Fic: Finding the Courage
Author: Saturn Girl
Fandom: Teen Titans

Summary: In the midst of the Infinite Crisis, Raven and Beast Boy share a quiet moment alone. Takes place roughly around the events depicted in Teen Titans Annual #1 and The Battle for Bludhaven #1.

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Teen Titans.

For DeTroyes, my favorite R/BB 'shipper.

Titans Tower.

Raven sat quietly in the center of her darkened meditation chamber, eyes closed, her legs folded in the lotus position with her palms turned upward at either knee. Two small candles were on the floor, one to her right and one to her left. They flickered in the darkness, neither strong enough to illuminate the far corners of the room making it appear more cavernous than it actually was.

A knock at the door roused the girl from her trance. She pushed back her cowl and squinted as she peered through the blackness. Even before he spoke, she sensed immediately who stood outside her door, and it caused her pulse to quicken slightly.

Beast Boy.

"Um...hello? Can I come in?"

Gar Logan eased the door open, the light from the hallway chasing away a large slice of shadows. Freshly showered with damp, towel-dried hair, he was now dressed not in his uniform but a sleeveless white t-shirt and plaid flannel pajama pants. Raven saw that he clutched a wooden tray in one hand and two plastic water bottles in the other.

"Garfield? I am sorry, but now is not a good time. I-I require solitude to meditate and..."

"Nuh-uh. Don't even try pulling that old barricade-yourself-in-your-room routine on me." He grinned as he flipped the light switch and padded barefoot into the newly brightened room. Raven gasped and shielded her eyes from the sudden onslaught of fluorescence.

Gar tossed Raven a water bottle (which she almost dropped as she struggled to unfold her legs) and set the tray onto the floor in front of her. She saw that it was piled high with an assortment sliced fruit, cheeses and rye crackers.

He blew out one of the candles and brushed it aside so he could plunk down beside her. "What you really require is food. I haven't seen you eat anything since yesterday!"

"But..."

"Eat!" Gar picked up a cube of cheese and munched on it, pointing at his mouth as he chewed as if to demonstrate the concept. "We've still got a lot of work to do tomorrow, and I want you to keep your strength up."

"But..."

"You're not going to make me eat all this by myself, are you?" He picked up a generous slice of fruit and waved it enticingly before her face. "C'mon. I have Hosui pears!" he teased in a sing-song voice.

Raven relented, smiling as she plucked the pear slice from his fingers.

"That's more like it," he said as he piled what looked like little fruit and cheese towers onto his crackers. "This will be fun. Just pretend your yoga mat is a picnic blanket, and we're in a park, and it isn't 11:00 at night, and there aren't like, a billion alternate Earths in the sky."

As Raven savored the sweet, crisp fruit she realized that she was indeed very, very hungry. "These are my favorite."

"I know." He smiled at her again as he devoured another cracker tower, and she felt her cheeks redden in response. Had he chosen them especially for her?

Raven peeled off her gloves and folded them into a neat stack while Gar stacked bleu cheese and pear onto a new cracker and handed it to her.

He was so close, she could smell the faint scent of his bath gel on his skin, and occasionally their bare arms brushed against each other as they picked through the tray. Normally, Raven felt stiff and awkward when in such close physical proximity to others, but now she found herself welcoming the friendly intimacy that her peers all seemed to take for granted.

"God, this is so good. I feel like I haven't eaten in a year. The Society needs to ease up so we can take a damn lunch break once in awhile, you know?"

"Thank you, Garfield. This is most kind of you."

"If you like the service, remember to tip your waiter at least fifteen percent." He nudged her shoulder as he helped himself to a handful of grapes.

"Curious. I would not think that the son of a billionaire would need to seek employment in the food service industry," she said with a sly grin.

"Hey, don't you watch True Hollywood Story?" he chuckled. "All the big actors started off as waiters before they became famous. You'll see. Today, I'm serving fruit plate. Tomorrow, I'm starring in Mission Impossible 4."

As Raven took a sip from her water bottle, she realized that it pleased her very much to watch him joke and smile. The last few days had been horribly devoid of any kind of levity, and she'd missed the sound of his laughter.

After a few moments of silence where the two munched contentedly on their evening meal, Raven glanced over at Gar.

"I-I am grateful that you are here."

He nudged her playfully again with his shoulder. "Well, of course you are. I did bring your favorite pears, after all." He brushed stray cracker crumbs off his pajama clad legs.

"That is true - the pears were delicious, but that is not all."

Raven took a breath and steeled herself for what she would say next.

"The last few days have been excruciating – all the mystic disturbances, death and despair. It is almost overwhelming. But somehow your presence makes the chaos easier to bear. When you are near, I can sense your courage, your focus and determination so clearly that it strengthens my own resolve. I do not believe I could make it through this crisis without you."

He blinked at her, his jaw slackened and incredulous.

"Really? Me?" he finally asked.

"Yes."

Gar shook his head and turned slightly away from her, his arm crooked self consciously across his chest.

"Raven, you are so sweet to say that, but you're wrong about me being all brave and everything."

He looked down at the now nearly empty tray and picked slowly at a decimated grape stem.

"The truth is, I'm scared out of my mind. I'm terrified that I won't be able to do enough to help in this fight, that I'll watch more of my friends die. That Vic, Bart and the others won't ever come back. That somehow these freaky planetary shifts will correct themselves and I'll lose my mom all over again. You sure you're not honing in on Tim or Mia?"

"I am certain." Raven rested her hand on his shoulder and gave him a gentle squeeze. He leaned into her touch, his emerald hair brushing softly against her fingers.

"I know you are frightened, Garfield. We all are. But in all of our years with the Titans, you have never let your fears or self doubts prevent you from doing the right thing. You have already faced a great many trials in your life, and you never give up, no matter how dire the situation. You may not believe it yourself, but trust me when I say that you are the most courageous soul I have ever known."

"Gosh. Wow. That's like...that's like the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me." He lifted his hand up to his shoulder and covered her hand with his own. He turned his head to look in her eyes.

"But if we're talking about someone with real courage here, that's always been you, Raven."

"Me?"

"Yes, you. I mean, look at all the thousands of people that you've healed, the lives you've saved! I freak out when I stub my toe, but you? You don't even hesitate to endure someone else's pain, no matter how bad it is. I've seen what a toll it can take on you, but you do it anyway. And look at how you've spent your entire life fighting the darkness inside of you so you can be free. I'm sure it would be easier to surrender and be the demon Trigon's followers want you to be, but every day you make a conscious choice to rebel against that destiny and be a good person. To me, that takes real courage."

With a deliberate gentleness, he took her chin and lifted it so she was looking at him again.

"You may not realize it, but you're pretty darn amazing yourself." He smiled and brushed his thumb softly against her lower jaw. Instinctively Raven leaned closer toward him while her heart thudded in her breast.

Suddenly Speedy popped her head into the doorway, causing Gar and Raven to startle and back away from each other.

"Hey, I don't have time to go home so I'm crashing at the Tower tonight," Mia asked. "Do we have any extra tooth brushes anywhere?"

"Uh, yeah." Gar rubbed the back of his neck nervously, his cheeks a darker green than usual. Raven pretended to be extremely interested in the tray of crackers again.

"I think I saw one in the third floor bathroom next to the stuff Kory left behind," he answered.

Mia wrinkled her nose. "Which drawer? She's got three stuffed chock full of hair gunk. Sheesh, until I came here I had no idea that conditioner came in two gallon jugs." She shrugged. "Never mind, I'll find it!"

With a final wave goodbye, Mia bounded back down the hallway, her ponytail bobbing with every step. If Mia realized what the couple was about to do, she gave no indication.

Gar cleared his throat and pushed a lock of hair out of his eyes. "So let's recap. We've established that I'm really brave, and that you're really brave," he said while counting off with his fingers. "So if we're both so darned brave, how come we're too chicken to talk about what happened the other day?"

"When you put it that way, I do not have a good answer."

"I know it's kind of weird. I mean, if you had told me three years ago that you wanted to kiss me, I'd have thought Psimon had messed with your head. So...what's changed?"

"Everything. And nothing."

"That makes sense...and it doesn't."

Raven blushed and cast her eyes downward. "Forgive me. I am not accustomed to speaking so candidly about these things."

"You're doing just fine. I'm sorry if I'm being too pushy. It's just that, well, you surprised the heck out of me. I couldn't believe that someone as special as you would have any interest at all in a screw-up like me."

"Why do you always do that?"

"Do what?"

"You believe you have nothing of value to offer anyone. You forget, I can see into your soul. I see all of your insecurities. But I also see the tremendous compassion and love in your heart...for me, for Victor and Rita...for all of us. That is the greatest gift you bring to the people in your life: love that is absolute and without condition. Never was that gift more treasured than when I returned to this plane."

"The other Titans...it hurt that their instinctive reactions when they saw me were distrust and fear. But not you. You welcomed me back and offered your friendship without even knowing the reason for my presence. For that, I sincerely thank you. I wish everyone could experience, as I have, the extraordinary warmth of your soul."

As she spoke, Gar sat quietly rapt, his eyes glistening with the barest hint of unshed tears. When she finished, neither spoke for several moments.

Raven looked down at and fidgeted with the hem of her dress. "My. You are at a loss for words. That does not happen often. I apologize if -"

With no warning, he leaned forward and pulled Raven in for a kiss, cupping the back of her head in his hand. A brief flicker of shock, and then she returned his attentions in kind. His kiss was soft, sweet and full of something like gratitude, as if she'd fulfilled a wish he'd had his entire life.

The first time they'd kissed, she'd sensed curiosity and surprise, but this time was different. She could feel an almost imperceptible shift in his soul, the warmth and light changing, becoming something new. Raven could not remember a time when she'd experienced such joy, when a kiss had felt so real, lacking any motive or pretense.

They parted, each gasping lightly as they rested their foreheads against one another. Raven's fingers fluttered over his lips, wanting to memorize them.

"It's funny." Gar kissed the tip of her finger. "I'm the one who came here thinking I would say a few things to cheer you up after such a craptacular day. Instead, you're the one making me feel a thousand times better."

"I assure you, the feeling is mutual." She stroked his cheek before reluctantly pulling away. "We should get some rest. The crisis has not yet been averted, and we do not know what is in store for us next."

"Hate to say it, but you're right. I guess this is goodnight then!" Gar morphed into a monkey and swiftly piled the empty bottles and leftover food onto the tray. When that was complete, he transformed into a seal and balanced the tray on his nose as he waddled out of the room.

"Hey, do me a favor, will you?" he asked on his way out the door.

Raven rose from the floor and smoothed the wrinkles out of her skirt. "Of course."

Gar shifted back to his human form, turned around and favored her with one last grin.

"No matter what happens, remind me to pick up a case of those pears tomorrow."

END