"Oh, Raven, please!"
"No!" she snapped back at her orange and purple friend.
Starfire whimpered, bouncing up and down on Raven's bed.
"But I do so wish for you to accompany us!" she pleaded. "Robin wishes to take me to one of the fancy restaurants and I am rather uneasy about it." The alien girl bit her lip, hanging her head self-consciously.
Raven rolled her eyes, but, honestly, the guilt trip was working.
"You'll be fine," she insisted, crossing her legs to face Starfire on the bed.
The girl shook her head violently, her red hair whipping around her face.
"But I do not know how one conducts themselves in such a setting! I do not know what food-spearing devices to use or what it is appropriate to put mustard on or-"
"Okay, okay," Raven interrupted, raising her hands up in front of her in surrender. She sighed heavily, really not wanting to admit this.
"Circle of trust?" she confirmed, this being her and Starfire's way of saying that whatever was about to be discussed was never to be repeated to another human being so long as they live, or they would immediately not be living anymore.
Starfire nodded, taking a deep, calming breath.
"I-I-" Raven hesitated, feeling incredibly self-conscious, "I really don't like going out with you guys. Not that I don't like hanging out you-" she added quickly as Starfire's face fell with hurt, "it's just…you and Robin are so…so…"
"The love of the doves?" Starfire supplied eagerly.
"It's 'lovey-dovey'," she corrected with a chuckle, "and yes."
She dropped her gaze to the mattress, knowing she wouldn't be able to look Starfire in the eye while they had this conversation.
"It's just…I can feel all those emotions," she explained to the sheets, "and I'm all alone there and it's just…it's really uncomfortable for me tagging along with you guys."
Much to Raven's surprise, Starfire giggled.
"Oh, Raven," the red head chuckled, "perhaps I should have mentioned, it will not be just the three of us tonight."
Raven lifted her suspicious, violet eyes to meet her friend's smiling, green ones.
"You will not be the unnecessary wheel," Starfire added, placing a hand on Raven's shoulder.
"I think you mean the third wheel," Raven suggested.
Starfire's forehead wrinkled. "Is a third wheel not unnecessary?"
"Well…yea, I suppose it is, but the phrase is- That's not the point," Raven redirected, her eyes narrowing. "Why won't I be the…other wheel?"
Starfire blushed slightly, and Raven was immediately concerned.
"Well, we- uh- See, Robin has this friend-"
"Can I go back to being the third wheel?" Raven interjected, raising her hand sarcastically.
"Oh, we will have the fun, Raven!" Starfire assured, her green eyes pleading.
Raven groaned, resigned to the fact that there was no escape. "Fine," she grumbled, crossing her arms.
"Glorious!" Starfire exclaimed, leaning across the bed to wrap her into a tight hug. "We shall be the four musketeers!"
"Three," Raven amended, breathless from the embrace. "There are three musketeers."
Starfire leaned back, perplexed. "But, if there are three of them," she reasoned slowly, "is one of them not unnecessary?"
Raven opened her mouth to reply, but then simply sighed exasperatedly and collapsed backwards onto the bed.
"I can't believe I let you talk me into this," Raven growled, looking down at her long, sparkling, navy blue dress. Starfire had even gone so far as to do her hair up into some twisting, spiraling catastrophe with various silver pins.
"Oh, Raven, do not be so much the grumpy," Starfire admonished, fiddling with her long, red curls. "You look most radiant."
"Easy for you to say," she grumbled, scanning Starfire's flowing, green dress.
Starfire giggled, looking out the window of the car Robin had arranged to pick them up.
"So…" Raven began hesitantly, fiddling with the folds of fabric in her lap, "what's this guy like anyway?"
"Hmm?" Starfire murmured, turning to look at her, the passing lights striping across her face as they drove along.
"Robin's friend," she prodded. "What's he like?"
"Oh!" Starfire exclaimed, and Raven thought she saw her blush in the dim light. "He is quite intelligent, and has a wondrous sense of humor. And," she added with a smirk, "he is not unpleasant to look at either."
Now Raven blushed furiously, clearing her throat uncomfortably.
They rode the next few minutes in silence until the car pulled to a stop in front of a tall, brick building. The driver got out to open the door for them, and Raven stepped out onto the sidewalk, glancing side-to-side.
"Um…Starfire?" she muttered. "Everyone's staring at us."
"That is because we are the babes, yes?" she giggled, grabbing Raven's arm and leading her into the restaurant.
It really was fancy. The lights were dim, all of the tables set with white linen and candles. The waiters were dressed in all black, floating between the diners like shadows in the flickering light. Somewhere there was a violin playing soft, romantic music. It was all very beautiful, and all very intimidating.
"Miss Starfire, Miss Raven," a balding man holding menus acknowledged, nodding to each of them in turn. "Allow me to escort you to your table. Your party has already arrived."
Starfire wrapped her arm through Raven's, nodding politely to the man as they followed him. They weaved in and out of the tables, getting gawked at all the way, until they came to a back corner of the restaurant. Sitting at this private table was Robin, waving excitedly at them as they approached.
Raven peered around Starfire, trying to get a look at who she'd have to make small talk with all night, but he was covered up by a tall menu he was assumedly perusing.
As they drew level with the table, Robin glanced over at his friend, elbowing him hard in the ribs.
"OW! Whadija do that for?" the boy said, dropping his menu to glare at his masked assailant.
"Beast Boy?!" Raven exclaimed, her mouth dropping open in shock.
"Raven?!" he gasped right back, his eyes exploding open.
They stared at one another for a moment, frozen and gaping, before rounding on their perspective liars.
"YOU TRICKED ME!" they said at the same time, her to Starfire and Beast Boy to Robin.
Starfire slid into the seat across from Robin, a guilty smile playing across her lips.
"Yea, we did," Robin answered with a smirk, "but isn't this better than if it were a stranger?"
"NO!" her and Beast Boy retorted, in-sync once again.
"Raven, please," Starfire said softly, patting the chair beside her, "sit."
Grumbling, Raven sat down, crossing her arms and pointedly twisting her body away from her friend.
"Unbelievable!" Beast Boy hissed, glaring furiously at Robin. "Here I think I'm doing you a favor, and it's a frikkin set-up!"
"You can say that again," Raven concurred, narrowing her eyes at Starfire.
"Friends," Starfire appealed, looking between the two angry parties, "we were only trying to help."
"Yea," Robin agreed, stretching his hand across the table to capture Starfire's, "it'll be fun. Just relax."
Beast Boy glanced over at her, their eyes meeting for a few moments as they considered.
"Fine," they muttered in unison again.
"Glorious!" Starfire chirped, clapping her hands together under her chin. "Now, we must consider the menus and-"
"Oh, shoot!" Robin blurted, snapping his fingers in frustration.
"Whatever is the matter, Robin?" Starfire answered in a carefully rehearsed sort of way that made Raven's eyes narrow.
"I completely forgot!" he spouted. "We're supposed to brief the police on that new criminal tonight."
"What new criminal?"Beast Boy inquired.
"The make-believe, conveniently-timed one," Raven determined, glaring between Robin and Starfire.
"Oh, no you don't!" Beast Boy caught on, pointing at the couple that was rising from their chairs.
"Sorry, guys," Robin hastened, "It's extremely important. We really must go. But you two kids have fun, k?" he finished with a smirk, smacking Beast Boy on the back as Starfire smiled apologetically down at Raven.
"Dude!" Beast Boy called after him, rising from his chair.
"Relax," Robin coerced over his shoulder. "You can put it on my tab." And, with that, they were gone.
Raven stared after them, her mouth agape.
"Un-freakin-believable…" Beast Boy breathed, and she turned to see him shaking his head, a similar expression on his face.
Just then, the violinist appeared beside their table, the otherwise beautiful music only serving to add insult to injury at this point.
"Dude," Beast Boy crabbed up at him, "could you not?"
She couldn't help herself, she started laughing. Not her usual, reserved chuckle, but a real, genuine laugh.
"What? What's so funny?" he pried, chuckling a little bit himself as the violinist huffed and wandered away.
"It's just- It's just so," she stammered, breathless with laughter, "ridiculous!"
She broke out laughing again, Beast Boy joining her with his own, low laugh.
"Yea," he affirmed, nodding his head, "I suppose it is."
She smiled across at him, her laughter trailing away. She hadn't noticed before, having been too busy glaring at Starfire, but Beast Boy really did clean up well. He was wearing a black suit, the thin, black tie prominent against the white undershirt. His hair was still its usual ruffled mess, but that was the way she preferred it anyway. He was still Beast Boy, after all. You couldn't fancy him up too much.
"Sooo," he stretched, and she blushed as she realized she'd been staring. "Nice hair," he quipped, a half-smile stretching across his face.
She groaned, rolling her eyes. "Yea, I know," she commiserated, poking at the curly mess. "Star had to practically tie me to the chair."
Beast Boy laughed lightly, taking a sip of the water that had already been on the table. "Still though," he contended after he'd swallowed, "blue is definitely your color."
He smiled at her softly, and she felt a faint heat rising up her neck. She would have given anything to have her cloak with her right then so she could hide her blush, but instead she opted to look down at the table.
"Uh…thanks," she answered faintly, flashing him a quick, embarrassed smile.
A few moments passed in uncomfortable silence before Beast Boy cleared his throat.
"Ya know, Raven," he started, twiddling his thumbs on the table in front of him. "If I had to get forced into this monkey suit and dragged out to this obscenely fancy restaurant…I'm glad it's with you," he finished softly, smiling across at her.
She giggled, smiling back at him. "Yea…me too," she confirmed with a nod, and he smiled even broader.
"So…" she hesitated, leaning toward him across the table, "what do we do now?"
With a flash of teeth, Beast Boy leaned back in his chair and waved at their waiter, who was hovering nervously a few feet away.
The young man came over to stand beside him, fumbling with his pen and paper. "Wha- What can I get for you, sir?" he muttered nervously.
Beast Boy looked down at the open menu in front of him, his thumb stroking his chin in thought.
"Hmm…well, for starters, we'd like one of every appetizer," he dictated matter-of-factly as Raven's jaw dropped.
"And then I'll have one of every vegetarian entrée you have, and she'll have…" he hesitated, scanning the menu, "the gorgonzola beet salad and a cup of every kind of soup. Except the broccoli cheddar," he amended. "You don't like that, right?" he confirmed, his forehead wrinkling with uncertainty.
She shook her head mutely, thoroughly dazed. That salad did sound good though, and she did like just about every kind of soup. Except broccoli cheddar. What was that stuff anyway: stinky, orange glue?
"Great!" Beast Boy chorused, closing the menu with a snap.
"Beast Boy," she hissed as her neurons started firing again, "what are you doing? That's going to cost a fortune!"
He flashed her a devilish smile. "Robin's tab," he reminded, waggling the menu.
She blinked a few times, processing this, before her face curled up to match his.
"And, when you've put that in," she requested smoothly up at the waiter, "can you bring us the dessert menu?"
"Nice!" Beast Boy congratulated, pointing at her appreciatively.
They both laughed as the waiter took their menus, shaking his head and muttering to himself.
"So, you did have the fun?" Starfire asked for at least the eighth time, looking between her and Beast Boy on the couch.
"We told you, Star," she magnified, wrestling with the last few pins in her hair. "Yes, we had fun. So much fun. Sliding down a rainbow into a box of kittens would not have been more fun."
Beast Boy laughed riotously at her snippiness, writhing around on the couch next to her.
She shot him a small, sidelong smile, tugging fruitlessly at her hair.
"UGH!" she growled, punching the couch on either side of her legs, "I cannot get this last, stupid bobby-pin!"
"Here," Beast Boy beckoned, gesturing for her to scoot closer, "let me."
She leaned her head toward him, feeling his fingers rummaging through her hair.
"There!" he congratulated himself, brandishing the pin.
"Thanks," she acknowledged, flashing him a grateful smile.
As she reached for the pin, her fingers fluttered against his, causing them both to momentarily freeze. She could see him turning slightly pink as they sat there, staring at one another from mere inches away, and she assumed her face was doing the same.
"SIX-HUNDRED AND FIFTY-THREE DOLLARS!?" came a furious cry from behind them, shaking them loose from their revere.
"Run?" Beast Boy suggested.
"Run," she affirmed with a quick nod.
They leapt off the couch, laughing at Robin's angry protests as they ran for the exit, Beast Boy's hand in hers to pull her along.