To Claim and Possess
Raven looked around the busy marina at all the other couples dressed in fine, summer-afternoon clothes, each of them swirling a cocktail around in a glass as they discussed politics or theater or art. She was completely and unequivocally out of her element. Why in the world would Beast Boy ever think that dragging her to some crowded, uppity part of town was a good idea for her birthday gift?
She looked down at her feet, feeling a blush spread across her face as a few eyes turned toward her, hushed whispers running over her body like cobwebs. Her hands instinctively went to pull her hood up and ended up fidgeting with her hair instead as she looked around for her date, who had mysteriously left her standing on the dock, as she attempted to not make eye contact with anyone. Was this a bad prank?
She cringed and turned to look at the older man who had approached her. Clearing her throat, she forced what (she hoped) was an appropriate smile. "Yes."
"I thought so!"
She forced her face to remain stoic. Of course she was Raven. She was super pale and had purple hair, who else could she possibly be?
He took a long sip of his champagne, a few of the bubbles clinging to his neatly trimmed mustache. "It's so nice to see you up and about. I heard you took a nasty fall in a coffee shop last week after you warded off a burglary."
"Thank you for your concern," she replied absently, "but I heal quickly." It wasn't really a burglary, but he didn't need to know that. Of course, she didn't need to be reminded of the debacle with Adonis either. She smoothed out her skirt again, her eyes racing through the people for her familiar, green teammate. Seriously, where was he? He had raced off the moment they had stopped next to the yacht, saying something about arrangements.
"Ah! That must explain why you're so powerful! No fear of pain."
She glanced up at him again, briefly debating on whether or not she should show him her heritage, and fully explain why she was powerful. Perhaps that wasn't the best plan, considering the crowd of people that had gathered around her. Instead she forced another polite smile and nodded. "It certainly makes things easier."
"Raven!" Beast Boy came running up to her, waving animatedly.
She breathed a sigh of relief and took a few steps toward her date.
"Sorry! I had to check on a few things before we boarded. Are you ready to go?" He offered her his hand and she took it without question. Anything to get away from the idiot who wanted to "chat it up" with her. Did she look like a chatty person? She threaded her fingers through his own and glared up at him from beneath her lashes.
"I cannot believe you left me all alone."
He chuckled and stared down at her. "Not one for crowds?"
"You know I'm not."
He laughed and casually kissed her temple as he led her over the boarding deck and onto the yacht. There was a subtle push and pull of the boat as the waves crashed along the sides, not enough to toss her around, but just enough to remind Raven that they were not on solid ground. She stumbled for a second before following her date into the yacht's interior, barely having a chance to marvel at all the opulence. Dark wood and fine carpet lined the walls and floors, and overhead there was a chandelier that sparkled vibrant white light onto her and at least twenty empty dining room tables. A few of the yacht's staff stopped and waved politely as Beast Boy moved through the room as if he owned it.
"Come on." He tugged at her arm and pulled her through the dining room to a small, hidden staircase in the back corner. She could practically feel his jovial excitement pour off him in waves, and it was infectious; Raven was unable to keep a small smile from gracing her lips. Beast Boy pushed her up through the stairs first, his hands wrapped tightly around her waist as he led her up the narrow, steep staircase. "I made sure that I reserved the whole top tier for us. We won't be bothered at all, and you won't have to worry about any more crowds."
"You what?" Raven stopped on the middle stair and turned around to look down at him, noticing that his eyes were at perfect chest-height and he wasn't looking up into her face just yet. She took another step back to put more space between them, fighting the blush that curled up her neck. "How did you afford all that?"
He shrugged, trying to look nonchalant, but a blush spread across his cheeks before he could stop it. "It's really not all that important."
"Yes it is, Gar." She put her hands on her hips and stared down at him with a frown. "How in the world did you afford this?"
He sighed in defeat and looked away. "Remember when I took that week off a couple of months ago?"
"Yeah." Raven pulled the memory up and rolled it around in her head. It wasn't unusual for someone to take time off for personal reasons, after all, a person couldn't be a hero 24/7. Even Raven had taken a few vacation days to spend time with her own friends. "You said you were going to visit a friend in Europe."
"I lied." He sidled past her to the top few stairs and wrapped his hand around her wrist again, tugging her along his path. "The truth is that I went back to Japan and did some marketing and modeling for an agency over there. Apparently Japanese chicks dig the ears… and the skin. And the whole package. The campaign was a pretty big hit and did well." He glanced back at her with a small smile and a shrug. "Anyway, I still get some sizable royalties from it… so I thought you deserved something nice."
Raven stared up at him, slack-jawed as her mind wandered to precisely what he modeled for. Images of him bare-chested and staring at some kind of technology flooded her mind, and she felt anger bubble up into her chest. Her hand tightened on the handrail to almost crushing strengths, and she glared up at him. "I can't believe you didn't tell Robin about this." She blinked and shook her head. "You know how he feels about us 'parading' - as he calls it."
"Oh, come on." He laughed, ignoring the look of death she was giving him. "It was one week, and I made my own money because of it. You can't blame me for that, can you?"
"No." Raven pursed her lips and looked away. "I can't blame you for wanting your own disposable income, but now you have hoards of Japanese girls fawning over you."
He laughed again. "There's nothing wrong with that."
"Yes there is."
"Oh?" He turned around at the top step and looked down at her with a smirk threading across his lips. His thumb slid over the back of her hand and he looked down at her expectantly. "And that is…?"
"I…" Raven felt her words die in her throat and she blushed. He was teasing her, trying to goad her into actually admitting that they had a relationship outside of their dreams. Raven pulled her hand away from him and took a step down, putting more space between them. She looked up into his face and kept her expression blank. "I thought that maybe we were in a relationship…"
"We are, Raven." He reached out and pulled her over the threshold to the top deck of the yacht, the sun blanketing her shoulders as they moved. "I can't help but tease you just a little. I mean, there are times when it's kind of fun to see you jealous."
"I'm not jealous."
"No?" He leaned back on his heels and watched her, still smirking.
"No." She huffed and pushed past him. "I just don't see why flaunting the fact that an entire country's female population thinks you're attractive is pertinent to our relationship.
"It's not." Beast Boy shrugged and shoved his hands in his pockets. "But I have to admit that you're kind of cute when you get upset or jea-lous." He made a point to separate the syllables for extra emphasis on the emotions.
Raven huffed, and felt magic gathering at her fingertips.
"Calm down, Rae." He maneuvered them out of the view of any prying eyes and easily crowded her space, the same way he had done in the coffee shop last week.
What in the world had he done to her? Raven pushed at his shoulders and shook her head. All it took was one word from him, one touch, and she was helpless.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to rile you up so much that you activated 'kick ass mode'." He tugged on a strand of hair that had fallen down from her fancy updo and chuckled. "But it is kind of nice to see you get worked up over our relationship, specifically what other girls think of me. It reminds me that you actually care about… us."
He leaned down and kissed her gently, pushing her back against the white walls and further from view. His lips feathered over her own, coaxing a response from her, rather than demanding it. Raven hated the way her heart jumped into her throat and fluttered there, pounding against her pulse. She hated the way a fine sheen of sweat raced after anywhere he touched. She hated that she had barely any control over her body as he kissed her.
But she loved the way he kissed.
He nipped at her lips once more before pulling away and looking into her eyes. There was a long pause as he continued to stare at her in silence, as if he was wishing this wasn't a dream. Finally, he threaded his fingers through her own and squeezed her hand. "Happy birthday, Raven."
It took a moment before Raven found her voice again, and she nodded politely. "Thank you."
"Now, come on." He tugged her arm again, his excitement continuing to grow as he drew her deeper onto the top deck, and farther away from any other people. "Let me show you around. I made sure that this was perfect for you."
"Oh?" Raven followed her around, her feet unable to do anything else. "You're familiar with this boat?"
"I took a look at it a few days ago. I wanted to make sure what I was getting when I reserved the space for us." He grinned and pulled her through the small space. Most of the top deck was exposed, with a few lounge chairs fully exposed to the sun, looking out over the wide expanse of ocean. However, there was a small room filled with couches and a small dining table. Windows lined the space, making sure that there was nothing interfering with the view, but below the built-in sofas were stacks and stacks of worn paperback books. It was as if the whole room was built just to her standards.
As Raven looked over the side of the top deck, she saw the rest of the people milling on the docks at the marina waiting to get on.
"I tried to think of something… different."
He stood next to her and looked down at the people below them, leaning against the railing. Silence fell over them again and he blushed brightly before fidgeting for a moment. "I just… I know that for a long time you and I haven't exactly had the best relationship." He shuffled his feet and picked at the steel handrail for a moment. "We were growing up in a world that was unstable and you and I… well, our personalities didn't always mesh. In fact, I don't think they evermeshed," he added with a laugh.
Raven snorted and looked over at him. "That's putting it mildly."
"We were kids for a long time, and neither of us can be mad at each other for being stupid kids… but now it feels different." He smiled down at her and let his hand rest over hers on the handrail. "We aren't kids anymore, and I think we both know that. I care about you, Raven, and I just wanted you to have the best birthday possible… I guess to make up for all the crappy ones."
"That's surprisingly sweet." She smiled up at him and gave him a quick kiss on his cheek before walking to the other side of the yacht to look out into the bay. He followed her over and ran his hand down the back of her arm.
"I mean it." He kissed her exposed shoulder. "I just want this to work."
"And it will." She looked over at him. "But you also have to give me time to adjust. I thought we'd agreed to take it slow."
"We did." He nodded and put a miniscule amount of space between them, trying to keep a hold on himself and his emotions before he lost control. "I am trying to move slow, Raven. Trust me. I want this to work for both of us, but finally having you in my arms - for real - makes it so hard to try and control myself. I want to give you the moon and stars if I could. I want you to be in my arms always. I want… everything." He shook his head and laughed. "Do you know how hard it is, waking up every morning and realizing that you spent the most amazing night of your life with this amazing woman only for it to be a dream?"
He rubbed the back of his head and sighed. "I know you know, because you're there too… but I just want us to be real."
"We are real." Raven sighed and turned to look at him, crossing her arms over her chest. "I know how you feel, Gar, I want it too. But we have to move slow. Neither of us can go crashing into romance blindly, it's not safe for you or me or anyone else who might happen to be around us. I'm too dangerous and you're…" Her words drifted off and she looked back at the bay again.
His ears fell and he sighed. "And I'm a beast. I know."
"I didn't mean it like that."
"It's the truth though." He rubbed his hair and groaned, sinking to the floor of the deck with his back leaning against the guardrail. "I wanted this whole relationship thing to happen naturally. I didn't want either of us have to be forced into rushing and pushing and trying to figure out how to handle this whole thing with Adonis in addition to trying to figure out how to be an actual couple." He groaned and looked up at her. "I just wanted us to be normal for once."
Raven shook her head and sat next to him on the deck. "When are we ever normal?" She reached out and took his hand in hers, listening to the bustle of people getting on the yacht and finding their table as they prepared for another cocktail hour before the chartered cruise took off.
It was in this noise, mingled with the silence of their conversation, that Raven realized how much courage it had to take for him to ask her out today. They had worked so hard to keep everything a secret, and then voicing his plans to Starfire and the rest of their teammates must have made him step out of his comfort zone. It was almost sweet that he had worked so hard to make sure that Raven had a good birthday.
"Thank you, Gar."
He looked up at her, shock lining his expression. "For what?"
"For making sure that I had a nice birthday."
He smiled. "I told you, you deserve a do-over for all the crappy ones."
"But you didn't have to do this."
"No, I didn't." He cupped her cheek. "But I wanted to."
Raven leaned into his touch, letting her eyes close as she relished the feeling of his hands on her skin.
"And I got to see you in a dress."
Her eyes shot open and she glared at him. "That cannot be the sole reason behind this."
He shrugged and laughed, letting his hand fall back to his side. "Awe c'mon, Rae. You bought this dress last week and I haven't seen you wear it yet. I wanted to get a good look at you in it, and I knew you wouldn't wear it to just any occasion."
"That's low." She pursed her lips and continued to stare.
"I'm just kidding." Pause. "A little."
Raven rolled her eyes and leaned back against the railing, listening to the commotion on the lower deck, followed by the safety announcement over the PA system. Life vests were located on all levels in designated areas. The trip would be a total of five hours, starting with h'orderves and cocktails, and then dinner would be served two hours after that. The third tier and highest deck was off limits due to a private party. Raven smirked and looked over at Beast Boy, who feigned nonchalance and shrugged. She listened to the captain prattle on for a few minutes longer before there was the unmistakable lurch of the yacht disengaging from the dock.
"Five hours?" She looked over at him, falling into a pleasant lull from the hum of the engine. "Precisely what did you have planned for five hours?"
He grinned at her. "Nothing."
"What?" Raven blinked and tried to see if he was being coy. He wasn't. "You went to all this trouble and you have nothing planned?"
"Because I know you." He stood up and dusted off his pants. "I know you're not one for plans, or parties, or surprises, or exciting adventures. I'm not stupid, I know that all you really want, Raven, is some quiet time, nice scenery, and a good book." He motioned to the small room with a smile. "Which is why I made sure to choose this space, on this boat, with this leisure cruise."
She blushed. "You know me well."
"Years of being observant." He helped her to her feet and shrugged. "And getting pummeled by you for disturbing your privacy and quiet time. Kinda upset it took me so long to be an adult and figure it out."
"Well, I'm glad you did."
A server appeared at the top of the steps with a bottle of iced champagne and set it in between the two lounge chairs on the deck. Beast Boy led her over to one of the lounge chairs and let her sit down before he poured her a glass of champagne. He handed it to her and sat down, letting the silence weave between them as they watched Titan Tower disappear into the distance. The space between their teammates and responsibilities both eased and stressed Raven. It was rare that she took time off, and even more rare that she did so with another teammate. But there was still something about enjoying the separation that comforted her. After all, what could happen when she was with Beast Boy?
Raven settled into her seat and leaned back, sipping at the chilled champagne with some reservation. After all, she rarely drank. "They're going to talk, you know."
Beast Boy considered that for a moment, regarding the shrinking tower carefully. "Probably."
Raven looked over at him. "And you're okay with this?"
He shrugged. "Are you?"
"I'm not sure."
"Well, you have all afternoon to figure it out." He reached out and touched her hand before leaning back into his chair and closing his eyes. A few more minutes of silence passed between them, and Raven felt her own body before relaxed and listless. Below her she could feel the excitement and joy of a hundred party guests drinking and having a good time. But here, on top of everything, she felt almost at peace.
Raven popped one eye open and looked over at him, wiping the smile off her lips before it became to broad. "I'm not allowed to be happy?"
"I never said that." He laughed, and she could hear him pouring her another glass of champagne. "I just enjoy seeing you happy."
"Don't be such a sap, Gar."
Raven shook her head and felt sleep slide over her like a soft, warm blanket. "I'm strangely tired right now."
"You're relaxed. It's different."
"Mm." Her muscles sunk deeper into the cushion underneath her, and she sighed. "Thanks, Gar."
"Thinking about me… and what I would want."
"Of course, Rae… I care about you." He swallowed and Raven heard him stiffen, feeling his body tense as excitement coursed through him at a pace she had never known. What was he worked up about? Raven's own body responded in kind, and she forced her eyes open to see him sitting up, looking at her. He fidgeted with the glass in his hands for a moment before…
"I love you."
The beast had been right.
Her emotions suddenly flew to life at his confession, and she couldn't stop the weird, giddy feeling that permeated her whole body. It was as if everything was coming to a point, sharp and in front of her. She could see how everything was woven together, his beast with her demon. Their love for each other. It all made sense to her now, and seeing it for the first time made something inside her sing with joy.
"Sorry…" He scratched the back of his head and looked away, a blush darkening his face. "I probably shouldn't have thrown that at you right now, considering-"
"I love you too."
Raven sat up and looked at him, shrugging and looking at her feet. "I said… I love you too. I'm sorry, I should have told you that a long time ago, but I was scared and stupid…" She looked up at his slack-jawed face with a smile and nudged his knee with her hand. "And your beast stole the keystone memory that reminded me of why I love you…" She moved and sat next to him on the chair, letting her knee touch his. "I just hope we can forgive each other for being stupid for so many years."
He seemed to gather his wits for a moment as he leaned closer to her, his lips barely centimeters from her own. "Well, that's your excuse, but what's mine?"
Raven rolled her eyes and closed the space between them, knowing that she was sealing her fate with a kiss.
"That's enough of this disgusting display."
No. It wasn't possible. Was it?
After all, they hadn't defeated him permanently, their battle had just been a temporary fix.
Raven pulled away from Beast Boy and stared across the expanse of the deck to the tall, lanky figure filling the small doorway. He crossed his arms over his chest and inched closer, over the threshold towards them. She felt her powers spike and she stood up, looking into the face of Adonis, grinning down at her with something akin to psychotic joy in his eyes. He looked deranged, as if one thing would set him off and Raven would have boat of bodies she would have to deal with.
They just couldn't catch a break, could they?
She bristled with the sentiment. How had he known? That knowledge was supposed to be private.
"You seem surprised, Raven." He leaned back on his heels and crossed his arms over his chest and regarded her carefully, a smile playing over this thin lips. "Did you think your birthday was sealed knowledge? That doing just a little, actual detective work would yield no results?" He moved even closer to them, his smile turning into something twisted. "Your innocence is almost heartwarming, demon."
"Stay away." Beast Boy snarled and stood up, stepping in front of her body as if to shield her from the possible onslaught of their fight. "She's made her decision."
Adonis laughed and moved closer to him, fur rippling across both of their arms as the space between them shrank. He grinned, flashing his fangs at his opponent. "You seem to be under the delusion that Raven has a choice. There was no choice."
Raven snarled at him and pushed Beast Boy out of her way. "I am not going to fight you here, Adonis."
"Because of all the innocent people below?" He laughed low in his throat, his eyes never leaving her own. "I know that. That's why I followed you here, because I knew that you would be so protective of all the poor, brainless souls dancing and drinking below us. You wouldn't want to harm a hair on their heads. And so, here you are, out in the middle of the ocean… and yet somehow I'm the one who is protected." He smiled again and moved closer to her. "I'm tired of chasing you through dreams, Raven."
"So, you're here in the flesh then?"
"No, demon." He leaned closer to her. "I'm here to take flesh."
Um... hi, friends. Please accept this olive branch as an apology for my absence. I know it's not the most perfect or poignant olive branch, but it is for you.
Thanks for reading, and even more thanks for being awesome.