Fly on the Wall
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans. I only play with them for a while and return them a little worse for wear.
"Well, she does act weird sometimes. And creepy." Beast Boy said with a frown, as he looked at Cyborg's expression of reprimand.
"Maybe so, BB, but that wasn't the way to handle it." Cyborg said. "Y'all had better get a handle on that mouth of yours." His eyes went to Raven's closed door. "And, I'd suggest you start thinking up an apology." Cyborg dropped the reeking ball of clothes that they were using as their "stink ball", and turned to walk away. Beast Boy watched him go, feeling a combination of frustration and quite a bit of shame.
"Okay." He muttered to himself, picking up the smelly bundle and walking towards his own room. "So, maybe I shouldn't have said it. Maybe I should have just said 'fine, no problem, stay in your dark and creepy room all day and don't come out. Fine with me.' But it's not fine with me. It's not good that she stays in there all the time. She should come out and...do something else. You'd think she didn't like us or something." He walked into his room and tossed the bundle into a corner. "Or, maybe it's just me she doesn't like." He muttered, walking to the big window and staring out.
While Beast Boy knew that Raven liked to stay in the quiet sanctuary of her room, he began to wonder when she didn't even come out for meals. Oh, she would materialize out of nowhere, grab food, and then disappear just as quickly. No one even had time to say hello. It bothered him. And when they got a call to go after Cardiac, and Raven didn't show when the alarm went off, he became more concerned. It certainly wasn't like Raven to ignore or miss a call to action. There was nothing missing in the way she handled herself though. In fact, Beast Boy thought she was incredible. Way incredible. She just sliced and diced her way through the evil child-napper and left pieces in her wake. Then she was in the T-car waiting to go home. Like..NOW. And once there, she vanished into her room again.
"What's with Raven?" He asked Starfire. "She kicked butt out there, then she comes back and hides in her room before we can even tell her how cool she was."
"Raven does not like the back patting." Starfire said. "Perhaps she has found a hobby?"
She reached up with a distracted look and pulled an errant hair clip from her hair.
"Hobby? Raven?" Beast Boy gave a wry chuckle. "Don't think so. All she likes to do is read those weird books of hers."
"Reading can be very illuminating." Starfire said.
"Sure." Beast Boy wandered back down towards the bedrooms. He passed his own room and found himself wandering into the corridor that held Raven's room. Something was just not the way it should be. Raven was acting even more distant than usual. And Beast Boy didn't like it. He also felt very guilty that he might have been responsible because of his less than kind remark about her being creepy. He had tried to apologize, through a closed door. And he could have sworn that he heard another voice in there. But he knew that couldn't be. No one could get into the Tower except the Titans. Still...
Raven's door was closed as usual. Beast Boy stood for a moment outside. Then a sly grin flickered over his lips. A second later, the smallest of gnats hovered in the air and glided down to the crack under the door. Even for a gnat it was a tight fit, but he made it into the room and skirted quickly into a shadowy corner. He focused, adapting his mind to the vision of the gnat, and found Raven sitting on her bed and speaking in a quiet voice...to a book. That was strange. But even stranger, and what made Beast Boy stare with wide gnat eyes, was that the book was speaking back to her. Consumed by curiosity, Beast Boy zipped from shadow to shadow, getting closer until he came to rest on the wall behind Raven, with a clear view of the book. He trained his eyes onto the book in her hands.
There was a picture on one page of a dragon fighting a magician. The dragon looked way nasty. The magician, Beast Boy would have narrowed his eyes and scowled if he'd been himself; the magician was rather dramatic looking. Lots of really pale blond hair, extremely blue eyes with dark lashes...Just like the eyes that stared out of the other page, eyes that moved as the melodious voice spoke to Raven. Beast Boy sucked in a gnat's breath. She was talking to the magician in the book and he was talking back. This was way beyond weird. Beast Boy settled in to listen; pushing away any sense that what he was doing might be considered, perhaps, rude.
"Yo, BB!" Cyborg stopped Beast Boy the next morning as he was heading off towards Raven's room. "No crime alerts so far. You up for a game?"
"Uh, no." Beast Boy shook his head. "Not right now, Cy. I, um, have some stuff I need to do in my room. You know. Maybe later." Cyborg looked disappointed, but Beast Boy hardly noticed. He hurried on his way, switched to gnat form quickly, and slipped into Raven's room through the minute crack under the door.
Something about all of this felt very wrong to Beast Boy. But then, he wasn't being very objective either. He wanted to snort every time the magician, Malchior, said "dear Raven" in that disgustingly suave voice of his. But gnats didn't snort. He would have given himself away anyway. When "dear Raven" moved up to "My dear Raven" , Beast Boy wished he was in a furry form so he could feel his hackles rise. This guy was too smooth. And worst of all, Raven, cool, calm, no nonsense Raven, was falling for it. Beast Boy had never thought Raven had the capacity to blush. But, when Malchior praised her talents, she did. Rosy red, her cheeks glowing with it. Beast Boy couldn't take his eyes off of her. She looked so...so...sweet. She looked like a girl her age should look. Not dark and gothic, somber and grim. No, she looked shy and pretty, her pale cheeks flushed with color, her dark eyes practically twinkling.
"Did I just use the word 'twinkling' and Raven in the same thought?" Beast Boy muttered to himself. "This is just so wrong. Who does that guy think he is, anyway? And why is he buttering Raven up so much? Not that she isn't special. Or smart. Or really talented. Even I know that. Trapped in a book. Yeah, yeah. We all have problems."
He quieted himself from gnat grumbling and began to listen to the conversation again. Malchior told Raven all about the curse of the book and how the evil dragon had trapped him there. And Raven, Beast Boy listened with burning gnat ears, as she related how alone she felt, how misunderstood just because she was different, and seemed "creepy". He didn't think a gnat could feel much smaller, yet somehow he did. It was getting late, and Beast Boy could tell by Raven's yawns that the conversation was almost over. He watched as the talking book formed a paper rose out of its pages. He barely stopped himself from giving a snort of frustrated derision. But he did stop. It was the look on Raven's face. It was the hesitant smile, the gentle sweep of her lashes over her eyes, the soft glow of rose on her cheeks once more. Beast Boy had never seen her look so...radiant before. Or so happy. He felt like he had swallowed a stone. Time to leave. But before he left, he saw her take the book with the paper rose, and curl up on her bed with it in her arms. It was a good thing that gnats didn't have the capacity to cry.
Beast Boy swore to himself, as he tossed and turned on the bottom bunk of his bed, that he would not go and eavesdrop anymore on Raven and her book magician. It was none of his business, was it? After all, if talking to a centuries old dude under a book curse could make her happy like that, well why not? He slept poorly, tossing and turning and dreaming of dragons that spoke with sultry accents. When he woke up his eyes were scratchy and his throat was raw. He didn't feel happy. He got up, cleaned up, and headed for the kitchen. Food might help. Tofu waffles and maple syrup. All right.
It didn't. He sat morosely at the table and picked at his food while the others bustled around getting their own breakfast. Robin tossed down a dozen scrambled eggs and half a package of bacon. Starfire ate some jello-worm mold thing that smelled like the bottom of a birdcage. Cyborg scowled at the tofu waffles and made a batch of his own buttermilk recipe ones. They did share the syrup. Beast Boy didn't even notice the stunned looks when he offered to do the dishes, even though it was Robin's turn. He did get a little annoyed when Starfire kept feeling his forehead as if to suspect he was running a fever or something. Why shouldn't he offer to do the dishes? It would keep him busy and keep him from wanting to sneak back into Raven's room to listen in on more of the conversation.
Dishes didn't take nearly long enough. Starfire quit feeling his forehead when he snap-changed into an octopus to use his multiple tentacles to wash and dry more efficiently. Robin just arched an eyebrow and went over to play video games with Cyborg. Beast Boy decided that he didn't want to listen to the two of them verbally abuse each other over the game. He stood in the kitchen and tried to think of something to do or somewhere to go. Back to his room was all he could think of. So he headed determinedly in that direction, only to find himself in the corridor outside of Raven's room, facing her closed door. Inside, she heard a soft, feminine giggle, and then a deeper, male sounding chuckle.
That did it. In an instant, the gnat was back and under the door, whipping from shadow to shadow to see what the heck was so funny. The book was on a stand nearby, a stand that was eye level for Raven. And she was mixing up some weird looking concoction in a bowl. Beast Boy settled on his favorite wall hidden from view, but from where he could see and hear most everything. They were chatting back and forth, and in between idle conversation, the book trapped magician was giving Raven some sort of instructions. She followed them and then paused. There was a flash of something like lightening that startled Beast Boy so much that if he hadn't been stuck to the wall with gnat sticky feet he would have fallen.
"Finally, a lock of hair from a beautiful girl." Malchior said in his most silky voice. Beast Boy choked as he watched strands of Ravens hair float down into the bowl, cut somehow by a magic stroke of power. And Raven's whole face glowed with a rosy blush at those words.
"Maybe I can't break the spell, but I can free you from the book." Raven said, her voice warm and determined. Beast Boy had never heard her sound like that. Gone was the dry sarcasm, the flat boredom. She sounded so alive, so excited. He felt that stone reappear in his stomach. It was bigger, and heavier. He watched as Raven executed the spell, and gazed with amazement as the pages of the book flew around the room and then coalesced into the form of a man. The magician. Malchior. His eyes stared out from the pages like some mummy come to life. Beast Boy's attention snapped to Raven. Her dark eyes were wide with wonder, shining with success. She stepped up to the paper man, meeting his gaze.
Beast Boy zipped out of the room. He changed halfway down the corridor and hit the floor running. He ducked into his room and shut the door. He was breathing a little on the shaky side. A voice he could deal with. Even a voice coming out of a book. But now the cursed magician was real. At least he was in human form even if he did look like something from a B horror movie. Raven was bewitched. She was under a spell. That's the only explanation for how she was acting. The guy wasn't even real. Oh yeah. So, he had eyes. But the rest of him was paper!
He kept going back, despite his fervent vows not to. It only made him feel worse. Not only was Raven falling more and more for this wizard, magician, whatever he was, she was actually changing. Her colors were going lighter; her cloak was powder blue for goodness sake. And she was learning more weird stuff. Beast Boy had a brain full of flying books and words he couldn't begin to pronounce. He was ready to applaud when one spell went wrong and caught the paper magician on fire. Only Raven put it out. And worse, she got close and personal with the dude. Another moment for Beast Boy to escape in a panic. He didn't go back. Instead he camped out in his own room, staring out of the window into the bay, and wondering why he felt like he'd just lost something really special.
Things kind of snowballed from there. He felt his head spinning. First, there was Raven finding out he'd been spying on her. That was when she finally came out of her room and they saw she had gone totally white. Then, there was the alert on Cardiac showing up again. Then Raven lost it and went all dark magic and out of control on them, forcing them to stop her. She promptly vanished, and Beast Boy smugly dreamed of the royal explosion the magician was facing when Raven got back and told him off.
Only…it didn't happen like that. Beast Boy didn't see that part. He only got home in time to hear the crash of the roof and bolt to Raven's room in time to see a dragon, not a handsome magician, go right through Raven's ceiling to the top of the Tower. There was not time for questions, and Raven was staring after it with a stricken expression. Beast Boy felt a surge of anger and joined the rest of the Titans in charging after the dragon. But, in the end, it was Raven who put the evil dragon Malchior back into his book. And it was Raven who changed back from white to dark, and who locked herself back in her room again. And it was Raven whose pale, stricken face haunted Beast Boy's mind.
He could remember how happy she had been. He remembered how she had laughed, and how she had blushed and the way the gentle smile had curved her lips. He remembered that she had been really, really happy for a while. And he felt a bitter taste that it just wasn't fair. That dragon had used her loneliness to trick her. It had fed on her, making her believe that it was a charming magician who was falling in love with her, and enticing her to lose her heart. And she had. Beast Boy knew. He had seen her face when she realized that she had been betrayed. And his own heart had broken for her. He just didn't know how to make her feel any better. But he didn't want to leave her alone anymore. She felt far too alone now.
So, he went to her room. He knocked on the door. And he poured out his friendship to her as best he could. That was all that he could offer her now. His honest, open friendship. She had had enough of lies, of sugar coated compliments. Yes, she was still creepy. But in a good way. And yes, her friends knew it and it didn't bother them at all. He wasn't sure what all he ended up saying, it just flooded out in a burning desire to make her feel better. There was more he wanted to say, but he choked it back. Now wasn't the time. She needed to heal now, and the best cure was pure and honest affection offered with no strings. He wasn't sure, though, how Raven would take it, or even if she was listening.
The door slid open, and Beast Boy found himself face to face with Raven. Her dark eyes swam with emotion. Then, he found himself hugged so tightly he could barely breathe. He closed his eyes.
"So there, Dragon!" was his whispered thought. Just before she let him go and turned into the fiercest "stinkball" champion of all time.