(A/N) Yes, another one-shot. I had a few that were started, but hadn't been touched in a while, so I decided to finish them since I just finished writing AYITL and still wanted to keep up the habit of writing every day. I don't know that these stories are any good, but I'm enjoying them. The rest of you will just have to make do with what I've provided and hope for the best.
Disclaimer – If in some dystopian future we find the vacant ruins of the DC headquarters I'll claim ownership of the Titans then. If not, we'll go looking for Marvel's dilapidated building and dig up the Avengers.
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Raven was curious. To her, it was all so foreign that it was a little too easy to view it from the outside. She continued to watch Beast Boy and Cyborg argue over who had actually won their last game and who had been cheating. An attraction to the green youth had been slowly building over the last few months, and her mind was amusing itself by studying the changeling and comparing it to what she had expected would be the kind of person she'd fall for.
She first noticed something after their return from Tokyo when Beast Boy had blown up at her.
"Anybody know where I can find a karaoke place? I totally need to get myself a new group of hot girls."
The sharp crack of Raven's hand coming into swift contact with the back of Beast Boy's head reverberated as he stumbled to the ground; though he looked more angry than he had in previous incidents.
"That's getting really old, Raven, cut it out!"
Not wanting to back down, she decided to add the sting of her tongue to the one left by her hand. "Just trying to knock a little sense into you. You need as much help with that as you can get."
This had been the wrong thing to do. Beast Boy's sense of justice flared as he started shouting his response. "What's your problem? You've been hitting me for saying stuff for weeks now and I didn't hurt anybody! You don't like my jokes or whatever, FINE! At least I don't go around beating up my friends whenever they do something that I don't like, like I'm some kind of little kid!"
"In case you've forgotten, you are still a little kid." Raven replied, letting herself get angry too.
"Yeah, 'cause some little girl hitting people when she doesn't like what the said is so much more mature."
"Little girl? I…"
"Raven. Stop it. Beast Boy is right, you shouldn't be hitting him just because you don't like something he said." Robin was cutting in to keep things from getting out of hand. The other Titans had been watching in a kind of morbid fascination since most Beast Boy and Raven fights ended with Raven either leaving in a huff when Beast Boy won or when Beast Boy sulked away with his tail between his legs. This looked like it was shaping up to be a prizefight. "I didn't say anything before now because Beast Boy hasn't been complaining or looking like it bothered him, but I guess I was wrong. If he's not okay with it, you need to stop. Talk to him about it if he says something that bothers you."
Raven nodded resentfully and then quickly went towards the exit. It wasn't often that Robin censured one of them and even more rare that Raven was the one he disciplined. Just before she crossed the threshold Robin called out one last instruction. "You should figure out why you're hitting him in the first place. It's not like he's the only one that puts his foot in his mouth."
"I was just experimenting!" A few perplexed looks caused Beast Boy to rethink his words. "Oh, you meant…yeah."
Raven didn't bother to hear the rest and continued on to her room. Why had she been hitting him? Now that she thought about it, it not only seemed like a bit of a strong reaction, but it also seemed excessive. She could remember starting some time during the Tokyo trip, but she couldn't count all the times she'd done it since then.
It had seemed so reasonable at the time; Beast Boy says something completely useless, he gets a smack; he says something stupid, he gets a smack; he brings up that ridiculous group of girls from Tokyo for the fiftieth time, he gets a smack.
And why was it her job to discipline him anyway? Robin took care of that if it was anything that could cause a problem. The more she thought about it, the more she realized she had tagged along with Beast Boy and Cyborg whenever they were doing something.
Obviously, she liked being around him; that was an easy one, he was her friend. But why curb any behavior she didn't approve of? The logical answer was that she was trying to improve him. Beast Boy could say some really funny things, but couldn't be trusted to know what made for a good joke. He could be strangely insightful, but was also given to letting his imagination run wild. And he could be very sweet, but tended to be a little insensitive if you weren't the person he was currently focused on.
Raven replayed the most memorable times she had hit him. Pointing out that going on that comic book factory tour would have been the shortcut to Brushogun had been so annoyingly right, but there was no way any of them could have known that. Suggesting a trip to Mexico was just another of his moments of speaking faster than he thought. But this most recent slap seemed a little too personal. He'd expressed a very male thing: wanting female attention like he'd gotten elsewhere. Yes, it was a bit rude to be talking about such things and seemed hedonistic, but at the same time, that wasn't why she'd hit him.
She'd honestly felt insulted. The idea that he would ask her where to find pretty girls – it was like saying she wasn't pretty. And that bothered her.
Her mind quickly ordered all of the information it had combed over and came to the conclusion that she was attracted to Beast Boy. Her mind then quickly decided that the origin of the concept of 'hitting on someone' had to have come from watching little boys and girls hit the people they liked.
Her rational half satisfied, Raven let the emotional impact of everything come in. Embarrassed, ashamed, and oddly a little giddy, she tried to figure out what to do next.
And here she was, knowing full well what she wanted to do and hating that she was too afraid to do it. Well, no longer. Raven wasn't one to run away anymore; she'd outgrown that.
She would wait until Beast Boy was alone and then ask him to…to what? What was some place they could both enjoy? She'd need to figure that out before talking to him.
No, no. She couldn't put it off any more. They'd figure something out. She just needed to wait until Cyborg left and then they could talk.
Raven let out a small smirk. Waiting for Cyborg and Beast Boy to finish playing video games, ha! That was just another way of avoiding it. They could play for hours at a time. So…what would speed things up? If she unplugged anything she'd get a few dirty looks or complaints and then they'd go right back to the game. If she broke anything she'd get even dirtier looks and then the silent treatment.
Food. They'd break up the game if one of them wanted to get some food. Cyborg had already eaten lunch, but Beast Boy had only woken up a half hour ago. He'd be hungry.
The hard part, of course, was figuring out what she could make that would actually tempt the boy. Her cooking was rather questionable at best. It seemed odd to her that the two women of the house were the ones least likely to be asked to cook. If you wanted a decent, but well balanced meal – you went to Robin. If you wanted something that tasted wonderful, but that might not be the best thing for you – you went to Cyborg. And, if you wanted the best salad around because it was too hot to cook anything – you went to Beast Boy.
So, how to tempt him away without scaring him off…
And it came to her readily. Fear. If she offered to make something, he'd come and help out so she wouldn't ruin whatever she was trying to make. Nodding to herself in agreement with this plan of action Raven went to the kitchen to set the scene.
She took out everything she'd seen Beast Boy put in the salad he'd made a few days ago and then pulled out a few things that someone could easily mistake for working in a salad or that Beast Boy wouldn't use. After placing a few bowls on the counter she called over. "Cyborg, Beast Boy – I'm making salad for lunch, how much do each of you want?"
Having always had to regulate her emotions, Raven found it quite easy to hide the triumphant smile that tried to work its way out. As she had expected, Cyborg called back saying he'd already eaten, and Beast Boy gave a look at all the ingredients on the counter and started to make his way over.
"So, uh, what kind of salad are you making?"
Too easy. "I wanted to have something like you made last week. I just need to know how much to make."
"You're gonna use all of this?"
"Sure, why not?"
"Um…why do you have apples and oranges?"
"Fruit can go in salad."
"…Okay. And why do you have ham and cheese? I don't eat those."
Raven picked up the package of sliced ham with a feigned look of confusion. "Isn't this one of your tofu fakes?"
Beast Boy seemed a little unsure of himself, but Raven was glad to see that he was trying to figure out how to make the salad himself without insulting her. "Not that one, here…" and he took it from her, picked up the cheese and walked back over to the fridge, "…it's this one."
A package very clearly marked as a meat substitute was placed on the counter and Raven gave a simple nod. "Alright then, could you help out by cutting the apples?" She then set to shredding the lettuce.
"Hey, wanna try a different kind of salad?"
"Like what?" She said, not looking up.
"Well, it's not like what I made before, but it's really good. It's called a Waldorf salad."
"Waldorf? What's in it?" Raven could see the relief starting to spread through the boy and was again glad at how well she could hide a smile.
"Let's see, lettuce, walnuts, apples, raisins, celery, mayonnaise, and feta cheese in the one I know, but I usually use my plain soygurt instead of the mayo and tofu cubes instead of the cheese."
Suddenly feeling like her plan was backfiring, Raven tried to find an out, but Beast Boy was already taking the lettuce she'd shredded and throwing it into a mixing bowl. "That sounds…interesting."
"Actually, I always thought it sounded gross until I tried it. I mean, who puts mayo on a salad? Shoot, we don't have raisins. Oh wait! I think we've got some dried cranberries we can use instead!" He started rooting through the cupboards until he pulled out a brightly colored box.
Feeling trapped now, Raven resigned herself to sleeping in the bed she'd made and started putting away the food they wouldn't need. "You're sure this won't taste weird?" she asked as she pulled out the little tub of fake yogurt.
"It's really good! And don't worry about the tofu, you liked it in that stir-fry from that Chinese place, it'll be like that. I made some last week."
"You make your own tofu?" Raven said, slightly startled.
"Nah, I just make stuff with tofu in it that I know I'll use. Tofu feta is pretty easy, but it takes a few hours, so you don't want to make it when you're making everything else. Hand me the walnuts."
Raven slid the can across the counter to him and tried to figure out what she was doing, and then remembered why she was doing it. All this talk of strange mayonnaise salads and tofu that tasted like goat cheese had distracted her. "So, I was thinking of going out later, did you want to come with me?"
"Where're you going?"
"I don't know yet, I just need to get out for a while. Any place you'd want to go?"
Beast Boy started stirring the soygurt into the salad. "With you? I don't know. I don't know of any places we both like."
"The book store? We don't buy the same stuff, but we both go there."
"Yeah, but I spend, like, a half hour tops grabbing a few comics and you're in there half the day."
"What about getting something to eat then?"
"I thought that's what we were doing right now."
Raven closed her eyes for a bit. She was terrified to just come right out and say the 'D' word, but that might help things. It was just such an awkward word to work into the conversation. "Any good movies out right now?"
Beast Boy started dishing up the salad, handing the first plate to Raven. "Not really. I mean, there's that action flick that Cy and I are gonna go see when it comes out, but it's not coming till next week."
Raven poked at her salad a bit. The look of it was still a little odd to her, though once it was all mixed up she thought it looked a little bit like coleslaw. "Beast Boy, I'm just trying to find something that we could do together. Isn't there anything you can think of?"
He stared at Raven with a strange expression on his face as he chewed his food. "What do you mean? We do stuff all the time here."
"But what about going out together to do something?" She took her first bite of the Waldorf and found it rather pleasant.
"I don't know, Raven." Beast Boy said smiling. "Somebody might think we were on a date."
"Would that be so bad?"
"Huh?" Beast Boy said through mouthful of food.
Raven steeled herself to keep going. "Would going on a date be so bad?"
He swallowed and coughed as unchewed walnuts forced their way down. "What, like, with you?"
She knew he didn't mean it like she was thinking, but it felt so insulting. "You don't have to sound so shocked."
"No offense, Raven, but I haven't gotten the feeling that I'm your favorite person lately."
"You're saying no."
"I'm saying I don't understand. You kept hitting me and didn't stop till Robin told you off and then you kind of stopped talking to me."
Raven tried replaying the last few months through her head again, this time paying attention to how things might look from Beast Boy's perspective. It was slow work.
"See what I mean? This is what it's been like between us lately. We talk a little and then you tune me out. I have no idea where this date thing is coming from, but I don't think it's 'cause of me."
"So, you are saying no."
"Yeah, I guess so."
"I'll leave you to your salad then. Thank you for making some for me, it's good."
"Wait, come on, Raven. Just tell me what's going on. Yeah, I said no, but that doesn't mean I'm telling you to go away."
His shoulders were slouched with his hands limp at his sides. He had an expression on his face that said he was sorry, but Raven couldn't figure out why he would be. "You were honest about why you turned me down. I'll return the favor and tell you that it hurt and I'd rather not be here right now."
"See? This is what I'm talking about. How did you expect me to act if you're always keeping me at a distance?" His sudden anger caught her off guard. "Why are we only friends on your terms? I'm not even close to perfect, but that doesn't mean you couldn't give a little once and a while."
Her own anger bubbled up. "Give? Why, so you can turn it into another joke? So you can tell me why my way doesn't work? So you can get hurt when you find out I wasn't kidding about it being dangerous to keep pushing me?"
"If that's the way you feel, what did you ask me out for?"
"I don't know! I don't know why you look good to me or why I think your stupid humor is funny or why you can offhandedly break down the walls I put up to keep me safe. I wanted to find out! I thought that's what dating was for – a guy and a girl go and figure out if they work together or not."
Beast Boy was still glaring, but he looked less tense. "All I'm asking you to give is the same thing you're asking me for. I want you to try it out. I want you to at least try to let yourself take in the moment, smile when you feel like it, laugh if something's funny, to see if you can. You want me to take a risk with you, I want the same thing in return."
"What, like we're trading or something? Beast Boy, it doesn't work that way."
"Says who? Whoever it was, they're wrong. You give a little, I give a little and we see what happens. Who cares how we do it?"
Raven eyed him, her arms still firmly folded. "What are you proposing?"
"A trade, like you said. You don't think you can push all those walls you talked about farther out to give you more space, but I do, so you try it out. Find out where the real limit is instead of hiding inside the smallest ring you can function in. And when you find it, that's where you move your boundaries to."
"And in return?"
"You think there's something between us that's worth trying out. I can't see it at all, but it's not like it'd be the first time I was wrong. So, I push back my walls to see what's really there too."
Raven looked thoughtful for a moment, considering her options. "Why does it matter to you if I test my limits if there's nothing between us?"
"You're still my friend."
"Where do we start then?"
"I don't know. Probably by doing something for each other. You pick some date for us to go on and I'll pick something that'll make you stretch your limits."
"It seems like it'd be better to do both at the same time. Why don't you plan the date and part, or even all of it, can be things you think would help me like you think I need."
Beast Boy thought for a bit. "I think that works. When's a good time for you? Would it be okay if we went out tonight?"
"Tonight's fine. I'll see you at seven, okay?"
Raven walked softly out of the room leaving Beast Boy deep in thought about where to take her. All in all, she had to admit that had gone better than planned. It was so much fun getting him riled up.
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(A/N) Yes, this really is the end. I wanted to write a story where Raven is the aggressor in the relationship (the one who does the work to try and make something happen) where she gets turned down. Raven's fairly cunning though, and she's known Beast Boy and awfully long time. It really isn't hard to imagine her manipulating the situation so that she ends up getting what she wants even after he's told her no.