A/N: Okay, so this is the final chapter. Much love, much thanks to all those of you who reviewed. Reviewers brighten my world.
"So you love her," Raven said—a simple, plain statement. He wondered why it felt like he'd been punched in the gut.
Love wasn't supposed to hurt.
"Her name's Kori," he said, suddenly. It seemed awfully important. "She chose Kori."
"Anders," Raven supplied, mildly. "Kori Anders."
They sat in silence for a while. He liked that. Words would have ruined everything.
(he doesn't want to talk about it)
It was beautiful like this—this thick silence—pure and simple and untangled and clear—a silence of camaraderie and fond reminisces—he liked it very much.
(why won't raven say anything?)
"What are you going to do about it?" Raven looked at him blandly. Raven did everything blandly. He'd always liked that—Raven's blandness. Always liked her flat, bland eyes and pale, bland skin and her bland smile and the mildly bored expression she always wore. Raven was pretty awesome with her blandness. Raven, in fact, just was flat blandness. Always.
It was beautiful.
(because it isn't starfire)
He didn't answer her for a very long while—she didn't push him. He thought that, too, was beautiful.
Except he wanted someone to push him—he wanted someone to force him to reply—who would not allow him to diplomatically consider his response—who would not leave him in the security of his comfort zone—who would make him grow. He wanted pesterings and buggings and—and teasings and making-fun-ofs—he wanted bright laughter and snickerings and radiant smiles—he wanted—
(he wants kori)
—he wanted too much.
"I don't know," he answered, after a long, deep pause.
Raven nodded—acceptingly—and sipped her tea with half-closed eyes. She enjoyed her tea better that way. She had told him that. Apparently tea was a thing to be savored. He didn't really know. He preferred coffee. Black coffee.
(starfire likes hot chocolate with marshmallows)
Another thick silence settled over them.
It started to get heavy—tautening—
"You should probably talk to her," Raven observed. Not an advice—not a suggestion—not a prompt. The Raven only observed.
"Mmm—" he replied. "Pro'bly."
An absent reply—he had made it with a distant sort of air—
He always spoke distantly about things that greatly frightened him. He was a leader—and leaders were brave and courageous—and leaders could never show doubt to his followers—
So he found it easier to speak of things as if from afar—as if the things concerning him did not matter—as if they were insignificant or could be put off—could be shunned to one dark corner of his mind and put away—
As if the things did not really involve him.
He wondered if that made him even more of a coward.
"Maybe the next time I see here," he said, vaguely.
Raven inclined her dark head slightly—acknowledging his comment. "Maybe."
And that was that.
He wondered what he would say to Star—to Kori.
(what he could say)
He wondered when he would next see her.
(if he would next see her)
Raven smiled minutely as he gazed vacantly out the windows—as he watched the rain pitter-pattering on the panes, streaking down the glass—
—smiled a fond, slightly pitying smile that bordered on sadness.
(quoth the raven, "nevermore.")
And outside—the rain continued to fall.
Drink with me to days gone by,
To the life that used to be.
At the shrine of friendship
Never say die.
Let the wine of friendship,
Never run dry.
Here's to you
And here's to me.
Here's to you--
And here's to me.
Ah. Finally over. I thought it was...bittersweet. Um, disclaimers: the song is not mine. It's from Les Mis. "Quoth the raven, 'Nevermore." Poe, The Raven. Much love to all of you who read this, and much thanks to those of you who reviewed.