There was a stillness in the air that Raven hadn't felt in a very long time. She had almost forgotten what it felt like when the world stopped and nothing existed out of infinitesimal moments. Her mind wasn't in pain, her heart didn't feel like it was going to burst, and her emotions didn't lash out at every little detail. Bit by bit, and minute by minute, her soul stilled, her emotions stopped warring amongst themselves, and she was at peace. There was no longer the tug of energy from her own soul, from Beast Boy's emotions, or even from the hassle of the tower. What she was feeling at that very moment was nothing less and nothing more than herself.
Raven stood on a cliff, overlooking the green carpet of forest below her. She was in the middle of nowhere, miles from civilization, and that seemed to suit her just fine. For the first time in weeks, she felt peaceful. She didn't feel like her soul was being bombarded by a million different emotions. She didn't feel like she was swept up in a storm of desire. She felt like herself, before all of the insanity happened in her life. She took a deep breath and tucked her legs under her, letting her mind still as she reached into her soul, pulling at the fragments and trying to fully understand what their warring meant.
They had been lashing out at each other, fighting for dominance, fighting to be heard and understood, and Raven had no idea how to control or combat them. It was almost as if her emotions ran wild, like animals through her psyche.
There was inquisitive movement against her soul, before the silence was broken. You did a surprisingly intelligent thing. Leaving, that is.
Raven sighed and rolled her eyes behind their lids. "I can do that on occasion, Intelligence."
Before, yes. You made very logical and level headed decisions before, but now your choices are… a little more primeval. A little more rash.
Raven sighed and felt the pang of guilt wash over her. While she was not the only factor in what had happened, her choices and her decisions were of her own making. They may have been fueled by desire and hormones and goddess knows what else, but they were hers, and in the end her soul suffered the consequences from problems she caused. "I know… I'm trying to figure that out."
Intelligence seemed a mixture of impressed and concerned. That's a step in the right direction. There was a long pause before she continued. Would you care for some advice?
Raven heard the chill in her voice, and hesitated. She knew that if she was to fully understand why her soul was warring, she was going to have to understand herself and her emotions. She was going to have to get to the bottom of it all. Including, whether or not she truly felt love and passion for Beast Boy. She took a shaky breath and let it out slowly. "I suppose that's the best way to start this process, is by listening to you."
You have fought against yourself and against your emotions for so long, that we are all battered, jumbled, and confused. You must listen to each part of yourself before you can fully understand what it is you are feeling. Intelligence pushed against her chest hard, making Raven feel somewhat lightheaded. You want answers, but you have not taken the steps to get them. Do not ignore us because you think we are under control. You are fragmented, only pieces of a whole, you do not become one until we are balanced.
Raven winced. She hadn't really thought about it like that. "And what do you think? About Beast Boy and me? About what happened?"
Me? She felt a slow smile pass across Intelligence's lips. That is the first time you ever thought it necessary to ask, Raven. I am impressed by your progress. I think that this is an… experience. By all accounts, Beast Boy is a good match for you. He is the opposite of yourself, silly, frivolous, lazy, and emotional. He brings into balance your personality. You are very… sheltered. He brings out a side of you, and of us, that we don't usually see. And he will care for you, that is clear in the fiber of his being. He loves you.
Raven shivered and she pulled the sweatshirt around her tighter. "And the beast?"
Intelligence hesitated for a moment, as if she was trying to effectively put into words something even Raven couldn't. He is the enigma in this. He is violent, primal, angry, possessive, and territorial. But there are pieces of him that so closely reflect Beast Boy, it is hard to tell them apart. He feels violent passion for you, will protect you with his life, but he is uncontrollable and he will lash out if provoked. She shuddered and Raven felt the whisper travel down her own spine.
If Beast Boy cannot learn to control him, he will be a danger to you.
"That is my fear." Raven frowned and opened her eyes, looking down into her hands. Her heart pounded a gentle rhythm against her ribs, betraying her calm exterior. This was more than she was anticipating, heavier and deeper than she could have imagined. Her emotions wanted to explain their side, their reasoning behind why they were warring. They wanted to trust him, but there were so many parts to Beast Boy, that there was nothing they could trust and nothing they could understand. And in the end, they were worried and confused, and Raven couldn't blame them.
Intelligence seemed to sense her hesitation and reached out to calm Raven. Do not fear what this is, Raven. Understand it. That is the only way you can make the right and educated decision.
"I know…" She let go of a breath she didn't know she was holding. "I know."
Intelligence reached out and calmed Raven's heart, trying to give her some iota of serenity in logic. Beast Boy can be exactly what you want from him, he can be more than a teammate and more than a companion or friend, but you will have to give him the chance. And you both will have to learn how to quell the beast inside him. That would be part of your responsibility as his mate.
Raven started and swallowed hard. That was the first time her emotions had ever insinuated that she was, in fact, Beast Boy's mate. She had spent all that time trying to prove to herself that she wasn't, or at least she couldn't commit to him yet, and yet her emotions seemed to fully accept their fate. Raven was his mate, and there was no changing it. "I guess you're right."
She felt Intelligence smile. I know I am.
He should be a good mate. But still… there's something that just seems… off. There was a rough push against her soul, as if one of her emotions felt the need to interject. He is a fighter, you know. Strong, powerful.
Bravery. Raven looked down into the tree tops again, imagining her emotion swinging from the trees as if she was Tarzan. "I know, Bravery. He's saved me more times than I care to count… of course, he's also gotten me into trouble a lot too."
Yeah, but that doesn't mean he forced it on you. It was an accident. People make mistakes, the point is to face them head on and realize what they are, so you don't make them again. She hesitated a moment, as if there was something that might have bothered her. He makes me feel weird… Beast Boy does. Like we're not always ourselves, and we all become everyone else. He's a lot of things that we never were, Raven. Outgoing and energetic, sweet and caring… we were always strong, always powerful… but there are different kinds of power, ya know?
"And the beast? What of his power?"
Bravery hesitated even longer before responding. I'm not sure how to answer that. He's scary. Raven, he's too strong to control or understand. Getting yourself wrapped up in that is going to set you up for disaster. But I know he's part of Beast Boy, so I don't know why I'm so… nervous. There's a time to fight and a time to retreat, and the beast makes me want to retreat always.
That wasn't exactly the best news, but what else could Raven have expected? Bravery was strong, and battle savvy, and she knew when a fight was worth leaving. "What about Beast Boy? Is that where I get this feeling of dread? From being afraid of what's inside him?"
No! That's Timid just being herself. Beast Boy is fun, in spite of his power. Bravery laughed. I want to fight with him! Wrestle and play! Raven tried not to think about where "wrestling" would lead, but she let Bravery continue. He's strong, but he can have a good time. Not like Bird Brain who has nothing to do but drone on and on about tactics. That's all Intelligence's stuff, I just like to fight.
Raven let go of a long, deep sigh. Bravery was, at the very least, taxing. She was all over the place, as if she couldn't quite make up her mind about Beast Boy. It was as if she was frightened by the beast, but excited by Beast Boy, and the two feelings canceled each other out, creating chaos. "But you're upset by the beast? He's a part of Beast Boy… we have to accept one and the other."
She could feel Bravery push against her soul, angry that Raven called her out on contradicting feelings. I know that! But you're asking us to be put in the forefront of danger. That's not bravery, that's stupidity. We will be slaughtered.
He's scary! Raven, you think I am weak and useless, but I am a voice of reason. If I'm frightened of something, there has to be a reason behind it. Timid piped in before Bravery had a chance to finish, and she seemed a bit perturbed that no one seemed to take her emotions seriously. Timid was a little more forceful now, demanding her concerns be heard by both Raven and the other emotions. I'm not always scared of everything. Beast Boy is volatile and impulsive. He can be angry and selfish, and the beast is a hundred times worse. He has the honest capability to actually hurt us, both physically and mentally. He is trying to control you, trying to make you something you are not.
Raven swallowed a lump of fear in her throat. "And that is?"
A possession. Rage interjected before Timid had a chance to finish. Frightened by the more powerful emotion, Timid retreated into the recesses of Raven's soul. Rage slithered through Raven, like a snake looking for prey. We are not a bird to be kept in a cage, we are a demon. He will control us, he will use force to keep us docile. We cannot trust him and we shouldn't. You think you can fight him, understand him, reason with him… but he is an animal and he cannot be trusted.
"I want to trust him." Even in the chill of the air, Raven felt her cheeks grow warm with her blush. It was the first time she had admitted to herself that she wanted anything from Beast Boy, other than solitude. It was a step in the right direction of fully understanding her feelings for him. "He's been my friend… and more… for longer than I care to admit. If I want our relationship to continue, then I have to trust him, including the beast."
Rage was silent for a moment before talking, growling so low that it rumbled painfully in Raven's chest. She was ready to attack, angry that Raven was refusing to listen to her. He will destroy us, Raven. Rip us apart until we are a shell of what we once were. If you are happy being nothing, then don't let me stop you, but do not bring us into the travesty you create.
Her emotions shuffled, as if suddenly understanding what Rage was trying to say. Raven pushed against each of them, reminding her emotions that this was her body and she would make the decisions. "And are you willing to let love go because of your fear?" Raven knew that was a low blow, but she needed to know the truth. Was she scared because there was an unknown element, or was she scared because there was a real danger in her relationship? That was something she had to figure out.
If Beast Boy were the only factor in this question, I would tell you no. But you know that the beast is part of who he is. Are you willing to put yourself and all of us in danger because you think love is more important than self-preservation?
Love is greater than self-preservation! Love screamed so loud that Raven's head began to throb. She pushed wildly against every part of Raven, burning her and cooling her, making her breath short and raspy, turning her body into a warm mass. It was like every emotion Raven had ever felt with Beast Boy, wrapped into one indiscernible feeling, moving slowly though her body like hot lava. Love is more than yourself, more than what we have together. It is what drives us to be human. It is the reason for being who we are and who we are not. We cannot give up love because we are angry with him, because he is not strong, because he is too strong, because we are afraid, or because it doesn't seem logical.
She stopped for a moment, letting the weight of her words sink into Raven and all of her emotions. Her mind seemed to still, riveted to Love and what she was saying. We are more than the sum of our parts, we are you Raven, at all points in your body. And, although you may be scared, although he may frighten you, although it seems your decisions are fueled by desire, although he may drive you crazy and he will upset and anger you, although you may not always be happy, and at times it may feel like happiness will be pulled away from you… you love him. Those emotions are his, yes, but they are also yours. You are the one that loves him.
There was a long moment of silence, where Raven refused to breathe, where her emotions refused to rebel, where it felt like she might actually have made a breakthrough. She finally took a slow, deep breath and let it out.
"I love him?"
You do. That's not me, or Desire, or Intelligence, or even Rage. You have grown to love and cherish him more than you do yourself. That can only be accomplished by you.
The buzzing in her head stopped and her emotions were still for a long while, having retreated into the recesses of her soul. Love's words had bullied them all into submission. Her soul was forced to confront its self, forced to understand that it was greater than the sum of its parts. Raven was in love, and no matter how scared, or angry, or worried she might be, she loved Beast Boy. All of him. Including the beast.
Knowing that these emotions were hers, and not the product of someone or something else, seemed to ease her soul. It made the idea of being with Beast Boy seem almost exciting. She loved him. It wasn't just a mirror of his own emotions. It was hers too.
She looked into the darkening forest, wondering how long she had been here. Time had passed around her. Minutes, hours… she wasn't sure. She only knew that she had found the answers she came to find. She loved Beast Boy.
It's nice to know you took my advice.
Raven paused as she felt Desire slide around the back of her mind, pushing at her. Desire was one of her baser emotions, and while influenced by Love's tumultuous speech, she was not controlled by it. And how do you feel, knowing that you aren't influenced by others' emotions? Does it feel better knowing the truth?
"I haven't explored that yet." Raven reached deep inside herself again and found the fragments of her soul, they stilled under her gentle touch. The war inside her had stopped, and they seemed to finally be getting along with each other. Peace and tranquility was being restored. It was a step in the right direction, things wouldn't always be perfect, but she knew the truth now, and that was good enough. "I guess it does, knowing I love him."
She felt Desire's smile, and somewhere in the recesses of her mind Raven knew that Desire had returned to her normal form. An image of Raven herself. She had stopped fighting her emotions and in return, there was peace. Well, that's nice to hear. You desire and love him… does that mean all of him? Including the primal part you aren't willing to accept yet?
"I have to." Raven chewed on her lower lip and looked up at the stars. "I love Beast Boy… including the parts that might not necessarily be safe."
Desire seemed amused. The beast is safe, brutish at times, but safe. He also loves you, will care and provide for you. You must learn patience and perhaps even dominance with both of them, Beast Boy and his beast. The beast may be strong, but he will bow to your own strength. A bully wants to be bullied themselves. You simply need to find the balance of powers. Desire chucked and the feeling rumbled through Raven's chest. How does that old adage go? You must learn to pick your battles. In return you will be happy.
Raven blew out a breath of irritated air and fell onto her back, exhaustion sinking into her bones. How long had she been out here? And how much energy had she used, trying to keep up the conversation between her and her emotions? "It won't be easy."
No. Of course not. But most good things aren't. Enjoyment and pleasure take effort. If it's easy, it can't be all that good. Desire rolled around in Raven's chest before stilling for a moment. She reached outside of Raven and felt the air carefully, looking for something. Desire moved back into the shadows of Raven's mind, as if retreating. I believe you have a follower.
"A follower? Who…"
Raven sat up and looked into the forest, her heart dropping into her stomach. Why did he chase after her? She searched through the darkness, searching for any signs of him. It was pitch black and the trees were still in the breezeless air. If the beast had followed her, there was no sign of him from this height, and she highly doubted that he would have let her see him. Something rustled the leaves behind her, signaling a new presence.
"You are not very hard to find, Raven. You leave your scent everywhere." He moved up behind her and buried his nose into her neck.
Raven bit back a curse and pushed him away from her. "I am here alone. That means that you aren't supposed to be here."
"Yes… I know."
"Then why did you follow me?" Raven whipped around and glared at him. Something about his proximity made her want to scream. He couldn't even give her a few hours of peace? He had to be around her all the time, just to prove his dominance.
"It's not safe for you to be out alone."
"I'm in the middle of nowhere. As a demon, I think I can handle a few deer and stray woodland creatures." The beast ignored her words, and instead glared and circled her slowly. But, Raven refused to let him think that he had the upper hand. She tilted her chin up at him and frowned. "Besides, the point of me being alone was to sort out my feelings, and you are just riling them up again. Go away and leave me alone."
"I have left you alone." He stood in front of her, eyes dark. "I gave you three days of headway, Raven. You've had plenty of time to do your ridiculous soul searching, now it's time for you to come back home."
Raven jerked, three days? Was that how long had she been in a trance? "Three days?"
"Yes." He continued to stare at her. "I'm tired of waiting, come home."
She glared. "I'm not your property. You can't just order me around."
"Can't I?" He frowned at her and moved closer, trying to fill the space between them. "You're my mate, and I'm telling you to come home."
"I'm not going home!" She stood her ground and pressed her finger into his chest, feeling Desire's words start to take root. She was going to have to assert herself if she had any hope in having control in this relationship. "I am not going to be bullied by you anymore. You won't hurt me, you can't. You said it yourself."
The beast raised an eyebrow and stared at her. She could feel his anger ripple through the air, thickening the silence between them. "Is that so?"
"You said you were incapable of doing real harm to me." Raven took a step back and crossed her arms over her chest, staring at him. "You don't frighten me, and I refuse to be treated like some kind of thing when I'm around you. I'm more than that, and I won't to let you forget it. I am willing to learn to be your mate, but if you want me, then you need to start treating me like a mate. Not a possession." Raven swallowed whatever fear and whatever anger was building inside her and looked right into his eyes. "And that includes giving me my space when I need it."
"So…" His voice was pitched low, but he didn't move from his spot. If he was surprised, he didn't show it. "You won't fight me anymore? You want to be my mate?"
"I want to be Beast Boy's mate, and I cannot have him without you." Raven kept her face blank as she continued, fighting the emotions rippling inside her. "It's a symbiotic relationship, and I know that. You cannot live without what he gives you and he cannot live with what you give him. In order to be with Beast Boy, I have to accept you. And in order to be with you, I have to accept Beast Boy."
"After all that fighting, arguing, hitting, dragging your heels… you've finally given in." The beast didn't even attempt to hide his incredulity. "You understand why I am leery of your choice. You've never given me any indication that wanted to be with me. You've fought with me on every little thing."
"Nothing is little in this relationship, and I fought you because you were forcing me." Raven frowned and stared up at him. "I don't exactly have a whole lot of patience when someone tried to force their will on me. It doesn't matter who it is."
He raised an eyebrow. "But it will be fine if you make the choice? So that you have some false feeling of control?"
"I am in control. I don't need you in my life. You need me." Raven growled at him, feeling rebellion rise into her throat. She would not let him control her. Of course, being hard-headed wasn't exactly helping the situation either.
He shook his head. "I am still in doubt that you actually want this, Raven."
"I do. I want to be with both of you. That was the whole idea of my pointless soul searching, as you so tactfully called it." She sighed and motioned to the space between them. "This has to be a symbiotic relationship. Between all of us. It can't be us fighting for each other, or between each other."
"And yet you still wish to be with us, knowing that this relationship exists between all three of us." He cocked his head to the side, waiting for her response. "And you're all right with this?"
"I don't have a choice, if I want one of you, I have to have both of you." Raven returned his cold stare. "And you are the enigma in this."
"I am?" He choked back harsh laughter. "And you don't seem to think there's anything wrong with your fickle behavior?"
"Fickle?" Raven bit back a curse as she stared at him. Maybe the beast and Beast Boy weren't so different after all. Clearly they threw around the same insults. "How was I being fickle when both you and Beast Boy kept pulling me in a million directions? I couldn't choose between you because neither of you gave me the opportunity for choice. You were both were so damn irritating." Raven took a deep breath and moved away, running her hands through her hair, trying to calm herself. This wasn't exactly going as she planned.
"Look, I don't want to fight with you. Not now." She looked back up into his dark eyes. "I've made the decision, and it took me a lot of effort to figure out what I wanted. I want you and Beast Boy. Together as a whole. Just, tell me what to do now."
The emotions swirled between them before settling down into a fine film over them. The beast stared into her eyes, searching for the truth. "And this is what you want to do? Be ours forever?"
Raven answered without hesitation. "Yes."
"Mm…" The beast finally closed the gap between them, his face emotionless. "If you are set on being my mate, then claim me, Raven. If your actions are proof of your words, then finish the mark on my wrist. Make me yours and let this nonsense be over." He took her hand and slid it over the faint mark on his wrist. "You know as well as I do that the brand is unfinished. If you wish to stop fighting the feelings between us, if you wish to accept your place as our mate, then mark me."
"I don't know how I did it." Raven swallowed as she watched him move even closer. "It was an accident last time."
She could handle him when there was distance between their bodies. But, when he invaded her personal space and looked at her with a million emotions in his eyes, Raven didn't know what to do. Her body and mind melted, and she began to understand that whatever he was making her do would seal them together forever. Was she really ready to take that step?
"It was subconscious last time, not an accident. An accident implies that you did not know what you were doing." He offered her a slow, almost sad smile. And Raven felt the emotions change within him. Longing filled his eyes and he reached out to touch her face. "If you truly want to be our mate, it will come to you. Your body will know how to claim ours." He paused and moved even closer. "Here, let me give you a little help."
Without any other preamble, he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers in an honest, sincere kiss. It was gentle and slow, as if he was trying to experience everything Beast Boy could: love, honesty, and beauty. His emotions moved through her like water, soothing any fears she might have had. And in that perfect moment, Raven felt her powers push through the last of her resistance. There was nothing that held her back now, and she felt heat spread through her fingertips before embedding into his skin.
This time, she felt the way her powers made the mark across his skin. It was as if her body simply knew what to do, and etched the marking into him. They were finally pulled together as two mates. Raven felt the beginnings of a smile start at the corner of her lips, before she was violently pulled away from her feeling of weightlessness.
Beast Boy gasped and pulled away, putting space between them. "What in Hell…" He stumbled away from her before collapsing down onto the ground on his hands and knees. His emotions vibrated between them and Raven had to take a step back before he managed to upend her own powers.
He stared up at her, coughing. "What just happened?"
"I marked you…" Raven reached out to touch him, but he just pushed her arm away, cringing. His skin radiated heat and his body contorted in pain. Raven felt remorse bubble up inside her. What had she done to him? "I'm sorry if I hurt you, I was just following the beast's suggestion."
"Yes, I know… I felt everything, saw everything… but I know that wasn't me." He coughed again, still gasping for breath. "I feel sick. Oh, god…" He managed to pull himself away from her before his stomach decided to empty its contents. Raven cringed and looked away, giving him space.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes. No." He curled into a ball and turned away from her, his body shaking violently. "I don't know. Jesus, Rae… what did you do to me? One minute there was darkness, the next, I could see and hear everything between the two of you… and now…"
Raven handed him some water and rubbed his shoulder, pushing some of her more soothing emotions into him. "I'm sorry, I didn't think it would affect you this way."
He took a few long drinks of water and groaned again, rolling away. "It's not your fault. Hell, even I didn't know what would happen…" He reached over and grabbed her hand, his fingers weaving with hers for a moment. "Besides, I don't think all of this is entirely because of your mark."
Raven blanched. "Well, what else could it be?"
"Feel." He pulled her hand over his heart, and Raven initially felt the plain thump of his heart against her fingers. But as she dipped deeper into him psyche, she found his emotions were calm. There was no push and pull against his soul, no drive for dominance within him. The beast wasn't there.
"He's gone." Beast Boy sat up and cradled his head in his shaking hands. Color had finally returned to his face and he didn't look quite so sick any more. "Or, not so much gone as tamed. I think he's finally integrated with me, rather than being just a part or section." He gave Raven a lopsided smile and pulled her closer. "I think you healed us."
"I didn't realize you were damaged." Raven tried to keep herself from sighing as his arms wrapped around her tighter. Instead, she kept her face blank and looked up at him. "So what does this mean?" She swallowed, gathering courage. "For us?"
"I have no idea." Beast Boy shook his head and pressed his lips to her forehead. "Not a single clue."
Silence fell over them for a few, long moments. Raven could feel their emotions touch and tangle, trying to get closer, to reach for one another. It was as if their bodies had an entirely different way of interacting now, and being close wasn't close enough. Raven leaned her head on his shoulder and listened to the calm beat of his heart, before Beast Boy finally broke the silence.
"Did you mean it?"
There was a slow pause, and Raven could feel him gathering courage to finish his question. "That you wanted to be with us… well, me now, I guess…" He looked down at Raven and frowned. "You said you wanted to be our mate."
Raven tried to hide the smile on her lips. "I marked you, didn't I?"
Beast Boy stared at her for a long moment before pulling her tighter into the shelter of his body. "So, is this the answer you were looking for? Is this what you needed to find?"
Raven shrugged, not exactly sure how to answer that question. "I guess… I was looking for any answer, but I was hoping that this was the right one." There was another pause and she looked up at him. "Why do you think he left? He was so adamant of making sure I was claimed, I would have thought he'd stick around forever."
"I don't know." Beast Boy frowned and looked away. "I can only guess it's because he finally found a mate, someone willing to claim him and willing to tame him. You did both. You stood up to him, but you wanted to be a mate. In the end, I guess he was tamed back into my soul… at least that's all I can think of."
"I guess it makes sense." Raven sighed, feeling like she was left with more questions than answers. "Kind of."
"That's the best answer I've got."
"It'll have to do." Raven smiled up at him. "So, now what? We're mates and all…"
"Now, we take it one day at a time, duh." He tapped her on the forehead and smiled back. "I thought you were smarter than that."
"How do we tell the others?"
Beast Boy blanched. "One, two, three, not it."
"That's not fair!"
"I never said this would be fair."
Raven tried to glare at him, but a smile peeled across her lips anyway. Maybe everything was going to be okay. For once in her life she had someone she could depend on, her emotions were under control, and she wasn't being hunted like prey by her friend. For once in her life, she had stability, and she had honest love. There wasn't a whole lot else she could hope for.
Except maybe for Beast Boy to stop telling his awful jokes.
Perhaps not one of my better chapters, but I think it ties together nicely. There'll be an epilogue and then this story will wrap up. And, anyone who is still interested, I have already started on the rewrite of this. It's called To Claim and Possess. So, if you haven't checked it out, I would love your opinion.
Thanks again for reading!