It was a normal day in Jump City for the Teen Titans, which meant video games, pizza, a walk in the park and fighting Overload in the Jump City Mall. Quite an average day for a team of five teenaged superheroes. Cyborg cried out in pain as he received a miniature bolt of lightning that shorted out half of his systems. He would be all right as they built him to repair and regulate himself to a degree, but it would be some time before he could move again. His power cell was hemorrhaging electricity and soon he would shut down but his automatic video recording was working and he captured the whole fight.
Starfire flew above the fight, dodging occasional attacks sent her way and firing starbolts where she could without injuring her friends. Raven was trying, and failing to knock the chip that was Overload's entire being out of his body, which was pure electricity, by hurling large objects at him. Before any of the objects hit him he sent out beams of energy and destroyed them and he was merely pelted with small debris, including electronics, doing no real damage. Robin was hurling his bird-a-rangs towards the villain and tried knocking the chip out with his bo staff, but unfortunately a stray arc of electricity jumped his glove and electrocuted him, knocking him out. Raven threw several things including a metal food court chair at him, his attack was directed upwards, caught the chair and flew straight into Starfire. Just before she was shocked she had been about to throw a starbolt but just as she was releasing it she received the bolt of electricity, jerking her about. She released her starbolt and it went flying, straight into Raven's head, knocking both heroines unconscious at once. Overload turned and sent an extra jolt into both of them for good measure. Beastboy watched this all, at first he was trying not to get in everyone's way, but within a few seconds his entire team was unconscious, it was like one turn of bad luck after another, if he didn't know any better, he would think Jynx had hexed them all. Beastboy sighed.
"Great, this is gunna hurt." He looked around at his downed team mates. "Well, at least they can't see it." He calmly walked right up behind Overload and stuck his hand right into the mass of pure power. It hurt, a lot, but it was nothing he couldn't handle. He felt worse every day, not that he told anyone, he didn't want their pity, so he kept it a secret. Overload felt Beastboy putting his hand into his body, it was his body after all, and as Beastboy reached further in Overload backhanded him into a wall. His form quickly dissipated and Beastboy looked down into his hand, where the chip that was Overload resided. "I win." He said, then he looked around and saw a cup of water forgotten on a table while fleeing and he dropped Overload into it, just to be sure.
He spent the next half hour checking on his team mates and lugging them back to the T-car. Raven was the worst off and her heart had actually stopped, he had to perform CPR to get her breathing again before he checked on the others. Sometime during getting loaded into the car Cyborg ran out of energy and shut down, but not before emailing himself a copy of the video he just took of the fight. He had to turn into an elephant to lift Cyborg and position him, in a reasonably comfortable way, before driving back to the tower via an underground tunnel leading to their garage.
He managed to get everyone up to the medical bay except for Cyborg whom he took to his recharging table to get a diagnosis of what was wrong. Cyborg was the closest the team had to a doctor even if Raven was frequently the healer and he had to get him up and running before he could help the others. Long ago after an incident where Cyborg had gotten particularly beaten up he built a repair station for himself. He told his team mates that if he ever got broken or malfunctioned to put him on his charging table and hit the big button labeled 'Fixit2.0'. Beastboy pushed the button and watched in awe as arms descended from the ceiling and scanned, disassembled and reassembled his friend right before his eyes. It was actually a little scary seeing his friend, the invincible Cyborg laid bare and vulnerable in just a few seconds, not to mention his remaining internal organs weren't exactly pretty either. A few seconds later he was whole again and a mechanical voice said 'repairs complete, rebooting'. A light flickered in his friend's left eye and he sat up a few seconds later, rubbing his head.
"Woah, feel like I was hit by a truck again. BB? What are we doin' here?"
"Don't you remember the fight with Overload?"
"Well yeah," he said, unplugging himself and stepping off the table "but how are we back at the tower?"
"I loaded you all into the T-car and drove us back. C'mon the others are in the medical bay and they need Doc Cy." He moved to leave but stopped as he saw he wasn't being followed. If one looked closely at Cyborg they could see a distinct twitch in his right eye as he tried to process this information. Then, in a voice almost too quiet to hear he said
"You drove my baby?"
"You drove my baby?" he said louder this time. What? That's what he was worried about right now?
"Cy, I don't think it's all that important right now, th-"
"YOU DROVE MY BABY! YOU AIN'T ALLOWED TO DRIVE MY BABY! Oh man, you probably messed up the seat adjustments and everything, I had just gotten it right and now you ruined it, and now I'm gunna have to clean out your fur from my seat or else it'll stick to my ass every time I sit in her. What were you THINKING! You know you're not supposed to drive my baby! No one drives my baby but me!"
"I was thinking that I was the only conscious Titan and had to get everyone back to the tower for help. I was thinking if I took trips a villain might try to kidnap an unconscious Titan and that would be bad. I was thinking of my family. That good enough?" Cyborg grumbled something incoherent.
"hrmn-I guess-rglfrgn, msntrfn-my baby-rfngrcksn…hmph."
"Good, cause the team needs you right now Cy, so c'mon."
They arrived at the medical bay to find Raven in a healing trance and Starfire and Robin laying exactly where he left them.
"Raven's gunna be alright, she's in that trance thing she does to get better." He scanned Star. "Star's gunna be fine too, mild shock and a slight concussion from her fall. She's a tough girl, probably wake up in the next thirty minutes or so." He scanned Robin. "He got shocked pretty bad man, out of all of us this attack does the most damage to his body, he's the only full human on the team. Sometimes it's easy to forget with how tough he is. Hey, speakin' of attacks how come you're not bug zapped right next to the rest of 'em?" Beastboy cocked his head inquisitively.
"You don't remember?" Cy shook his head.
"No, I don't. After a reboot my memory starts up from my last non-corrupted memory file, for me that was just before I got shorted out. What happened?" Well, no need to tell him the whole truth.
"Raven threw a chair at him and a stray bolt arced through it and got Star, who shot a starbolt at Raven's head by accident. At the same time Robin put his bo staff into the middle of him and got shocked, it must have jumped his glove or something 'cause the next thing I knew he was out for the count. So I went to the fountain and turned into an elephant, got some water and hosed him down. I kept at it 'til he didn't have a spark left and dropped him into a cup of water before I got you guys in the car and drove home."
"Nice job man, gimmie some skin!" they did their weird secret handshake that all best friends have, finishing with a fist bump. "Alright." He turned to the three still in their beds and said "It's gunna be a while man so I'm going to stay here and monitor their vitals until they're out of it. What do you want to do until then?" he got no response. He turned, looking about the room. "BB?" the changeling was nowhere in sight. Cyborg shrugged and sat down in a chair.
As he predicted within thirty minutes Starfire was up. She asked what happened and then refused to leave Robin's side. Less than an hour later Raven came out of her trance, within seconds she was besieged by requests from Starfire to heal her boyfriend, which Raven did after taking care of Starfire. Cy calmed Starfire down as Raven was working on Robin, who was soon up again and smothered by Starfire's hugs and kisses. Just as everyone was about to leave Cyborg checked his e-mail.
"Hey y'all, got an e-mail from myself. Looks like a video clip. It's probably a video of the fight, must have recorded after I got shocked saving that little girl and her mom." Robin had a leaderly light bulb moment.
"This is perfect! Let's put it up in the living room so we can see what went wrong. This is mandatory by the way."
"What about Beastboy?" asked Cyborg.
"It looks like he beat overload after we were all out, let's cut him a break this time."
"Yeah, the green been said he turned into an elephant and sprayed the dude down a few times."
The Titans went to the living room and loaded a copy of Cyborg's emailed memory burned to a disk on the main screen. They watched and Robin paused and rewound the part where he got knocked out.
"Zoom in on my arm. Not that arm, the one that got shocked! There!" he pointed suddenly "It looks like bits of electronics, it must be from when Raven attacked him. The electricity probably jumped from my staff and to the debris and into…is that a computer ship imbedded in my arm?" He looked at Raven who just stared back before replying in monotone.
"Oops. My bad. I'll try to be more conscientious about the junk I try to knock someone out with in the future." He stared at her and she stared right back and eventually he looked away.
"Uh, yeah whatever." When it showed how both girls were knocked out he turned to her again. "Maybe you do need to be a little more conscientious Raven." She just glared at him and pressed play. He backed down again and they watched the video continue.
"Aw yeah," Cy said "watch this, my boy BB's gunna go elephant soon an save the day!" they watched the video as Beastboy looked around in horror at what had just happened, then he sighed, like he was tired and started walking up to Overload. This confused them greatly. "Huh, why isn't he turning into an elephant?"The others said nothing as they were engrossed in what they were seeing as it was obvious Beastboy had left some parts out, but no one was prepared for what he did next.
They watched as Beastboy pushed his hand slowly into Overload and was immediately shocked far worse than anyone else had been, but he did not pass out, he just stuck his hand deeper despite the continuing torture. He had just grasped the chip when Overload turned and backhanded him into a wall over twenty feet away, taking the chip with him. The Titans watching were stunned at what they had just witnessed. Not only had Beastboy severely electrocuted himself, he had done it on purpose, and then lied about what happened. They continued watching as their brains processed this new information, on the video it showed how he checked on each of his team mates and actually performed CPR on Raven to get her heart started again. Raven blushed as the others looked at her. Just as the screen showed him putting his lips to hers the third time the actual changeling walked in and called out to them.
" 'Sup guys, what are we watching?" he got a good look at the screen which showed a close up of his lips on hers and froze. He looked at Raven with wide panic filled eyes. "Now Raven, before you say anything, it was absolutely necessary, your heart had stopped and so had your breathing. I had to-" she cut him off
"Beastboy," she said softly, she was actually grateful to him and wanted to tell him so, but as soon as she spoke he ran back into the hallway screaming
"Don't kill me Raven! Please! I'm too handsome!"
"thank you." She finished lamely to the empty air that had just seconds before contained her friend. She got up and floated to the door but Robin stopped her.
"Raven, he did save your life, go easy on him, ok?" she looked at him, she didn't show it but she was appalled by what he said.
"I'm not going to hurt him, I'm going to heal him. You saw the video, he got hurt just as bad as any of us and he hasn't been healed yet has he? He has to be in so much pain right now."
"Why didn't he say anything?"
"How should I know? Maybe he thought he was being tough or something, it doesn't matter, I'm going to heal him and then I'm going to thank him for saving my life.
Raven exited and there was silence. Then Cyborg spoke.
"Beastboy kissing Raven, this is going up on You Tube." Robin face palmed.
Raven found Beastboy on the roof and, before he could escape, encased him in her black energy from neck to toe. He looked down and his eyes bugged out as he started struggling.
"What! Oh god." He started struggling "Raven, listen to me, I had to! It was the only way to save your life! If I-" she swiftly cut him off, encasing his mouth in dark energy, before he said something to anger her and she did hurt him.
"I know Beastboy." He stopped struggling.
"Yes, I know," she put him down gently and released him "I watched the tape, I saw how he shocked me again. I came here to say…thank you."
"Uh, no problem Rae."
"Why didn't you tell me?"
"I'm not going to brag about saving you Raven, we're heroes, it's our job to save people who need it, even if it's another hero who can take care of herself."
"You didn't even try to blackmail me like you would with Cyborg."
"I figured you saved my life plenty of times and will again soon, so really, it's no big deal, and really, would you let me blackmail you? I don't think so."
"There is that, but still, thank you." She came closer and her hand started to glow blue. "Now stay still."
"Uh, Raven," he said nervously and backed away a bit "what are you doing?"
"I'm just going to heal you, stay still okay?"
"I'm all right Raven, you don't have to do this. It doesn't hurt a lot, really, it's not that bad." He was still backing away from her.
"Beastboy, I can sense the pain coming from you, this hurts a lot worse than 'not that bad'. Honestly I'm surprised you're awake, I saw the video you know. You were electrocuted pretty bad getting that chip out of Overload. Let me heal you."
"No really, I'm fine Rae," he backed up more but soon came to the railing along the edge of the roof "I feel worse every day." She gave him the evil eye.
"Don't be lie to me Garfield, I know exactly how much pain you're feeling!"
"I'm not lying Raven!"
"Please! I know you can't handle it! With the amount of pain you radiate you'll pass out in less than a minute!"
"Oh yeah?" he said leaning his face into hers
"Yeah!" she said leaning herself in just as much
"Oh yeah? Well watch this!" he stood there doing nothing. After a while Raven was fed up and slightly confused, she was about to speak when he beat her to it. "Oh look, a full minute has passed and I'm not unconscious! You have no idea what I can handle"
"AAAGH! You are so stubborn! So arrogant! Fine! Pass out on the roof and freeze to death for all I care!" she shouted
"Fine!" he shouted bringing his face closer to hers
"Fine!" her face got closer
"Fine!" he got closer again
"Fine!" her face was now inches from his
"Fine!" he got closer once more and stared hard at her. He realized how close they were specifically how close their lips were and he backed up. He turned around to hide his blush but Raven didn't notice this because she was still ticked at him. She was trying to be nice, what was his problem? She turned around to leave, in fact, her hand was on the door before she turned around and yelled at him again.
"Well I hope you like pain buster, and lot's of it, because I'm not healing you unless Robin orders me to. Enjoy being a pain in your own ass for once!" and with that she slammed the door to the rooftop.
"Good going Moron," he berated himself "not only did you reject her offer, you told her she's stupid and can't use her powers right. I bet she just loooooves you." Well, he consoled himself, at least she didn't have to feel his pain while she healed him. Raven was right about the pain though, or at least she would be if he didn't have a ridiculous tolerance for it. Right now, he was in enough pain to land a normal man on his back for a week, but to him, it was small potatoes, because he honestly did feel worse everyday, he just never told anyone before. He didn't want Robin to consider him a liability, he wanted to be a hero, he needed to do something good with his powers. If Beastboy couldn't help others with his terrible ability then there was really no reason to have it. He had to help people or his pain meant nothing, or he was just a green freak who messed up a lot. "Damn. I thought I quit thinking like that. Whatever, it's a problem for another day. For now, I sleep." and he did.
It had been a week since Raven had deigned to speak with Beastboy or even communicate with him outside of battle and beyond a death glare. The first thing she did say to him was 'Imbecile' but to him it was like water for a man in the desert dying of thirst. He immediately brightened up, that she would even take the time to insult him was good news because it meant she acknowledged that he even existed. In another two weeks things were back to normal, for them at least, and he decided to ask Cyborg for his opinion. They were playing video games when he asked, the loud noises had helped cover up such conversations in the past and Cy always knew when the changeling wanted to talk.
"Cy?" he didn't stop playing.
"Somethin' you wanna talk about green bean?" they continued playing. After a beat of silence came
"I'm in love with Raven." he took his eyes off the screen to judge his friend's reaction, which cost him when Cyborg pummeled his character into the ground. he didn't mind though, there were more important things right now.
"I know." Beastboy looked back to the screen and continued to play.
"I want her to love me back."
"She's not too good with the whole emotions thing if you recall. Especially since..." he didn't have to say it, they both knew he was talking about the Malchior incident. In the Titan's tower or anywhere near Raven the name 'Malchior' was more taboo than even Trigon.
"Yeah, I know...am I stupid for loving someone who barely even tolerates me?"
"No, you're not stupid. Tell me man, what is it you like about her so much? I mean, don't get me wrong, she's a great gal and all but, enlighten me."
"Can you be more specific?" Beastboy was silent
"I love her attitude and how she's not afraid to speak her mind. I love her her Master level sarcasm. I love how much she cares for us and, how much she won't show it because she cares for us. I love her hair, and the way it moves when she flies, how it shines in the light...sunlight, moonlight, heck even in flashlight, it doesn't matter it's always beautiful, even when it's messed up. I love her skin, I don't know why for sure but I've always loved it and the way it smells, it's pure Raven. It makes her hair stand out. Her eyes too, man, what I really love are her eyes, they're like the two most perfect pools of shining amethyst I've ever seen. Not just the color, but the pattern in her iris, I've never seen eyes so beautiful, so...unique. Her eyes talk to us. I mean yeah, she says she's emotionless and all, she says she's not supposed to feel, but she does. We all know she feels just like the rest of us, she just hides it better. But if you look into her eyes...you can see everything. Because of how much she feels and how intensely she feels it you feel like you're feeling it too." he looked down "I hate it when she's sad, like when she's watching something like Bambi or A.I., she makes those sarcastic remarks, but I know how much she wants to cry with us and how she feels she can't. I love it when she watches scary movies and she admits to having fear, because she can let herself feel that. Her eyes get all wide and they come up at the bottom and stuff and, sometimes, when no one's looking, she grab's my hand." he had started smiling and stopped paying attention to his game.
"I like watching her drink her tea, it reminds her of home and you can just see all of those memories swimming in her eyes, they change so quickly and she gets this look...she wears it when she thinks no one is looking and stares off into the distance, remembering." his face fell as he began talking again "I want to ask her about it but I know she won't share it with me, maybe Star or Robin...but not with me." he suddenly looked up out the window, smiling as if seeing something only he could, and maybe he was. "Did you know, that when her eyes are happy they're brighter 'cause she opens them a bit more? She brushes her hair behind one ear and she puts a dried raspberry in her tea when she's happy. When she's happy, everything is right in the world. When her eyes are sad, they get this dull shine, and when she closes her them it's for a fraction of a second longer. When they look like that, it crushes me, I feel like there's a hole in my chest and a weight on my shoulders. She keeps her cloak closed when she's sad and wears a special necklace that smells like her, but not, you know? I think it may have belonged to her mom or someone special from Azarath, I think it comforts her. When she's angry she doesn't make it a secret and has no problem at all telling anyone what made her mad in the first place, although it's usually me. There's fire in her eyes when shes mad...but there's a little fear too. She's afraid someone will yell back, or not forgive her or something. When she's talking to one of us, and something reminds her of her past, she gets this tiny little lilt in her voice, almost non-existent, like she wants to talk in an accent or a different language but she's stopping herself. It took me a long time to figure that one out. Everyone knows how she looks when she's annoyed but when she's feeling brave, with us, her sarcasm isn't as mean as it could easily be. One of her eyebrows almost lifts, her eyes get this sort of playful gleam in them. Sarcasm is her rude, but it's also her humor, and when she's brave it's almost like she's challenging us to come up with some sort of witty banter. Brave in battle is different though, in battle its like her eyes become purple steal, pure determination...so beautiful." Cyborg just sat there and listened, because, sometimes, that's what friends need most from each other, just some support so they can get through whatever it was they were going through at the moment, to work it out.
"When she has nothing to do and she wants to enjoy herself, she puts on her favorite cloak, you can tell it's her favorite because there's some fraying at the bottom from when she was younger and it dragged along the ground. It's soft too, and smells just like the scrolls she keeps in her room. When she's nervous, she blinks a lot more than usual, and her voice gets higher. Sometime's I'll wake up in the middle of the night and I can hear her singing on the rooftop, it's not in English but she sings it like she's heard it thousands of times. It's beautiful, because her voice is beautiful. I hear it and no matter what, I feel like nothing can possibly go wrong, that I'm flying through a cloud of pure bliss. Other times I'll wake up and she's crying." at this point a tear escaped his own eye and his voice cracked "It hurts worse than anything else when she cries, to hear her so broken, so hurt, so desperate, and to know I can't do anything about it. It feels like...I'm hollow, and made of paper, and I have to support the weight of the world and try not to be crushed. Like someone stabbed me in the heart and twisted the knife...like someone reached through my stomach and ripped my heart out. When I go to comfort her, she senses me coming and put's on her mask. She makes up something about how she was getting tea to help her sleep and she says her eyes are red because she can't sleep, but I can smell her tears. I try and get close to her but she gets mad at me. I tried confronting her but she just ran away or knocked me out or something. I want, more than anything, to make sure she never cries again for anything other than pure joy." Cy shut everything down with internal remote so they had some peace and spoke to his friend.
"You got it bad for her man." Beastboy laughed, but not in a happy way.
"You gonna tell her?" he shook his head.
"Don't wanna mess up what you got?"
"Coward." Beastboy laughed again.
"Completely." he got up and just before he left he said "I won't live without Raven in my life. I can't. If that means I'm alone forever waiting for the impossible...then I can live with that."
"Maybe you can," Cy said after Beastboy left "but can she?"
Cyborg waited a few days until Beastboy was gone for a while before he went to her. He went to his room and got a piece of machinery before he went to Raven's room and knocked on her door.
"Raven, open up, we need to talk." she opened up her door enough for her to show half of her face and kept her arm from the hand to the elbow on the side of the door just below her chin.
"What do you need Cyborg?"
"You either need to let me in there or come with me to the garage for this." she stared at him and blinked...blinked again...then blinked one more time. Cyborg was beginning to get nervous until she said
"Hold on." she closed the door and some serious shuffling around could be heard and then there was silence before Raven's voice called out, "okay, you can come in now." He opened her door and went inside. He looked around, not much had changed in the years since he had last been in her room.
She had the same things, but in different places. She had more books and scrolls laying around, so many that you could not see her book case because of all the books she had surrounding it. She also had a wine rack, but there wasn't a single bottle in it, it was filled to overflowing with scrolls, some so old it looked like a museum would beg her merely to examine them, and in fact a few had. She refused on the grounds that the contents were too potentially dangerous to become public knowledge and should only be kept by those who had proven themselves worthy of keeping or using such knowledge. Some she kept to use, but most were references and ways to things so dark, the mere mention of some corrupted the scroll and prevented it's destruction, she was still trying though. Cyborg turned and closed her door, then entered the master locking code. Raven stood there looking at him expectantly...for her at least. He turned around and looked at her, he had planned this a certain way but now that he was here, he wasn't exactly so sure. He held up a disc.
"This is for you, and it's the only copy besides what's in my memory banks. What you are about to see has been eradicated from all surveillance tapes and audio records. Thermal scans show no one in the room this happened in, and I've turned off those systems in your room right now. You haven't seen what's on this disc and I shouldn't be showing it to you. It's a private conversation that was held in the utmost confidence, so let's get one thing straight, I never showed you this disc. You don't know about this disc, you've never seen it, you've never heard about it, it doesn't even exist. Got it?" Raven got it. She nodded slowly. He nodded back and went to a wall panel all titans had in their rooms, just in case, and he inserted the disc. It Started to play and Raven saw it was Beastboy. She groaned and turned to Cyborg.
"Cyborg," the words from the disc were projected "if this is about one of his stupid pranks I'm sure I can endure it." there was silence in the video and then the person on the screen spoke "This is Beastboy and-"
'I'm in love with Raven.' Raven spun around, eyes wide, heart pounding, a chill down her spine. A few items around her started to shake
"What?" her voice was not her own, it was breathless and near silent, it was shaky.
'I know' the video replied and Raven rounded back on Cyborg even quicker than before
"YOU KNEW?" she shouted at him, several of the things around her were encased in black energy and either started levitating or melting. He nodded and just replied
"Keep watching." his voice was level, quiet, calm it was a reassurance she needed right now. She turned back around and watched, she listened.
'I want her to love me back.' Raven's chest ached at those words, the sentiment they carried, and how many times she had wished for the same.
'She's not too good with the whole emotions thing if you recall. Especially since...' she knew who they were talking about, and an old pain flared up in side of her
'Yeah, I know...am I stupid for loving someone who barely even tolerates me?'
'No, you're not stupid. Tell me man, what is it you like about her so much? I mean, don't get me wrong, she's a great gal and all but, enlighten me.'
'Everything.' Ravens heart was spinning, rising and falling a the same time. He said he liked her, all of her, but...he didn't name anything about her, it was probably just a crush 'I doubt he can name a single thin he truly likes about me' she thought to herself.
'Can you be more specific?' Raven's heart began to fall as she waited and he was silent. 'I knew it.' she thought 'I knew he couldn't-' he looked up with this look on his face she had never seen on him before. She watched and listened as he began to talk. His words filled with emotion as described her, in a way that no one else ever had and a way she herself couldn't. He described things about her she knew, things she hadn't known, things she was surprised about and things she thought she had kept hidden. He said things about her she never thought to hear, and she wept. She wept in sorrow, for what he had kept hidden. She wept in joy for the love she could finally give. Previously restrained and thought never to be returned, it now filled her heart, her mind and every fiber of her being. Now that she knew, she could tell him. She fell to her knees, tears flowing freely down her face as the video ended.
"Thank you." she finally managed to choke out in a small whisper. She turned to her friend and cried out in a broken voice "Thank you for showing me this. I-" she couldn't find any words other than, quietly, "Thank you." He nodded and after a moment, looked around, she also looked, and she saw her room was in complete dis-array. Everything was everywhere, and a good portion of it was destroyed. She didn't care, she could fix it later if she had to, but now she had to find "Beastboy. Where is Beastboy?"
"He went out, I had to make sure he was gone before I showed you this so I could make sure he wasn't watching somehow. The dude's crafty." she nodded and asked him
"Do you know when he gets back?"
"I don't know Raven, I mean-" whatever he meant wasn't to be found out because at that very moment the tower's alert system went off. Robin's face appeared on every screen in the tower simultaneously with his voice and it was similarly broadcast to all of their communicators.
"Titans! Trouble! A major jewelry store in south Jump City is being robbed by someone using some sort of new technology, I don't know what we're dealing with so meet at the following location and we'll plan a course of advance. Robin out." His face disappeared and what was left were yellow co-ordinates. Cyborg sighed and Raven began to compose herself. She would deal with it later.
"No rest for the wicked." she said
"Or apparently us either."
The team arrived at the location, cameras already capturing the scene, fans cheering for the titans. As they cam together their stoplight costumed leader had sent them and the meeting began.
"Okay team, he calls himself Torquemada and he's wearing some sort of high tech suit. He has twelve hostages and hasn't actually stolen anything, it looks like he's waiting for something."
"Probably us." commented Raven. She sneaked a look at Beastboy, he was looking at the store empathy emitting from him, he was probably thinking of the hostages. That was so like him, he was so selfless, her heart ached for him before she realized what she was doing and locked her heart away. No, no emotions, in battle they cause mistakes, they get people hurt, there would be time to fell later, with her love. She tuned back to the conversation trying to pick up what was going on again. Cyborg was speaking.
"...those results you wanted Robin. The scans say it emits some sort of bio-electric feedback to send messages straight to the brain, whoever this Torquemada guy is, he's got some serious tech." Robin got his speculative thinker face on.
"Are you saying that suit is a mind control device?" Cy shook his head
"Nah, nothin' that complex, just looks like it can make you feel different physical sensations, kinda novel but other than that it's pretty much useless."
"You're forgetting his name." Raven reminded them "He takes his name from the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition." Cyborg and Robin's eyes shot up as they considered the implications. Starfire and Beastboy however had blank looks on their faces.
"Please, what is this 'Spanish Inquisition' you speak of friend?" Raven sighed.
"It was a time in history where the country of Spain, over in Europe, went through a trend of ultra-religion, similar to witch burnings. The church at both points in history was so insecure about it's power and it's need to restore Christianity that it created zealots who took on their cause. To convince everyone that they were the good guys, on the side of righteousness they said people were being subversive." she saw Beastboy's blank look "They didn't want to lose their power so they created super believers to accuse people of trying to undermine them and do their dirty work."
"Oh, so why was this tortellini guy so bad?" he asked
"Torquemada was the head inquisitor, which means he was the worst of them all. Inquisitors roamed the streets looking for anyone they suspected of...well anything really. They could drum up a reason out of thin air, sometimes for no reason at all, and once they found you, you were dead. They tortured you to get you to confess to some evil doing, if you confessed, they would sometimes 'ask' if you were working with anyone else. If you said 'no' and they believed you then they would kill you, after more torture, just to be sure. If you said 'yes', then they would 'ask' the names and you would tell them any name to get out of it. They would go after them next." the alien princess was clearly distressed.
"But...was there no reprieve?" she asked, almost afraid of the answer.
"No, if you admitted your guilt they would torture you and then kill you, if you didn't admit your guilt then they would torture you until that killed you. I already said it, if they got you you were, dead. The more people you brought in and ordered the torture of the more loyal you were to the church, and as the Head Inquisitor he was expected to bring in the best and do the worst. He didn't disappoint." Starfire's eyes were wide
"And this man wishes to honor the atrocities of the past?" she asked, clearly appalled. Robin put a hand on her shoulder
"We, don't know Star." he began
"But it can't be good." Cyborg finished. He turned to Robin. "So how are we going to do this?"
"I'm thinking a big entrance and then we attack."
"What?" he asked Raven, looking around at his team mates.
"If we were just going to bust in like always...then why did we have this meeting?" she was irritated and speaking, barely, through gritted teeth.
"So you knew." he stated as if it was blatantly obvious. Raven turned away and rubbed her temples, trying to ward off a headache.
"...whatever, just do your stupid yell." He got a hurt puppy dog look.
"You think it's stupid?" Raven rounded on him.
"Sorry, I know, not the time." He turned to Starfire "Do you think it-"
"ROBIN!" he held up his hands in surrender, then he put on his serious face.
"Titans, Go!" The titans kicked in the front doors, and were met by a pacing man in a full body orange tech suit with the mask and voice disruptor included, he was surrounded by nearly thirty people, all wearing high tech orange bracelets.
"FINALLY! You juveniles have taken forever to get here, don't you know it's rude to keep people waiting?"
"You'll find we don't do things like you expect, now let the hostages go!"
"That's not how it works!" he snapped his fingers and an electrical field surrounding the large store and extending eight feet beyond the doors came on. "This is how it works!" the titans each looked in a different direction, battle ready, but kept an eye on the villain.
"What is this?" Robin shouted at him.
"A test, and if you pass all of the hostages will be released and I will surrender. You may choose to take it or not, but if you don't take the test, well..." he pushed a button on his belt and all the bracelets lit up. Timers appeared and began counting down from thirty seconds. Everyone noticed and the people wearing them began to freak out, calling to the titans for help "Choose now titan's or these devices will surely detonate and prove you unworthy."
"Cyborg, can you shut them down remotely?" everyone was crying out to them for help.
"If I had more time maybe but not like this, not with this many!" Robin considered his options, going through the few he had in a precious two and a half seconds.
"Fine! We'll do it! Shut off the timers!" Torquemada smirked and entered a code on a device hooked to his suit's belt. The timers stopped. There were eleven seconds left.
"A wise decision." he tossed five belts to them which landed on the floor. "Put them on. When you do, I will tell you how the test works." the titans were reluctant, but put the belts on. "Good, now, one at a time, you each will take out a hostage as a small gesture and a...practice round, if you will." he pointed to a small group who had zeros on their bracelets. "Starting with them, and you will come right back in." the titans looked for a trap, an ulterior motive, anything. They found nothing, so, one by one, they escorted the hostages out, and as soon as the bracelets passed the field, they fell off. When they were all back in he continued. "Just so none of you get any ideas, watch what happens to someone who's group is not the same as the number I punched in." he tossed a bracelet with the number '15' on it towards the field and everyone watched and then shielded themselves as it blew up."The same thing happens if more than one leaves at a time, or if they leave without being in a four foot radius of one of the belts." he smiled "Just so we're clear." he picked up his device again and pushed a few buttons. "The rules are simple, you will proceed like you just have, walking to and from the field, but from the moment the hostage enters your belt's radius you shall feel a level of pain corresponding to the group number. It will not stop. You must walk out under your own power or it does not count. You may ask to have a team mate walk the hostage back and then walk them out for you, or they may volunteer, but then you will be disqualified. If you can not stand then a team mate must complete your duties for you. If you can not stand and you do not call out or continue walking within ten seconds, you will be disqualified. That means you will be removed from the list of people able to remove hostages, and the pain will remain until the task is complete. If you use your powers to remove the hostages you will be disqualified, your hostage will explode and your belt set to the highest setting, if you are still alive that is. No powers, no gadgets. Everyone must be removed for the pain to stop and for me to surrender. Do you understand?" the titans each gave a nod. "Good, now it begins."
After a short talk it was decided that whoever was up for it would go, but Beastboy would always go last. He objected but Robin silenced him. He thought it was best this way because the least tough member going last would mean as many hostages out as possible before he broke.
Robin took the first hostage out, the group number was one of five. As her came near her he suddenly grimaced before returning his face to normal and walking the woman out. Starfire was next and she flinched as she came to her hostage, but managed to walk him out and return. Cyborg was next and his eyes got wide and he breathed through it, calming down and returning to normal even as he walked his hostage to the door. Even as he was returning Raven was walking to her target. She frowned as she felt it and swiftly walked her hostage out, dragging them all the way. Beastboy, was smiling, he stiffened when he felt it, and he was completely silent as he returned.
"Congratulations on surviving group one, that collective pain was the same as being stabbed multiple times."
Starfire was first this time and as she came to her hostage and she cried out falling to one knee. Robin cried out to her but she was already up again, and shuffling forward, gaining speed.
"I forgot to mention, every level up doubles the pain you were in the previous level...twice. None of my test subjects ever remained conscious after three. None of them ever got to test four or five, but I hope you will prove different."
Starfire was at the door and was making her way back again. Cyborg braced himself and was almost prepared, he stumbled, and almost fell, but he managed to stay upright, but only just. He took a few deep breaths and started walking, grunting with each step, but he made it. Next was Robin, and this time, the grimace didn't go away. His movements were stiff and he was slow, but he never stumbled. Raven walked forward, again, before her team mate was even back, frowning the whole way and hissed when she felt the pain, but still dragged the next hostage out. As soon as the hostage was out of the door and Raven was clear Beastboy took his hostage, an old woman, and picked her up bridal style, and walked calmly out the door, and returned, a his smile gone, but he showed no pain.
"Very good titans, you have survived group two, which is like being shot by a cannon."
Robin went first this time, but as he reached out to take his hostage's hand, he froze, shaking, struggling to remain upright, and he fell.
"Get up Robin, tic-toc, tic-toc." Robin was struggling. He was shaking with the effort of getting up to his elbows. He just had to- "You are disqualified. Such a disappointment, I would have thought you would have lasted the longest. Oh well." He froze. The single thought of 'No! I can't let them down!' was going through his head over and over. "Who will pick up your burden?"
"Cyborg." he said tersely "You go. Then girls. Then you. Then Beastboy." Beastboy had started to object but Robin cut him off. "That's an order. Do it!" Beastboy remained silent and Cyborg nodded. He went over and pulled Robin back to Starfire, who laid his head on her lap and tried to comfort him. Cyborg went back and froze up, just like Robin, his face contorting, and he gave a roar and took a step. Then another. And then he was walking, the entire way and back again. As he was making his way back Starfire started forward, expecting the pain, and as soon as she came within range, she let out a terrible scream, but turned it into a battle cry, and she began yelling in tamaranian, a look of intense hatred on her face. But her hostage made it. Cyborg was almost back and it was Raven's turn. This time when she felt it she stumbled, paused to collect herself, and let out a growl. With a trembling hand she reached out and grabbed her hostage, harder than she should have, and walked her out. Cyborg was back and he was wheezing, clearly trying not to collapse. He got his hostage and took four steps before falling to one knee. He tried to get up but only landed himself on his face.
"Disqualified. Who's next?" Robin grimaced. He hated to do this to her but he had no choice.
"I volunteer." Robin looked, hoping he was wrong, but he wasn't
"Beastboy no! You can't do this! I forbid it!" Beastboy glared at him and stepped forward.
"Screw you bird boy. I can do this."
"No! You can't handle it!" Beastboy froze, he looked back at the pitiful form on the floor and he growled out
"You have no idea what I can handle." he turned and walked straight up to Cyborg's hostage. Everyone waited for him to crumple, to cry out and to fall, but it never happened. He paused for a second before proceeding, he looked annoyed. Everyone was amazed at how little he was showing, could he do it, could he really do it? He grabbed the hostage and began dragging her away from the door and back to the main group even as she protested.
"Wait! We have to go back! We have to go to the exit!"
"Yeah, but my buddy there fell, so we have to come back to the group before we can leave or I'll be disqualified, isn't that right ?"
"Yes, that's exactly it, but you forgot to mention that she would explode if you didn't follow protocol." her eyes went wide and she started breathing faster, clearly freaked out.
"I was trying to keep her calm there, thanks for that." Torquemada chuckled
"I must say, you have astounded me, no one has ever stood up to the pain as you have, I am most impressed Beastboy." he had reached the other remaining member of the group and turned around to begin his walk to get the first hostage out.
"Thanks." was his reply. He went back and got the last hostage and guided her as well.
"You realize that by taking your friend's burden you have taken his and Robin's quota?" Beastboy had gotten her out. He turned and walked to Cyborg.
"Yup." He went to his friend and leaned down.
"And you didn't even flinch. Once more Beastboy, I am impressed."
"I'm a hero, it's my job." he turned back to Cyborg "You weigh like nine hundred pounds, I can't move you dude, so I'm going to get this over with as quickly as possible. Don't worry, it'll be over before you know it." As short and one sided as the conversation was, it comforted him, and he silently prayed that his friend would be strong enough to shoulder the pain and save them all.
Beastboy went back to Raven and Starfire, the only two left besides himself.
"Congratulations, you have just survived group three, the equivalent of being hit by, then run over with a car. Begin round four, if you can."
"I'm first, that way you guys can be spaced evenly and we have a better chance at this. Who's after me?"
"Just go." Raven growled at him "Faster you go, faster we're done. Go!" He nodded.
Beastboy went forward, again, and this time when he got to his first hostage, he actually cringed for a second, but he continued regardless. Everyone watching knew how much bad it had to be to bring down three of the titans, but they could only imagine what he was going through now. He returned to the titans and Starfire staggered forward, fire in her eyes as she reached the second of the group. She got close to the hostage, but immediately doubled over, and curled up, falling on her side. Her back arched as she let out a bloodcurdling scream. It was long, it was loud, and it silenced everyone, inside the store and out. Even the crew covering the even stopped their commentary and watched as she writhed on the floor for what seemed like hours but was only seconds, before she fell gratefully into unconsciousness, the only indicator of which was that her. There was silence afterwards. It was broken by the words
"She is disqualified." Robin got up the best he could while Beastboy retrieved her and lay her by Robin who glared at Torquemada, swearing to him
"You will pay. Regardless of what happens here, I will ensure that you pay for what you have just done."
Even as the two were talking and exchanging death threats Raven was walking forward towards where Starfire had lain, determination in her face, even if you couldn't see it because of her hood, but you could see it in her stride. Beastboy watched with a solemn face as he saw her walk into the pain. For the first time she cried out. Hearing her cry out like that cut Beastboy to the core. It was worse than any pain he felt from wearing the belt, and he silently vowed to help Robin in getting his revenge, whatever it took. He watched her as she made her way, her agonizingly slow way, across the shop, through the doors, and to the field. As soon as she made it back to the doors, sweating and panting, he made his way to the three remaining hostages and took the youngest, a teen boy, and escorted him out. He wanted to comfort her somehow, but he couldn't touch her, he knew how much that would hurt her, so he refrained and just nodded instead. She nodded back, the camaraderie helping to sustain her, as pretty much nothing else was. He watched as she made her way, shuffling, to the last two there and grabbed the next hostage. She walked to the doors, slowly...two minutes...four...seven, she reached the door, only eight feet left. Another twenty seconds, she made it to the field and her hostage left, bracelet falling off. She thanked Raven and ran to where the other released hostages were kept, twenty four in total. Six were left. She turned to go back, and fell forward onto the ground. She tried to get up, the pain was clouding her vision, she got to her hands and knees and vomited. She fell to her side, fighting to remain conscious.
"She is disqualified. You must complete the remaining rounds by yourself Beastboy. I wonder, can you do it? That any of you managed to stay awake at this level is a miracle in and of itself, but to remain so and to triumph, it is nearly impossible."
Beastboy ignored him and was already walking, he had his hostage and they were going as fast as possible under the rules. He got his hostage out and immediately went to Raven.
"Hey, Rae-rae, this is gunna hurt, a lot, and if you feel like you're going under don't fight it ok? It just makes it worse. I'm picking you up on three ok? One...two..." he lifted her up and he let out an agonizing scream at the contact and what he was doing. She fell unconscious. "Three." his voice was sad as he lay her next to Starfire and Robin. He looked at Robin "Take care of her too ok?" Robin nodded, he could see now how much he cared for her, the look in his eyes...it was the same as when he looked at Starfire, but sadder.
"Congratulations Beastboy, you are the sole survivor of group four. No one has ever told me what four feels like would you care to try?"
"It feels like it's nothing I can't deal with."
"I doubt your confidence shall last with the next group."
"Wanna bet?" Beastboy walked over to the group and grabbed one of them by the arm grimacing as he did so and near to dragged them outside, their bracelet fell off with a *clink*. "That's one." He turned around and began walking back.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
Step, step, step, step.
The sound seemed to echo through the air, the ease and speed with which Beastboy had removed the last group seeming to mock Torquemada. His research, his life's work on creating the ultimate pain, it had come to nothing. He stood statue still in shock as Beastboy walked up to him.
"That's five. Now turn these damn things off!" he whispered the first but shouted the last, and Torquemada shook his head and spoke in a soft breathy voice.
"I said the titans must get everyone out, and that includes me." he jumped back, his hands glowing "Now prepare t-" he was swiftly cut off by Beastboy's fist in his face, propelling him to defy gravity and encouraging his back to meet the ground. Beastboy straddled his chest, grabbing him by the collar with his left hand.
"How do you turn it off?"
"I'll never tell you!"
*SMACK* Beastboy punched him in the face again
"How do you turn it off?"
"You won't ever-"
"How do you turn it off?"
"Do you really think-"
"Y-you broke my nose!"
"A lot worse coming if you don't turn these belts off, they're starting to get reeeally annoying."
"What was that one for?"
"I told you I was getting annoyed. Do I need to hit you again or are you gunna tell me how to turn these things off?"
"BEASTBOY!" this was Robin and he sounded frantic. "Raven stopped breathing! We need to get the belts off NOW!" Beastboy whipped around to the man in the suit and began wailing on him.
"YOU HAVE TO GET ME OUT OF THE FIELD!" Beastboy stopped punching him "As soon as I leave the belts will ACK!" He didn't need to say anymore, so Beastboy literally dragged him by the back of his collar out of the store, stood him up, and threw him through the field. He immediately felt the belt turn off and fall off, the lack of sensation almost a pain all it's own. He ran back to Raven, Robin was doing CPR on her.
"Switch out, you go make sure Cyborg's ok!" Robin nodded, and as he finished his chest compressions he stood up, a little unsteady on his feet and went to check on Cyborg. As soon as he was clear Beastboy closed her nose and his mouth was immediately on Raven's, breathing life into her. He started his compressions again. "Come on Raven, you can do this. Just a little breath, that's all. First one's the hardest, do the first and the rest will follow, come on Raven, come on!" he was getting frantic, she had to breath. She had to live. She had to. She HAD to. Fifteen compressions, two breaths. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Why wasn't she breathing? Why wasn't sh-
*cough, cough-cough* and a breath. She was breathing. Oh god, she was breathing, he had been so worried, he - she was awake and opening her eyes.
"Beastboy?" he leaned down to her "What happened?"
"Your heart stopped, I had to do CPR again." he chuckled "I have to say Raven, if you wanted me to kiss you there are easier ways." she blushed at his words.
"Shut up." but her heart wasn't really in it. She shot up straight "What about Torquemada? Is he-"
"Taken care of."
"But what ha-"
"Don't worry Rae."
"Hey, I said don't worry okay? Jus-" she slapped a hand over his mouth.
"If you cut me off one more time I swear I'm going to cut something off of you! Got it?" he nodded, she didn't have to say it twice. "Good, now help me up." He helped her up and looked around, the belts were on the floor, Cyborg was sitting up rubbing his head, Robin holding Starfire as they stood around him. Star gave him a hand up.
"I don't know about y'all," Cy said "but when i get home, I'm taking a bottle of aspirin, and I'm going to reacquaint myself with my bed." There were nods and agreements all around. Everyone piled into the T-car and they headed home.
Raven came up to the roof to think. She couldn't sleep and sometimes the starry sky could help her ease her mind. She opened the door that led to the roof and there he was, the source of all her troubles, the answers to all of her problems. Her salvation. Her Beastboy. She went and stood next to him, as he leaned on the railing on the edge of the roof. He looked over and smiled at her, a sad sort of smile, then he went back to staring at the stars.
"It was pretty amazing what you did today Beastboy." He shrugged "How did you stand it?"
"I feel worse every day." She was silent for a moment as she thought back.
"You said that the last time we were here, and I thought you were lying. You weren't, were you?"
"Beastboy...Garfield...if you feel worse every day...how can you stand it? Why haven't you said anything?"
"Do you know what happens when I transform?" he asked, still not looking at her "I'm not magic like you, it's a physical process for me...and I feel all of it. My bones, sinew, tendons, muscles, tissues, organs, skin, even my hair." he paused, licking his lips "You ever get growing pains?" she nodded "You know how terrible those are? Imagine that all over your body, only, times a million. Everything in me changes Raven, and it's so fast, I feel all of it but it's over so quickly." He looked down. "It hurts a lot worse than what that Tortilla guy did to us today."
"Torquemada." Raven was stunned, and her mind was on auto-pilot. He felt that every time he morphed? Every time?
"B...but, we had no idea, I mean, all those times you morph for the children, or to make a point, or to spy on one of us or just to get more comfortable on the couch. In battle all those transformations," Her eyes widened and she turned to him "Those rapid change drills Robin makes you do! That must be pure torture! How do you survive?" as she thought of all the pain he must feel every day she felt her heart break for him. But he just shrugged
"It's part of being me, I'm used to it by now."
"I thought that it was the worst pain in my life, then I met you." she stopped, frozen, heart pierced by an icicle.
"What?" Her voice was not her own again, it was broken, and quiet.
"The first time I met you, I liked you, I liked you a lot. I had a crush on you even. But then I got to know you." Her hear was breaking into a million pieces. Had he really changed his mind since he talked to Cyborg? Had he decided that she wasn't worth the trouble? She turned away as her eyes began to water.
"You don't need to say anything more Garfield."
"Yes, I do."
"No, really it's alright."
"Raven just shut up and let me talk ok?" she was shocked into silence, he had never talked to her like this. "I'm trying to tell you that I'm in love with you! I have been for a long time and I know you don't feel the same but I had to tell you!"
"What?" her voice had that damn sound to it again. what was wrong with her today? She looked at him and saw the love on his face, and the pain.
"Being around you all the time, seeing you everywhere and not being able to hold you, to tell you how much I love you," he looked down "it hurts worse than anything I've ever felt, worse than my morphs...but it's worth it. Even if I'm never with you, it's enough just to be around you every day, but I couldn't stand not telling you anymore. I talked with Cyborg and-"
"What?" his eyes were wide, his face pale "You know? What do you mean you know?" he paused "You knew all this time and-"
"No you moron." her voice was passionate and filled with affection, something he had never heard before. "Right before our mission today Cyborg showed me a video of you talking to him about me a few days ago." His face paled lime green. Her voice softened "Where you told him why you loved about me." he froze, then hung his head
"You, you saw that?" his voice barely a whisper
"Yes." she started walking towards him
"I...I-I know you don't feel the same way...I just-"
"Garfield." He looked up at her, she was really close to him, she grabbed his shirt and pulled his face in close "Shut up." he was about to speak when he couldn't, because she was kissing him, arms wrapped around his neck. Her lips were soft as they moved against his own, so soft. He responded, pulling her body against himself, hands on her waist, her back, pressing them together. They finally had to breath so they separated again, but they were still very close.
"So," he touched their foreheads together, grinning like a fool "does this mean you like me too?"
"No, it means I love you." she smiled back at him, only slightly though, but that was more than enough for him
"You have no idea how long I've waited to hear you say that. Are we going out now?"
"Yes you moron." she said it with love.
"Maybe, but now I'm your moron now." her breath caught in her throat as he kisser her again, she leaned back to look at him
"Really?" he placed a kiss gently on her nose
"Yup, forever" another kiss "and ever," and another "and ever." and another on her lips
"Good, because that's exactly how long I plan on loving you." He smiled even wider
"I can deal with that."
The two lovers embraced, kissing under the starlight, the rest of the world faded away, and everything was right in the world.