A/N: Once again, I am so, so sorry for the late update! If you want more detail on that, feel free to visit my profile and check 'Recent activities' near the top. I'm glad to say that there is considerably more dialog in this chapter.
It was eight o'clock, the morning after Beast Boy found Raven in Central Park. After his utter shock that she was real, that she was not a hallucination, he noticed the odd, thin gown she wore and quickly suggested they go back before either of them freeze to death. She readily agreed and they hurried their way back to his apartment. They kept close together, but no words were exchanged and he couldn't help but notice her eyes flit furtively around them, as if expecting someone to burst out of the blue and attack them. However they made it back safely and wasted no time changing into comfortable sleepwear (he managed to find something for her). They woke when the sun's early rays splayed out over the city and both decided it best to skip the trouble of making breakfast and walked into the nearest café.
Raven took a sip of herbal tea and arched an eyebrow. "So what?" Her voice cracked more than he remembered.
Beast Boy shook his head, hands fumbling awkwardly near his already empty plate of what used to hold a cinnamon roll. "I, well… you've…it's been, you know…"
All of a sudden, it begun to feel too hot inside the café. Sweat formed in his palms, and his eyes stayed wide open. Dear fucking monkey balls, Beast Boy thought as he stammered out nonsense. He had imagined a plethora of scenarios in his head where he ran into someone of the former team. He imagined that at first, he would be shocked, hug them depending on the person, and then tell them either how much he's missed them or how upset at them he is. But in the end, they would always start becoming friends again, just like a happy ending to a book or movie. But the situation right now? This was a complete disaster and he could feel embarrassment rapidly flood and crash into him.
Raven on the other hand, simply sat there. The sorceress was idly sipping her hot beverage and stared straight at him in an almost daring sort of way. But there was a certain shine to her eyes and Beast Boy frowned. Was she enjoying this? Seeing him make a fool of himself? Slowly, the corner of his lips tugged upwards and just for a moment, Beast Boy felt like he had landed back in the past, back when a smirking Raven was not uncommon around a jumbling Beast Boy.
He gave a tired, yet contented sigh. "Good seeing you again." That was probably the understatement of the year. "But seriously… I mean," His mind flashed back to last night, "You seem-it looks like you went through a lot since, well, since I last saw you."
Raven's lips snapped into a grim smile. "I could say the same about you." Beast Boy opened his mouth to answer but Raven beat him to it. "What have you been doing?"
"I, uh, got a job."
"For how long have you been working?"
"Almost a year."
"Almost a year with the same job?"
Raven gave a slight grin and raised her eyebrows at that, seeming rather impressed.
"What?" Beast Boy asked confusedly.
"Never thought the day would come when you'd land a job and not get fired."
"Hey!" Beast Boy cried out indignantly, "I technically never got fired at Mega Meaty Meat."
"Beast Boy, you were working for some weird, evil little cube of tofu. You were his sole employee. I doubt it would have wanted to get rid of its only worker."
"Yeah, well," Feeling his cheeks heat up, Beast Boy tried to think of something to redeem himself. "I've been helping out the police too. Fighting some baddies."
Raven seemed surprised by that. "Well that's good."
"Mhmm. They pay me sometimes too, even when I tell them not to."
Raven looked down at her now empty cup. "Do they?"
"Yep. So, what's new with you?"
Beast Boy's eyes didn't miss how the empath's fingers curled tighter around her porcelain cup.
Jazz music and chitchat filled the relaxed atmosphere in the café, but at that instant, at the two former superheroes' small round table it was quiet and tense. Beast Boy looked at Raven anxiously as she suddenly froze, her gaze following the back of a broad shouldered man moving up in line to order. He was tall and obviously muscular and wore a trench coat over what appeared to be a suit. He had a white hat with a fluffy ball at the top which fit snuggly on his head and he carried a briefcase in his gloved hand. The shape shifter wondered why the sight of him put Raven on edge. The man seemed like a good, normal person, right? There was nothing out of the ordinary about him (except that fluffy ball, Beast Boy thought, what kind of big muscled man would wear that?) that would bring suspicion onto him.
As the man turned around with his order, ready to look for an empty table, Raven snapped her attention back to her puzzled friend in front of her.
"Beast Boy, do you trust me?" The question came out rushed and panicked.
Beast Boy creased his forehead in confusion. "Of course I do. Why?"
The empath stared at him for a second, but only for one second before grabbing for both of his still gloved hands in her tiny ones. Beast Boy did not have any time to protest or question her. The sight of the café around him disappeared as blackness swiftly enveloped his vision. Feeling a small chill, he started to become alarmed but relaxed slightly when he still felt Raven's hands around his. It was only until after the blackness evaporated to unveil a deserted alleyway that he remembered he had experienced this several times before.
Spinning around to face Raven, he asked "Why'd you teleport us out?"
Raven could only thank Azar that their table was well hidden in the corner before thinking about how she could answer Beast Boy. "I saw someone there."
"You mean that big guy? Do you two know each other?"
Raven thought about ignoring the question and staying quiet but knowing he would not be satisfied with her vague answer, she tried to carefully elaborate with, well, another vague answer. "Yeah, you could say that."
Beast Boy shook his head. He could tell she was not telling him the entire truth. He might have trusted her, but it was apparent she did not trust him.
The sorceress took a deep breath and bit her bottom lip, detecting a bit of unhappiness in his voice. "I'm sorry. It's just-I'll tell you everything when the time is right."
Beast Boy nodded, not entirely sure what that meant or when the time would be 'right'. "Okay."
As the two walked out of the alleyway, neither of them had any particular destination in mind, so they decided to simply roam about aimlessly in the city as the weather was considerably a few degrees warmer that day.
"So," Beast Boy started, glee sneaking into his voice. "I've noticed I'm now the one looking down on you."
Raven certainly was not expecting him to say that. Nonetheless, she was amused by what he just said. "And here I thought you were going to remain five two for the rest of your life. Guess you really were just a late bloomer."
"Hey! I was definitely taller than that!"
Raven rolled her eyes. "You do realize that now you're only maybe an inch taller than me?"
"Either way, that now makes you the shortest member of the team!"
Raven widened her eyes and she almost tripped over her own two feet. It suddenly felt as if her mouth was stuffed with peanut butter and she dared not say anything. She risked a peek at Beast Boy and she would have been lying had she said the look on his face did not make her heart ache at least a bit. It was as if his own mouth was stuffed with peanut butter. His expression was of shock and realization and hurt all at once. There was a heavy silence between them until Beast Boy found his voice again.
For some reason, Raven could not stand how his voice, literally joyful and boisterous mere moments ago was now reduced to a quiet and broken whisper.
"Don't be. Please."
"I wasn't really thinking-"
"It's okay. I know."
"Sorry, sorry, it just came out of nowhere-"
"Beast Boy. I know you didn't mean anything by it. Everything's fine. Nothing is your fault." Raven shot him a rare, genuine smile.
"Are you sure?"
She nodded. His eyes searched hers and somewhere past those mysterious violet orbs, he thought he could see something more, something like untold truth. All of a sudden, for some inexplicable reason, he was dying to know right that moment what happened to her in the past two years, what had happened to all of them in these past two lonely years. But he knew she would only give him half answers, the whole truth being stored away until a later time. So he ignored this impulse. Instead, he offered her a toothy grin. "Either way, you're now shorter than me."
As he made his way around Jump City's busy streets, he didn't know what exactly he felt. A mixture of apprehension, melancholy, odd bliss, and nostalgia swirled around his heart, tightening their grips more and more with each heavy step he took. He had, after all, never expected, never wanted to step foot in this city ever again. Not after that day, which felt oh so long ago, yet it could have easily been only yesterday, that day when everyone had gathered on the rooftop of the now deserted tower, that day which had marked him as a coward when he made sure he was the first to leave.
He shook his head as if to rid his tired mind of these thoughts, the ever present black spikes on his head staying perfectly in place, even when faced with the rushing draft. He was here with a goal to accomplish, not to reminisce about what cannot be undone. Digging his hands into his coat pockets, he begun to wish he had not forgotten his gloves. He glanced up around and allowed himself to marvel at how much the city had changed: there was a definite addition of skyscrapers which stood tall and defiant against the unruly winds, the city's park had grown larger in size and had more trees and picnic benches to offer its numerous visitors, and several new shops and restaurants replaced the old ones with which he was familiar only two years ago.
A warm and delicious scent rode atop the wind and past him, though not before his nose, tinged red with the cold, caught a good whiff of it. His eyebrows knit together slightly as he tried to understand why this particular scent was so recognizable. But it only took him a quick look up ahead to answer his question; about four meters in front of him was the old pizzeria. The Pizza Corner seemed to have managed to retain its popularity and there were astonishingly a couple bundled up people outside on the pizza slice-shaped balcony. For whatever reason, he felt a tiny wave of relief wash over him. It felt reassuring to know that out of everything else in his life, at least one thing had remained intact, no matter how unimportant it was.
However, he refused to dwell too much on that and quickened his pace to the approaching dock, small motor boats lined up near it and roughly swaying in the water. Hopefully, out across the bay, that's where he would accomplish his goal. Maybe, things wouldn't be as bad as he thought.
A/N: Thank you for reading and I hope this chapter did not disappoint!
And thank you so much again to those who've endured this long, long wait. Please tell me what you think!