I don't own Teen Titans. Also, just so no one has to wonder or ask, I am most definitely ending this fic. I've come to far and been pissed by too many people NOT doing that that I most definitely WON'T drop this story. Unless I die. But you'll know if I die because I won't respond to notes or reviews. So. Terms set? Living = story continues, Dead = use your imaginations.
"Who's this person we're supposed to be meeting?" Cyborg asked as they docked at the zoo entrance nearest wing A. Robin only shook his head.
"The Weaver said they'd find us. She said to stand by the nearest atmosphere exchange and they'd meet us there."
"Friend-Robin, how does one go about exchanging atmospheres?" The young alien floated beside her companions, her green eyes steady on the crowd outside the viewport, not missing a beat.
"Cyborg looked it up on the ship's computer at the last planet we passed. Because the zoo caters to so many different planets and they all have differently evolved life forms that breathe different gases, or liquids, they have regular stands they call atmosphere exchanges where you can get refills of whatever mix of atmosphere you need, be it oxygen rich air, like what we would use, or selenium-filled air, or water, or liquid metal, or whatever else you need," the boy wonder explained.
"Actually, they don't sell the atmosphere we need, because it's the basic air in the zoo," Cyborg corrected quickly, anticipating the young woman's next question. Starfire only nodded in acknowledgment before turning to the door and popping the hatch, her back stiff with anticipation of a fight for her friends.
Franny waited for his charges with a nervous knot clenched around his stomach. His hands fidgeted with the robe he wore and frayed a thread at the sleeve. He hadn't wanted to do this at first, but the Spindress talked him into it. Granted, it hadn't taken much to turn him against the keeper, but to make him take outright action was another thing altogether. His eyes kept flicking to the clock nearest, and the small thread quickly turned into a rather long nuisance. He finally snipped it off with his nails and threw it to the floor, his mind already skittering away again, agitation taking away his attention span.
Finally, he spotted the humans she had told him of. He cleared his throat softly and lifted his hand slightly, then quickly put it down again, unsure of how to go about this. How was he supposed to get their attention without anyone else's? He couldn't yell at them, or wave his hands around, as that would draw other's notice, but he didn't want to sneak up on them. The Spindress had stressed how strong these young people were, even though they were little more than children. As Franny debated the trio passed him by and went to stand at the other end of the stand, their poster that of relaxed interest, even if their eyes didn't miss anything. Finally, Franny decided to simply walk up to them as a friend. After all, what was a group of people meeting up in a mass of creatures doing just the same thing?
Starfire meeped and jumped slightly to the side at the small voice by her elbow. All three of the teens turned to see an Artim (although they didn't know what to call it at the time). It looked like a scaled orangutan with bulbous eyes and skeletal limbs. Webbing between its finger and feet hinted at an aquatic background. A tail whipped between its legs, a short fan made of more webbing between bone needles adorned the tip of its tail, all of it the same copper-tipped purple that the rest of his body was. A short robe covered its squat figure and bunched at the shoulders when the creature shrunk away from the young woman's noise.
"S-sorry!" It squeaked, alarmed.
"It's alright, my little one! Do you need help?" Starfire asked, concerned.
"N-no. . ." the Artim seemed at a loss for what to say for a moment and a bit put out at the way the conversation was going, but it flapped it's ears slightly and tried again. "My name is Franny. I believe I'm supposed to help you . . . um . . . recover a lost item?"
Immediately, as though a switch had been thrown all three teammates changed from friendly to cagey and they eyed him wearily. Finally, Robin spoke.
"We'd better find a better place to talk."
Beast Boy trudged up the hill to the cottage, his head downcast, as it had been when he came to by the pond. He quickly realized he couldn't help Raven at all. He only knew how to comfort through humor or hugs, and it was quite obvious neither of these would be very welcome in the situation, so he muttered something about meeting her at the cottage and walked away. What else could he have done? Sat there like an idiot and tried not to stare as he friend cried in the bushes and hugged a tree?
The young teen finally sank down in a crouchand put his hand behind his head. He squeezed his eyes shut against the tears that were scratching at his throat and held a scream back between clenched teeth. How could he have done that to Raven?
He flopped onto has back and scrubbed impatiently at his eyes, his chest heaving with the effort of breathing through a raw throat. Balling his hand into a fist he slammed it into the ground and yelled again, his anger close to boiling.
What did he do?
Raven finally had no more tears in her. Her throat was scratchy from both the crying and the dry heaving after thinking about when had almost happened. She sat back and took deep breaths, stretching her abdominal muscles after all the clenching. Rubbing her skin, she felt filthy. Raven wanted a bath but the pond seemed tainted with its proximity to that spot on the shore.
Standing on shaky legs, Raven pulled her dress down as far as it would go and, being careful of her left wrist, she griped the neighboring tree and started walking back to the cottage on wobbly knees. As she shuffled across the grass she thought of the short glimpse she'd gotten of the look on Beast Boy's face just before he ran away. It was one of self-loathing and terror.
Raven stopped short and thought. She replayed the moment in her head again and again, falling softly to her knees and shifting to sit cross-legged. Her eyes flicked restlessly as she thought about all that had happened since she was escorted back into the room, since she was called to the Master's quarters, since she and Beast Boy were put in here together, since they were captured. She replayed it all and thought constantly of her green companion, and finally, she thought of herself. She sat in the grass and thought about what she thought about what just happened. And she came to one solid conclusion.
She wasn't angry.
Terrified? Yes. Frustrated? Yes. Hurt? Slightly. Some unnamed slippery emotion she couldn't pin down as envy or regret, but a strange mix of the two was also there. But she wasn't angry at Beast Boy. In fact, she pitied him. If there was one thing Raven could understand it was loosing control of her emotions and the havoc it could wreak on one's conscience.
Finally, the empath roused from her musings and picked herself up from the grass, cradling her left arm. She continued her walk back to the cottage and almost stumbled over Beast Boy, lying in the grass, his arm thrown over his eyes from the late-afternoon light. Raven gasped at the surprise and took a step back as Beast Boy practically leapt of the grass in his attempt to get away from her. Unfortunately, he was on his back and not in control of himself, so he only ended up tripping over his own legs and slamming his chin into the ground, his butt still stuck in the air.
Raven stared for a few moments as the changeling got his bearings, and finally started to laugh softly. She walked to the boy's side and touched his shoulder.
"BB, are you alright?"
Beast Boy shook his head to clear it, and scrambled out from under her hand. He stared up at her with wide eyes and quickly stood up, his hands at his shoulders, palms out. He backed away slowly and carefully, maintaining eye contact with her.
"Raven, I'm so sorry. I promise I won't hurt you now. I'll just leave. I'll go to the other side of the cage, or something, but I promise not to touch you. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be here, I just didn't know where to go, but I won't stay here. I'm sorry. I'll go. Now. Sorry."
As he walked backwards Raven studied his face and saw the same self-loathing and terror there that she had seen before, deeper this time.
The changeling stopped and looked at her, surprised.
"I know you didn't mean to do it. I . . . I'm not mad at you. I'm afraid of you, a bit, I suppose. But I'm not mad. Not for that."
He continued to stare.
"You called me BB."
Raven just looked at him in disbelieve, bemusement tickling the corners of her eyes and mouth until she couldn't help it and laughed.
"Out of all of that. Everything that just happened, and that's the only thing you picked up on? That I finally called you by your nickname? God, Beast Boy." But she was laughing now, and she couldn't stop. And he was joining in. They laughed together until she was on her knees in the grass and he wasn't scared of hurting her with his being there anymore. It might have been slightly hysterical, but it was good.
When Raven finally had her breath she just looked at him and smiled.
"We'd best get to the cottage before dark. It's getting cold and I don't want to be outside anymore today."
Beast Boy only nodded his head and offered his hand. Raven looked at it then him, making sure he knew that she knew she was touching him. She took his hand and let him help her up.
"Beast Boy," she whispered.
"I'm sorry that happened."
"I'm sorry too."
They paused a moment, neither willing to look at the other, but neither willing to start the walk back and break the moment either.
"Your welcome. Thank you."
Beast Boy only nodded, unwilling or unable to answer her out loud.
"Is your arm okay?" he finally asked, his voice a bit husky.
"Not really. It needs to be set and bound, but we can't do much until we get back to the cottage, then you can act nursemaid, yeah?"
They shared another smile and started the short walk back to the house.
See? No cliff-hanger! Yay! :) Sending you all love!