Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Author's Note: So I got a Kindle for Christmas. Just sayin'.
Thermodynamic miracles… events with odds against so astronomical they're effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing. And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged. To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability… the thermodynamic miracle.
-Jon Osterman, Watchmen
Raven sat on the common room couch, looking for all the world as though she was completely absorbed in the book in her hands. Her eyes flitted across the pages, which in turn were turned every twenty-three seconds, on the dot. Her posture and body language gave no hint of the possibility of her awareness of the world around her extending beyond the distance between her face and the ink on the pages.
Changeling knew, however, when he was still fifteen feet away, that he had been made. Raven never could figure out how he came to realize the exact moment she became aware of his presence any more than he was able to discover how she was able to see through his every attempt at stealth. Still, even though they both knew that his continued silent approach was nothing more than a charade, they carried it to its conclusion.
The cat pounced, and was snatched out of the air a hair's-breadth away from the back of the empath's head. Without giving any sign of less-than complete attention to her reading material, Raven roughly—but not too roughly—deposited the olive-hued feline on the floor in front of the couch.
The next page turned after thirty-three and a quarter seconds. A young man grew out of the cat on the ground. And Raven waited, without seeming to wait.
"I love you," he said. The half-demon on the couch stuttered as she turned the page, so startled was she at this declaration. She was tempted—oh so tempted!—to set her book aside, look up, and… no, not until she was certain that he was breaking the rules.
She resumed her reading, waiting to see if Garfield would continue. She was not disappointed.
"I know this must come as something of a surprise, since all I've ever done is bother you and annoy you and prod you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more."
Raven mentally applauded herself for resisting the earlier temptation. He had almost—almost!—goaded her into throwing the game altogether, but now she knew his trick, and she had him dead to rights.
" I thought an hour ago that I loved you more than any man has ever loved a woman, but a half hour after that I knew that what I felt before was nothing compared to what I felt then. But ten minutes after that, I understood that my previous love was a puddle compared to the high seas before a storm."
Despite herself, despite the fact that she knew—she knew!—that he didn't mean a word of what he said, she had to fight not to blush. Only the thought of what she would say when he was through kept her from visibly reacting.
"Your eyes are like that, did you know? Well they are. How many minutes ago was I? Twenty? Had I brought my feelings up to then? It doesn't matter."
Raven turned her page, forty and nine-tenths of a second after the last.
"I love you so much more now than twenty minutes ago that there cannot be comparison. There is no room in my body for anything but you. My arms love you, my ears adore you, my knees shake with blind affection. My mind begs you to ask it something so it can obey."
He dropped to one knee at that point, adopting a pleading pose with his hands clasped together at his breast. The object, of course, was to force his face into her peripheral vision, and to distract her from her literary pursuit enough so that she would glance up. It might have worked, if Raven hadn't been (successfully) trying to stifle her laughter at the thought of Changeling obeying her. That would be a first.
"Do you want me to follow you for the rest of your days? I will do that. Do you want me to crawl? I will crawl. I will be quiet for you or sing for you, or if you are hungry, let me bring you food, or if you have thirst and nothing will quench it but Arabian wine, I will go to Araby, even though it is across the world, and bring back a bottle for your lunch."
Flip. Fifty seconds, even. He was gaining on her, and he knew it… or at least, Raven mused to herself, he thought he knew it.
"Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. Dearest Raven—I've never called you that before, have I?—Raven, Raven, Raven, Raven, Raven, Raven,—darling Raven, adored Raven, sweet perfect Raven, whisper that I have a chance to win your love."
He finished his speech, face imploring. A moment passed, then two, until finally Raven looked up from her book and into his eyes.
" A pretty speech," she said. "You changed it from the original, though." Changeling shrugged.
"A bit. It'd be a little weird for me to say that I love you 'more than any woman ever loved a man' after all, and some other things were too context-specific to keep, but I tried to stay as close to the source as possible." His tone, while a little bit injured, gave no acknowledgment of his defeat. This bothered Raven considerably, though she gave no outward sign of it. He always pouted terribly when he lost—as he invariably did—but this time he seemed almost… almost as though he was playing a different game, one that he had dragged her into without her knowledge or consent. She kept a wary eye on him, but continued with the banter as though unperturbed.
"At least you got the characters right. You'd make a wonderful Buttercup, I must say." With any luck, Cyborg would be calling him just that before the day was out, a fit punishment for springing a speech like this on her. "And I could get used to the role of 'The Dread Pirate Raven.'" The instant she let the words out of her mouth, she knew she had played right into Garfield's hands. Whatever game they had been playing was over, and while she might have scored a victory in that game, this new one followed a very different ruleset, and she suspected from the growing grin on the green face before her that she had just handed her opponent all of the cards in the deck.
Slowly—oh so slowly!—Changeling stood up and leaned forward, until his face was only an inch away from her ear, a curtain of violet locks tickling his nose as he whispered…
Flip. Flip. Flipflipflipflipflipflipflip. The pages of her book flew past her thumb unrestrained, unread, and unacknowledged. As fast as her heart beat, they flew, until her right hand was as empty as her head, save one page, one thought.
Garfield had left after delivering his message to her ear, long before she had finished receiving it, and so when Raven stood up from the couch, she was all alone in the common room. Undaunted, she sought out the object of her frustrations, until she finally arrived at his bedroom door. She paused at the threshold, deciding on the merits of knocking to announce her presence as opposed to walking on in, but the decision was quickly taken out of her hands as the barrier swished open to reveal the sought-after shapeshifter. She touched him with her empathy and felt his uncertainty, and drew her confidence from that.
And then, she turned the tables on him.
"I love you," she said. "I know this must come as something of a surprise, since all I've ever done is scorn you and degrade you and taunt you, but I have loved you for several hours now, and every second, more." She continued with the same speech he had given her—of course, replacing "man" with "woman" and vice-versa, and keeping the part about the hovel—until finally she reached the end.
"Anything there is that I can do for you, I will do for you; anything there is that I cannot do, I will learn to do. Dearest Garfield—I've never called you that before, have I?—Garfield, Garfield, Garfield, Garfield, Garfield, Garfield,—darling Garfield, adored Garfield, sweet perfect Garfield, whisper that I have a chance to win your love."
When she was through, Garfield looked thoroughly poleaxed, and while Raven felt a small surge of triumph at that, it wasn't the reason she was standing at his door reciting one of the most ridiculous declarations of love to ever be put to paper.
Then he collected his wits, and leaned forward until his face was only an inch away from her ear, and a curtain of violet locks tickled his nose, and again he whispered…
"As you wish."
Author's Note: Be nice: it's Christmas (I'm away from internet access, so while I'll be posting this a few days after Christmas, it's true as I'm writing it), and I'm drunk (I'm away from internet access, so while I'll be posting this while sober, it's true as I'm writing it). I'll probably publish it as is, mostly because the only other story that I've been completely inebriated from conception to conclusion (Eyes Like the Summer) enjoyed (enjoys?) a much better reception than I thought it deserved (deserves?), and I'm curious as to whether the pattern will hold. Granted, Eyes is a great deal longer than this, but what the hell.
The final chapter of 7 in the Morning shouldn't be too long in coming, unless I've already written it by the time I post this, in which case it's already here.