Author's Note: This quick piece really wasn't intended to mean anything; it was more of a writing exercise than anything else. There is a second half after this. Reviews are appreciated.
"Dude! You so totally just cheated!" Beast Boy pointed an accusing finger at Cyborg while awkwardly manipulating the controller in his other hand. He was now behind by two kills and would not likely catch up. Still, he clicked the sticks and buttons frantically, his entire body twisting in an exaggerated reflection of his onscreen moves.
Cyborg remained fixated on the screen. "Since when is it cheating to blade you while you're busy flicking boogers at the screen?"
"I was not!"
The android laughed to himself. He had clearly seen his friend doing exactly that- he knew it and Beast Boy knew it. But there was no way he would ever concede. Better to leave that one alone.
"Really? Must have been a hallucination from kickin' your green ass eleven times in a row, then."
"Nine times," Beast Boy mumbled back, shifting impatiently in his seat. He pulled up the scope on his virtual weapon and took aim- but a grenade exploded directly under his character, killing him instantly and leaving Cyborg with only two points to go.
"Actually, it was seven times," Cyborg said. "But if you say nine, then we'll go with that."
Beast Boy's scowl deepened, causing Cyborg to laugh again. The game continued, with Beast Boy at last scoring a sixth point, but the android ultimately triumphed.
"Aww, yeah!" he shouted. "Why do you even try, tofu boy?" He shoved his friend playfully.
On any other day Beast Boy would have retaliated, but today he just wasn't feeling it. Something was out of place, and for some reason the nagging uneasiness dragged him down below the usual childish arguments. He ignored Cyborg and looked over his shoulder to see Robin enter, followed shortly after by Starfire, both of them smiling slightly and trying too hard not to look at each other, apparently emerging from a dreamy daze.
Like that's not obvious, Beast Boy thought. Less than a minute apart and both looking like they've been handed a million bucks and then hit in the face. He caught a glimpse of Robin disappearing into the kitchen.
"Cyborg! You are victorious!" Starfire shouted a little too loudly, interrupting the ridiculing interrogation she was certain she would receive. "You have defended your title of 'Awesome Champion of the Halo,' yes?"
"You know it!" Cyborg's excited gesture caught Beast Boy in the ribs, but he did not feel it. Something was definitely wrong. He rose from his seat and made his way to the main corridor.
"Good game," he muttered, handing his controller to Starfire. He could feel three sets of eyes boring into him in shock at his submission, but he did not turn around. It was the prolonged absence of the fourth pair that bothered him.
The hall doors whisked open, then shut behind him. He walked briskly through the dim corridors, past the doors bearing the names of his other teammates, and bolted up the stairs. The object of his exertion was nebulous at best- if asked outright what he was afraid he would find, he would doubtful be able to answer. Still, instinct drove him on.
He nearly fell over as he skidded around the final corner before her room, the room he somehow knew she did not occupy. The icy combination of apprehension and excitement that fell over him whenever he passed her door was still present, though- he instinctively quieted his footsteps, lest a single violet eye appear, followed by the usual stinging rebuke.
Not that he would really mind, of course.
And if she could appear there and speak just a few words, regardless of tone, just acknowledge his existence, the electric giddiness would jolt him under the ribs and that awful craving would be silenced again. It was the craving he felt periodically, though not quite with the primal hunger he had known that awful night with Terra at the carnival... No, this was a desire of a different breed, one that remained with him day in and day out, seeming to grow stronger and spike more frequently. It was driving him crazy.
It was with a shudder that he remembered the night he had stood outside Raven's door, for what could have been the first time in the two years they had called themselves Titans, talking. Just talking to her, like a normal friend might. That night fate had brutally reprimanded her for overstepping her boundaries, for opening her heart to another sentient being. An ancient wizard, released from his binds, had brought her happiness, an emotion that Beast Boy was certain he had never seen in her before. It was accompanied by a pure white robe that she wore for mere hours. But by midnight it was over, and he had found himself outside her door, offering both his apologies and his condolences through two inches of steel.
"You think you're alone, Raven, but you're not."
To him it had seemed so obvious, but to her it apparently was not. It was what she had feared for so long, and when she finally opened her door it showed. But he hardly had time to notice, for she had embraced him tightly.
And he had pulled away.
He had been presented with a golden opportunity. She had voluntarily thrown her arms around him- and out of surprise and a sudden sensation of awkwardness he had pulled away. That night was one of the longest of his life. He had lain awake for hours, replaying the incident again and again. He recalled the soft touch of her hair in his face, the warmth of her body against his, and mentally kicked himself each time.
"Idiot, idiot, IDIOT! WHY did you pull away?"
He sighed and stepped forward, forcing down the fluttering in his ribs. He forced the door open and the sudden rush of cool air made a slight shock in his bones. After a slight pause for his pupils to dilate, it finally became clear that the room was empty. The eerie atmosphere remained; the ghastly artifacts and sculptures gazed at him, unblinking; the faint scent of ancient tomes and incense still bit his sensitive nose, but the agonizing heaviness that hung over the silent chamber betrayed the possibility of its occupation.
"Knew it," he said to no one. He pressed his fingers to his temples, dredging his brain for another possibility.
Checked the basement, the computers, the shoreline, her room...
A thunderbolt of adrenaline struck him at once. Why hadn't he thought of it before? In a heartbeat he was bolting down the corridors again. The blood pounded in his ears as he took the steps three at a time, still wondering why exactly he felt such urgency. He would probably burst out onto the rooftop, gasping for air and crying out for her, and she would be floating there like always, leering at him and making him quite aware that he had made an ass of himself. Again.
But he forced his wishful thinking down and it did not register. He reached the top of the final staircase and drew a deep breath. Steeling himself for an image he could not anticipate, he threw open the hatch to a blast of cool evening air. Instantly his heart stopped dead and his blood ran cold.
The moment was deathly silent, paralyzing him with panic. Raven was standing on the ledge, her cape and violet hair flowing in the gentle breeze, her face serene and lifted toward the setting sun. The orange radiance tinged her soft features and made them glow, so that her flesh appeared almost fluid, a part of the sunset. And across the face of the brilliant form upon the ledge played the hint of a smile, not of joy but of relief, of the blessed respite brought by the removal of a terrible and perpetual burden.
In stunned silence he stood; transfixed, helpless, enthralled by the absolute emptiness around her...the purity of Raven at the brink of death-
'NO!' he screamed internally. This can't happen! He willed himself to advance, to grab hold of her and drag her, if need be, back into the Tower and hold her there until her little emo stunt was over...
That didn't happen.His muscles were trembling and his legs were stone- he could manage no more than a crawl. His frantic mind caught fleeting glimpses of a possibility, that maybe she had known he was there all along and was now restraining him, almost as a ceremonial last act.
Behind her burning silhouette and far away, the squealing gulls glided and pinwheeled over the waves. The thought of the dark girl's powers brought a brief ray of hope to his heart
-Wait- Raven can fly!
-but if she planned on using them, he realized, she would not be standing here upon the roof, rocking back and forth in the updrafts with her toes hanging over the edge. She's really gonna do it. In desperation he forced fruitless words from his cotton-dry throat, but they died on his tongue and withered at his feet.
And instantly, the lead in his legs vanished, and the stored energy sprang him forward in a stumbling lunge against the cold, dead air between them. His momentum seemed to push the air forward, creating a sort of domino effect from one molecule to the next, pushing her delicate form precious millimeters farther away with every step. His arms flailed, desperate to snatch even the edge of her cape. In spite of his urgent concentration, green eyes darted to meet violet, as hers twitched visibly under pallid lids...
His fingers closed around nothing. The softest sigh escaped her slightly upturned lips as her body went limp and she tumbled over the edge. Over the glistening water the gulls began to scream.
-(to be continued)