Dear Thunder Horse,
Grandfather was wise. The truth does indeed come out in funny ways. He knows. And I know he knows. And the knowing tastes sweet to me.
After a quick debriefing session, everyone else had gone out for dinner. Cyborg had sent feelers out, trying to follow the now-cold trail of the BRU. And the teams' errant DNA samples. But for now, the tower was empty. Almost.
She had stayed behind, claiming fatigue. So had he. Shedding his purple-and-whites, he eased into his favorite tower-lounging gear: jeans and a soft-as-a-cloud white t-shirt. They were his favorites because he had worn them on the plane back from that place where he first really put the pieces of the puzzle called Raven together. From the place where she had first truly trusted him.
Her door was open. She was there, one gloveless hand pressed against her window. She gazed out at the sun shining on the bay. The hood of her cloak covered her head. He could barely see the ghost of her face against the half-mirror of the glass. The reflection's lips curled into a smile as he crossed the threshold.
Three shades of blue. Her cloak. Her glass. Her sky.
He tried to still that internal shaking that was on the verge of creeping into his voice. Still new to me, to see her smile.
And she is smiling at me.
"How are you doing, Raven?"
Her head tilted slowly towards him. Her smile broadened. "I have never been better. I suppose laughter, even if it is nitrogen-induced, is good medicine after all."
He chuckled. "You really let it loose today, didn't you?"
She rubbed her side with the flat of her hand. "My ribs still ache. But it is a good pain, for once." She reached over and laid her hand on his forearm. "You were right. It was the night that you got me to giggle."
He forced his eyes to the floor and worried his left canine with his tongue. What do I say next? Then he noticed her bare legs – she wasn't wearing her boots, either. The closeness of her creamy skin squeezed a sigh out of him. I have to ask. I have to. This is the point of no return.
"S-so, was else was just nitrogen-induced today?" he sputtered. He thought, how lame can I get, but it was all the speech that he could manage. The Gar-quake found its way into his hands. He thought he would shake to pieces until she took his hands in her long, tapered fingers.
"Only the crumbling of some very old and very high walls, Gar. Walls that hid the truth."
The truth is that I can pray again. I pray all the time now. Even if those prayers are not always answered, I know someone is listening. The truth is that I have a family once more. You, my cousin. Victor, truly the father I should have had. Starfire, my second mother. My brothers and my sisters . . .
"Yes. I meant everything I said. And did. I was just finally . . . relaxed . . . enough to say it. And do it." She raised her chin and locked her eyes onto his face. "You welcomed me home with open arms when others were terrified of me. You remember the smallest details of my life. You exhaust yourself to wring the smallest bit of joy from me. " Her hands closed around his. "Your very attempts to make me laugh bring a smile to my heart. If not always to my face."
She stepped closer to him. Her bare toes whispered against the carpet. "You can even heal me."
He returned her gaze; all he could see was amber sparkling in those shadowed violet eyes. All he could smell was rosemary swirled in incense. All he could hear was the roar of blood in his ears. All he could feel was the stillness in her smallest fingers.
"I find myself going out of my way to touch you. And be touched by you. To just be next to you and savor the taste of your affection on my lips. I say it once again, and without any help. Plainly. Simply. Boldly. I love you, Gar Logan."
He closed his eyes against that violet sky. His fingers tightened against his palms. But he could not escape the scent of rosemary that pursued him, and he felt the gravity of her body pulling him into her orbit.
She rested her hand against his jaw. "Do you really think my difficulty with the Hyk Mar is sheer clumsiness? And that the altimeter always fails on its own?"
Her question came back to him: The falling or the catching? As his breath caught in his tightening throat, he felt her take his hands again. She placed them on the edges of her hood, closing his fingers within her own.
"Look at me, Garfield."
He opened his eyes again and stared into the bird's shadow beneath her cowl.
"Look at me."
Fabric rustled against her growing hair as he pushed the hood back away from a face that he had been memorizing for weeks. Not the face of the Mistress of Magic, not the face of the daughter of a dark demon overlord, not the face of a vessel of terrifying strength and power. Not the face of someone torn between two worlds, not the face of a tightrope walker between childhood and adulthood. But the face of a woman.
A woman whose soul filled the sky. A woman who willingly bore the scars others. A woman who was often hated by the world but who somehow managed to keep loving it anyway. A woman who had returned his adoptive father's sanity, so very long ago. A woman who had saved his own life a hundred times over. A woman who had passed through the very fires of hell in her short, tortured life and still stood here, smiling at him. A woman who accepted him for who he was, without the smallest bit of pity.
A woman that he loved.
"I know what you are feeling, Gar." The silk in her voice rippled across his ears. It had a soothing earthiness that he had never heard in it before. Low to the ground. Husky. "The empath in me senses it. But the woman in me needs to hear it. Needs to feel it."
He shook off the spell of silence. "There is a woman under this cloak. I know it."
He released the hood he had been clutching and rested clammy hands on her shoulders. He could feel her heartbeat now, as rapid as during that fierce moonlight dash across the desert. Their breathing merged in a common rhythm. The quakes in his skin telegraphed over to her small form. He felt her trembling in his fingertips, and the moisture in his palms mingled with the sweat beading on her back.
"After all this time, I know it. You're here. You're real."
He studied her face. Sunlight streamed through the window and reflected off her hair and her eyes. One side of his mouth curled into a half-moon smile.
"And you're home. You're safe."
Holding her shoulders more tightly, he drew her close to him. He had already plunged into this sea before, in the embrace where he had welcomed her home . . . and in the sunrise after Twilight Canyon. Now, he was ready to go deeper.
He leaned down, brushing the tip of her nose with his own. "Do you want to have more than the taste of affection on those lips?"
Tender fingers caressed his cheek. Traced the point of his ear.
"I'm falling, Garfield."
He surrendered to the well of gravity that was pulling him in.
. . . and now my beloved one.
For my entire life, I have built walls around me to protect myself, and to protect those that called me friend. Those walls have melted. Now they are lines, just lines. Lines that only wait for me to cross them. And for each one that I cross, I find another one that is deeper still. But still, it is just a line. Not a wall.
It was just the slightest of motions: leaning his face down to touch one cheek with his own, so very slowly, drawing his skin across hers. He pressed his lips against her jawline so gently that she could barely feel them. He traveled up that line to her mouth, and then --
So many sensations, so fast. Arms forged a fortress around her. Hands wound under her cloak and pressed against the tattoo in the small of her back, pushing her empathic aches into the far reaches of her mind. Hair wound around her fingers. Firm lips settled on hers, wet and alive. Gentle at first, just a caress on the edge of each lip, then longer and fiercer and more urgent with each passing moment. No time to think. No time to breathe. Just time enough to feel a magnetic pull from his center to her hara, rushing her into him with such a force that his shoulders blended with the wall. With a short grunt and an upward turn of a smile, he kept on kissing her, with his warm breath radiating across her face.
Her mouth was full of his flavors: that ever present apple candy tartness, sweet and sour disbelief, creamy affection, salty relief, and . . . something else. It was a honey-smooth something else that she had tasted from other men before, many who broadcast it loudly at women they didn't even know. It was a honey-smooth something else that she had gotten from him the first time he had seen her in that infamous red dress. That sensation had frightened her so, coming from his direction.
But she had never tasted it blended so well with tenderness and protection. Her toes dug into the carpet as she savored it. Every inch of contact felt more intense than in any other embrace in her life. Her hunger for touch awakened again, wanting more than the little sips it had taken in. Rough denim swept against her thighs; soft cotton surrounded her shoulders. Every time his skin touched hers, a gentle warmth rippled through her core. And he was careful, so careful, not to hurt her with the sharpness of his teeth as his kisses deepened into her.
Control the control. The words ricocheted through her otherwise empty mind. Keep it when you need it. Let it go when you need to be without it. Control the control. Now is the time to let it go. Empty except for a rolling field of green behind her eyes, that green linked to the honey on her lips. She felt the last vestiges of the drug slip away from her brain. She allowed the color to glow, brighter and brighter, and then released it. It poured out of her mind and washed over his brain like a warm bath. She felt a shudder cascade down his spine with such power that his mouth broke contact with hers. Eyes the same shade as that field rolled back beneath his eyelids as an aftershock rumbled through his shoulders. His lips gaped wide as his jaw hinged open.
"Oh. Oh," was the only sound that escaped them. "Oh. Oh. Oh that. That. That. Oh, my. Oh. My." He rested his forehead against hers; her jewel warmed his skin. "I have never felt . . . that . . . before."
"I have never done . . . that . . . before." A slight haze collected on her eyes. She swayed from the aftermath of the push of energy, but he held her upright. She rubbed her face into his chest as they both tried to regain their balance.
"Is this the part where I ask if that was good for you?" she whispered.
"I don't think there's a word to describe how good that was." His breath still remained beyond his reach.
She let her eyelids close and allowed a contented sigh to escape her. "I will take that as an answer in the affirmative."
Laughter bubbled from them both as he squeezed her more tightly. She felt that new line waiting to be crossed against her waist. Her eyes widened as she felt her pulse booming there. She pursed her lips, not sure how to deal with this new sensation. He must have sensed her confusion; he traced the outline of her cheekbone with his finger and whispered, "We'll discuss that later."
He cleared his throat and spoke again. "What do you call that, exactly?"
"That sexy Jedi mind-trick you just played on me."
"Oh. I call it reflection. I gather up all the energy of a single emotion in the room and push it back out in one direction."
"I think everyone else calls it lust."
"Why not? It is just the truth." She spoke into his chest while she stroked his fingers with her free hand. " Just remind me to only do that when we are alone. One man's attentions are all I can cope with at a time."
"You little rebel, you. I think Compound 27 blew some fuses in your brain. Where in the world did you learn how to kiss like that?"
He uttered a small, soft chortle as he cradled her head in his hand. He hummed softly into her hair, hummed those three small words that the woman in her wanted him to trickle into her ear. The words that he already knew were true.
"Let me," he continued. "Let me love you. Let me make up for all those lonely years when no one could touch you. Let me." He kissed the gem above her eyes. "Let me."
She felt his aura wrap around them in a blanket of contentment. Not the aura of a great hero. Not the aura of a washed-up child actor. Not the aura of the Titans' class clown. Not the aura of a walking zoo. But the aura of a man.
A man with a heart full of hope. A man who had lost almost everyone he had ever loved but somehow kept loving anyway. A man who made the tower feel like a home, the only true home she had ever known. A man who looked on her with tenderness in his eyes despite her many marks of Cain. A man who had witnessed more horror and pain in his few short years than most people suffer in a lifetime. And there he was, laughing the afternoon away with her. A man whose very presence protected her.
A man that she loved.
And that thing which she needed most, that thing that had been most forbidden to her for all of her life until now, was there, bathing her in its glow.
"You caught me," she whispered back. "Love me, then."
They fell silent for a moment, wrapped in the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window, neither wanting to let go first. With the lightest of touches, he stroked the hair above her jewel with his fingertips. Finally, he broke the cocoon of quiet.
"So, where do we go from here?"
The frustrating thing about being an empath is that knowing how someone feels and knowing what they will do with that feeling are two separate things. But now, I know both sides of the equation. And again, the knowing is sweet.
Instead of a great wasteland, my heart is now but an undiscovered country. All barriers can be broken now. It is only a matter of time.
Welcome to my family.
Your Dawn Child
To be continued in Part 3, Coyote. Love has a logic all its own. It has been posted and is ready for your reading pleasure.
A/N: This story is dedicated to my dear Aunt Beuna and Uncle Ed. Beuna passed away a few weeks ago, and I thought of her often while I wrote this. She is now reunited with her beloved Ed, who went home five years ago. I have never seen two people love each other more. They are missed by those who remain behind.
10/19/2005:I just realized that the "Honey" as "lust" bit is very similar to an idea in a fic by K.A.Maples: "Sweet Tooth". This story has a place of honor amongst my favorites. I don't remember if I read that fic before or after I came up with that idea, but they certainly are similar enough. Anyhow, I'd like to give a plug for this fic -- very nice BB/Rae.
And we get Deeper many ways . . . not only do we get deeper into Beast Boy and Raven's story together, we also learn a little more about the Black Rose Underground (just a teasing hint) and a little bit of Raven's backstory . . . the story behind the backstory, that is. Don't worry, I will continue the reveal of all three of these in the next story, Coyote. I know that Twilight Child and Deeper have are parallel in plot. The next story should veer off that path somewhat.
Let me know what you think. I hope you enjoyed this "issue" of the Twilight Child story arc!
Responses to reviews:
onyx-worrystone: I have enjoyed talking to you about the stories! Thank you for all of your encouragement!
TheSkeet - Thanks for the review. I am glad you enjoyed it.
MintDragon - Glad you liked the love scene. I wanted it to be sweet without being syrupy. I wanted it to be humorous as well. There should be more romance in part 3 -- I felt it was important to get them to it slowly (getting interrupted by Cyborg and Superboy). I hope you like the next one as much. I think my weak spot is action, but I am trying to get better.
TDG3RD - Merci! I am trying to takea break to get my household in order before I slave over the keyboard again, but my brain won't stop buzzing with the next one! This is addictive.
craZy18gurl - I am so glad you are enjoying the stories. I really enjoyed writing them. I think I rewrote the last chapter like 20 times trying to get it just perfect. I hope the next one is even better. I have 5 stories in this arc planned (so far).
LoCaD: Good to hear from you again. I cannot wait to write Part 3 -- my "break" is getting shorter and shorter --
Mad Mauser : As always, I enjoy your reviews! You are very good at reading between the lines!
AngleOZD: I am glad you enjoyed the parallelism. That is a technique that will appear throughout the 5-story arc. I hope I don't wear it out tho.
FallenRose24: Thanks again! I LOVE your fanart!
Wind Lane: I tried to send you an email, but your domain keeps rejecting it. Sorry. Thanks for your kind reviews. If you have any questions about the history that I cover, let me know. I am happy to answer them. I am going to include more author's notes in Part 3 to explain the history a little bit better to those not familiar with the 80s Titans.
Catriana: Yes, I am very fond of the thought of that couple. Perhaps it will happen in the comic? Only time will tell. Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Many thanks: Jefepato, fragile246, and my good friend DeTroyes for your kind reviews!