AN: I'm branching out into a somewhat unfamiliar fandom. Though I've seen most of the Teen Titans show, I have far less knowledge of the DC universe than of Marvel's. That said, I've lurked and formulated ideas and read works from the best Teen Titans authors on this site, and I think I'm ready to try something simple.
For references, check the end. I don't want to spoil too much.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Teen Titans, though I have been known to parade around in green underwear a la the original Robin.
"You know this is what's wrong with everyone's concept of love, right?"
"You're taking this way too seriously, B. They're roses, not wedding rings."
"No, they were roses. Now they're... I don't even know what they are anymore."
"You're aware that you're completely nuts, right?"
Only Beast Boy could take a simple trip to the florist and turn it into a matter of moral outrage.
Having grown tired of his green friend's incessant pining after a certain purple-haired empath, Cyborg had dragged Beast Boy to the nearest florist. One way or another, there was going to be a resolution. By the end of the day, Cyborg would either be congratulating his best friend on the realization of his long-held dream, or he'd be helping him pick up the pieces of his heart, consoling him with the knowledge that he had at least tried.
"...turning everything into the fairytale version that doesn't look anything like what it's supposed to be. Expectations get completely skewed, and no one is satisfied." Beast Boy cocked his head to the side before jumping and waving a hand scant inches in front of Cyborg's face. "Dude, are you even listening at all?"
He hadn't been, obviously, but a sped-up playback of his memory caught him up in a quarter of a second. "Of course I am, Grass Stain. You don't like it when people create unrealistic expectations of romance. I just don't get why this is bugging you so much."
His friend shrank back into himself, ears drooping. "The thorns are as much a part of those roses as the petals that everyone goes all doe-eyed over. And they just cut them off and threw them away because they didn't like them. They didn't understand them. Just like people don't understand Raven's dark side."
Understanding hit Cyborg like a love tap from Cinderblock. This wasn't about a general societal trend; this was about loving someone, not in spite of their faults, nor because of them, but simply accepting them as a whole person. Cyborg had known that what Beast Boy felt for Raven went beyond simple puppy love, but he hadn't ever suspected that such depth and maturity lay buried in his feelings.
Beast Boy grabbed Cyborg's hand and began dragging him out of the florist's shop. "Come on. We're going to a nursery."
After stumbling for a few steps as his legs caught up with his near-horizontal torso, the taller of the two young men pulled his hand free to walk normally. "Ooookay... ummm... why?"
Beast Boy stopped short and turned around, and Cyborg had to come to a screeching halt and swing his arms to avoid flattening his friend. The green boy's grin split his face in half, fangs gleaming as bright as his eyes. "I'm gonna buy Raven a whole rose bush."
— — —
"SEVENTY-EIGHT DOLLARS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IT'S SEVENTY-EIGHT DOLLARS?"
"And ninety-nine cents. Not including tax." The burly, tattooed man in charge of the nursery folded his arms as he towered over Beast Boy, obviously not feeling particularly patient with the youth's antics.
"Look, contrary to what my being green may lead you to believe, I'm not actually made of money!" Beast Boy stopped yanking at his hair long enough to scratch his chin in thought. "Is there a student discount or something? Maybe a superhero discount? Puppydog eyes discount?" At this last thought, he morphed into a terrier and sat blinking up at the man with as sorrowful a gaze as he could manage.
The blank stare that met the green boy deflated him into a puddle of goo with eyes. Slithering over to Cyborg's foot, it clung to him and transformed back into Beast Boy.
"What am I gonna do, Cy?"
Cyborg held up a small plant, utterly dwarfed by the five-gallon pot upon which Beast Boy had set his heart. "You do know they have roses in smaller sizes, right?"
"Nuh-uh." Beast Boy shook his head vigorously. "Those don't even qualify as roses."
Cyborg massaged above his now-twitching human eye, trying to ward off the headache that was rapidly replacing what remained of his patience. "Look, BB, if you just want something with nice big spikes for Raven to stab herself with, let's go out to the desert and get her a huge freaking cactus."
There was a certain light that only entered Beast Boy's eyes when he was struck with a particularly crazy idea: hot-glueing rhinestones and feathers on all of Robin's masks, augmenting the Tower's defense systems by installing an invisible fence and fitting Slade with a shock collar, signing up every member of the Justice League for the Soybean Product of the Month Club...
That light was there now.
This could not possibly end well.
Cyborg waited for the inevitable "DUDE!" followed by a long-winded explanation of a harebrained plan... but it never came. Beast Boy just smiled.
— — —
A persistent thumping at her door brought Raven out of her book and back to her room in the Tower. She wasn't bothered by the interruption so much as by the tingling bundle of excitement and apprehension that lay waiting outside her door. Steeling herself against the torrent of emotions that were sure to slam into her, she used her powers to open the door.
Beast Boy wandered in with his hands behind his back, carrying a trail of nervousness and happiness and an unidentifiable jumble of other emotions behind him. As soon as the door slid closed again, the runaway feelings seemed to tear around the room like a frenetic puppy. If Beast Boy had possessed her powers, everything in her room would have been caught in a whirlwind and most likely exploding.
Raven put a hand to her temple. "Beast Boy, could you please try being a bit less... loud?"
Confusion, like a feeling of sudden and unpleasant weightlessness. He cocked his head to the side. "Loud? I haven't even said anything yet, Rae."
"Not what I'm talking about. Emotions. You're screaming at me. Turn the volume down."
Embarrassment, hot, seeping down through her head into her back and chest and making her blush despite herself. Beast Boy never did anything by halves, it seemed. After a few moments, though, the rampaging emotions leveled out, and Raven was left with a nervous buzz that, while annoying, was tolerable.
"Thank you. Now... what do you need?"
Cue nervousness spike. Adrenaline pumped through her, and Raven wanted nothing more than to run out of her own room. In fact, she found that she was already standing and preparing to do so. Whatever Beast Boy wanted, it was driving him— and by extension, her— crazy.
Raven closed her eyes and took deep breaths, building the biggest, thickest wall against his emotions she could construct on short notice. When she opened her eyes again, there was something purple inches from her face. Something purple and... spiky?
"I got you a cactus." Beast Boy's voice cracked at the end of the rushed words, and the cactus shook until he pulled it back toward himself, revealing his nervous grin.
She arched an eyebrow, and he began scrambling to find words.
"Look, I know it doesn't make a lot of sense at first, but hear me out for a second. Uhhh... so. Cacti are really misunderstood. People see the spikes, and they think that's it. They're scared of getting stuck and they never look past them. But cacti are really awesome. They're resilient enough to survive where any other plants would die, they're useful for so many different things, and if you're willing to wait for it..."
Beast Boy turned the cactus around, revealing a fuchsia-colored flower growing on the tip of one of the pads.
"You'll find something truly beautiful." Beast Boy smiled at her, a dazzling grin that set her heart pounding. Had her shield come down? Surely this had to be from him...
Checking her shield, she was shocked to find it fully intact. Curiosity got the best of her, and she lowered her guard slightly. What she felt made her gasp. The nervousness was there, sharp and electric, but it was overpowered by something warm, strong, radiant. She had caught traces of this feeling from him before, but nowhere near this strong.
The green youth set the cactus down to his right and stood, hands balled into fists at his sides. His nervousness spiked, but that warmth did not falter. "Raven... you're the most incredible person I've ever known. I really, really, like—" He shook his head. "No. That's not enough. I know this is a lot to say, but it's been growing for years." Another deep breath. "Raven, I love you. I love you because you're you. If I keep talking I'm going to babble, so just... please. Drop your shield for a second and let me show you."
Unable to summon up any words, Raven nodded and did away with the wall she had formed. Instantly, her world was filled with warmth beyond any she had ever experienced. Her knees buckled, and Beast Boy shot forward instantly, hands around her waist to steady her. His eyes found hers, and the feeling intensified.
After a few moments, Raven was able to identify different aspects to the warmth, weaving together like music from the various instruments in an orchestra. Here was pure heat, burning; there an instinct of protection and nurturing; a steely determination; a honey-sweet feeling that brought a different kind of warmth and made her toes want to curl. On and on they pulsed and intertwined, euphoria overtaking her as she reveled in the exquisite sensations.
Beast Boy's lips were so close to hers... and moving closer. With a soft sigh, she closed her eyes and waited.
A spike of determination overpowered all else, and his lips landed softly on her cheek. His breath came ragged in her ear. "No. I can't do this to you. Not yet. You may only be feeling the feedback from me. You need time." Raven felt him forcing his emotions back down to a manageable level, leaving her feeling bereft in the wake of such intensity.
His hands slowly left her hips, ready to support her again if she swayed, then after what seemed like an eternity, he pulled away from her.
"Well," he said after a moment, "That was most definitely not what I had planned. I was going to show you all the cool things about the cactus, but... ummm... yeah. I think I'm gonna go now. I'll check in on you a bit later, ok?"
Raven could only nod, glassy-eyed.
The door closed behind him, and Raven lifted the potted cactus in her hands, setting it at the foot of her bed atop the sheets. Climbing up to sit cross-legged on the other end of the bed, she stared at the pink flower amid the purple pads.
— — —
Beast Boy was glad the floor in the common room was hard; if it were carpet, he would have paced a trail through it by now. Ever since leaving Raven's room, he had been wandering in a circle around the couch, thinking about what he had said and done... and what might come next.
He had entered her room with the intention of being subtle. Unfortunately, subtlety wasn't exactly his forte in any situation, much less something involving her. He had blurted and babbled just as he had feared he would, but there was no going back now. Though waiting was pure torture, it was a small relief to know that the secret was out, for good or ill.
Checking the clock on the wall, he noted that nearly three hours had passed since his hasty flight from Raven's quarters— sufficient time for her to have corralled his leftover emotions and examined her own.
Taking deep, calming breaths in a meditation technique Raven had taught him recently, Beast Boy set out for her room once again.
Scarcely had he knocked on the door when it opened to reveal Raven sitting on her bed, the cactus across from her.
Nervousness swelled up in his chest, and he noted that Raven did not twitch this time to mirror his tension. She was suppressing her empathy. He was caught between happiness and fear; anything she was feeling right now was her own, so she was giving this matter serious thought... then again, maybe she just didn't want to feel the crushing sensation when she broke his little green heart.
"Uhhh... hey, Rae." Smooth, Beast Boy. So very smooth.
"You mentioned that you wanted to show me things about this cactus." Her voice was neutral, the usual deadpan. His heart sank, but he was grateful for the olive branch she was extending him; she didn't love him back, but he hadn't ruined their friendship with his confession. He summoned up one of his biggest grins and prayed she didn't look closely at his eyes. Sitting on the middle of her bed, between her and the cactus, he started extolling the virtues of the misunderstood plant.
"Yeah! Cacti are so cool. They suck up every last bit of water and can go through huge droughts, they can be a home for all sorts of animals, their nectar is super nutritious, they have fruits that are edible sometimes... If you get hurt out in the desert, you can even use cactus spines for sutures. If you snap a piece off, you can grow a whole new cactus from it. And one of the coolest things about them is that they heal from damage that would kill other plants... so you can do something like this."
Summoning up the form of a jaguar, he slashed off a pad from the cactus... and yowled, returning to his normal form to pull a pair of spikes from his hand.
"Yeah, that didn't quite go how I was thinking... gimme a sec here. The outside of this cactus is covered in little tiny spines you can't see... but your skin will itch for hours if you touch them."
Morphing into a desert tortoise, he began chewing through the outside skin of the cactus pad, spines and all, stopping only when the juicy center was bare. He shifted back, offering her the pad.
"This part is edible. Usually you cook it, but you can also eat it raw. It's not super sweet, so a lot of people can't get used to it. It's really not bad, though... kind of like your herbal tea. Only... not really."
Raven arched an eyebrow, but leaned forward and took a bite of the proffered cactus. Oh, if only she knew what that simple movement did to him...
She closed her eyes... and smiled.
Slade could have pedaled through that room on a unicycle while being chased by Superman himself, and Beast Boy wouldn't have noticed a thing.
Raven was smiling.
"You know," she said after swallowing, face returning to its customary expression, "I had a little while to think about things after you left... and after I got your feedback to stop bouncing around the room."
Beast Boy winced. "Yeah, sorry, I know I got really, really out of ha—"
A black band over his mouth stopped him mid-apology as her eyes snapped open. "Let me finish. I thought about going into my mirror to sort things out... but then I realized I didn't have to.
"One of the problems with growing up the way I did is that there are certain emotions I couldn't ever decipher... mostly because I had no basis to identify them. Imagine hearing an instrument, but it's unlike anything you've ever heard before. You can try to describe it in terms of tone, or guess that it's a wind or string or percussion instrument, but really, none of it helps. You're stuck until you can get a frame of reference."
Raven's eyes locked onto Beast Boy's, and he saw something there he had only imagined before. "Beast Boy, when you let me feel what you feel, when you put a name to it, I finally learned what love felt like. Not affection or lust or something I've felt from other people, but real, unconditional love." Another smile, small, shy, but all the more beautiful for its timidity. "So when I looked into my own emotions... I finally had a name for what I feel for you."
The polling results were in. Garfield Mark Logan was officially and by landslide vote the happiest young man in the world at that particular moment. He felt like laughing, crying, whooping, dancing, sweeping this magnificent young woman into his arms and kissing her.
Kissing her. Good idea!
"Raven... I..." He stopped short, not wanting to ruin the moment as he undoubtedly would if he kept talking. Instead, he moved closer and placed his hand on her cheek. She leaned into the touch, and that was his cue. He craned his neck forward and—
Clutched his abdomen in pain.
Recoiling from the thwarted kiss, Raven immediately took hold of his shoulders in concern. "What is it?"
He managed a weak chuckle. "I, uh, kinda forgot that desert tortoises can eat things that aren't necessarily meant for the human digestive tract. And they're sorta still in me. So... umm... yeah."
— — —
Raven sat cross-legged on her bed, reading, the cactus now sitting on her bookshelf. In her lap lay a desert tortoise. It shifted its legs and made odd yowling sounds that eventually began to approximate speech.
"Don't push it," she said. "I don't think tortoises are meant to have human vocal cords."
"Tell me about it," said a high-pitched, reedy voice. The tortoise looked up at her. "So... sorry about that. Wasn't thinking."
An almost imperceptible smile tugged at her mouth. "Don't worry about it. Remember, I love all of you, including the poor planning that's making you wait for that kiss."
"Love you too, Rae." He made an odd shuffling motion. "Oh! Almost forgot! Wanna know what that kind of cactus is called?"
"It's the Dark Knight."
"...You bought me a Batman cactus."
"Uhh... yeah. It was the only purple one they had... and I like purple."
She snickered. "Oh, I know you do."
AN: I know I stole the rhinestones and feathers thing from someone... I just can't remember who it was. That honey-sweet emotion is lust, also a borrowed bit. I feel horrible for not knowing who to give props to for these things, but I've read literally hundreds of Teen Titans stories on this site. If you know who these authors are, please tell me and I'll credit them. And if I've screwed up some bit of canon, please let me know and I'll do my best to correct the error.