comment. That was usually Cyborg, as Beast Boy was too easy of a target). The winner had control of the better GameStation controller until the next round at the following day's breakfast.
She had handled Dr. Light alone, as usual. He didn't even get a glimpse of anything but a navy cloak before surrendering. She didn't have to do her shadow-demon impersonation. He didn't fight at all when she led him to the station, a very good idea with her current mood.
As bothering Raven today seemed very deadly (First-Degree Murder on the Daily Danger Scale), Beast Boy was doing the only logical thing- lying on his bed and listing the reasons he was bored. He sat up suddenly, bashing his head on the top bunk. He rubbed his head only for a moment- that wasn't important. He smelled . . . soap? There was never soap in his room. He took pride in his room- no one else would enter. But he smelled that distinct aroma, clear as he knew he was green and that Raven was in a decidedly homicidal mood today. A second burst of soap he would term "similar to dish-washer stuff, but stickier" was close to his open window. The smell was too faint to be anything but a fraction of a drop. Leaning out the window, he found the culprit. A third bubble, about five inches across and shining in a disjointed rainbow, popped just in front of his nose, spraying his eye with soap.
They were coming from . . . up? From the scattered small bubbles and more frequent larger ones, he knew someone was on the roof. Machines didn't slowly make large bubbles. He flew to the roof as a hummingbird, dodging bubbles. It was better to leave them intact, just in case the aliens that probably created them were sensitive about the soap-fluid spheres. Aliens sounded perfectly logical to him. Who he saw did not. Sitting over the roof, hovering a foot above the cement, was Raven. Her eyes were closed as she blew gently into a fluorescent pink wand after dipping it into an equally bright yellow jar. A perfect bubble floated away. She opened her eyes, saw him, and dropped to the ground awkwardly, startled. At least nothing was broken.
"Beast Boy! I thought you . . . um . . . would be staying inside," she finished lamely. Did I just say "um?" Great. My day is complete. She had been caught in a very unlikely pursuit. She didn't feel like being mean today. She had left the room so she wouldn't be called on to do the nice thing and say something mean. Complimenting the victor, like Robin or Starfire did daily, would scare them more than any threat she could make.
Is she blushing? He couldn't tell. "A few bubbles flew into my room. Soap's pretty much a foreign substance."
She took the offered opening, forgetting slight embarrassment at being caught on the roof with bright plastic bedecked with illustrations. "Really. I never would have guessed," she said in a perfect monotone.
She looked peaceful, like she was still meditating. He decided to take a chance. If she pushed him away, he had a long time to change before he hit the ground. "So, I never would have pegged you as one for bubbles."
"I'm not," she said, monotone forced. "I mean, it's almost like meditating, trying to get a good-sized bubble with a dollar-store pack of bubbles, but that's not the reason. They're pretty, but that's not it either. They- bubbles remind me of my mother."
"Your mother?" he prompted, trying very hard to not ruin her current talking mood, say something that would make her mad, or show that he was terrified of screwing up. He just couldn't get this close and fail. Raven never went into much detail. He had hacked into her private file to get her birthday. The next morning, she removed everything but her name, age, power, and birthday- information everyone knew. The file about her past he hadn't taken the time to look into was gone, and all that replaced it was a quick note- daughter of a demon, raised on Azarath.
"Her name was Arella. Today would have been her birthday." He didn't say anything, so she continued. "She died before I came to the Titans, while we were on Azarath. They said she was struck down with tuberculosis, picking a disease they knew humans could get. No one on Azarath was ever sick. Tuberculosis does not look the same as hari-kari."
He only had to think for a second to remember that definition. "Wait a second- the samurai thing? Better to die honorably after a disgrace than to allow the family to be dishonored?" He had to ask. "What was the disgrace?"
She made a perfect bubble, spinning with blues and purples. It popped on her forehead, spattering fluid into her hair. "Me."
"Well, that's- what?" That didn't sound right at all.
"My birth," she said awkwardly. "It wasn't happy. Neither was conception." She said the last with her best I-couldn't-care-less face, daring him to comment, or ask what conception was. He wouldn't ask. He knew. She had read his emotions- never thoughts. Those were too private. But emotions were shown for everyone, and if she caught a little something behind the smokescreen of jokes, maybe he wanted her to see it.
"Bubbles first, then." He sat next to her, tripping and catching himself only with a hand on her shoulder. She flinched away on instinct (I don't like to be touched) but didn't throw him, snap at him, or break anything. He hadn't meant to, his hand hadn't slipped forwards, and it was funnier to watch him apologize enough that even Timid thought he was being excessive.
"It was my third birthday. On Azarath, you give gifts. I had only my mother to find something for, because I was so little and didn't have any real friends. Everyone there knew exactly what being half-demon meant." She laughed. It wasn't a happy sound. "I remembered a story she had whispered when she thought I was sleeping, about bubbles on Earth and how completely perfect they were. But, on Azarath, she never could find such things. I couldn't find a bubble, so I started crying."
She bit her lip, not at all proud of that fact. But she had to talk. No one could keep everything in forever. If she didn't tell someone a part of her past, her emotions would never settle. She had already broken two streetlamps, an anvil (a very long story), and wrecked her room. She needed to let some dark part of her past out into the light, or all the feelings could make her do something drastic. Robin was too harsh, and would use taken information to judge her later. Starfire wouldn't understand, and would gloss over everything. Cyborg had been spending more time with Bumblebee lately- outside of fighting crime, she never really saw him.
"Rae- Raven, you were three. Little kids cry." He wanted to move closer, but couldn't stop this. She was opening up to him, however little. Besides, she listened to him occasionally without putting him in fear of his life.
"Little kids like me shouldn't."
"I broke a sculpture worth about the ten-year gross national product of two Japans, three Great Britains, and a United States. People started yelling, screaming, about how the demon had destroyed their founder. I got scared, for the last time in about thirteen years." He remembered the movie, the most recent time Raven had been scared. No one could really forget the effects of Wicked Scary, when she turned the entire tower into a haunted house by denying fear. She had seen the sequel, been scared half to death, and had, sometime during the movie, ended up with his arm around her shoulders. He ran away after, when the room's lights turned back on and she looked startled to find herself in that position. She wished he hadn't ran.
"So, I guess there was a little more than pride going on, with not saying you were scared." Robin had guessed it was keeping face. Everyone else guessed that safety was more important than reputation.
"An arch's keystone exploded. People nearly died. I saved them on pure instinct. The black energy scared them, worse than nearly dying." She made a single bubble. This one left the roof, falling slowly. "My mother was there. She said something- I don't remember what- and told me that I had thought of the perfect present, and that was all that mattered. Besides, on the planet where I was born, children were given presents for a birthday. That's when she gave me my chakra."
He nodded, hardly daring to speak. She was telling him significant pieces of her past. She wasn't making threats. She wasn't being sarcastic. But . . . she was still Raven, undeniably the monotonic pseudo-Goth he knew and lov- liked. A lot. "The forehead-thingy?" Thingy. Great job. Way to be eloquent, when speaking to a girl that has the likes of Poe for light reading.
"The forehead-thingy," she agreed. So much for my vocabulary- if I start saying "doo-hickey," I will smite myself. He hadn't made that into a joke, at least. "That was the first time I'd really done much of anything, powers-wise. I started training that night." A stream of small bubbles flew into the breeze. "I've always meant to find how it would feel, just sitting without having to worry about anything but breathing and bubbles and breeze. So, this morning after Dr. Light took one look at me and freaked, I bought bubbles."
What could he say to not ruin this? Just one wrong step and she'd get mad, or, worse, close herself off again. "So, what's your favorite kind?" Just go off on a tangent, because you know that makes sense.
She knew what he meant. "The big ones- well, the biggest you can get with a three-quarter inch gap in a cheap plastic wand. They're pretty, they're barely anything- you can get four out of one tiny film of solution- and they never mind being alone."
Dangerous topic, now. Ease into it. No jokes- remember, today we- what am I thinking- I show a serious side, tomorrow we hope she won't mind a little less serious conversation. Now, searching, not prying- sound intelligent. "Do bubbles still rainbow in the dark?" Okay, "rainbow" isn't a noun. Other than that, under the pressure- you're talking to yourself. Pay attention to her.
"Light diffracts through soap, same as oil slicks. Without light, you can't have a rainbow. A bubble in the dark is nothing." She had that tone behind the monotone back, the one that was uniquely Raven- biting and sarcastic and . . . resigned?
"All you need is a little bit of light, then everyone can see the colors. You reflect what people want to see, usually." Wow. That reading stuff really does help out conversational skills. I'll have to remember that one.
She blinked. "I am talking to Beast Boy, right? Wasn't that a bit too deep into philosophy for you?"
He shrugged. "I think." Defuse situation- joke. Now! "Usually, I just don't show it."
It worked. She nearly-smiled, an expression that was all in the eyes. He could see it, now that he knew where to look. "You've got the second part down, at least."
"So, is blowing bubbles a solitary pursuit?"
She reached into the plastic jar, handing him a very purple wand. It was nothing like his uniform, with dark purple (Cyborg had teased him on several occasions about purple on green, and said that if he ever had yellow nails, his name was Barney. No one had ever seen him without gloves or boots, except for while as an animal) - someone at the factory had added neon pink to electric blue. The combination was- interesting, to say the least. "You want to try?"
He took the offered tool, dipping quickly into bubble solution. He tried to look like an old pro as he blew a (hopefully large) bubble. It burst. He had soap in his eye. He could see the beginnings of pressure above the corners of her upper lip.
"Not so fast. Be patient. Work slowly, breathe evenly, keep steady. If you need to cut off the bubble quickly, jerk the wand down."
He tried again. It wasn't near hers, but it was still a decent bubble. "This is like meditating, isn't it?" he asked as the bubbles flew over the water.
"I can handle this." He spoke too soon. He snorted as soap got in his nose. "Nearly."
"Imagine that if the bubble burst, something will break. Something will shatter. People will get hurt. People will know why your mother killed herself." Her bubble went only a few inches before popping for no real reason.
"It wasn't because of you." He was sure.
She gave the smallest of nods. "It was my father."
"Not a nice guy. Don't know what she saw in him."
"She had a husband, one I'm not blood-related to. He- he hit her. She left. Trigon picked her up when she was trying to hitchhike, listened, and offered the extra bed in his hotel room- no strings attached. She believed him." Raven glowered. Across the roof, a terra cotta flowerpot shattered.
"She said no?" he offered tactfully. He couldn't believe it. Raven had less than he had guessed. For however few years, he had parents that at least had loved each other, let alone giving him a childhood that (until the fever) he wouldn't trade with anyone.
"Not that it mattered to a demon. That's why- remember that guy, the red knit cap man? Attempted rapist? That's why I went after him so hard."
Beast Boy actually looked relieved. "Cyborg and I were talking about that. I talked, he listened and gave input while messing with the T-Car. We thought- with Malchior or that Goth kid- that- you-" He couldn't say it. He didn't have to.
Raven shook her head. "No. Never. Let's talk about something else, okay? Anything else." This was not a conversation she wanted to have with anyone. This was the kind of thing she'd tell Robin- quickly, impersonally, and with no emotion behind it. Robin would want to know. Beast Boy would take it- personally? He was giving off strange emotions, ones she couldn't recognize. "Like- bubbles. What's your favorite kind?"
"Doubles. Triples are gaudy, anything more is excessive, and single bubbles always look alone, no matter how pretty. I like doubles were both are the same size, so one doesn't look like a parasite." He released a decent bubble. It met with one of Raven's smaller creations, with only a little unseen urging from Raven. The two-made-one came dangerously close to colliding with the ground, but a second bit of unseen interference stopped the descent.
"Like that?" she asked, completely innocent.
"Like that," he agreed, completely unaware. "Raven- do you want to go out with me? I- I promise I won't rush you, betray you, or do this on some kind of dare."
"You mean it?"
"I mean it."
"You wouldn't mind if we really waited for three months to go public, just in case? I'm not ashamed, B. I just- can't give anyone too much before then. Trigon might be paying attention, and I can't say too much until it's over."
"Not at all," he hastily assured her. "I've heard more today than . . . ever."
"I burned a book earlier. I feel better." She pointed with the wand to a scar mark on the concrete. She didn't have to explain that she had blasted the thing to oblivion. The few shreds of burned paper said that much.
"You what?" He couldn't imagine her burning a book. She was Raven. Raven liked books. She-
"It was a certain book about a dragon and a wizard. I won't miss it. I decided that the jerk won't interfere any more. If I want to say something, I will. And- I'd love to go out with you, B."
"Do we have to go out?" He continued before the hurt look could even fully register on her face, criticizing his choice of words. He wasn't going to hurt her.They had both had enough of that."I mean, have to go out tonight. We can stay up here for a while, right?"
And when the other Titans eventually came home from dates, when only the stars and the moon lit the sky and glinted off takeout boxes left discarded on the kitchen table with one-time-use chopsticks, they found stray bubbles floating in a weakening maelstrom around the Tower. The sources of the bubbles had long since disappeared, after watching the sunset. When they were inside the tower, they found the usual sight. Raven was trying to meditate in the common room. Beast Boy was trying to convince her to play on the GameStation. Robin shook his head, whispering to Starfire.
"Those two will never get along."
Cyborg had heard, an advantage of electronic hearing that automatically focused. Glancing at a few perfect circles of soap on Raven's leotard and Beast Boy's uniform, he thought that Robin might just be wrong about that. Opposites attracted- sometimes with a little help from an external force. It didn't have to be a large force- just something to start the initial reaction. Something like . . . bubbles.
Prequel to Judgment Day. R&R.