It is now officially summer vacation and the first thing I do is write one of the most depressing things I can possibly scrounge together. Ironic, hmm? This is…well, there's no definite term for this. It's… depressing. Angsty. Beast Boy-centric. And it sucks. I don't do much drama, but this… well, this is… hell, you'll just have to read, if you dare.
The writing structure is also different, if anyone manages to catch that…This is what happens when I get sick and start to think about Teen Titans during said sickness…
You have been warned.
It was by a mere coincidence that he decided the make the list. Raven had been on one of her spiels, listing each and every flaw she could think of in a period of thirty seconds before giving up with a growl, stating that he wasn't even worth her time. It had made him think, as his mind sifted through every slam she had beaten him with, that maybe it would be amusing to write down every flaw about him
So he sat down, notebook and pen ready, and wrote a big, scrawled My Flaws on the top of the paper, underlining the words in thick black ink. He had laughed, at first, knowing that this would keep him busy— and away from her— for at least a little while. He flicked on music— the type that had Raven beating on his door in annoyance at the heavy beat of drums and guitar— and settled into his computer chair, body slouched and legs spread.
"Heh, this should be fun," he said to himself, leaning over the paper to scrawl every insult Raven had hurled at him moments prior. By the time he was through, he had managed to take up a good half of the first column. He blinked down at his own handwriting. "Wow… that's a new record. That many slams in such a short period of time." He chuckled slightly before closing the notebook.
He was fifteen.
He kept the notebook on his desk for months, everyday going back to write a new set of flaws about himself that Robin, Raven, Cyborg, or any possible villain that had managed to slam a part of him. He laughed about it for awhile, telling himself that it was amusing, how many different insults they could throw at him, all without ever repeating, though they did manage to slam his IQ in each critique at him.
He didn't let it get to him at first. It was just a stupid joke in his favor. When they would scream at him, yell at him for being stupid, he would catalogue it in his mind, thinking back to the notebook to see if they used the same slam. None of them did. It was always something new, something different about him that seemed to cut sharper, dig deeper into his skin until he seemed to bleed from the gashes they caused on his soul.
Yet he kept on a smile, continually writing down in his notebook everything they screamed at him. He pushed down the hurt, telling himself that it wouldn't happen long. They were just in a bad mood, or just mad that they were getting thrown in jail by Robin. They would say something good about him one of these days, he consoled himself, and that one praise would wash away all the hurtful things they said.
So he plopped down, mood rising, and flipped past the growing list of his flaws to find an empty sheet. He quickly wrote down Praises, knowing that one of these days, someone would say something kind to him.
And then Terra came. She praised his heart, his soul, until Beast Boy found that his Flaws list stayed untouched, but his Praise list grew and grew until three columns had been filled with all the things Terra said she loved about him. Raven had snapped off a few comments, of course, all of them finding a way to condemn a different part of him, but writing those down didn't matter anymore. Someone found the good in him, so it wasn't worth it, to hurt over all the things Raven said to him. It didn't matter.
The betrayal hit him hard. Terra betrayed them for Slade, all to help control her powers, and left him bleeding and broken. Why hadn't she trusted him enough to let him help her? Why had she closed herself off from him when she promised that she would always love him? Had it just been to infiltrate the tower? Was her supposed love for him based on the fact that he could give her easy access into the Tower mainframe?
He had tried to stop her, pelted her with words of love and acceptance, even if she had betrayed them. He would help her. He could make her life better, even if there wasn't much good about him.
He hadn't expected her to agree with his own slur at himself. Mouth twisting in a sarcastic smirk, she ripped away every praise she had even given him, twisting them around until they became flaws so deep that they seemed to break apart every piece of confidence he had in himself. And so, with the heart-shaped box at his side, he shredded his praise lists, and added them to his flaws.
He was sixteen.
The Brotherhood of Evil was a turning point in Titan victory. They gathered every Titan on Earth, making an army so strong that villains shouldn't have stood a chance. But they had all been captured. Robin. Raven. Cyborg. Starfire. All had been captured, frozen, by the Brotherhood, leaving him and a few Titans left. So he took matters into his own hands. He planned, plotted, and formed together those few that had been untouched by vile hands, and burst into the lab, helping to bring a victory for the Titans.
Yet no one took notices of his sudden spark of bravery. When people were awarded with metals for protecting them from The Brotherhood, no one mentioned his name. No one glanced at him when his team, the ones he had brought together, were slapped on the back and called the real heroes. No one bothered to congratulate him on his plans, on his bravery, on anything. Robin didn't give him a second glance when he smiled and laughed and told them that the entire room was heroes. But he had waited until Beast Boy had left to get fresh air before saying this.
So he found a way to make his victory into his own flaws, and suddenly, his list seemed to overflow. No one had said a word to him. There had been no insults, no snide remarks. The words he wrote down now were his own thoughts.
Japan was like a new world for him. Girls wanted to be with him, wanted to hold him and touch him and kiss him, despite all the flaws marring his notebook. He got a few kisses out of the deal, nearly choked when a random woman grabbed him and shoved her tongue down his throat, but it was okay, because now, someone noticed him. It was all he needed.
But Raven got a hold of him. He had been in his room, starting to get ready to go back home, when she laid into him again. He had already written down all her earlier remarks about his shirt, his skin, his ears, and had slipped the notebook into his bag. He knew there was very little left that she could slam that she hadn't already, but Raven had been prepared. She reworded her insults, merged them together until a whole new meaning bloomed, and it took all of his willpower to pay rapt attention to her words without flinching. She left then, after she could rip into him no more, and he grabbed the notebook. He listed every word she said, though the general idea was still the same.
He felt useless now, so to cheer himself up, he flipped to his Praise page. It was empty, but he knew that since he seemed to be so popular here, someone would say something uplifting. Someone would mark the page that he feared could never be written on. On his last day in Japan, he flirted with them, asked them what made him so attractive. But none could answer him. He knew, with his heart twitching with all the hurt lain on him through the years, that even though they did not speak his language, they still could not find anything good about him.
He slowly started to break.
His smiles faltered now, body unconsciously folding into itself as if trying to protect his heart from the sharp daggers of words that were constantly thrown at him. His eyes darkened now with every flaw he wrote down, turning page after page, front and back, to write down every possible defect. Now, his imperfections weren't just in his mind. They were his body, his height, his habits, his life. Raven added her say constantly, Cyborg leaning over her shoulder to supply even more to his already shattering soul. Robin merely watched with a smile, while Starfire seemed oblivious to the fact that they were slowly killing him with each flaw he already knew existed.
His notebook became his life. He started to carry it around with him, pen ready, and wrote down each slam, each scowl, and each laugh thrown his way. He tried, just to see if he could, to flirt with American girls. They liked him in Japan, so maybe it somehow came down here with him.
But that wasn't the case. The blondes scoffed at him, the brunettes glared, the red head told him to go screw himself. Chubby girls told him that he was too skinny for them. Geeks told him he was too stupid. Athletes told him he was too weak. Preps told him that he would never be good enough for them. The rest merely told him he wasn't a Robin, or a Cyborg, or even a Kid Flash. He was just Beast Boy.
And Beast Boy wasn't worth it.
His smiles became a distant memory, his laugh nonexistent. His eyes, once so bright with the joy of life, glowed like a dull stone. His mouth stayed in a flat line, always closed, never opening to supply his say in anything. He played when asked, but he never got excited. He watched movies when his team gathered together, but never voiced his opinion in what he wanted. He ate what was cooked, but never once retaliated when Cyborg slammed his tofu. He fought with them, but stayed in the background, watching his team defeat the enemy without his help. He only interfered when someone cheated, or tried to attack when they had their backs turned. But afterwards, he would meld into the background once again, and seemed to disappear into the shadows.
He held his notebook with him like it was his last lifeline. Raven was the first to notice, and her insults slowly started to die down until she barely even spoke to him, merely watched him, almost as if trying to peer back into the past where he had first started to break. Cyborg couldn't bring himself to joke about tofu anymore, couldn't stomach the thought of slamming him at a video games when he was victorious. Starfire faulted every time she passed him, her cheerful personality slowly dulling each time he breathed. She tried to involve him now, going so far if he wanted her to watch him see how many objects he could stuff into his mouth. But he always declined; his voice just as lifeless as his soul. Robin tried not to flinch every time he talked to his teammate, only to have him lift dead eyes to him. He wanted to bring it to the open, ask him why he was suddenly like this, but he knew, with disgust eating away at his stomach, that they were the cause.
Beast Boy had tried once to list the good things about him. He had sat at his desk; his forehead cupped in his hands and stared at the paper, so blank save for the scrawled Praise that had been scratched out, to be replaced with Good Qualities. For hours he sat there, racking his brain for anything that could be labeled worthwhile about him. He was there when the sun peeked above the horizon, staring with blank eyes at the paper. He was there when the sun raised high in the sky, there when clouds suddenly wrapped around the beacon of light to block it with the thick dreary gray of rain. He was there when the sun disappeared completely, and the sky wept with rain.
And yet, despite being there for so many hours, he could find not one good thing about him. It all suddenly boiled down to one thing and one thing only:
He was worthless.
He trudged to the main door, body slouched and eyes broken. His teammates stopped talking, stopped breathing, as he walked out into the storm, his notebook clutched tightly to his chest.
He sat down in the rock where he had heard his first complement from Terra, had Raven thank him for saving her life when he became a beast, and stared. His eyes roamed over the gray capped sea, over the bleak sky that lead to no promises, and found that with his notebook, he was nothing.
There was nothing good about him. He was weak. He was stupid. He was defenseless, worthless, useless, pitied, hated, broken, dying, and there was no way to mend it. He was born into a life that promised nothing, that gave nothing but the cruel words of his family, his teammates. His parents deemed his useless. They didn't stay with him because he was nothing to them. That couple used him against his will because they saw that there was nothing good about him. The Doom Patrol knew, without even a complete once-over, that there was nothing worth having. He wouldn't be strong. He wouldn't be capable. He wouldn't be needed, and so they tossed him aside like he was trash. The Titans took him on because they were desperate and because he was there. Throwing him off the team was too troublesome, so they let him tag along. But they never tried to hide their disdain.
In the end, it was she who made him realize he was nothing. She was the one who helped lead him to the answer he had tried so hard to ignore. Because of her, he found that his life wasn't even worth living. But he didn't have the strength to end it. He didn't have the energy to even get up in the morning, much less take a blade to his wrist. Even breathing started to take its toll on him, and he wished that the air would clog in his lungs, help take away all the pain.
His notebook was becoming soggy, so he slowly buried it beneath his shirt, every muscle in his body screaming in agony, although he never exerted himself. His mind, already too broken for repair, was shutting down his body, making him hurt when there was no reason to. His mind, his heart, couldn't take all the pain, so it was being redistributed to his muscles, his blood, his skin, until his body was one throbbing mass of agony.
He felt their eyes on him from the windows, but he didn't care. He didn't care that they pitied him now. He didn't care that Raven found him so sickening that she couldn't even look him in the eyes. Didn't care that Robin herded Starfire away from him so not to pollute her with his deteriorating soul. Didn't care that Cyborg pitied him so much that he talked to him as if he were an autistic child. He just didn't care anymore.
He was seventeen.
His body started to turn on him. He would eat, but it would never stay down. He would drink, but his body was still parched. He would sleep, but never wanted to wake up. He would breathe, but hated doing such a trivial task. His notebook started to overflow with each flaw he wrote down until he was forced to write on the margins, around the rings, over the cover. There were no praises in his books; there were no good deeds or comforting words, only the truth of his pathetic life.
His heart stopped breaking. His soul stopped trying to pick up the shattered pieces. His mind stopped trying to lock up his flaws within a box that was never big enough. He just stopped. There was no other way to explain the way his body seemed to shut down against all the pain. When he slept, he slept for days at a time. When he ate, he barely tasted the food, uncaring if it was milk, or meat that Cyborg had placed in front of him. He stopped knowing the time, the date, the year. He stopped thinking about the future, stopped thinking about the past, stopped thinking about the present, or the exact minute or second he was in.
When he didn't sleep, or throw up his food, he sat in the shower; arms wrapped around his knees, and stared at nothing in particular, until one of his teammates knocked hesitantly at the door. When he didn't answer, they would walk in, eyes overflowing with pity, and one of his male teammates— usually Cyborg— would shut off the water and wrap him in a towel to cart him off into his room, where he would sleep again for days.
He sits on the couch now, game control in hand and fingers moving over the controls though he barely knows what he is doing or why. His eyes are dull on the screen as he fights a losing battle with Cyborg, who can hardly stand being around his once energetic best friend. Raven sits on an adjacent seat, just beside him, book open on her lap but eyes caressing over his features. Starfire can't handle seeing him so broken, so she stays in her room and weeps at what her friend has become. Robin stands behind him; his fists clenched, and wondering why he couldn't help Beast Boy in his time of need.
And between them all, nestled in Beast Boy's lap, is his notebook.
"Hey Beast Boy," Cyborg says softly. "Whaddya say we rent a scary movie tonight and watch it together? We can order a butt load of pizza. Cheese only."
Raven closes her eyes with a flinch at the dead slide of his voice, once cracking with boyhood wonder. His eyes never leave the screen.
"We're thinking about taking another vacation," Robin says quietly. "Where would you like to go? It's your pick. We won't care."
He blinks slowly, as if waking from a dream, but his expression never changes. His mouth stays closed, though muscles tense against his jaw. Robin turns away, teeth clenched, and feels his own heart break at what Beast Boy has become.
"Well, think about it," Robin says, wanting nothing more than reach over and demand to know what the hell happened to their loveable shape shifter and what they could do to help him. "We… only want what's best for you, Beast Boy."
And for the first time in what seems like years, something skitters across his dull eyes. He drops the controller to his lap, leans back, and turns his head up to look at Robin. "Liar."
Robin can't handle the raw pain in Beast Boy's eyes, feels bile rising in his throat, and manages to choke, "Beast Boy."
He turns back to the TV, lifts the controller, and continues to play without so much as looking down at what his fingers are pressing. Cyborg turns away from him, clutching the controller so tightly that it cracks under pressure. And finally, he can't take it.
He jerks to his feet, slamming down the controller so it breaks into jagged pieces of plastic and twisted wires. One of the batteries bounces from the floor and slams against Beast Boy's cheekbone.
He doesn't even blink.
"Dammit, Beast Boy, what the hell has happened to you?! What have you done to yourself? Why… why are you doing this?!" His voice is a roar, laced with pain and hate and guilt so strong that it breaks in his throat. "What have we done to you?"
He can't take it anymore, and with his human heart breaking in his chest, storms from the main room with a broken howl escaping his mouth. Robin cringes, and hesitantly, almost as if too much pressure will cause him to break, cups his hand against Beast Boy's shoulder. His collarbone his so pronounced against Robin's fingers that he nearly jerks back in shocked horror. But he keeps himself from doing so, instead allowing his eyes to draw together in pain.
"Beast Boy… please. We want to help you."
The game ends, Beast Boy's fingers stop their movements, and he drops them into his lap, where they curl around his notebook. "You can't."
Robin leans away from him, eyes seeking Raven's. "I… don't know what to do," he murmurs, all his fears and doubts coating that once sentences until he feels his vulnerability cloud the air like a choking perfume. "There's nothing I can do."
And he turns away, to his computer, where he hopes to find some answer to fixing their broken Beast Boy.
Raven is alone with him now, longer fingers plucking at the frayed spine of her book. She feels nothing from him, no hate, no anger, nothing at all. She's terrified now, wondering how she could have missed his deteriorating life.
She knows she can't comfort him with words. It was never her forte. All she had ever said to him were slams, insults, barrages at his confidence. Words would not mend Beast Boy's broken body.
But she reaches out her hand, slowly, so tentative that it seems like she's not even moving. She chides herself for her hesitance and lays her hands on his.
He flinches, but his face his devoid of anything.
Raven stares at his hands, so large, yet so cold. His fingers are tightening over his notebook, which she has just realized he has been carrying with him for years now. Gently, she curls her fingers against his.
"Beast Boy," she starts, but knows that is not the approach she wants. "Garfield. What's in that notebook?"
"I never thanked you for showing me." His voice is cracked with misuse, but still strong and dead.
Her eyebrows draw together in a tight line. "Showed you what?"
His head turns, eyes half lidded and irises dulled a sickly green. "What I am."
She doesn't understand what he's saying, but she knows that it has something to do with the worn notebook in his hand. Her fingers are tightening around his. "Can you… show me?"
She feels like she's a mother consoling a child that can't understand what's happening around them. But there are no motherly instincts toward Beast Boy. There's nothing but the despair that's eating away at her heart as he dies from within.
"You already know. You've always known."
There's something ripping inside of her, ripping into her skin, into her organs, into her soul when he pulls the notebook to his chest. "You showed me."
Her eyebrows are pulled together so tightly she feels an ache gathering behind them, but she doesn't care. She scoots her body toward him, cutting off the empty space between them until they're lined up at the sides.
"Beast Boy, please," she begs, uncaring that she's thrown away every façade she had ever built, uncaring that there's feelings playing across her eyes and mouth like a never-ending dance of emotions. "Let me… see what I've shown you."
His eyebrows are drawing together as if unsure, but slowly, his grip loosens, and the book tumbles into his lap. He stares at it, almost as if it offers him to beacon of hope. "I stopped pretending," he says. "I stopped hiding."
She's terrified to open the notebook, terrified of what she might read. Her fingers dance and curl over the cover, and for a moment, she can't bring herself to pry into his life. But she knows that whatever is in this notebook, it is killing him from the inside. So she takes a deep breath, muscles tense, and opens the first page.
The paper is crinkled from use, the ink smudged from water stains. But she can read it, and as her eyes scan over the first word, a whimper somehow works its way into her parched throat.
Something hot and rancid burns her eyes as she reads her own words, scribbled down in his writing. Her insults, her screams, her biting words that shred into her mind. She's hurting, wants to pull away, to draw her eyes from the words that broke him, but she can't. She reads and reads and reads, until her eyes are blurry and her heart threatens to suffocate in her chest. The hurt, pain, and agony wraps around her, choking her, causing her emotions to shatter, piece by piece, until they combine into one broken girl.
Her hands shake as she reads each word on the paper, each phrase that made him into what he has now become. She has to stop and blink back tears she has no idea she's shed, has to stop to press her hand to her chest when it constricts with the worst pain she's ever felt.
Beast Boy sits beside her, emotions tightening his muscles for the first time in what seems like millenniums, causing his body to throb in pain. He feels the first lick of unease, the first caress of guilt. His mind, once as dead as his heart, slowly flicks on, chasing out the darkness and cobwebs that had made homage there. He shouldn't let her see it, shouldn't have told her that it was her fault that he was this way, even if he knew it from the bottom of his heart. This wasn't right, bringing her down into his abyss of pain.
Her tears are strong against his senses, and it's the first time he's smelled them this strong. The knowledge fists guilt around his gray heart. He can see her curl into herself, watches her fight against the pain he unwittingly drowned her in, and finds his hands reaching for the notebook.
"I… I showed you this?" Her voice is raw and bleeding, amethyst eyes flooding with tears she still has not acknowledged. Her hands are like manacles around the paper. "I made you believe this?"
He can't answer her, doesn't know how. He wants to lie, but can't find the energy. He wants to comfort her, but doesn't know if he is capable. He wants to hold her, but knows that it will only break her more.
"Why… why didn't you tell me this?" It's breaking now, the pain in her voice crashing over his once dying heart like a tidal wave. He gasps at the first sharp sting, hands fisting above the constricting organ that had been so numb for so long.
"Why did you let me break you?" She wants to hide it, hide from the pain that swamps her, hide from the fact that she had broken this boy with her callous words, hide from the fact that, oh God, she was a monster.
"Why didn't you stop me?!" Her voice is wild now, breaking free from the monotonous lilt that had weaved into her vocal cords for so long. She's not hiding now. She's not pretending to be aloof, not pretending to be the girl who can handle the world on her shoulders. She's broken and will not hide it from him.
"Raven." His voice cracks now, emotions once thought long dead rising from the grave to break into his tone. His brain starts to function now, along with his organs, and he feels the effect his depression caused. His belly churns with nausea, threatens to heave into his throat as she jerks away from him when he reaches for the notebook.
"I didn't… I never meant to hurt you. I… oh God, this isn't what I wanted. I-I d-don't understand why, I just…"
Her pain is breaking through his, and a sliver of light casts its shadow against his heart. He can feel each nerve in his body; feel the air on his skin. He can smell the air, taste her tears, and now, it is her pain that's hurting him.
He won't let her jerk away when he lays his hand on his notebook, clutched against her chest. "Raven, stop it."
She draws away from him, mentally; physically. "I knew… I knew what I did was wrong, but I never… Never thought that I could do this." When she lifts her eyes to his, they're drowning in a fear that he's never known existed in her. He knew that it dated back to her father, to something he did, or said, or forced into her head. "I didn't know I was capable."
Her voice is that of a wounded child, a child whose memories are tainted with a past no child should ever have to deal with, much less live through. He reaches out again, claws nearly brushing against her skin, but she rips away, thighs slamming against the chair she would sit in while reading. She stumbles back and crashing back into the seat.
She doesn't even realize it.
"He… he said I was capable, but I wouldn't believe him. I refused to believe him, and yet… I always knew I was like him. I always knew I would never amount to anything but a weak half-demon who only exists because her mother was raped."
Her powers, once so calm and controlled, lashes out against her. The TV explodes with the force of a bomb, and she jumps, eyes wide and unfocused. She'll do something stupid, he knows, because she's never broken before. She can't handle this kind of pain, can't handle what he forced on her without thinking.
He stands to come to her, stands to try and mend the pieces he shattered, but something in him seems to break, like glass slowly cracking down the middle. His eyebrows draw together as he freezes, his body trembling.
And suddenly he's shutting down, body breaking off in pieces. His heart is frantic in his chest, brain pounding like a jungle drum. His blood feels like hot lava flowing through his veins, skin slicked with ice. Everything blurs before his eyes, objects changing and shifting, colors pulsing into black and white until there is nothing left but a haze.
He can't breathe, he notes, and tries to draw air into his lungs, only to have them scream in agony. His tongue is heavy against the roof of his mouth, throat constricting as if debating between closing off or ripping open.
She says his name, softly, unsure, before she climbs from the seat. Her voice is a low rumble, indistinguishable, and he feels a brief moment of fear. His body is rejecting all the pain, the agony, the stress he put on it, and is shutting down on him.
He wonders if he's having an emotional breakdown, wonders if he was dying, before everything fades to black and his falling, faster and faster, wind wiping against his skin.
He never feels his body hit the ground.
He feels like he's being crushed as his eyes, gritty with sleep, struggle to open. They disobey him. His breath wheezes from his lungs, forces his ribs to expand and the muscles in his stomach to work. His can't feel his fingers, or his arms for that matter, but when he flexes them, sharp shards of pain race down his skin and he flinches.
It seemed his mind wasn't the only thing asleep.
He can feel his heart beat slowly within his chest, can nearly hear his brain throb against his skull, and bites back a curse. He feels like death warmed over, and wonders if this was hell, if he didn't push his body to the brink with his pain.
And then he hears her voice, soft, sad, as she says, "He had a breakdown?"
Cyborg's voice floats over his system, the usual professional tone gone as he says, "Yes. His body couldn't take the stress he put on himself, so it shut down against him. It's a wonder he didn't have a stroke, his blood pressure was so high. That or a serious case of epilepsy. It's a side effect of strenuous depression… something about the frontal lobe or something… or was it temporal lobe epilepsy?"
"Will he be okay?" Starfire asks her normal tone heavy with pain. "He looks… like he's dying." Her voice breaks, but he can hear her sharp intake of breath, knows she's reining back her turmoil.
"He looks like he hasn't eaten anything in months," Robin murmurs softly. "But we saw him eat."
"His body rejected the food. It was thriving off the stress he induced. His mind was cracking under the pressure, and one way of lashing out was the force everything he ate from his stomach. His lips are cracked as well, meaning that he's seriously dehydrated. It's a wonder he didn't collapse before this. There's no telling how long this has been going on."
He can hear someone shuffles around, before a soft hand settles on his forehead. "He's hot." Starfire pulls her hand back, only to flutter to his wrist, where she presses two fingers against his vein. "His heart beat is slow, but it's nothing like it was before. I was sure it would burst from his chest, it was racing so fast."
"Stress," Cyborg muttered. "All this ended up to be was stress. And did anyone get to see what was in the damn notebook he carried? I wanted to look through it, see if maybe it led me to some answers, but it disappeared."
His heart sinks in his chest. Raven must have it still. She would be the one to keep it, even if her heart is breaking.
"I have it," she says, tone strong. "I… couldn't handle reading all of it."
He feels his body jerk in shock at her admittance of her own weakness, and Starfire jumps up with a squeak. Suddenly, he can feel them clutter around him, leaning down to see what made Starfire yelp.
"He… he jerked! He scared me." He knows she presses a hand to her heart, which is bound to be racing, and he feels a smile curl at the corner of his mouth. The movement breaks through his chapped mouth, and he feels blood stream down his chin.
Cyborg mutters a curse as Starfire gasps, and suddenly something warm is pressed against his lip. The scent of honeysuckles invades his senses, and he knows that it is Raven's fingers pressing gently against his bleeding lip.
Robin murmurs her name, shocked, before Cyborg snaps out of his daze and tells him to go get ice. He knows they've left him, for he can no longer smell their scent. He wants to cry out at the pain ripping at his lip, but all that forms in his throat is a soft groan.
"Beast Boy?" She's leaning against him, her body so close he can feel the heat of her skin against him. "Are you okay?"
He wants to open his eyes, wants to tell her that, no, he bloody isn't okay, that his lip feels like its been ripped from his face, but nothing came out. She's still wiping off the blood with her fingers, not even bothering with a cloth, and somehow, the pain soothes down into a dull roar.
Another groan rumbles in the back of his throat. "I'm sorry," she murmurs. "I… thought about it, while you were in a coma. There are no words to say about what I've done to you. There's no excuse, and there is no reason. I could try to scrounge them up, make them into bouquets of nice words and uplifting praise, but I can't. What I did… my demon was taking over, I guess. I couldn't stand the thought of something being so goddamn happy all the time. I couldn't fathom why you managed to shine in a world cloaked in hate. I didn't understand, so I lashed out at you. I tried to bring you down to my level, where gloom and despair reign, all because I didn't understand you."
He hears the infirmary doors open, and Raven pulls back long enough to dip her fingers into what has to be a bag of ice. She pulls a cube out and ever so gently, rubs it across his cracked mouth.
This time, the groan is that of pleasure, and he hears her let out a breath that is stuck somewhere between a laugh and a smirk. She pulls back when the ice numbs her fingers, but keeps on, rubbing the melting ice against him. It drips down his chin, curves over his jaw and seeps down to his collarbone, but he couldn't care less. He hasn't felt this good in years.
"I want to tell you that I can't say something that will make this all better. I want to tell you that I won't do it again, that I'll never revert back to my old self again. But I would only be offering empty promises. I've nothing that will fix my wrongs. I can try to tame my temper, to keep from lashing out, but I can't promise anything. I want to change who I am, but I don't know how. I'm not strong, Beast Boy. I'm not the pillar of strength that Starfire is. I can't comfort you with words. I'm just… me. But that has never been good enough."
He jerks, knowing that phrase had run rampant through his own mind since his parents had died. But Raven harboring the same pain he was? "There is nothing good about me… Beast Boy, when I read that stupid journal, it was like peeking into my own mind. Everything you had written down, all those insults I threw at you, were aimed at me. It was never you I was trying to hurt. I was telling myself those things. You were just there to make it seem like I wasn't talking to myself. I never believed a word I said about any of those slams. You are worth so much more, Beast Boy, and nothing I say, or anyone else says, can change that. You have a future, Beast Boy. You have a life ahead of you. I don't."
His heart constricts. She was wrong. There was no life for him out there, no future for someone like him. She was wrong to even think that—
"And those girls you flirted with here? They weren't worth your time. All those thing they said about you are wrong. You're weight is— or was— perfect… until you starved yourself. And you're not stupid. Not at all. When you stop pretending to be a jokester, you can make perfect sense. You… because of your mind, you stopped me from hurting when Malchoir ripped me to pieces. And you? Weak?" There is a slightly laugh to her voice that smoothes out like silk against his ears. "Have you ever seen yourself shift? It's brief, yes, but there is no mistaking the muscles you have beneath that stupid outfit of yours."
She sighs softly, tossing the ice away when it becomes nothing more than a sliver. "I could go on and on, but it would be useless. You're worth more than any thing I have to say." He feels her move, almost as if she's reaching for another ice cube, but instead, she wipes a cloth over his chin, down his neck, before skimming it so carefully over his lip it feels like a feathers caress.
"If you can hear me, I… want you to know something…" Her voice is hesitant now, almost as if she's unsure whether to go on or not. "I've… always admired you. I know it doesn't seem like it, but every time you disperse the tension in a room, I envy you. Every time you laugh, I feel something in me melt. Every time you try to make me laugh, my heart dances in my chest. And every time you smile, I feel like there is something worthwhile in this world… something worthwhile for me. There is no way you have so many flaws, Beast Boy. I looked over that list, and what you saw as weakness I saw as strength."
He wants to open his eyes, to see her face, to look at her when she breaks down her own barrier, but his eyes, damn them, stay sealed shut. "When you wake up, I want you to… know… that you are not weak. You are not worthless. You are not expendable. Because, no matter what anyone says…" She grunts softly. "If you ever heard this, you'd laugh at me until you couldn't breathe." But she takes a deep breath, and quietly, she leaned forward until her hair dips forward to caress his skin. "You always mean something to me."
His mind is racing as it orders his body to respond, dammit! She's practically smothering her pride for him, and he wants to see. His mind is nearly growling now in anger when she closes off the space between then, and brushes her soft mouth against his.
He figures that it's the mind numbing shock that has his eyes fluttering open to stare at her in wonder, eyebrows drawn together. His mouth is parted slightly in confusion as she blinked slowly at him before heating slightly.
"You're up." She's trying to hide, he realizes, and feels a frown tugging at his mouth, though he's trying to keep it from happening, less he wants to crack open his mouth again. Instead, he snakes out a heavy tongue to run against the broken skin.
"You kissed me." He's surprised at how hoarse his voice is, and briefly wonders how long he's been out.
She clears her throat softly, yet doesn't pull back. "So I did."
That wasn't what he expected, but then again, Raven had pushed past his expectations to venture into the down right outrageous. "Why?"
She tilts her head slightly. "I figured it was a pretty good time to do it."
He can only stare at her as she reaches for another cube of ice, clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth when he tried to wet his lips with his tongue. "Stop. That will only make it worse."
So he leans back slowly, watching her as she runs the ice over his mouth as if nothing had happened, as if he weren't lying here because he couldn't handle his own worthlessness.
"Raven," he croaks, but she cuts him off by sliding the ice father into his mouth so her fingers nearly skim across the tip of his tongue. "Shut up and let me do my job," she says coyly, winking almost shyly at him.
When his mouth is numb with the ice and pleasure cools his blood, Raven tosses away another piece of ice, wiping her fingers to clean off his blood. She's steadily watching her task as she asks, "Did you hear what I said?"
He wants to joke, but doesn't feel like putting forth the effort. He turns away, cringing at his stiff neck. "Yeah." His eyebrows draw together when he shifts his foot and pain darts down his leg. "How long was I out?"
She shifts her eyes downwards, gently smoothing out his quilt. "Almost an entire week."
His eyebrows shoot up at this. "That long, huh? Guess that explains why I feel so damn tired."
She frowns slightly, eyebrows marred. "Depression can cause fatigue. In fact, in some cases, you can't even get out of bed it's so bad. Is that why you slept for days at a time?"
He gives a rough shrug, hissing when the movement pulls at muscles he forgot he even had. She presses her fingers against the aching muscles across his shoulder. "I guess." He doesn't like her touching him, not when it has fire shooting into veins that felt dry as dirt.
Gently, so not to upset his unused muscles, he grabs her hand and meets her gaze head on. "I don't want your pity."
Something hot and nasty dances in her eyes as they narrow into twin amethyst slits. "Good. You don't have it, so don't worry about it."
"It's in your eyes. Don't lie to me. I'm not that dense."
Her jaw tightens. "Another flaw in that long line of imperfections?"
The bite in her voice makes him turn away, a scowl spreading over his mouth and cracking more skin. He slips into a spiel of sailor curses as he feels more blood, thicker this time, skim down his chin.
"You ass," she snapped, and is pressing down with a cloth to staunch the blood. "Why do you have to be so stubborn? Stop making all those damn facial expressions."
"Then stop being such a bitch."
They glared at each other until fire seemed to dance between them. "Hardhead," she growls, fighting back the urge to swipe the cloth against his bleeding mouth.
Now she scowls. "This isn't a rhyming contest, bastard."
"Why don't you take your sarcasm, and shove it up your—"
"Now, now, Beast Boy, lets not be nasty." Cyborg says as he trots into the infirmary. "We're not supposed to talk to ladies like that."
"When I come across one, I won't."
Raven makes a sound of aggravation and is seconds away from scratching the cloth against his lips when it hits her. His smart mouth was back. When he spoke to her, his voice hadn't been dead. His eyes weren't dulled with pain, and his skin wasn't pale with fatigue. Now, as he glared at her, fire danced in his eyes, making his green irises nearly glow with emotion, face flushed and tone snappy.
Obviously, Cyborg realizes this, for he freezes in checking Beast Boy's IV. Beast Boy turns away from her, muttering under his breath as she pulls the cloth back in her shock. When he hears no retort from either teammate, he turns back slowly toward them.
Cyborg looks as if the world had been taken from his shoulders, only to be replaced by a cloak of clouds. Raven eyes shimmered with hope, such a drastic change from her normal pointed glare that his mouth slips open in shock.
She turns away quickly, surprised when she feels tears hot against the back of her throat, and pulls out another piece of melting ice. He watches a tear of water slip down her fingers and bleed into her uniform.
"Shut up and let me play doctor." She smirks down at him, and for the first time in years, Beast Boy smiles.
"DAMMIT BEAST BOY, STOP WITH ALL THE FREAKING FACIAL EXPRESSIONS!"
Cyborg clucks at them as Best Boy yelps as he cracks his lips once more before ducking out of the infirmary. A smile dances across his mouth as things slowly start to function as if nothing had ever happened.
The fire flares to life, tendrils of orange flame reaching for the midnight sky with beckoning fingers. Beast Boy sits in front of it, arms folded over his knees, the light reflected in his now bright eyes. Things haven't been easy for him. Crawling back from the pit of depression was one of the most difficult challenges he'd ever been through. There were still times when he found it hard to pull himself from bed, time when the felt the tell tale pressure of agony pressing down against him.
It was hard sometimes to keep the hopeless down, to keep the light bright in his eyes. He hadn't yet warmed up to the idea of antidepressants. His teammates were now his drug, the one antidote that kept him from tumbling back into the abyss he created.
They sat with him now, all in a different variety of poses. Robin draped an arm against his upraised knee, the other laid flat in from of him. Starfire was leaning against his shoulder, idly twisting her hair around her fingers. Cyborg was currently humming a campfire song beneath his breath while rocking side to side, a stick at least six feet long shoved into the flames, accessorized by the biggest marshmallows know to man. Raven sat nestled between the cyborg and Beast Boy, legs folded beneath her and eyes slightly narrowed as Cyborg belted out with Kumbaya in a loud shrill.
"Geez, Cyborg. Think you can get any more off key?" Beast Boy grimaces and sticks a finger in his ear. "I think you've got the dogs howling."
They break off into laughter when a hound bays along with Cyborg. He blushes and pouts.
"It's been awhile since we've been able to relax like this," Robin muses, smiling down at his girlfriend when she makes a sound of agreement in the back of her throat.
"Yes, it is. The last time we were able to do the hanging out was when we were in Japan." She glances up at Robin with the smile. "We should do that again."
Beast Boy gages at the hidden implication while Cyborg chortles and Starfire flames. "Dude, that is so totally wrong! Never mention your sex games around me! My mind is fragile, you know!" He means it as a joke, and though they laugh, they know it to be the truth.
"Yes, well, that mind of yours is slowly gaining strength," Raven says, and his teammates nod in agreement. "It's been so much easier to get you out of bed now."
"'Cause you're in it."
Now Robin gags as Raven proceeds to whack him over the head. "Hey now," he says, chuckling when she flicks sand at him. The waves lap gently behind them, the salt perfuming the cool air. "But it does help," he murmurs, low enough for her to hear. "It's easier to handle."
She nods slightly. "Two broken people together make a whole. Strange, in a clichéd way."
He chuckles again, a sound she has come to love with every fiber of her being, and pulls her to him so she's nestled against his chest. She doesn't pull back, for she is now comfortable where she is with him.
"So this is it, huh?" Cyborg asks, pulling his marshmallows to his face to see if they were ready to be inhaled yet. "After this, it's all over."
The couples exchange smiles. "Yeah. This is it."
"Our last time as free, happy teenagers... Robin and Starfire are planning a wedding. Raven and Beast Boy are finally settling into a comfortable relationship. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with Bumblebee. And," he adds, his eyes on the object held between Raven and Beast Boy. "We're burning a part of our past that chains us from our future. This is symbolic, isn't it?"
Beast Boy makes a low sound in his throat, his chest rumbling against Raven's back. "It's more than just symbolic, Cy. What we do today will be a highlight in our life that we won't forget anytime soon."
"We're burning our rocky past," Robin said softly, repeating Cyborg's words.
"And writing a new future," Cyborg adds. He then sighs. "Can we get any cornier?"
Beast Boy reaches over to pluck a marshmallow from Cyborg's stick and tosses it at him. Cyborg catches it like a dog. "Ruin a good moment, why don't ya? I could've said something really witty too."
Raven rolled her eyes. "Let's not. Besides," she adds as they stand, circling the fire. Their shadows dance across the blonde sand, brown with the shadows of the moon. "Actions have always spoken louder than words."
Robin nods, his girl tucked within the safety of his arms. Cyborg stops munching long enough to watch as Beast Boy held the notebook in his hand, gazing at the pain written within the crinkled pages.
"I stopped pretending. I stopped hiding. And I stopped hating myself. This damn notebook started out as a joke. A laugh at my own expense to see how many people insulted me in different ways. I didn't expect it to drag me down. I didn't expect it to rip me apart until I pushed my body over the edge. But it did. I broke. I learned. And now, I'm burning it. It won't hold me to the past anymore." He glances down when Raven links her fingers with his.
Without words, he tosses the notebook into the roaring fire, and watches as his pain goes up in flames.
He is twenty.