Disclaimer: Come on, if I owned the Teen Titans, would I really be sitting here writing fan fiction?
You Try Too Hard
"Beast Boy, why do you insist on pestering me with your terrible jokes?"
The green-skinned boy coughed on the soda that suddenly went down his windpipe as he fumbled with the can that slipped from his hands. After beating on his chest with his fist to help release a few more spastic coughs, Beast Boy carefully set the beverage down on the table in front of the large couch in the common room. He wiped the sugary liquid from his chin then peered over at Raven, who sat on the opposite end of the couch. Her ever-blank face stared back at him.
The combination of her out-of-the-blue question and choking on his drink did not do well for his mood. Since when did she initiate conversations anyway?
"After all the jokes I have told you, you decide to bring this up now?" he asked irritably.
Raven didn't like that response or his tone. "You didn't answer my question," she pointed out sternly.
He eyed her for a second. That straight expression of hers had not changed at all in the last few minutes. Who knows? Maybe it hadn't changed in the last few hours. Days, even. It wouldn't surprise him considering this was Raven he was talking to.
He really didn't feel like talking about this. There were many things it could lead into―things he didn't feel comfortable discussing with her right now. Besides, he hadn't even told her a joke in days… or at least since this morning.
"Maybe I just like to tell jokes," he said, not really wanting to explain.
"Yeah? Well, you try too hard," she shot back.
His pointed ears twitched.
"Beast Boy, your jokes aren't funny. It would do the both of us a lot of good if you stopped."
He wanted to be angry, but he knew it would get him nowhere. Anger never worked when confronting Raven. But it was almost like a special talent of his to annoy her even when he wasn't remotely trying to do so. One day was all wished for. One day where she wouldn't find something to nitpick at him about. For whatever reason, he willed himself to remain calm and hoped that this conversation would come to a swift conclusion.
"You really think I'm trying too hard?" he asked meekly.
Raven didn't let her surprise show. She was expecting something more like, "You just don't have any sense of humor", but, oddly, it never came. She knew the risks of entering this kind of conversation. It could lead into a circular argument that would leave both of them fumed and give her a throbbing headache. However, Beast Boy's subdued response diminished those fears. She might as well explain her reasons for bringing up this topic if he was going to play along.
"Yes, you do," she said. "I thought the very first joke you made when we first met was funny. I remember sensing how you were feeling. I could tell you didn't put much thought into it."
"But you've been forcing jokes nonstop since then. It's like you have an instinctual need to keep telling them. Or like you have a reputation for being funny—which you don't, I might add—that you are desperate to maintain. I honestly can't believe you haven't noticed how corny you are sometimes."
Beast Boy failed to register the second half of what she said; he had fixated on the fact that she remembered the first joke he told her. "You remember the first joke I ever made around you?" he asked, sounding rather baffled.
"Of course I do. Don't you?"
"Uh… no," he said. Of course he was lying, but he was curious as to why she of all people, the girl who always seemed to actively ignore him, did remember.
Beast Boy noticed her hesitate before she replied.
"It's a good memory of you and me…" She appeared to lose her train of thought.
"What did I say, exactly?" Beast Boy inquired, attempting to egg her on. He wanted to know if she really remembered.
"We were standing on this island right after we defeated the Gordanians who imprisoned Starfire—you remember that, don't you?"
"Yeah," he assured. "You really think I don't remember how we all met?"
"Had to make sure," Raven said evenly, leaving him no indication of whether she was mocking him or not. "Anyway, I said that we had quite a view from this island and Cyborg commented that a house should be built here. Then you said, 'Yeah, if you like sunshine and the beach,' with one of those toothy grins of yours. I started laughing and said that you were kind of funny." She paused. "I meant it."
His eyes widened.
"Beast Boy, you weren't telling some joke you planned hours in advance or found off Azar knows where. It wasn't something you had to think about. It flowed naturally from the situation. It wasn't the joke of the century either, but it didn't need to be." Her voice grew quieter. "It was the light and simple kind of humor I've always liked."
His jaw wanted to drop to the floor with shock and his legs wanted to launch him into the air with joy, but he miraculously willed his body to stay still. He had suspected she was telling the truth back then when she said he was kind of funny, but it meant so much more to have her confirm it now when he figured she'd forgotten. She liked his humor! Granted it was that one instance, but she actually admitted to liking something hedid!
However, with this realization came another. Whether Raven knew it or not, she had cornered him. How was he to explain himself now?
"Hmmm," was the only thing he could say, now caught in uncomfortable territory.
"That's all you have to say for yourself?" she asked. And just like that, apathy found its way back to her voice.
Inside, he began to cry. At this point, all he wanted to do was watch some television and drink his soda in peace.
"You're not getting out of this until I get an adequate answer," she said, seeming to read his mind. Or maybe it was the fact that his eyes panned over to the remote on the table.
He smiled at her nervously and resisted the urge to scratch the back of his head with all his might. He couldn't afford to appear that uncomfortable, but as her blank stare continued to pierce through him, he felt he was failing miserably.
"Heh. Um, well, it's 'cause you're way too gloomy," he managed to say. "Somebody needs to get a laugh out of you every once in awhile, right?"
She remained unfazed. "And you feel equipped to do that with your current arsenal of bad jokes?"
"Hey, they're not all bad," he said defensively, tired of her harping on his jokes.
That garnered nothing but a skeptical look from Raven.
He had had enough. "I'm just trying to make you happy, okay!?" He reached for his soda, all of a sudden feeling quite parched.
"And why do you try to make me happy?" she asked without missing a beat.
The fizzy liquid again betrayed him, slipping right down his trachea and into his lungs.
Gasping for air, he glared at Raven. "Are you cough trying cough cough to kill me cough?"
"You're the one who forgot how to swallow."
After regaining control of his breathing, he grumbled something unrecognizable to himself and looked out the panoramic window in front of the couch.
"So?" she pressed.
His frustrated exterior crumbled and he appeared nervous yet again. "Oh, that? Uh, um…" He hesitated in rampant thought. "It's like I said. You're too gloomy and all."
She sighed, seeing she wasn't going to get a straight answer out of him. "Okay, if that's really all you want to say."
He quirked his eyebrows and looked at her queerly, not sure how to gauge her response.
"But really, stop trying so hard," she said before standing up and walking behind the couch over to the kitchen area of the large common room.
Beast Boy didn't turn to watch her leave. He was a little frightened by her calm departure, but relieved that she ceased her barrage of questions. He merely shrugged to himself and began to reach for his soda can again. But just before he could grab it, black energy encased it and the can lifted from the table. Dumbfounded, Beast Boy watched as his tasty beverage gently floated over his head, out of his reach, and over to Raven, who was standing by the sink.
"Oh, and one last thing," she said, snatching the soda can out of the air. "No soda for changelings who lie to Raven."
Raven tilted the can over the sink, letting its contents pour down the drain at an agonizingly slow rate. Beast Boy's expression morphed into one of horror as his poor soda can was emptied. With a deafening CRUNCH, Raven crushed the can in her hands and effortlessly tossed it in the wastebasket.
She turned around and swiftly floated out of the common room, the large sliding doors releasing a finalizing whoosh of air as they closed behind her.
Beast Boy's bottom lip quivered. The scene that transpired before his eyes finally sapped away his last bit of resolve. He realized that despite his efforts to avoid giving it away, she still probably got the answer she was looking for. And what was he left with? Nothing. With that, he began to snivel in defeat.
"Raven nooooo! That was the last one!"
1 August 2010: I really didn't like the previous ending. And while I feel this story may have been cliché from the get-go, it was one of my first stories. At that point, I hadn't read too many stories that addressed the issue here. I just decided to beef it up a little. Hope you all enjoyed!