Author's Note: To all of you who have read "Primeval" and to any of you who have contacted me via Personal Message, you know how I felt about the last few chapters of the story. I was fighting with it, arguing with it, and in the end I gave something that was okay, but was not on par with some of my other work. That's not fair to you and it wasn't fair to my story. So, I have decided to try again, and while the story will be mostly the same, I have tweaked it just a little to get it to work. A lot of this you've already read, some of this you haven't, but I hope you enjoy it or re-enjoy it just the same.
Thanks again for all your support.
To Claim and Possess
Rain splattered on the leaves above their heads, ticking furiously somewhere between a drizzle and full downpour. Raven leaned against the tree trunk, tapping her fingertips on her knees. Of all the people she could have gotten stuck with on this mission, it had to be Beast Boy. She could have handled Starfire with her chattiness, Robin with his stoic deduction, and even Cyborg with his… Cyborgness. But Beast Boy? Really?
"You're giving me the hairy eye, Raven. Seriously… what did I do wrong?"
Raven turned away and frowned. She had to keep reminding herself that this wasn't his fault. He didn't ask for this mission, and he didn't ask for Raven to be his partner. It was just the nature of the beast, if Raven could forgive herself for such a terrible pun. Adonis had been released from Jump City Penitentiary last night on the grounds of good behavior (which was, in Raven's eyes, a total crock), and he was rumored to return here. Beast Boy and Raven were sent to make sure that he didn't violate parole before the ink was dry on his release papers.
Raven took a deep breath and kept herself from snapping at Beast Boy. This wasn't his fault. He didn't make the decision to go on this mission, it was a group decision, and he just happened to be the best candidate. Raven moved closer to the tree trunk, trying to shield herself from the onslaught of rain. "I just don't understand why it had to be me with you… Adonis only likes pretty girls, why didn't you take Starfire? If you wanted to bait the beast, you should have brought her."
"Nope. I am not even going to comment." Beast Boy rolled his eyes and stood up, uncurling his spine from its hunched position. "That is a loaded statement and I am not going to even try to respond." He crossed his arms over his chest and stared out into the murky darkness of the forest at twilight.
Although he feigned indifference, Raven could feel his edge roiling under the surface of his skin like poison leaking from an old wound. It had been four years since they fought Adonis and put him away, and four years since Beast Boy had to confront the thing living inside him. The beast did not vanish with Adonis's defeat, it was still there clawing at him, begging for release. Raven knew he struggled with it every day, fought with the primal instincts that drove him to be an animal, but he never gave any indication of the turmoil inside him. He carried on with his life, laughing, playing, fighting… being himself.
And in spite of her own feigned indifference, she was proud of his control… but she also knew it would eventually break.
He sighed and turned around to face her, lines of weariness starting to show on his face. "I didn't want you here anyway, Robin just thought it was a good idea to have some back up… and considering you were his target of choice last time he… ya know… Robin thought you should come."
"I know that." Raven looked away, frowning. She felt the anger boil and then quickly dissipate between them. She looked up at Beast Boy and sighed, reminding herself for the millionth time that this wasn't his fault. There were a thousand other things he could be blamed for, but this wasn't one of them. "I… I know."
"I don't like it either. It just… It just doesn't feel right." He moved slowly, pacing around the trees and sniffing at the air, looking for any sign of Adonis. The beast was gnawing at him tonight, anxious for a fight. Raven could feel the sharp spike of power every time it tore at Beast Boy's psyche. It wanted to be free. It wanted action. But Beast Boy refused to give up control, he knew what happened when he did, and he refused to allow that kind of damage to come from him.
Raven sighed and patted the ground next to her. "Come here, Gar."
He paused and Raven saw the flicker of something dark in his eyes. "Why?"
"Because, your pacing is driving me nuts and your energy is going to send my own powers into haywire mode if you don't calm down." She looked up at him and frowned, feeling his energy reach toward her then pull away quickly. "Now, seriously, come here and sit down. Let me help you."
"I'm fine." Beast Boy stopped pacing and shifted his weight around, but he didn't move any closer to her. There was another long pause as he continued to stare into the forest. "I'm just anxious… I don't want to believe that Adonis can be released for 'good behavior'. There isn't a good bone in his body." He resumed pacing and Raven stood up, now thoroughly irritated. His energy was going to throw her whole powers out of whack if he didn't find some iota of tranquility.
"Calm down." She took his hand and yanked hard, forcing him to stop in his tracks. The tension snapped and his energy lashed out. Beast Boy turned, gnashing his teeth at her and growling low in his throat, but Raven planted her feet and stood her ground. This was not the first time the beast had broken the surface to get to her, and it certainly wouldn't be the last. Beast Boy was strong, but there were times when the beast was far stronger, and he would always get what he wanted.
Beast Boy gasped for breath as he regained control of himself, grimacing with pain as he forced the energy inside him into submission. His hands shook and he took a step back, trying to put more space between them, eyes clouded and distant. "I'm sorry… I didn't mean for that to happen."
"I know." She dusted off her cloak and moved closer to him, holding out her hands for his own. "You need to calm down. I can help you, just give me your hand again."
"I don't need your silly healing chakra or whatever, Raven… I just need this night to be over." There was a wave of guilt that rushed between them and Beast Boy frowned. He rubbed the back of his neck as he looked at her. "Sorry… that was mean."
"Yes it was." Raven retreated to her one dry spot underneath the tree.
He looked back at her, his face a mixture of guilt and sheepishness. "I'm just on edge."
"Yes… I know. We've had that conversation already." She sighed and leaned back against the tree trunk. "You don't have to accept my help, but I am asking you to quit annoying me right now. So, either shut up and sit down, or get out of my sight."
Raven felt remorse push against her senses. He was genuinely sorry for upsetting her, but she didn't need to be so harsh with him either. He always made her emotions a jumble of feelings, and it set her own teeth on edge. Beast Boy sighed and moved back towards her, flopping down in the dirt. He looked into her eyes before unceremoniously thrusting his right hand in front of her as a peace offering. "Okay… show me what I need to do to calm down."
"Relax…" She placed her hand over his and felt his fingers twitch just a little at the contact. There was a surge of reservation and concern, but he managed to still his feelings before they grew out of control. "Be still… take a deep breath, in and out…" Raven pressed a bit deeper into his skin and his aura, but met some resistance with the power beneath him. The beast was stronger than she last remembered, and he seemed unusually territorial over Beast Boy's body. His presence pushed back at her, forcing Raven to retreat just a little. She refused to be intimidated by him, he would not win against her.
Raven moved herself forward, past the beast's resistance and pressing deeper into Beast Boy's aura, closing in on his psyche. She could feel the power around her, his memories, his feeling, pieces of his soul that made him who he was. In the distance, she knew the beast surrounded her, staying far enough away that she couldn't read him or his intentions, but coming close enough for her to realize that he was a threat. She was in his territory, and like the beast he was, he would defend it.
Raven ignored the shadow of the beast, and moved closer to Beast Boy's psyche, reaching out and stilling the waves of energy rolling off of energy. His nervousness, his fear, his concern, and his reservation all stilled into a few moments of lucid tranquility. Raven knew it wouldn't last forever, it was just a temporary fix, but it would at least calm him down enough to fight rationally. If the beast gained too much hold, everyone in the vicinity could be in danger, including Raven. She calmed his nerves before making her way out of his aura again. This time, the beast followed closer, readying to attack her, and in the distance, she heard him growl.
You think to rule me?
Raven tried to move toward the source of the words shimmering in the aura around her.
You enter this soul with no regard to what is here… you think to rule me. To change me.
Panic rose in her throat as Raven tried to pull away from Beast Boy. Bad. This was very, very bad. She had to be delicate in removing herself from him, one wrong move and a piece of her own soul would be permanently connected with his. She edged toward the end of his aura, where the beast's pull was weak and she could disentangle herself from him. The air stilled around her, and she could feel a gentle caress against her soul, as if something was trying to understand what she was.
You are a demon. A beast, like me…
Pain shot through her as a cold mist twisted around her aura, pulling and tugging at her own soul until she felt as though she were being dissected, laid open for the beast to see all parts of her. He picked at her, entered her, moved her around until he could see who she was, what she was, her memories, her triumphs, her vanities, her weaknesses… it was all there for him to observe. Raven tried to scream, but she could make no sound, and her soul gave no resistance against his perverted exploration.
You are a demon… you're his demon.
Through the pain, Raven stilled. His? Whose demon was she? She didn't belong to anyone, she was a person, not an object. Raven fought against the mist picking apart her aura, looking at her with more than an innocent interest. It wanted to know everything about her, every fault and every perfection. Raven struggled against his hold, clawing at the energy for some hope of escape. The beast seemed almost amused by her futile attempts at escape, and it laughed a low rumble into her.
This is my territory and you have entered it without my consent. You are not free to leave without giving me some kind of collateral, a token of your gratitude for sparing your soul.
Raven felt the energy move, picking through her memories, searching for something. It shifted over all the ones with her friends, all the times she grew close to Robin, or Starfire, or Cyborg. Finally, it ripped through the memories with Beast Boy like a child ripping through a birthday package. One memory after another, pulling each apart until it found what it wanted. Minutes passed, maybe hours, and then he discovered a favorite memory, it was sunset… and she was with…
His energy paused over the memory, enjoying its beauty before he ripped it from her soul and retreated into the territory of Beast Boy's psyche.
… the sunset? …who had she been with?
I will take this as payment. You may go.
It released her with a violent strike to her soul and Raven gasped for air as she was thrown back into her own body. Her head slammed against the tree behind her and she finally yelled out the curse locked up in her throat.
"Raven… Raven!" Beast Boy gasped and jumped forward pulling her close and into the shelter of his body. She stilled against his touch, trying to make sense of what happened in his aura. It wasn't the first time she had entered Beast Boy's soul, she had done the exact same thing a dozen times before, but it was the first time that the beast was an actual threat. Was it because of Adonis? Or was there something else that drove the beast to behave like an animal?
"I'm fine… I just… I got a little too close to your beast. That's all." Raven pushed his hands off of her and sat up, rubbing her head. She felt strange, like there was a piece of her completely missing and she felt kind of hollow without it.
"I… I'm not sure…" Raven rubbed the back of her head again before looking over at her friend. She wanted to tell him the truth, that the beast had attacked her and ripped her apart looking for a memory to steal. But he was already too worked up over Adonis, and he still felt a little on edge about this mission, Raven couldn't tell him. She couldn't give Beast Boy another reason to hate himself. Instead, she forced a weak, broken smile and stood up. "I think I'm just a little rusty. You haven't let me help your psyche in a long time, I don't think the beast remembered who I was."
"I'm sorry… he's been… temperamental lately." He shrugged and looked back into the inky darkness, refusing to elaborate on what that meant exactly. There was a long moment of stillness between them before he looked back over at her and sighed. "You really did help me today… I feel a little better for right now, like the beast is at bay, and I can actually think for a few minutes."
"It's only temporary, Beast Boy… in a few hours you'll go back to feeling whatever you want to feel at the time, but for right now, you have peace." Raven felt a chill run through her body as she heard a lone cry of a wolf, somewhere far in the distance. Her mind began to wander, dwelling on her interaction with the beast. He had taken something precious from her, but she couldn't remember what. It was a warm memory, something she cherished…
"He's claiming his territory…" Beast Boy cocked his head to the side and listened to the sound, a frown tugging at his lips. "We're invading his space."
"I know the feeling." Raven wrapped her cloak around her tighter and retreated into the shadows.
"It's getting dark, Raven… do you want to stay, or do you want to go home? I can have the wolves keep an eye on the woods for us. They'll let me know if Adonis decides to show, or if he decides to violate parole." Beast Boy sighed and leaned back on his heels, his body easily accepting the tranquility she gave him. Raven tried not to think about what that stillness cost her.
"I do all that work to calm you down and you want to leave?" Raven rolled her eyes and moved away from him, still fighting to tie the pieces of her stolen memory together. It was a sunset, but who was she with and what happened between them? "Seriously, Beast Boy… you're such a slacker."
"I'm not a slacker!" He chased after her, and Raven felt his energy push at her. He pretended to be insulted, but his aura was laughing. It was a game, and he liked to play games. "I do plenty of work around the tower."
Raven forced her lips to keep from smiling as she stared up at him. His energy was almost contagious, and for a few moments she forgot about the new, strange hollowness eating at her soul. "Uh-huh? And when was the last time you picked up your socks from the living room? Or did your share of the dishes? Or took Silkie out for a walk?"
"Awe, come on! I took him out this morning and you know it." He pouted and looked away. Now, he was kind of insulted, and Raven felt a little bad about pushing him too far. "You don't have to be so mean, Rae."
"You don't have to be so lazy either." Raven cringed under the shelter of her hood. Why couldn't she stop teasing him? It was like something inside her enjoyed picking at him and enjoyed the rise she got out of him, enough to make her forget sometimes that he was her friend. She feigned nonchalance as he pouted some more and moved away from her. "I don't think Adonis is going to show tonight… at least not here. Let's check back tomorrow evening and we'll…" Raven drifted off as she felt a long-forgotten surge of power rip at her soul.
The wolves howled again, this time alerting Beast Boy to the new intruder on his territory. He stilled and turned to stare into the darkness. The sun had set fully now, and the forest was pitch black in the rain, making it impossible to see what could be lurking out there. Beast Boy crouched low, digging his fingers and feet into the ground. Like a great cat, he was all coiled muscle, ready to pounce and attack at the first sign of Adonis. "He came…"
"Hang on…" Raven pressed a hand to her shoulder, feeling his skin flinch under her touch. His energy started to twist again, wrapping around her with such ferocity that she was forced to pull away. This scenario couldn't have gotten any worse, Adonis was here and Beast Boy was one wrong move away from tearing limbs from people's bodies. "He hasn't done anything wrong yet, don't instigate a fight if we don't have to."
She could feel Beast Boy's spite and unbridled anger race through them, nearly erasing all of Raven's hard work she'd done to calm his psyche. "He deserves everything he gets." Beast Boy didn't look up at her, but still stared ahead, growling low in his throat. "Everything. He doesn't deserve forgiveness or a chance at parole."
"Beast Boy… calm down… we can't jump blindly into a fight, that's asking for us to get hurt." Raven reached out to touch him again, but pulled back when he snapped at her. Emotions wrapped around her, twisting and contorting her own powers until she felt like she was going to lose control. The beast was growing stronger as Adonis came closer, but the surge of power didn't come from their proximity to each other, the beast was trying to protect something.
Beast Boy didn't have a chance to respond. Adonis, his body contorted as his own beast, tore through the trees hissing and spitting as his body rammed into Beast Boy's. There was a loud, sickening shockwave as they connected, the force of Adonis' attack throwing Beast Boy to the ground in a show of dominance.
Beast Boy snapped under the tension and he roared at his opponent. There was no containing the beast now. He finally broke free and surged to the surface with such power that Raven was knocked off her feet and thrown to the ground, lying open and unguarded against attacks. Adonis saw the opportunity and took it.
He lunged toward Raven's body, fangs displayed and claws outstretched, but Beast Boy threw himself into his body, and all of them rolled along the forest floor in a tangle of arms and legs. Beast Boy howled and snarled as his claws flashed and he threw Adonis's body from Raven. Pain ripped through her consciousness when her side became collateral damage in the fight, as Beast Boy's claws dug into her hip, gouging three perfect lines.
She cursed as her vision darkened with the pain. Through her haze she could see them fighting, cursing and scratching at each other, fighting for dominance. Raven could barely see their movements, but she knew each blow and each strike was meant to kill. Beast Boy snarled and charged Adonis, his claws wrapping around Adonis' throat and throwing him into the dirt and landing on top of him. Adonis snarled and spit and cursed, pushing back at Beast Boy, trying to break his hold.
"Stop…" Raven pushed the pain out of sight and stood up, clinging to the tree for support. Adonis was writhing around like a fish, his own claws digging into the dirt for something to hold on to. His body was starting to give out, and Beast Boy was going to kill him. "Beast Boy, stop…" He didn't even flinch at the sound of his name. Raven gathered what energy she had left and yelled. "STOP!"
The force of her powers pushed Beast Boy from Adonis, sending them both skittering across the forest floor. There was a long moment of tense silence as Adonis gasped for breath before slinking away into the darkness. Raven knew better than to chase after him, that would only make them fight again. She swallowed hard and looked at Beast Boy, lying on the floor, breathing slowly. The gentle ebb and flow of his psyche was replaced by the brutal, dominant push of the beast. Beast Boy may have returned to his human form, but he did not control his own body
Raven looked into her friend's dark eyes, fighting to keep her powers from lashing out to protect her. He stood up and stared at her, eyeing her up as if she were prey. "You pathetic demon. You interfered into the territory of my soul and when I seek to end a fight, you let my opponent live?"
Raven tilted her chin up defiantly, ignoring the weak feeling in her arms and legs. How had today gone so horribly wrong? It wasn't ever supposed to happen like this, it was supposed to be a normal, boring mission. All they had to do was make sure Adonis didn't violate parole. So, how had this chaos happened? "He did nothing wrong. We were only here to make sure he didn't violate parole, not instigate a fight."
"He attacked us first."
"That doesn't mean we can kill him."
"He invaded my territory."
"We invaded the wolves' territory, how is that any different?" Raven looked him in the eyes, trying to find any shred of Beast Boy left. He was there, still trying to fight for control of his own body, but the beast would not let go just yet. Raven raised herself to her full and unimpressive height and glared. "Back down."
He looked at her, cocking his head to the side as he examined her. There was a long moment before he pressed close to her, touching the bloody wound on her hip. He smiled and whispered an enigmatic: "You'll do."
Well… let me know what you think. Be advised that I will not fully focus on this until I complete "Primeval" … which should be sometime very soon. The last two chapters are almost done in my head, and I just need to transpose them to page. Anyway, let me know what you think. Thanks for reading!