Tofutopia: one of the hottest tofu restaurants in town. In other words, Raven had no idea how it got any business.
Stopping in front of the flickering neon lights, Raven took a moment to wonder why Beast Boy (or anyone) ever went there. The windows were kind of grimy, the alley beside it smelled like urine and rotten tofu, and inside she knew the booths' upholstery was ripped and fraying in many places. Everything on the menu contained tofu, half of which was deep-fried in grease and fat, somewhat ruining the healthy effect. There were nicer vegetarian friendly restaurants, Raven was sure, and yet as she looked through the dirty windows, she could see that it was fairly crowded inside.
Pulling her cloak as far around her as she could (which wasn't very far by now), Raven opened the door and went in, looking around the surprisingly large restaurant. She could see some closed off booths in the back, surrounded by swirling clouds of smoke. She didn't need the sign marking them off to know it was the smoking section. Beast Boy wouldn't be in there.
The rest of the tables were spread out around a stage with cheap brown material hung up as curtains. Spotlights had been set up on the two front corners of the stage, shining a bluish light onto it.
'Karaoke night?' she guessed half-heartedly as she walked around the empty stage, looking out at the surrounding tables.
Folding her arms over her chest as she realized she was a bit more… bouncy than usual, Raven stopped in front of the stage and scanned the room. Her eyes widened as she saw a flash of green hair in one corner. Her heart jumped, and beneath her crossed arms, the empath felt a small change occur due to her excitement at having found the object of her affection. The change was minor enough that she didn't think anyone had noticed, but after taking a closer look, she realized that it had been for nothing as it was just some guy who had dyed his hair a pitiful shade of baby puke green.
Much to Raven's frustration, this happened a couple more times; a silver glove here, a squeaky laugh there, until she came to one conclusion…
There were a lot of young guys here, and so far, Beast Boy did not appear to be one of them. Still, there were many people in the restaurant (most of which, she noticed, were male, though there was a fair smattering of women and a few that could only be defined as androgynous), and he could still be one of them.
"There you are! You must be the new dancer we hired," a loud voice said behind her, causing her to jump as he placed his hand on her shoulder.
She turned around to find a middle-aged man peering at her. The badge pinned to his plain blue shirt read: MANAGER.
"Excuse me?" Raven asked, raising an eyebrow. She scowled as he looked at her body appreciatively.
"Didn't expect you this early," he continued, ignoring her, "But I'm certainly not complaining. The costumes are in the back. One of the other girls will show you where they are."
"Costumes? What are you talking about?" Raven frowned.
"You're a funny one," the manager laughed, nudging her shoulder lightly, "That's great. You'll get along well here. And it's nice to see you brought your own costume, but I think you may be covering just a little too much skin, so go change."
As she looked down at her outfit, Raven frowned, trying to hide her surprise as she slowly got over her shock and realized what kind of "restaurant" this was. "Is this some kind of… strip club?"
Several people turned their heads after Raven's somewhat loud accusation, causing both her and the manager to turn red with embarrassment.
"No, no!" the manager protested at once, smiling before he added jokingly, "I mean, it's not like we have any poles. No, this is more of a… cabaret. We serve tofu meals to people throughout the day, and in the evening, we provide some of our customers with a drink menu and some entertainment. There's no nudity, I promise you, but the customers sure do enjoy our dancers."
"I see," Raven replied. She thought of all the times Beast Boy had come to the restaurant and then returned to the tower late, claiming to have stopped at an arcade on the way home from the restaurant. Jealousy began to bubble inside of her as she reconsidered the truth in that.
Feeling another change, Raven folded her arms tighter over her chest. Gritting her teeth slightly, Raven asked, "Have you seen my friend by any chance? He's short and green… kind of hard to miss."
"You mean Garfield?" the man asked, seemingly oblivious to the anger and jealousy in her voice, "Nope. Haven't seen him today. Doubt he'd come to watch you dance though. He only comes in the afternoon, never stays for the night shows. Whenever he stays too long, he's outta here like a bat outta Hell as soon as the curtains open."
Unclenching her jaw, Raven lightly scolded herself for jumping to conclusions, but she still couldn't quite shake her suspicions. As he spoke, the manager had moved a chair over to the corner of the stage and had begun rubbing one of the spotlights clean. Climbing down, he looked at her and continued to talk, growing slightly more thoughtful.
"I've always wanted to know why he didn't stay. I asked him one time, but he told me he didn't know. But if you ask me, it wasn't him answering; it was his heart."
"His… heart?" Raven repeated, feeling her own heart mysteriously skip a beat.
"Yeah," the manager nodded. Turning around, he continued to work on the spotlights. "It's like his heart was answering something his mind didn't know. And even though he hadn't realized that he's in love, his instinct and heart were telling him not to stay in case he offends her.
"Or at least, that's how it used to be. Lately, he's had some pretty odd spurts of emotion. One day, he'll come in, and he'll act like he doesn't have a care in the world, jabbering on about how great this one girl is. Elated, I think is a good word to describe him then. But then the next day, it's like he's got incurable depression, usually due to some spat he had with that same girl. Mind you, they're probably not as bad as he makes 'em seem, but they sure do take a toll on the little guy.
"All I can say is, the sooner he tells her, the better for both of 'em."
Finished polishing the spotlights, he turned and looked over at Raven, who had become quite silent as thoughts and emotions ran rampant in her head.
Beast Boy really cared about her. Sure, she already knew that, but that didn't make it any less flattering knowing that he turned down scantily dressed dancers at a place that apparently had no age requirement unless you were buying drinks.
However, the warm feeling that spread through her at that thought was quickly overwhelmed by guilt. Had she really made him that upset so many times? She had never thought their little arguments fazed him for long.
If it hadn't been for the way the manager's eyes bulged out, Raven probably wouldn't have noticed that her thoughts had caused another change.
Shaking his head, he rubbed his eyes in disbelief, sure he must have been seeing things. His jaw dropped as he saw that he hadn't been mistaken. Blushing, Raven quickly stepped back, stuttering a rushed thanks and goodbye before turning tail and running out of the restaurant.
"WHAT THE HELL?!"
None of the emotions bothered looking up as Anger let out another string of curses. They didn't really blame her for getting angry over the latest changes.
Every time Raven experienced a physical change, each of the emotions was effected physically as well. It simply added to the tense nervousness that had been building up around Knowledge's realm, which had become the unofficial stronghold for all the emotions as they waited for Raven to find Beast Boy.
A wet sniffle came from Timid as she sat in the corner of the library area, hugging her knees morosely.
"It'll be all right Timid," Affection cooed softly, sitting next to the sad emotion. "Raven will find him soon, and when she does… when she does, everything will be wonderful."
"It's not that," Timid whispered, leaning her hot cheek on her hands, "Well… not only that."
"What is it?" Affection prompted gently.
"It's just… I'm getting kind of uncomfortable."
"We all are," Affection replied, smiling apologetically.
"No, I mean… physically."
Panting, Raven leaned heavily against a brick wall five blocks away from Tofutopia. Once she had noticed that the manager had seen the change, she had panicked and ran from the scene.
Still leaning over, Raven groaned. Pain shot through her back each time she took a breath, and all over her body felt strange. She couldn't quite describe it. It was like something that was either scalding hot or freezing cold was coursing through her body, making her feel weak and uncomfortable.
Side effects, she decided. The back pain was understandable; she had grown considerably in the chest area, and she was unused to the weight and lack of support from her now-too-small bra. The unexplainable feeling however, had to be because of her powers: a reminder to her that she needed to find Beast Boy soon. Luckily, she was quickly growing used to it. Although it was still uncomfortable, it was bearable.
Raven straightened, taking a deep breath. She heard the sound of a garbage can exploding in the alley next to her due to a bit of frustration seeping past her mental barriers, but she ignored it. Taking another deep breath, she stepped out onto the sidewalk, and stopped.
The sun was just setting, changing the blue sky to one of a warm, golden hue. Like a topaz, or desert sand. Earth.
It was then that something in her clicked. Topazes, sand, earth… rocks and geomancers.
Pushing herself off the ground with her powers, lurching slightly due to her new proportions, Raven flew upwards and began to quickly make her way toward the edge of the city, where Terra's old grave was.
Though she was quickly growing tired after her long, stress-filled day, Raven didn't notice it. She was on a mission, and for the first time since she had started searching, she had no doubts that she would find him at her destination.
She finally slowed as she drew closer to the run down part of the city Slade had kept as his hideout when Terra had been his apprentice. Lowering herself to the ground, Raven walked over to the gaping hole that served as the door to Terra's former tomb.
Darkness immediately surrounded her as she stepped into the tunnel. Her feet crunched on the broken pieces of tile and tinted glass; the only remainders of what had probably been a very nice building, pre-earthquake.
As she went in further, the ground beneath her feet turned to hard dirt, and her path sloped lightly downward, leading her further underground. Apart from the faraway scratching sound of running mice, and the drip of water echoing through Terra's tomb, everything was silent.
She slowed to a halt as she reached the opening to the cavernous chamber that had held Terra's rock encased body.
Taking one more step forward, Raven surveyed the tomb. Splintered beams and packed in dirt and rocks created the walls and ceiling, and for a split second, Raven wondered if it had been Terra's own powers at the time that had created this cave.
On the ground below, broken pieces of rock lay in the center of the tomb, some scattered over a plaque. Sure enough, Beast Boy sat kneeling over the rocky fragments.
He looked up when he realized he was not alone. Knowing that he could only see her silhouette against the red sunlight shining in from the cave entrance behind her, Raven remained silent while he scrutinized her carefully. She knew he had recognized her when his eyes widened and his jaw dropped.
"How long have I been in here?" he asked incredulously, standing up. He looked like he was about to walk over, but he stopped himself.
"A couple hours," Raven informed him, folding her arms self-consciously, "My denial problem has still been making changes."
Beast Boy nodded his head, still confused but not wanting to admit it.
"Beast Boy," Raven began, fighting back the awkward combination of nervousness and excitement bubbling up inside her, "I need to talk to you about all this," she stated, hoping he'd know what she was referring to.
Apparently he did, Raven decided, as he suddenly grew quiet. Raven took this chance to look at him carefully. His eyes were red and somewhat puffy, but at the moment, they were dry. His whole body seemed to sag as if under some huge weight. She frowned.
"You don't need to," Beast Boy told her, just as she was about to continue, "I get it. You're in love. I told you already, I hope it works out with what's-his-name. And if you're worried about how I feel for you, don't be. I'm not sure if I'll ever get over you, but I won't do anything to hurt our friendship or your new relationshi-"
He came to an abrupt halt as a slightly frustrated Raven clamped his mouth shut with her powers. He raised an eyebrow in confusion, and she quickly began to say what needed to be said.
"You jumped to conclusions," she told him, a bit more harshly than she would have liked. Sensing he would remain silent while she spoke, she pulled away her magic. "You were wrong to assume that I was in love with some guy."
"So," Beast Boy frowned in confusion, "You are into girls?"
"No!" Raven snapped, "I'm into YOU! Don't you get it?! You're the one that caused all the changes, because I didn't want to admit that you mean more to me than I ever could have imagined! You! Despite your bad jokes, your annoying tendencies and your total lack of regard for privacy, I've fallen for you."
Surprised by her outburst, Beast Boy simply stared at her, shocked into silence. Throughout her rant, Raven had been feeling the changes continuing to worsen, but by now she had learned to ignore it. Just as she was beginning to wonder which had surprised him more, her confession or the changes; a still stunned Beast Boy shook his head.
"So," he smirked, "are those real, then?"
Raven glared at him. She couldn't help it. She was relieved to see that the green boy that had been so depressed just seconds ago was back to his usual happy self, but that joke was bad.
Giving a shout of laughter, proud at his amazing ability to get under her skin, Beast Boy walked over to her.
Knowing she was about to retaliate with a sarcastic quip, Beast Boy quickly pressed his lips against hers, effectively silencing her. He had to stand on the balls of his feet and lean over awkwardly to reach her, due to her added height and current bust size, making him chuckle lightly.
She was surprised by his sudden boldness, but after reveling in the strange wonderfulness of it, quickly decided that there was nothing wrong with that, and allowed herself to return the kiss.
She would have been content just staying in that position for a long time. However, her powers had a different plan in mind. She had accepted her feelings, and they had been returned, and before she had really noticed it, her powers had returned her to her normal proportions and apparel. The sudden change was fast, and easily threw off their balance, sending the new lovers to the ground.
Laughing, Beast Boy pulled away slightly. "Are you okay?"
Smiling, Raven nodded. "I'm more than okay."
"Yes, you are," he joked, wiggling his eyebrows. Rolling her eyes, Raven smirked and lifted herself up on her elbows. Following her example, Beast Boy sat up as well.
"It's getting late. We should go back to the Tower soon," Raven commented, looking over her shoulder at the entrance. The sun had gone down completely by now, and the sky was growing darker.
"Yeah," Beast Boy agreed. Lifting herself to her knees, Raven began to stand up, but reaching out for her hands, Beast Boy stopped her. "We should. In a few minutes."
She might have protested more, if his lips didn't feel so damn good against hers.
A long, relieved sigh filled the room the emotions were in as everything changed back to normal.
"She did it!" Affection cried ecstatically. Laughing, she and Happy clasped hands and danced joyfully around the room.
Brave let out a few loud whoops until Rude threw one of the large pillows at the back of her head, her smile as wide as the others. As the two playfully duked it out with pillows, and Happy and Affection continued to dance, the rest watched contentedly from the sides.
Though Timid was still bent slightly in her usual slouch of non-confidence, she wore a small smile, and for once seemed at ease with the world.
Knowledge looked over at Anger, who sported a grin. Noticing Knowledge's knowing grin, Anger quickly forced herself to resume her usual irritated expression.
"I can't believe he told a joke at a time like that," she fumed, but it was too late, and Knowledge just shook her head and looked away, chuckling.
Taking a deep breath, Wisdom watched all of this proudly. Yes, she was proud: of Raven, of Beast Boy, and of the emotions. True, it had been less than pleasant at some points, and down right crazy at others, but in the end, everything had worked out.
Landing on the rocky beach at the base of Titans Tower, Raven smiled at the green bird perched on her shoulder.
"You realize we're going to have to tell the others about us, right?" she asked, suddenly feeling nervous. What would the others think about their new relationship? Would they disapprove? Tease them? Would they say they'd known it all along?
"Well, yeah," Beast Boy laughed, returning to his human form, "I mean, Robin's probably one of the world's greatest detectives, but he probably wouldn't even notice if we didn't tell him."
Raven smiled lightly, and Beast Boy beamed. Looking over at the massive doors of the Tower, Raven grasped Beast Boy's hand. Squeezing her fingers comfortingly, Beast Boy led her towards the doors.
Opening them, they stepped inside. No one was around, and they silently made their way up to the level the common room was on.
Raven stopped abruptly as they reached the doorway. They hadn't seen anyone in the halls, and she knew that everyone would be on the other side. Sensing her hesitation, Beast Boy looked over.
"What's wrong?" he asked, slightly worried. "Don't you want to tell them?"
"I do, it's just…" she paused. Why was she so nervous? "I guess… I'm just not used to this whole… love thing."
Beast Boy nodded knowingly. Leaning in, he kissed her lightly and smiled. "You'll get used to it."
"I know. But…"
"We don't have to tell them yet," he told her, stroking her hair, "We can wait until you're ready."
Almost every nervous fiber in her body was telling her to just thank him and then wait until she was ready, but in the end, logic won out.
"No," she sighed, "Let's just get this over with."
"Are you sure?" Beast Boy asked carefully, "Do you really want to?"
"Not really," Raven admitted, "But they have to find out eventually. Besides, if we don't tell them now, they'll simply find out at the worst possible time."
"Find out what?"
Snapping her head towards the door, Raven's eyes widened in surprise as she realized that their three friends were standing in the doorway.
"See what I mean?" Raven said, turning towards Beast Boy. He smirked, and they looked back at their friends.
"Find out what?" Robin repeated, raising an eyebrow. He didn't seem suspicious, luckily, merely curious.
"Well… you see," Raven began haltingly, "It's kind of hard to explain."
"Not really," Beast Boy muttered, snickering when she shot a glare at him from the side of her eye.
"Does this have anything to do with earlier?" Cyborg asked, scrutinizing them carefully.
"It has everything to do with earlier," Raven confirmed, "First of all, do you all remember when we watched 'Wicked Scary'?"
"How could we forget?" Robin joked.
Raven continued. "Well, it happened again. Except with a different emotion. A much more powerful emotion…"
"Which one?" Robin asked hesitantly, "You're obviously not denying it any more."
Raven paused. This was it. Choking down the nervous lump forming in the back of her throat, she replied in an even tone, "Affection."
"Affection?" Cyborg repeated, slight confusion evident in his voice. "Like love and all that?"
Beast Boy nodded for her as Raven was busy trying to be as invisible as possible.
"You feel the Affection?" Starfire gasped excitedly. Swooping over with inhuman speed, Starfire pulled Raven into a nearly suffocating, but happy hug. "That is most wonderful news! For whom do you feel such sentiments?"
Seeing that she couldn't speak and try to escape Star's death grip hug simultaneously, Beast Boy lifted a hand.
"Uh, that would be me."
Starfire squealed happily at this news, clinging onto Raven even tighter, while Robin and Cyborg simply stared at them with almost identical shocked expressions.
"Y-you and…" Robin stuttered (which was an impressive feat considering his jaw was hanging low enough to scrape on the floor).
"Isn't this like… the first sign of the Apocalypse?" Cyborg asked in amazement.
"Hey!" Beast Boy exclaimed indignantly. "Is it really that hard to believe?"
Shaking off some of his surprise, Robin pointed over at Silkie, who had wobbled over to watch the excitement. The worm was currently staring at Beast Boy with his beady eyes bulged out as if the changeling had just grown and extra head.
"I think that answers your question," Robin replied. Beast Boy stared back at the larva with a major sweatdrop while Raven had resorted to trying to use her powers to relinquish Starfire's hold without hurting her. Her eyes shut in glee, the oblivious alien didn't even notice the ribbon of dark magic covering her mouth as she babbled elatedly.
Raven lazily took a bite of the warmed up pizza in front of her, realizing just how hungry she was.
After prying Starfire off, Raven had recapped the day's events to her friends, filling them in on the important details that needed to be said; telling them of her denial, the consequences and of Beast Boy's confession after leaving her mind. Of course, the last detail had peaked everyone's interest, and Beast Boy had quickly delved into telling his own, more exciting and detailed version of the story, leaving Raven free to find sustenance.
She listened half-heartedly, knowing most of the story first-hand, but finding interest in hearing about Beast Boy's experiences inside her head. Stone guardians, chimeras… she hadn't known that he had gone through so much earlier. He also seemed quite keen on describing all of the outfits thoroughly for each stage of their transformations. It embarrassed her, and though she was sorely tempted to make him stop, she let it slide because he seemed so happy.
"Wow…" Robin whistled once Beast Boy had finished. "That's…"
"Wonderful," Starfire offered, seeing their leader's lack of words. "I am most happy for you both. And these outfits sound most exciting! Perhaps I shall try some of them sometime."
Robin's face turned bright red at the thought.
Cyborg snickered. "I gotta say man, I never saw this coming."
Raven flushed and looked down at her pizza. Reaching under the table they were sitting at, Beast Boy placed his hand on hers.
"Well, whatever," Beast Boy shrugged, "It doesn't matter if it seemed unlikely before or not. We're together now."
"You're right, and I couldn't be happier for you two," Cyborg said, lightly punching Beast Boy's arm teasingly. "And just when did you turn into such a sap?"
"I think it was around noon," Beast Boy quipped, grinning widely.
Rolling her eyes, Raven sat back in her chair while the rest of her friends laughed comfortably. An almost indiscernible smile tugged up the corners of her mouth as she relaxed. A large yawn escaped her, causing a small break in the aimless conversation her friends had been having.
"You appear weary after your day, friend Raven," Starfire smiled sweetly.
"Yes," Raven agreed, "I think I'm going to go to bed early tonight."
She stood up and said goodnight to her friends. Her eyes lingered on Beast Boy for a second, and she wondered if she was supposed to kiss him goodnight now. Though she was tempted to, she remembered the rest of her friends still sitting around the table, and decided against it. She gave him an affectionate smile instead.
Turning around, she made her way out of the room. She was halfway down the hall when she heard the doors to the common room opening again. She turned around to see Beast Boy jogging towards her.
"I decided that I want to hit the hay, too," he told her with a grin. Nodding, she continued to walk with Beast Boy at her side.
They quickly reached her room, and she turned to look at him.
"Well, goodnight," she said, smiling lightly. She didn't turn around to go into her room yet though, and she hoped Beast Boy understood why.
"Yeah, you too," he replied, taking a step closer. Seeing that he was indeed on the same train of thought, Raven lowered her eyelids and leaned forward just enough to meet him halfway as he gave her a goodnight kiss. Carefully, he wrapped his arms around her back, pulling her body closer to him. A small sigh escaped her lips as she melted further into his embrace. After what seemed like much too short a period, but was really at least a couple minutes, they parted. She opened her eyes, and he winked at her.
"Sweet dreams," he told her, before turning around and continuing down the hall.
She watched his retreating form for a minute before stepping into her bedroom and slowly closing the door behind her. She smiled lightly and flicked off her lights.
Sorry this chapter took so long, but here it is. It's been a blast writing this, and I hope you all enjoyed it, but like it says up there, this is the end of SLJNL. Thanks to everyone who's reviewed. It's always appreciated.:D