Author's Note: I'm not dead! I know, this is really late. I could list a thousand excuses, but instead I'll just offer my apologies for those who have been waiting. I do hope the second half is as enjoyable as the first.

And I don't own Teen Titans.


Beast Boy watched in frozen despair as Raven fell, slowly writhing in the force of the updrafts. Her cape twisted and curled around her slim body as she plunged down, down, leaving him forever alone...

The sorceress fell for an eternity, slowly blotted out into a mere silhouette by the blazing sun behind her. And as the shadowed form continued its descent, her angle to Beast Boy allowed her to intersect with several key points in his field of vision.

The first was a window-

FLASHBACK

-her bedroom window, the one he believed for the longest time did not exist. He remembered how he and Cyborg used to joke behind her in hushed tones-

"Dude! I'll bet she even sleeps upside-down in her closet- like a bat!"

"I know, man. She creeps the hell out of me. I'm thinking of donating all my blood to the Red Cross, just to save her the trouble."

-the thrill of the risk of being caught increasing their giddiness substantially. They would whisper and snicker under their breath until she drew near, her icy aura sealing their lips and freezing their bones. She would pass, the hint of a scowl evident on her face

"Shit dude, she knows we were talking about her."

-and the laughter would increase. This went on for quite a while, until the lie which was repeated so many times eventually became a sort of truth between Cyborg and him. Still, the remorse nagged at him, rebuking him for relaying such ridiculous assumptions. It blunted every doubt in his mind that she was, for all intents and purposes, normal. Still, he needed absolute proof.

So the next morning, a certain green rooster perched on her window sill. He peeked through the glass to see the girl sleeping soundly in her bed, her face devoid of suffering. Her lips formed not the scowl that so often enfeebled his antics, but rather the faintest hint of a smile. He grinned inwardly and watched her sleep for a few moments, before immaturity took over and he split the morning tranquility with a dissonant cry.

Five seconds later he found himself sprawled on the grass, with a pounding in his skull and a marble figurine near his foot.

End Flashback

She continued to fall, gracefully, like a wounded dove, and this time her figure eclipsed a certain tree on the wide expanse of lawn...

FLASHBACK

It was the tree that the sun always seemed to hit just right, so that in the afternoon one could climb into the mass of gnarled branches and into the glowing emerald chamber above, to think or sleep or fill any other desire that seized them on a lazy summer day. To all the other Titans it remained an untapped resource; a buried treasure. But that was all for the better, because it was his tree. When the day wore long and his wrists became sore from epic cyberspace tournaments, his tree became a haven from Robin's obsessive hedging for training, or from Starfire's appalling culinary creations.

It was into this tree that he sought to disappear for the next hour, as Robin and Cyborg's heated debate over technical specifications threatened to engulf him soon, and he wasn't interested. But as he ascended the branches he discovered Raven, seated in lotus position against a large limb. She opened one eye at his intrusion.

"Oh...hey," he greeted her cautiously. "Whatcha doing up here?"

"Trying to resume my meditation after my personal space has been invaded once again," she replied, with a hint of severity in her voice.

He laughed nervously. "Uhh...sorry." He started to climb back down, not wanting to pester her further.

"Forget it," she said, less harshly than he'd expected. "I'm finished. I guess it's just nice up here."

Of course it is- you're here.

He wanted to say it. He came very close to saying it. But he killed the words in his throat, knowing it was better to observe a beautiful bird than to chase it and make it fly away.

"I think we're going out for pizza in an hour," he said feebly instead.

"And you're not playing video games for the next 59 minutes and 30 seconds?"

Her remark annoyed him a little, but he ignored it.

"Come on, I do more besides video games, you know."

This time her eyes met his.

"Such as...?" she prompted impatiently.

"Such as...reading." He felt a little surge of pride at finally being able to prove he wasn't the idiot she thought he was. But to his dismay she seemed unimpressed.

"We've had this discussion before," she said. "Comics don't count and you know it." Already she was closing her eyes and leaning her head back against the branch, suggesting the conversation had come to an end.

"I don't mean comics!" he shot back, a little too harshly. She opened her eyes again, her interest having been restored slightly. With a resigned sigh, she replied:

"All right. What exactly did you read?"

"Moby Dick."

This time she looked genuinely impressed, though it appeared she was trying to hide it.

"You read Moby Dick?"

He sat up. "Yeah. Is that so hard for you to believe?" She opened her mouth to reply, but he didn't let her. She was angering him now.

"Look. You don't have to be all pretentious and assume everyone else-" He stopped abruptly- her eyes had changed. She looked shocked at his sudden hostility, and he realized he had hurt her. With a sigh he slumped back into the recess in the branches, trying his hardest not to watch as she looked away. He listened to the enthralling muteness of late summer, and it became intertwined with the hissing of the cicadas above them. They were silent for a long time.

Finally she spoke, lifting him from his brooding. He steeled himself, awaiting whatever retaliation she would choose.

"Pretentious? A polysyllabic word? Maybe you should lie down."

Looking at her, he could not tell whether this was meant to be insulting or humorous. He studied her face; her mouth was static and devoid of expression. Still, he sensed no antagonism, and an instant later he found himself laughing.

"See?" he said, pretending to know what 'polysyllabic' meant, "If you can be funny, than I can be smart."

She rolled her eyes but returned to the original topic.

"So...what would you say the book was about?"

"Duh, a bunch of guys hunting down a-"

"I mean the figurative meaning. The one not explicitly stated."

"Oh. Well, Ahab was always talking about how the world was out to get him, but no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't do anything about it."

She seemed pleased, like a schoolteacher whose struggling student had finally caught on.

"Exactly. The story illustrates the futility of man's struggle against Fate."

He felt another burst of pride, this time at actually carrying on a conversation Raven considered worthwile. But he also sensed a sort of gratification, her pleasant surprise at being able to share interests with the unlikeliest person.

"What did you think of Stubb?" she continued.

"The second mate?" he said, now much more at ease. "He was like the complete opposite of Ahab."

"What did you think of his role as a foil to Ahab? Was the juxtaposition too blatant?"

His confidence gave way to sudden bewilderment.

"Huh?"

She looked back at him for a moment... and suddenly she laughed. For a moment it went unnoticed, as the minuscule odds of its occurrence at first prevented it from registering. But then he sat bolt upright, eyes wide and heart pounding gently in excitement.

"You're...laughing? At me?"

"No," she said simply, but the brusque mirth was too great even for her to resist. A smile spread across her sunlit face and it was beautiful, and he was positively glowing inside, for after two years, he had finally made Raven laugh.

End Flashback

The summer sun faded to a cruel, biting wind around his shoulders. He gritted his teeth at the awful emptiness inside him, as she fell the final two stories through the gray evening air. He felt his eyes closing, a vain attempt to shield him from the end. The panicked sobs bottled in his throat but no tears came. He forced his eyelids open, forced himself to look-

With six feet left to fall, her cape filled with air and she swooped upwards, gliding in a flat arc over the beach. As he watched she became racked with awful shivers, just managing to follow her failing course onto the sand before the gently lapping waves.

With renewed vigor he morphed into a hawk and landed beside her, returning to human form to take her trembling shoulders in his hands. His efforts were in vain; after an endless moment of sheer terror and subsequent relief he was shaking as violently as she was. Still, he drew back her soft hair to look into her eyes, and forced words from his choked throat.

"You okay?" was at first all he could manage. He knelt there with her, both of them trembling in the rushing surf. The tears came freely now, and as he continued to gaze at her, he could make out shining pearls in her eyes as well. They slid down her pale face and mixed with the fine vapors from the breaking waves.

"Why...?"

He choked. Raven stared into the nothing behind him, and softly she croaked,

"I don't know."

He put an arm around her shoulders. And a moment later, she buried her face in his chest and cried. He held her, watching the red sun vanish over the ocean. He held her until her trembling subsided, and he knew she had fallen asleep.

The twinkling diamonds of light on the rippling ocean currents slowly faded, and the gulls' screeching calls died with the setting of the sun.

Well, that's it. Please review.