A Raven and Red X One-Shot

"I change shapes just to hide who I am
But I'm still, I'm still an animal."
- Miike Snow, Animal

It was a bad idea and Red X knew that. Whatever inkling had possessed him, telling him that this excursion was okay and would be fun had long since faded, and only the truth stared him in the face. Perhaps it was the severity and understated strength bundled in blue that cleared his jaded eyes. Maybe not. He wasn't sure what lightning bolt had suddenly stuck him, but sitting in the living room of Titan Tower, laughing and joking with his "fellow Titans" he began to realize something was amiss. He looked up into a pair of dark, plum eyes watching him from the corner of the room.

The world screeched to a halt as he noticed the arch in her eyebrow.

Raven knew.

That was going to be problematic.

"Friends!" Starfire's sickeningly sweet voice rang from the door way, and Red X's stomach returned to its proper location with the distraction. He could only hope that Raven didn't really know, right? She was just being her normal, creepy self. That seemed to be a fool's wish. Starfire was waving a newspaper over her head and shouting with delight. "Tonight there is to be a display of works of fire at the park! We should go and partake!"

Red X saw Robin's look of concern cross his face, but all Starfire had to do was bat those big, green eyes and he melted into a puddle. What a sap. Red X fought the urge to roll his eyes and leaned back into the sofa, plastering on a giddy, fake smile. "That sounds like fun, Robin! We should all go down to the park tonight and have a picnic!" Oh, good lord. That sounded so freakin' gay to his own ears.

"Well, if everyone wants to go, I don't see why we can't." Robin rubbed the back of his head and smiled sheepishly at Starfire, who smiled back. Barf. Those two couldn't be any more obvious if there were flashing neon signs pointing at them. Starfire kissed his cheek, making Robin turn crimson in response.

Red X stood up, needing to get out of the living room before he really did throw up. Anymore of this awkward teenage love and he might lose his soul. What he really needed, was an excuse to get away from here. Or at least, get away from the dark eyes that were still watching his every movement. "Well, if we're going to have a picnic, we better go grocery shopping. We don't have anything but moldy bread and ketchup."

Robin nodded. "Okay. Do you want to go, Hornet?"

Ugh. Red X could never remember why he chose that stupid "superhero name" for himself, but he really hated it sometimes, especially when the Boy Wonder called it out like a friend would. Actually, what Red X really wanted was to one day give the boy an atomic wedgie. He deserved it. "Sure. I'll go."

"I'll tag along." Red X's stomach dropped to the floor again, and he turned to look at Raven, who was standing up adjusting her cloak. She smoothed out any wrinkles and turned to him, a ghost of a sarcastic, knowing smile on her lips. "If you don't mind, Hornet."

Of course he minded. A lot. He forced out an awkward smile in response. "Well, gee, Raven." What was this, a 50's sit com? No wonder she figured him out already, it was painfully obvious if he was acting like this. "That sounds nice of you, but I think I can handle it by myself. I'd hate to disturb you from finishing your book. You've been reading it all day."

She smiled softly and held the book up, cover closed. For some reason it reminded Red X of the deadly stake that ended up in Dracula's chest. Great. "All finished. Let me go throw on some civilian clothes and we'll go together. It'll be fun." Her eyes were dark as she stepped out of the room, and Red X began to wonder what he had gotten himself into.

Twenty minutes later he and Raven were pulling out of Titan Tower, trying to avoid the obvious tension growing between them. The streets were packed with people in shorts and flip-flops waving American flags around. Red X glanced over at Raven, who was quiet and adjusting her seat belt. Okay, no news was good news, right? There were another three minutes of silence before she did something really odd.

Without any warning or preamble, she reached over to the driver's side console, and shoved her hand between Red X's knees. There was a slight "click" under the dashboard and she removed her hand. Red X just stared at her, wondering what would have happened if he moved the wrong way. Raven, however, seemed unconcerned.

"Do you always stop at green lights?" She pointed toward the light, and Red X jumped, maneuvering through the streets. He caught a smug expression out of the corner of his eye. "I turned off the recording device, in case you were wondering."

That did not make him feel any safer. Red X swallowed a growing lump in his throat, there was no guessing at this point. And no evidence of his death either. "So, you know."

"I guessed. It took a few weeks, but I figured it out." She glanced over at him, frowning. The sun hit her hair at just the right angle to light her face up, as if she was wearing an amethyst halo. Held up by very pointy horns. "So, what at the tower intrigues you now?"

He shrugged. "Nothing really." And it was the truth. It had simply been a personal goal to try and infiltrate their lives, to see if he could blend in with them. There was no devious thought behind it, no jewels, no technology. It was nothing more than a test for himself. And up until this point, he'd like to think he passed. Raven had destroyed his winning streak. "I was just curious."

Raven raised an eyebrow, but didn't respond to the comment. "Turn left, not right." She rolled her eyes at his annoyed stare. "Trust me. The mega mart doesn't carry the brand of tofu Beast Boy likes, and Cyborg prefers the butchered meat to the processed. And if I have to hear either of them bitch about their food one more time I may potentially kill them."

Red X didn't doubt that. He moved into the left lane, staring intently at the red arrow in front of him. "So, are you going to tell everyone?"

"No." She shrugged when he looked over at her, as if she was lying. "Honest, I won't. It's not really my place to tell anyone your secret. Technically, you haven't hurt anyone or done anything bad... yet. And, to be honest, you've been a huge help to the team having the extra pair of hands." Her dark eyes flashed at him, and Red X got the distinct image of a mother bear protecting her cubs. "But I will warn you, the moment you cross that line, the moment you hurt one of my friends, I can't make any promises as to what is said... or done."

That was vague and terrifying, and Red X might have peed his pants if he looked at her any longer. They turned down a small side road, buildings pressing close to the street. He glanced at her again, noticing the way her teeth chewed on her lower lip, making the flesh turn crimson and swell. There was something about it that just made him feel... odd. As if there was a strange stirring inside him. He turned back to the road. "So, what gave it away?"

"Your fighting style. It's very... mathematical. Ordered and consistent. There have only been two people I've ever known to fight like that, Robin and you." She stared out the window, watching the buildings slide past them. "Oh, and the way you leer at Starfire."

Red X gave an indignant snort. "I do not leer."

"Ha! Sure." She raised an eyebrow as she looked at him. "You've been eying her breasts for four weeks straight. Not even Robin does that."

Red X opened his mouth to protest, but she had a point. The girl had a nice rack, and as a man he was obligated to notice. It was in his manual. "You are perceptive."

"Perhaps." She returned her stare to the window. "Or, maybe I'm just more careful of who I let into my life."

That explained a lot. That girl kept her heart sealed like Fort Knox against any kind of relationship or emotion. Even Red X admitted that there were parts of him growing attached to the team. Very tiny, small, miniscule parts that you needed a microscope to see, but they were there. Raven, however, had been with the team since the beginning, and she was still cold and calculating, locked behind her barriers. For a moment, he wondered why that was, and then quickly remembered he didn't care.

"Here. On the left."

Red X saw a small, family grocery store specializing in organic produce and grass fed beef. Really? Was she a tree-hugger? Or was this some kind of joke?

"Beast Boy swears up and down that you can taste the difference. I think he's just being juvenile." She stepped out of the car, and they crossed the street to the store. Red X grabbed a small cart and they started up the aisle. He watched Raven move quickly, mumbling under her breath what each person wanted. What particular brand of mustard Starfire liked the best. Which barbeque sauce Cyborg liked to use. Red X's lips turned down in a frown. She knew details for everyone. Little, minute details that most people wouldn't even notice, and yet she had them all memorized.

Red X watched her small form walk in front of him, her pace now a little slower. For being so petite, the girl had a nice figure. He'd never really seen it, since she was always wearing that stupid cloak. But, in the black tee shirt and dark skinny jeans, she looked... well, kinda pretty, and there was something in his stomach that turned over. That was a feeling he didn't like one bit.

Raven stopped and stared at the top of the shelf, sighing. It was just out of her reach, even standing on her tip-toes. She growled and moved to use her powers, but Red X just rolled his eyes. He stood next to her and pulled the bottle from the top shelf, handing it to her. "I thought the whole point of putting on civilian clothes was to blend in."

Raven blinked up at him, and Red X suddenly realized how close they were. The scent of chamomile and lavender infiltrated his senses and he had the strongest urge to breathe deep, to wallow in the fragrance like it was perfume. They both took a step back, looking away and muttering apologies. There were a few minutes of awkward silence before Raven finally broke it. "So, how long do you plan on staying with us?"

Red X shrugged, glad to go back to a topic that kept his mind away from the curve of Raven's hips. "I don't know. A while I guess. Until I get bored."

"Mm." Raven looked over her shoulder at him, her eyes were dark and Red X suddenly felt as if she were eying prey. "I figured you would say something like that." She paused for a moment, turning to look at him fully. "And you have no idea as to how long that's going to be?"

"No... not really." Red X helped her again, grabbing something from the top shelf, only this time he made sure to hold his breath. "Why do you ask?"

She shrugged. "Just curious. I'd like to know when my life will return to normal."

Red X didn't have anything to say to that, and so he kept quiet. They turned and walked down another aisle, and Red X heard something he thought he never would: humming. From Raven. To Meat Loaf. He managed to keep most of the laughter at bay, but a few chuckles did slip out. Raven turned around, her cheeks a soft shade of pink, and frowned at him. "Is there something you find amusing?"

He shook his head, biting his lip to keep from laughing any more. "Not at all."

Raven sighed and rolled her eyes, moving ahead of him. "Go ahead, laugh all you want. Take a video and post it on the internet: Raven Sings Along with Meat Loaf in the Grocery Store. It'll be a riot." She turned the corner into the fresh food section and started picking out produce. Red X had a strange sinking feeling in his chest, and for a few moments he wondered if he hurt her feelings. And then for a few more moments, he wondered why it mattered.

"I'm sorry, Raven... I just thought it was kind of cute." Red X shrugged. "Besides I like Meat Loaf, who doesn't?"

Raven turned to him, face as red as the tomato she was holding. "Cute? Red X or Hornet or whatever the hell you want to be called, let me tell you something, in case you are unaware. I am not cute. Starfire is cute, Bumble Bee is cute, hell even Beast Boy is cute. I am a demon from another dimension. 'Cute' I am not." She put a few tomatoes in the cart and walked away from him, growling.

Red X sighed and shook his head. There was no hope pleasing that girl. He couldn't compliment her, he couldn't insult her, he was just stuck in limbo with her and that was not a comfortable location. He followed her to the lettuce and stood next to her in silence. A few minutes passed, and Red X itched to break them. He wasn't exactly known for being quiet. "Is there a reason you're so upset with me, Raven?"

She snorted and looked up at him. "Besides the obvious? No, I guess not." She put a few more items in the grocery cart. "Like I said, I'm just more careful about who I let in my life." She sighed and looked up at him, and Red X started to feel as if he were falling, or being crushed under the weight of her glare. "To them, you are a friend, a teammate, a companion, and they trust you. They probably even love you. You're going to break all their hearts when you leave, you know that right?"

Red X felt the words fall from his lips before he had the chance to stop them. "And what about your heart, Raven? Am I going to break yours?" Well, that was a stupid move.

She blinked up at him, expression unreadable. "Does it matter? You've made it quite clear that you do things your own way and at your own pace. How I feel towards you shouldn't have any effect on the decisions you make... what would you like me to call you?"

Red X jerked back from the sudden question, and shrugged. "I don't know. X, I guess is fine... as long as it's just the two of us."

Raven nodded curtly. "X, then." She turned down another aisle, and Red X followed her. "Do you expect us to have many moments alone by ourselves?"

"I don't know... I guess since you know the truth, that would mean I would feel more comfortable around you."

"Ah." Raven's cryptic response did nothing to ease the uncomfortable feeling in his stomach. Her words gave him pause. She was right, of course. He knew that everyone would have eventually accepted him into the team, especially if he managed to keep up the facade. But what he wasn't anticipating was the way he would feel about them. He didn't expect to enjoy Raven's company, or Cyborg's cooking, or beating Beast Boy at video games. He didn't expect any of it, and now Raven was insinuating that he would leave soon, and everything would disappear. But, on the other end of the spectrum, he was Red X, and breaking hearts came with the job.

"You didn't answer my question." Red X asked as Raven inspected a watermelon.

"You didn't answer mine." Raven smirked at him, before turning away. "Come on, Cyborg likes his ribs to marinate for at least an hour before cooking, which means we need to get them back to him soon, or he'll throw a fit." Red X followed her through the check out and out of the store, still mulling over their conversation. Did he like the life enough to stay permanently? Or was he going to go back to what he was before: an honorable thief?

It was a decision he wasn't sure if he was ready to make yet.

"Are we going, or are you going to stare at the gum all day?" Raven was standing by the door, her arms filled with bags, glaring at him. Red X sighed and took a few bags from her, and then both walked to the car. They rode back to the tower in silence, mostly because Red X didn't really know what to say. The silence made him think, and his mind was filled with questions, ones he wanted to ask, ones he wanted to ignore. Did he actually like playing a Titan? If he did, would he want to stay? What would happen if he went back to his normal life? But first and foremost, would Raven really keep her word not to tell anyone?

He watched her unbuckle herself and get out of the car, grabbing some grocery bags. Her dark eyes met his and she gave an exasperated sighed. "Your secret is safe, don't worry. Oh, and you're taking the heavy bags." She slammed the car door and walked up into the living room. Red X stayed in the silence a little more, enjoying the quiet for once. He needed it to clear his head before he put back on the mask of "Hornet" and played a Titan again, especially since Raven's word reached him a little deeper than he anticipated.

By the time Red X reached the living room, Cyborg had already finished his speech on why the ribs needed to be marinated for so long, and Beast Boy's appreciation at Raven remembering his favorite brand of tofu. She gave him a genuine smile and Red X just stared. So, she wasn't as much of an outcast as she pretended to be. Everyone welcomed her without questions or assumptions, and when she needed to go and be alone, they let her. It was just how the team understood her.

"Hey, Hornet! Thanks for running out to the store for us." Robin clamped on Red X shoulder, and he had the sudden desire to flick him in the nose. But, he just smiled and moved to help Raven put away some of the food, and repack the rest for the picnic. There was no need to start a fight... today, at least. Raven smirked at him, but said nothing.

"Don't give me that look." Red X muttered under his breath as Raven chuckled.

"I can barely stand him as a leader sometimes, I can't imagine how you feel." She cast a sidelong glance at him, her eyes shimmering with humor. "He was always your favorite subject to tease."

"Yeah well..." Red X watched her as she organized everything and neatly packed it away in a picnic basket. Her hair fell over her face, casting shadows across her skin, and for some reason Red X just stared. Raven looked over at him and rolled her eyes.

"Are you waiting for me to sing again?" She snorted.

"Dude, Raven!" Beast Boy's voice made her look up, and Red X saw a deep shade of crimson flood her face. Ha. She deserved it for picking on him. "Raven, you sang? Where?"

"In the grocery store." Red X saw her glare, but chose to ignore it, against his better judgment. "To Meat Loaf."

Beast Boy found this hilarious and ended up rolling on the floor laughing. Raven glared at Red X, frowning. He saw a shade of red pass over her eyes, and for a moment Red X knew he should be frightened, but he just couldn't actually be. Raven gave an unladylike snort. "You are so going to get it later."

"I don't doubt it." He smiled, and stole a carrot from her hand. "But, it was fun to watch Beast Boy laugh at you for once."

"You're terrible!" Raven turned away from him, frowning. She continued packing the food for the picnic, pretending to ignore Beast Boy's giggles. Red X just stood back and watched her, feeling his head fill with those dark questions again. Was he ready to give up what he had built here? Robin wasn't exactly the best companion, but Raven was... well, talking with her this afternoon had been nice, despite the obvious difficulties. He ran a hand over his face and sighed.

"Something wrong, Hornet?"

Red X caught the inflection and raised an eyebrow at her teasing tone. He grabbed another carrot from her hand and shook his head. "Just thinking, Sunshine." The shade of red that crossed her face was worth the extra hard beating he was now going to get.

Raven rolled her eyes and went back to her task of packing. Red X just stood next to her, watching, and when the living room had emptied, he took a long look at Raven. For some reason, it bothered him that she hadn't answered his questions. Would her heart break when he left? Did it matter to her that he was going to leave and never look back? That there would be a point where their paths would meet again and she would have to fight him? He sighed and leaned back against the counter. Raven looked over at him.

"Your emotions are a mess." Plum eyes looked up at him, and he could see shadows of concern there. Very small shadows. Red X cringed a little, he always seemed to forget about her ability to read and feel emotions, and one day it would get him in trouble. Raven turned to face him. "Is there something we need to talk about?"

"No." Red X shrugged and looked at her, forcing a small smile. "I'm just hungry. Ready to get this show on the road. And, I'm just dying to see those fireworks."

Raven gave him a small smile. "You're a terrible liar, but I'll humor you." There was another moment of silence as she finished packing everything, double checking to make sure everything was in the basket. Red X itched to say something to her, he wasn't sure what, but something. The weather, sports, television, he didn't care... he just didn't like the silence between them, and he wasn't sure why. Raven sighed and looked up at him. "Order your thoughts, or you're going to give me a headache, X."

"I don't like the silence." The admission felt stupid and abrupt, but he couldn't take it back now.

"So I've noticed." Raven returned to her task and moved around the kitchen with purpose, as if his words were nothing new. "Any particular reason why?"

He shrugged. "I always feel like something needs to be said." Red X moved to help her get something from the top shelf, and this time he indulged a little in her fragrance. Okay, he knew he should have left well enough alone, that the barriers between them were necessary. But, it was Raven, and there was something mysterious and intriguing about her. Besides, she smelled pretty and that was nice. "Silence is just... weird and boring."

Raven shook her head, the corners of her lips turning up. "It's perfectly normal. And a rare occurrence in the tower, might I add. So, I take advantage of every second I can." She glanced back at him before returning to the basket. "I like the quiet."

"I know." Red X snorted, reliving the memory of meeting her as "Hornet" for the first time. She made it perfectly clear that she liked things quiet, and she liked to be left alone. Besides that meeting, there was only one other time Red X had ever feared for his life, and it had taken place when she figured out his secret. An hour and a half ago. "I don't."

"Something else we have nothing in common." She closed the basket, handing it to him. "Come on, I bet you a dollar the team is waiting for us next to the car. And, Starfire will probably pee her pants in excitement if we don't get down there soon."

Red X smiled. He didn't doubt that.

The car ride was filled with jovial conversation, and Raven wringing her hands together, trying to keep all the emotions swarming her at bay. Poor girl was being bombarded by everyone, their jokes, laughter, teasing. Red X did not envy her. He thought was doing the right thing in offering her some comfort, and he reached out to snag a few of her fingers in his hand. Clearly, he was not. She looked at him, her expression a mixture between annoyance and bloodthirsty. Red X dropped her hand immediately and started counting minutes until he could get out of the car and run away from her. That girl did not need to be half demon to be scary.

"You will lose your fingers if you ever do that again." Raven hissed under her breath.

"I noticed." He looked over at her and noticed a fine sheen of sweat on her skin, her lips pursed. He sighed and rolled his eyes. "I was only trying to help."

"Your torrential emotions are most of the problem." Her eyes flashed at him before turning to look out the window. "We're almost there, I'll be fine. Stop freaking out."

Red X sighed and rolled his eyes again, feeling stretched. She upset his calm, cool way of life by asking poignant questions and then yelled at him when his emotions became too much. There really was no winning with her. Red X crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back into the seat. Just a few more minutes.

"Thank you, though."

Red X jumped and looked over at her, his expression softening. "You're welcome."

The minute the car stopped, Raven burst from inside, taking deep, calming breaths to try and soothe her nerves. Red X stood back from her, giving her some space to cool down before he talked to her again. Okay, he knew that after her admission of finally figuring out who he was, he should have stayed as far away from her as possible. But no matter how wrong he knew it was, he couldn't seem to leave well enough alone. It was as if knowing his secret made her more of a companion, that because she knew who he really was, she could be trusted more. Even though Red X knew it was going to get him into trouble.

Raven sighed and looked over at him. "Is there a reason you've been following me around?"

That was uncalled for. Red X sighed and rolled his eyes. "Fine I'll go busy myself with something else."

"Good." And she walked off. Red X watched her go, sighing. He grumbled under his breath as he went to help the others cook dinner. Families, friends, children, pets, everyone was starting to gather in the large park, each staking their claim on a small piece of property to watch the fireworks. The air was filled with the scent of barbeque and the sound of laughter. An hour passed. Then two. And Raven was no where to be seen. Red X kept looking through the crowd, trying to find her. Nothing.

"Where is she?" Red X asked, plopping down at the picnic table. Cyborg stood next to him, slathering his ribs with barbeque sauce. He glanced over at Red X and shook his head.

"Raven? She goes out and comes back at her own pace. Let her be, she'll be around soon." Cyborg returned to his ribs for a moment. Red X sighed and leaned against the table, still watching the crowd. He felt Cyborg's eyes on him and glanced over.

"Go ahead. Ask away."

Cyborg snorted. "I don't have to ask. You're so painfully obvious it speaks for its self." He grinned. "You liiiiike her, don't you?"

"Oh, shut up." Red X bit back a curse, his eyes still scanning for her. Ugh. What was it about her? She wasn't exciting, in fact she was just kind of creepy. She was a loner, kept her friends at a distance, and barely said more than ten words to him a day. So, why did he feel drawn to her? Like a gem shining in a museum case, lit up like fresh stars. Red X sighed and looked over at Cyborg, who was still grinning like an idiot. "What?"

"Oh, come on." He snorted again before returning to baby his ribs. "I see you making eyes at her all the time. You watch her like a hawk watches a mouse, waiting for the right time to strike."

It was Red X's turn to snort. The analogy was spot on, the roles, however, were reversed. Raven was the one to be scared of. "I don't watch her."

"You've been hunting for her for the past two hours."

Red X opened his mouth to spit back a retort, but there was nothing he could have said to explain himself. He could just see the conversation now: 'Oh, yeah. I know I've been looking for her, but it's because she knows my secret, and I'm worried she might tell. Oh, and she has a nice ass and I'm hoping to catch a glimpse.' That would do no good. And Cyborg would have just cause to murder him over the "ass" comment. Red X let loose a quiet growl.

Really, when he thought about it, this whole situation was ridiculous. Here he was, at a giant picnic, surrounded by beautiful girls with lots of friends (who were already drunk on cheap wine), and he was pining after the creepy Titan girl. Forget Robin, Red X was the freaking sap. He stood up and started toward the bay. He heard Cyborg say something teasing, but chose not to acknowledge it. Let him think whatever he wanted.

"I'm surprised you're not trying to hit on those cute blonde girls next to us." Red X jumped at the melancholy sound and looked down. Raven was sitting on the seawall, her feet danging over the edge, a book in her hand. She looked up at him, eyes dark. "They've been drunk for a good hour now and you've not made one move yet."

"Cheap wine makes you do stupid things." He plopped down next to her, feeling a frown form on his lips. How hadn't he seen her earlier? "Have you been here the whole time?"

"No." She closed her book and looked down at the waved lapping against the steel wall. "I've been wandering around for a while, looking for an emotionally quiet spot." She sighed, her shoulders slumping. "No such luck, unfortunately."

"I'm sorry... do you want me to... leave?"

She shrugged. "Doesn't really matter."

Red X shifted a little, wondering if it was a good idea to leave or if he was more interested in staying with her. He thought about it for a few minutes before deciding that she was much more interesting than Cyborg babying ribs, and Beast Boy playing fetch, and whatever Starfire and Robin were doing. "The sun is setting."

Raven snorted. "You are correct sir. Any more obvious comments you'd like to point out?"

"You're kind of being a bitch." Red X rolled his eyes, but Raven just chuckled.

"Also nothing new." She kicked her feet for a little bit. "The fireworks are going to start in about an hour. I'm assuming dinner is almost ready then?"

"As far as I can tell." Red X shrugged. "You know I can't cook to save my life."

"Me either."

Silence filled in between them, for about two minutes before Red X grew uncomfortable again. He didn't like the quiet between them. It was weird and unnecessary. "I guess we should go eat then?"

"I guess." Raven stood up and Red X followed. They saw Cyborg waving them down, pointing at the plate of meat in his hands. Beast Boy looked greener than usual, and Red X saw a small smile cross Raven's lips at his distress. "Ah, schadenfreude, dear Beast Boy, schadenfreude."

Red X shook his head, trying to hide his own smile. She definitely had her own particular brand of humor. They walked back to the other team members, who were already diving into the food as if it was their last meal. The rest of the meal was filled with conversation, joking, and anticipation for the fireworks. Red X tried to concentrate on their words, but he was sitting next to Raven and every time their elbows touched he jumped a little, then turned to look at her. But Raven gave no indication that their skin met, and she continued on with her dinner as if nothing happened. Sometimes Red X felt like he really needed a brick wall to bang his head against.

The next thing Red X knew, everyone had grabbed a blanket, and was stretched along the grass trying to find the best spot to watch fireworks. Robin and Starfire were kissing somewhere down next to the bay. Beast Boy had turned into a bird and flew into a tree. Cyborg was sitting on top of the picnic table. And Raven was all alone on a large black blanket, legs pulled up against her chest. There was a quiet moment of anticipation, and then the air was filled with blaring music and the sky lit up with every color of the rainbow.

Red X, however, couldn't seem to pay attention to the display. He instead watched Raven for a moment before he moved to sit next to her.

"You again I see?" Raven didn't remove her gaze from the sky.

"You looked lonely."

Raven snorted. "I always look lonely." She looked over at him and sighed. "What is it that draws you to me, X? I am not interesting in any way, we have absolutely nothing in common, and yet every time I look over my shoulder I see you there. I don't understand it."

Red X pulled back slightly, feeling the words hit him in the chest. What was it about her? He couldn't figure that out for himself, let alone her. The only thing he could guess was that it was because she knew his secret, and because she knew his secret, she knew him. It was a stupid thought, he knew that. But then again this whole "excursion" was a stupid thought, and look where it got him. "I don't know, quite frankly."

"Neither do I." Raven sighed again, shaking her head. "And yet you don't bother me as much as you should."

Red X swallowed a small lump in his throat. Okay, that was unexpected. Had Raven, in her own, weird, Raven-y way, just admit that she might have liked him. And that he was okay around her? Furthermore, why was that so damn important to him? And why, oh why, did he want to get closer to her?

Raven rolled her eyes at him. "You're looking at me like you're going to kiss me."

Red X felt a smile cross his lips before he could stop it. "And what if I am?"

"Well, you better get on with it before the others see us." Red X didn't need any more persuasion, and he leaned over her form, pressing his lips to hers. He could feel the anticipation sizzle between them, and then... release. She kissed him back, her lips moving tentatively over his, fingers digging into his bicep. He wouldn't lie, it felt good. Really good. It was a whole new experience to kiss someone like Raven, who was on a different side of the spectrum than he was. Her fingers tightened on his bicep as he pushed against her, making them tumble to the blanket beneath them. Red X squashed the smile before it appeared on his lips. Smiling time would have taken away from kissing time, and that was not something he wanted.

He slid his tongue along the seam of her lips, asking for entrance. He could feel Raven's sudden nervousness as she opened her mouth and shyly met his passionate kiss. God, she tasted of plums and darkness, and everything forbidden. If he had been honest with himself, he would have noted that it was delicious and he never wanted it to stop. Red X pressed her deeper into the blanket they were on, his arms caging her in. He knew he was panting like a hot animal in the summer sun, but it was taking all his energy not to ravish the girl right here in public. And he would of, if it wasn't against propriety.

Raven slid one hand up his tee-shirt, running her fingertips along his side. Red X felt his arms almost give out at the sensation. What in the world was she doing to him? She breaking down every one of his barriers with a touch. What a sap. He slid his left hand up and down her thigh, memorizing the shape, and the sound she made when he pressed against the crease in her hip. Somewhere in the distance of real Earth, Red X heard the 1812 Overture and realized the fireworks display was almost over. He bit back a sigh and pulled away from Raven, looking at her.

Her eyes were dark with passion, her lips were swollen red, and her tee shirt had somehow slid up to expose the pale, alabaster skin of her stomach. Red X admired the sight as he would a fine piece of art. She looked thoroughly loved. Raven sat up, readjusting her clothes to smooth out any evidence of their kiss, but her lips were still swollen and Red X found himself drawn to them. He pressed a small, innocent kiss to the corner of her mouth and moved to sit next to her to watch the finale.

He managed to be quiet for about fifteen seconds. "So..."

Raven smiled. "Silence will never be one of your strong points, X."

"I know." He glanced over at her, her face bathed in reds and greens and blues from the display. "You never answered my question."

"You never answered mine."

Red X sighed and leaned back on his elbows. He mulled the question over, testing his answers in his head as he watched the display. Finally, he looked over at her, frowning a little. "It matters a lot to me. You're my friend... and I like whatever this is growing between us." He noted the darker shade of her face, feeling a satisfied smile peel across his mouth. "I don't know if it'll change my decision when I leave, but I don't want to leave a sour relationship between us." He nudged her gently. "I kind of like you."

"Hm." Raven glanced over at him, before looking back at the fireworks. There were a few moments of silence before she gave him an answer. "My heart will shatter. More than I care to explain."

He watched Raven's calm, cool expression and sighed. Her heart might shatter, but no one would ever know. Except him, and he would be left to bear the burden for the rest of his life. He sighed and fell onto his back, watching her silhouette against the shower of colored sparks. Maybe for now this would be okay. He liked it here, just a little. And being with Raven was just an added perk. "Well, I guess I'll stay a while longer then."

Raven looked back at him, and under that placid facade he saw the beginning of a genuine smile.

"Hey, Raven."


"I would do anything for love, but I won't do that."

"You're an asshole." She tried to glare, but Raven was already smiling like an idiot.


Okay, I know I should really be working on my chaptered stories, but clearly that didn't happen this week. I know it was kind of short and a little awkward, but I like it. It could be worse. :)
Anyway, I really wanted to incorporate the song this story is based off of, but it just didn't fit right, so I've included the lyrics at the bottom of the page. The song is called Animal by Miike Snow, and is available for FREE from Amazon MP3. I loved the song so much I ended up buying the whole album, which is awesome. Wow. I'm such an f-ing music whore.

You know the drill, leave a review and let me know what you think!

Animal, Miike Snow (available for free from Amazon)

I change shapes just to hide in this place but I'm still, I'm still an animal.

There was a time when my world was filled with darkness, darkness darkness.
Then I stopped dreaming, now I'm supposed to fill it up with something, something, something

In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody I knew before, long long, long ago.
But I'm still trying to make my mind up, am I free or am I tied up?

I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I'm still, I'm still an animal.
Nobody knows it but me when I slip, yeah I slip, I'm still an animal.

There is a hole and I tried to fill it up with money, money, money.
But it gets bigger to your hopes, it's always running, running, running.

In your eyes I see the eyes of somebody who could be strong, tell me if I'm wrong.
Now I'm pulling your disguise up. Are you free or are you tied up?

I change shapes just to hide in this place, but I'm still, I'm still an animal.
Nobody knows it but me when I slip, yeah I slip, I'm still an animal.

Please leave a review! I always love to hear comments, concerns, and whatever else you want to throw at me.