It's 2:00 a.m.
He doesn't tell you to get to sleep or grin and ask cockily, "Wanna have another go?" like he did last Saturday. You know it was Saturday because he was drunk. You don't keep alcohol at home and he can't afford to go to bars more than one day a week. So it was a Saturday. Today he isn't drunk, which is a surprise in itself, as alcohol is something he adores, no matter the fact that he only has it once every seven days. Or maybe that's the reason. It doesn't matter.
The sheets are nice, wrapping around you and smelling like detergent and his cologne. His arms are around you, and you dread having to even move to shower. It seems like the kind of morning that waffles would be good for, and you struggle to fight the tears because that's what your 'big brother' would have said, too.
He murmurs something and his lips move against your bare shoulder. Your attention is turned to the pillowcase. It used to be a light blue, but now it's more of a navy because of the hair dye you both use. He didn't plan on dying his, and you know because he would have pulled a Robin and bought his own if he had.
You pretend to hear and nod because that's what you're used to doing. You know that only half expects you to listen. He gets up and leaves. The warmth that his body had provided leaves with him. You tell yourself that's impossible, but somehow it isn't.
You want that warmth again, so you sluggishly get up and slip on a pair of clean undies and a tank top before walking to the kitchen where you can hear him moving about. You see that he's preparing to make an omelet for two and you hurry to say, "Actually, I don't want any," when you don't remember having said you were hungry in the first place. Because it's only two hours after midnight and you shouldn't be at home, anyway. Usually, you would be getting coffee and caffeinated tea at the overpriced coffee shop two blocks away from the club in two hours.
You're not used to food two hours before usual and so you slice some fruit and make half of a breakfast salad. He gives your serving a skeptical glance and takes out more ingredients to, once again, make an omelet twice the size it should be. You start making a list of the arguments you'd use when he tried to make you eat your share. Once you finished you imagined it crumpling into a ball and chucking itself into the bin because you never win the fights anyway, and maybe some protein would be good for you.
You put on the kettle, as breakfast isn't breakfast without caffeine. He nods approvingly at the frying pan, and you know it's directed at you.
You aren't usually this quiet - the sarcastic comments are overdue by now. He knows it and so he walks over and puts his arms around you. You turn to face his chest, suddenly craving the warmth of the bed and him in it with you. With a thought, the stove has turned itself off and there's a liquid mixture of egg and milk swirling dejectedly in the frying pan. You look into his eyes, the expression-less face you usually have on morphing into a smile so that he understands.
It's not love, it's want. It's not passion, it's loneliness.
He knows all about loneliness. When you looked at the book for a second time - decades after the Titans broke up - he didn't sound witty and charming like before. He sounded tired, like a man who's had everything taken from him and he doesn't care if he only gets part of it back. You released him because you weren't thinking clearly at the time - heck, you hardly think clearly now.
But he kept his word, quietly getting a job, an apartment. Learning about this time and the habits of humans. He was alarmed when magic was no longer the norm and especially when he saw the weapons humans had come up with. And he was lonely, with no-one to talk to.
After the Titans split up, you weren't sure where to go. It was possible for your kind to go for days without food and you put that to the test, walking aimlessly through the city, stopping fights and capturing burglars. When you rounded the corner near his apartment building and he ran into you - quite literally. He was overjoyed. You couldn't comprehend why until you noticed that look in his eye. The cancer that ate away at your chest - cutting into you and making something that was never meant for companionship long for it - was eating away at him, too.
You moved in together without planning to. At first, you stopped by for tea every once in a while. He still made you laugh, although he was amazed that he could, after what happened the first time. Then you continued to leave things with him - your favorite coat, a good book, etc. These were returned, often with money pressed between the pages or tucked away into the pockets. Somehow he knew that you didn't live anywhere or eat normally. The turning point was when someone tried to break into his apartment by crawling in through the window. Your breaths turned to mist in the cold air above the intruder's body and the broken glass and he said quickly, almost impulsively, "D'you want to move in?"
Your agreement surprised him more than you, which wasn't what you would have expected as you had at some point decided that you wouldn't be living anywhere for the next century.
It was nice. You slept on the couch, ate your meals with him and eventually got a job as a waitress. You'd watch movies until 12:00 a.m., both of you under the same blanket, no longer caring about what he did or who you were. His hand would weave through your hair and you wouldn't mind because it felt good.
The first time you went to a bar, you both got drunk and that led to waking up with neither of you wearing clothes, in his bed, a half-used 12-pack of condoms open on his bedside table. The pregnancy test was negative and both of you were a little disappointed.
After that you stayed away from alcohol, but not from him. Both of you would find excuses to touch each other or get close 'without meaning to.' The second time wasn't forgotten. You wondered how he knew where to touch. (He was secretly relieved that he still remembered it all, and glad that you had no clue if he did it wrong, anyway.) After that, they weren't as gentle – here, you began to assume that the second time was an apology for the first drunken fiasco – but they were fun. The way a physical relationship was supposed to be.
Alcohol never had any negative affect on him, so you didn't know what happened when he suddenly stormed into the house. You had been on the couch watching TV when he lifted you off of it and threw you aggressively onto the bed. There was biting and hair-pulling. At some point you responded with raking your nails down his back. It later tuned into something gentle, with him kissing the marks and bruises that his handling had left on you, but you barely remembered that part. Somehow, when he was passionate, you were, too, and that was when you considered the possibility of love.
When reality hit you, you were horrified at yourself and sorry for him. He knew that you were there only because there was no-one else who knew. Magic wasn't real anymore, and no-one remembered who Beastboy and Starfire were. If he was surprised when he came home to find you curled up on the couch crying with a broken T-com on the living room floor, he didn't show it. He just made some tea and stroked your hair the way you liked, murmuring something that may have been in another language, or perhaps you just blocked out his voice completely.
That was when the hair dye came into play, hiding your purple and allowing you to start acting like you usually did, making witty comments every other moment and occasionally doing something silly. You discovered he was impossible to beat at chess, while he cursed your birth every time you played cards. When his employer suggested it, you two went clubbing and ended up in his bed again with no memory of how you got there. The lesson concerning alcohol was re-learned, and you went about your lives.
Now, it was several years later. You're looking at him with an expression that you both knew signified a passionate night – or morning, in this case – but he just looked at you sadly. He leaned down and kissed the corner of your mouth, bringing you closer to him. The walk to the bedroom was slow and your heart filled with a terror that might have been the fear of separation, or maybe dread, because you knew he was about to say that he couldn't pretend that you loved each other anymore.
He didn't say anything, but eased your clothes off in the glow off the alarm clock, kissing your shoulders and hips and stomach. It was done slowly and what might have been lovingly, like you were made of glass.
The room was dark. At the end of it, his arms wrapped around you like usual. You felt each breath of used air being exhaled onto your neck. He murmurs something along the lines of, 'I think I'll start smoking,' and you respond with, 'You'll get cancer.' You can feel his smirk pressed against your shoulder when he explains to you exactly why he is better than humans, and how his greatness will prevent him from contracting any form of human disease. Your lips quirk up and you say that maybe you'll start, too. He gives you an annoyed look, 'Then you'll stink like the humans.' 'And you won't?' He shrugs, 'It'll give me something to do, at least.'
That's the problem. Everything you did now was to pass the time.
It's raining. You wouldn't have noticed if he hadn't come into your café.
Seeing him there, wet, sneezing, suddenly makes you cold, and you hug a plastic tray to your body and shiver before going up to him and asking if he'd like something hot to drink. He nods gratefully and sits down at the table closest to the 'Employees Only' door. He doesn't tell you what he wants, and you don't ask, because you know he likes coffee without milk, unless it's late. The streetlights hadn't been turned on yet, so you didn't bother pouring any creamer into his drink, even though a red-headed colleague reminds you to do so. You explain that you know how he likes his drinks and don't reply to her comment: 'So that's your roommate.'
He doesn't thank you when you bring him the steaming drink, but nods approvingly in his way, and starts shaking a packet of sugar. Someone close by calls out that you took their order first and that they've been waiting for fifteen minutes. You give a fake smile and a 'Be right there, sir!' to keep them happy. Then you run back through the door and bring him a towel to dry off with before running back into the kitchen to get the latte that's been cooling, all alone, for ten minutes. By now, the other waiters have noticed the special attention being given to him and they give you reprimanding stares. You don't bother to give signature glares back to them, because you've given him all he needs for a while and won't be giving him any more attention until your break, which you will spend talking to him.
An 'It won't happen again,' is necessary to placate the head waitress.
Your break comes quicker than expected. Near the end, you bring two sandwiches over to his table, along with a pot of coffee and a saucer. You see him check the streetlights to make sure it's the right time for creamed coffee and laugh to yourself. That causes his mouth to quirk up and you two glance at each other before you dash behind the 'Employees Only' door. Behind you, the redhead from before makes gagging noises; you ignore her.
You toss your apron onto its hook and dash out to sit with him. You see that he's already poured you a mug of cocoa-colored coffee, and you test it before you add anything to it. To your surprise, it has a slight taste of caramel. You comment and he pretends to feign innocence while licking traces of the stuff off his thumb. A chuckle easily escapes your mouth and flavors the air, setting the tone for the conversation that will last fifteen minutes. Between bites of Turkey n' Cheese, you jest back and forth. Perhaps he's slipped things into your drinks before, you say, and he replies with an innuendo that hardly makes you blush, as what he's said while he was drunk has been much worse. He raises an eyebrow at your coy response, and things continue like this until you notice the time on the clock above the counter. When you next visit his table, apron on and tray under your arm, you see that he has eaten the unfinished half of your sandwich, but you don't mind.
You ask him if he'd like another.
You know that he works in a gray cubicle, and it doesn't surprise you that there's no decoration. The only color is the teal computer screen that his pointer moves across. He hasn't noticed you yet, and you wonder if it's possible to just leave the lunch and go. Around you, people are looking at you, the girl dressed like a woman, and you imagine they're wondering if his niece has brought him a lunch. You murmur a 'Hey,' and he immediately turns, staring at you, then at the lunch, then at the curious glances behind you, then at you again, for the longest time.
"You forgot this,"
"I didn't make one." His words are flat: information for the people behind you to hear.
"I did. It's so that you don't skip lunch." You wince because the conversation sounds toneless, and being that cold to each other doesn't sit well with you.
He notices – of course he does – and smiles. Immediately you feel more comfortable, not so out-of-place that you are rigid. He softly suggests that you both go back to the apartment for lunch. It's intimate and cozy, and you agree right away because the harshness of the gray around you, including the stares of the office-clothed people isn't something you enjoy. He escorts you out, his hand low on your back. He's whispering something supposedly funny into your ear, but you can't hear because it's meant only for you, and that means he has to make it quiet enough that no-one else in here hears, which is too hushed for even your half-demon ears to pick up.
An older man stops your exit, a frown on his face. Your empathy picks up his worry for you and his dislike for the dragon, and you curse your ability to live for infinite amounts of time; you look far too young for an adult male's hand to be that close to your ass. The hand moves to your hip and grips the wool-and-denim combination of sweater-and-jeans in suppressed anger. The hand's owner hisses that you're roommates, and the unknown man responds with something that hints at your being underage. You know that this could last days – your shift starts in the next hour, and you just want to go back to your apartment and spend time with the man at your side. You allow an annoyed expression to take up residence on your face, and you say something biting while flashing him your ID, which states that you are twenty-two. The man is embarrassed and upset with your reaction, but you can hear your roommate's laughter behind you when you leave, so any discomfort on the stranger's part is worth it.
You never would have thought that you'd be in the shower with him, but you were both running late, and covered in sweat and fluids from the last quickie before work. When using the bathtub before, you had noticed that it was quite spacious, but now you feel completely awkward and crowded in the tiny, porcelain space. Two elbows is too many, easily nudging him or hitting the wall and causing unpleasant sensations to start bothering your arm. He intends to wash his hair, and you want to lather before rinsing, so the two of you move to opposite ends of the tub with a curtain of water between you. Your eyes are drawn to his back, moving slowly over his shoulder blades and spine. There are long, red marks on it from your nails that urge you, almost literally, to touch them.
His eyes are closed to prevent soap from getting in them, for which you're glad, because when he turns around, you know it's time to stop staring and focus on washing yourself. You can't seem to do as your mind instructs you, though, and your hands move from the back of your neck to your arms, gripping them tightly to prevent you from reaching out to him. He is surprised to see you watching him, and you're surprised that you got caught, because you had been staring at his face for the last few minutes, admiring the way water droplets got caught in his eyelashes.
The rushing sound of water hitting more water is all around you. He overwhelms you, pressing you against the cold wall, making goosebumps rise on your skin. His mouth completely covers yours, the wet heat of his tongue intruding, powerful against your tongue's weak resistance. Your wrists, caught in his hands which are strong like steel rope, are pinned against the porcelain like the rest of you. You can smell soap and shampoo. Water sloshes around your ankles, and in the back of your mind, you imagine that the plug had been accidentally moved, so that none of the water drained away.
He is warm against you, and strong, and stable, and you feel completely safe, because he knows every emotion that you've ever felt better than you do. You fight for dominance, struggling to get out from under him, or to turn so that he's the one being pinned. You bite his tongue and hear his hiss of pain, and contribute with a moan of your own, so that he knows you want all of it. His hand releases one of your wrists and you immediately bring his face down to yours for another kiss, making his attempt to shut off the shower clumsy, which he makes up for by lifting you up and carrying you to the bedroom.
Things cool down there, and the two of you spend the afternoon lying down, eating ice cream in front of the TV, and pretending to 'get' each other's noses with chopsticks once the Chinese food he ordered came, completely forgetting about whatever it was that you needed to attend to in the first place.
You've never been much of a cook – here, you think back to the pancake fiasco that occurred when your father came to Earth – and you both knew the best thing you could make was unsweetened tea. Nonetheless, he thought that something healthy was what tonight called for, and so here you were, in the Italian aisle, trying to find a noodle that didn't look as if it was in pain. You reached for the 'Angel Hair' – straight, un-extraordinary, spaghetti – and were stopped by his hand on yours, guiding you to a box of pasta that had its noodles in a corkscrew shape. You give him an irritated look and ask what's so special about this kind, and he responds with a cheeky grin and a shrug before turning and walking towards another section of the store.
You stop him and ask 'Shouldn't we get sauce?' and he wags his finger in a degrading way, explaining that tonight it would be 'all-natural,' and that sauce from a jar would ruin the entire point of making dinner at home. You roll your eyes and walk behind him towards the vegetable section, where he chooses several tomatoes, onions and other green things that you can't name. The basket over your arm begins to teeter because of the weight, and he offers to carry it for her, with a regal bow that makes a girl that's shopping with her mom giggle. You wonder what's gotten into him today.
Once he notices that you're walking behind him, he assumes a position at your side, guiding you through the store with a hand on your back. His apparent experience with food makes you wonder, before you care to remember that he's been making all the meals since you moved in, your 'adequate' salads not included. Before you can even move towards the 'Frozen Meats' section, he pulls you towards the fresher stuff – ground, seasoned, and packaged right at the store. You give him an 'are you kidding?' look and he smiles, saying that the two of you will have to wash your hands before you handle anything else after molding the meatballs. You quietly remark to yourself that stupid animal diseases would have no effect on either one of you, but he pretends not to hear.
You make a final stop at the bakery – to your relief, the two of you are not making bread from scratch, merely buying several buns from the stick-thin, irritated-looking woman that watches the two of you as if you'll steal from her at any moment. 'Three is enough,' he says, and carries your – rather large – load to the register. You wonder if he even knows the meaning of the word 'enough.'
The kitchen is a happy place, you realize, when it isn't covered in failed meal attempts. A pot of thick red sauce is bubbling happily in one corner of the stove, while spaghetti is cooking in the other. The two of you have tied your hair back – his is longer than yours – and have begun to mold the meat into round balls – or lumps, in your case. He says something sarcastic about your meatballs and you respond with an eyeroll and a witty remark. It's warm here; it's kind, it's whole. You find that you like this more than the meals you'd have with the Titans, because there's no noise, no arguing; just the sound of vegetables being chopped and gentle conversation.
After you did your share by washing whatever wouldn't be needed again and setting the table, he sat you down with a cup of hot tea and entertained you while cooking the rest of tonight's meal at the same time. Once the meatballs are prepared, he asks you to start making one of your salads, giving you radishes and bleu cheese to add into it. You're facing opposite sides, with him at the stove and you at the counter, but you still find reasons to touch each other – he'd reach for a spice he'd forgotten on a shelf above you without asking you to move, and you'd blush at the salad because of the sensations that seemed to pass between the two of you with one touch.
Dinner was candlelit – 'The mood is the important part,' he said – and you sat across from each other to make it more formal. Even with the regal air – the candles, and the silverware, and the fact that there was a tablecloth being used – it was still warmer than dinners at Titan's Tower had been. The table was small and round, made for three people at most, though you felt that two people was really the best amount. You eat less than he does, finishing first. Afterwards, you watch him, observing the way the candlelight shines in his hair, and makes his eyes glisten. He seems to notice your attention almost immediately, because he looks up from his plate mere moments after you glance his way.
"Is there something wrong with the food?"
"No, I'm just full."
He continues to stare at you, his eyes probing, trying to find out why you are watching him. You murmur that he might be a stalker, with how prying his stare is, and he responds, saying that if you were talking about 'prying' stares, yours would be the most 'prying.' You make a face and change the subject; he goes along with it, scooping up more pasta and spearing a fourth of a zucchini slice, then placing them in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully before replying to your thoughts on a novel that's popular nowadays.
The two of you have fun with cleaning up, splashing soapy water on each other, and shielding yourselves with half-washed plates. At some point, you throw a sponge that he slips on while holding half the dishes in the house.
And then you're on the kitchen floor, an apron spread out underneath you to prevent glass from touching anything sensitive. Small cuts form on your arms when he pins you down again, but you don't really mind. He does, though, and for the first time – was it, really? – you're on top, with him underneath you, trying to protect you from the sharp pieces all over the place. Soon enough, neither one of you minds, because your hands are in his hair, and his are roaming about your torso. A shard digs into his back, but he doesn't notice. A sharp edge slices your arm, but you don't care.
It's warmer here than it ever was at the Tower.
There's a stupid business meeting in New York, so he's all the way on the other side of the country. Somehow, it feels terrible to know that you can call him as often as you like, because he's gotten you a cell phone. Earlier in the week, you promised yourself you wouldn't call him at all while he was over there, to keep yourself from seeming needy, because you know he despises women like that. Him despising you is the last thing you want. There's no emotion in your home now, because he's left, and taken all the flavor with him. Everything is gray again, and you're back to where you started, haunting the streets with your presence because you refuse to go back to the apartment in case you break down and admit to yourself that you miss him. Because you don't. You can't. The last time you missed him this way, you were fighting a giant organ-shaped robot, and almost killed a girl with magics he taught you. Missing him meant danger. It meant love.
Some part of you huffs and says that if you wanted to be 'noble,' then you should have fallen in love with him before the two of you started screwing around, or, better yet, never let him out of the book at all. That thought hurts more than the realization that he and 'love' can be used in the same sentence again, and you hug your coat around yourself, grateful for the rain that makes this action seem normal. You miss him.
He is due back tomorrow, so you drag yourself back to the apartment to clean up and make it look like you actually lived in the place while he was gone. You unpack and wash the new dishes he bought after the pasta night…experience, and dust the entire house, so that it looks cared-for. Nothing abnormal went on while he was gone, and you were absolutely fine with not seeing him for two weeks. You almost believe it.
You didn't hear over the sound of the vacuum, so when the arms wrap around your middle, the sofa lifts off the ground, encased in black energy and moves towards you before falling like a rock, at his contribution. He murmurs that he missed you into your ear and kisses the closest part of your neck. You ask why he's early and he responds with a statement about his greatness and how it assisted him in getting home on time. You cover your mouth with your hand and pretend not to hear his noise of concern – you want to hide.
You hate yourself for the gasp that tears out of your throat, because it's loud and upset and oh, so un-ignorable. He can't pretend it didn't happen, and neither can you. You turn and place your hands on his shoulders, kissing his chest – his shirt is striped and light blue, so he got away from the office not too long ago – and murmuring truths that made you want to carve your heart out years ago. His arms tighten around you and he breathlessly asks you to repeat them and, shaking your head, you do.
He lifts you up and carries you to the bedroom, where the bed is still un-made because the sheets were dusty. You're embarrassed, but he doesn't seem to care, because he's slipping the tank top straps off of your shoulder and kissing your heart, moaning out the same things you said in the living room and pulling his shirt over his head, eager to show you exactly how much he meant it. You run you hands through his hair, emotion spilling onto your cheeks. Nothing matters. Not what he did, or how you felt, or the fact that no-one remembers the people you once called family.
He is your family. That's all you need.
A/N: Oh my God. That was exhausting. Show me how much you appreciate my work by reviewing.