Okay, I tried a new format with this one, where I sprinkled in a poem I wrote. All credit for the story/poem format idea goes to WelcomeToParadise, who is an amazing writer, by the way. Some parts of this are very loosely based on the song "Damaged" by Plummet. Sorry about the spelling, in a little while, when my computer is working right, I'll fix it.
Disclaimer: I don't own them, blah, blah, blah.
Enjoy the story :)
Isolation is my Sanity
It was a warm summer's night, the kind the poets dream of, with the stars shining brightly above the landscape, illuminating the evening sky. Across the bay from the city, stood the proud tower of the Titans, a constant reminder to civilians, that they had no reason to fear. Inside the impressive structure, the teenagers were playing a round of Gamestation.
"I win!" Robin laughed, once again proving why he was called the 'boy wonder'. Beast Boy sighed, looking despondent, while Cyborg grumbled something inaudible, and Starfire cheered, not really knowing how he won. "Anyone up for another game?" he smirked, knowing what they would say.
"Not tonight, man," Cyborg replied, setting down his controller, "Isn't there anything else to do?" He looked out over the water to the bright city, thinking of all the other possibilities.
"Yeah," Beast Boy chimed in, "even I get tired of too much Gamestation." He stood up and walked over to the gigantic windows, "Let's go out tonight," he said, grinning out at the city.
"That would be marvelous!" Starfire exclaimed, smiling at Robin, "Would it not be thrilling?"
He smiled back at her, "Yeah," glancing over to Cyborg he asked, "Where do you guys want to go?"
"Ah!" Beast Boy startled everyone with his loud cry, "Look!" he pointed over the bay to the pier, "I think they're having a festival!" The rest of the team gathered at the windows, wondering how they could have missed it. The pier was crowded with people, shops, and even a Ferris wheel. The entire pier was lit up, and shone against the dark water underneath of it.
"Oh, friends!" Starfire beamed, "Please, may we go there?" She looked imploringly at Robin, who grinned and put a hand on her shoulder.
"Yeah, it'll be fun," he glanced at the room behind him, "Where's Raven?"
"She's probably in her room," Beast Boy cut in, "I'll get her. You guys can wait in the T-car." He ran through the room, and down into the hallway, thoroughly excited with the evening's plans. He skidded to a stop once he reached her door, took a deep breath to steady himself, and knocked. His breathing was ragged from running, and his heart was beating fast.
"What?" the reply came out sharp and cold.
"Raven," he began slowly, "There's a party on the pier, wanna come?" For an instant, her mind skipped over the obvious facts, and she was stunned. Was he asking her out?
"What?" she repeated, her voice kinder from behind the door.
"The rest of us were going, and we wanted to know if you wanted to come." Of course. Why would Beast Boy want to do anything with her? Raven shook her head and laughed at herself; it must have been the book she was reading that would give her such odd ideas. Besides, even if he had asked her, she enjoyed solitude. It was peaceful.
"I think I'll stay in tonight," she said, staring at her book that she had left lying on her bed. It was Les Miserables, one of her favorites. She wrapped her arms around herself, and thought of the many peaceful hours she would spend reading it.
Outside her room, Beast Boy hand his hands on his hips. "Come on Raven," he insisted, "It'll be fun." When nothing but a soft grunt answered him, he sighed, and tried to think of some way to get her to come. She must be lonely, he had decided, and she must feel like she still doesn't exactly fit in. Beast Boy made up his mind that he would get her to come, and that she would enjoy it. He told himself he was just being a good friend, and that his heart was only pounding because he had run. "Please, Raven?" he implored, "I'll buy you something there." He had a small smile on his face, even if she couldn't see it.
"Last time you got me something, it was a giant chicken," Raven retorted, "I'm sorry if I don't leap for joy at the prospect of getting more oversized farm animals."
"Raven…" he trailed off, debating whether to really say what was on his mind. "You don't have to be alone so much," he stammered, suddenly aware of how quite it was around them.
"I don't mind it," she said curtly, hoping to get him to leave before he listed off all of her insecurities.
"I do," he cut in, "Raven, we're your friends. We don't want you to be alone." With a sigh she slid the door opened and stepped out the threshold.
With a tiny smile she said, "I was going to read tonight."
He grinned and took her hand, leading her to where the others waited, "You read every night," he laughed, "How often to you come to a party?"
"Did you ever think there was a reason I don't like parties?" she asked, pulling her hand free from his. She needed to calm down; her blood was pulsing fast, and she wasn't exactly sure why.
"Just stick with me," Beast Boy grinned at her, "I promise you'll have fun." She gave him a small smile, inwardly chiding herself for giving in to him.
"So where's this party?" she asked, as he lead the way to the T-car.
Dozens of booths aligned the pier, their bright lights shimmering against the water. Hundreds of people had come to join in the celebration, and to eat some of the food being sold at the street side shops.
Starfire squealed as she flew out of the car, "Oh, this shall be marvelous! Come Robin, let us go ride on the giant wheel!" With that she grabbed his arm and, laughing, led him away through the crowd of people gathered on the pier.
"Well that was fast," Cyborg laughed, smiling down at Beast Boy, who laughed in reply.
"Where do you guys want to go first?" Beast Boy grinned, "Raven, want me to win you another chicken?"
"I told you," she began angrily, wondering what in Azar's name made her come here.
"I'm kidding," Beast Boy interrupted defensively, "You don't have to be so serious all the time." Instantly, he regretted saying it. Raven gave him a look that said, 'Why did you want me to come if you were just going to judge me?' He didn't think it was that big of a deal, but he knew she was sensitive to those things.
"Don't listen to Beast Boy," Cyborg instructed her matter-of-factly, "He's and idiot." Raven laughed at the abruptness of the insult, yet still felt a little sorry for Beast Boy.
"Hey!" he interjected, "Aren't you supposed to be my best friend or something?"
"Yeah," Cyborg smiled, "and best friends tell the truth." He put a hand on Beast Boy's shoulder, "Now, go make it up to her."
"What?" they asked in unison.
"Beast Boy, go buy her something," Cyborg said, putting a hand on Raven's back, and giving them both a gentle push toward the direction of the shops.
"Then you'll be alone," Beast Boy said, trying hard not to think about where the night may lead if it was just him and Raven.
"Nah," Cyborg laughed, "There's a girl over there I want to talk to." Glancing out of the corner of his eye, there was a lanky teenaged girl who was shyly glancing his way. It wasn't the usual kind of look, the one that said, "You're a half-robotic freak." It was different, and he wanted to meet her. She had shoulder length blond hair, and blue eyes that glinted in the electric light.
Raven and Beast Boy exchanged a quick look, both understanding why Cyborg wanted them gone. "Okay then," Beast Boy smiled, "come on Raven, let's leave Cy to his flirting." She flashed him a quick smile before leading him into the crowd. Looking over his shoulder, Beast Boy watched as his best friend casually approached the mystery girl. "So, Raven," he said, catching up to her, "What do you want to do?"
"I don't care," she shrugged, scanning the shops for anything that looked appealing. She would never let him know it, but she was nervous, and her heart was beating fast.
I'm unsure, shy almost,
and I don't know exactly why.
Something about you is drawing me on,
Something I never thought I'd find.
"Here," he said, leading her over to a small food shop, "Want something to eat?"
She tried to calm her heart, but...this felt far too much like a date, even if it was forced on them. "Sure," she replied with no emotion in her voice. If he knew what she was feeling, he'd laugh or call her weird. He was Beast Boy. She wasn't supposed to feel like this around him.
"What would you like?" he smiled at her, and blushed a little. Tonight was turning out differently than he had thought it would.
Raven glanced up to where a menu hung on the wall of the shop. "I'm not really hungry," she said absently, glancing around her.
"Okay," his mind frantically searched for something to say, "I bet I can win you something at the one of these places."
She laughed, "Another chicken?"
"You know you loved it," he smiled, his heart pounding, and led her to a small booth. "I'll win you that," he said pointing to a small silver necklace. Raven just rolled her eyes, vaguely wondering what she thought she was doing. It felt so weird, so strange; being with him. As if she wanted to drop all of her defenses, all of her insecurities. But it wasn't that easy. It could never be that easy. She knew what was in the dark recesses of her soul, but he didn't, and she would never let him. "Raven?" he looked at her questioningly, "are you okay?"
"Yeah," she said, shaking off her thoughts, "I was just thinking. Yeah, that'd be fine," she commented on the necklace, inwardly glad that she wasn't going to get any more stuffed animals. She stood back, reserved, as she watched Beast Boy try to hit a target in the mouth of a cardboard cut out of a clown. She waited, arms crossed, silently observing the people near by. It seemed like everyone around them was a couple; holding hands, arm in arm, and she even spotted a couple kissing. She sighed and looked back at Beast Boy, who was having issues hitting the target. He was throwing his last ball, and with a flick of her wrist, her dark magic helped it to strike the center.
"Woohoo!" Beast Boy cheered, oblivious to Raven's help, "I told you I'd win it for you!" He laughed as the shopkeeper reluctantly handed over the necklace, which, as cheap as it was, was still relatively nice. With a flaunting bowing gesture, he offered the necklace to Raven, "For you, fair Madame," he said in a mock British accent, "Thou ist worthy of this gift." He grinned up at her, and was rewarded with raised eyebrows.
"Thanks," she said, carefully lifting the necklace from his hand, "It's nice." It was plain silver, with nothing fancy about it. The only unique thing about it was a tiny pendent of a flying bird attached to the chain. Raven moved her hair back, and clasped it around her neck. As her hair moved back into place, some of the locks tickled the back of her neck, causing her to itch at them, making her look nervous to someone who didn't know that her hair was in the way.
"Is something wrong?" Beast Boy asked, aware of her gesture.
"No," she said calmly, ignoring the other thoughts that were screaming in her mind. "Should we try to find the others?"
"Sure," Beast Boy smiled, as he began to weave his way through the crowd. Raven caught up to him fast, and was soon walking by his side. "What's up with all these people?" he asked, because the crowd was very dense. A sudden push of the crowd had Beast Boy pushed up against Raven, his hand brushing hers. He turned his head away, hiding a small blush, and muttered, "Sorry."
"It's fine," was the quick reply, said from a somewhat flustered Raven. The crowd began to disperse, as people moved to different booths and stalls.
"Come on," Beast Boy resumed the search for the others, Raven by his side. She was silent as they made their way down the pier, lost in thought. Something was gnawing away at her mind, and she really wanted to ask him about it before they found the rest of the team. She glanced over at him quickly, getting up her nerve. She knew that she shouldn't talk about it, but she ignored the warnings that her mind screamed at her.
"Hey, Beast Boy?" her voice seemed small, and almost swallowed by the noises around them. If Beast Boy's ears hadn't been so keen, he didn't think he would have heard her.
"Yeah?" he smiled at her, wondering what was on her mind. They kept walking through the crowd, unconsciously staying close to one another.
She stayed quite for a moment, but there was no going back now. "Can I ask you a question?" she looked at him, her eyes uncertain. When he silently nodded, she took a deep breath, and continued. "Why...did you ask me to come tonight?"
He raised his eyebrows; he hadn't expected something like this. "You're a part of the team," he said. Of course, Raven thought, why would he ever... "You didn't want us to leave you alone, did you?" Silently, she looked away. For a reason she couldn't explain, there was a cold feeling in the pit of her stomach. What was she expecting? Maybe she should have stayed home tonight, safe in her room. She was so dependent on that feeling, the isolation. Her eyes shining, she remembered a scene that happened not too long ago.
Cyborg and Beast Boy were again playing Gamestation, while Robin and Starfire watched, discussing the difference of Tamaranian games. Raven sat off to the side of the couch, her legs tucked under her, reading. Beast Boy made a joke that she couldn't quite hear, and the rest of them laughed. For an inexplicable reason, she felt left out, and resumed her book, trying to bury the feelings inside of her. She had a nagging thought that she should just retreat back to her room, and stop this charade. No matter what happened, she would always feel isolated. In a way, it was a comfort to her.
"When I was a girl," Starfire continued her reminiscing of her childhood, "Blackfire and I would play..." Raven zoned out their voices and again lost herself in the words in front of her. She ignored the flashing of the television as the boys played their game, and their happy laughter, as someone said yet another joke. Finding that she could no longer ignore the feeling of loneliness, Raven quietly stood up, and began to walk to her room. She was aware that the others were watching her, and trying to make it so that she wouldn't notice. She felt their eyes on her until the door closed behind her, and she was walking down the hall to her room.
Once there, she lay down on her bed, and stared up at the moon through her window. It seemed that she always felt so alone. After a while, she got sick of it, and yet, relished the feeling. She couldn't understand it, but this isolation had become a part of her. In Azarath, she had constantly been alone. She must have gotten used to it there, because now, everyday she needed to be alone for a while.
She closed her eyes and wondered if something was wrong with her. Would she ever find anyone who didn't make her feel so different? She doubted it. After that business with Malchior, she had basically given up. She rolled to her side, and gathered up a length her blanket in her arms. A single, silent tear slowly snaked its way down her cheek. With an irritated gesture, she swept it aside. It was so stupid to be crying about this. She was used to it by now, so why did it still hurt?
She was startled from her thoughts by a gentle knock on her door. She didn't move, but opened her eyes, and stared at the closed door. "Raven?" Beast Boy's voice was quite, and imploring, "Are you awake?" She didn't want to say anything, but she didn't want to leave him in silence. Before she could decide what to do he continued. "I know you don't really feel comfortable with us all the time..." he paused, and she could hear him sigh, "But you really don't have to be alone so much." He was silent, and she slowly sat up in her bed.
She said nothing for a time, and she thought that he had left. Still, she wanted to tell him something. "Beast Boy?" she asked into the silence. Nothing answered her. Of course. Why should he wait for her? She shook her head, chiding herself, it was silly to feel this way. She lay back down, and tried to sleep. When she finally did, there was a small smile on her face.
"Raven?" once again, Beast Boy's soft voice brought her back from her thoughts.
"Hm?" she looked at him, trying to act like his earlier answer didn't matter to her.
"Nothing," he smiled kindly at her. They still had no idea where the others were, and were slowly making their way through the crowd. Beast Boy stole a quick glance at her, clenched his fist, and asked, "Why do you ask?" His heart was beating quickly inside of him, and he knew what he wanted her to say.
Your eyes reveal it all to me,
That you care and want to stay with me,
But how could I ever let you know,
That isolation is my sanity.
Raven considered for a moment, and answered, "No reason. I was just wondering." She couldn't let him get close to her. No matter how sick of being alone she got, she knew she had to stay that way. It was her curse and her destiny.
"Oh," Beast Boy looked away, feeling downtrodden. He had gotten his hopes up, and he wasn't sure why. After everything that happened over the years that they had been titans, he felt close to her. He knew she felt alone a lot of the time, and he wanted to let her know that if she ever felt lonely, he would always be there. He took a deep breath, and stilled his beating heart. "Raven," he moved closer to her, and put his hand on her shoulder. Instantly, Raven straightened up, and a small blush arose on her cheeks. "I just..." he stopped walking, and she halted next to him, his hand still on her shoulder. "I'll always be there for you," he said quietly, "so you don't have to be alone."
The words came as a massive shock to her; one that shook her down to her core. What was he saying? She froze, unblinking, and stared into the crowd, trying to collect her thoughts. She took a deep breath, and ignored the happiness that was making its way through her body. She looked at Beast Boy, unsmiling, and said, "We should find the others." She could see the hurt look in his eyes, but knew she had to disregard it. There were things inside her that she had to keep from everyone.
I don't want to break your kind heart,
The only one that's ever cared
There are things inside of me,
that I can't show to anyone;
"Raven..." Beast Boy dropped his hand, as Raven began to walk forward, fighting every instinct that wanted her to forget everything and just hug him. The words of a priestess, long since past this world were called into her mind. There are demons inside the depths of you soul, she had spoken, that you must contain. You are destined to be alone, so that the demons cannot break free. As a child, she had asked why. Why did she have to be alone? The stress of a real relationship would bring out the demons. They would constantly scream in your mind, and eventually strip you of your sanity.
As the years went by, she had learned to accept that fact. But now, with Beast Boy saying these things, she wanted to forget it, and live her life like a normal teenager. She clenched her fists, and told herself that the price was too great. "Raven, wait!" Beast Boy ran to catch up to her, and placed himself directly in front of her. "Are you okay?" he asked, staring into her eyes.
"I'm fine," she answered, trying not to let him know how she really felt.
"Are you sure?" he went on, "I just wanted you to know that you didn't have to be alone, okay? You don't have to isolate yourself." She shook her head and refused to look him in the eye. "No, you don't!" he said, getting angry, "You're always alone, and you don't have to be. We care about you. I care about you..." He broke off and looked away. Guilt was steadily growing inside of her. She didn't want to hurt him, but somehow she had to let him know that they could never be anything. She didn't want to tell him what the priestess had told her; what would he think?
"Beast Boy..." she searched for words that she knew she would never find. "I can't."
"You can't what?" he asked, still angry, "You can't get close to anyone?" When she was silent, he took one of her hands in his. She let it lie, limp, and did not protest. "Raven," he insisted softly, "I don't really know how to say this...but...you mean a lot to me..." Raven stared at the ground, still not looking in his eyes. He didn't continue, and she glanced up to see why. He was staring at her, with a concerned look. When their eyes met, it seemed that the world froze around them. People slowed down, and left a wide berth where the two stood. I looked like the moon was shining through his eyes, telling her to forget everything she was ever told.
Slowly, tantalizingly, he began to lean towards her, and she found that she couldn't move. Her heart was beating so fast it felt like it would explode. Goosebumps rose on her arms, and the night air felt especially magical as the moon grinned down on them. They were only inches apart, but those inches stretched into eons. Time froze, as Raven's mind began to wake up. She couldn't do this. It would only end up breaking his heart. She broke herself free from his gaze, and turned so he couldn't see the tears shimmering in her eyes. She wanted to let him know that she did care, but she knew she couldn't.
"I'm sorry, Beast Boy," she whispered, and she ran into the crowd. Beast Boy stood, unable to move, watching her disappear.
The shadows in my soul are palpable,
The evil all too real,
I can't let you get near to me,
And these wounds that never seem to heal.
As soon as she got out of his range of sight, she transported herself back to her room; back where it was safe. She ran to her bed, and threw herself down upon it. She wanted to cry, but she would never let herself. Not for something like this. She knew that she always had to be alone, so why torture herself? It would have been better believing that he hated her. Better than knowing that there was the temptation to be with him, to admit to him that he cared.
She closed her eyes, and pretended that maybe she could let him in. Maybe he could help her fight the shadows that resided in the depths of her soul. She dreamed of what could have happened between them, if she had been normal. She let her dreams carry her away, and slowly the pain in her heart faded, as she drifted off into sleep.
Before long, she was awakened by a rap on her door. Without answering, she sat up; almost certain she knew who it was. "Raven?" It was him. Again. Did he have to torture her like this? Why couldn't he leave her alone, where she was meant to be? "Raven," he went on, "I'm sorry. I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry. Please, just talk to me." Her heart was beating fast, and she had to calm herself before speaking. She couldn't let him know how she felt.
"What is it, Beast Boy?" she asked, adding an edge to her voice, yet wincing when it came out worse than she wanted.
"Raven," he sounded determined, like he wasn't going to walk away this time. "Just talk to me, okay? Why do you always have to be alone?"
She thought for a time, fighting the urge to tell him everything. But it was too risky. She remembered what Starfire had seen in her vision of the future. She had gone insane. That future would be all too real--if she let it happen. "Why do you have to bother me?" she retorted, trying to sound angry.
"Because, I hate it when you're always alone," he said it so readily, so matter-of-factly, that it made her forget herself for a moment.
"Why?" she asked in barely a whisper.
"Because you're lonely. That was proved when Malchior came," he paused, hoping he hadn't opened the painful wound of his betrayal, "You wanted someone who understood you. Who didn't think you were weird...and I don't."
She was silent again. Her thoughts were scrambled, and nothing made sense. She wanted to run out, and hug him, and tell him how much she cared, but she couldn't. She wouldn't.
Pushing you farther and farther away,
Though it breaks us both inside,
I can't let you see the worst parts of me,
The secrets that I have to hide.
"Beast Boy," she said, sounding as threatening as she could, "go away."
"No," the answer came staccato, and sharp. "I won't leave you alone."
"Beast Boy," she forced herself to get angry, to use every vice she had against her father, against herself, against everything, and aim it on him. "Did you ever think that I don't want you here? That maybe I don't like you? That I like being alone? Because it's better than being around you." She grasped onto her sheets, but kept slipping; her palms were sweating freely. She was greeted with nothing but a cold, stony silence.
"I don't believe you," Beast Boy said finally.
"What?" Raven said, stunned.
"You're lying. Trying to make me go away. Why Raven?" his voice sounded pleading, she closed her eyes, and berated herself. Stupid. Stupid. But he has to leave me alone...it is my destiny to be alone.
She sighed, "Beast Boy, just leave me alone."
"No!" he yelled, pounding his fist against the wall, "I'm tired of you always isolating yourself. You don't have to be alone."
"What if I want to be alone?"
"But you don't!" he yelled, becoming reckless, "Raven tell me why. I saw the look in your eyes back at the festival. You didn't want to leave. So why did you?" In an instant, she thought over everything that she had ever been told. That she had to be alone. That she would go insane. That her father, Trigon, had cursed her in more ways that one. Her own birth, a product of his raping her mother. She wiped away the beginning of a tear, and resolved to be stronger than the temptation.
She couldn't handle something like that. "Too stressful," they had said. She wanted so much to run to him, and tell him that being with him, even for a short period of time, would be worth it. Yet, she knew she never could. What would he say if he knew about it?
Could you ever forgive me,
For the things I have to say?
Could you know that deep down all I want,
Is that perfect insanity?
"Why don't you just leave me alone!" she burst out, letting the torrent of unshed tears guide her words. "Just stay away from me! The reason that I left, was that I didn't want to hurt you. You and I are nothing, and that's how it will always be." Her control broke, and a single silent tear ran down her cheek. She wanted to scream. Why had she been cursed with such a fate?
"Raven..." he trailed off. She could feel him standing just outside her door. Only a thin barrier of metal keeping her from losing her composure at the sight of him. "If that's what you want."
She didn't move for a long time, trying to hear his receding footsteps. Only, she didn't hear them. She lay back, and thought of how awkward it would be the next day. She would have to pretend things were normal. Again. She huddled into her blanket, dreaming of a day when the demons would leave her, and she was free to live. She laughed a little. As if that would ever happen. But she could always dream.
She heard a small noise outside her door, like a person sitting against it. Beast Boy had left...hadn't he? She got up as quietly as she could, pushing away the blankets. She pressed her fingertips against the cold metal of the door. There. She was sure she heard it; the even breathing of a person. Why was he still here?
"Beast Boy?" she whispered softly, wondering if it was her imagination, and no one was really there.
"Yeah, Raven?" came the reply, just as soft as her whisper, as if he was afraid to speak to loud.
"Why didn't you leave?" she asked, fingers trembling just a little, heart racing.
"I'll always wait for you, Raven," he said, "No matter what you say, I won't let you feel alone." She sank down by the door, and put her back against it. They sat back to back, in silence, the door a cold separator between them.
But my soul is called for something else,
This cold pain I have to feel…
I'm sorry, but you have to leave me here,
Being alone is the only way I can stay sane.
She knew a time would never come when the darkness in her soul would leave, but it made no difference. "Beast Boy?" she asked again.
"Yeah?" once again he was there, sitting behind her.
"It may be a long time..." she whispered, thinking of the priestess' words.
"It doesn't matter," he said, almost happily.
It seemed like hours passed between them, just sitting. Being together, yet being totally apart. She put her hand up to the door, where she assumed his hand to be. "Thank you, Beast Boy," her voice was drowned by the night, but he heard her. She didn't care. Just knowing that that perfect insanity called love, was waiting with open arms, was more of a comfort than anything she could ever dream of. Even if, she could never be in love, it was alright. It had to be.
"I love you too Raven."