Once again, I have irresponsibly begun a new project. What is it about Teen Titans that always draws me back, no matter what fandom I wander off to in-between? Personally, I blame those suspiciously green-colored plot bunnies hopping around my brain. (...are they supposed to be snickering like that?)
Until now, I've only ever focused on epic Robin/Starfire, with the occasional secondary pairing used as a subplot. This will mark my first fully Beast Boy/Raven story, so I wanted it to be extra special and unique. The overall tone and theme will be darker—(coming from a girl who's "alterations" have included drug-induced psychosis, interplanetary wars and Blüd-frickin'-haven, that's really saying something)—and internal battles will be just as important as the external ones. Literally.
Broken will basically combine the plots of both Nevermore and The Beast Within into one major tale. It will take place during Season Three, also known as the Brother Blood arc. Those of you familiar with my work have probably already guessed there will be references and possible cameos from the comics as well. Moreso than ever before.
Feel free to start speculating what/who.
"Was [Raven]...disintegrated? Abducted? Teleported to an alternate dimension where she and Beast Boy are madly in love and ask me to be the Maid of the Bride at their Matrimonial Ceremony?"
-Starfire, Teen Titans Go! #42
Beast Boy let out an ear-piercing shriek as he was tossed halfway across the room, bouncing off several corners of the walls and ceiling along the way. He eventually came to a stop at his teammates' feet, where he lay still for a moment to nurse his bruised limbs (and ego). Willing himself to sit up, he held a hand to his head in pain, eyes flooding with tears.
"I think my appendix and my spleen just switched places," he whined dramatically.
The ground beneath the Titans' feet shook with every step as their latest opponent, Adonis, steadily approached. His mecca-clad figured towered over even Cyborg, and he had to learn forward to give them a better view of his cocky smirk.
"You wimps think you can take down Adonis?" Cracking his knuckles for effect, the villain held up a single hand in an inviting gesture. "Bring it on!"
Beast Boy was on his feet in an instant. "Dude, it is totally 'brunged'!" A split-second later, his brain caught up with his mouth. "...er...'branged'..." Well, almost.
"Ooh, bad grammar. That oughta scare him."
Even in the middle of battle, Beast Boy stopped to send Raven a fierce sideways-glare, muscles twitching at her sarcastic tone. It was one thing when she berated him back at the Tower, but her constant attempts at mocking him in public, as of late, had grown borderline vindictive.
Before another fight could erupt between the pair, however, Robin stepped forward. He gave neither the satisfaction of showing his frustration at their immature (and unprofessional) behavior, instead turning the team's attention back to the task at hand with two simple words:
Personal grudges were set aside for the moment as they attacked as one, dashing forward in a full head-on assault formation. Robin was the first to strike, whipping out his bo-staff. He swung it at Adonis' head, but the suit blocked with a single arm, pushing back at the same time it spun around to ward off Beast Boy in wolf form. Cyborg and Raven tried teaming up for a double-attack, though their combined efforts did little more than sting. Starfire's overhead 'bolts were equally ineffective.
Robin tried again, but his swings all went wild. Back-flipping once to regroup, he tried an overhead strike. Adonis caught it all-too-easily, relishing in the disgruntled look on the younger boy's face. A single punch was all it took to send Robin flying backwards.
Starfire's eyes glowed with a Righteous Fury as she watched her beloved friend and team leader fall, joining with Raven for the next attack. 'Bolts went flying, and Starfire grabbed a large block of metal to hurl directly at the narcissistic behemoth. Adonis was able to catch it in time, but struggled under the sheer weight. The force of impact caused the ground beneath him to crack, partially giving way.
"No pain, no gain!" He managed through gritted teeth, then threw the block right back at her with a roar.
Raven was noticeably pissed at that point. Eyes glowing beneath her hood, she surged forward with raw power drawn from the emotion. A few low words of chant, and Adonis was encased in an iridescent black glow. He struggled to resist a force that wasn't physical in nature, creating an aftershock when he finally did manage to break free. The residual magic waves sent Raven flying back, hood falling to her shoulders. She came to a stop at the base of a large tower of barrels, leotard-clad figure left exposed.
With a lecherous spark in his eye, Adonis quickly mounted the girl, pinning her arms to her sides before she could retaliate. Raven struggled vainly beneath his massive weight, recoiling in disgust when he leaned his face close to hers. His eyes make no attempt at hiding their interest in her shapely form.
"You're feisty," he growled suggestively.
Neither flattered nor amused, Raven shot back a look of pure hatred before summoning her telekinesis to hurl the nearest object at him; too distracted by his own hormones, Adonis was unable to block the two large pieces of machinery that crashed into the side of his skull, effectively throwing him off the half-demon. Cyborg was quick to his teammate's aid, following up with a series of well-aimed blows to the stupefied villain.
Raven visibly shuddered at the lingering effect of Adonis' touch, making a show of brushing at her uniform in an attempt to rid herself of his presence. She slowly pulled herself to a standing position, reached up to pull her hood back over her face...and froze.
An unexplained tranquility washed over her then, lulling her into an irresistible feeling of calm. The sounds of battle faded into the background as her vision glazed over, shoulders relaxing. Hands dropped to her sides, leaving the hood untouched. Her breathing grew slow, but deep, as a faint pulsing sound echoed in her mind. Like a heartbeat that was not quite her own:
Oblivious to her sudden state, Cyborg continued his attack with an adrenaline-fueled excitement.
"Come on, big man, show me what you got!" He shouted, pushing Adonis further pack with every blow. "Show me what you got!"
But Adonis just grinned at him, catching his fist on the next punch. Sparks flew with the clash of metal, the circuits beneath Cyborg's outer layer straining beneath his grip. His human eye widened in surprise.
"Well, okay then."
A moment later, he was sent through a nearby wall.
"Nobody out-muscles Adonis," the villain boasted, flexing his suit pecs.
"Oh, yeah?" Beast Boy appeared directly behind him. "Well, my muscles may be small and ropey, but they're not...I mean..."
Not giving the changeling time to collect his jumbled thoughts, Adonis came in for a double-fisted attack from above. Beast Boy had just enough time to dodge, skidding to a stop in a far corner. He took the form of a bull, charging head-first, only to have Adonis stop him by the horns. The two wrestled briefly, Adonis gaining the upper hand. Using the horns for better grip, he swung Beast Boy around once before letting him sail into the air.
Beast Boy recovered almost as soon as he landed, switching to the form of a monkey. This, too, failed, and he was tossed aside with a single punch. The same thing happened in tiger form, leaving him buried beneath a large pile of scrap metal.
"What's the matter, wuss?" Adonis taunted. "Don't you know how to fight like a man?"
Something deep inside began to well within the 14-year-old. A rush of primal thoughts, fueled by the animal DNA embedded within his genes. An anger he seldom felt before. Eyes narrowing dangerously, he clenched his fists and gave in to pure instinct.
"I'm not a man..." he whispered to himself, "I'm an animal!"
He burst through the debris with a ferocious roar, now a mighty gorilla.
His newfound rage gave him second wind, allowing him to attack Adonis with everything he had and more. To strike with his fists more than his brain. Blunt. Uncontrolled. Fearless. A quick shift into rhino form allowed him a surprise charging head-butt, knocking his opponent into a nearby support beam. It was followed by the strike of a Stegosaurus tail. Then the claws of a lion...of a black bear...and, suddenly, it was Adonis on the defense.
Cyborg, Starfire, and Robin could only stare in wide-eyed wonder as their usual goofball of a teammate quickly backed Adonis into a corner, lost to any and all else around him. Even as the two inched closer and closer to the large barrels of experimental chemicals, Beast Boy remained too caught up in the heat of battle to notice any impending danger.
Suddenly, Starfire gasped: "Raven!"
The other two Titans followed her concerned gaze, matching twinges of fear traveling up their spines when they realized that Raven was still standing at the base of the barrel tower. Her eyes stared blankly at the air in front of her, lost in some sort of trance.
"What's she doing?" Cyborg hissed.
"Beast Boy!" Robin called to his fellow Titan, eyes darting between him and the dark-haired girl uncertainly. "Look out! The chemicals—"
But it was too late; Beast Boy and Adonis simultaneously crashed into the tower, knocking over several of the containers in the process. This created an upwards chain reaction, unbalancing those higher up until they, too, began to fall.
"Raven, move!" Robin screamed in panic, dashing forward in vain hopes of reaching her before she was crushed.
Only then did the girl finally snap to life, looking up to find herself directly in the barrels' oncoming path. She barely had time to scream.
Beast Boy looked up from where Adonis lay, unconscious, and saw Raven was in danger. Without thinking, he transformed into a cheetah and leaped to her rescue. As he threw himself directly over her, he switched back to his previous gorilla form. The barrels came crashing down on his back hard. He winced with each impact, but refused to cry out, ignoring the pain by focusing on keeping Raven safe. A few cracked on impact, a mysterious ooze leaking onto his fur. He ignored that, too.
When the last of the barrels rolled harmlessly away, he morphed back into his normal self.
"You okay?" He stared down at Raven, expression unreadable.
Swallowing loudly, the girl merely nodded.
He let out an audible sigh of relief, slowly rising to his feet. Raven watched his every movement with a mixture of awe and confusion. Even when he extended a hand to her in assistance, she accepted it without thinking. She knew she was blatantly staring, and yet something was preventing her from breaking eye contact.
One of the hits had cut him on the side of his face, a faint trickle of blood across his cheek glinting in the dim light. His hair an uniform were stained with chemicals that had leaked out, and had she not been so caught up in the moment, she might have given them more than a passing notice. But what stood out for her the most was the way his eyes were looking directly at her in a manner she had never seen before.
It was, perhaps, the first time since they had met that Raven couldn't tell what he was thinking; for some reason, the thought greatly unnerved her.
She vaguely registered the sounds of footsteps approaching, of Cyborg and Starfire wanting to know if they were injured while Robin wondered what exactly had happened. Her mind still reeling from everything, she couldn't be sure if she ever answered any of them before Beast Boy suddenly gave a low groan of pain.
"Ugh...I don't feel so good..." he mumbled, hand rising to his head seconds before collapsing into a very shocked Raven's arms.
CAT and MRI scans returned with nothing to show.
EKG and blood tests produced similarly negative results.
O2 stats were well within range.
Even his blood sugar was unexpectedly normal.
Cyborg scratched his partially-metallic head for the third time in ten minutes. Brainwave patterns, white blood cell counts, and numerous other bits of data scrolled past his watchful eye at regular intervals on the overhead monitors. All without a single hint as to why the youngest member of the Teen Titans currently lay, unmoving, in the medical ward. Though his gut instinct was screaming with concern, science was basically telling him that Beast Boy was fine.
"He's not fine," Raven insisted. "He's in a coma."
For the moment, she was the only other remaining occupant in the room. Nearly half a day had passed since Beast Boy was first brought in, and while Robin or Starfire would wander in and out at random intervals, Cyborg was fairly certain the dark-haired girl has not moved from her spot since. The fact that she was all but relying on the far wall to remain standing told him of the weariness she was trying so desperately to hide.
"I've run every test I can think of, some of them twice, and they all say nothing's wrong," he explained gently. Patience was obviously the key to dealing with her right then. "No brain damage, no electrical imbalances. Nothing."
"In. A. Coma." She stubbornly repeated, her voice flat.
"I heard you the first time." Sighing deeply, he pinched the bridge of his nose with his thumb and index finger. "I don't know what else to say, Rae. The best hypothesis I can think up is some sort of chemically-induced state, given how he was practically doused with that stuff back at the warehouse. But nothing's shown up on any of the blood work."
Raven remained morbidly silent, hood pulled so far over her face that Cyborg could not read her reaction.
He shook his head sadly and continued, "Robin's still conducting a few tests of his own, but from what I've seen, the makeup is pretty far out there. It's not an NMDA receptor inhibitor, nor is it radioactive. It doesn't appear to be very toxic...but, then again, we have no real way of knowing exactly what defines 'toxic' for someone of his condition."
Not for the first time, Raven was reminded of the fact that Beast Boy was more than just an average teenage boy. His genetic code was even unique for a metahuman, given the time and circumstances behind his transformation.
He was hardly shy in talking about his past. Whether it be his childhood in Africa, or his adventures with the Doom Patrol, they had all heard stories. But there were times when she had difficulty separating the truth from hyperbole, given that these stories were often just that: wild tales meant to impress or intimidate. The more he talked, the less she felt she really knew about him.
Then again, Raven was hardly one to criticize for withholding personal information.
"What about that one guy he's mentioned? The one who worked for his parents?" She offered, trying to help uncover some lead. Any lead. "Nicholas...something..."
Cyborg's expression darkened. "B.B. hasn't spoken to him in years. And even then, I doubt he'd be able to help. Or willing."
Sensing she had touched upon a delicate subject, Raven let the issue drop.
"Because of the shape-shifting, his genetic code was always unstable," Cyborg muttered absently, fingers glossing over a few computer keys. "Maybe it's just...finally falling apart."
There was virtually no evidence to support this, yet the thought caused a wave of nausea in the pit of her stomach. One she couldn't ignore. Loss was something she had long ago trained herself to accept. It was a part of life. Especially the life of a metahuman.
But...losing Beast Boy...
Seeing the girl so visibly distressed, Cyborg crossed the room and placed a brotherly hand on her shoulder. "Hey, now. I was only speculating. I mean, I know how much you care about him and all, but we've been through way worse before, and—"
"He's a teammate." She interrupted, taking great care to keep her voice even. "Maybe even a friend. Do not read more into things than necessary."
Cyborg was less than convinced. "Right. So, I suppose I shouldn't 'read into' all those little looks and moments of flirting between you two either?"
"If by 'flirting', you mean 'allowing him to live, despite being a constant source of annoyance in my life'."
"Way I've been hearing it, you're the one giving him a hard time lately." His eyebrow muscles raised in poorly-concealed amusement. The knowing smirk didn't help.
She opened her mouth to protest, then hesitated when it dawned on her that Cyborg was sort of right. Okay, maybe her insults had increased in frequency. And maybe she did feel the slightest twinge of pleasure each time she verbally shot him down, called him out on some lame pun, or pointed out one of his (several) character flaws.
"...he started it," she mumbled weakly, then instantly regretted her words. She was sounding as childish as Beast Boy!
Inwardly, she cursed him for having such a negative influence on her. Before they met, she had always been the rational one. Introversive, perhaps, but in control. Every word that escaped her lips was calm and well thought-out, not uttered on a whim with no real purpose.
Cyborg was openly laughing now; Raven would have loved nothing more in that moment than to teleport back to the safety of her room.
"And I thought Robin was in denial!" After all they had been through in the last twelve hours, it felt good to laugh. "What you two got going, Rae, is a textbook case of Kindergarten Courtship."
She glared up at him from beneath her hood. "Come again?"
"You know, it's like when a five-year-old meets a girl he really likes on the playground, but doesn't quite know how to act on it." He eagerly elaborated without fear. "So he pulls her hair and kicks sand in her face to get her attention. That's how he shows he cares."
"In case you haven't noticed, we're not exactly five-years-old anymore," She reminded him, folding her arms across her chest. As an afterthought, she added, "Well, I'm not, anyways."
"Not exactly helping your case, Rae." He sent the girl a teasing wink, then ignored her inaudible mutterings in favor the large array of papers on his desk. Though still smiling, his tone grew more serious. "Listen, as fun as this conversation has been, you did give me an idea. That Galtry fella might not be able to help, but maybe the Doom Patrol knows something we don't. They've been his legally adopted family for more than a year now, after all."
The news came as such a surprise to Raven, she forgot all about her previous embarrassment. "Legally? I thought they just took him in after he tricked his way into their base."
"Well, that too...but no, 's all documented and everything. That's why he's so close with Elasti-Girl and Mento."
She said nothing as Cyborg gathered the last of the files, barely acknowledging the casual salute he gave her in farewell. Her eyes found their way back to Beast Boy's sleeping face, the steady rise and fall of his chest. Just how much was he really hiding behind that innocent façade? Was there a reason why he had never told her...or had she simply not been listening when he had?
And why did she suddenly care so much?
Pulling her hood back, she pushed herself off the wall and slowly crossed the room. Her legs wobbled a bit from fatigue, but carried her to where she could sit by his bedside. The heart monitor directly above showed a 50bmp normal-normal, and a glimpse at his P-waves showed exactly what one would have expected during a state of sleep.
"What's happening to you?" she whispered softly, lightly brushing the hair from his eyes.
A small, white bandage had been taped to the side of his head where he had been struck; her body moving of its own accord, she reached to pull it back, revealing a superficial wound. Only a small patch of red stained the cloth, the blood already having coagulated hours before. Still, she lifted her hand to the boy's temple and summoned a faint amount of healing energy. The cut was so superficial that she barely felt the sting as she took it into her own body.
"It's not like you to use your powers so trivially."
Her hand dropped back into her lap, and she turned to face Robin with no signs of embarrassment at having been caught.
"That's because he usually brings his injuries upon himself," she explained. "It was the least I could do, considering."
There were traces of a smile on the Boy Wonder's face, and Raven mentally steeled herself for another wave of taunting. She turned her back to him, busying herself with the task of staring at Beast Boy's vital signs, though her interest was more in Robin's reflection in the monitor than the numbers.
But Robin said nothing further on the subject, unfolding his arms from where he had been leaning against the door frame, and entered the room in silence. His metal-tipped boots echoed softly against the linoleum floor, leading him to the opposite side of the bed. He stared down at the younger boy with a frown, as if expecting him to wake up at any moment and announce it was all some lame practical joke.
"How are you holding up?" He eventually asked.
Raven sighed in annoyance. "For the last time, I'm no more worried about him than—"
"That's not what I meant."
She blinked. "It's not?"
"I've seen that look on your face before, Raven." He began, looking up at her with concern. "When you just froze like that in the middle of battle. It's just like the last time your powers inexplicably self-activated. What happened?"
Though there were no traces of accusation in his voice, Raven still felt herself squirm beneath his intense stare. She averted her gaze; Robin had always known her better than anyone—at times, even herself—and the merging of their minds not too long ago had only strengthened that bond. Even if she wanted to lie to him, she doubted that she would've been able to.
"I...don't know," she admitted. "Everything's a blur. One minute, I was fending off Adonis, then the next...you were calling out to me. The barrels were collapsing." A hand rose to her temple in the confusion of it all. "I can't remember anything else."
He frowned. "Maybe we should have Cyborg check you out as well."
"No!" She replied a little too quickly. Catching herself, she took a moment to regain her composure and added in a softer tone, "It's nothing. I just need to meditate."
The look on his face told her that he wasn't buying it.
"Really, I..." but she trailed off as the room around her began to spin. "I..."
Eyelids drooping, she felt her body swaying back and forth at a dangerous rate. Just as she was about to give in, however, a pair of strong hands had her by the shoulders. A low moan escaped her lips as she glanced up to see Robin directly in front of her now, lips pressed into a thin line. He was so close, she could see traces of her reflection in his mask. Skin, pale and sallow. Deep circles beneath her eyes. A thin sheen of sweat coating her forehead.
For lack of a better phrase, she looked like Hell.
"Regardless, at least try to get some sleep," Robin insisted gently. The fact that he was treating her so delicately told just how bad she must have really looked. "We already have one Titan down. I don't want to have to worry about you, too."
"But..." she began.
He raised a curious brow.
Her eyes subconsciously flickered back over to Beast Boy's sleeping form, hesitant to leave his side. But she soon realized that she had no real reason to stay. There was nothing else for her to heal, and she knew for a fact that her presence alone would serve no real purpose.
Robin remained silent as she pulled herself out of his hold and stood up. He flinched when it looked like she might stumble on her way out the door, but respected her desire to walk on her own two feet. He also didn't miss the fact that she chose walking over teleporting.
There was little doubt in his mind that Raven was hiding something. Part of him wanted to question her about it, to call her back until she gave him an honest response. But Raven was one of the few people he knew even more private than himself, and any attempts would be futile. Ultimately, he had no actual proof of anything more than an obvious growing affection she was showing for Beast Boy. It was uncharacteristically sweet.
Then again, Robin didn't really do 'sweet'.
By the time the door shut behind her with a cool hiss, Raven's breathing had become shallow and labored. Her body felt heavier than lead, every step causing a dull pain to shoot up her legs. Worst of all, though, was the blurred vision; as dark as her room was to begin with, she could barely make out the shape of her bed across the carpet.
Attempting to feel her way around, she clumsily bumped into her vanity bureau.
The mirror resting on top fell to the ground, a blinding light escaping through the resulting cracks. Within a matter of seconds, the entire room was bathed in a shimmering aura, only for it retreat back into the glassy surface as quickly as it had spread.
No sooner had it gone dark, when Raven collapsed.
At the same time, Beast Boy's eyes snapped open...revealing a pupil-less, white glow.
TO BE CONTINUED...