-Chapter 4-

Beast Boy continued his pacing, oblivious to Starfire's stares. Finally, she stood up from her crouching position on the floor and said to him, "Friend, you have not ceased your walking. Something bothers you?"

"Of course it does! If only I'd gotten there sooner... Maybe she wouldn't be like she is now... Maybe she wouldn't have gotten so seriously hurt..." he answered mournfully.

"You blame yourself for something you could not have prevented. It is not you who is at fault," the alien tried to console.

"It's all my fault, Star. I'm the only one of the Titans who has all these keen animal instincts. I should've known! I should've sensed something!" he raged, angry only at himself.

Unknowing how to respond to such a truthful comment, she returned to her crouching position. And not a second too soon, for Robin came out the door with bloody gloves and an operating mask.

"Is she okay?" Beast Boy jumped.

A bit alarmed at first, he replied, "I did everything I could. Now we can only wait."

"What was the status of her condition?" the red-haired heroine asked.

"Grave. But the surgery should increase her chances of survival," he answered. He then turned to the worried changeling and said, "It's only fair to tell you that it's a very real possibility she won't wake up. After all, surgery near the brain is extremely delicate. Even the slightest change in temperature or air pressure could've thrown her into a coma...or worse."

"She's not in a coma right now, is she?" he yelled, not intending to show as much fear as he was now.

"I'm not sure. It may take a few days for her to wake up. If it takes longer, then we can assume it's a coma."

"C-Can we see her?" he stuttered.

"Yeah, but try not to freak out," Robin answered, still respectful of his friends' feelings toward the situation.

The humanimal hesitated, afraid of what he might see. But, although he shuddered at many uncanny thoughts, his eagerness to know she was, at the very least, alive overpowered all of them. He wasted no more time and slid open his door, flashbacks of the talk they'd had the day prior to this surgery floating around his mind.

What he saw wasn't as bad as the thoughts he'd had. She was hooked up to an IV and several electrodes monitored her brainwaves and heartbeat. An oxygen mask was giving her only the purest air available. At least it was an oxygen mask; he'd pictured a tube being shoved down her throat because her lungs weren't functioning. But this contradicted that idea. Her lungs were apparently functioning just fine. A bandage was soaking up some of the blood that still leaked out of her stitches. It rested on her head, and made it look more like she'd been in a car accident.

Beast Boy already knew her back might be bruised up a bit due to the way she fell. But, speaking of bruises, the one she had on her arm was pretty bad. It went so far as cuts. If she'd merely bumped it, just how hard did she bump it? And against what did she bump it? There was simply no way she'd get such a horrible bruise by 'just bumping it', as she'd phrased it. This only brought him to his next question: Who hurt Raven? And for what purpose? Unfortunately, these answers had to be postponed because only Raven knew them, and she wasn't conscious at the time.

Her chest rose and fell with steady, even breaths. She didn't levitate, as she had when he was dealing with his problem with the Beast. That trance was supposedly just showing her ability to heal herself, so why wasn't she doing it now? Why could she not heal herself? Or...was that just a one-time thing? So many more questions were added to Beast Boy's queue. But he needed to wait for the answers. Though it was frustrating, he managed to purge them from his mind.

He knelt down beside her and watched silently as she breathed. He listened to the sound of dripping, but thankfully this dripping came from the IV, and not from her. Even though blood couldn't have a strong smell unless there was a ton of it, his entire room smelled as her blood did. He remembered it very clearly; he had no idea whose blood it was because Raven had never truly bled before. Maybe a scrape here and scratch there, but never before an actual bleeding wound. Plus, he hadn't transformed into a dog when he saw her cuts that had been caused by the force of the same impact that caused the bruise on her arm. Therefore, he'd never had a chance to memorize the scent of her blood.

"Beast Boy," Robin said, pulling him out of his thoughts, "We can't move her until she wakes. That is, if she does wake. She'll have to stay in your room for the time being. Are you okay with that? If you aren't, you can sleep in my room."

"Nah; it's probably better if someone's in here with her in case something goes wrong. Besides, she's made me realize I need to do alot of laundry; wasn't very easy searching for clean pieces of clothing," he joked.

Underneath, the changeling was scared. The fact that she couldn't even be moved only proved just how critical her condition was. And then being told she might not wake up... It was beyond disheartening. It was more like heart-breaking because he always thought of Raven as so much more than a friend. Sure, she made fun of him and teased him even while they were in the middle of a fight, but the reason he tolerated it was because every time he looked at her, weird feelings would emerge from out of nowhere. He liked these feelings, but they only occurred when she talked to him or looked at him. This proved there was some link to the emotions and her, but he had to figure out what the emotions were before he could tell her about them. After all, he'd never felt this way with any other girl before, not even Terra.

He sighed. Right now, even as he thought about them, even over his fear for her safety, he was feeling those same feelings he didn't understand and couldn't quite describe.

He continued staring at the empath's motionless form. She was so fragile, so delicate, so vulnerable. Never had he seen her like this. Never had he wanted to see like this. Again, he blamed himself. Who could do such a thing? Why couldn't he have been there to protect her? His eyes widened as a new thought hit him. Hold on...protect? Her powers could've very easily protected her. Surely she'd have tried to use them to defend herself from her attacker. And there was no 'didn't see it coming' because she could sense things, especially danger. So what happened? If someone was powerful enough to take down Raven...then...then what? Raven was probably the strongest of the Titans. Her powers were difficult to understand; he himself still didn't get how they worked. So if someone could take her out in one move-there had been no sign of a struggle-then the rest of them were toast.

NO! He would NOT let the same thing happen twice. He would NOT make the same mistake again. But in order to protect her, he would have to stay by her side. Honestly, he himself wasn't entirely opposed to this idea, but what would she think of it? Would she understand, or...or would she shut him out? She had a bad habit of doing that. And how could he possibly stay by her side every step of the way? He'd obviously failed to take into account the fact that girls need showers, too. What was he going to do when she needed one, take one with her? He'd be knocked out cold in two seconds flat.

He scratched his head, which was starting to develop a severe headache. It was a dead-end zone!

Well, for now she was safe. And he could be with her and she couldn't oppose it.