Disclaimer: Come on, if I owned the Teen Titans, would I really be sitting here writing fan fiction?
/edited: 19 June 2011
You Try Too Hard
"Beast Boy," Raven said, "why do you insist on telling me jokes? Especially bad ones?"
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 a few more spastic coughs and beating on his chest with his fist, Beast Boy carefully set the beverage down on the table in front of the large couch.
Wiping some of the sugary liquid from his chin, he peered over at Raven, who sat on the opposite end of the couch. Her ever-blank face stared back at him.
Though he was not easily agitated, 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?"
Raven didn't like that response. "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. Maybe it hadn't changed in the last few hours or even days. 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 wasn't sure he wanted to talk about 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 have to explain.
"That… or you're just trying too hard to be funny," she interjected.
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 that 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 even remotely trying to. One day was all wished for. One day where she wouldn't find something to nit-pick at him about. For whatever reason, he decided to remain calm and just hope that giving in to her would end this conversation soon.
"You really think I'm trying too hard?" he asked meekly.
Raven 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 Raven with 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. "Some of your first words to me I thought were funny. We didn't know each other and it came out of you naturally. I remember sensing how you were feeling. You didn't put much thought into it; it just flowed out of you."
"But now it seems forced, like you have this need to keep telling them. Or that you have this reputation for being funny—which you don't, I might add—that you think you need to maintain. I honestly can't believe you haven't noticed how corny you are sometimes."
His mind skipped over that last part of what she said; he just registered that she could remember the first joke he told her. "You remember the first joke I ever made around you?" he asked, rather baffled actually.
"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 did remember.
Beast Boy noticed her hesitate before she replied. "It's a good memory of you and me…" She seemed to look a little nervous as she trailed off her sentence. Was that redness he saw on her cheeks?
"What did I say, exactly?" Beast Boy inquired, attempting to egg her on. He wanted to know if she really remembered.
"When we were standing on this island right after the defeat of 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 serious or not. "—Well, I said 'that's quite a view' 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 grins of yours. I started laughing and said that you were kind of funny… And I meant it.
"Beast Boy, you weren't telling some joke you made up. It was just something the situation called for. It wasn't the joke of the century,"—her voice grew gentle—"it was the light and simple kind of humor I've always liked."
His jaw wanted to drop to the floor with shock, but his legs wanted to push him into the air with joy, but he willed his body to stay still. She liked his humor! Granted it was that one instance, but she actually admitted to liking something he did!
However, with this realization came another—whether Raven knew it or not, she had corned 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 was to sit in peace and watch some television with his soda.
"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 kept panning over to the remote on the table.
He smiled at her nervously and restrained with all his might from scratching the back of his head. He couldn't afford to appear that uncomfortable, but as her blank stare continued to pierce through him, he felt he was just failing miserably.
"Heh. Um, well, you're just way too gloomy," he managed to say. "Somebody needs to get a laugh out of you every once in awhile, right?"
She seemed unphazed. "And you feel equipped to do that with your arsenal of bad jokes?"
"Hey, they're not all bad," he defended, tired of her harping on his jokes.
That garnered nothing but a skeptical look from Raven.
He had had enough. "Well hey, I am 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 fizzing liquid again betrayed him, slipping right down his trachea and into his lungs.
Gasping for air, he glared at Raven. "Are (cough) you trying (cough cough) to kill me (cough)?"
"You're the one who forgot how to swallow."
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 onward.
His frustrated exterior crumbled and he appeared nervous yet again. "Oh, that? Uh, um…" He hesitated in rampant thought. "…Well 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 walked 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 afraid by her calm departure, but relieved that she ceased her questioning. 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 it 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 eyes filled up with horror as his poor soda can was emptied. And 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 "swoosh" of air as they closed behind her.
Beast Boy's lips quivered at the scene that transpired before his eyes, his resolve finally sapped away from him. 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 weep in defeat.
"NO, RAVEN, NOOOOOO! THAT WAS THE LAST ONE!"
Ha, this one came to me around 3:00am… it is 5:00am at the time of putting this story up.
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!