Disclaimer- I don't own the TT


Traditions

Story By StormDancer


It is not light that we need, but fire; not the gentle shower but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.


Another year gone. Raven stared up at the velvet darkness of the night sky, ignoring the sounds of merry making under her feet. She loved the rest of the titans, honorary or otherwise, but she needed to get away from them. To think.

"Ten minutes!" she could hear Cyborg call from the party in the main room of the Tower.

Ten minutes. Two minutes until the dawn of a New Year she had never in her wildest dreams thought to see. Whenever she pictured this night, it had always been without her at the very least. Hopefully, the world would have still been here. Never would she have thought that not only would she be alive, but celebrating with her friends. The world was supposed to have ended months before this day, and with it everything she held dear.

But it had happened, or rather, it hadn't. Trigon was defeated; she was here, with her friends, on a whole and non-demonic earth, watching the moon on come for a year she had never dreamt of seeing. Thank any deities out there for that blessing.

Speedy glanced up at the girl as he climbed the stairs to the roof. She looked so peaceful there; it seemed a shame to disturb her. But no one should be alone on New Year's Eve. It was just wrong.

"Raven?" he cautiously announced his presence. When she didn't attack him on the spot, he strode up to stand beside her.

"Why are you here?" she asked, but without any venom, "The party's downstairs."

"I wanted to get you to join us," he explained, "Don't you want to welcome in the new year with us?"

She sighed and looked back out at the stars.

"I was going to come in before the countdown," she told him, "But I needed some alone time. I never thought the world would exist now, let alone me. It's weird."

"I would say 'I know'," Speedy chuckled quietly, "but I don't."

She didn't respond, but he could have sworn he caught a hint of a smile on her face before she turned away again.

"Five minutes!" Cyborg's announcement reverberated throughout the Tower to cut through the clamor of the party, even reaching the two Titans standing in comfortable silence on the roof.

"If you want to go down," Speedy noted, "You really should go now."

"Yeah," she agreed, not moving. He also stayed in place, looking not at the stars as she was, but at the girl herself, nearly blending into the shadows, fair skin luminescent in the moonlight. No other girl, he reflected, could ever glow like Raven. And he had known a lot of girls in his time. There was just a special something, an aura, around her that made the stars brighter and the night richer.

"Two minutes!"

"You should go downstairs," Raven observed casually. He nodded, still stealing glances at her out of the corner of his eye.

"So should you," he informed her.

"I'm fine up here," she responded calmly, "I don't need to see drunken heroes making fools of themselves."

"Robin would never let alcohol into the Tower," Speedy contradicted. She shrugged.

"Drunk on life. Heroes always party the hardest, have you noticed that? We live so close to dying that we live each moment more."

"I know," he agreed. Wasn't that why Oliver had always been a player, and why he took after his mentor? Or, he had. Somehow, the whole living hard and loving lots had been going down.

"One minute!"

Neither of them suggested moving after this announcement. They stayed, quietly wrapped in their own thoughts. Speedy was looking at Raven, her body just barely revealed from beneath her cloak, full lips parted enticingly.

"Thirty seconds!"

"Do you know the tradition for New Year's?" he inquired casually.

"Which one?"

"For when the ball drops."

"There are quite a few," she retorted, eyes sparkling, as if she was daring him to say it.

"10" the Titans downstairs called.

"For example," she continued,

"9"

"You could mean a glass of champagne or something similar."

"8"

"Yeah, there are a lot," he agreed.

"7"

"But I'm thinking of the best one."

"6"

"And which one is that?"

"5"

She was gazing at him now, her violet eyes definitely laughing at him now, challenging him, nearly forcing him to stop thinking and do what he had been wanting him to do for ages.

"4"

"Definitely," he announced,

"3"

"this"

"2"

"one"

"1"

He bent down and pulled her head up to her, pressing his lips against hers. She froze, neither responding nor pushing him away.

"Happy New Year's!" the cry echoed up to the roof.

He stepped away, eyes widening with fear of what she would do or say. Raven stood still stock still, staring at him.

"Oh, shit," he muttered, "Would it help if I said it was tradition?"

She still didn't move except to bring her hand up to her lip.

"Hell," he muttered, and fled down the stairs, leaving Raven in the midst of her shock.

o0O0o0O0o

Speedy collapsed in a chair in the main room, head buried in his hands. Most of the room was occupied in another corner with something he couldn't see, but that was okay. He didn't need people, he need to think. Why the hell had he done that? He didn't think he had a death wish. It was supposed to have just been something they could laugh about, maybe with an awkward look at midnight. He hadn't meant to actually kiss her. She had just looked so damn enticing in the star and moon light. She wasn't supposed to think he had just kissed her because of some tradition, that she was the only one available.

"Damn," he moaned into his hands, "I'm an idiot."

"No argument here."

Speedy looked up. Aqualad was standing in front of him, looking down bemusedly at the archer.

"But what in particular happened this time?" Aqualad continued.

"I kissed her," Speedy groaned.

"You'll have to be more specific," the other boy observed, "As I don't know who 'she' is."

"Raven," Speedy muttered , his voice muffled, "I kissed Raven on the stroke of midnight."

Aqualad grinned.

"And this is a problem?" he laughed, "You've liked her for ages and finally got up the courage. Not surprising, it seems to have been in the air tonight. Robin just kissed Starfire."

"I have not liked her for ages," Speedy contradicted, finally looking up.

"Yes you have," the Atlantean informed him coolly, "You just never noticed it before."

"And I never would have except for these damn traditions," Speedy snorted.

"You didn't want to?" Aqualad asked, confusion showing on his handsome features.

"I was perfectly happy in my ignorance!" Speedy protested, "I am fine with many lady loves."

"That's why you've had so many lately," Aqualad said, raising an eyebrow. Speedy scowled at his friend. Damn teammates and their way of knowing everything. He was about to retort when Raven appeared in the middle of the room.

"Shit, hide me!" he muttered, diving behind the chair. His friend smirked as the boys watched Raven meander over to the crowd in the corner, which had opened to reveal Robin and Starfire with their arms around each other at the center. Speedy thought he could detect a hint of determined ignorance of the place where he was crouched behind the chair.

Speedy sighed. If he had doomed their friendship to them ignoring one another and never speaking again by that one motion, he was so screwed. Especially for the next day, when Titans East was sleeping over. He would have to last a whole other day being ignored by Raven.

o0O0o0O0o

"Speedy," Raven announced as New Year's Day drew to a close and Titans East was preparing to leave, "We need to talk."

Speedy drew immediately away from an argument with Aqualad and jogged to where Raven was standing, in the doorway of the entranceway.

"Yes, we do," he agreed. This was an improvement over being ignored. At least if they talked it out they might come to some sort of agreement that would stop him from attempting to keep a blush form showing whenever he looked at her.

"Why have you been ignoring me?" she inquired as soon as he was in hearing distance.

"Me?" Speedy gaped, "You've been ignoring me!"

"I have not," Raven retorted, "But that's irrelevant. We both know why we've been uncomfortable with each other. So why did you do that?"

"What, kiss you?" Speedy's bluntness was rewarded by the uncharacteristic blush that spread over Raven's cheeks. It made her look even better then usual, he decided.

"Yes, that," Raven drawled. Speedy shrugged.

"Tradition. It says you have to kiss on midnight." He winced as he said that. Hadn't he decided not to sound like it was because she was the only one available? Him and his big mouth.

"So that kiss was purely for tradition's sake," Raven clarified.

"Basically," Speedy agreed. No, it wasn't, but she didn't have to know that he had decided-after a long, agonizing, sleepless night-that Aqualad had been right. It would just ruin their friendship completely, and he really didn't want that. Damn traditions for making everything so complicated.

"Okay, good," she replied.

"Yeah." Was that all he could say? Wasn't he supposed to be the suave, charismatic Titan? So why was it that around her he tended to be as tongue-tied as Robin around Starfire?

He was so wrapped up in his own depression that he barely noticed the small hands pulling his head down and onto her lips. He reacted nearly instinctively, kissing Raven back passionately. When they finally separated, Speedy was nearly comatose from surprise, lips curled in a dumb grin.

"But-what- I-Raven-" he stammered, running a hand through his hair in complete confusion. Raven gestured upstairs with the slightest evidence of a grin on her face.

"Tradition," she announced before vanishing. Speedy glanced up. Hung over the doorway, obviously left over from Starfire's Christmas spirit, was a branch of mistletoe.

Speedy walked out of the Tower still with his huge smile. So maybe traditions weren't that bad.