'How long have they been out?' Raven wondered.
It was a quarter past eight in the evening, and neither Robin nor Beast Boy had returned from their outings. Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven had been doing their own activities all day, and finally they congregated in the common room. Starfire went on a chore spree, Cyborg ran a weekly inspection of the tower's security system and proceeded to take a "nap", and Raven had been in the gym for god knows how long. Now that the day had slowed down and they were finally together, the queries about Robin and Beast Boy's whereabouts started to arise. Starfire was worried, Cyborg was annoyed, but Raven found the whole situation to be very peculiar.
"I do hope Robin and Beast Boy have not been harmed," Starfire said as she paced through the air behind the couch.
"They better be a little beat up," Cyborg fumed from his spot in the middle of the couch, "because if they're not, I won't have the heart to yell at their butts. They both know I always ask for help with the security check."
Starfire, becoming increasingly concerned for the two missing Titans, continued air-pacing. "Why have they not called? I know Robin will sometimes be out for many hours at a time, but he usually does the checking in."
"Yeah. But for BB, being out alone for this long is just weird. I thought the guy liked having company," Cyborg speculated.
Raven, back in her usual attire, sat in silence at the end of the couch to Cyborg's left with her arms crossed. She observed her impatient friends. Yes, this was very strange, but Raven knew that at the very least they were okay. Robin was the kind of person who could take care of himself whether he was the equipped Robin or the gadget-less Richard Grayson. No doubt he'd be back soon; he always had a way of showing up in the nick of time.
And Beast Boy was fine. She knew he was. It wasn't a gut feeling, it was a fact. It was because of her powers, she figured. She had been noticing this for awhile. If he was in trouble, Raven could feel it. If he was okay, Raven could feel it. She thought that her empathic abilities only allowed her to sense the mental conditions and emotions of others in close proximity to her. Beast Boy was proving that theory wrong; she could feel what he felt. And it didn't matter how far he was from her. Perhaps this was an extension of her abilities; she had always been able to sense the emotions of Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg, but never feel them specifically as she did with Beast Boy. It was like a true connection of her and Beast Boy's minds, bodies, and souls.
This had been a relatively new phenomenon with her. It had come as a shock when one day she was levitating in a lotus position and a sudden burst of excitement filled her, causing her to ungracefully fall to the ground. And, at the time, it seemed coincidental that Beast Boy became overjoyed right when she did. When it came to beating Cyborg's high score, apparently there was much to be excited about, but not to her. After another similar situation, Raven began to suspect that he was culprit responsible for these impromptu surges of emotion. Raven was about to delve deeper into her thoughts, but she was interrupted by a voice.
"Raven, are you not worried about Beast Boy and Robin?" Starfire inquired.
Raven took a moment to register the question. "I don't have to be," she replied.
And as if on cue, the main doors to the common room opened.
"Hey dudes! What's up?" Beast Boy said with a deep, gleeful resonance. He was wearing a tight, grey t-shirt and a pair of dirty-washed boot-cut jeans.
Starfire and Cyborg both whipped around at the sound of his voice, but Raven remained calmly seated.
Robin was in tow to Beast Boy. He also walked in with a smile and a few large bags as well. "Hey guys," he said. Robin also wore casual attire; a pale-red shirt with a yellow collar and pair of cargo shorts.
Starfire's face lit up and with an explosive burst of speed, she flew up to the top of the stairs to greet Robin with a strong hug. "You are both alright!" she exclaimed.
"Hey, you know you don't have to worry about us, Star," Robin said, attempting to put his arms around Starfire even though his hands currently occupied. She responded with a light kiss on his lips.
Cyborg stepped around the couch to get closer to them. "Where the hell have you two been?" he admonished. "Do you know how long it takes to inspect a tower when you got NO ONE ELSE TO HELP YOU?"
Beast Boy lifted his hands, gesturing for Cyborg to stop. "Whoa, tin-man. Calm down, dude."
"Yeah Cyborg. You know I was running errands," Robin said in his own defense.
"For seven hours?" Cyborg asked incredulously.
Robin smirked. "Well, not the whole time."
"Yeah, we met up and decided to hang a little," Beast Boy added.
Cyborg eyed them both, passing glares between them. Then he grunted and shook his head. "You know what?" he capitulated, "I don't even care anymore."
And with that, Cyborg dragged himself back to the couch and plopped right back down in his spot.
"Well you should care," Beast Boy announced as he stepped down from the stairs and onto the main floor, "because I got lots to tell ya."
"Please," Starfire said, "it would be most wonderful for you to tell us of your day. You were out quite a long time."
Beast Boy walked around the room so he could stand by the coffee table in front of the couch where his audience gathered. Starfire flew onto the end of the couch opposite of Raven, who still hadn't reacted to the situation.
Meanwhile, Robin headed to the kitchen to start unloading the heaping bags, each containing all sorts of things.
"So yeah," Beast Boy started, "Robin and I were both out. He was getting groceries, taking stuff to the cleaners, yahdah yahdah."
Raven's eyebrows twitched at Beast Boy's statement. He failed to specify where he was or what he was doing.
"Well, it was maybe two or three o'clock and I decided to get something to eat. I went to that little Chinese place downtown by the harbor. So when I walked through the doors, guess who I saw?"
Cyborg and Starfire twisted their bodies to look at Robin, who was sorting cans into various cabinets. He just gave a single wave of his hand without even looking up from what he was doing.
Beast Boy continued as his audience brought their attention back to him. "Yup, Robin was there sitting at one of the booths, so of course I went to join our mighty leader."
A single "hah" could be heard from the kitchen.
"Just so I don't bore you guys, I'll just say we ate lunch and talked a little bit."
Starfire had a look of enthrallment on her face, but neither Cyborg nor Raven looked too amused yet. Nevertheless, Beast Boy continued.
"So right as we were gunna call the waitress, who happened to be this tall Asian chick that–"
"We don't wanna here about the girl," Raven suddenly interjected.
Beast Boy ceased talking and narrowed his brows at her. Raven all of a sudden felt embarrassed for some reason. She had no reason to be. Her eyes widened for a split second as she noticed a very slight pink tinge on Beast Boy's cheeks. He was embarrassed and he probably knew it was a mistake to say that.
"Yo, BB, keep goin'," Cyborg said out of the blue, trying to break the sudden silence.
Twitching a little, Beast Boy started his story again as if nothing had just happened. "Anyway, I see Robin look out the window. He said there was some dude walking into a back alley. I didn't see him, but Robin said he was suspicious-looking and all. You know how he can get those vibes just from looking at people."
At this point Beast Boy started getting into his little story. He was talking with his hands and every move he made would cause his long hair to bounce and sway.
"So Robin got into his hero mode and just kinda got up to leave the restaurant. Well, I couldn't just sit there and watch, so I slapped two twenties on the table and got up to follow him."
This time Cyborg interrupted. "You just put forty bucks on the table? Man, two full meals there cost no more than twenty-five total, even with tip."
Beast Boy's waving arms fell limp like noodles and he frowned exasperatedly at the robotic teen. "May I continue?"
Rolling his eyes, Cyborg flicked his hand, silently gesturing for Beast Boy to continue.
"Thank you," Beast Boy sighed. "So now Robin and I are looking around this corner into a dark alley, trying to see what this guy was doing. He met up with this other suspicious-looking dude."
"I heard him say 'You got da stuff?' and the other guys was like 'Yeah, it's all packed up, nice an' hidden an' ready ta go. Da cops have been searchin' for days, but dey ain't got a lead on us.'"
Beast Boy's voice became deep and gruff to imitate the two felons.
"Then he's like 'You bettah have my money 'cuz this is some high quality stuff. Just one smoke of it and you're off for a looooong time.' So I was like, 'Dude, we got some serious drug dealers on our hands'. And being the totally awesome heroes that we are, we made a plan."
Grinning wildly, Beast Boy divulged further into his story. Raven's leg started becoming restless. This really wasn't doing her any good. For one, she couldn't keep her eyes off Beast Boy. And two, she couldn't tell if he noticed her staring because he seemed caught up in his enthusiastic disposition. All of those boiling emotions she held for him were enough, and now his emotions were fighting for vacancy within her. Thus, the mental strain sent her leg in a bouncing frenzy.
"So Robin walks into the alley as casually as possible–"
Raven almost forgot Beast Boy was still talking because of the conflict taking place inside her mind.
"–No joke; he looked like he was taking a walk through Jump Central Park or something. I would've laughed, but you know, I had to keep our cover. He just comes up behind the one guy and taps him on the shoulder. I think the other guy saw him coming, but he didn't do anything about it. But anyway, this guy nearly jumped out of his pants! He was real quick to swing around pull his gun out on Robin. Like he wasn't already suspicious enough."
Starfire gasped at the mention of a gun and Cyborg now looked thoroughly intrigued. However, Raven just kept her eyes on Beast Boy, never blinking.
"And now this crazy kid over here didn't even flinch and asked the guy 'What are you doing' like some nosy teenager," Beast Boy said, nodding towards Robin. "Meanwhile, I'm a spider crawling on the wall. I had to keep the Boy Wonder covered." He winked at Starfire. "Couldn't let your man go in there all alone, now could I?"
She smiled at him. "Most certainly not."
"Now this guy looked like he was either go to strangle Robin or crap himself. I couldn't tell which." Beast Boy laughed. "He says 'That's nunnah your damn business.' Then the other guy steps around and pulls out his gun too and says 'Now get da hell outta here.'"
"At this point, I didn't think we had to do anything more. I mean, what kind of idiot would take their gun out on a, well, seemingly harmless teenager and threaten them. Robin could've just obeyed the guy and gotten the cops, but hey, it's is our job to take 'em down, right?"
Cyborg grinned and nodded his head in agreement.
"So this is when things got serious. Robin says 'This probably isn't the best city to be dealing drugs.' Then the two dudes cocked their guns. I got on my guard, ready to show those suckers whose boss."
"So the one is like 'Oh yeah? Why's that?'" Beast Boy smirked. "These guys obviously haven't been to Jump City. Then Robin says…" He decided called out to Robin, "What'd you say, Robin?"
"Because you're the ones that are going to get smoked," Robin declared in his classic heroic voice.
"Nice one, Robin," Cyborg laughed.
Starfire giggled in response; she always admired his ability to always make those clever remarks.
Robin just grinned as he started organizing the fresh dry cleaning he picked up from the cleaners.
And in the midst of all this, there was Raven, still sitting there, her leg starting to get sore from its constant movement.
"Yeah, I don't know how you keep pulling those out of your sleeves," Beast Boy added before continuing his 'epic' narrative. "So right after he said that, I morphed back to human and kicked the one guy into the other before they even had a chance to do anything. They were on the ground in a second. Robin kicked the guns out of both their hands and got behind them and twisted their arms back. I guess that put them in to much pain to do anything… because they didn't." He smiled widely, or at least wider than before.
"And just like that, we took those two thugs down. It turns out we caught some of the biggest dealers in the state. I wasn't for all that big news stuff; I'm just happy I helped make the world a better place, you know?"
"Ha, you liar," Cyborg remarked, chuckling. "You know you love sucking up to the cameras."
Beast Boy shrugged smugly. "Well, what can I say? The media loves Beast Boy."
Raven waited to hear him continue speaking, but when he didn't, she attempted to look like she had been paying attention the whole time.
Beast Boy stood there for a moment with his hands on his hips, smiling proudly with his eyes closed. Then he thought of something that wiped the look right off his face.
"Wait, how'd you guys not hear about all this?" he inquired confusedly. "Didn't you guys see it on the news? It was on all the local stations."
Starfire, Cyborg, and the now alert Raven shrugged.
"I do not believe any of us watched the television today," Starfire offered.
"I know I didn't. I was too busy resting up 'cuz I had to all the work around the tower ALONE," Cyborg grumbled. He felt the need to remind Beast Boy he was still sort of irked by his and Robin's absence.
Beast Boy pretended like he didn't hear Cyborg. "So anyway, what do you guys think about that for an excuse?" he asked, regaining his overly proud grin.
The deathly blank stare from his large friend's face caught his attention again. "Man, do you know how many times you say the word 'so' when you tell a story?" Cyborg stated, purposely avoiding giving the changeling an answer he desired.
And with that, Beast Boy's grin faded once more. He glared at Cyborg, but in his mind, he couldn't really deny the truth of his comment. That was the thing with their friendship; they always messed with each other, but no matter how much they got on each other's nerves, it boiled down to the fact that they were good enough friends to getaway with almost anything.
Raven felt extremely relieved. Beast Boy's excitement wasn't pouring out of him anymore, for the moment anyway. Her thoughts were broken by a slight upward motion in the couch cushion, but she immediately clammed up when she realized who it was that had thrown himself down right next to her. Beast Boy got comfortable in his spot, and each time he adjusted, the space between her and him decreased. It was by a miniscule distance, but it was enough for Raven to notice.
"Please, in what way did you spend the rest of your day?" Starfire asked.
"Ah," came Robin's voice. He was just finishing up from his duties and starting walking over to the congregation. "There's really no story for that. Right after the bust, Beast Boy and I walked around for a little bit and talked before going off and doing our own thing."
Robin sat down next to Starfire and put an arm around her.
Starfire nodded. "Hmm, I see. What was it that you did, exactly?"
Her tone held a mock suspicion, causing Robin to chuckle.
"You don't have to worry; I actually went down to an arcade for an hour or two. I'm kind of tired of losing to this big lug over here. Figured I'd have more luck down there," he said, pointing to Cyborg with his thumb.
He grinned and at Robin. "You know it. No one beats the champ."
Robin continued. "But yeah, that was only two hours. You wouldn't believe how much time it takes to get things done for us. Seriously, most of my day was getting groceries, picking up dry cleaning, working out damage costs we owe to the city…" He hesitated at mid sentence, his mind traveling into the past. "…thanks to a couple mishaps we had awhile back…"
Everyone, well almost everyone, nodded knowingly. Raven was lost within her own little bubble again. Beast Boy saw her lack of any outward emotion towards the situation. Every once and awhile he'd cast a short glance at her. Normally he would have thought she could feel his eyes on her, but now he wasn't so sure about that. This had become a more and more common occurrence from her whenever he sat this close to her. What happened to the Raven he talked to all the time?
A voice, accompanied by a light nudge on her upper arm, burst that secluded bubble of Raven's and brought her back into awareness of her surroundings.
"Hey, you haven't said much," Beast Boy said to her lightly. "Tell us something."
"Excuse me?" she asked quite confused.
"Yeah, Raven," Robin agreed, "what did you do today?"
All eyes turned toward her. Raven was caught in a conundrum, but only for an immeasurable fraction of time. A keen mind was a fine quality she possessed, so she was always able to find quick solutions to the problems she faced. It also helped that she did something today she was willing to tell her friends about…
"Well, today was a bit different for me," she admitted right off the back.
As she began talking, she soon found that it actually helped take her mind off the conflicts within her. The main one being how difficult it was to be so close to Beast Boy without considering certain impulsive decisions that would most likely result in either complete embarrassment or regret.
"I didn't feel like doing anything you guys are used to me doing, actually."
The fact that she had started talking so willingly made Beast Boy much less concerned. So, he acted surprised by her proclamation and releasing a fake gasp, to which the others chuckled. All except for Raven.
Of course, what was admission to Raven was no surprise to him. He had gotten to know her so well and figured there was more to her than what everyone saw. Making tea, reading old tomes, meditating, and yelling at him were not the only things she was capable of. Over the course of their friendship, he had even gotten her to play a round of videogames on the Game Station once or twice. It fascinated him to hear what she was about to say.
It wasn't so much the gasp that made her turn her head towards Beast Boy; it was the sudden spike in his emotions that she felt spring alive inside of her. It wasn't enough to alter her show of emotions, but she definitely felt it. That damned ability of hers. She saw him smiling back at her like he always did nowadays, and he winked. A very slight, warm feeling in her cheeks told her she should quit looking at him and just continue rambling.
"I changed into some workout clothes and went into the gym to work out for awhile," Raven told them. "I felt like I needed something active to do. It also felt good to get out of this leotard for awhile."
As she said this, she noted that her chest began to feel heavy and heart sped up. She was unsure what the cause of it was. Was it that wink of his? Was she weakening from his proximity?
"Good for you," Robin commented. "What kind of routine did you do?"
"Thinking about what my friends do on a daily basis is actually what led me to even go workout," Raven illuminated. "I went to your station and used the punching bag to work on my fighting techniques. I kind of figured I needed it."
"Ah, glad to see I could provide some inspiration," Robin replied kindly.
Something inside of her was beginning to make her very uncomfortable. It was happening again; the primal urge was returning. And it only began emerging after she mentioned that she went to work out. But why was the feeling this intense? This couldn't possibly be what Beast Boy was feeling, could it?
When she looked at him, he looked as care-free as ever. But it didn't last long; his face quickly changed.
All the meanwhile, as Raven said she went to workout out, a mental image popped in Beast Boy's mind. He found a woman training and strengthening her body to be quite… sexy. But no more than a second after the image took shape in his mind, he admonished himself for thinking that. This was Raven, his best friend. He couldn't think about her that way, could he? He knew she was quite attractive and had even told her he thought that. Raven had never thought much of herself and through their private talk sessions, he learned that she didn't think she was the most attractive person either. Beast Boy felt comfortable enough with her to give her his opinion. He told her she was very pretty. It took some convincing, but eventually she seemed to believe him. He didn't want to overdue it because that would have probably caused Raven to think he was lying to her. To him, she was actually the prettiest girl he had ever seen, let alone been close to. But ever since then, it had remained just that: a simple fact.
To his credit, he was able to quickly push past that thought and keep a straight, care-free look on his face. However, when she looked at him, something about her caught her attention. Her breathing had become heavy enough that he could hear it. Her face was a mix between worried… and something else he couldn't put his finger on. Her lips were parted, but not hung open. Her eyes looked focused on his, but they seemed like they were looking off into space at the same time.
The other three Titans on the couch felt like misplaced pieces of a complex puzzle. Starfire starred wide-eyed while Robin and Cyborg each quirked one of their eyebrows up. Beast Boy and Raven were looking at each other, not moving, completely silent. One second Raven is talking, the next second Raven and Beast Boy turn heads and there's a deathly calm in the atmosphere. They could do nothing but observe the ensuing situation.
"Raven?" Beast Boy spoke, finally cutting through the empty air.
"I need to go," she stuttered, swiftly turning as she stood up and strode off.
Beast Boy whipped around to look behind the couch, but she was already gone.