A/N In the immortal words of the great English writer, s'up? So, being still alive and all, I decided I needed to get back to my keyboard and write something. And since I've had this idea for a while I thought that I should be putting pen (read: computer) to paper (read…it's good for your brains). It's not an original concept, but I do believe I have an original angle for it. Let me know what you think. Flames are appreciated as I have no idea what it's like to be threatened or harassed since I'm about six and a half feet tall and nearly three hundred pounds. Who knew that having a daunting stature would help you to be left alone on the bus?
Disclaimer – Well, here we are again; just you, me, and the screen. Come on, baby. Cuddle up a little closer. You know I'd give you anything if you asked for it, but...why a hamster? Why is it always a hamster!? I just don't understand. What do you mean this is supposed to be a disclaimer? Who cares that I don't own the Teen Titans!? This is about you, me, and the sweet, sweet love we have!
But I'm not getting you that hamster.
A Year In The Life – February – Can you keep a secret? So can I. (Groucho Marx)
It was a dark and stormy night as the sun shone brightly through the windows of Raven's room. Now normally one wouldn't expect to be assaulted by such paradoxical circumstances except that it was impossible for it to be anything other than dark and stormy and night with the turmoil that was currently brewing inside of Raven's head. To the uninitiated, she appeared to just be staring off into space as she stood in her doorway. To anyone who actually had a clue, Raven was fully catatonic.
As it was, there were currently four people, clues in hand, desperately trying to snap her out of it. It was Cyborg who succeeded where others had failed by simply saying he would see if there was anything in her room that might help bring her around.
And although she hardly moved, Raven did quite clearly say, "Stay out of my room."
Cyborg smiled serenely in response. "Thought that might work…so, you gonna tell us what happened now?"
"Yes, Raven, what has had you doing the space staring?" Starfire asked as she swooped close to Raven's face; I don't think she ever understood the concept of personal space.
Quickly seeking to regain her aloof nature she calmly answered, "What?" as she leaned away from the engaging alien.
"Well," Robin said, sounding cautious, "the pizza just showed up and when I came to get you, you were just standing there, looking dazed, and I couldn't get you to come out of it."
"The rest of us just came to see what was taking so long." Cyborg added giving her a look that implied it was her turn to explain.
"I was meditating, it's a new technique," she quickly invented as she edged back into her room, "I'll be down after I finish."
Robin's "but…" was answered by the soft click of the door closing.
From just inside her room, Raven was listening for the retreating footsteps to fall silent before she pulled the real reason she had impersonated a statue from the inner recesses of her cloak. In one hand was a short, typed letter and in the other was a small figurine of a beautiful woman dressed in armor riding a powerfully built stallion, her sword pointing the way of her charge, suggesting she was leading soldiers into battle.
She placed it on her dresser and hesitantly turned her attention back to the note. She had already gone through it once, almost casually, and was now reading it again, though much more carefully. Holding it almost reverently, Raven tried desperately to see if the offending piece of paper had really said something different then what she had thought from her first time through.
I wanted to show you how much I like you and I decided to do it with some letters and gifts. The woman represents the courage you show in all of our fights. I hope that you like it.
Your Secret Admirer
She stared accusingly at the last two words of the letter as if they had single-handedly tried to ruin her comfortable routine. She thought it had been going so well lately too, weeks since anything had caused her even the slightest slip in control and she had even found herself able to enjoy life to the point where a smile wasn't so rare anymore. The letter on the other hand served as an abrupt reminder of an area of normal teenage life she had been ignoring and it made her nervous.
With the initial shock wearing off, Raven started to study the letter a little more closely to look for clues about who had sent it. She noted that it said 'our' fights and that the writing had a similar sound to the way Robin spoke, but quickly dismissed him since he was dating Starfire. She thought that Cyborg would have typed it up since that was how he always wrote things but considered the figurine a little too…dainty for him. And since it didn't have any mistakes or stains or anything at all that would point the finger at a sloppy style, she started to eliminate Beast Boy from the realm of possibilities.
There was the little figure to factor in though. Raven could remember a shop that sold things like it next to a vegan restaurant; the same restaurant that Beast Boy had once tried to trick them all into eating at. She set the letter down, finding it more confusing than helpful and decided to head down to lunch and wait for whoever did it to give themselves away. Then she would let them down as easily as she could. It was just safer.
Pizza in Titans Tower, through years of heavy conflict and forceful politicking, had finally become a more civilized affair. Rather than argue about what toppings to get or to go with one person's choices while others suffered through them, an arrangement had been made where each person would pick one topping for the pizza and everyone would just pick off anything they didn't like. This worked out well as what was picked off one person's pizza was usually added to another's. Beast Boy would get plenty of tofu, Cyborg would get extra meat, Raven would get more mushrooms, and Starfire would get extra everything since Robin only wanted cheese.
It was after this exchange of toppings that Raven found herself eying her male friends subtly from her seat at the table as they all ate. She would watch one of them for a small while, trying to picture them buying her gifts or writing her little letters, and only found the activity flustering as her cheeks started to grow warm with the picture of Beast Boy handing her flowers running through her mind. Whoever it was didn't give anything away and she just watched the three boys fight over the last slice, feeling slightly annoyed. She decided to let it go when something else caught her attention. A receipt was lying on the ground and she knew that the one for the pizza was still taped to the box. It had also been at least a week since anybody went shopping.
The scrap of paper silently took flight and came to rest in a hand she was holding under the table. She hazarded a glance at it only to be disappointed in seeing that it was for Beast Boy's dry cleaning; he had finally outgrown the habit of allowing his laundry to continually build until it was declared a biohazard.
Having a slight hope dashed is the stuff that life is made of and Raven was fairly used to life, yet finding another dead-end made her more annoyed than she had expected it to. It also didn't help matters that her mind chose that moment to remember that whoever this person was, they were threatening more presents.
Raven got up from the table, tired of being so close to someone hiding in plain sight and threw her paper plate into the trash, with the receipt neatly hidden inside it. She made her way back out of the room with every intention of heading to the roof for some meditation in the hope that she could get herself back to normal.
As she reached the stairs that made up the last barrier between her and the peace of the open air she heard the soft coo of Starfire's voice, "Raven?"
She turned to look behind her and watched as the redhead floated closer looking slightly nervous. Starfire interpreted the silence as an invitation to say what she wanted and continued.
"You are feeling well?"
Raven quirked an eyebrow at the overly mundane question; small talk wasn't Starfire's style, "Fine, why?"
Starfire began poking the tips of her index fingers together, watching to make sure they connected as she answered. "Your behavior has not been normal today. You are acting quiet…" - feeling Raven's inquiring look she brought her eyes up - "...more quiet than is normal. And you were watching the others strangely during the pizza."
"And?" Raven asked, willing Starfire to either leave or get to the point.
"You are my friend and I wish to help with what is troubling you."
Sometimes getting to the point isn't nearly as helpful as it could be. Raven sighed deeply and gave Starfire a gauging sideways glance. "You'd keep it to yourself? No asking Robin what any of this means even if I don't want to explain it?"
Starfire smiled hopefully, surprised at Raven's quickly given confidence. Normally the process would take several minutes and involve a lot of needling on her part. "I would treasure it with all of the girl talk that is only ours!"
Raven watched her closely for any hint of a lie, but it was Starfire and if anyone was as disinclined to lying as she was, they'd already been made a saint. She deflated some as her normal habit of keeping things to herself fully faded. "I have a secret admirer."
Starfire cocked her head to one side. "And you are saddened by this?"
She sighed. "Not really, I'm just confused. I mean, which of them would do it? I didn't think any of them liked me like that."
"Which of them?" Starfire parroted, sounding slightly thrown off.
"Well," Raven said, sounding embarrassed, "I think it's either Beast Boy or Cyborg." She regretted having voiced her opinion as soon as she saw Starfire's amused smile.
"What has made you guess it was one of them?"
The laughter behind her question made Raven scowl. "It's one of them because there isn't anybody else who fits."
An even more infuriatingly buoyant Starfire really did laugh this time. "You have found the proof?"
Raven looked like she was having second thoughts about continuing, but decided to press on in the hopes that Starfire had some insight that she had overlooked; which she often did in these matters. "The present they left is from a shop next to one of Beast Boy's favorite restaurants and the letter that came with it is…" and her eyes went slightly out of focus as she stared off into space.
"It is what?" Starfire asked looking captivated, but still smiling.
"It's Beast Boy."
"It has to be. Cyborg wouldn't give me a present he bought, he'd make it himself," a startled Raven answered.
"That is true," said a thoughtful looking Starfire.
"And Robin's…" Raven stopped herself and looked in a slightly panicked manner at Starfire from the corner of her eye. Everyone knew it was dangerous to even slightly suggest that Robin would have an interest in another woman around the fiery redhead. It didn't help Raven's sense of wellbeing that Starfire's smile seemed suddenly forced. It was quite a good thing that her brain, in a first-rate example of self-preservation, quickly gave her what to say to diffuse the situation before anything could happen. "Robin's been seeing you so much that I don't think he's even noticed me in months and I wouldn't want it to be him anyway, he's not my type…at all."
Starfire's smile went from plastic back into the much safer, and saner, natural one as Raven let out a breath she didn't realize she'd been holding in. "Then it is Beast Boy because it cannot be any of the other boys?"
"It is a bad thing for it to be Beast Boy? You still do not seem pleased."
Raven opened her mouth but shut it again as she started to give more thought to the question. Would it really be all that bad a thing for Beast Boy to do? "But it's Beast Boy," she found herself saying, as though it would explain everything.
Starfire's smile softened some as she soothed Raven by saying, "I do not think you give him the credit. He led us when Robin was captured. I do not think he is a child anymore."
"Could've fooled me."
"Yes, I believe he has." And Starfire smirked a little as Raven took a more thoughtful pose. "I am not sure you are correct in who is your admirer of secrets, but you should not drop friend Beast Boy."
Raven looked confused for a moment as she translated. "You mean 'put down', Star. I shouldn't put him down." Starfire nodded and started to leave as Raven sat in the air to think. "Thanks for listening, Starfire."
"You are welcome." And with one last smile she left Raven to her thoughts.
Over the next three days Raven found a gift and a short letter each morning waiting just outside her door. And with each passing day she found herself a little more convinced of who had left the gifts and slightly less apprehensive about it. The second present had been a jewelry box, not hand made, but simple and elegant. Its note had said that it was how the admirer viewed Raven; simple and elegant in appearance and made for beautiful things to be kept in. She'd blushed for several minutes after reading the slip of paper and again for several minutes more the next time she saw Beast Boy.
The third gift was puzzling as it was only an ornately carved block with picturesque fields and flowers on all sides of it. It rattled slightly when she shook it, but didn't seem to have any openings. The letter said that it represented how difficult it could be to get to the inner Raven, but that there was treasure there that made the difficulty worthwhile. Raven later learned that it was a Chinese puzzle box with a small gold heart inside after she dusted off a piece of lint and accidentally found the first of several sliding pieces.
The fourth gift was just a purple teddy bear that exactly matched the color of her hair. The note had been the shortest of them all by just saying that her hair was cool. It was this gift that gave Raven the most problems. Not in the 'so touched that someone would notice' sort of way but more in the 'this isn't my sort of thing' way. She'd had a fierce internal debate on whether or not the bear should be thrown into the back of her closet with the giant chicken or left out in a less disrespectful, yet still less noticeable location. She'd opted for the latter because of the kind thought it stood for.
So, when Raven awoke on the fifth day of her personal adventure she opened her door quietly and leaned down to pick up whatever had been left. The sight of a letter by itself made her disappointed for only a moment as she reminded herself that she wasn't even sure she felt the same way about the changeling.
She smiled as she walked the note, the first she had received in an envelope, back to her bed. The past few days had been revealing to say the least. Since her talk with Starfire she had started to pay attention to Beast Boy and found that her idea of him had become largely outdated.
He still tried to be funny, but had thankfully dropped the habit of repeating every lame joke he heard. He'd still play video games for unhealthy amounts of time; he just didn't whine when he lost and didn't gloat when he won. And he'd still argue about the benefits of a meatless diet, except now he had tact and a volume control. In short…he was maturing and in a lot of good ways.
Out of habit Raven still hadn't laughed at any of the funny things he'd said, but she had at least smiled in appreciation more than once and been caught doing so. And to further her belief that he was finally growing up he'd just smiled in return.
Raven was amusedly remembering how Beast Boy had called Gizmo 'Charlie Brown' because they were both bald as she opened the letter and started to read.
I've enjoyed giving you all these things to show you how much you mean to me. I hope that you have liked them. I want to tell you who I am and I will tonight when we meet at the end of pier 39. I'll see you at seven!
Your Secret Admirer
p.s. Your normal clothes will be fine.
As comfortable as Raven had become in being doted on now that the conclusion had arrived she found herself at a crossroads. One lane leading onward that would let her see where this path laid out with affection led and the cross street of rejection with crass and cold to the left and gently down to the right.
And being Raven, she opted for the safest of all roots and took a right.
Finding Beast Boy would be her first task since sooner was always better than later. And since it was still somewhat early in the day the most logical place he would be was in bed.
Raven marched as determinedly as hovering half a foot off the ground would allow straight to the boy's door. She knocked on it smartly and waited for the sounds of someone clumsily getting off of a bed accompanied by the shifting of clutter as a path to the door was stumbled on. Not hearing any of this Raven knocked a little harder and called his name. When the noises that were supposed to come didn't she opened the door.
The horror of a mess that greeted Raven was, to her astonishment, severely lacking in horror and mess. To be more correct, the room was spotless. And much to her annoyance there was also a general deficiency in Beast Boys about the place. She heard herself comment that he must have gone down for breakfast, agreed with herself on the concept, and made her way to the common room.
The common room was much less empty than Beast Boy's room had been, but it had a lot of the same problems. Cyborg was happily frying what looked like a full side of bacon while Robin and Starfire sat as close as was possible without being on top of each other as they talked quietly. But the common room, like the bedroom had been, was empty of shape shifters.
The others would have stayed unaware of Raven's hunting if she had only picked routes that didn't have her going repeatedly past them as she checked one place after another. Robin had asked Cyborg what he thought she was looking for and Cyborg had merely shrugged while looking amused. Starfire had a devious little smile on her face but quickly hid it before anyone could notice.
"What're you looking for, Rae?" Cyborg asked from the couch as she started to cross to another section of the tower. "Lose a book?"
"Has anyone seen Beast Boy?" The direct approach, usually effective at finding out what you want to know, but not always helpful in keeping quiet about what you don't want to tell.
"He left pretty early, something about stuff he had to get ready in town. Why? What'd he do?"
"Nothing, I just needed to talk to him." And if she wasn't so distracted, she might have noticed how curious it was that she hadn't felt embarrassed about admitting it. Instead, she decided to widen her search.
An entire day is a long time to search for something and not find it. Raven was feeling the weariness that comes from fruitless toil and had resigned herself to wait at the tower until close to seven, and if she didn't see her missing teammate by then, she would just have to tell him at their meeting.
And as she sat thinking about what she might say to diffuse the situation without losing a friend her mind painted a picture of a young man with unusual features, with flowers in hand, greeting a young woman with purple hair out by the ocean. The painting showed a beautiful sunset in the distance and a picnic style dinner still in its basket near a bench that overlooked the waves. And since paintings of the mind are always fluid and never fully dry the picture showed the man being charming and kind, the young woman would blush at a comment and he would look happier at the sight.
Raven woke from her daydream with a start and saw that it was already time for her to leave. She then felt her worry increase as her resolve to continue with her plan seemed suddenly clouded with pastels and oils.
I am sure it has been said before, but the ability to pass through dimensional wormholes to shorten trips from several minutes to a few seconds is always going to be useful. Raven arrived at the pier with ten minutes to spare and found less than she had expected. The only other people there were a pair of fishermen enjoying the piece that comes with fishing.
The bench she had envisioned was present, as was the sunset. Now, she would just have to wait and see what fate had in mind for the young man.
Fate was wondering what she would do about the young man herself when reality intervened and provided the appropriate conclusion.
Raven was again starting to daydream about flowers and picnics that last till the moon is full when she heard someone calling her name. She looked up expectantly and was blindsided by the sight of Starfire standing in front of her smiling slightly sadly.
"Starfire? What happened? Where's Beast Boy?"
Starfire's smile saddened as she quietly answered. "He is not coming."
"But…he was supposed to meet me. He left a note." Raven was aware how disappointed she sounded and found that it only added to her apprehension about the meeting that seemed to have turned sour.
Starfire sat down next to Raven with a kind, nearly motherly smile. "No, Raven. He did not."
"But it has to be him!" She was nearly shouting she felt so agitated. "It couldn't possibly be any of the others."
"That is true." Raven was about to voice her exasperation about how letters didn't tend to write themselves when Starfire cut her off. "It was me."
And suddenly it was a dark and stormy night again, though not nearly as bad as the first one of the week had been. Her mind freed itself this time, its desire for explanation quickly dispatching the shock. "You left the letters? But…what about Robin? And, uhm, I don't really like girls, uh, like…"
"Raven, calm yourself. I am not doing the hitting of you."
Raven opted against correcting her. "Then why did you leave them? That's what secret admirers are for."
Starfire stared off a little ways towards the sunset as she spoke. "I did not think it was wrong for me to show my admiration."
"It isn't, it's just…strange." Raven smiled at the comment and then at herself. "Which means that it's the perfect thing for you to do."
Starfire smiled in reply and settled into the bench a little more.
"Robin helped you with the letters."
"And Cyborg typed them up and left the gifts so that there wouldn't be anything left behind for me to find."
"Yes, and Beast Boy knew of many good stores."
Raven looked at her with a little snark mixed into her gentle smile. "You let me think it was him."
"You did not suspect me; I could not help you do the figuring out," she said with a bashful sideways glance. "You have one more present. I did not plan for it, but I give it gladly."
And Starfire suddenly seemed her most giddy self while still sitting comfortably. It caused Raven to notice how much she had matured as well. "You like friend Beast Boy."
"Of course I like him, he's my friend just like…" Raven took a longer look at the girl smiling up at the sky next to her. "You mean like how you like Robin."
"No. I do not think that you love him, but you are…" She paused as she searched for the right wording, wanting it to be said without corrections needed. "…attracted to him?"
Raven blanched a little, which is impressive for someone who is so pale to begin with. She would have denied everything if she hadn't caught the amused look Starfire was giving her. "Fine, so maybe he's not as bad as he used to be."
"What will you do about him?"
Raven gave a sigh as she thought. "I'll wait for him to do something…not that he will. It worked for you, didn't it?"
"I would suppose it did. Though Beast Boy is not Robin."
They sat there each in their own thoughts for a while before Raven got up. "It's getting late, we should go home." Starfire stretched as she rose into the air and nodded. And as Raven rose up in front of her she turned back. "Thanks, Star."
A/N Well, there ya go. First installment of this here new fic I'm workin' on. I do appreciate reviews, but I prefer that you only give them if you have something to say that equates to more than a four word sentence. I think you all have a bit of a surprise for how this fic will progress, and I mean more than just the whole month to month thing.