Summary: "Starfire was like the glue that held our team together, and we didn't realize that until it was too late." Beast Boy looks back on the years after Starfire's disappearance. Based on the episode "How Long is Forever?"
Pairings: Mentioned BB/Rae, RobStar.
A/N: I wanted to write a first-person POV fic, and I wanted to write a Beast Boy-central fic as well. So, I thought, why not combine them?
It was hard to take in at first, that Starfire wasn't coming back. I mean, she was always there, you know? No one ever suspected, not in a million years, that one day she would just disappear. I guess it's true what they say about not knowing what you have until it's gone.
The first few weeks after she disappeared, it was quiet. No one could really comprehend that Starfire wasn't there anymore. And we bonded, I think, in those days. We talked, a lot, to fill the silence. We talked about anything, everything, to make it seem like there were five of us again. I learned things about my team that I never knew before, things that they never would have said before.
I guess that maybe it was the idea that any one of us could disappear at any time, the realization that we could be split apart so casually, with such ease.
So we talked. A lot of it was just chatter, and we said a lot of nothings too. We talked about boring, senseless topics, and we ignored what was right in front of us. No one looked deeper, but we could all see it.
No one commented on the fact that Cyborg never used the third weightlifting bench from the left when he was working out, because that was Starfire's bench. It would seem wrong to use it. And so it sat there, collecting dust.
Raven became even more reclusive, retreating into her room more and more. Eventually it got so that she only came out to eat and do missions. She was hurting inside, I could tell, but she wouldn't accept comfort from me. She wouldn't talk to Robin or Cyborg about it either, though to their credit, they did try. But it's hard to comfort someone when you're hurting just as much as they are.
Robin, back when he was still called that, was hurting. That was easy to see. He was hurting the most of us, and I'm not going to pretend like I understood what he was going through. I didn't. I still don't. We all knew that he liked Starfire, but we didn't know how much. He would spend all of his spare time looking for her, staring at the computer for days on end, missing meals, staying up long into the night.
No one said anything about it, not even me, I'm ashamed to say. We just watched as he worked himself into exhaustion, and kept going. Because that's how life was back then. We talked all through the day, and then, when night fell, we all retreated into our own worlds.
I was hurting too. Starfire was like a sister to me, and then she was ripped away from me like that. There was always this ache with me that I just carried around. I never spoke of it, like so many other things, but I get the feeling that the others knew what I felt.
Maybe I was too absorbed in my own problems to see what was happening. I mean, I knew that we were drifting apart, but on the surface it seemed like we were as close as ever.
You couldn't tell that there was anything wrong with us. We still laughed and joked and hung out at all our old places, but we just weren't there. It was like someone had taken over our bodies and put them on auto pilot. At least, that's how it felt for me.
I suppose I've made it seem like we completely fell apart after Starfire disappeared. And in a way, we did, but only on the inside.
In all honesty, our missions improved. We threw ourselves into training and fighting. Our teamwork was amazing and when we fought criminals, we won. It got so that Jump City was practically a crime-free place. People praised the Teen Titans; reporters flocked to us. Jump City was named the safest place in America. To the rest of the world, our city was so strong, and so were we.
Things seemed to getting better for a while. Raven started joining us for movies and trips out. Cyborg laughed more, looked like his old, meat-eating self. Even Robin was too busy to dwell on Starfire that much.
And I know it sounds mean, but that's what we did. We ignored Starfire. We pretended that she had never existed. I did it because it was easier that way. After all, you can't miss what you don't remember.
But the thing is, we did remember her. Then one day, we woke up and realized that there was no one left to fight. Bad guys were too scared of us. Suddenly, there was nothing left to do. And our thoughts turned back to Starfire once again.
Just like that, we were back to our old ways.
Robin tormented himself with 'what if?' questions. What if he had been more careful? What if he had been just a bit faster? Could he have grabbed her before she jumped into the vortex.
Raven acted like she didn't care about anything. Maybe she didn't. You could never tell with Raven.
I got more annoying, I think. I told so many jokes to try and lighten the mood. I'll admit, that wasn't my best idea. Now that I look back, I see that my jokes weren't as funny as I thought that they were, but that was no reason for Cyborg to yell at me like that.
That was how Cyborg coped. He got angry. I never knew what would set him off until he was right in my face, raging at me for the smallest slight. Robin had a temper as well. The two of them were always going at it, screaming at each other until their throats were raw. You could hear their arguments throughout the Tower, even if you were as secluded as Raven.
She would come out of her room and berate them. She verbally flayed them, called them ten kinds of idiot, but they never got angry at her. My guess is that she was the only girl left, and they didn't want to push her away. She never raised her voice, but the message sunk in all the same. Shamefaced, they would apologize and say that they wouldn't do it again, and it would be quiet, at least for a little while. Then something else would set them off, and they'd be back to screaming again.
After a while, Raven didn't bother trying to stop them anymore. I think that she didn't want to see them fighting anymore. She started retreating back into her emotionless shell.
I didn't want that to happen to her again. I didn't want to see her withdraw from us, ignore everything that was going on. So I started to talk to her. And I mean really talk to her. She had never told us anything about her that was of actual consequence, I found that out. But she told me things. Things that I know she hadn't told anyone else.
We would leave the Tower, and wander around the city. We would spend hours in each other's company, just talking, or saying nothing at all.
While Robin and Cyborg were at each other's throats, something was happening between us. Something blossomed.
Was it love? I don't know anymore.
Back then, I thought it was. I was scared and confused and angry. She was too. Maybe it was some kind of mutual comfort between us. A common desperation, if you will. Because that's what we were. We were desperate and lost and only just starting to grieve.
In any case, it didn't last very long. It wasn't like we made any decision to break up. Really, I'm not too sure that we were even dating in the first place. We simply…stopped. Stopped talking, stopped holding, stopped feeling.
There were many reasons why that happened. Mostly, it was because of Robin. He never said anything, never gave any indication that it bothered him. It was obvious that he did though.
You could tell. It was in his body language, the unconscious way that his muscles tightened, when he turned away from us. He was remembering Starfire. And every time that he looked at us, he could see what could have been. He was reminded of all that would never be.
I couldn't do that to him. I didn't feel right, being with Raven when Robin was like that. What me and Raven had, it was splitting the team up even further. I didn't want to do that to us. Raven understood as well.
I hope that it was truly love. I hope that Raven at least got to experience that before…well, you know. Everyone knows. It made the news: Raven, the great hero, losing control and attacking a little child. And on her birthday, no less.
Raven was horrified. How could she do that? How could she forget herself to such an extent? What was wrong with her? Raven was sixteen, and there was nothing to celebrate.
Of course, she didn't have much time to agonize over her lapse of control. Slade came after her with the whole Trigon-will-destroy-the-earth thing. Even though that was a horrible time for her, for the world, it was good for us. We came together, had a common goal. We worked together and saved the world, beat an inter-dimensional demon. We were invincible. We were united again. Everything was going to be okay.
But after everything was done, nothing got better. Raven was getting worse, becoming more detached. Robin started doing more solo missions, solving more crimes by himself. Cyborg ignored the rest of us, tinkered with his machines and played video games with a religious fervor. He started neglecting his maintenance, and the more outdated his body became, the crankier he got.
And me? I don't know what I did. All I remember is that my team fell to pieces, and all I could do was watch.
We stayed together for a few more years after that. Raven lived through each day with a deep self-loathing. It didn't matter to her that we had saved the world from Trigon. As far as she was concerned, if she had never been born, it wouldn't have mattered. It didn't help that she kept losing control of her demonic side.
No one tried to convince her otherwise. Cyborg and Robin were too self-absorbed. They had their own problems to deal with.
If it sounds like I'm bitter, it's because I am. But I'm not blaming them, not completely. I was the same. I could have done something, anything. I don't know. I could have talked to her. Didn't I say that I knew her better than anyone else? It's true, I did. But I guess I didn't know her well enough.
When she checked herself into the asylum, we didn't try to stop her. I get the feeling that my teammates were a bit relieved.
Robin left soon after. He took on a new alter-ego. He became Nightwing. Maybe you've heard of him? Of course you have, what am I thinking? Nightwing, the super sleuth. Nightwing, Jump City's hero. Single-handedly protecting this whole city. You can rest easy knowing that he's got you under his wing.
Heh. Wing. I've still got it.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Anyway, Robin left the Tower and everything it stood for. Then it was just me and Cyborg. I didn't stay long. It didn't feel right, you know? It was too empty and cold and quiet. I kept seeing memories everywhere I looked. So I left.
I did feel bad, leaving Cyborg behind, but he said he was okay with it. I told him I'd visit. He said to quit stalling.
Walking out of the Tower, I felt like a new man. The world was bright, the birds were singing. It was a new day. I was going to make something of myself.
What was that? How'd I end up here in this cage? You don't want to hear about that. But I will tell you this: I'm in here because I realized that you can't resist the inevitable. There comes a point in time when you just have to give up. You have to face reality. When Starfire jumped into the vortex, we had to grow up and face the fact that we weren't meant to last.
Everything seemed to revolve around Starfire. I mean, she was the one who brought us together, and it makes sense that she would be the one to break us up.
I know that's not fair, putting all the blame on Starfire, but that's what we did. No one likes facing up to his own flaws, admitting that it's partially his fault. We were no different.
Starfire was like the glue that held our team together, and we didn't realize that until it was too late.
I won't say that I'm happy here, in this cage, because I'm not.
But it's easier for me this way. I can stay in my cage for the rest of my life and it's not my fault what goes on outside. No one can look at me and judge me and say that I'm not doing my duty. That it's my fault. When I'm in here, no one expects anything of me, and that suits me just fine. The world can keep turning, and I'll just watch from behind my bars. It's better this way.
A/N: Okay, now for my questions. If you review my story, I would find it helpful if you addressed them. Were the reasons that the Titans broke up over plausible? How were the transitions? (i.e. Did the story flow well from one train of thought to the other?) And any other comments, opinions, thoughts, etc. Thanks!