Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author's Note: I am trying, quite desperately, to find a Rob/Rae story that fits a certain set of criteria that I've listed in my profile. If you happen to know of a story that fits this criteria, please tell me. Until then, here's the second story I've written with Robin and Raven in a romantic relationship, albeit one focused on Beast Boy more than anything.
I failed to meet criteria numbers three and six, if not more.
Author's Note 2: Because I'm a quote whore, you're getting three.
I have learned now that while those who speak about one's miseries usually hurt, those who keep silence hurt more.
It is dangerous to be sincere unless you are also stupid.
-George Bernard Shaw
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made.
An noisy explosion rocked the quiet street, sending civilians fleeing in fright.
Beast Boy cackled gleefully.
"Shh!" hissed Cyborg. "This the best part of the movie!"
Beast Boy's exclamations of mirth quieted down to a soft chuckle, until a soft smack from a metallic hand on the back of his head finally silenced him.
It was movie night, and the team was assembled on the living room couch, watching one of the latest Action/Adventure flicks to come out on DVD. Beast Boy had nestled himself into the couch between Cyborg and Starfire- the former now leaning forward in anticipation, the latter covering her eyes in dread. Further down the sofa sat the Tower's lone couple, each leaning happily on the other.
It had taken a year of poking and prodding from the other three Titans, but the team's two birds had finally given in to the obvious attraction that existed between them and gotten together several months ago. The day that they had come out into the open about their feelings towards each other was a day that the entire team breathed a sigh of relief. Beast Boy effectively summed up everyone else's opinion on the matter, although everyone else had had enough sense to keep it to themselves.
"For two of the smartest people I've ever met, it sure as hell took y'all long enough to- AUGH!"
He'd come back inside dripping wet and muttering darkly under his breath about "oversensitive empaths."
Not too long after receiving his admonishment at the hands of Cyborg, the ending credits rolled across the screen.
"Well," exclaimed Cyborg as he stood up and stretched, "that was a good movie. Time for Cy to hit the hay, though."
"But friend," asked Starfire, "what has the dried grass done to merit such a beating?"
Her comment elicited a quiet laugh from the android. "It's just an expression, Star. It means that I'm going to bed, 'cuz I'm tired."
"You're not the only one," Robin spoke up, nodding to the now sleeping girl on his shoulder. "Rae here fell asleep about a half hour ago." Picking her up gently, the Boy Wonder proceeded to carry her up to her bed. "You guys get your sleep- we've got combat training at noon tomorrow."
The rest of the team nodded their assent, and Cyborg and Starfire followed their leader to their respective rooms. Beast Boy, however, made a detour to the bathroom so he could shower and brush his teeth. Animals could smell pretty bad at the end of the day, and he didn't want to bring that odor into his room. It was messy, but at least it smelled clean.
Ten minutes after getting in, Beast Boy exited the shower and headed over to the sink. To his annoyance, the mirror had fogged up- he liked to use it to make sure he got his fang nice and clean. After all, it was always visible.
Rubbing his fist against the reflective surface, he made a troubling discovery.
His lips were smiling. That in itself wasn't troubling- after all, he was happy, right?
But his eyes… his eyes were dull, lifeless and not smiling. Not at all.
And he didn't know why.
A clear summer night two weeks later found Beast Boy up on the Tower roof, laying flat on his back and staring up at the stars. It was two in the morning, and he really should have been in bed. But ever since that night in the bathroom, he'd had trouble getting a decent night's sleep. Giving a tired sigh, he continued to try and pin down the source of his troubles. Suddenly, the soft sound of careful footsteps coming up the stairs brought him out of his reverie. Sitting up and looking over his shoulder, he saw Raven emerge from the door into the night air.
"Hey Raven- what're you doing up here so late?"
Raven hadn't expected him to notice her so quickly and hesitated, if only for a moment.
"I came up to see why you were up here so late."
Beast Boy chuckled at how she had turned his question on him so easily. Still, two could play this game.
"In other words, Robin kicks in his sleep."
Raven blushed a deep crimson- she and Robin hadn't told their friends that they slept in the same room yet, not knowing how they would react. Her reaction was swift and poorly thought out.
"How did you know that?!" she asked indignantly. "Have you been spying on us?" She immediately regretted the accusatory tone of her voice, but was relieved when the ever-present grin on her friend's face didn't falter in the slightest.
"Actually Raven, I didn't know. But thanks for telling."
Raven groaned, furious at herself for engineering her own destruction.
"And in case you were worried," Beast Boy continued, "I haven't snuck into your room since that mess with Malchior."
Raven's empathetic sense picked up a sharp feeling of hurt as he spoke. So her suspicions had stung him. Damn.
"Beast Boy," she started. "I'm sorr-"
The changeling waved a hand dismissively and cut her off. "Don't worry yourself about it. I am the Tower snoop, after all."
Raven noticed, with considerable surprise, that the green hero had maintained a constant display of general happiness throughout the exchange- a display that her powers knew to be false. But... not once had his grin faltered, and not once had the jovial lilt in his voice faded.
She realized then that her friend may not be as happy as he let on. Deciding that more discussion was in order, Raven sat down next to him.
"So Beast Boy- you never did say why you were up here so late."
He leaned back and placed his hands behind his head. "Oh, no real reason- I couldn't sleep, so I came up here to do some thinkin'."
Raven waited for him to continue. After a few moments, she realized that he wasn't planning on it, and so prompted him. "What are you thinking about, then?"
Beast Boy was conflicted. Sure, he could tell her the truth, but what good would that do?
Yeah, I'm up here at this ungodly hour because I feel miserable and don't have any clue why.
It sounded stupid, even to him. So he went with a lie.
"I was wondering how the hell people see shapes in the stars. It just doesn't make any sense to me." He pointed up into the sky. "I mean, just look at Canis Minor. It's two stars- how do you get a hunting dog out of two stars? It's a straight line, for crying out loud!"
Raven stared at her green companion for a moment before standing up and turning towards the door. "Beast Boy, if you aren't going to be honest, there's no point in us talking."
She walked slowly, but purposefully, towards the door. Any moment now, he would call her back, apologize, and tell her the truth. He'd never let her walk away from a conversation this easily in his life.
If nothing else, she thought, I know Beast Boy.
"Goodnight then, Raven."
The empath stumbled and spun around to stare at her friend with a dumbfounded look on her face. He was letting her just walk away… for once. She carefully felt out his emotions with her powers, and was surprised to discover the depression rolling off him in waves.
"Beast Boy-" she started. The Titan in question turned back around, his happy grin still on his face.
"-don't stay up too late." She turned and walked through the door.
The two sat on the couch, alone with each other in the common room. Raven leaned on her boyfriend as he casually flipped through the channels, re-reading The Count of Monte Cristo for the seventh time. To her annoyance, she couldn't concentrate on her book- she kept getting distracted by the strange conversation she had last night on the roof with Beast Boy.
"I'm worried," she said, giving up on her book and placing it on the couch beside her.
Immediately, she had Robin's full attention.
"What about?" he asked, a bit of worry creeping into his voice.
Raven gave a small smile at his concern, before returning her expression to its habitually staid state.
"I'm worried about Beast Boy. I spoke with him last night, and I got the impression that something was deeply troubling him."
Robin frowned slightly. He couldn't think of anything that had happened recently to be bothering the green Titan. "What led you to that conclusion?" he asked, slipping into his detective role.
"I felt an inexplicable aura of sadness around him when I went up to check on him, and he lied to me instead of telling me what was on his mind. He's never done that before."
Robin was surprised, and he let it show. "Beast Boy lied to you? You? I would have thought he would have known better than that."
Raven nodded, and continued. "That wasn't all, though. I confronted him with his lie and walked towards the door-"
"-and he called you back, apologized, and gave you the truth, right?"
"He bid me goodnight." Robin's mouth gaped a little at this- Beast Boy had never been one to let anyone just walk away, much less someone with whom he had so few conversations with as Raven.
"Did he do anything else unusual, Raven?" Robin asked.
"No, and that was the strangest thing of all." Robin's confusion was evident, so the empath explained herself. "The entire time, he had his happy-go-lucky grin plastered on his face, just like he always does. If I wasn't empathetic, I would never have noticed anything."
"I see I'm not the only one he's weirding out. That's a relief- I was beginning to think I had knocked a screw loose somewhere." Cyborg's voice emanated from the hallway as he entered the common room. Wiping an oil stain from his metal chest, he sat down next to Robin and continued the discussion. "Something's been up for a while, actually. He's been acting… different. I tried asking him about it a few times last week, but all I managed to get out of him was an exasperated claim of 'being cool.'"
"What did you notice wrong, Cy?" Robin asked, trying to get as much information as possible.
"I'm his best friend, Rob," replied Cyborg. "When something just changes about him, I notice. What it was, though, I can't help you with. I just got a sort of feeling that something was up with him."
"His eyes," said a feminine voice in the kitchen. The three on the couch jumped at the sound of Starfire's voice, not having noticed her come in. "He smiles with his mouth, but no longer with his eyes." She looked over at Robin, who gave her a nod, silently asking her to elaborate. "His eyes are always very sad, friends. I do not know why, but merely looking in them makes me want to cry." The alien sniffled, and wiped her nose with a napkin.
"So we have definite odd behavior coming from Beast Boy, all of pointing towards depression" Robin stared off into the distance before looking into his girlfriend's eyes. "Raven, would you mind talking to him again and seeing if you can figure out anything else?"
Raven was surprised- she had expecting Robin to ask Cyborg, or to do it himself. "Why me? Of all the team, we have the least common ground."
"Because he can't lie to you and get away with it," explained Robin. "And if he's masking his expression as well as you say he is, then everyone else is going to hard-pressed to be able to figure out when he's being honest."
She thought for a moment before seeing the logic in Robin's request, and acquiesced.
A small green rhesus monkey leapt through the bars of the jungle gym, nimbly using its hands, feet, and tail to swiftly navigate the obstacle.
The monkey in question was startled by the voice and its concentration was broken. In moments, a very human Beast Boy was tangled in the steel grid with a small trickle of blood flowing from a nasty looking bump on his forehead.
"Beast Boy!" cried the voice again. "Are you alright?"
He shook his head, clearing out the cobwebs. "Yeah, just give me a second to get out of here." Carefully, the changeling worked his way through the maze of bars, until he was finally face to face with…
Another wave of sadness washed over Raven as the green boy smiled at her, as though nothing could have pleased him more than her appearance… and his subsequent blow to the head.
"Here," she said, raising a hand to his forehead, "let me take care of that for you."
The smile on his face remained unchanged, but she felt a surge of gratitude from him as she healed his wound. "Thanks, Raven."
She dismissed his gratitude as unnecessary. "It was my fault anyways," she explained.
"Still," he insisted, "you didn't have to, so I'm going to thank you anyways." Petulantly, he stuck his tongue out at her.
Raven fought the urge to roll her eyes at his antics. "Hey, it's what friends are for." Remembering why she was there, she continued. "And speaking of things friends are for…"
Beast Boy groaned in frustration and sat down, indicating to Raven that she should sit as well. She did.
"So you've been sent down to ask me about what's going on, correct?"
Raven blinked at him in surprise. He gave a short laugh and explained. "Mix sensitive hearing, a loud Cyborg and Starfire, a little context, and stir. Those two need to learn to speak more quietly, or Cyborg needs to soundproof the walls."
"So are you going to tell me what's wrong, or am I going to have to extract it from you?" Raven paused as Beast Boy rubbed his chin and dramatically considered the question.
"That really depends, Raven. How many rubber chickens do you have?"
The half-demon let out an exasperated groan, cursing Robin for forcing this chore upon her. "Look, Beast Boy- for once, be serious. I'm trying to help you. We're trying to help you."
Beast Boy let out another short laugh. "Raven, there's just one problem with that: I have absolutely no idea what's wrong. None. Zero. Zip. Nada."
Raven blinked in surprise. "Are you telling me that all this depression you're letting off has no cause behind it?" She shook her head. "I don't believe that- not for one second."
"And you'd be right not to," he said. "I never said there wasn't a cause, I just don't know what it is. I can't see a reason to be sad, and I have every reason to be happy."
A brief silence hung in the air as Raven considered her approach. This would be trickier than she had thought. "So…" she began, "what is it that makes you happy, then?"
He gave the question some thought before answering. "I guess I'd have to say that seeing my friends happy makes me happy. Or, at least I would except for the given circumstances."
Raven nodded. "We're already happy, but you're still unhappy. There has to be more- what else makes you happy?"
Beast Boy shrugged. "Honestly, that's all I can think of. Everything else I can think of is something trivial, like beating Cy at video games. Honestly, I've never really given the subject much thought."
Raven's eyes widened, and then narrowed again. "I don't believe that either. There's no way I'm going to believe that you have never sought out something for yourself that made you happy." She thought for a moment before inhaling sharply. "Terra."
Beast Boy paused, the smile on his face finally fading. But then he dismissed the notion outright. "I suppose I could have been happy with her, but look at it this way- she's always wanted the life she has now. She has a loving family, friends, and no reason to be afraid of herself. Taking that from her would be cruel of me. There really wasn't a choice to be made- I don't think I could live with stealing her happiness, even if it means that I can't do anything to make her happy myself."
Suddenly, Raven was struck with a flash of insight. "Beast Boy," she said thoughtfully, "what if what makes you happy isn't seeing your friends happy, but instead making them happy?"
Beast Boy stiffened, and muttered something under his breath, causing Raven to frown at him. "I… I've got to go," he stammered. Getting to his feet, he ran a hand down his face and walked briskly to the door.
"Beast Boy! Wait!" she cried, standing up herself. "Where are you going?"
He turned around, the grin once again on his face. "Oh, you know- here and there. Nowhere in particular."
He turned to leave again, but she stopped him once more at the door. "Why are you always smiling, if you're always so sad?"
He stopped, but didn't turn back to face her this time. "Because, Raven… if you laugh, the world laughs with you." And then, he was gone.
Raven stared at the space he had occupied, feeling rather shocked at his last words. Under her breath, she finished them for him.
"Weep, and you weep alone."
Beast Boy frantically ran to his room, his eyes burning with weeks- months- years of unshed tears. Throwing himself onto his bed, be buried his face into his pillow to muffle any noise, should anyone pass by.
He finally understood. Raven had been completely right- he lived not only to see others happy, but to make others happy. He was Cyborg's best friend- Beast Boy knew he made him happy. He was not only the one to give Silkie to Starfire, but he was also the only one willing to help her take care of… it, or to try her (vegetarian) attempts at Earth cooking. Hell, Robin was happy when he showed up to training on time.
But the one who had needed it most, the one he had worked the hardest on, he had hardly helped at all. Years of effort, and he had barely even managed to make her crack a smile. Oh, he hadn't been completely unsuccessful, but six and a half years of trying resulting in a number of smiles and laughs that he could count on one hand... that was not a track record to be particularly proud of. He had given her moments, but had never been able to make her consistently happy.
And he never would. That wasn't his job, anymore. He'd been found wanting, and the torch had been passed onto a far more capable individual- that is, if he had ever borne the torch at all.
"What to do, what to do, what to do?!" he yelled into the pillow. With a sudden movement, the boy sat up and began massaging his temples.
Calm down, Beast Boy, and think through this logically. Exploding with emotion will only bring attention to you that you don't want to deal with right now!
Bringing his breathing under control, the changeling slowed down the frenetic pace of his thoughts.
Let's look at the facts: for better or for worse, I've failed. Now, what do we do about that? I could continue my efforts. No, that would only compound my failure. I could run away from my failure. NO! That'd be worse- a million times worse! Never to see her again, never to see them again, knowing that my actions caused them pain… no, I can't… I won't do that.
He removed his fingers from his head and took off his gloves, setting them beside him and staring at his bare hands.
All I can do is accept that I failed. That I am a failure
He turned his hands over, idly examining the scars running across them.
But... I also won't be the one to drag the team down.
Looking up from his hands, he stared at the door.
They need me. They need me to be happy. They won't be happy until they see that I am.
He donned his gloves once more and jumped out of bed before making his way to the door and quickly composing himself. His breathing was controlled, and his eyes were clear.
So, I'll be happy... for them.
Stepping outside, he let out a gasp as he knocked over Raven, who had been standing outside his door. He chuckled as he lent her his hand to regain her feet. Brushing herself off, she looked up to him.
Raven nodded, seemingly satisfied. She could no longer feel the crippling sadness radiating from her team mate. "That's good to know," she said in a voice devoid of inflection. "We're glad to have you back to normal."
Beast Boy nodded, and followed her to the common room where the rest of his friends waited. As he entered, the changeling saw them glance over at him expectantly.
He felt the smile alight on his face, and saw Cyborg return it.
It reached his lips, and Robin gave a relieved sigh.
It found his eyes, and Starfire clapped with glee.
It stopped short of his heart, and Raven nodded once more, took her place next to Robin, and returned to her book.
And Beast Boy grinned.
He had no other choice.