Yes, I am finally back with the promised BBRae story! Again, it's focused on relationships, but this one is going to have a lot more fighting...not just between the two main characters, but crimefighting, because....you'll see. Happy New Year everyone!!
In the Beginning
He asked me so long ago, but it wasn't until half the team was gone that I answered. But he was always waiting.
Early autumn. The weather was like the capricious sea, cold one day and warm the other. The Tower was fairly empty nowadays, what with Robin and Starfire going public with their relationship and Cyborg finding a new friend in Sarah. Sarah Simms, the volunteer at the school for the handicapped. I suspected there was more than meets the eye to their relationship.
Beastboy? Well, he was probably out dating that brunette he'd been going out with lately. I was quite surprised when he chose me of all people to discuss his relationship problems with. Oddly enough, he seemed to find my sarcastic remarks and hastily thought out solutions helpful.
It seemed everyone around me were finding someone to share souls with.
Except for me.
So it was another quiet day, with me alone in the big, empty gray Tower. I stood in a silence so thick I could almost reach out and gather it out of the air. Almost abnormal. I pulled my silence-soaked cloak around me. Morning meditations finished, I tread down to the Ops Room with a thick book under my arm, flinching at the whoosh of the sliding door reverberating loudly in the silence.
I quickly thumbed open the first page the moment I sunk into the soft couch, more ready than ever to lose myself between the pages. I would take advantage of the silence, however long it might last. Surely all this "love" hanging in the atmosphere would blow off with time. I didn't realize I would get caught up in its sickly sweet web too.
I looked up, 258 pages later, when my head began to ache. Annoyed to see that the sun still hadn't reached the middle of the sky yet, I set aside the book, but didn't get up right away. I couldn't be more comfortable; the sofa was cushy, my feet were warm and a soothing purring lightened the heavy emptiness.
I sat up straight and looked down at my feet. A furry green growth seemed to have suddenly sprung up there, like dandelions after a spring drizzle. The deep rumbles from the cat's chest vibrated through my feet, traveling throughout my whole body. The cat seemed to have felt me stir, for it began to untangle itself from my feet. It wound its way around my ankles one last time before jumping up lightly to a spot on the sofa right next to me. I involuntarily rubbed my feet together.
I wish he were still down there, my mind whispered.
I contemplated two options: one, to throw him out the window for getting too close, or two, to order him to act as my foot warmer again.
Sorry Raven, Affection giggled. Frowning, I closed my eyes and silently chanted my mantra.
Azarath. Metrion. Zinthos.
I opened my eyes. All I could see of the world was two large green eyes. I flinched backwards in surprise, my shoulder thudding painfully into the back of the sofa. Beastboy's face had been mere centimeters away, eyes locked onto mine, his nose almost touching my own. With a snarl and a brief glow of power, a flash of dark energy knocked him to the floor, away from me.
"Thank you for respecting my personal space, Beastboy," I snapped, rubbing my shoulder.
The annoying little imp stood up and dusted himself. "You were zoning out on me, and I wanted to see if you were OK," he said, smiling.
"You looked, I'm fine, and now you've checked. So shoo," I grumbled, reaching out to the book lying between him and me.
I had only just grasped the spine when a green hand pressed down on the other side, preventing me from lifting it.
I glared at him. "Beastboy," I said, "Hands off my book."
"Raven, I'm bored," he said, completely ignoring my last comment.
"Oh, that's unusual," I droned, still trying unsuccessfully to tug my book away. With one hand outstretched and glowing with power, I manipulated the dark energy to pick up the game controller and thrust it roughly at him. "Knock yourself out."
He put it aside, one hand still preventing my book's rescue. "I'd rather do something interactive."
"I'd," I said with another tug, "Rather not. Play with someone else."
"Everyone's away, 'cept you and me, Rae."
He opened his mouth and I gave him a pointed look. He looked oddly at me and said, "Was only going to say let's go and have lunch."
"I'm sure someone will be back by lunchtime."
The corners of Beastboy's mouth turned down a slight bit. "They aren't, they told me."
I had no answer to that. Beastboy seemed to notice at once, I could tell from the widening smile and the confident air he wore.
"C'mon, Raven," he said, smiling, "I promise you won't hate it…and you owe me."
I raised an eyebrow. "How so?"
He smirked. "I came back."
I glared right through his smiles. "Thanks to me, so it's actually you who owe me."
He leaned towards me again. "Then let me thank you. Pretty please?"
Something made me cave in. Perhaps it was because of that small voice inside me that whispered, 'What else have you to do? Would you rather be alone all day?'
"Fine," I sighed. "Where –"
"YES!!!" he shouted ecstatically, doing a little victory dance and hopping around like a madman. I looked at him with a roll of my eyes, but he didn't seem to notice. He snatched my hand away from the book and pulled me along with a sudden fierce tug that I could sure almost dislocated my shoulder.
"I swear it'll be worth it!" he cried as I was mercilessly dragged out of the Ops Room, the Tower into the crowded streets of Jump City.
We walked side by side through the streets, he standing so close our shoulders almost touched. I stood silent, letting him guide me to wherever he wanted to take me. Oddly, the usually noisy changeling was as silent as I was. The quiet was beginning to unnerve me.
As we neared the main part of the city, Beastboy began exchanging greetings with people he knew, occasionally asking the usual polite questions. I kept my hood up and my eyes glued to the sidewalk. I had no one I knew apart from the Titans; there was no one I needed to look out for.
"Yo, snatched a date with the girl?"
A unfamiliar voice called out from the mist of my thoughts. I felt the weight of Beastboy's hand settle on my shoulder. I stiffened involuntarily under his touch. Heat was creeping up my cheeks. I was glad my hood was hiding most of my face, I was afraid Beastboy would see the glow of warmth through my hood.
"You betcha!" he replied, and I didn't need to look up too see his wide grin, one fanglike tooth jutting upward. Strange that it never frightened anyone; in fact, it seemed to make him more endearing to others.
The strange voice seemed to be departing. "Good luck, man!"
Beastboy's only answer was to slightly squeeze my shoulder and wave. I reached up and pushed his hand off.
"Hands off, Beastboy."
The hand reached up again.
I pushed it off.
His hand quickly returned to its original position.
I pushed it off again.
Just when I thought he'd given up, the hand was back on my shoulder again.
I looked up at him, opening my mouth angrily. But as I glanced his face, whatever I was going to say evaporated as realization hit me.
"Beastboy, you've grown."
He was now standing a good three inches above me. Enough to make my head tilt slightly upwards to get a proper view of his face.
"You've grown," I repeated. "You're now taller than I am."
He suddenly flushed, the red unnatural against the olive skin.
"I'm…I'm sorry," he stammered, looking awkward and more like a gangly teenager than anything else. I arched an eyebrow at him, the other swooping down in a half-frown.
"Why would you be sorry?"
"I don't know," he replied honestly, "I just thought I had to be."
I faced the sidewalk once more. "Well, don't be. It's just a normal part of life. And anyway, isn't it about time? I'm short even for a girl."
His hand was still on my shoulder, but I let it slide, just this once.
We had walked along in this fashion for a while, and I was beginning to become impatient. We had already passed our usual pizza place and the Chinese takeout place – both of them places we Titans frequented.
"Beastboy," I finally asked, still walking, "Where are you taking me?"
"Somewhere," he said mysteriously. Then, obviously noting my less-than-satisfied expression, "You'll see."
As if that answer was satisfactory.
Beastboy suddenly stopped. "Get on my back," he said and turned into a pterodactyl. The great big animal tilted its head when I remained standing stiffly on the pavement.
"I can fly."
It blinked. I flinched as I felt Beastboy direct his emotions towards me. I hadn't even realized that this was possible, but nonetheless, his stream of emotions was concentrated on me now. One word could be made of it. Please.
I cut off the stream with my mind. Though I knew full well that the reception would not be reciprocal, the sudden rush of another's emotions made me feel vulnerable.
"Are you feeling up to it? It's only been a few days, since…"
The pterodactyl twitched its wings invitingly. There was no visible scarring or inflammation…and it was his fault if he didn't know his own limits…
I clambered onto the wide back of the ancient animal, surprised that the skin felt sunny instead of clammy, as I had expected. My breath caught in my throat as Beastboy took off with a sudden surge of powerful wings. Strong muscles rippled rhythmically under my tentative fingers as we slowly became airborne.
With an instinct as acute as Beastboy's, I knew that we would enter a draft even before the moment really happened. There was a gentle push before the great wings ceased to batter the air about my ears, and I gathered enough breath to try looking down.
The city receded into small rectangular sectors from this height, and yet we were still close enough to the ground to clearly discern one person from another. The blood thudded in my head as the ground sped by from under me with a slow rapidness. It was a new feeling not to be in control of my own flight, and I found it strangely exhilarating. But again there was a sense of vulnerability that I did not like. If the great beast faltered I was more than able to catch both of us, I knew, but still, riding on his back with no idea of where the destination was seemed like a terrible leap of trust.
I admired Robin for the many times he allowed Starfire to fly him. Or perhaps it was different for him than me; he had never really been in control of a flight.
I clenched my fists and told myself to bear it. Firstly, I had no idea where we were going and after the incident, I didn't want to…I don't know…
Hurt his feelings?
I pursed my lips but remained silent.
Skyscrapers already far behind us, I could see we were headed for the forest area at the edge of the city. He tilted his wings slightly to the left, and we left the thermal and made an uneventful landing. The moment I was off, he quickly returned to his original form.
"C'mon," he said, "Let's get inside."
Brown wood surrounded the quaint cottage, blending well with the nature surrounding it. Spots of red and yellow decorated the green leafy arches hanging protectively over the low roof. It would have looked like a home if not for the sign hanging over the door, proclaiming it a restaurant.
A bird chirped overhead.
I hadn't realized how long I had stood there, just taking in my surroundings. Beastboy was waiting at the door, looking back at me.
I hurried up the few steps and followed Beastboy inside.
'Just as quaint as the outside', I thought.
The walls were paneled with the bright beige of natural wood. The white cushioned benches seemed to be wood too, with starched white tablecloths covering the tables. I glimpsed a spiraling wooden staircase behind the counter.
"Look at these, Rae! Aren't they funny?"
Beastboy was pointing at a row of what looked like odd collectibles.
"They're all made of ostrich eggshells. Kinda cool."
There were carriages of various sizes, all of them intricately carved, most of them jeweled. Silk cushions lined the insides, and I was amazed at the detail. Each had at least a pair horses "pulling" them, with delicate chain harnesses. Some had two pairs. All of them were sleek, trim and lively looking.
They were very beautiful, even for my dark tastes. Especially the one with dark blue upholstery and a pair of black horses seemingly champing at the bit and stamping their feet.
"I thought you were vegetarian."
I turned around to face him and found he was standing right behind me. Too close. I felt another blush creep up (curses, I silently spat,) so all I could do was clench my teeth and refrain from throwing him across the country. He shrugged.
"I am. They're still pretty cool, don't you think?"
"They're eggshells. You don't even eat eggs."
Another shrug. "Well, it's not a bad thing, creating art out of trash."
I glanced back to the black horses. "You're right, they are 'pretty cool'."
He led me to a seat by one of the large windows overlooking the mountain scenery. He was, again, silent, nervously picking at his uniform, staring out the window and being generally fidgety until a young woman arrived with the menu.
I picked up the menu.
He gave me a sheepish grin. "They have an amazing vegetarian pasta." Glancing down at the menu, "The duck's great too, I've heard."
"Never mind. Pasta for me too."
"I won't be offended or anything – "
The waitress smiled. "Two vegetarian pastas. Anything else?"
"And a salad," Beastboy added.
"And a salad," she repeated then departed.
Beastboy gestured around the place. "Like it?"
I nodded. I truthfully did like it. "Yeah."
"I came here, and well, it just seemed like a place you'd like. Cuz it's so quiet and all."
He blushed a little. "I never thought you'd be one to actually think of anyone," I told him in a monotone.
"Hey, what's that supposed to mean?"
Just then the pasta and salad arrived, and I successfully managed to ignore his last question.
He watched me carefully out of the corner of his eye until I finished a bite.
"How is it?"
I licked the last of the creamy sauce from my lips. From the corner of my eye I could see him holding his breath. "Delicious," I finished, stalling just enough to tease him. Injury or no, I was who I was.
"Surprising actually," I added, "You usually settle for tasteless tofu."
"Tofu's OK once you get used to it, you know," he sniffed. "Hey, Rae, listen to this! What do ducks have with soup?"
He kept telling duck jokes all throughout the pasta and the salad. When we stood up to leave, he said, "Guess what did the duck say when the waitress came?"
"What?" I asked automatically.
"Put it on my bill!"
He then proceeded to morph into a duck with the money held between his bill. He waddled over to the counter and emptied his beak onto it. I could hear Happy laughing inside my head, and I had to admit that he was trying hard, even for Beastboy.
I reached for my belt.
"It's on me."
"You really don't have to, Beastboy."
He pulled me out of the building. "C'mon, let's go to the bookstore!"
I frowned. What on earth was he up to? A bookstore? It was suspicious enough that he had invited me along to a lunch alone with him, but a bookstore was a little far-fetched.
"Beastboy, do you even know where the bookstore is at?"
He cocked an eyebrow at me. "Oh come on Raven, after what you said, you still think I wouldn't know?"
"What did you go and buy, comic books?"
He smiled rather awkwardly. "Um, yeah."
"Hey, I did buy other books too."
I rolled my eyes. "Only because of your schoolwork."
"Better than nothing, right?"
We had neared the store. He opened the doors for me, gesturing for me to get inside.
"So, where do you usually go?" he asked, glancing around at the large area filled with shelves reaching all the way to the ceiling.
"The fiction category, mostly. Spellbooks can't be bought in places like this. Actually, I did have a book in mind."
He heaved a relieved sigh and grinned. "Great, cuz I'm feeling pretty lost. Lead the way, milady!"
"So much for the knight in shining armor."
Not too long after that, I found my way to a seat with a book held in my hands. Beastboy remained peering around the shelves, looking very out of place. Ignoring him, I started to read.
When I looked up, Beastboy was hovering over my shoulder. Apparently, he was still lost. Glancing around for something suitable, a paperback with a gold medal embellished on it caught my eyes. I summoned it to my hand and handed it to Beastboy. The medal must count for something, I reasoned.
"Take this, start reading, and don't tell me it's boring. Just try to imagine things as you read. You've got a vivid imagination. I can't concentrate with you hovering over me."
He received the book with both hands and sank into the chair next to me.
I just shrugged and looked back down at my own book.
How much time had passed? I had no idea.
A loud beeping interrupted our reading. I knew who it would be.
"Robin. What is it?"
"Where are you? We needed to ask you something."
"Me, Starfire and Cyborg. For a workout and dinner…I just thought we haven't been acting like a team lately." So he had noticed. "So where are you?"
"A bookstore. With Beastboy."
Beastboy waved at Robin's face on the communicator.
"Hiya dude!" he said cheerfully, the paperback in one hand.
Robin's face would probably be best described as a mixture of skepticism and surprise.
"I know, Beastboy and books are the last thing I expected too." I told him.
He was back to serious leader mode in a moment. "Well, that means I don't have to go looking for him next. Back to the Tower by three; that gives you about thirty minutes. We'll have a team practice session then." I nodded. "Robin out."
The screen fizzled into black.
"I guess that means we have to go now," Beastboy said. There was something oddly like regret in his voice. I picked up the book I had been reading and headed to the counter, Beastboy tailing along behind me with the book I had given him still in his hands.
I laid my book down and reached for my wallet. I looked at my companion. "Beastboy, are you going to buy that?"
He obviously wasn't paying attention because he answered with a befuddled, "Huh?"
"The book in your hand," I said.
"Oh…yeah, I will." He put it down next to my book and again dug into his belt.
I stopped him with a flash of black. "I'll pay this time. You did lunch."
"Nah, that was nothing, it's okay…"
I paid before he could say another word.
The trip home was uneventful, largely because I was reading my book as I walked, trusting Beastboy to guide me. I didn't want to talk to him. Everything he had done today was suspicious. Beastboy does not ask to have lunch with me. Beastboy does not buy me lunch. Beastboy, moreover, does not read books.
Right in front of the large metal doors of the Tower, I stopped Beastboy and looked at him straight in the eyes.
He looked back at me with a slightly bemused expression on his face.
"What? Is there something between my teeth or something?"
"What are you playing at?"
He looked even more confused. "What do you mean?"
I pressed my lips together, annoyed.
"You know exactly what I mean."
He still looked confused.
"No I don't."
I would get to the bottom of this, whether he cooperated or not. I crossed my arms. "You ask me out, you buy lunch, you take me to a bookstore and buy a book. None of this is normal Beastboy behavior. Is this another bet with Cyborg or something?"
He was scuffing the ground with the tip of his shoe, his eyes lowered. A slow flush was creeping up his cheeks. An illogical surge of anger swept through me as I realized the truth in his face.
"So it was all a bet, was it?"
My voice was low, but anger seeped through every word. Why was I letting Rage take me in her hold so readily? I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, but Rage wouldn't let me go that easily. I quickly turned myself to the door, wanting nothing more than to escape to my room.
I heard a voice calling me. "Raven, wait." A hand grabbed my arm, pulling me away from the door. Without my powers properly functioning, I was weaker than he was, at least for the moment. He held me steady by the upper arms so I couldn't escape. I glared defiantly into his eyes.
"Raven." He spoke soothingly, apologetically. "Raven, today wasn't because of a bet, I swear…but I bet there's already one going on about us. There was something I wanted to tell you, but I never really got around to it."
My glare did not soften, and he seemed to see that.
He took a deep breath and opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it without a sound.
Next thing I knew, his lips were on mine.
Yes, it's a cliffhanger. I know, irksome, isn't it? But I promise, I'll not be so late (especially after the SATs this month); the first chapter is the hardest! (Yeah right, Time.)(Shut up, PlotBunny.)XD