A.N. This was formerly the first installment of a fic I wrote a year or so ago. I scrapped the fic but kept this chapter for some reason, and I recently rediscovered it while cleaning out my hard drive. I cleaned it up quite a bit and decided to repost this as a oneshot. I do hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing here but the idea behind my story.
It was late July, and the Titans were wasting a hazy, sweltering day indoors with the air conditioning powered on full blast. The city was quiet as heat waves radiated relentlessly off of every surface, vibrating in the thick air and making fair Jump City feel like a furnace.
After nearly passing out from heat stroke in the training room, Robin had even deemed it too hot to train. Raven gave up trying to meditate on the roof while dressed in her terribly sun-absorbing navy blue garb. Cyborg and Beast Boy had finally gotten tired of playing the same video game over and over again, after four straight hours of mindless competition. Starfire was as peppy as ever, and could not figure out why her beloved teammates were acting so fatigued when the thermometer clearly stated that the temperature was a mere 102° Fahrenheit.
The lethargic team was reduced to playing board games and such on the floor of the common room. The five lounged in a lopsided circle, lying on stomachs and propping tired heads on elbows.
"Beast Boy, got any sixes?" Robin asked without a bit of enthusiasm.
"Go fish, Rob," the changeling replied dully. "Cy, any queens?"
"Nope," the half robot responded with a yawn. "Rae, nines?"
With a sigh, Raven tossed her last remaining card at the man and closed her eyes. "Is there absolutely nothing better for us to do than play Go Fish?" she demanded.
"Well what do you propose we do?" Robin inquired, glancing up from his hand.
"Anything would be better than this," Raven replied listlessly.
"How about spin the bottle?" Beast Boy suggested enthusiastically. A halfhearted chorus of no's soon followed. "You people are so boring!" he cried with a scowl.
"Perhaps our friends the Titans East would enjoy our company. May we find alleviation from our boredom by inviting them to our T-shaped home for an evening of the friendly chilling?" Starfire inquired.
Robin slowly sat up, stretching carefully before he responded.
"I don't see why not. I bet they're just as bored in Steel City as we are here. Their crime rate has been almost as low as ours lately. I'll call them up," Robin replied.
"I got it," Cyborg offered, promptly bringing up the Titans East on his arm communicator. Seconds later, the Titans could all hear Bumblebee's lively voice.
"Hey, Sparky! Long time no see," she greeted him.
Cyborg seemed to have snapped from his torpor. "Hey, Bee. We were wonderin' if ya'll in Steel City would want to come down here for the evening to hang out."
"Sounds good. We've been bored out of our minds these last couple of days. I'll round up the guys and we'll be there soon, okay?"
"Great, we'll be waitin' for ya. Cy out." Cyborg ended the transmission. "They'll be here soon."
"Yeah, we heard," Robin replied. "So, I guess we should call for takeout. How about pizza?"
"Sure, I'll order it. Whatcha guys want?" Cyborg asked.
"Cheese is fine."
"Liverwurst and cheese from the goat!"
"I don't care."
"And plenty of meaty goodness for the Cy-man." The bionic teen grinned, getting up to look for the calling card of their favorite pizza place.
An hour passed slowly as the Go Fish game was forgotten and the Titans lazily spent the time in front of the giant plasma screen television. Star had insisted on watching a video documentary about the performance of a frontal lobotomy, but spent most of her time flying from couch to window, waiting for their visitors.
"Friends! I believe our fellow Titans have arrived!" Starfire finally exclaimed, forehead and palms pressed to the large window that made up a wall of the common room.
"Super." Raven intoned, shutting off the television with a tendril of dark energy. She then raised her cowl over her eyes and picked up a book that had been resting on the coffee table.
The Titans East didn't even bother to knock. They let themselves in and minute later the doors to the common room flew open. A flash of white and red zoomed in, stopping inches from Robin's feet.
"Mas y Menos, si podemos!" exclaimed the hyper kids, Mas suspended in the air on Menos' shoulders. "Tenemos muy hambre, Señor Robin!"
"Uh, hola," Robin faltered.
"They said they're hungry," a smooth voice cut in. Aqualad stepped elegantly into the room and smiled at Robin. "I guess the rest of the Titans East have gotten better at Spanish lately."
"We've kinda got to, if we want the speed demons to do anything we tell 'em to." Bee sauntered in, halting by Aqualad and cocking her hip. She nodded her greeting to the leader of Titans West with her usual air of confidence. Speedy walked in behind her.
"So, when do we eat?" was the first thing he said, rubbing his hands together in anticipation, "Dictator Bee here wouldn't let us stop for dinner on the way."
"It's nice to see you too, Speedy," Robin smirked.
"Yeah, yeah," Speedy sighed, rolling his eyes behind his black-rimmed mask.
"Pizza should be here soon," Cyborg told him. "Make yourselves at home."
They all joined Star and Raven by the large circular couch. Simple conversations of small talk filled the room. There was very little of importance to be discussed, but the extra company certainly made the time pass quickly. The suffocating warmth of the day even seemed more bearable now that there was a diversion from the misery.
Speedy was inspecting one of Robin's new prototype birdarangs, as Robin proudly rambled on about the acceleration and accuracy benefits from the modified shape of his latest gizmo. Cyborg was listening intently as Bee ranted on about how during the last month Plasmus had managed to burn eight barrels of sewer sludge in a smoke stack, which left an incredibly nauseating stench in the air over Steel City. Starfire, Mas, and Menos amused themselves with a conversation, half in Tamaranean and half in Spanish.
Raven continued to read, a slight frown clouding her face as she tried to concentrate through the distractions.
The main doors opened once again and a green dog ran in, changing quickly into a green boy who exclaimed loudly, "Pizza's here!"
Robin carefully placed his birdarang back into his utility belt and excused himself to pay.
Speedy scooted over on the couch to be closer to Starfire, shooing away his diminutive Spanish speaking teammates.
"Hey, Star," the archer said casually.
"Salutations, friend Speedy!" Starfire greeted him warmly.
"Gee, I don't know what's hotter, this weather or you," Speedy exclaimed loudly, obviously taking advantage of Robin's temporary absence.
"I thank you for your concern, but the air conditioning allows my bodily temperature to remain quite pleasant," Starfire replied happily.
Speedy could have sworn that he heard Raven snort from her seat on the couch to his right.
"Raven, you're looking pretty hot too," Speedy added with a wink in her direction.
Raven's eyebrow rose briefly, but she did not reply to the redhead's quip.
Moments later Robin reentered the room, swaggering about to maintain his balance with no fewer than a dozen pizza boxes stacked in his arms, impeding his vision greatly. Starfire rushed to help him and easily hoisted the steaming food over to the coffee table in front of the large couch.
"Boy, I'm starved!" Beast Boy cried, flipping open the first box. His expression suddenly turned to that of extreme disdain. "Cy this one's yours." He shuddered and handed his bionic friend the cardboard container, wiping his hands on his chest.
"MmMmMm!" Cyborg exclaimed, sniffing the quadruple meat explosion pizza that had been shoved into his hands. "Just the way I like it!" he said, popping open the box and stuffing an entire steaming slice of pizza into his mouth.
Mas and Menos ogled at the pizza. "Mucha mucha carne!" they said in unison.
"¡Esa pizza mira más deliciosa que la comida en nuestra torre!" Mas announced, and Menos grinned in agreement.
"I dunno what you guys said, but I think I agree!" Cyborg replied between bites.
"Yes!" Beast Boy cried suddenly, pumping a fist in the air, "Veggie all the way!" He grabbed an entire pizza box, plunked himself down on the floor, and began to scarf his vegetarian pizza down almost as rapidly as Cyborg was attacking his.
"Friend Speedy, do you wish to sample a slice of my liverwurst and cheese of the goat pizza?" Starfire invited, shoving a slice of the pizza in the archer's face. "I have added mustard for even greater deliciousness!"
"No thanks, Star," Speedy said quickly as he backed away cautiously to find something a bit more palatable.
"Raven, don't you want anything?" Robin asked, mid-bite into a slice of cheese pizza.
Raven was still lounging on the couch, trying hard to ignore her friends. She looked up from her novel coolly. "No," was her simple response, and she shut her book with a snap. "I'll be in my room." She rose with her usual grace and drifted towards the door.
"What's up with Raven?" asked Bumble Bee when the empath was out of earshot.
"Dude, that's how she always is," Beast Boy replied easily.
"Maybe she's just tired," Robin said, ignoring the changeling. "She'll probably be back later."
Within minutes, the remaining nine titans had consumed their fill of pizza. Less than one whole pie remained, and it was shoved into the fridge where the other takeout leftovers had been left to accumulate over the weeks. Rocky road ice cream was then pulled from the freezer and scarfed down until the Titans had been sated.
"Who's up for a game of football?" Cyborg suggested cheerfully.
"But we just ate," Beast Boy pointed out.
"And it's the freaking Sahara outside," Speedy added.
"Necesito una siesta larga," Menos said with a yawn.
"Oh come on, we need the exercise," Bumble Bee spoke up, attempting to repress her own lethargy that had been brought on by the large meal.
Robin agreed, already felling guilty about skipping his training session that day.
"You guys go ahead, I think I'll stay here and swim or something," Aqualad said. "Besides, then you'll have even teams."
"If you're sure. We'll be in the city park if you change your mind. C'mon, Titans," Robin ordered as he stood up, beckoning the others to follow him, which they did. All of the Teen Titans except for Aqualad departed from the room. The Tower automatically locked itself as the doors closed behind them, and the common room was plunged into silence, leaving Aqualad alone to revel in the quiet.
He sighed in contentment. This sort of extreme calm was rare, and with Bumble Bee as his leader, this amount of leisure time was quite uncommon. So how would he spend his off time? He already knew what he wanted to do.
Aqualad missed the soothing quiet of the ocean. His favorite way to spend his extra time was certainly underwater. Because of this, he quickly decided to take a swim in the bay. The Jump City bay was so much cleaner than the water that bordered industrial Steel City, which was highly polluted with all sorts of filth. Besides the chlorinated indoor pools at the East Tower, there was usually nowhere for him enjoy swimming in clean water. 'A swim in the bay it is,' he thought to himself happily, rising to his feet and starting for the door.
Suddenly Aqualad stopped as he remembered that he wasn't alone in the Tower. Raven was still somewhere around here. Immediately he felt a little bad that no one had even asked her if she wanted to go to the park with the others. Was she always left out like this? Even if Raven did cherish her solitude, surely she couldn't appreciate always being left behind. Aqualad contemplated finding Raven before leaving, and with a spur of the moment decision, he hesitantly exited through the doors that led to where he suspected he could find her.
It was silent. Raven knew they must have left for the time being. Maybe she could read in peace now. Phasing through the floor of her dark bedroom, Raven entered the common room, happy to find it vacant. Smiling slightly to herself, Raven sat on the couch with her legs tucked under her cloak and placed her book in her lap. She began to read again, gradually finding herself getting lost in the words on the pages.
The warm voice startled her a bit, but Raven only had to put a mild effort into not letting it show on her face. Turning casually, she saw Aqualad entering the room through the doors that led to the Tower's living quarters.
"Hello, Aqualad," she replied, letting her voice show a slight hint of her surprise at finding him there.
"Everyone else is at the park playing football. I decided to stay here and swim in the bay."
"Good to know," Raven replied, refocusing on her book.
Aqualad took a seat by the dark girl. "What are you reading?"
Raven sighed to herself. "Lovely Bones."
"Ah. I've read that one. You like it so far?"
Raven looked up and frowned. "It's not as good as I thought it would be. Actually, I think it's rather dull."
The Atlantean chuckled. "Only you could think a rape and murder story is dull."
"No, that isn't why it is boring," she replied.
Aqualad was quiet, thinking that she might expound upon the statement, but she returned to her reading. Determined to not let the conversation die, Aqualad pushed her to continue.
"So, why don't you like it then?"
Raven looked up at him, surprised that she didn't feel annoyed at being interrupted again. Maybe it was because he wasn't the type of annoying person she was usually forced to commune with. He wasn't trying to tell a joke or be obnoxious, and genuine interest she hardly minded. In fact, he had never really annoyed her, and they had known each other for over two years. It was remarkable how little he had changed since she met him in the first place.
"What?" Aqualad asked.
"What?" Raven replied, blinking in surprise.
"You were staring at me."
Raven sighed. "Just thinking."
A grin played on his face, and his black eyes seemed to become brighter. As if reading her mind, he replied softly, "A lot has changed since we first met, huh?"
Raven allowed the ghost of a fond, reminiscent smile to turn up the corners of her mouth. She nodded.
"Not you," she replied.
"Really?" Aqualad said, eyebrows raised.
Raven shrugged and blushed slightly.
"I think I've changed a lot. I mean, it's been less than a year since the Titans East started up, and not to be corny, but it's already changed my life," Aqualad said.
Raven nodded again. After all, she understood how life altering becoming a Titan was.
After a brief silence, Raven asked suddenly, "Do you miss Atlantis?"
The question caught Aqualad a bit off guard.
"Well, some things about it I miss," he began hesitantly, "I miss my family. I miss being among all my old friends and the sea creatures all the time. Underwater, everything is just so much more soothing, so much more peaceful." He paused, remembering his previous home. "But I love being part of the Titans more. Making a difference, you know?"
"Yes," she replied quietly, studying his face.
"Maybe you could come see Atlantis with me someday. You should have seen it in its better days. It was so... full of life. Things have changed there, but it's still beautiful."
"I don't know. I'm not much of a water person."
"Really?" Aqualad grinned. "When's the last time you went swimming?"
Raven appeared to consider the question. "I guess I've never swam for pleasure before. Part of training is working in the water, so I know how to swim, but–"
"You've never just swam for fun?" he cut in with disbelief. Raven shook her head. "You don't know what you're missing, Raven!" the Atlantean exclaimed, eyes wide. He lived and breathed the water, both literally and metaphorically. Aqualad was amazed at how deprived she was. "That's it. You've got to try it."
Forgetting the healthy fear of the empath he harbored, Aqualad grabbed her wrist, hauled her up from the couch and led her to the door. He was surprised at how little she tried to stop him.
"That book was boring anyway," Raven mumbled under her breath, and Aqualad chuckled as he pulled her along.
Exiting the Tower and walking to the edge of the island, they stopped just short of where the waves lapped at the rocky shore. The sun was slowly drawing nearer to setting. There was still about an hour of light left, but the sunlight wasn't nearly as harsh as it had been earlier. The temperature had cooled a bit and a slight breeze wafted in off the water, ruffling Raven's hair and cape. Dropping her hand, Aqualad dove into the bay, gracefully disappearing under the surface with hardly a splash. Coming up moments later, he blinked the water from his eyes and grinned.
"You coming?" he called to her, treading water lazily.
Raven appeared to waver, unsure if she should entertain his request or return inside.
"Come on, Rae, you don't know what you've been missing all your life!" Aqualad called to her, obviously noting her hesitancy.
"I don't like swimming," Raven stated, crossing her arms over her chest.
Aqualad sighed. "You don't know that if you've never tried it. Please give it a chance, Rae. For me?" He batted his eyes and gave her a sad look.
Scowling slightly, Raven edged towards the water, taking off her combat boots and unlatching her cloak. It fluttered to the ground and she used her telekinesis to move it to a rock, safe from the water. Aqualad caught a quick look at her body, and thought of what a shame it was to cover up a figure like that with a cloak. He might have told her so if he was as brash as Speedy.
Raven's dark hair blew in the wind as her amethyst eyes cautiously scanned the water's edge. A wave washed over her bare feet and she hopped back on reflex. Aqualad grinned again.
Catching his look, she remarked somewhat defensively, "It's cold."
"But it feels great!" Aqualad said, flopping back to submerge his head once again. He swam nearer to her. "Come on, Raven," he pleaded.
Raven heaved a longsuffering sigh before shrugging and stepping forward into the bay, much to Aqualad's delight. Ignoring how surprisingly cold the water was, Raven sloshed into the bay until she was soaked up to her waist. Taking a deep breath, she plunged forward quickly, ducking into the cool water. After coming up sputtering, Raven noted that Aqualad was nowhere to be seen. She floated out a bit more, using her arms and legs to paddle about, then stopped and began treading water.
A gentle noise alerted her of the Atlantean's presence from behind. She turned and drew in her breath at seeing how close he was. Those dark eyes were inches from hers, and the ghost of his breath tickled her face.
Aqualad grinned softly. "I told you you'd like it."
She faintly grinned back in response. He drew back a bit, raising an arm parallel with the water. Raven was left wondering what he could possibly be doing, until he brought it down quickly, slapping the surface of the water into her general direction. She shielded her head with her arms on reflex, quickly sinking like a stone without anything to keep her up.
Her eyes shot open underwater as she thrashed to the surface. The water wasn't clear enough to see very far ahead, but it wasn't terribly murky. She made out a shape nearing her vicinity, and heard a low rumble that she decided was Aqualad's chuckle. A strong and very warm pair of arms encircled her waist and she was pulled gently to the surface.
"I bet you think that was funny," Raven fumed as she broke the surface and resuming her paddling, attempting to restore her composure while slowing her rapid breathing and erratic heartbeat.
Aqualad let go of her. "Yes," he admitted with a grin, "I do."
Raven held his gaze. Using a bit of her powers, she rose up a wave of water behind him. With a smirk she dove back underwater, leaving him slightly confused until he was pushed down under the surface by the forceful wave breaking over his head.
Resurfacing, he scowled at Raven, before his mouth turned up in a smile. Was Raven being… playful?
"Payback," she said, her tone betraying a hint of triumph.
Aqualad splashed her again, but she didn't use her arms to block it like before. She let the bay water shower her face before retaliating with a splash of her own.
A torrent of mini-water attacks followed, and they exchanged splashes of bay water while trying to avoid the other, although there was no real point to their little competition since they were both thoroughly soaked as it was.
Always in a battle mentality, Raven quickly formed a plan. Smiling to herself, Raven dove underwater. She concentrated on building up a bubble-like force field around herself then forced the water from it. Once in her bubble of air, she swam to the bottom of the bay, at what she estimated to be twenty feet below the surface. She could see something moving rhythmically directly above herself. Aqualad. Good. Summoning a bit of dark energy, she let it loose above her safe haven. Raven grinned to herself as the moving thing was thrown out of the water and into the air a good foot or two before splashing back down, completely bewildered.
The figure dove down. Raven could see Aqualad and knew he had spotted her hideout. Swimming down to her, she nearly laughed at the confused Atlantean's expression. He tapped on the bubble hesitantly, before mouthing, "That's cheating."
She gave him a smug look and collapsed the field. She pushed off the bottom of the bay and headed for the surface. Aqualad was already there when she came up.
"You're the one with the unfair advantage," Raven said. She flipped to her back and floated lazily on the surface. "I'm just evening the playing field."
"I didn't know you could do that," he replied, "The underwater shield, I mean."
"Neither did I," Raven confessed, "You learn something new every day."
The whole experience was learning something new, in Aqualad's opinion. He was seeing a whole side of Raven that he didn't know existed. Who knew she could actually be fun? His teammates hardly ever joined him in swimming, and it really was nice having someone to share the experience with.
"Ok, now you're staring at me," Raven said, flipping back upright so she could tread water again.
Aqualad sheepishly grinned. He knew the others would probably be returning soon and doubted that Raven would risk staying in the bay long enough to possibly be caught swimming with him.
"So, are you ready to rethink your dislike of swimming?" Aqualad questioned Raven.
"I think I am," she said quietly, facing him seriously.
Without warning Aqualad swam to close the small gap between them and drew Raven into an embrace, wrapping his arms around her waist. The girl stopped moving in shock. His strong legs were enough to keep both of them easily above water. Raven looked into his eyes as she blushed furiously, trying to determine what the heck he was doing. Her mind screamed for her to get away from him, but he was just sowarm. She welcomed the change from the cold water. Raven wondered if he could feel her heart beating rapidly in her chest.
Just the bewilderment at experiencing a simple hug enchanted Aqualad, and he was pleasantly surprised that she hadn't tried to drown him or push him away at the very least. He thought he could see her face tinge red again as he said, "Raven, I never knew you were so wonderful."
Her perfect lips curved into a tiny smile and on impulse he moved to capture them with his own mouth.
It was like time had stopped altogether. The noise of the city faded and all the colors and feelings died away, except for the cool press of Raven's lips against his. He felt more alive than he had in a very long time.
Raven was utterly stunned at the whole situation. She didn't even know why she had accepted his invitation to swim in the bay, much less why she was currently letting him kiss her. It was perhaps the most bizarre chain of events she had experienced in quite a while.
After savoring the pleasure of the kiss for a moment, she broke away and lifted her head to look at the Atlantean. He returned her gaze with piercing black eyes.
Raven couldn't help but grin. "Thank you," she said gently.
"For what?" he asked just as lightly, as if talking too loudly would ruin the moment.
"For showing me how fun swimming can be." Raven smiled, and let her arms fall from his neck. Reluctantly, he released her waist, instantly missing the feel of it on his own. She began to tread water on her own again.
"You're welcome, Raven," he replied.
"We should probably be going in now," she began.
"I agree," Aqualad said, turning towards the Tower. Raven followed him and they reached the shore in silence. As she stepped onto dry land again, the Atlantean stole one last look at her perfect body, with her leotard clinging to every curve, before she reclasped her cloak and let if fall into place. Raven picked up her combat boots and cast Aqualad a glance.
He walked onto the sandy beach, feeling the weightlessness of the water paradise leaving and being replaced with the more heavy sense of reality.
Together they walked across the shore and into the Tower, where they were met by a very cold wall of air conditioning and their eight highly bemused teammates, who were waiting for them in the foyer.
A.N. Hope you enjoyed this. Even if you didn't, I'd love it if you took a moment to send me a review.
Thanks for reading!