Disclaimer: The Teen Titans are the property of DC Comics and Time Warner. I claim no ownership and seek no profit from this story. There is a further disclaimer in the notes at the end of this story… but I can't share that now without spoiling something.
The shadowy bird slipped over the waters of the bay, silent and swift. Mere feet from the surface, she would attract little attention, and that was exactly what she desired after the evening's events.
Titans Tower appeared just over the horizon, and the bird seemed to gain speed in eagerness to reach her destination. Going around the bay instead of over the city proper was a somewhat circuitous route to the tower, but the city had people, with hearts full of emotion, and Raven had experienced quite enough of that for one evening. The Gala that Bruce Wayne had put on to help raise money to rebuild Gotham after the devastating earthquake had been a resounding success, drawing in massive contributions from the rich and powerful around the world. No doubt a great many of the socialites who assembled at Jump City's botanical gardens were there to have the chance to meet the many heroes who had taken the time to attend; it wasn't every day that someone could say that they had a chance to shake hands with The Flash, or debate politics with Green Arrow. Although it wasn't her usual form to volunteer to attend such a large social gathering, it was for a good cause, and Raven recognized the value of learning to interact with the world around her. With the threat of her demonic destiny gone, there would come a day when she couldn't hide in Titans Tower when there wasn't work to be done. All of her friends had been very happy to see her attend, and Beast Boy quickly volunteered to stay behind at the Tower, to monitor for any emergencies that might happen to come up while everyone else was occupied.
Things pretty quickly went south, however. Though their intentions were largely good, many of the attendees at the function were a bit too fascinated with all the aliens, cyborgs, and metahumans that Mr. Wayne had invited. Starfire of course loved the attention. Cyborg seemed to get by well enough. Raven on the other hand found being constantly ogled and questioned to be little short of torture and her mood quickly went black. It was perhaps a good thing that her slight scowl deflected away at least some of the curiosity-seekers.
If it had ended there the whole thing might have been salvageable, but then the dances started, and everyone seemed to pair off. Starfire had Robin. Cyborg had the recently-reformed Jinx. Herald had Bumblebee. Aqualad had Argent. Even the silent Jericho was seen dancing with Pantha, of all people. Which had left her with…
Raven sighed as she touched down on the ground in front of the entrance to the tower and shifted back into her human form. Speedy had meant well, she knew that much, even if he was a bit too persistent in his eagerness to show her a good time. She did manage to get through at least one dance for the sake of not embarrassing him with a public rejection, but declined his offer to go for a walk together in the gardens due to a headache. It wasn't precisely a lie… all of the joy and good times around her were beginning to make her feel as if her head could explode at any second. Raven made quick, sincere apologies to her friends, and quietly slipped away, feeling rather awful for not being able to enjoy their company.
The door to the tower opened after a quick scan of her palm, and she entered. She chose to take the elevator up to the living space rather than simply phasing through the floor ; any further use of her power would only aggravate her pounding head. The door to the elevator opened onto the large area that contained the kitchen and living room, and Raven heard Beast Boy's high pitched giggle blending into the indistinct sounds coming from their television monitor.
"Beast Boy, I'm home for the night," she said softly as she stepped out of the elevator. "I wasn't feeling well, so I left-" She paused as she got a look at the television screen. What he was watching seemed to be a cartoon, bright and alarmingly cheerful, and it looked to be more than slightly… girl-y. The characters were what appeared to be very stylized ponies, pastel ponies with huge eyes and nearly toxic levels of cuteness.
At the moment, Beast Boy seemed to be engrossed in the antics of a pink pony dressed as a wild-west saloon girl, singing a song about sharing and caring to a group of cartoon ponies and buffalo, who were looking on with faces almost as befuddled as her own.
Beast Boy giggled again, almost spilling the bowl of popcorn balanced in his lap. "Pinkie Pie… so random!" he chortled. "Oh, hi Rav-" he started to say, then stopped, leaping to his feet in alarm. Somehow, the popcorn managed to land on the couch with a minimum of spillage. "Raven! You're home? I mean, yeah, you're home, I see that, I just, you know, wasn't expecting-"
"Yes, I left the party early," Raven said, with one eyebrow cocked curiously. "What on earth are you watching?"
"What? Oh, the TV?" He said, looking distinctly embarrassed. "Yeah, like, I don't know, it was just on, and… you know how it is, nothing else is on, so-"
"Beast Boy, I can see the DVR's playback light is on. This is something you recorded. Not to mention that you seemed to call that one-" She nodded to the TV, where the pink pony was continuing her musical revue, "-By name."
Beast Boy froze with his mouth open in mid-reply.
"Doesn't look like your usual fare," Raven continued, keeping a critical eye on the ponies' antics. "I mean, where are all the explosions? Car chases? Space ships?"
Beast Boy looked down at the floor.
Raven moved in for the kill. This was enough fun that her headache was somewhat forgotten. "It's a girl's show, isn't it?"
He nodded, still looking at his feet. "It's My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I'm a brony," he muttered.
"I beg your pardon?"
"A brony," he said. "A teenage or adult, usually male fan of My Little Pony?" It was his turn to look curious. "Dude, we're everywhere."
"You make that sound like it's supposed to be intimidating," Raven noted. "It's not easy to be intimidated by someone who watches a show with cartoon ponies and buffalo having pie fights," She said, daring another glance at the screen. "Not exactly the Illuminati."
"Don't you go on the internet, like, ever?" He asked. "It's a huge phenomenon."
Raven frowned. "I stopped going on the internet after I found that horrible piece of trash-fiction someone wrote about Starfire and I doing… things," she said in a chilly voice.
Beast Boy nodded impassively. "You've been to 4chan, I see."
She gave him a surly glance. "Anonymity seems to give people the license to be their worst."
"Oh, that's for sure," he agreed. "But that being said, sometimes it can be fun. That's where this whole thing of people being obsessed with this show came from."
"Irony's not really your style, Beast Boy," she noted.
"Oh, it's totally not! But there's not really much irony about this… I mean, it just seemed like a bunch of people being silly about a cartoon designed to sell obnoxious toys to girls, but I read about it more, and watched some clips, and, well it turned out to be a lot of fun. The jokes are funny, the art is well done, and it actually has a nice message. Even if it is kinda girl-y," he admitted.
"I'm not going to be the one to question your masculinity," Raven assured him. "Cyborg will do that enough for the both of us."
"Aw man, don't tell him!" Beast Boy implored. "I mean, it's not like I'm ashamed or anything…well…, not ashamed, but I'm pretty sure he really won't get this at all. I can do without more teasing. Him and the others being out of the tower is the main reason I stayed home from the party. I don't have a DVR in my room, and I can watch the marathon on the big screen. So yeah, kinda want to keep this quiet, as long as I can."
"Your dark secret is safe with me," she deadpanned. "Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll make myself some tea, and see if I can force myself to sleep," she said as she rubbed the bridge of her nose.
"Headache?" Beast Boy asked sympathetically.
"Party was a bit much," she admitted. "That's why I'm home."
"I get that. But still, I'm really happy that you went at all," he said gently. "That was a big step for you."
Raven couldn't help but smile. All of the silliness and jokes made it easy to forget that sometimes her shape-shifting teammate was very perceptive, and unfailingly kind. "Thanks, Beast Boy. I can't say that I exactly expanded my circle of friends any, but I suppose it was a step towards having a real life."
Beast Boy's face suddenly grew thoughtful. "Hey… something you said there…y'know, if you need to relax a bit, you could maybe hang out with me? I have tons of soda, that should be enough caffeine to deep six any headache you have. And maybe you could watch the show with me? I'm not that far into the marathon, we can start from the beginning so you won't be lost or nothin'…"
"Ah, well, I'm not sure," Raven said uncertainly. "This isn't really my sort of thing…"
"Aw, c'mon, give it a shot," he said. "At least one or two, until you feel like you've had enough, that's all. Please?"
She pursed her lips thoughtfully. She knew it was going to be a while before she'd settled down enough to get any kind of rest. And he clearly wanted the company quite badly.
"I suppose I could watch one or two," she relented.
"Awesome!" he said with an enormous grin. He leapt back over to the couch, pulling the bowl of popcorn over to the side with him and gesturing for her to sit.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," she said as she took her place on the couch."
"Have an open mind, Raven," he said as he used the remote to select an episode from the list of recordings. "I think you might just find something to like."
Much to Raven's surprise, she did. Once one got past the bright colors and cheeriness, Raven couldn't deny that the show had a great deal of appeal. The characters were compelling and relatable. The adventures they found themselves in, while clearly aimed at children were very engaging, and the lessons were well told without being preachy. Raven even found herself stifling a chuckle at many of the jokes. Before she knew it, several hours had passed, and they had managed to get much of the way through the first season.
"The purple one… Twilight?" Raven asked at one point as they were between episodes. "I like her."
Beast Boy smiled. "You would like Twilight Sparkle. It's positively eerie how much you two are alike."
She raised an eyebrow.
"Both of you with the unwholesome love of books…Both of you with glow-y eyed magic powers… both of you defeated dark prophesy-stuff…"
"Both of us trying to learn about friendship," Raven noted wryly.
"Well, I think you're doing fine with that part."
"Nice of you to say," Raven replied, "But I feel pretty terrible about bailing out of the party like I did."
"Don't," he said seriously. "It wasn't your thing. We all know you're trying new things, but that doesn't mean they're all going to take. Don't feel bad. I'm sure they'd rather you'd left than stay and be miserable. Being considerate of other people's feelings is one of the things being a friend is about."
"Looks like you've been learning a lot from your pastel ponies."
"Nope, picked that one up a while back," he said with a smirk. "After a few years of annoying you, and paying the price for it, even I learned."
"I'll try to be more moderate in the future," she said.
"Well, not too much," he admitted. "I know I get a little over-the-top sometimes."
"Much like Pinkie Pie," Raven said.
Beast Boy grinned. "Welcome to the Herd, Raven."
They had time to for a few more episodes before they mutually decided to call it a night before the others got home. Raven helped clean up the evidence of their festivities and bid him a good night (after thanking him for the company, and swearing to not tell Cyborg about his love of ponies, for at least the fourth time that night.) She was tired, but actually quite happy as the door to her room shut behind her. She had been looking forward to a new experience that night, and even though things hadn't gone quite as expected, she'd actually found one.
Raven shrugged her shoulders, working the kinks out as she hung her cloak on the back of the chair to her writing desk, turned towards her dresser… then turned back, looking down at the pen and paper that she always had waiting. A whimsical mood suddenly struck her, and she pulled out the chair and sat down, taking up her pen and beginning to write.
Dear Beast Boy,
Today I learned some important things about friendship…
The title of this piece is from a song by Queen. I couldn't resist the pun value of it, which might be clear now to some of you.
Oh, and secondary disclaimer: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic is the property of Hasbro, and was made awesome by Lauren Faust, Studio B, and all their co-conspirators. I own nothing, and no copyright infringement is intended.
Yes, this was, in fact partially based on a true story. Well, sorta. For I too, was skeptical of a friend's claims of MLP:FIM being as good as the hype. Then she sent me the youtube clips, and I dared to watch a few episodes… And now I have a Pinkie Pie doll on my desk.
Anyway, for those of you that have been around for a while, this is my first completed fic in almost five years, and while I don't think it's my best… it feels good to be back. I've missed you all. My thanks to everyone who's read my stuff in the past and waited patiently for me to get over a mammoth case of writer's block. You guys really are magic.
Special thanks to a very special group of ladies who've given me encouragement, support, and the occasional swift kick in the butt. Calli, Orange, Hermitchild (who showed me the magic of friendship,) Sez, and anyone I'm forgetting, you're the greatest.