A/N: Just a little bit of fluff that I got carried away with. It may seem a little ooc, but please enjoy anyway, and for the love of God, REVIEW!
Disclaimer: I don't own it.
His ears weren't just for show.
Even standing outside the room, Beast Boy knew there was somebody in the pool from the gentle slosh-slosh of the water against the sides, knew that at this time of night it could only be Raven. He had seen her sneaking away to the pool before, in the dead of night, when he got up for a glass of water. But she didn't know that. This was the first time –
He looked down at his shorts. Well, it wasn't like he had known she would be there.
He almost walked away. But finally his fingers reached out for the handle and pulled the door open enough for him to slip quietly inside.
The pool lights were on, turning the water eerily green, projecting dancing, nebulous half-shadows on the walls. He held out his arms to look at them, and the shadows were there, too, folding and twisting over each other, light, then dark, then light again. There was a towel on one chair. Beast Boy snuck closer to the pool, looking for Raven in the water.
When he saw her, he thought oddly of his other life in Africa. He hadn't thought about that for a long time, but when he saw her, a black shape slicing the water, it came back to him. Riding out in dad's skiff, looking down and seeing the sting rays moving somehow without moving, unconcerned, as big and black as a rain cloud. He reached out to touch them, but dad pulled him back, saying, 'No, no. They'll only hurt you if you grab at them like that.'
The plunging sound of Raven breaking the surface startled him from thinking, and he saw that she was staring at him, not angry, exactly, but… guarded. Her white hands gripped the railings by the poolside steps, and she pulled herself, dripping, from the water and climbed out.
"Uh…" said Beast Boy articulately. He shook his head, as if to clear it. "So… come here often?"
Raven crossed her arms over the stretch of her bare stomach. "What are you doing here?"
"Um – same as you?" he hedged, pointing to his shorts. He couldn't help noticing how deceptively small she looked without the protective swathe of her cape.
"Did you follow me here?" she asked.
"No!" he said quickly. "Well, once or twice, 'cause I thought you were a ghost – but, mostly, no."
Raven raised one eyebrow. Beast Boy wished he could do that.
"Let's try that again…"
"Okay," he said. "Here's what happened: I've seen you walking here at night sometimes, and I thought, 'well, if Raven's doing it, it must be fun,' so I thought I would give it a try…" He gave a laugh that failed to be light-hearted and came out nervous instead.
Suddenly something big and black rushed by him. His heart almost leapt out of his throat before he realized it was only Raven's towel. She pulled it to her with her powers, and, rather than tying it about her waist, draped it disappointingly over her shoulders, clutching it together at the front with one hand.
"I'll leave you to it, then," she said, brushing past him.
Her hand had alighted on the door knob when he said, "Wait!"
She looked at him over her shoulder, expressionless, but obviously asking, 'what?' without words.
"I – you don't have to go," said Beast Boy. "You can stay."
"Why?" There was no accusation in her voice, just a note of flat curiosity.
"I want you to," he said honestly. "C'mon, Raven, we never hang out!"
"Maybe there's a reason for that," she muttered.
His ears drooped just a fraction. "Just for a little while? Pleeeease?
"What? Afraid to be alone in the dark?" she asked, but her hand dropped away from the door knob, and inwardly Beast Boy crowed with victory for a battle he wasn't sure why he had chosen to fight.
"No!" he retorted automatically. "There's no such thing as dark, and there's no way I'm afraid of something that doesn't even exist!"
Raven looked at him as if she had never seen him before. "I'm surprised you know that."
"Yeah, well…" he trailed off.
When he was a child in Africa he used to wake up when the night was so thick and black that he couldn't see his hand waving in front of his face. What else could be out there? he wondered, and was afraid. But mom held him tightly, smoothing his hair, and whispering, 'This is only the absence of light, you see? Light exists, but dark does not. There is no darkness here.'
That was something that was locked away too tight inside him to put to words.
"I bet I'm a lot smarter than you think," he said finally, puffing up proudly. "Go on and ask me anything!"
"Alright," said Raven. One corner of her mouth quirked up a tiny bit, and he had to stop himself from cheering. That probably wouldn't go over very well. "What does the scarlet letter stand for?"
"Do you even know what letter it was?"
Beast Boy wisely decided it was time for a change of subject.
"Hey, watch me do a high dive!" he said.
He heard Raven sigh as he dashed over to the ladder, bare feet slapping up the steps. Once at the top he looked over the railing, grinning madly, and waved at her to make sure she was watching. He always liked to smile at her. He thought maybe if he did it often enough she would smile back.
Because the first thing he had thought when he met her was, 'This girl isn't going to smile unless somebody makes her.' In the next thought he had decided that he would be the one to do it.
Beast Boy rushed up to the edge of the diving board, having never been afraid of heights, even as a child. He leapt, curling into a cannonball, and spinning down into the water, loving it because falling was second best next to flying.
"Riveting," said Raven, when he resurfaced in the middle of the pool. He paddled over to the edge where she was standing. She looked down at him, still holding the black towel around her like her cloak. "There's really no point for me to stay here."
He clambered out of the water to stop her from turning and walking away. There was a little swell of anger in him, because she couldn't seem to see that he was just trying to… trying to what, exactly?
"Dude, there is so a point!" he said. "There always is, but you never see it, do you?"
"Obviously not," she agreed dispassionately, a cold point to his slow burn. Something nameless inside of him wanted to wrap her up tight.
"It's because I'm your friend!" he said earnestly, though there were times when he wasn't even sure of that much. "I'm your friend and I want to spend time with you, that's all."
To that, Raven seemed to have nothing to say. She just looked at him, round-eyed and unreadable. He didn't know enough about her, he realized, thinking of the sting rays that swam many feet below dad's skiff, looking deceivingly close enough to touch.
"It's called 'hanging out,'" Beast Boy went on, never having been one for silences. "Surely you've heard of it?"
After a moment of suspense, she hesitantly took the bait.
"I might have," she said with a twist of her lips, playing along as much as she would allow herself.
"Well, it just so happens I'm an old pro," he waggled his eyebrows at her. "Don't worry. I'll show you how it's done."
"That's a relief."
"This is a no sarcasm zone, Rae."
Beast Boy clapped his hands together. "Okay. First thing's first! Let's… um… sit down!"
With that he plopped down right there at the edge of the pool. He looked up at Raven, patting the spot next to him in a way that he hoped was inviting. She rolled her eyes, but sat down anyway, keeping her towel wrapped around her.
"Comfy?" he asked.
"Let's see," she said. "I'm sitting on concrete in a wet swimsuit. Real comfortable."
She could always take it off, he thought. But that wasn't the sort of thing a person said to Raven. And lived.
"Raven, you're ruining the atmosphere," he told her instead, letting his feet dangle in the water.
"How about you just ask me another question or something."
"…Alright." After a moment of thought, she said, "There is a word in the English language with two meanings that directly oppose each other. What is it?"
He stared at her, unblinking.
"Where do you get this stuff?"
"I read," she said shortly. It figured.
"Okay," he began slowly. "So… what's the answer?"
Her feet emerged from within the folds of her towel. He realized with a start that he had never seen them before. She toed the water with one of them carefully, the same way in which she did all things.
"To cleave," she told him.
"That's a word?" he asked. "Since when?"
"It means to cling, by one definition," Raven continued, ignoring his outburst. "And to split apart, by another."
Was she thinking of herself, defined all her life as her father's daughter, but defined as a hero by her own free will? Opposing definitions. There were more than two of those when it came to Raven.
"Why do you know all this?" asked Beast Boy.
"So I can impress people at parties," she replied flatly.
"But, Raven, you don't go to parties," he said.
Then he finally got it and burst out laughing.
"You just made a joke!" he exclaimed, tucking this piece of her away with the others he had collected. "Way to go!"
And in his excitement he wound up and slapped her on the back as he might do to Cyborg at any old time. Maybe she had been sitting a little off balance, or maybe he didn't know his own strength, but whatever the reason, Raven ended up splashing into the pool, towel and all.
Beast Boy knew enough to start edging away from the water.
"U-um, sorry about that – Cyborg doesn't even flinch, you know, being a big, metal guy, and all –"
"Do I look like Cyborg?" she hissed. Her power flared up, crackling, around her.
A tendril of black energy snaked out, grasped his ankle, and chucked him into the pool before he could say 'have-mercy-I'm-innocent!' Once submerged, he scrambled to the surface, gulping in air. He grinned sheepishly over the water at Raven.
"I guess we're even, then…" Beast Boy barely moved in time to dodge a bolt of dark power. He looked behind him to see where it landed, and watched it bounce off the side of the pool and fizzle away. It probably wouldn't have done more than knock him back into the water, which only served to prove what he already knew about her – that she wasn't as mean or as tough or as cold as she liked people to think.
"Now we're even," she corrected. Then her attention shifted away from him as she took in the situation, probably wondering 'what now?'
He half-swam closer to her, where the water hit a few inches below the shoulder. Her towel was sinking down deeper, he noticed, floating about her knees, still sinking. The water had beaded on her skin, and her hair was dripping, unkempt, for once not a single curtain. Her nose was a tiny bit red. The water-shadows danced over both of them, twisting and folding.
His throat constricted when he tried to swallow.
"Can I ask you a question?" he said.
"I've never been able to stop you before."
He flashed his fangs at her, laughing. "Great! So – why do you… um… come here?"
Raven folded her arms and looked away from him, closing herself off.
"You don't have to answer if you don't want to," Beast Boy amended quickly.
'Let them come to you,' mom had said, when she and dad were tagging animals and releasing them to observe. 'You can't force them to take the bait. Wait for them, and they will come.'
He had never thought to apply it to real life. Usually he didn't think about it at all.
"No," said Raven, bringing him back to the present. "It's not a big deal. I just feel calmer when I'm in the water – everything outside seems to vanish…. It's like another way to meditate."
She brought her hand up and ran it lightly through the water.
"Why don't you do it in the daytime?" he asked.
"It's supposed to be private."
"That's alright," she said, cracking a tiny smile. "This is… different. But nice." He beamed at her, but she changed the subject quickly before he could interject, still skittish of anything sentimental. "Anyway, I guess I don't need to do it so often anymore. My anger is… all mine, now."
"You still meditate all the time, though," he said, scratching his head. "I've seen you!"
"My powers are still dangerous," she rolled her eyes. "But without Trigon, I don't need to control my emotions so strongly."
"So… if you get really mad, you won't become Evil-Raven, you'll just be… Really-Angry-Raven?"
She sighed. "I guess that's one way of putting it…"
"So, you can laugh without blowing up the world now?"
"So, my jokes…?"
"I told you. Still not funny."
Beast Boy's ears drooped noticeably.
"Well, maybe sometimes," she relented. "But don't tell anyone I said that."
"Right!" he agreed immediately. "Let's make a pact – whatever is said in this room, stays in this room."
"Why?" she asked skeptically, brows wrinkling.
"Why not?" he returned.
He brought up his hand from the water, pinkie finger extended. Slowly, hesitantly, she hooked hers around it, looking into his eyes. He did not have big hands, but hers looked so small curled up with his…
Raven cleared her throat, breaking the moment. Well, he hadn't been the one to ruin it this time. Their hands dropped back into the water.
"Well," she said, looking away from him deliberately. "You're the expert. What do we do now?"
Surprisingly, though, she didn't move away. They were still standing quite close to each other, with the water enshrouding their bodies below the shoulder-blade.
"This is the part where we tell each other our deep, dark secrets," he said, half-jokingly.
"I think mine are kind of out in the open now," she replied, referring to her father and her own part in the almost-apocalypse.
"That's okay," he told her. "I bet you have more where that came from."
She looked at him in surprise, eyes wide and blinking. Maybe that wasn't what she had expected him to say. Maybe she had just never thought of it that way before.
Beast Boy didn't know what made him do it, but before he could reconsider he darted in and kissed her.
Almost immediately he pulled back, disturbing the waters which had gone still, unable to look her in the eye. "Oh, jeez, I – I shouldn't have done that, don't be mad, I'm so sorry –"
But Raven all but whispered, "…I didn't mind."
He pulled his eyes up to her face and stared at her. She looked surprised, at herself and at him. But not angry.
"Raven," he said, wondering how to proceed. Something popped into his head. He licked his lips. "Let's… let's cleave together."
There was an ironic smile on her lips. "Is that your way of asking me out?"
"Uh… yeah." Belatedly, he realized that it was. "I guess so."
She seemed to consider it briefly.
"Okay," she said simply, after a moment. Her voice was a little breathless, as if she couldn't believe it herself. He couldn't believe it either, so that made two of them. How had they gotten here, again?
"Okay?" he echoed, in disbelief.
"Okay," she said more firmly.
"But… I'm still going to bug you about smiling more often," he told her.
"And I'm still not going to laugh at your jokes," she replied.
"Aw, come on, now you have to!"
Raven chuckled. Just a little bit, but he caught it and it was… a start.
"Look," she said suddenly, pointing to the windows. "It's getting light out. We should probably go back and change."
"Here." He scrambled out of the pool, and reached a hand down to help her. She rolled her eyes, but accepted his offer anyway. Once out, she had to use her powers to retrieve the towel, which she had left floating at the bottom of the pool, forgotten. Meanwhile, Beast Boy became a dog, shook himself vigorously dry, and transformed back.
When they reached the door, Raven paused, fingering the handle. After a moment, she opened her mouth to say with quiet intensity, "I'm sorry – about earlier, when I didn't want to stay. I'm glad I did, but –" She paused " – even after all this time, I'm still not used to… having friends."
"That's alright," he said, sensing the need to defuse the moment, something he was good at. "I'm the one who didn't even know which letter was the scarlet one."
"It's A," she told him. "For adultery. Just so you'll know next time."
She opened the door and stepped out. Instead of leaving abruptly as she usually did, she smiled tentatively at him before she left. His heart drummed in his chest.
"So…" he said hopefully to the spot where she had vanished, "there's gonna be a next time?"
A/N: 'Let's cleave together' is totally stolen from the novel A Thing or two about Curtis and Camilla. It's not mine. Now - Please press the button and tell me what you think! I beg you!