Dedication: This one is dedicated to all of the mother's out there, because you people are truly amazing. End of.
I was there when the two of them met for the first time. They were both three.
Victor Stone had just moved about five blocks away from us about a month before and one day when we met up in the grocery store we had decided to set up a play date for all of the children in the neighbor. This would be a good reason to introduce Mrs. Stone (who was a nice woman, even if she was a bit shy) to the group of women that were my friends, as well as get the kids acquainted. Eventually they would be going to the same school, and they lived near each other; there was no reason for them not to be friends.
Only five of the mothers even bothered to show up, which wasn't really surprising. Most of the people in our neighborhood were snobs, even if we did have a few weird people.
I brought my adopted son, Gar, one of the three boys that was there. The other two were girls. Even though none of us knew it at the time, eventually the five of them would become best friends all through elementary, middle, and high school, a rare thing. Of course, being in a group of five, some were closer than the others, and eventually four of them became couples. But they always hung out together, even if they were vastly different.
Gar, even at three years old was short for his age, and was dwarfed by Vic, which seemed to be the boy that he played with the most. Dick Grayson, the other boy their age, seemed more intent on playing with Kori Anders, which was odd. But the two of them always seemed to have some kind of connection, which I guess began at the age of three.
The other little girl there was Raven Roth, and she was playing by herself at the large sandbox, where there were two shovels and two plastic red buckets.
Raven Roth's mother was the only single mother in the whole neighborhood, and her name was Arella. At the time I didn't know much about her (I still don't, for that matter), no one really did, but for some reason she seemed inclined to take Raven out with some other children, something that she obviously didn't do very often. Raven was obviously used to entertaining herself.
The two of them also lived in the small green house across the street from us, and even though we were close neighbors we rarely talked, and it took me a while to figure out that someone with a child lived even lived there.
I was watching Gar play while I talked to Galfore, Kori's guardian. He was a bit overly friendly, even at the age of three, and when he noticed Raven playing by herself he went over to her and began talking to Raven, probably telling her his name and goodness knows what else, as he pulled the bucket and shovel that Raven wasn't using over to himself. I was alarmed, but I didn't move yet. Raven seemed capable of sharing, which was a good thing.
Soon, though, something he did seemed to annoy her, and she began hitting him on the top of the head with her shovel. He yelled, and then began hitting her back. I rushed over there, where the two of them seemed to be hitting each other and squawking about it before hitting each other again.
"Raven!" Arella came from where she was sitting, on the opposite side of the park, and began scolding her daughter. "What did I tell you about hitting people with things?!" she sighed, exasperated. Raven looked up at her mother, seeming unaffected.
I bent down at Gar's level where he standing there waiting. He knew he was in trouble. "Why did you do that?" I asked, looking him in the eye.
"She started it, Rita! She's a mean girl," he exclaimed.
"I know, but you don't hit girls," I told him. "You're going to be in trouble when we're at home." I looked over his head at Arella, who was still talking to Raven. "I'm sorry about this," I said, hoping for the same kind of apology. After all, it was her kid that started it.
Arella sighed and ran a hand through her hair. "No, it's my fault. Raven started it, but I don't know why. She's not normally like this… in fact, I don't know what started the whole hitting thing. She's usually so calm. I guess your son brings out strong emotions in her or something." I laughed.
Arella was a young mother, that much was obvious. She seemed to be only twenty five, and I wondered what the story was.
I didn't know this at the time, but eventually Gar and Raven became great friends, and I became like a second mother to Raven. Eventually Raven would spend more time at our house than at her own, and became the daughter that I never had.
Eventually, the two of them became more closely intertwined to each other than anyone would have ever thought.
But something, intuation maybe, told me that even before I knew it for sure.
When Gar and Raven were ten years old they were both determined to build a tree house in our back yard. We had a large oak tree with low branches and that was easy to climb, so it was the perfect tree to put a tree house in. I was just worried about them using tools, knowing Gar he would probably hammer his thumb repeatedly, but my husband told me to just let them have at it, so eventually I caved in.
It really was their summer project. They let their other friends help, of course, and Vic was a really huge asset. Even then he had a way with tools, and he probably helped them more than either of them would have liked to admit.
But when the others weren't around the two of them often just went up the tree and worked on it alone, often bickering about the way it was looking or going.
The two of them seemed to have a love-hate relationship of sorts. They weren't alike by any means, I sometimes thought of them as day and night. More often than not Gar annoyed her to no end. She would yell at him sometimes, which he would respond by either being slightly frightened and apologetic, or by getting angry back at her and fighting back.
The two of them didn't fight very often, but when they did the fights seemed almost explosive by ten year old standards.
But aside from all of this the two seemed to be friends, and Raven came over just about every day. I don't think that she liked home, and her mother never seemed to be around. Even then Raven trusted me.
She and Gar were both up in the tree when I called the two of them down. I had to go to the store and pick up a few things. They were ten, and didn't need to come with me, but I was going to tell them that I wasn't going to be at home.
"Okay, we've got it Rita," Gar said, before running right back to where he was before, far up the tree where he was trying to nail boards to the branches.
"We'll be just fine," Raven reassured me. For some reason this didn't exactly appease me, but I let it slide. There really wasn't anything to be worried about.
Raven was the one that called me. "Gar just fell out of the tree," she told me, her voice calm and even. "I don't really know what's wrong with him, but he's acting kind of confused. And his arms bent funny too," and on those words I could hear her voice break slightly.
"I'm on my way," I said, making an illegal U turn in the middle of traffic getting several honks directed at me.
Gar had stopped crying by the time that I got to the house, but I could see the tear tracks that marked his face. I could see that his arm was bent the wrong way, and he didn't seem to be moving very much.
My son, Garfield Logan, not moving? Something was very, very wrong.
"Did you call 911?" I asked, and Raven shook her head.
"Come on," I told her, and with strength that even surprised me I hefted my son into the air and carried him to the car, where the speedometer didn't drop below ninety miles per hour once.
The whole way there Raven sat stony faced and tight lipped, her arms crossed tightly over her chest and she kept her eyes closed. When we got to the ER a nurse took him away, muttering something about a concussion, and I went out to the waiting room to wait with Raven.
"What happened?" I asked her, wondering how it had happened. I hadn't said a thing in the car about it, not wanting to upset Gar, but I needed to know what had happened. They certainly weren't going to be left alone anytime soon.
"Well, we were up in the tree and he was trying to make me laugh, and I told him to quit it. He wouldn't so I got down and tried to get away from him. Then he started goofing off and started swinging from the branches. I told him to stop, and he didn't, and then…" Raven trailed off. "Then he fell. I could have caught him, but I didn't, and now this is all my fault," she added.
"It isn't your fault, I promise, Raven," I told her, because it wasn't. I didn't know why Raven was trying to blame this on herself, but I was sure Gar was going to be just fine. "It was an accident."
"But if I hadn't of gotten down he never would have started swinging on those branches, and then he wouldn't have gotten hurt!" she said fiercely. She seemed older than her ten years then.
"I'm sure he would have found some other way to fall off of something, Raven. This isn't exactly the first time he's broken his arm, Raven. Remember when he jumped off the roof?" I reminded her.
Gar actually did jump off of the roof when he was eight. He told Steve and I that he was just trying to fly.
"I should have caught him, though," Raven insisted.
I'm about to tell her that she couldn't have, though, when a nurse calls my name and I grabbed Raven and we both went in to the examination room where Gar is waiting, already given pain killers.
While I'm talking to the nurse about what has happened to Gar I can also see the two of them talking. Evidently Raven is trying to apologize again.
Gar begins talking to her, and eventually he gets Raven to smile, a short smile, but a smile. Gar is the only person that I've seen that can make Raven smile when she's upset.
My intuition flickers again, and I can tell that this is going to be important later on.
Gar is sixteen when he gets his first girlfriend. Her name is Terra, she was pretty and blonde, and I can tell that my son absolutely adored her.
I didn't like her.
I'm not really that sure why, but I didn't. There's just something in those wide blue eyes that make me distrust her. Steve tells me that I'm absolutely crazy and that I'm just having, as he called it, "Crazy Mother Syndrome", and I was worried about losing my "little boy", but I'm sure that wasn't it.
I ddin't find out about her from Gar, though. I actually had to figure it out on my own, with Raven's help, of course. When your sixteen year old son is spending more time on the phone than he ever has before you realize something is up pretty quickly.
Raven didn't like her at first much either, I could tell, but eventually they became friends, or something like it. Terra soon became the sixth member of their little group, coming over for movie nights and going out with Gar alone sometimes too. Eventually she begins coming over more than Raven, even.
Gar is head over heels. "She's just great, Rita," he told me. "She laughs at my jokes, she's pretty, and I just know her," and that was all that I got whenever I asked him about her.
Terra was perfectly polite to Steve and me, she always called us 'sir' or 'ma'am' and said please and thank you. I tried for Gar to like her, it was obvious that he was hoping that we would get along, but even through that I was wary of her. I didn't exactly know why, I had no reason to believe anything was wrong with Terra.
I soon found out my reason.
Raven was the one who told me. She was the only one that found out about it, but she was scared to tell Vic, or Kori, or Dick. She couldn't have told Gar, she told me. He definitely wouldn't have believed her.
"Rita?" she knocked on the door. I was a bit shocked. She hadn't come over in a while, and Gar wasn't at home and his car was gone, so I knew that she wasn't coming over to see him.
"Yeah?" I asked her. I was washing dishes after lunch and staring out of the large window that Steve installed in our kitchen long before we got Gar because otherwise our house would be so dark. You could see almost everything out that window, it almost took up the whole wall.
"Can I tell you something, and trust that you won't totally freak out about it and tell someone?" she asked, looking suddenly very wary of me for the first time. She didn't tell me things very often, Raven was, and is, a very private person, so when she did I knew that it was important.
"Depends on what it is," I told her.
"It's about Gar," she said, and she had my full attention. "And Terra," Raven bit her lip and looked away from me, as if weighing the words in her head and deciding what to say next. "I don't really know what to do, and it's bothering me. I figured you might know what to do, but if you don't..." she trailed off and took a deep breath.
"Is Terra pregnant?" I asked, that image popping into my head.
Raven looked alarmed. "What? No, no of course not. They're both smarter than that. Mainly it's about Terra... and another boy," she looked at me and something in my expression must have made her want to continue.
I could tell this story was going to take awhile. "C'mon," I gestured for her to sit down at the table and I got some tea off of the stove. "Tell me everything."
When Raven was done telling me everything that she knew she looked down at her darkly painted nails. "So do you believe me?" she asked, her voice slightly desperate. I could tell that she wanted someone, anyone, to believe her and that she was afraid that I wouldn't.
"Of course I believe you, why wouldn't I? You have more than proved your honesty, at least to us."
"But Gar won't believe me! I've tried hinting at it, but she has him totally fooled. Everything he talks about now is Terra this, and Terra that. He would definitely believe her over me."
"Well, I guess your just going to have to convince him then. Because I cant' be the one to tell him, Raven. You are the one that knew about this, so you are going to have to be the one to tell him. He's not going to like it, I can tell you that much, but if he doesn't listen to you then he's just going to have to figure it out by himself." I couldn't believe that I was saying this about my own son, but it was true. But he should believe Raven, that was what I thought anyway.
But I was also a bit prejudiced, because I loved Raven like a daughter, and disliked Terra.
We both heard the gravel of the driveway crunch, and Raven looked first pained, and then determined. "Your right. Thanks Rita."
When Gar came in and found us both sitting at the table with cups in our hands he looked surprised. "Hey, Raven," he said.
"Hey Gar. Can I talk to you for a minute?" she asked. "It's important."
"Sure?" Gar looked perplexed, and looked at me to give him a hint. I shrugged my shoulders and took a sip and listened as they both went upstairs to Gar's room to talk. I could hear the murmer of Raven's voice as she told him exactly what she told me.
"You don't know what you're talking about, okay Raven," my son said, his voice harsh. "She's made some mistakes, but she's not a bad person like you think she is."
"But I saw them Gar. I saw them with my own two eyes!" she exclaimed. "You have to believe me, it's true."
"It's like Terra was telling me all along. You are jealous of her, and of how everyone likes her more than you." That was the last straw, and the last thing that Raven could take. She stormed down the stairs and stooped at the door.
"I guess some people don't take their friendships as seriously as I thought they would, Rita. Especially friendships they would have had since they were three. You were right. He's not worth it," she hissed softly, but I knew Gar could hear her, because her voice carried easily in the almost empty house. "I hope he does figure it out for himself," and with that she slammed the front door.
"Do you think that I should have listened to her, Rita?" he asked, fiddling with the salt shaker at dinner. We were both waiting for my husband to come and join us. He seemed to be indecisive now, unlike before when he was totally sure that Raven was lying.
"What do you think, Gar?" I asked him. "Think about it, has Raven ever lied to you before?"
"Well, no," he answered.
"And has she ever led you to believe that she didn't like Terra? Aren't the two of them friends now?"
"Then what would make Raven start to lie now, when she never has before?"
"I don't know." He sighed. "Can Terra come over tonight? I need to ask her some stuff."
"Sure, Gar. Whatever you need."
I don't really know what happened that night between Terra and Gar, he asked her about it in his car where neither Steve or I could hear them. But at the end she was yelling some obscenities and then she called someone on her cell phone that had obviously been waiting at the end of the block by the speed that they got to our house. They came and picked her up, and she drove away, which was the last I saw of her at my home.
Gar ambled over to the steps on our porch and put his head in his hands. I was going to go and comfort him, tell him that she wasn't worth being upset over, and all of the usual things that mothers say, but Raven got there first. I paused so that neither of them knew that I was there.
Raven didn't say anything, she just came over and sat next to him. After a while he looked up and said, "You can tell me that you told me so, because you did, Raven."
"I know, I did," she pointed out. "But I don't have any reason to gloat about something like this. This isn't fun."
"I really liked her."
"I know you did, Gar. And I'm sorry that things ended the way they did, because that sucked majorly."
They were both quiet for a while, soaking in the warm spring night together. "Thank you," he told her.
"For telling me, even when you probably knew that I wouldn't have listened. No one else would have done that."
"We're friends after all, Gar, and that's just what friends do. I would have wanted you to do the same thing for me."
"I'm glad that I have a friend like you then, Raven."
"Yes, Gar, I'm glad that we're friends too."
And with that, that was the end of their conversation about the matter. Gar was really cut up about Terra, but he got slowly over her, and he and Raven got closer than ever after that.
Once again my intuition flickered that night, and I could feel that this was a turning point for the two of them, although neither of them knew it yet.
"Rita! I'm going over to Vic's," Gar called to me.
"That's fine," I responded. "Just be back by ten tonight, okay?"
"Cool, come on Vic, let's go," he said, gesturing his arm for Vic to follow him over to Raven's where the said girl was sitting on her front porch reading a book, looking like she wanted to be left alone.
When Raven was reading you should have known better than to mess with her. That was the only time that she would stay over at her house, either on the porch or inside, devouring page after page of words. She loved reading, and when she absorbed in a good book I had seen her blow up at Gar many times for aggravating her.
"Raven, we need a referee!" he called over to her. "We just made this new game up, and you're just the person that we need right now."
"Gar, leave me alone."
"C'mon Raven, you don't have to stayed holed up at home. You can come hang with us."
"No, I don't want to, and you can't make me. Go away. Now."
"Gar, man, maybe we should just go," Vic said nervously. Wise move, I thought. The few times that I had seen Raven's temper had been enough
"No, I want to know why she would rather just be all creepy and weird and stay at home reading a stupid book than come with us. It's not like she has to stay at home, her mom doesn't care."
I knew that at the word creepy Raven would have gotten upset. She wasn't creepy, not really, even though her house could be and she could also be a bit dark at times. But that wasn't creepy, just different.
You could see the annoyance deflate out of Raven like a balloon. "I'm going to the library. Please, just leave me alone," Raven said, and I could tell that she was upset. So could Vic, by the way that he hit Gar upside the head after Raven was out of earshot.
"Why did you do that?" he demanded.
"Why does she have to be all weird?" Normally Gar wouldn't say things about Raven like this, but lately the two of them had been constantly at each others throats. The words sexual tension often came to mind, even though I mostly just brushed that thought away. They were both seventeen now, and both single. I didn't want to think about what that meant.
"Raven has a boyfriend," Gar announced when he got home a few days after their fight.
"Does she really? That's great!" I was excited for Raven, she deserved to have someone that would be nice to her and like her. She had only one other relationship, some kid that I didn't know the name to because Gar only called him Goth Boy the entire time they were dating, and whenever Raven tried to say his real name Gar would cut her off by calling him Goth Boy again. "What's he like, has she told you?" I doubted this, Raven wasn't exactly the gushing type, but I knew the only way that I would be getting any information about him any time soon.
"His name is Malchior. He's nineteen. He goes to the U and is studying English Literature. Evidently they met at the library in the fiction section. He has blonde hair and blue eyes and he's six-two."
"And Raven told you all of this?" I asked incredulous.
"No," he admitted. "I found out from Kori after she Googled him when Raven gave her his name."
"Kori Googled him?" I just couldn't believe this.
"Well, I might have helped a little bit too," I gave him a look. "I just wanted to make sure that he didn't have some kind of criminal record. I mean, he has a motorcycle!"
"Now you sound like Dick," I scolded him. "You should just let Raven go out with this guy. He's an older man, and he's got that bad boy persona going on. This sounds good for her. She hasn't had a boyfriend in a long time."
"Yeah, I know. I don't like him, though."
"Gar, have you even met him?" I asked.
"Not in person, but I saw him when he picked Raven up from school, on his motorcycle no less!"
"Gar, leave it alone. It's none of your business, and you have no reason at all to pry."
I should have known better than to believe Gar when he said that he would leave it alone. He didn't, and he often tried to follow the two on dates and tried to get Raven to spend more time with him. He even tried to set up the two of them a study session, which he almost never did because number one, it was Gar, and he never studied unless he was at gun point, and number two Gar was doing just fine in Spanish III.
I was outside weeding when I saw Malchior pull up on his infamous motorcycle and dropped Raven off. "...thanks for understanding," she was saying. "But I promised him that I would help him, and he's failed the last few papers that we've gotten so he really needs the help."
"My dear sweet Raven," the boy that I assumed was Malchior said. I could see why Raven would have been attracted to him. He had a sexy British accent that almost made shivers run down my back, as well as almost overly long blonde hair and a great smile. "Always thinking of others."
Raven laughed, and then Malchior came over to her and kissed her long and slow and deep. I chanced a look over at our window and sure enough Gar was there, obviously fuming, a broken pencil in his hand.
This was going to end badly, I could already tell.
Raven was barely at the door when Gar started in on her. "I'm sorry, I obviously should have made sure you didn't have any plans with dear old Malchior before I asked you to come help an old friend," he said sarcastically, with a nasty edge. I almost told him something about it, but I decided to leave this well enough alone. I didn't want to get in the middle of those two.
"Gar either let me in, or tell me to go away so I can call Malchior to come and get me."
"I don't like him."
"You've never even met him," Raven protested.
"I've heard things."
"From who, pray tell?"
"Some of the girls at school, Raven. You don't want to be in the middle of him."
"Well listen, Gar, and listen good. I like him, and you can't tell me who I can and cannot date."
"Just don't forget who your friends are, Raven, okay? You haven't talked to us in a long time, and that's just not right."
"Look, I'm sorry. But I've been busy, alright? I can't spend every waking hour with you guys."
"I'm sorry too, Raven. I was totally out of line, can we just forget about this and come study?"
Raven hesitated before nodding and coming inside with her backpack.
It turned out that Gar was right about his suspicions about Malchior. Evidently about a month after they started dating Raven found him kissing another girl at a movie that she and Gar had went to together. Raven and Malchior had a huge fight about it, and eventually Raven just decided to break up with him. She wasn't about to put up with that.
When the two of them got home I cleared out of the room and let the two of them talk, but I still kept an eye on the two of them unless they got into a fight about it, which seemed likely.
"Look, Raven, I'm sorry," Gar said finally.
"For what? You're not the one who-"
"No, I'm sorry... that he broke your heart."
Raven looked at him for a moment before hugging him like a drowning man hugs a rope for dear life.
"Uh..." Gar says after he untangles himself, and then the phone rings, saving him from saving anything.
Gar gets up and answered the phone. "Oh, uh, hey Vic. Um, I'm not sure if right now is a good time..." Raven took the phone out of his hands.
"No, we'd love to come over and play," Raven smiled. "Yes, me too. Okay, see you there."
Gar looked at her wide eyed. "Are you sure this is a good thing."
"This is just what I need," Raven said, getting up. "Let's go."
I knew in my gut that Gar liked Raven, then when the two of them ran out the door and walked to Vic's house. I probably knew that before he did. But I also knew it wouldn't be long before Raven felt the same way about him.
"Rita, how would you tell a girl that you liked her, without freaking her out about it?" Gar asked me one day when we were both watching a movie.
I muted the movie. "I guess that depends on the girl and how much you liked her."
"I like her, a lot," he admitted. "But I'm not sure how to tell her, exactly, which is kinda why I'm asking you."
"Who's the girl?"
"I don't want to say."
"Then I'm not answering, Gar."
"Fine... it's Raven," he said after a while.
"Really?" The look on my face made him groan.
"I knew that you would react like this," Gar said, good naturedly.
"Well, if I was you I don't know what'd I do. I think straight out is the best way for her."
"But I don't want to do that!" Gar exclaimed. "What if she doesn't feel the same way about me? Then everything would be ruined and we couldn't be friends anymore because everything would be all weird."
"Do you like her enough to risk that, though?" I asked.
"Then do it," I encouraged. "I promise, it'll be worth it."
"Wait," Gar regarded me suspiciously. "You don't know anything I don't, do you?"
I put on an innocent look. "My lips are sealed." In fact I was pretty sure that Raven liked him back, but I wanted him to figure that out on his own.
"Fine," he grumbled.
That night on our porch Gar kissed Raven, and she kissed him back, and I had a feeling that everything was going to be okay in the end.
It's about time, I thought, and didn't realize that I said that out loud until my husband came up from behind me and replied. "What are you talking about? Oh," he said when he saw the two of them kissing. "Finally, took them long enough, didn't it? Fourteen years, right?"
I whirled on him. "Wait, you noticed?" I asked.
"A blind man would have noticed, Rita. God, you would think that you were the only one that noticed anything about the kids. In fact, the whole neighborhood had a bet on it. Which reminds me, I have to call Galfore. He owes me twenty bucks."
"You knew?" I asked again. I just couldn't believe this.
"Well, I had a suspicion about it. I mean, really. And you know what they say. A father's suspicion-"
"Is as strong as a mother's intuition. Yeah, I know."
A/N: No, I don't have my computer back, but I just had to write this story, it was eating my brain, so I'm at a friends house using their computer right now. I apologize for the grammer, by the way, because I wasn't able to double check everything like usual. So, what did you think? Like it, hate it, love it? Also, did you think they were in character, especially Rita. And what did you think of my first person POV? Thanks for reading.