Who will break whom?
"BB, when you deprive something, it starves," she all but whispered. "So then, when you give it a taste, it becomes ravenous."
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Teen Titans.
Robin's voice called out like it always had and the Teen Titans responded as they always did, in earnest and with fervor. In the years that they had been together only two things had really changed amongst the team: newer battle formations were used and Robin's voice had gotten deeper.
They were fighting Dr. Light, as they often did, and this time his technology was just a little tougher than usual. Cyborg let off a blast, Starfire let off a few starbolts, and Robin threw out a barrage of explosives. Dr. Light survived the initial onslaught with a flash and a laugh.
The battle went on for a few more minutes. Raven threw a dumpster in the way of one of his blasts and the two collided in midair causing an explosion that blinded the girl. Before, the sight of Raven alone had been enough to send Dr. Light running, but he had eventually overcome his fear of her and treated her as just another heroic nuisance.
"Beast Boy!" Cyborg was running towards Dr. Light, cannon already charging up for another blast. Beast Boy came sprinting beside him, no longer dwarfed by his friend but almost matching his height; he had grown so much in four years. "Could I get a lift?" Cyborg called. Beast Boy nodded in determination and was about to transform when Dr. Light deflected two more of Robin's explosives and they went careening towards the pair. Cyborg went flying towards the right and Beast Boy went left. He collided into a hovering Raven, knocking into her stomach. They dropped to the ground like stones, Beast Boy crushing the poor girl beneath him. Dazed but still mobile, Raven pushed on his shoulder, wriggling out from under him, gasping.
"Ouch," he groaned, letting her shove him onto his back. "That sucked." He squeezed his eyes shut briefly, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in his temple, before opening them and turning towards Raven. "Sorry. You okay?"
"Wonderful," she replied sarcastically. She sighed and looked up and Beast Boy saw her eyes go wide for only a second before she calmly muttered "Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos," and the two were quickly encased in darkness and consumed by the concrete beneath them just as a car landed where they had just been.
Beast Boy closed his eyes against the familiar queasiness of Raven's teleportation, opening them only when he felt himself safely deposited on solid ground once more. They were in an alley behind where the battle was taking place in the street, safely concealed in the darkness. "Why here?" he asked, turning to his companion only to find her already very close to him. He jumped a little but her eyes were on the side of his face, her brow furrowed.
"Blood," she said simply. Beast Boy reached up and touched his temple. It came away wet. "You seemed to have caught that explosive with your face."
"Ah. Well, yeah, that kind of puts a damper on things. Get it? Damper? Because it's blood?"
"Please, stop talking." Raven raised her hand next to his head and started to heal the wound. It vaguely amused Beast Boy that she had to rise on the balls of her feet so she could properly see the cut. Where Beast Boy had shot up in the last four years Raven had pretty much stayed at the same height. She hadn't really changed much, he noted, save for her hair. She had cut it once a year ago, but it was already growing out past her shoulders now.
As she did her work Beast Boy took the moment to lean into her hand, smirking down at her and chucking her lightly under the chin. "Always so worried about me," he teased good-naturedly. Raven ignored him, a process that didn't take away from her concentration at all. He simply chuckled at her nonchalance. Just like his height and her hair, the relationship between the two had grown as well. Tolerance had evolved into compliance and compliance had evolved into an actual friendship. Somewhere down the line Beast Boy had gotten so comfortable with Raven that he found it increasingly amusing to flirt and tease her with suggestive innuendo and playful touches while she either ignored him, berated him or blew up at him. She would refer to this behavior as annoying. He called it bonding.
"Almost done," she noted in a bland voice. "When I'm finished take a moment before you head back out there. You lost a lot of blood. We can't afford you fainting."
"Will you wait with me?"
"I'll cry if you don't."
"At least kiss it before you leave," he whined, tugging lightly at her belt. If it had been anyone else but him Raven might have maimed them right then and there. But, because it was just Beast Boy, she flicked him in the forehead with her free hand.
"Stop it, we're in the middle of a fight. There, done. Rest and then head out." She absently brushed the hair away from the freshly made scar before stepping away from him and turning towards the raging battle once more. Beast Boy touched his temple, surprised with how sensitive the scar tissue was. It must have been a deep slice if it was still tender after one of Raven's healings.
"You're completely awesome," he said with actual gratitude, grinning widely at her. Raven stopped from redjusting her hood and offered him her own small but genuine smile.
"You're welcome," she replied. Beast Boy reached out and caught her hand up in his own, bending down to try to kiss it.
"I promise to fully make it up to you later," he cooed suggestively, cocking an eyebrow at her. Raven snatched her hand back, her smile instantly dissolving.
"Ew," came her monotone response before she flew off to rejoin the others, leaving Beast Boy to laugh in her wake.
"That took a lot longer than I thought it would," Cyborg sighed, plopping onto the sofa of the main room in Titans Tower. Starfire floated down into the seat next to him, equally exhausted.
"I must agree. This Dr. Light has been getting much, much better at the fighting." She sounded drained, the complete opposite of her usually ecstatic self after a victory. The confrontation had lasted longer than any of them had expected. Dr. Light had gotten new toys, it seemed. "He is changing from being annoying to being the formidable opponent."
"Yeah, but no one can stand up to one of Cyborg and Starfire's special Sonic Starbolt Barrages," Cyborg pointed out, smiling widely. "Did you see his face when the first one ate through his solar converter?" Starfire clapped his hands languidly, nodding in response.
"I am very much pleased that we were finally able to use such a thing," she said. "And I do like the names you have attached to our 'special moves'."
"Well, you know," Cyborg shrugged, smiling in self-satisfaction. "The man can have all the best toys but if you don't know how to use them then be prepared to lose them."
"He definitely doesn't know how to use them, but there's no doubt that the tech he was wielding was incredibly advanced," came Robin's voice. He was already hard at work on one of the smaller computer consuls, updating data he had collected on his communicator. Next to him sat Beast Boy, leaning over his shoulder as he stared at the screen curiously, an icepack held to the scar on his head "From the scans I got during the battle it looks like his stuff has the potential to be as powerful as yours, Cyborg. It's a weak prototype, but it has potential. And if he doesn't know how it works then that means it's stolen. Not a good sign."
"I'll check those scans out tomorrow then," Cyborg replied, his head lolling back as he closed his eye. "Right now I just want to rest. I got pretty beat up tonight."
"Are you sure you don't need me to take a look at anything?" Raven asked. She was standing next to the window, staring out at the city from beneath her hood. The first blood red rays of sunrise were seeping in from the horizon, but the city still looked dark and full of enemies to fight.
"I'm fine, really. It's mostly my hardware that needs some attention."
"Can I take his offer then?" Beast Boy groaned, getting tired of holding is own head up and resting his forehead on Robin's shoulder. "I have a monster headache right now." Robin continued to type away at the computer, ignoring his friend passing out on his shoulder.
"Maybe you should lie down," Starfire offered, floating over and relieving Robin of his burden. She let Beast Boy lean back in his chair, his head against her belly. "You do look very pale."
"Maybe if you had listened to me and stayed in the alley then you wouldn't be feeling so nauseous," Raven scolded moderately, striding over to Beast Boy as well. "You didn't have to fight."
"I was awesome out there. I saved Star."
"Yes, you did," Starfire agreed. She bent down and hugged him tightly from behind, her arms wrapping around his neck. Beast Boy smiled weakly before poking Robin in the shoulder.
"Hey, hey. Robin. She's hugging me." Robin's fingers stopped typing for only a moment before continuing with their work. That minute pause was enough to provoke a quiet laugh from both Beast Boy and Starfire.
Raven came level with the two then and turned Beast Boy chair around so he was facing her. Without a word she raised her hand next to his head again and let her power flow through her fingers once more, relieving him of his throbbing headache. The paleness of his face diminished considerably and his breathing became less labored. Starfire let him go and tilted her head to the side, inspecting his wound.
"He is not seriously harmed?" she asked Raven. The other girl shook her head and Star nodded, reaching to take the melting icepack from Beast Boy's hands. "That is good to hear."
"Thanks Rae," Beast Boy said, breathing deeply. He watched as she sighed at the nickname but said nothing about it. She finished her work and turned away to follow Starfire into the kitchen.
"Tea?" she offered him, moving to fill her kettle in the sink. "It will help."
Beast Boy blinked. That was certainly a rare gesture from her.
"Sure," he said, striding over to the kitchen as well. Him and Starfire shared a silently surprised smile at Raven's generosity before she headed back towards the sofa and turned on the television. Next to her Cyborg fully reawakened, eager to see what was on. "This is special. You've never offered to pour me tea before."
"Just don't expect it to happen often," she replied stoically, although the kindness in her eyes posed contradiction to her voice. She looked up to see him rubbing at his scar. "Don't fiddle with it."
"Sorry," he murmured, his hand dropping. He watched her as she turned towards the stove, igniting the flame and setting the kettle down to boil. Beast Boy hopped up onto the countertop and a simple peace settled over the Tower as the Titans did what they pleased to unwind after the battle. Over near the television Robin had printed out the scans from Dr. Light's technology and was showing them to Cyborg as Starfire stretched out on the couch and settled in to fall asleep in front of the television. Beast Boy turned back to the Titan closest to him, observing her as she patiently waited for the water to boil.
It was amazing to him how much and how little things had changed amongst the team in the years that had passed. Some things would always stay the same, like Robin's limitless work ethic and Starfire's affection for her teammates. Cyborg would always be the most laidback genius any of them could have ever known, and Raven would always be the team's silent watcher, standing as their quiet but protective guardian. But they had changed as well.
All of them.
They had each of them grown and each of them learned and sometimes the lessons stuck and sometimes they slipped off and were forgotten almost instantly. Like when Beast Boy had finally started to clean his room of his own accord, and Starfire had thrown him a congratulatory party. Or when Cyborg had finally caved in and tried tofu eggs and liked them. Or when Robin had opened up to Starfire, and then closed her off again, and then opened up, and then retreated, and then went back, and then got stuck somewhere between being honest and being embarrassed. Beast Boy laughed out loud when he recalled a time when Robin and Cyborg had gotten into a huge argument because Cyborg was mad that Robin was stringing her along and Robin was mad because he thought Cyborg had a thing for Starfire. Raven turned to him when he laughed.
"What?" she asked defensively. He shook his head.
"Sorry, I wasn't laughing at you. I just remembered something."
Raven turned fully and leaned against the opposite countertop. "Remembered what?"
"Remember like, a few months back, when we heard Cyborg and Robin yelling at each other on the practice field?" Raven thought a moment before nodding. "Do you even know what that fight was about?"
"Not really," she admitted, shrugging. "Star and I were meditating, and she wasn't really on good terms with Robin at the time so she didn't care if Cyborg hit him or not. Her words, not mine."
Beast Boy smiled widely. "Makes sense, because the fight was about her."
"Yeah. Robin was being jealous and Cyborg was being protective and the rest is Titans history." A moment passed between the two before they both laughed, Beast Boy with fervor and Raven with some reserve. They had all been present to witness the first they had ever seen Robin trip and fall face down in the dirt and get caught in his cape. After the fight had concluded he had tried to leave, albeit too frazzled to watch where he was going, and hence the history-making fall occurred.
"That was actually very funny," Raven said, offhandedly. "Although no funnier than the time he thought you had a thing for Starfire." She grinned and he huffed, recalling that the memory hadn't exactly been flattering on his part. It had involved a lot of laughing and a lot of pointing.
The kettle began to boil and Raven quickly lifted it from the flames with practiced hands, her dark power reaching behind her to retrieve two mugs from a cupboard. Beast Boy noted how pleasantly domestic she looked.
Yes, everyone had changed in the years they had spent as the Teen Titans, but Raven in herself had almost completely transformed, and even more so recently. For about a month he had noticed that she was much less tense, much less silent, and that she allowed herself to react to things more, most of all him and their endless back and forth. True, she had chilled out considerably after the defeat of Trigon, but even that Raven was a pale comparison to the easygoing Raven that stood before him preparing them both tea. The fact that she had actually asked what he had been thinking and then went ahead to reminisce with him was a wonder. Raven, although they were all friends, didn't do things like that.
And Beast Boy found it intriguing. Intriguing in so many ways. Fun. Playful. Mischievous. And sometimes even enticing. He watched as she let her hood fall back as she dropped the tea leaves into the kettle, swirling them around to release the flavor. Beast Boy hopped down from the counter then, never one to not take advantage of an opening, nor one to leave any repertoire unconcluded.
"Now why would Robin ever think I had a thing for Starfire?" He strode over to her and pretended to stumble forward, pressing Raven into the counter top, his face in her hair. "Oops! Oh, how clumsy of me," he falsely apologized, smirking. Raven stopped pouring her tea and stared straight ahead, unmoving. "So sorry, Rae. Am I in your way or something?"
"I don't know what is more annoying: your terrible segues or you as a whole," she said in a clipped and unpleased tone. Beast Boy cocked an eyebrow, laying his hands over her own. Hers were so delicately sculpted; hands made for crafting rather than fighting, despite her profession. "Get off," she sighed. She didn't sound angry, which Beast Boy took to great measure.
"I was just trying to help you with the kettle-,"
"Move." She slipped her hands from his and picked up her mug. Beast Boy rested his hands on the counter and leaned into his arms, trapping her between him and the furniture. She turned around smoothly to face him, their bodies so close that their noses practically touched. Four years ago this would have been impossible. A few months ago it would have set her off. Three weeks ago she would have already teleported to her room. Now she did nothing but try to wait him out. Beast Boy beamed down at her as she stared up in solemn disapproval. "Beast Boy, move."
"Are you serious? You know, I could give that headache back to you if you wanted it."
"No you wouldn't," he smirked. "You're too nice." That got him a good eye roll from her, but that was it. She wasn't backing down. Very intriguing.
"Why do you insist on ruining a perfectly calm moment with your less than favorable behavior?"
"I thought that was my job around here." He loomed over her, (a skill he had rejoiced in since the day he discovered he was taller than her and, thus, possessing the qualities required to loom), and reached for his own mug behind her back. "Thanks for the tea."
"Seriously, what are you doing? Are you comfortable?" she asked sarcastically. He nodded.
"Quite." He lowered his face near hers, whispering into her ear as seductively as he could. "We both know you could just teleport to your room if you wanted to," he taunted. He started to pull back but Raven grabbed him by the collar and pulled him close again, practically speaking into his hair.
"I only back down from a real challenge." She released him and he straightened up to look at her, amazed to see a grin on her face. She was playing along. She was actually playing along. And she was smiling, which Beast Boy found he liked to see more and more often. But he wasn't going to let her win. Not this one, at least.
"Challenge accepted then," he said enthusiastically, leaning forward with exuberance, his hand coming up to cradle her head. Panic quickly replaced Raven's confidence and she turned her head abruptly, her hand flying to his chest to stop him, her breathing labored.
"Beast Boy…" she said, her tone returning to its usual somberness. She pushed him back a little, a blush staining her pale cheeks. Beast Boy laughed heartily, stepping away completely and taking a satisfied sip from his mug.
"And to the victor go the spoils of feeling superior to the loser," he proclaimed, sticking his tongue out at her. She tried to cast him an indignant glare but he only winked at her and her blush deepened before she encased herself in darkness and disappeared from the room altogether.
"You can be such a jerk sometimes, BB," Cyborg said from the couch, his eyes scanning over the prints in his hands. He glanced back briefly and shot his friend a look, although his own grin betrayed his lack of sincerity. "You know she gets sensitive with things like that. Why do you pick on her so much?"
"Again, I thought that's my job around here. Where have you guys been for the last seven years?"
"Here," Cyborg responded. "Watching her kick your ass after almost every stupid joke you make." He chuckled at Beast Boy's indignant 'hey'! "Either way, just cool it with the flirting, yeah? We don't want her losing control of her powers anymore."
"I'd like to see her lose control once in a while," Beast Boy quipped, unable to help himself. Cyborg just sighed at his papers.
"Don't push her too hard," Robin commented, glancing towards the closed door that led to the hallways. "She doesn't always show it when things get to her, if you can recall."
"Yeah, but this is different," Beast Boy said, waving his advice aside with a nonchalant hand. "This is the way Rae and I are. And if you haven't noticed she's been a hell of a lot calmer in the last few weeks."
"I realize I haven't really talked to her in a while. I wonder if everything is okay with her," the Boy Wonder mused. Cyborg's hand shot in the air.
"Uh, well, I have talked to her in a while and she's just as annoyed with it as she's always been. I guess for some reason she's trying to approach it differently." He glanced back towards the kitchen again, grinning mischievously. "She asked me once if your come-ons were you compensating for something."
Beast Boy's brow furrowed. "Huh?" Cyborg shot him a knowing look before pointing downward. It took a moment for Beast Boy to understand, and when it finally comprehended his jaw dropped in outrage. "What? Dude!" Cyborg guffawed loudly. "Did she really ask you that?"
"No, but I thought I'd give you a taste of your own medicine for once, on behalf of Rae. Score one for the half-breeds."
"I think it is very adorable," Star suddenly piped in, yawning from the couch. "Beast Boy does not mean anything by it and Raven understands that. They are close, and she does not seem to mind it so much. We have talked about the teasing before and she has said that she does not take it very seriously, or to the heart."
As if in a contrary response to Starfire's statement a loud and very distracting bang sounded from the hallway, startling everyone but Robin in the main room. Cyborg twisted in his seat, frowning.
"What in the world was that? Is someone setting off bombs in the Tower?"
"No alarm, no sirens, no security breech, so no villains," Robin said, tapping away at the computer. "My guess is that it came from Raven's room." Cyborg made a face at the back of Robin's head.
"Why do you even bother to say 'my guess'? You're Robin. Just say 'I know' and get it over with."
Robin gave Cyborg a knowing smirk before turning to Beast Boy. "Could you go check on her? It's probably you're fault anyway." Beast Boy rolled his eyes.
"Why do I have to do it?" he whined, but he started to head for the door anyway. Robin just shrugged.
"Because you probably have to apologize to her for something anyway. Might as well get it over and done with." He looked up from his work to give Beast Boy a pointed stare. "And don't provoke her more, please."
"You guys need to chill out. You act like we've never heard weird noises coming from her room before."
"He does have a point," Robin conceded, not one to overlook the truth. Cyborg scoffed.
"Stop complaining and go check on her."
Beast Boy just rolled his eyes at the parting comment before striding down the hall towards Raven's room. If he really thought about it he'd have to admit that it was strange to think about where his and Raven's relationship had ended up. He didn't know why he liked to mess with her so often. Maybe it was because she was actually letting him. Well, she wasn't throwing him across the room, which he took as a good sign. In fact, for a while Raven had relaxed quite considerably. She wasn't as uptight or antisocial as she usually was. She was countering his jokes with her own sarcastic quips. She was laughing with him. She was playing along. She would sometimes even provoke.
Beast Boy was just considering the possibilities for Raven's improved persona when he reached her door…but stopped in the middle of the hallway and stared at it, perplexed.
It was slightly ajar.
Raven never left her door open.
"Rae?" he called, unmoving. He leaned forward and turned his head, trying to listen. Nothing at first, but as he crept closer he started to pick up on deep, steady breathing…the breathing of someone meditating. Perhaps. "Rae?" he called again, taking a few more steps towards her door and peeking through the doorjamb tentatively. He knocked lightly on the wall, curious but cautious. Inside all he could see was darkness. Go figure. "Raven?" Still nothing. "We heard a loud noise. You okay in there?"
There was a catch in the breathing, a rustle of cloth, feet hitting the floor and then the sound of long, strong strides coming towards the door. Beast Boy jumped back just as the metal flew open, sending out a rush of air. Before him stood Raven, cloak slightly disheveled and hair slightly tousled. "Raven!" he exclaimed, his hand gripping his chest. "Oh my god, you freaking scared me! Why would you open your door like that?" he accused, but then he blinked noticed the alarmingly strange look in her eyes, and frowned. "Rae?"