A girl in a blue cloak pushed open the door to Titan's Tower as if in a hurry. Two other heads turned from the main room's couch to see who it was that had just come home.
"Hey, Raven. Where've you been?" her leader asked curiously.
"I, uh... Just wanted to go for a walk," she answered a tad secretively. She pushed past the air of uncertainty and discreetly used her body to hide her injured arm.
"A walk? To where? You hate doing stuff like that," her green teammate stated.
"Whitman's Cafe, Beast Boy," she replied, trying to mask the pain in her voice from everyone.
"Haven't you had enough of that place already? I mean, you've been there almost every day this week," Beast Boy insinuated.
"I-I like their tea," she said.
Before either boy could say another word, the teen ran straight to her room without stopping even once to say hello to a red-haired alien that had happened to be floating by. She locked the door and flopped on her bed, exhausted from today.
As she replayed scenes from earlier, she forgot completely about her arm and ended up rolling over on it. Tears stung her eyes and she got up off her painful appendage. Since the pain had been sharp, she decided to examine it. There was a blackening bruise along with a few cuts. Her eyes narrowed; this was yet another wound to hide from her friends.
"Hey, Raven?" a muffled voice came from behind her door.
Even though the door was locked, she hurried to conceal her latest bruise. "Yes?" she called back, her voice cracking slightly.
"Don't you wanna watch a horror movie? It's your favorite," Beast Boy said, trying to bribe her out of her room so he could talk to her.
"No," the reply came.
The changeling's ears drooped and his eyes looked down at his feet. "But you haven't spent any time with us in weeks..." he mumbled.
Overhearing him, she unlocked her door using her powers and got off her bed. "You can come in, if you want."
Slowly, the shapeshifter opened his friend's door to find her standing near her bed. He took into account that her arm was being held behind her at an angle, to where he couldn't see it. He proceeded past all the ancient books and scrolls she kept neatly on various shelves and small tables. Candles were placed all over the room itself, with just one lighted to scarcely illuminate the area. Her bed was round; it's headboard was in the shape of the hood on her cloak and its covers were the color of her cloak. One would've expected this place to be as dusty as a burned-down ranch in the middle of the desert, but it was always kept tidy. Even the mirrors were so clear and void of messiness that someone would easily mistake their reflection for a clone or twin.
He stopped when he was just two feet away from her. "I kinda made up that horror movie thing," he confessed.
"Why?" she asked, unable to fathom why he would lie to get her to come out.
"I wanted to talk to you. You've been hiding in your room and that cafe. You won't hardly even talk to us anymore. If it's that prank I pulled awhile back, I'm-"
"No, it wasn't you. I just need some alone time," she interrupted.
"You haven't gotten enough of that in the past few weeks?" he questioned, one eyebrow raised to signal his disbelief.
Raven paused, not knowing what to say. "I-I know I've been gone a lot, but..." she trailed off, finding herself stuck in the same situation she was just in.
"Where have you really been going? I know you well enough to know you don't go to the same place every week, much less every day," he continued.
She felt her heart skip a beat, and wondered if he knew what she'd been up to. If he already knew or found out, what would he think of her? Her eyes widened as she thought of the great but unwanted pity she'd receive. There would also be anger, hurt, and extreme discomfort. That may just be the last thing she needed right now. Things had to change before she could afford to tell them.
Beast Boy, apparently deciding not to wait much longer for an answer, sat down on the bed. He had no intentions of leaving until she gave him at least a hint.
She closed her eyes and sighed. What was she supposed to say? Maybe bring up another subject? Another topic, preferably to the interest of Beast Boy? Was there any other choice?
"So..." she began, "Any new games out?"
Though this normally would be an appealing question to him, the changeling kept at the original interrogation. "I dunno, Raven. You tell me."
This seemed to shock the empath. Sure he always had lame comebacks that were over-cliche, but this cliche comeback had a much deeper meaning to it. The look in his eyes told her he wanted an answer rather than avoidance. Again, she sighed. "Why are you doing this?" she said as she looked away.
The humanimal thought deeply for a moment, then answered, "Because you're my friend, and I know when something's wrong."
Hiding was no stranger to Raven. She'd kept her destiny secret from them for the longest of times. But they'd ended up getting sucked into it. Would the same happen if she told them now? One thing was for sure: No matter what happened, things weren't going to run smoothly. This much concluded, the decision could be easily made.
"You're wasting your time, Garfield," she answered, knowing how he despised that name, "I'm not going to talk about it."
"But why?" he asked, not entirely ignoring his real name, "I can help."
The teenager turned and clenched her cloak, being mindful of her arm and keeping it well out of sight. "You can't."
"Is it self-conflicted?" he pressed, determined to gather information. As of now, he looked much wiser than his years.
"I don't want to talk about it," she repeated, still not having turned back to face him.
"Was it someone else?" he continued.
She didn't bother answering.
"Who was it?"
Again, she didn't give a reply.
"Did you get hurt in a fight?"
This time, he heard a sniffle and a small, nearly inaudible whimper.
"Raven... Are you...are you crying?" he asked, guilt suddenly washing over him.
"It's nothing, just a bruise," her small voice said.
"Where?" he asked, lowering his voice so as to calm her.
She turned around, but hid her face. In a moment, her arm was within his reach, and he could inspect it.
Taking her wrist carefully, it didn't take very long to find what she was talking about. A decent sized black spot, along with a few cuts, was resting on the front of her upper arm. The cuts were no longer bleeding, but had already clotted to show that they had indeed bled. Thin strips of scabs covered the small wounds. The bruise, on the other hand, would take more time to heal.
His head lifted to meet hers, and he looked questioningly at her even though he couldn't see her eyes.
"I bumped it," was all she said.
Though he was doubtful that was all that had happened to obtain such an injury, he remained silent other than telling her he'd be back. Again, he kept his word and returned from the medicine closet with some peroxide and swabs in his hands.
He first took her arm and held it still. Then he opened the peroxide bottle and dipped the tip of a swab in it. The changeling gentle rubbed it on one of her four small cuts. Though he expected her to show some sign that it burned, she didn't make a sound and noiselessly endured any pain she may have been feeling, if she was feeling any at all. It was only on the last cut, which hadn't entirely clotted yet, that she softly gasped. The scab on it hadn't finished hardening, and the swab's cotton peeled about half of it off.
"Sorry," he whispered quickly.
Raven did no more than nod her head, still not revealing to him her face. She didn't want anyone to see her tears, which were still fresh. But nevertheless, she appreciated his helpfulness regarding her bruise and cuts. But she felt the grilling he put her through was completely unnecessary.
After he was done, he took out an ice pack that she'd failed to notice and lightly put it over her bruise. "There, that should help with the pain," he said, proud of himself for successfully tending to someone else's injury.
"Thanks," she said.
"No problem; at this rate I'll be nurse! And then maybe even a doctor!" He kept on going about all the various jobs he could do even when he was long gone from her room.
She smiled a small, tiny, nearly unnoticeable smile. Though she hadn't realized it, he could be really cute at times. His childish and carefree nature played a big part of his charm. His jokes and pranks often helped with the rest of it. But his sweet and caring side wasn't going unnoticed by a certain empath.