The Deepest Shade of Blue
"For the millionth time: No."
"Raven… please… Robin even said it was okay…" Karen batted those huge, doe eyes at Raven. She just snorted in response and returned to her book, listening to the shuffling her companions made as they paced around the room. Raven peered over the top of her pages, following their hushed tones and whispers. What exactly were they planning? Karen looked over at Cyborg and he sighed, taking a few steps closer to Raven.
"As a gift for my birthday?"
Raven growled low in her throat. Of course he would pull that particular punch. After all the favors that he had given her over the years, like finagling some quiet time for her, taking shifts so she could meditate, protecting her in more ways than she thought possible, babysitting Beast Boy and keeping him away from her things, and… oh yeah, that whole thing with her birthmark, she really couldn't deny him anything. But this? Clearly he had it out for her. "Are you serious?"
"As a heart attack." He crossed his arms over his chest and stared at her in the way that only Cyborg could. That look that was a mixture between a big brother and a father, and was sure to break her resolve in ten seconds flat.
"Fine." Raven growled and snapped her book shut. Standing up she poked a finger into his chest and stood on tip-toe to look him in the eyes. "I'll switch with Bee for two weeks. That's it. One hour more and I will murder someone, and I'm not guaranteeing who. Although my money right now is on Speedy."
"Awe, Rae!" Karen jumped forward and wrapped her arms around Raven's neck, holding tightly. "You're the best! I owe you one big time."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever, just get off me." Raven peeled Karen's arms off her and took a step back, putting space between them. Staring at those huge grins on both of their faces made it almost worth it. Almost. However, the idea of putting up with Speedy for an extended period of time made that murderous bubble rise into her chest again. What exactly had she gotten herself into? "So, when are you thinking of this happening? Next week, month, year… never?"
"Nice try, Rae." Cyborg snorted and leaned back on his heels. "We were thinking tomorrow… you know, so we could spend the last few weeks of summer together. Out at the beach, by the pool… you know, just hanging out." Cyborg grabbed Karen's hand and smiled at her, and Raven thought she might get diabetes from the sweetness of it all. It was almost sickening the way they acted together.
"Please, save me the details." She waved them off with her hand and groaned. "So, I guess I should go pack my bags, because I am headed out to Steel tonight. To deal with Speedy, and Mas y Menos... remind me again, why did I agree to this glorified babysitting?"
"Because you love me." Cyborg pulled her into a hug that threatened to crush her bones. "And you can't resist my beautiful face."
"Ah, that explains a lot." Raven's lips twitched in the beginnings of a smile and she pulled away from him. As much as it pained her to admit, Cyborg was one of her best friends and she wouldn't have been able to deny him the world if he asked. "So, exactly what do you plan on me doing while I'm there? Besides house-sitting the pets."
"Oh, you know… just watch over the town and the boys while I'm gone. It's summer so things should die down a little… winter is always worse for us, not sure why." Karen shrugged nonchalantly, her eyes not quite meeting Raven's. That was an indicator right there that she was blowing smoke, if only Raven knew about what. "And come on, Rae, Speedy isn't all that bad." Raven glared at Karen, but she just laughed in response. "Okay, okay… there was that one time."
"Try four separate times he tried to drunkenly pick me up, with little or no tact at all, which was a huge blow to my ego. And to be quite frank, he's lucky his wandering hand wasn't removed and shoved down his throat."
"Well, if it's any consolation, I made him promise to stay twenty feet away from you at all times." Karen laughed again as Raven stared at her. "And Garth will be back tomorrow too, so if anyone gives you any trouble, you can always call on him."
"I'm sorry… what?" Raven, against her own will, turned a bright shade of red and stumbled backward a few feet. "I thought he went back home for a while doing… whatever it is he does." She hadn't even given a second thought to Aqualad being there. She heard that he had left for Atlantis a few months ago and was doing some of his princely duties, so Raven never thought she'd actually have to see him or interact with him. Her stomach gave a weird, unfamiliar lurch and she looked away.
"Yeah, I told him about the possibility of a switch and he said that he'd be back around the time you and I swapped." She picked at her nails, avoiding eye contact. What was she doing behind Raven's back, and why did it set her teeth on edge? Nothing good was going to come from this, she just needed to accept that now.
Raven raised an eyebrow. "Exactly how did you tell him when I just agreed to this?"
Karen grinned back at her. "Wild guess."
"Yeah, yeah." Raven glanced at the clock and groaned. Karen looked at her with those sweet, hopeful eyes. The ones that reminded Raven of a child looking at a very big, brightly wrapped present. "Stop looking at me like that, I'm going. Jeez."
Karen laughed. "Sorry…" She followed Raven down the hall to her room. "I'm just so excited that you agreed to this! Sparky told me you would never switch, ever. And after all the times I asked you, I was beginning to think he was right."
"Normally, that would be the case." Raven entered her room, and Karen followed, plopping down on her bed. Karen was one of the few people Raven allowed in her room, mostly because she knew that she could trust her not to touch anything. That was not true for Beast Boy or Starfire. "But when Cyborg asks for a favor like that… well, I cave."
"You know, he really loves you. You're like the little sister he always wanted." Karen tucked her legs under herself and watched Raven move around the room, packing her bag. There were a few moments of silence as Raven threw her things together, keeping a mental tally of what exactly she needed for the next two weeks. If only she could remember where she put her earplugs… That would have saved her a whole lot of trouble. "I am really thankful."
Raven jumped and turned to Karen, cocking her head to the side. "You know I'll help you out when I can."
"I know… It's just hard… not being able to see him as often as I'd like. Especially now that things are getting serious." Karen offered a grin to Raven, who rolled her eyes in response. Too much info. " And I hate to pull you away from Jump, Robin always throws a holy hissy-fit. You know, he's pretty damned good at making me feel like I've destroyed the world because I want to take you or Sparky for a few days."
"That's his power." Raven snorted and picked through her panties. "Super Nagging."
"That is an interesting super power. Sounds annoying and useless." There was a pause, and Raven felt Karen's eyes on her back. Sighing, she turned to see Karen eyeing the utilitarian, black panties in her hand. Raven glared, but Karen barely batted an eyelash. "Don't you have anything… more attractive? I mean, those are so boring."
"Bee… exactly who is going to see my panties but me?" Raven threw them in her bag, rolling her eyes. "I'm taking them."
"You never know… you want to be prepared in the event of that last summer fling." Undeterred by Raven's glare, Karen got up and pushed Raven to the side, rifling through her under-things. "Oh! These are cute! And these… and… Is there a reason these all have the tags on them? Have you ever worn these before?" Karen pulled out every pair of underwear that had lace or prints or showed considerable skin and threw it into Raven's bag. "Every woman should wear sexy panties, they make you feel saucy."
Raven raised an eyebrow and plucked a few of the more risqué ones out of her bag. "Do I look saucy? And furthermore, do I even want to be saucy with Speedy around? I'm telling you, if he's missing by the time you get back, you know what happened."
Karen laughed and threw the risqué ones back in her bag. "Why buy them if you don't even want to wear them?"
"I'm still asking myself that question." Raven gave up on fighting and wandered to her bathroom to pick up her toothbrush and other toiletries. When she walked out, Karen was wandering through the clothes in her closet, picking out things for her to bring. Raven groaned and picked through the pile she was making: skinny jeans, skirts, tight shirts, a lacey bra (did she even own one of those?)… and how did Karen find her bikini? Raven thought she threw that away last year. "What are you doing?"
"Just helping you pack." Karen smiled at her and threw more clothes on the pile.
"Stop 'helping'… you're picking out the wrong kinds of things." Raven threw her bikini back into the dresser drawer and glared at her friend. "I am taking my uniforms, my boring underwear, one pair of jeans, one boring t-shirt, and my pajamas. That's it, nothing else. Now get your hands off the mini-skirt or so help me, I will hurt you."
"Why do you have this and not wear it?" Karen held up the skirt to Raven's hips. She sighed in response and backed away. This was one fight she would probably lose, but she couldn't let Karen know that. It would inflate her ego. Karen folded it up and threw it in Raven's bag, crossing her arms over her chest as if taunting her friend. "You have all these cute things, and I never see them on you."
"Yes, for good reason." Raven pulled it out and threw it on the floor, glaring. "Starfire made me buy them. I don't like them, and I don't want them. You can have them, if you want, but do not expect to see them on me. Ever."
"But…" Karen picked up the miniskirt and sighed, fiddling with the ruffles. "You'd look so cute."
Raven growled and let her eyes flash red for a moment. That comment stepped over the line and Karen knew that. "I am not cute."
Karen was undeterred. "Says who?" She picked up the pile of clothing she had picked out and shoved it into her bag, cramming everything in there. She zipped the zipper in some display of finality and handed the bag to Raven, who was still growling. What did that girl think she was doing? "I think you're cute. Sparky thinks you're sweet." Raven made a mental note to kill Cyborg later. Cute was one thing, but "sweet" was just cause for murder. "Speedy thinks you're cute too."
Raven rolled her eyes. "Speedy is a hopeless womanizer and he doesn't count."
"Even Garth thinks you're cute."
Raven felt her heart drop into her stomach and the bag slipped from her hands to the floor. Color flooded her face as she stared at her friend. "What?"
Karen pretended not to notice the shocked expression on Raven's face and she seemed more interested in finding the bikini that Raven had returned to the dresser. "Oh? Did I say Garth? Well, cute wasn't the exact word he used with me but I guess it's kind of close to the truth."
"Bee…" Raven took a step forward, her hand outstretched as if she wanted something. Karen dropped her bikini in her hand, smirking. Raven stared at the scraps of fabric and sighed, knowing full well that she was going to have to make a deal. "What did he say to you?"
Karen's eyes flashed and her smirk transformed into a grin. "Only if you take everything I packed with you."
Raven groaned and stared at the ceiling. Was it really worth it? Just to find out what Aqualad said about her? Furthermore, why did she care? He was a teammate. A comrade. There should have been no reason for her to act like a silly girl and burst into a blush every time his name was dropped. But still… the curiosity was eating at her. Raven sighed in defeat, she would take the stupid clothes, but that didn't mean she had to wear them. "Fine. Just, tell me what he said."
"Pinky promise?" Karen held out her hand, and Raven connected her own hand with Karen's, giving her a mumbled word of compliance. Karen offered a broad, slightly mischievous smile and put her hands on her hips. "He said you were sensual."
"I… what?" Raven tried to process this information, but her brain wasn't exactly working properly. He thought she was sensual, not sexy (which Raven always considered a childish adjective), but sensual. Her face turned red with a blush and she was forced to look away. "You're joking."
"In drunken ramblings there is a sober truth." Karen offered her a playful wink before taking the bikini from her hands and shoving it into the bag. "You should have heard the other things he mentioned. I thought the place was going to go up in flames which the way he was talking about you."
"Like what?" Raven knew she had to be playing a joke on her. There was no way that Aqualad, who was (first and foremost) a prince and the heartthrob of women everywhere, would have an interest in her, Raven, that "other girl" from the Titans. She pressed a hand to her forehead and groaned. "Stop teasing me, Bee. You make my self-esteem shrivel every time."
"Oh?" Karen handed her the bag, a soft smile on her lips. "Am I teasing? I thought you wanted to know what Garth said about you. But, if you're not interested…" She trailed off and started for the door. "I guess we'll just be going then."
"Shut up, Bee." Raven rolled her eyes and hitched the bad further up on her shoulder. If she wanted to tease her, that was one thing, but dragging Garth into it made the situation that much more uncomfortable. Especially since Raven was going to have to spend the next two weeks with him, and now that poisonous seed was now planted in her mind. Karen must have really wanted to tease her today.
"Are you serious?" Raven tried to groan, but her nostrils were filled a peculiar film of dust and she ended up giving a rather unladylike sneeze. It was her first hour in Steel and Raven was already crawling through a dirty air-duct, chasing a criminal who thought he wouldn't be noticed. He obviously neglected to think about all the noise the thin sheet metal made when touched by anything. Somewhere below her she could hear Mas y Menos chasing after her. Raven's elbow gave out under her weight in the awkward position, and she collapsed on to her stomach with a curse. "This is ridiculous. Damnit. Bee better fucking love me after this."
"You can't catch me." The criminal was crawling along on his belly, staring at her over his shoulder. "I'm too fast for you."
Raven rolled her eyes, blinking the dust from them. Why her? Why did this happen to her? Furthermore, why did she agree to this? Something must have been seriously wrong with her head. "No, I can't kill you, that would be murder. But I can catch you and I can take you to jail. And then I can let some guy named Butch do whatever he damn-well pleases with you. How do you like that scenario, huh?"
The criminal paused, as if playing out the scene in his head, before continuing on his belly. "You can't catch me!"
"Oh for the love of…" Raven let off a string of profanities, most of them in her native tongue.
"Estamos aqui!" Mas y Menos shouted up at the air duct, and Raven could hear the stretching of Speedy's bow. Thank the Goddess for small miracles; she just wanted the day to be over with. Raven disintegrated the duct beneath the criminal, and he went tumbling down to the floor. A half a second later, something went wrong, of course. Because nothing would ever be easy when it was related to Raven. The boys were shouting hurriedly in Spanish, Speedy was trying to chase after them, and the criminal was hanging by his fingertips, literally. The metal tore, he fell, and then, a splash.
The world seemed to stop turning.
Raven's stomach flopped a little at the sound of water, and she poked her head out of the hole she created. Aqualad stood next to Mas y Menos, talking with them as if he had been there the whole time and had not made a rather valiant, last minute appearance. Speedy had already hand-cuffed the criminal and was delivering him into the police's hands, making rather awful jokes with the other boys. Raven pulled herself out of sight before anyone noticed her. Why would her hands not stop shaking? And why were Bee's comments still haunting her?
"Raven?" Oh no. Aqualad. Maybe if she stayed quiet he wouldn't know she was there. Maybe she could do that for the next two weeks and he would be none the wiser. That was a fool's wish. "Raven? Is everything okay? Are you injured? Do you need help?"
No, she needed to find her stomach and her sanity. Raven took a deep breath before offering a weak "no." She cleared her throat, and with as much dignity as she could muster, floated down to the ground floor. Aqualad watched her with a strange, curious glint in his eyes. "I'm fine. I was just catching my breath."
"Ah." He offered her a small, sheepish smile. "Sorry, I'm late. I got caught up in something in Atlantis and I lost track of time."
"Oh…" Raven feigned ignorance to save her face. "That's right. Bee told me you might be coming back." She paused and wiped at her face, trying to get the dirt from her cheeks. She knew she must have looked like hell, her face was smudged with dirt and her hair was all over the place. In spite of what most people thought, she did take pride in her appearance. Walking around, looking like a dust-bunny found under the bed, was not her idea of an okay public appearance. Not to mention that she was standing in front of Aqualad. What did she do to deserve this kind of karma? "How is everything there?"
"Fine… things are settling down after a small uprising. I think with a few more negotiations everything will turn out just fine." He chuckled politely behind a hand, and Raven looked up at him with an expression that could only be termed "exhaustannoyed." How did this happen to her? How? Aqualad pulled out a handkerchief and rubbed some dirt off her cheek. "You've got some dirt... right here."
"Thank you." Raven blushed brightly and took the handkerchief from him, wiping delicately at her face. She looked around the building and saw Speedy and Mas were arguing over something, and Menos was attempting to talk to one of the police officers, but was failing miserably. She sighed again and resisted the urge to hit herself with something heavy. "Sorry… this is all a little surreal to me."
"I'll say." Aqualad cocked his head to the side and watched her. "I never thought in a million years you'd agree to Bee. I thought you would want to be a million miles away from Speedy after the last stunt he pulled. He said his ears are still ringing from the hits you landed."
Raven chuckled. "Good. He deserved it."
Aqualad laughed, but it felt a little unusual, as if there was some, other secret. "He did." Aqualad turned and looked at the three boys who were now all yelling at each other. He shook his head and sighed. "Clearly they haven't grown up any in my absence."
Raven snorted and shook her head. "How does Bee do it?"
"Honestly? I think she's a reincarnated saint." Aqualad offered her a small smile. "Let's go get dinner, I think you guys have earned it."
"Hey, you did your share of the work too." Raven smiled and nudged his shoulder.
"I was just the cavalry." He looked down at her with a clouded look before walking towards the boys. Raven sighed and watched his form retreat. Stupid Bee. Of course she was teasing her. The way Aqualad had looked at her was like she was the most annoying thing on earth, and she had the gall to touch him. What an idiot. Karen was going to get a piece of her mind when Raven saw her again.
Aqualad breathed a sigh of relief when he managed to put space between him and Raven. That introduction had been hard. Impossibly hard. The ease of conversation, the way she teased him, the way she touched him, the way her hair looked all mussed from the battle, the color on her face, the smudge of dirt on her cheek, the way she smelled… it was like torture. He stomach clenched hotly, and he took a few, longer strides to put even more space between them.
It took all of his power not to back her into a dark corner and kiss her senseless. Kiss her until their bodies became one and there was no separating them. He had been late to the battle because he didn't want to see her. He knew what would happen he saw her, all bundled in blue, and yet all the time in the world couldn't have prepared him. Why, oh why, did he tell Bee his secret? Why? She was doing this just to mess with him. To tease him, he knew it. That was it, after that night of dangerous confessions Aqualad could no longer be friends with red wine. Period.
"Hey!" He turned and saw Raven chasing after him, her face red. His stomach turned again and he averted his eyes from her, waiting until she moved on. She didn't, of course. He felt her eyes on him, that confused stare she gave when she couldn't quite pin-point his emotions. "I'm sorry if I upset you. I just… I don't know. Something seems off. Is everything okay?"
"Yes. I'm sorry, Raven." Aqualand looked down at her and offered what he was sure was a broken smile. He needed self control or something inerasable would happen. "It's not your fault. I think I'm just a little tired from my trip today, I'm sure you are too. Let's go get some dinner and everything will be fine." Yeah right. Like that would happen, ever.
"Um. Okay. I'll go round up the boys then." Raven took a few steps away from him and sneezed. There was a cloud of dust that puffed from her cloak and she groaned. In one, swift movement she unsnapped the cloak from her body, and tried to shake the dust from the heavy fabric. Aqualad groaned as he stared at her. Her uniform had ridden up just enough to expose the underside of her very attractive, rounded bottom. That was an image he would both cherish and regret for the rest of his life. His stomach clenched again and he looked away.
It was going to be a very long two weeks.
Yes, you have read this before. Sort of. I took the original story and I am trying to flesh it out and give it more character. It won't be super long, three, maybe four chapters, but that's it. I'm still debating on a lemon, but there will definitely be some citrus. Please, leave a review! Thanks!