I dedicate this chapter to the ladies:
For Ally: I hope this makes you smile!
For CalliopeMused: For supporting me through my fits of insecurity.
For Kayasuri-n: I hope my kneecaps are safe now.
For Lambbaby: I left the ears alone!
For Vixxelinn: Do you think I've earned a hot chocolate, with this?
Beastboy awoke, his eyes opening slowly, struggling to consciousness as if he were a diver attempting to the surface of the ocean from great depths.
Where am I? Last I remember, I was the Beast... and under Slade's' control. He was trying to make me fight the others, then I felt something... pain. And everything went white...
Beastboy attempted to get his bearings. As he looked around, shaking out the cobwebs that were in his head, he saw that he was lying in bed, in his room. It was dark, all illumination coming from the light of the moon streaming in though his window. However, something was wrong.
Why is my room... clean?
Indeed, there was no trace of the usual rubbish that cluttered the Titan's quarters. Without the familiar disorder, his room felt almost empty.
The young changeling swung his feet to the floor, stood up, and stumbled his way to the light switch. He flipped it on, and nothing happened. Evidently, the power was still out.
Hmmm... the others must have put me here, after I went down during the fight. Guess I couldn't have been out too long, or Cy'd have the juice running by now. I should go let the others know I'm awake.
Although the power was out, rendering the automatic door inoperable, the doors were equipped with a manual override. Opening a small panel on the wall, Beastboy pulled a lever that released the pneumatic pressure on the door, allowing him to force it open by hand. Stepping our of his room, he made his way down the darkened hallway. Since the elevators were inoperable due to the blackout, he took the stairs to the living area of the Tower, figuring that this would be the most likely place to encounter his comrades.
However, when he reached his destination, it was seemingly deserted.
"Raven? Cyborg? Robin?" He received no answer to any of his calls.
"Uhh... Slade? Anyone?"
Still, there was no response
I am officially creeped out.
Walking over to the window, he looked out, across the bay, and saw something that only added to his growing unease.
Jump city was missing.
Actually, the whole coast line was missing. The waters simply extended out as far as the eye could see. It was as if the Tower and the island on which it sat were all that existed.
"This... this can't be real..." Beastboy said softly, in shock.
"You're absolutely correct." A feminine voice said from behind him.
Beastboy spun around to face the speaker.
"Well, yes and no." As she stepped into the shaft of pale moonlight streaming in from the outside window, Beastboy saw the familiar face of the half demon girl. However, rather than the customary blue cloak , she was garbed in a warm russet-brown hue, with her hood lowered.
"What's with the new color, Rae? I don't understand..."
She smiled at him. "Actually I'm not Raven. Rather, I am a part of her. I am the embodiment of her Wisdom." Although she spoke with the same voice as Raven did, there were a few subtle differences. There seemed to be a underlying tone that spoke of experience and maturity, beyond the youthful appearance of her face.
" 'Embodiment of her-' " It suddenly clicked in Beastboy's head "You're one of those... other Ravens... that me and Cy saw when we went into her mirror!"
"Precisely." She smiled warmly at him.
He scratched his head in puzzlement. "So, what's going on, then? How did I end up in Rae's head again... it sure looks different."
"You're not in Ravens' mind, Beastboy. We are inside of your mind."
"We're inside of me? How's that possible?"
"During the battle with Slade, the neural interface between him and yourself was overloaded." Wisdom replied. " The huge spike of stimuli into your brain was more than your mind could bear, so it shut itself down. You've basically been in a coma, trapped inside of your own mind. The mind takes some details for granted, so, that's why some things aren't quite accurate here. Like Jump City not being here, or your room being clean."
"I've been in a coma... do you know how long I've been out?" Beastboy asked.
"Six days?" he exclaimed. "Jeez... wait a minute, what are you doing here, then? Are you just some sort of hallucination? Am I going crazy, or something?"
Wisdom chuckled a little. "No Beastboy, you're still relatively sane. And I'm no hallucination. I came over with Raven, when she came here to try to fix things. You see, she was able to determine by trying to contact your mind that the damage done to it would never heal itself naturally. You would be trapped in a comatose state forever, unless drastic measures were taken. Fortunately, she realized that there was something she could do. You know how her mind has been touching yours, while you sleep, looking into your memories, and such?"
"Well, it seems that some sort of link, an affinity. it might be called, has developed between your mind and hers. In the terminology of psychics, this is called 'Unity.' Raven deduced that she might be able to use that affinity to fully enter your comatose mind, and fix things from the inside."
"Sounds intense," he observed.
"It is," Wisdom replied, "and quite risky, it must be said. But, things were starting to look pretty bleak, and she decided to go ahead. All has gone well, so far. She's been in here for the last 24 hours, more or less, healing the mental injuries you've sustained."
"I see... do you think she could fix the Beast?" the changeling asked hopefully.
"That would imply that the Beast is something that needs to be fixed, which isn't precisely true, Beastboy." Wisdom moved to the window, and looked out into the infinite night spread beyond the horizon. "The Beast is simply an aspect of Garfield Logan, much as I am an aspect of Raven. He's the most primal, basic portions of you, anger and animal will, but that doesn't make him a 'bad' part of you. In fact, he's very necessary to you. He did help you save the Titans, after all. You resisted Slade's conrol, together.
"He's a part of who you are, and you need to understand him. And perhaps, Raven can help you with that, once she's finished fixing things up in here. There are some similarities to her dealings with her own emotions, after all."
Thinking of the violet-haired girl made Beastboy feel warm inside. "So, she's still here? Where is she?"
"She's around, somewhere. No use looking for her, she's so absorbed in her task, that you'd never find her. She's probably not aware that you've attained this level of consciousness, or that we're having this conversation. Oh, before I forget..." Wisdom walked over to one of the closets on the north wall of the room, and knocked softly on the door. "You can come out now, dear. It's all right."
"Is it safe?" came a tiny voice from inside of the closet. "Is Beastboy going to be alright?"
"Absolutely. Now why don't you come out now, hmmm? You'll feel a lot better out here, with us."
The closet door opened, and a figure garbed in a slate gray cloak crept out cautiously. Beneath her raised hood, Beastboy could see Raven's familiar features.
"Dude, that's the Timid Raven that Cy and me ran into before!"
"That's right. The poor thing was worried sick about you, and crept here through the link Raven has established, while she's working on you. That's actually part of why I'm here. You could think of it as babysitting." Wisdom smiled, and put her hand on Timid's shoulder, leading Raven's shy emotional incarnation over to the couch at the center of the room, where they sat down. "We can talk a while, if you like. There's not much else to do. "
"Alright," Beastboy said, and sat next to the two. Timid, who was seated between them, looked at him with her huge eyes for a moment, then rested her hooded head on his shoulder. He tentatively wrapped a arm around her, trying to be comforting. She snuggled closer, and closed her eyes.
Wisdom looked at them affectionately. "So, what shall we talk about?"
"I guess... " he thought a moment. "Could we talk about... Raven? I mean, you are kind of an expert."
"If you like. "
"It's just that she doesn't talk about herself that much, and... well..." he was trying not to sound too scatterbrained, which was a little hard, given his rather excitable nature. "... she's started to talk to me a little more, lately, and it's great! I'd really like to know more about her, but, I'm not sure how to talk to her."
"With your mouth." Wisdom replied with perfectly straight face.
"...Hey! I thought making jokes was my job."
"Sorry. I just couldn't pass that one up. Raven does have a pretty well developed sense of humor, you know. Anyway, there's really no huge secret here. But what I can tell you is that patience is the key. She's just learning to open up, and it's rather frightening for her. She seems cool and distant, at times, but that's just what she wants people to think. She's actually quite sensitive. From time to time, she might seem like she's pushing you out, but, just be patient with her. You'll be rewarded for it, trust me."
Beastboy thought about it. "It makes sense. I got the feeling from talking to her that she wants to talk more, but she just doesn't know how, or is afraid of saying something wrong."
Wisdom nodded. "Opening up to people makes her feel vulnerable, and she's not used to that. But it's not a bad thing, and she'll learn how to deal with it, especially if you work with her on that. Having someone she respects and admires going out of their way to help her makes a big impression on her."
"She admires me?" Beastboy was definitely surprised.
"Very much, and the more she's found out about you, the more that feeling grows. She is very drawn to your optimism, the way that you've stayed positive, despite all the bad things that have happened to you. That's why seeing you hurting during this whole episode had such an effect on her."
Beastboy was trying to take this information in. "It's just a little surprising that someone could like me. I mean, I thought I might never meet anyone again, after Terra..." Saying her name suddenly jogged an image in his mind, of the horrifying fate she had suffered at the hands of Slade. He lowered his head, feeling grief starting to churn in his chest.
Wisdom seemed to note his emotional distress. "I'm very sorry about Terra, Beastboy, as is Raven herself," she said as she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I know it seemed that Raven didn't like her very much, but, that's not really the whole story."
"What do you mean?" he said, as he unconsciously held Timid a little closer.
"It wasn't really simple dislike that caused all the issues with Terra. I'd say that the main problem was that Terra and Raven were a little too much alike, if that makes sense."
Beastboy thought about it for a moment. "It kind of does, y'know. They both had issues talking about the past, and they both have problems with their powers, sometimes."
"That's very true," Wisdom agreed with a nod. "It might be what came between them. Raven had difficulty trusting Terra, because she could see how much trouble Terra was having, and knew just how far that could drive a person. Unfortunately, Raven was still too isolated emotionally herself to reach out to her."
"I hope that part of her might be changing," Beastboy said.
"It is, and you're a major factor in that. You're helping her open a new chapter of her life. Change is good, for Raven, at least when you're involved."
Beastboy felt himself blush a little. "She's doing the same for me, too. Her coming to see me after the whole Beast thing... it meant a lot to me. And when she talked to me, when I was moping out on the shore... She even hugged me, when I was crying!" he said in a rush.
Wisdom smiled at his excitement. "Yes, she was as surprised as you were, believe me. For once in her life, she went with what she felt was right, instead of rationalizing her way out of it, and she found she liked it. Not that she would have admitted it, right off the bat, but still, it was a major moment for the both of you. And if you play your cards right, it may not be the last hug she gives you," Wisdom said, a slightly teasing note to her voice.
Beastboy was definitely flushed now. "I-I hope so. I just don't want to screw this up. I'm pretty good at that," he admitted.
"Just be the person you are," she reassured him. "That's the person she likes; you don't need to change yourself to please her. And don't be afraid of her moods; half the time, she's not as mad as she makes out to be. Granted, she can be a little prickly, and she's unused to this whole situation, but, just be patient. Everything works out, in the fullness of time."
Just then, the lights in the ceiling flickered, and came on, illuminating the room. Timid, who had evidentially dozed off in Beastboy's arms, stirred. She looked up in alarm, and nestled even closer to him. Beastboy looked at Wisdom quizzically.
"Ah, it would seem that Raven's almost finished with her repairs," the brown cloaked girl noted, "We've got to get you back to your room."
"Why?" he asked in confusion.
"It's a little complex, but, lets just say you need to be back where you started, when she completes patching things up in here. She still thinks your consciousness is asleep, and she won't have to search around inside your mind if you're in your room. It'll be easer for her to wake you up, that way."
Beastboy nodded. "Alright, back to bed then."
"That's right. We'll walk you back." They rose from the couch, Timid still clinging to Beastboy, and walked over to the now-working elevators, for the ascent to the living quarters.
As they entered his room, Beastboy looked at his companions and winked. "So, you girls gonna tuck me in?"
Wisdom shook her head with a smile. "Always a jester. Just go ahead and lie down. Raven will do the rest."
Beastboy started toward his bed, but was stopped by a touch on his shoulder. He turned and saw Timid's huge eyes gazing at him from within her hood. Wordlessly, she put her arms around him, wrapping him in a gentle embrace. Beastboy returned the hug, hoping to provide comfort to the trembling emotion.
Wisdom placed her hand on Timid's gray-cloaked shoulder, gently separating her from Beastboy. "You're spoiling her, you know," she observed with a smile
"I don't mind. Wish I could say hi to the rest of Raven's inner children some time."
"Don't worry; I get the feeling that maybe we'll see each other again, sometime," Wisdom said, her eyes sparkling. "Quite a few of us would like to meet you. It's something for your to think about, when you feel better." She led him over to the bed, and motioned for him to lay down. Whatever Raven was doing to him was having an effect; Beastboy could feel his eyelids getting heavy.
Before he could drift away entirely, Wisdom leaned down close, and spoke softly into his ear, in a tone tinged with a hint of amusement..
"By the way, might I suggest complimenting Raven on her new wardrobe when you see her? I think she'd like that..."
"Wha-?" he muttered, his head thick with drowsiness.
"Good night, dear, " she whispered.
Before he could inquire further into what her words meant, he drifted off, as slumber claimed him.
Beastboy's eyes slowly cracked open, and were immediately assaulted by fluorescent lighting. Squinting against the harsh glare, he tried to gather his wits. As his eyes focused, he saw that he was in the Titan's Medlab, shirtless, with various wires and tubes attached to him.
Looking down at the I.V.s in his left arm, he grimaced. I'm getting a bit tired of needles, thank you very much...
He tried to reach over with his right hand to remove some of the electronic sensors stuck to his chest, but found it restrained, by something gripping his hand gently. When he looked over, he saw Raven laying on another bed next to his, her left hand cradling his. One look at her, and he immediately understood Wisdom's departing words to him.
Indeed, the empath was garbed in snowy white, head to toe. Beastboy had seen this several times before, always in situations that seemed to be personally significant to her. So, needless to say, his curiosity was piqued.
As if on cue, Raven began to stir, her eyes slowly opening, and meeting his. They were silent for a long moment, their hands still together..
Finally, she spoke. "Take a picture, it'll last longer."
Beastboy couldn't keep the smile off his face. "Nice to see you again, too."
Her hand finally leaving his, she sat up, rubbing her temples with a groan. "Likewise. How are you feeling?"
"Weak as a newborn kitten. But, living on a intra-veinous glucose and saline solution will do that to ya."
Raven slid down from her cot. "Wait a second, I'll help you with those." She walked around to him, and switched off the machines monitoring him. "Hold out your arm, I'll get the tubes out." He removed the wires stuck to his with his free hand while she gently removed the needles from his forearm.
Beastboy looked down at the ugly bruises left behind by the I.V. tubes and winced. "That's pretty gross, right there."
"I can take care of that," Raven replied. She concentrated a moment, and a warm glow surrounded her hands. As she placed her hands on his arm, Beastboy felt the healing energy spread through his injured limb. When she moved her hands away, the bruises were gone.
"Thank you, Raven," Beastboy said. "Seems like you're making a habit out of fixing me up."
"Someone has to, you're pretty good at getting yourself hurt."
"Awww... my own guardian angel."
"That's the first time anyone's ever called me that."
"Well, you look the part, especially with the new threads." Beastboy idly toyed with her snowy white cloak. "I like it, though. It looks nice on you."
Beastboy swore that he saw her flush slightly, before she ducked her head shyly, and raised her hood. "I-ummm...I'm glad you like it. "
Beastboy slid down from the medical bed and stood to face her, looking up at the slightly taller girl. "I do like it. But, I thought Blue was your favorite color?"
She looked back at him. "White is... it's symbolic, for me," she said mysteriously.
"... It's complicated. The best way I can put it is... it means I've found something."
"That certainly clears things up," Beastboy remarked dryly.
"It's tough for me to explain," Raven said. She paused for a moment. "Maybe... we can talk about it, later?" Her voice was very soft, for some reason.
Their eyes met, and Beastboy felt his pulse quicken as he gazed at her. On impulse, he took her hand in his. "I'd like that," Beastboy said quietly. "I'd like that a lot."
Raven said nothing for a few seconds, as she looked at him with an unreadable expression on her face. Beastboy was suddenly aware that they were standing very close to each other. "Raven?"
She blinked, then seemed to come out of her dazed state. "Y-yes, I... I'm just glad you're ok," she said after taking a deep breath.
"I've got you to thank for that. I'm just glad you didn't get hurt, when I was the Beast."
"I wasn't worried. I knew you wouldn't hurt any of us, no matter what Slade did. You're too strong for that."
It was Beastboy's turn to blush, at that. "I... it was different this time. I... remember being the Beast. I think I'm starting to understand him."
"That sounds like a big step." Raven said. "I can help you with that, if you want me to."
"I'd love that," Beastboy said. He looked into her eyes a moment, then, out of impulse, gently wrapped his arms around her, pulling her into a gentle embrace. "Thank you," he whispered to her.
Raven was very still in his arms for a moment, then, Beastboy felt her return the hug, leaning into him slightly.
They stood that way for some time, so engrossed within each other, that they failed to notice the hiss of the Medlab doors opening. It was only at the sound of Robin clearing his throat that they separated, with matching expressions of embarrassment on their faces as they saw their teammates standing in the doorway.
"Don't worry, we won't keep you two long," Robin said. "We were just concerned, when Cyborg lost his reading on Beastboy's vitals."
"Yeah, umm... we just turned it off. Everything's ok." Beastboy said sheepishly.
"We see that, and you do seem to be feeling better. Both of you," Robin said with a perfectly straight face.
"Y-yes sir," Beastboy replied, trying to fight down the blush in his cheeks. He suddenly envied Raven her hood.
"Raven, have you succeeded in repairing Beastboy's mind?" Starfire asked with obvious excitement.
"Good." Robin nodded. "Well, we'll just be going, then. You guys obviously need some time. To rest."
"Yes," Starfire observed. "You are both probably most tired." She seemed to be having more trouble keeping the smile off her face than her comrade.
The three Titans turned and filed out out of the room. Cyborg, trailing behind, looked back over his shoulder, and winked at them. "We'll just have to remember to knock, from now on. Have fun, Garfield!" They heard the three Titans laughing like schoolchildren as the doors closed.
Beastboy shook his head. "I knew there was a reason I kept my real name to myself."
"It's not a bad name," Raven said.
"Yes it is."
"Yeah, it probably is."
Beastboy laughed, then yawned. "So, I'm thinking maybe the others were right, I am feeling a little tired. How could that be, after sleeping for days?"
"You weren't really asleep, that whole time. Your mind was very active, while I was working. And that is a drain, especially given your intra-veinous diet, all the while."
"And you've got to be worn out too, fixing my brain, and all."
Raven actually smirked a little. "Well, I couldn't fix your brain if my life depended on it, but, you're functional, at least. "
"Functional, yay." Beastboy found his shirt, laying on a table beside the bed, and pulled it on. "Well, walk me back to my room?"
She nodded, and accompanied him back to his quarters. Upon opening the door, Beastboy was shocked by the sight that awaited him.
"Starfire's work, I expect," Raven said. "She's been fretting your condition for the last few days. She was bugging the others so much, that I think Robin told her to focus on doing something nice for you, for when you woke up. So, she cleaned."
Beastboy shook his head. "I appreciate the gesture, but, now I won't be able to find anything."
"Yes, I'm sure it was much easier when all your stuff was on your floor."
She shook her head. "You're impossible. Now, off to bed with you."
"Yes, mommy!" Beastboy laid down in his bed. Indeed he was tired. Before he could rest, however, he felt he had to say something. "Raven, I've really been thinking,... we're pretty different people, I know, but... I was hoping that... ummm..." He sighed. "... I really wish I could say what I'm feeling right now!" he groaned in frustration. "I owe you that much."
Raven knelt down on the floor next to his bed, lowering her hood, and looking at him seriously. "First off, you don't 'owe' me anything. We have saved each other's lives more times than I can keep track of, since we started doing this. We're teammates, and friends, that's what we do.
"Secondly," she took a deep breath, as though she needed to calm herself. Then she spoke quietly, "...You don't need to say what you feel." She took his hand. " I can feel it. And it's alright, because, I feel the same way."
Beastboy couldn't take his eyes away from hers, as they once again gazed at each other in silence. Something in his heart told him that she was waiting for something, some sign from him, and that words wouldn't do, this time. Slowly, as though he was afraid to startle her, he sat up, and got closer to her. She stayed still, as he drew nearer, eyes still on his. Taking a deep breath, he closed his eyes, leaned in, and gently brushed his lips on hers.
The first kiss was tentative, and fleeting, as Beastboy was still somewhat unsure how such affection would be received. He drew back, and looked at her. She still sat at his bedside, her eyes closed, with a serene expression on her face.
"Raven, did I- are you ok?" He asked nervously.
She opened her eyes, and smiled at him. "Much better than ok."
Beastboy almost felt giddy. To see such happiness on her face was more than he had ever hoped for. To know that he was the source it... it was positively intoxicating.
Trying to calm himself down, just a bit, Beastboy gave her hand another gentle squeeze. "This does change everything, doesn't it.?"
Raven nodded, "True, but sometimes..." she leaned in close, and looked at him with warm eyes.
"...Change is good," he whispered to her as they came together for another kiss.
Well, that's the end folks. But, maybe not THE end...
Thanks to you, gentle readers, and your wonderful feedback, I've decided to go ahead with an idea that I had before I even started this story. You may have noticed a slight addition to the summary of this story...
I've decided that this is the first story in a series, with one particular Titan being the focus of each story. So, be on the lookout for the second story in the Titan Quintet, coming soon!
Thank you all once again, and I hope to see you next time around.
19 March 2006