Once a week, two friends would meet, to discuss how to touch.

Robin did not initiate contact. For him, touch was violence. Contact meant to punch, to kick; it meant to grapple.

Touch was all business—stopping a falling body, carrying a victim out of rubble, shielding a friend or innocent from damage.

After meeting Starfire, Robin quickly learned that touch could also be a hug, or even kiss. Touch could be leaning on someone when you didn't even need to.

He learned that touch had more than one meaning. Touch could mean caring, it could mean affection, it could mean love.

For Raven, touch was never even an option. No one touched the half-demon child; the Apocalypse just wasn't worth it.

To her, contact meant discomfort. Contact was the awkward, uncomfortable warmth of another body and the lumpy mixture of cloth and pliable skin covering muscle and rigid bones.

When Beast Boy first glomped onto her, she accepted it as part of Earth's strange culture—that touch was offered and given freely, instead of withheld.

Accepted, but not liked.

It grated on her for the longest time. Even after Affection and Happy told her that being close to someone she liked was kind of nice, it still felt unnatural to her.

She told herself that simply standing there and taking it was enough. Let Beast Boy hug her, drape an arm around her, brush his hand against hers. She assumed that tolerating his antics was enough.

It never was. Beast Boy was too effusive, too desperate, too caring, for mere toleration to be enough.

When she finally managed to tell him the words, "I like you," (not yet ready to say the other L-word), she assumed that was enough.

When he learned to be more respectful of her personal space, he hoped it would be enough.

They talked of the future, of what they wanted out of life, of wants and hopes and needs. (They wanted and hoped to spend more time with each other. Neither was ready to say "need.") Conversations ended with her ready to leave, Affection and Happy sated for the moment, her need for company met for the day. Beast Boy always wanted more.

She would make motions to leave, while he would find ways to rope her into continuing the conversation. Discussion would end when Raven said she "needed to go meditate". Beast Boy would stand there awkwardly, words never being enough, wishing for more than just verbal contact.

She saw his affectionate gestures, halted before they could really start, felt the yearning in his mind. And she realized that compromise worked both ways.

For him, she learned to hug. With time, she learned to do more.

So, once a week, Starfire and Beast Boy would meet, and discuss how to ease your way into a person's heart.

Author's notes:

I have always interpreted "write what you know," as, "pour your heart into your characters."

"Writing what you know" would (for me) mean, say, disguising a treatise on the development of CPU technology from 2006-2012 as a story. Not exactly the stuff of riveting fiction.

"Pour your heart into your characters" is far more useful advice. Write what has personally impacted you. Imparting your own experiences of visceral anxiety, love, triumph, failure, or heartbreak into your characters will take you much farther than including a ton of exposition on a subject you're familiar with.

In this case: I have felt for some time that one of the biggest potential stressors in Beast Boy and Raven's relationship would be the fact that Beast Boy clearly revels in physical contact, while Raven shies from it.

This comes from personal experience.

Sometimes my mother desperately wants to just hug her own son, while said son avoids such gestures.

It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking, "Just saying, 'I love you,' is enough." But the reality is that, in any relationship worth maintaining, it is never enough.

I guess what I'm saying is, hug the people you love. Frequently.

Legal Stuff:

The image for this fanfic? Not mine. But, via Creative Commons, I can still use it, with some stipulations: "my heart is on your hands." by Romel Muirragui, 2007, released under Creative Commons 2.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).