3 – Close Quarters
Why did it have to be so damn cramped?
As Raven attempted to move to stop the pins and needles in her leg, she inadvertently pressed her back up against his. She wanted to snap at him, tell him to move, something! But doing so would alert those things to their presence.
There was a noise from outside the tiny shipping container they were hiding in and she felt a spike of Beastboy's fear reverberate through her.
Oh Azar why didn't he just transform into something smaller? She supposed he'd been too frightened during the sudden escape to think of that and she could hardly tell him when she was forced into silence by the creatures on the other side of the thin crate wall. And contrary to popular belief, she couldn't speak to someone telepathically. She could open up a mind bond between them, but that would involve levitating and chanting her mantra, neither of which was possible in such close quarters.
The reason for the position they found themselves in was a bit of a mystery so far. The city had been attacked by these demon-like creatures. Raven knew they weren't true demons as she could sense the difference, but they certainly looked like something demon-esque. And boy were they formidable. So far her best guess was some kind of physical illusion, like the ones Control Freak created, but this didn't seem to fit his MO.
There were about a hundred of the strange creatures, all looking like a cross between a griffin and...something else, as each had four legs and two arms. They had moved too quickly and during the fight Raven and Beastboy had become separated from the others. Their combined power had taken out a dozen or so but they were quickly becoming fatigued and Raven had known they wouldn't last much longer without a chance to take a breath and strategise. So in an act of retreat she had used her obsidian energy to transport them to the closest place she could manage – the warehouse on the same street.
As soon as they had landed they had heard the creatures break in and so Beastboy had quickly helped her to the nearby crates where they climbed inside an empty one and pulled the lid into place just in time.
And so here they were. Cramped in a box which they couldn't escape from until they were sure those things had given up looking in here. It was getting stuffy and Raven was having to force her breathing to stay quiet as she gulped for fresh air.
She felt Beastboy move his head behind her, trying to look in her direction. His hair tickled her neck and she inwardly groaned at the unfairness of it all.
The most frightening thing for her was that she wasn't annoyed at being this close to him, but rather that she was torturously elated. This felt far too intimate and she was uncomfortable and yet excited by that. She was terrified because she didn't want her powers to cause anything to explode which would give away their location.
Her feelings for him were growing all the time, something which she was no longer denying to herself, despite her reluctance to accept it. She no longer snapped at him when he was simply trying to get some attention from her and he had even been known to elicit a small smile from her every once in a blue moon, especially in his cat form. As a result, he no longer came off as so annoying. He realised he didn't have to push her so hard to get a reaction and had started unconsciously setting himself limits. He was growing up.
Her new treatment of him also meant that his feelings for her had been developing into something more mature than a simple crush. She had started to sense the change in him over the past two months gradually since she was now much more actively curious about it. It was odd but she had come to enjoy the feelings radiating from him whenever he was in her company. It made her feel flattered and happy in that special Raven-brand way. It hadn't stopped her from teasing him about it every so often though.
She was starting to struggle in the crate now. Her growing nervousness at their proximity was so bad she was no longer sensing anything from him. Her own emotions were completely blocking her empathic abilities. His hair continued to tickle her neck as he moved, something both pleasant and terrifying. She was internally freaking out.
'Breathe. Breathe. Azarath. Metrion. Zinthos. Azarath. Metrion. Zinthos.' she commanded herself mentally.
She belatedly realised her distress must have been obvious as Beastboy's hand suddenly grasped her wrist in an attempt at a calming gesture, his thumb rubbing small circled against it. Beads of sweat were forming on her forehead at this development. He thought he was helping and he was only making it worse. His glove was missing, it must have happened during the fight she concluded. It caused a further problem in that she could feel his bare skin against her own.
Oh Azar, she couldn't do this. She couldn't cope with the closeness in this stupid container! It was dark and warm, reminiscent of the bedroom 10 years in the future. And his bare hand was on hers. Skin on skin. Too much. Too much reminded her of her experience with Gar, the last thing she wanted to remember under these circumstances.
His thumb continued to move over the back of her hand, caressing her and desperately trying to soothe her panic, completely clueless and unaware that he was the cause of it.
She could feel her powers pushing at her for release. Her fingers felt the tingling crackle of escaping energy. This was it. They were going to be discovered. All because of the stupid hiding place he'd chosen. She tried scooting forward again, painfully aware there was nowhere to scoot to. He suddenly tried pulling away too, finally understanding her need for some space from him, although not knowing why.
As luck would have it, it was her powers which saved them. They did backfire, but instead of breaking something nearby, every warehouse window on one side of the building blew, and all blew inwardly. Raven could hear the clinking sounds of the shards of glass landing as the noise from the initial explosion faded. She could also hear every one of the creatures dash towards the source of said noise, leaving them both relatively safe for now.
Beastboy let out a breath he'd clearly been holding and popped the lid a little, peeking out into the now mostly deserted area. As he started to stand up, Raven did so too, turning to look in the opposite direction of the one she had been trapped in. As she did, Beastboy suddenly turned and grabbed her, pulling her back down into the crate. They both gritted their teeth as they heard one of the creatures go past them and stop before turning around and pacing back the same way it had come. Great. A sentry of sorts. At least it was making a wide enough circle around them that they could probably whisper to one another.
It was at that moment that they both became aware of their new position. They had turned as they had jumped back into the crate. They were no longer squashed back to back but face to face. They were both kneeling now, a result of their attempts to stand and while that gave them a little space between, it wasn't much.
They both blushed and though it was dark they were close enough to register each others scarlet faces. Beastboy squeezed his eyes shut and turned away as much as he could in an attempt to curb his embarrassment. Her empathic abilities back again, Raven could sense his discomfort and...lust?
Extremely mild lust of course, but still...lust?
Her stomach flipped. Is that what the strange excitement she had been feeling this whole time truly was? Her own mild lust towards him? Surely not. She was developing feelings for him, sure, but this?
She clamped her eyes shut and tried sorting through the emotions clouding her mind. She searched through every emotion she perceived and attempted to separate what she was feeling from what she was only conscious of unintentionally. Yes, there was Beastboy's feelings and specifically his...um, that emotion. And...there was her...her...incredibly identical feeling. She forced herself to open her eyes and look at him.
As she searching his face, Raven realised she was lingering on his lips just a little longer than she should be. She dropped her lids again and shook her head lightly to force the thought from her head, for now at least. Things were getting so unnecessarily awkward again.
"Oh fuck," she whispered under her breath.
She heard a quiet gasp and opened her eyes to see Beastboy both amused and shocked looking, an interesting combination that she had no time to appreciate.
"What?" she asked him in a whisper.
"What?" he replied, "What do you mean 'what?' I don't think you've ever sworn before."
"I have. You just weren't there to hear it," she told him. 'At least not 15 year old you' she added mentally, remembering again.
"Are you...? What are you smiling about?"
"Nothing," she said, immediately wiping the tender smile from her face, "How long do you think that thing will hang around out there?" she gestured to where they'd heard the creature a few minutes ago. He didn't answer. "Um, Beastboy?"
She smirked crookedly. He clearly hadn't taken in a word she'd said. He hadn't been able to take his eyes off of her lips since she'd smiled. And as soon as she'd started smirking his ears had twitched the same way they did when he was intensely fascinated by something, like when he obsessed over a new video game or was anticipating his favourite moment in a movie he'd seen before. As terrible as the timing was, she couldn't resist teasing him just a little.
She deliberately licked her top lip before smirking again and saying, "You know, now is a really bad time to get lost in your little fantasy world where, from the look on your face, we're probably kissing right now."
His eyes went as wide as saucers as he snapped out of it. He immediately dropped his gaze so he didn't have to make eye contact but just embarrassed himself further as their proximity meant he was staring right at her chest. He immediately snapped his eyes back to hers, the lesser of two embarrassing evils.
Raven's raised an eyebrow at him. Her face betrayed nothing but slight amusement.
"Please don't tease me when we're traaaaaapped like this" he whined, "It's unfair. I can't run off if it bothers me."
"Wait, my teasing bothers you?" she asked, concern suddenly etched across her face.
"Well...sometimes. I mean, I know-" he said, cutting off as they heard movement near them. He waited until the demon thing moved off again before continuing at a slightly lower volume.
"I know it's all just meant in good fun, but it's one thing for the guys or Starfire to tease me about liking you, it's another thing entirely for you to do it."
Raven wasn't liking where this was going. The good natured ribbing she'd been giving him lately about his feelings for her had been partly for amusement, but mostly it had been an attempt to get everything out in the open. The more comfortable they both felt talking about his feelings, the more she thought she might feel safe enough to confess her own. But instead she'd hurt him somehow. She could see it all over his face, and she could feel it from him even more strongly than that.
"I...I don't...understand," she whispered, a little louder than intended.
He sighed and sat back as far as he could given his restricted space. As expected he only cleared about a centimetre of distance between their faces.
"When you make fun of my..." he gulped obviously, eyes squeezing closed, "...'crush' on you, you're kinda saying it doesn't mean much to you. You know, like you can't take it seriously. You don't care even."
She thought she could tell where he was going with this but that just meant she was becoming more confused.
"There's a big difference between me thinking you're never gonna like me back, and you making it outright obvious. It hurts."
She didn't understand. Hadn't he and her other self...been intimate? That first morning back, she's lost control of her powers because he'd let it slip that he hadn't gotten any sleep. She's assumed in the same way she hadn't gotten any sleep. How could he think she would never like him?
"But didn't my older self tease you about it?" she asked, "You spent a lot of time with her I gather? More than everyone else? So why does it hurt when I tease you, but not when she did it?"
"What?" he asked clearly confused himself, "Yeah, I spent time with her, but no more or less than the others did. And she spent an entire night winding me up about it – the night right before you came back. Cyborg needed her chemical signature thingy or something to get you back and he needed someone tall to hold the portal pieces at the right height. I couldn't even defend myself or talk back when she was making fun of me because I was stuck as a giraffe the entire time! The three of us spent the whole entire night working to get you home. The whole night. Man, I was tired and cranky so of course it hurt! And I'll tell ya, being teased in front of Cyborg? Not fun."
What? Raven couldn't believe her own idiocy. She had interpreted one sentence he'd said, two months ago, completely incorrectly and caused herself a lot of uncomfortable curiosity over what was now turning out to be nothing? Why for Azar's sake had she not thought to casually scout for more information on it? She thought back. Had Cyborg seemed tired? He had run off to regenerate later on that day. Oh Azar. She'd been such an idiot.
She looked closely at him and saw his ears drooping and his pained gaze, pretending to be interested in a piece of imaginary lint on his uniform. Her heart went out to him.
"Beastboy, I didn't...I thought-"
"It's okay Rae. I get that it feels weird for you and you just reacted the best way you could. You didn't know it upset me."
I get that this feels weird for you.
Raven, can't you understand I'm trying to tell you I love you?
You'll have plenty chances in your future.
These were her chances. And they were slipping away because of her frankly stupid actions. Teasing him? Really? How was that helping? Clearly it was just making things worse.
"Just drop it Raven. Listen - I think it's gone."
He cracked open the lid hesitantly and peered outside, confirming there were indeed no more demon creatures around. As soon as he was sure he sent the lid careening to the ground with a thud and climbed out of the container before turning and offering Raven a hand. She could have quite easily gotten out herself but she chose to let him help her. Maybe he'd feel better knowing she had allowed him to aid her instead of pushing him away.
As he turned to pull away, he realised he couldn't. Raven still had a tight hold of his bare hand and was clearly refusing to let go.
"Um, I'm gonna need that back sooner or later," he joked, the sadness in his voice barely masked; his laugh held no humour.
"Garfield..." she whispered, despite the fact that they could now speak normally again.
"Wh-what did you just call me?" he asked, genuinely shocked, as he pulled his head back suddenly from her advancing form.
"Garfield. It's your name after all. Would you prefer I called you something else?" she practically purred on the last two words, entirely aware that this was not like her. She was not acting like herself at all, but she knew it was going to be a necessary gesture for his sake. To make him understand.
"Like...l-like what?" he stuttered, caught somewhere between daring to believe this was true and wondering if it was some kind of very cruel joke. He attempted to back away from her but her grip was unfaltering.
"How about Gar?" she asked, adjusting her gaze so her eyes were half lidded and very slowly and purposely licking her lips.
His eyes immediately jumped to watch the motion and he quietly gave a short groan although whether it was from longing or annoyance she wasn't one hundred percent sure.
"Rae, if this is some kind of joke..." he started, still unable to tear his gaze away from her lips which were at perfect eye level for him.
He never got to finish as suddenly she pulled her hand away from his. She saw him blink in shock at the sudden change in atmosphere. He needn't have wondered for long as Raven grabbed the collar of his uniform and instead of pulling him in for a kiss as it seemed she had been about to do, she pulled him with her as she leaned back against the crate they had just been hiding in. She didn't release him but instead pulled him against her as closely as she could, his hands snapping up to brace himself against the crate on either side of her.
"If this was some nasty joke, do you really think I'd take it this far?" she asked him a little angrily.
She watched him shake his head frantically, words indicating the negative escaping him at the realisation of being pressed up against her.
"Good," she said, "Now for Azar's sake, kiss me."
He didn't wait for another invite but pushed his mouth against hers roughly.
'Good, but different,' Raven thought.
He was still shorter than her, although not by much due to the way she was leaning, slouched against the crate behind her. Gar had been much taller than her, but then again this was Gar, and he would be taller than her given time to grow. His kiss was inexperienced but he was learning quickly. He was copying her movements in much the same way she had done when she had first been kissed.
There was a much larger difference, however. Gar had kissed her delicately, like he might hurt her if he became too fierce. Even when passionate, he had kissed her like she could break in his arms at any moment.
Beastboy's kiss was fiery. He had clearly wanted to do this for some time and his self control was limited. It was pure lust.
Raven found that on this point there was no comparison; she had adored the gentleness of his older self and it had been perfect given the circumstances, but this was better given that she no longer had any awkward doubts about her own feelings.
She wrapped her arms around his neck before using the little experience she had over him to her advantage. He reacted elatedly to every nip or move she made and the resulting spike in his emotions sent the real world beyond her reach. She was vaguely aware that he was embracing her now instead of propping himself against the crate as things heated up between them.
She had no idea how much time was passing. It didn't feel all that long but she knew from past experience that time could fly in situations such as this.
One of her hands tangled in what she could grasp of his hair and she quietly moaned against him as she used her other hand on his shoulder to try desperately to pull him closer, despite the utter lack of space left between them now.
The rather noisy sound of someone clearing their throat was heard by both of them. Before Raven could throw Beastboy away from her like she planned to, he had already sprung away with a shocked squeal, panting heavily, his hair standing up at odd angles where she had tousled it.
She realised embarrassingly that she was also panting and as she turned and stood up straight she could see all three of their friends smirking at them.
Cyborg coughed nonchalantly and looked down as he lowered his hand, huge grin still apparent.
"Sorry, seem to have this nasty tickle in my throat. That's better. We took care of the bad guys by the way. Seems Mumbo and Control Freak teamed up on this one."
"Um, how long have you been there?" Beastboy asked his best friend, shoulders hunching in embarrassment.
"Long enough to know you too would have suffocated if I hadn't let you know we were here. You didn't seem to be coming up for air any time soon."
Raven was mortified. She wasn't sure she could take this kind of teasing. Her face was aflame and she couldn't seem to make her hands work properly to pull her hood up to hide from them. Where had her ability to sense people gone? She was sick of these newer emotions messing with her powers. Not to mention she was pretty sure she was having palpitations about now and why the HELL would Starfire not stop smiling at her?
The boys seemed more concerned with attempting not to snigger directly at their other team-mate whose face had gone a strange shade of brown due to his blush reacting with his odd skin colour.
"H-how did you find us?" he asked them, his eyes skirting briefly towards Raven before embarrassedly moving away again.
"The windows have all blown out, it seemed like a pretty clear indication that you were in the warehouse," Robin explained.
"It's a big warehouse," Raven added, her voice cracking half-way through the sentence in a very undignified way.
"Raven," Starfire started, grabbing the empath's attention "please do the looking around. There is much damage to the crates surrounding you. The sound of explosions were quite easy to follow."
Looking around, she noted that the alien girl was right. She had practically destroyed everything in a 9 foot radius of where she was standing. One box even seemed to have melted. And it was made of wood. The warehouse owner was going to have a lot of insurance paperwork to fill out.
"I did that?"
"Wow, I didn't even notice," the shape-shifter added, looking like he was considering turning into a rodent and scurrying away in awkwardness.
"Yeah, well you were busy," Cyborg sniggered before completely giving up the charade and bursting into uncontrollable laughter, Robin losing his cool immediately after. The two of them collapsed in a heap at Beastboy's feet, tears in their eyes, whilst he glared at them.
As if that wasn't bad enough, Raven immediately found herself in one of Starfire's unbearable hugs. The girl squeezed her tightly, although she appeared to have learned her lesson from last time and upon releasing her friend, first checked to make sure she hadn't hurt her.
"I am sorry, Raven, I am simply so happy you have finally done the 'fessing up' to Beastboy!"
Her eyes widened into saucers. This was not happening. Starfire was not implying that she had known already. Raven was confident in her ability to hide her emotions, she'd been repressing them for so long she had it down to a fine art. How in the HELL had she figured it out?
Her eyes were wider than they'd ever been as she simply stared at her friend in front of her, mouth agape.
"Rae," her attention immediately snapped to Cyborg who was on his feet once again, "it's been kinda obvious."
He shrugged and Robin nodded his head in agreement.
This...they...WHAT? She closed her eyes and shook her head to clear some of the confusion, pinching the bridge of her nose. She didn't think she was capable of making a coherent sentence right now.
"You guys all knew she liked me?! And not one of you said anything?! And how was it so obvious that all of you got it but I was totally clueless?!"
Shit. She'd forgotten he was standing there. All the embarrassment and confusion had just taken over.
"It should've been obvious to you too grass stain, but you're just so damn oblivious!" Cyborg shouted back at him, "I mean, she spends much more time around you these days," he started counting on his fingers at this point, "she blows things up for no apparent reason except that you've walked past her. She always stays in her room when we three go into the city but she's the first one in the T-car if she knows you're gonna be there, and she constantly blushes when you talk to her! Come on!"
Oh Azar. Had she? She hadn't even realised. Yes, she knew she had blown stuff up a little more often these days, but she'd been claiming it was her horror books setting her off. She thought they'd all bought it. And yes, she'd been a little more social lately but she hadn't even realised herself that she was doing it to some sort of 'is-he-going-to-be-there' schedule.
She finally remembered how her hands worked and jerked her hood over her head rather violently as a crate behind her smashed into little pieces.
"What? I never noticed any of that!" Beastboy exclaimed, looking directly at her as he did. She stared at her feet. She couldn't make herself keep eye contact with him right now. She was losing too much control as it was.
"Not to mention," Starfire added, her two index fingers pressed together in front of her, "Older Raven did a lot of the flirting with you."
"I'm sorry, WHAT?!" Raven simply couldn't believe her ears this time. It was only a short spell since she'd gotten over the thought that there'd been anything going on between her older self and him. And now they were bringing it back into the mess? Was it getting hotter in the warehouse all of a sudden?
"Dude, she did not. She had a similar sense of humour, that's all. We got on well and joked a lot."
"Beastboy," Robin butted in, his mask moving in a way that indicated he was rolling his eyes dramatically, "That was flirting. Especially when she teased you."
"But...I thought she was just making fun of me when she did that."
"She was, but in a playful way. She was trying to get some kind of rapport going I think. She wanted you to flirt back."
"Except you just sulked away every time," Cyborg interjected, "Idiot."
Raven looked at her friends, eyes wide. She looked at Beastboy, at Gar. He seemed to be staring into space, his face screwed up like he was trying to recall something but it was slipping away. Until suddenly his face relaxed and his mouth gaped. His eyes widened but didn't see anything that was happening right now; instead he seemed to be replaying a memory and getting more and more embarrassed by his sudden understanding.
"Awwwwwwww maaaaaaaaaan!" he cried out, in a voice so annoying high pitched Raven briefly reconsidered her feelings for him.
"I believe the loose change has fallen!" Starfire cried, jumping into the air and remaining there with her hands clasped together in joy, "So friends, you have always been the boy and girl who are friends but are you now to consider each other as boyfriend and girlfriend?" She looked at them expectantly.
Beastboy, no-Gar, hunched his shoulders again and furrowed his brow before turning to glance at Raven with a sheepish smile. The most blazingly obvious sunset of colour bled into her pale complexion and she frowned.
"I'm not doing this," she spat out and as she did she saw Beastb-Gar's ears droop dramatically and his face fell as he assumed the worst.
"I'm not having that conversation in front of them," she told him.
She watched as his ears and entire body perked up instantly and his awkwardness faded into an earnest grin. "So...there is going to be a conversation?" he asked her.
"Of course," she said as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "Azar, you really don't take hints well, do you?"
"Nope," he said, shaking his head lightly, "Gotta lead me by the hand with everything." She swore it shouldn't be physically possible to grin that widely.
"Come on then," she said to him as she opened a portal with a flick of the wrist furthest from him and with her other hand reached out towards him, fingers outstretched.
He stared at it and blinked once...twice before -
"Oh right! By the hand! I get it," he giggled nervously and stepped forward to clasp her hand in his. She gave it a quick squeeze and rolled her eyes at him before glancing back at their friends.
"We'll meet you back at the tower. When you get back - any laughing, any teasing, any interruptions-" The hand in hers tightened suddenly and the boy beside her squeaked loud enough for everyone to hear, "and I will send you to an abominable Hell Dimension. Got it!?"
She didn't wait for a response, instead turning back to her portal and pulling Gar through with her to her bedroom where they would have a preferably short and (unfortunately) a quite possibly awkward conversation. But she was hopeful that it would be followed by something much more pleasant to occupy their lips with. And based on the swell of giddy feelings radiating from him, he was looking forward to it just as much as she was.
Okay, so I know this is 3 years too late. I'm sorry. I wrote 90% of the chapter and then just couldn't seem to work out how to wrap it up. I kinda gave up on fanfiction after that. Always felt guilty, but not guilty enough to try to finish this.
Then I got in to a new fandom and got super obsessed. Obsessed enough that I started writing again. That was what made me feel guilty enough to look at this again.
And here we are! 3 years after I began this 3-shot it's finally complete! Hope you enjoyed it!