Dinner was finished and Robin was doing the dishes. Raven had gone into her room as usual and Starfire was showering, a lengthy process that she often used to occupy the early evenings. Cyborg was sprawled languidly on the couch, digging vigorously at his teeth with a toothpick. "Now that was some good eatin'" he said, sounding enormously contented. "Maybe I should cook all the time."
"My green salad was excellent," Beast Boy said dryly, "fresh out of the plastic bag. At least you set out some dressing for me. That was some real culinary skill you had on display."
"Thanks," Cyborg replied smugly, ignoring the sarcasm. They were silent for a bit. "Game?" Cyborg asked into the silence.
"Nah," Beast Boy replied. "TV." This produced an approving grunt from Cyborg. They both reflected for a moment on the ease of communication that males could share. After a few minutes of surfing, they settled on an old western that looked promising. "Ever see this one?" BB asked.
"Nope, but that's Mr. Clint Eastwood right there, and you can't go wrong with that," Cyborg replied. Beast Boy grunted agreement.
After a few more minutes Raven quietly entered the room. Her hood was down, making her as ominous as ever, and she had a box under her arm. She went around the couch and sat next to Beast Boy. He glanced over at her. "What ya got there?" he asked.
"Chess set," she answered in her usual near monotone. "Do you play?"
Beast Boy sat up, a bit surprised at the turn of the conversation. "Yeah, but not well. I mean, I know how all the pieces move."
"Let's play," Raven said, her words sounding more like a directive then a request.
"Um... sure," Beast Boy said, sounding a bit nervous.
Raven gave a barely perceptible sigh. "You don't have to if you don't want to."
"No, it's been a while since I played chess," he said. "It'll be fun."
After a few desultory attempts at conversation over the game by Beast Boy, they played in silence. It took almost an hour, neither of them being very proficient. It ended in a stalemate. Once the game was over, Robin, who had entered about half way through and watched with interest, said, "You both suck. I could destroy either of you."
"Yeah, but you learned from freakin' Batman," Beast Boy protested.
"Want a lesson?" he offered.
"Not for me, thank you," Raven said, standing up, "but I'll leave the set for you." She turned to Beast Boy and visibly hesitated. Then she took a deep breath and said, "Thanks, that was... fun." Then the confusion began for the young green man. "Did you enjoy it, Beast Boy?"
"Sure," he said off-handedly.
"I know a nice place," she said, her voice maintaining it's usual monotone, "a coffee shop with tables with chess boards on them and sets you can use. We should go some time. Eat and play again." Beast Boy looked at her, clearly bemused. He glanced sideways at Robin, who appeared just as surprised. He opened his mouth to answer but closed it again. With a tiny exasperated sigh, she said, "Well?"
"Well what?" Beast Boy asked before he thought.
For a brief instant she closed her eyes. "Would you like to go with me to the place I just described sometime?"
"Yeah," Beast Boy said quickly, "Yeah, that sounds great."
"Friday night," she said, turning and walking away. At the door to the common room she turned and looked back, "Seven o'clock all right?" Beast Boy, still too surprised to speak clearly, simply nodded agreement.
"What the hell was that?" Robin asked Cyborg.
Cyborg shrugged and made a non-committal noise. He had the air of a man who was determined, in the face of overwhelming odds, to mind his own business.
In a few minutes, Beast Boy was repeating Robin's question to himself as he sat on the roof and ignored the scenery.
Beast Boy had spent the rest of the day confused. The invitation from Raven was perhaps the most unusual thing that had happened to him in a while and given his life, that was saying something. Another thing that was strange was her manner. Even more then usual, she was distant and controlled. That wasn't unusual for her, of course, but it wasn't as if she was completely unfeeling and cold either. She wasn't exactly warm, but she certainly could be caring. For those that knew her, slight changes in her voice and manner expressed the full range of emotion, it was just controlled emotion. When she had talked to him during their game and afterwards when she made her invitation, she had been absolutely expressionless and straightforward. He had seen her ask someone to pass the salt with more feeling.
Raven stayed in her room all the rest of the day, not even coming out for meals. As the remaining four of them sat at dinner, he was still occasionally shaking his head in confusion. "So," Robin said, breaking into Beast Boy's reverie, "you and Raven are going to a coffee shop for dinner and to stay around and play chess."
"Yeah, I guess so," Beast Boy said.
"Coffee will be drunk," Cyborg said. "There will be the drinking of coffee."
"There will be food," Robin continued. "Dinner followed by a recreational activity." They were both trying to do English accents and doing it poorly.
Beast Boy groaned and put his head in his hands. "Oh, good Lord," he said, "here it comes."
"Here comes what?" Star asked brightly.
"The undeserved mockery," Beast Boy replied.
"I understand," Cyborg said, directing his comments towards Robin, "that this is happening Friday."
"I believe so," Robin said. "Friday night at seven. In the evening."
"That's what I heard," Cyborg said.
"Hmmm..." Robin contemplatively rubbed his chin, "Friday night, dinner, recreational activity, just the two of them..."
"What could it all add up to?" Cyborg asked.
Starfire leapt to her feet and clapped her hands together, "It sounds like a date!"
"By George, Holmes," Cyborg cried, "she may just be right!"
"You can all bite me," Beast Boy said grumpily as the laughter broke out from the other two males.
Starfire rounded on Beast Boy, a wide smile on her face. "You have a date with Raven! This is most unexpected and wonderful!"
Beast Boy finally lifted his face from his hands. "We're going out for coffee and to play a game and hang out. She didn't seem too excited about it so I don't think it counts as a date." By the time he had finished, Star had flown out of the room.
Raven cracked her eye open as her meditation was broken by a knock on her door. She was not annoyed because she had fully expected this at some point today. She was actually surprised it had taken so long. "Come in," she said. Raven was surprised when the door opened to see it was Star and not Beast Boy.
"Oh, Raven!" Star said, "is it true what Robin and Cyborg were saying?"
"I don't know," she replied. "What were they saying?"
"That you and Beast Boy had a date!"
"Yes," Raven said with just the hint of a smile.
"I am so excited for you! Both of you!" Star did a flip in the air. "May I give you a make over?"
"Can we go purchase..." Star began, but she was interrupted.
"Can we do anything to commemorate this event?"
"I would prefer if we didn't."
"But..." Star said, "can we not even talk about it?"
Raven finally left her meditation position and settled on her bed. "If you want. It's really not a big deal."
"Of course it is!" Star protested. "It is the biggest deal!"
Raven rolled her eyes a bit. "It's just a night out. Don't get too excited. It may never happen again."
"Why would it not?"
"A lot depends on how he acts."
"But," Star said hesitantly, "he is not sure it is a date. How can he act in a way pleasing to you if he doesn't know?"
Raven was visibly amused now. "He doesn't know?" Star shook her head. "Really?"
"Should you not tell him?"
Raven actually thought about it for a moment. "Star, did he say anything?"
"Yes. He said, while Robin and Cyborg were doing the undeserved mockery, that you didn't seem too excited about it and that he didn't think it counted."
Raven nodded slightly. "That was... ok I guess. He didn't say anything mean or make any jokes?"
"Friend Beast Boy would never be mean," Star said reprovingly, "and he made no jokes."
"That will do, I guess," Raven said to herself. "Star?" she asked in a louder tone.
"Don't tell him, please." Star nodded. "Promise?" Raven asked. Star nodded again. Her word was good enough, Raven decided, but the boys had to be handled differently.
Late that night, Cyborg was awakened by a knock on his door. He sleepily disconnected himself and stumbled to the door. It opened to reveal Raven. He didn't have time to speak. "Cyborg, if you tease Beast Boy one more time about what we're doing Friday, I will make you suffer," she said. "Do you understand?" Stunned and intimidated, he just nodded. Raven walked away without speaking again.
A few minutes later, Robin was similarly awakened. Raven was well aware that Robin was the only member of the team she couldn't really intimidate. The reverse was in fact true... he intimidated her a bit. Thus, she took a different approach. When he groggily opened his door, she said, "Robin, I would like to ask that you leave Beast Boy alone regarding our plans together."
Robin grinned, "We did razz him a little, but you have to admit..."
He stopped speaking when Raven held up her hand. "If you don't, I am going to tell Starfire that you are absolutely in love with her and then..." she paused for effect, "I am going to go shopping with her." She leaned in close to him, "To buy you presents."
Raven's activities unsurprisingly did not get back to Beast Boy but he was still completely confused. He had been unable to talk to Raven since she hadn't left her room all day and he didn't have the nerve to seek her out. It was the next day when he saw her again. He came into the kitchen and she was drinking her tea and reading. "I've been waiting for you," she said, putting her book down. "I thought you were going to sleep all day."
"Heh, no. Awake now, see?" He said.
"I see that," she said. "So are you looking forward to tomorrow?" Her voice had again taken on that completely cold and emotionless cast that had added so much to his confusion.
"Sure," he said nervously, "I mean, it's gonna be great, right?"
"Don't be nervous," she said, but her voice was not reassuring at all. There was an uncomfortable silence.
"Raven, what is up with this?" he finally blurted out. "I mean it's nice that you want to do something and all, but, I don't understand and you're being all like..." he cast his face into an approximation of emotional control and spoke in a monotone,"'Hey, lets go have coffee'" his voice went back to normal, in fact climbing an octave as he warmed to his monologue, "and the guys were making fun of me and saying it was a date and, and..." He began waving his arms around, "I don't know if it is or not and... I... AHHHH!" He closed with a yell and lay his head on the table in frustration.
"Beast Boy," Raven said, as coldly as ever, "Look at me." He raised his head. "I want you to listen very carefully and think about what I am about to say, OK?" He nodded, looking curious and a little concerned. She took a deep breath. "I am not emotionless. You know that right?" Beast Boy nodded. "I feel everything that everyone else does. I just have to keep those feelings under control. It doesn't mean I don't have them."
"I know," Beast Boy said.
"Strong emotions require strong control. The more I feel, the more I have to..."
"Try not to?" Beast Boy suggested.
"Not exactly," she said. "But close enough for now. Once I have worked through the strong emotions and have processed them I can then express them more freely. Do you understand?"
"I think so," he said.
"Good," she said. "Now I have to go meditate because I have some very strong emotions to process."
"Umm..." he began, but she interrupted.
"Oh," she said, "We do have a date."
"Yes. This is your chance to back out and we shall never speak of this again," she said.
"Yeah," he said, sounding a bit distracted. Her eyes got a bit bigger and he went on quickly. "No! I mean, yes, I want to go. It's just... strong feelings?" She nodded. "And you need to go meditate?" She nodded again. A blush suddenly covered his cheeks. Raven left quickly.
"Wow," Beast Boy said in the empty room, "strong feelings."
Cyborg had trouble falling asleep after his one sided conversation with Raven. It wasn't that he was afraid, even though if the truth be told he would probably not enjoy a confrontation with Raven, it was that she was acting completely out of character. Not when she threatened him, that was pretty normal, but asking out Beast Boy was so far out of character he was getting worried. At one time or another all of them had been under the influence of some villain or other. He was carefully going over Raven's behavior for the last several days looking for oddities. There was only the one but it was just so glaringly huge.
Upon awakening that morning, he went to Robin's room. He had the foresight to bring a large black coffee. He knocked once and announced who it was before going in. Robin was peering at him from his pillows, eyes squinting in either confusion or annoyance from behind his mask. Cyborg smirked. Whichever way he Robin was feeling, the coffee would help. He pulled the chair from under the desk and held the cup out. Robin took it without comment. "Do you sleep in that mask?" Cyborg asked.
"Either that or I can put it on really fast," Robin grunted. "What do you want?"
Cyborg sighed, "Maybe I'm being paranoid, but it's just so weird..."
"I don't think Ravens being controlled," Robin said calmly.
Cyborg sat back in his chair in shock. "How do you do that?" he demanded.
Robin shrugged with a small grin. "Did she threaten you last night and tell you to leave Beast Boy alone?" Cyborg nodded. He chuckled. "Me too."
"OK," Cyborg said. "You've thought about it too. Why aren't you suspicious?"
"A few reasons," Robin said. "First, where's the gain? I mean other then possibly putting two of us off our game, where's the gain for our supposed villain? Second, if someone were controlling her and they made the odd choice of having her ask Beast Boy out, I don't think they would have Raven be so Raven, you know?"
Cyborg frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Don't you think if someone were doing what you suggest, they would want to make it more likely that their scheme would succeed?" Cyborg nodded. "So, Raven would be acting in a way that would encourage Beast Boy, not in a way that confuses and probably frightens him. You know... girly, flirty."
Cyborg nodded slowly. "Like Starfire." Robin glanced at him in slight annoyance. "Anyway, I get your point. But that leaves something even more disturbing."
"It does," Robin said. "Raven actually wants to go on a date with Beast Boy."
"I'm scared, Robin."
"Me too, Cyborg."
"Get out of my room."
Cyborg passed Raven in the common room but they didn't speak beyond a casual greeting. He went on into the kitchen to find Beast Boy mechanically setting out a bowl of cereal, a bottle of milk and a bottle of orange juice on the table. The green boy had a distant, pleased look in his eyes and he wither didn't notice or didn't acknowledge Cyborg's presence. Cyborg watched in amusement as Beast Boy slowly poured orange juice over his cereal, seeming to gaze at nothing the entire time. He took a bite and immediately spit it back in the bowl. "Jeez!" he cried. "What the hell's the matter with the milk?" Despite Ravens warning, Cyborg had a good laugh as Beast Boy dumped the bowl and prepared another, correctly this time.
"What's up with you?" Cyborg asked as innocently as possible.
Beast Boy shook his head as if to clear it. "Odd morning," he said distantly.
"I'll say," Cyborg agreed.
"Did it ever occur to you," Beast Boy asked, "that the entire time we've been together, the only one of us that has had any success... you know, romantic success, was me?" He chuckled a bit cynically, "And we know how that turned out."
"Not till you mentioned it," Cyborg said, "but it's a thought that will fester."
Beast Boy was silent for a moment. Cyborg kept quite, expecting him to go on. When he did, he had completely jumped subjects. "Do you think Raven is pretty?"
Cyborg nodded. "The girl's got a little something goin' on," he said.
Beast Boy nodded. "I like her hair."
"She's got nice hair," Cyborg said. Watching Beast Boy ramble was interesting. Cyborg didn't want to distract him, if for no other reason then to see where he would go next. "We talked this morning," he went on.
"What about?" Cyborg prompted.
Beast boy frowned thoughtfully. "I'm not sure if I'm allowed to say."
"You aren't sure if you're allowed?" Cyborg asked a bit incredulously.
"Yeah. It was kind of... well... private, I guess."
"OK," Cyborg said. "Then you shouldn't tell me."
Beast Boy grinned now. "I'm not going to." He looked directly at Cyborg for the first time in the conversation. "How weird would that be for you guys?" he asked. "Me and Raven?"
"Not as weird as it will be for Raven," Cyborg said with a chuckle. Then he shrugged, "But, hey, if it works for you two... more power to you."
Raven was on her way to her room for a little privacy after her talk with Beast Boy. She was a bit surprised that Robin was leaning against the wall across from her door. "Figured you would be on your way back here pretty quickly," he said.
She shrugged. "You figured right."
"So," he said, "Beast Boy." She cocked her eyebrows a bit but didn't reply. "You and Beast Boy," he went on with a hint of asperity.
"It's just one date," she said.
"You like him?"
"I asked him out, didn't I?"
Robin nodded, his lips pursed. "I don't know how to take this." She shrugged and leaned against the wall opposite him, unconsciously mirroring his posture. He waited a moment for her to say something, but she kept silent. "Cyborg thought you were under some nefarious villain's control."
That surprised her, "Do you agree? Is that why you're here?"
He shook his head. "No. I don't think that and I convinced him."
"Then why are you here?"
"I think you know," he said.
She rolled her eyes and sighed. "Beast Boy and I have a torrid love affair and it blows up with tears, recriminations and in my case, actual explosions. The Titans are permanently marred as a team and it's all the fault of the ill-starred young lovers and the fact that they didn't listen to Robin from the very start."
"Exactly," Robin said, but a note of humor had crept in.
"It's just one date," she repeated. "There's not going to be some huge drama."
"Not from you," Robin said, "but between the two of you, I think we know who's more emotionally mature."
"You're afraid he won't be able to handle it?" she asked.
"Not if things start and then you end it," he replied bluntly.
"I think you're underestimating him," she said.
Robin grinned a bit, "I guess you should trust him a little more then I do. You're the one with... feelings for him."
She became a bit annoyed, "That and the fact that he always comes through when it counts, just like the rest of us."
"Ok," Robin said, raising his hands in a placating gesture, "just be careful and keep in mind that you two will have to stay in close contact afterwards, however things go."
"I just don't want to see either of you hurt," he went on.
"I know," she said. She stood and turned to enter her room.
"The green skin doesn't bother you?" he asked.
She stopped in the door and her shoulders actually slumped a bit. "I think it's cute, God help me." She closed her door, sealing out the sound of Robins laughter.