Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based upon subject matter that is not my own. Pop culture references also do not reflect ownership by me.


Breathing in and out. Soft rhythmic beating of her pulse. Breathing in and out. A gentle buzzing of some misguided insect. Breathing in and out. A soft chant. Breathing in and out. Loud, obnoxious wailing. Concentration ruined. Raven opened her eyes to her darkened room. What was the point of retreating to her sanctuary to meditate if her sanctuary was prone to be disturbed by her unruly roommates? Sighing in resignation at the loss of any meditative calm, Raven approached her door to investigate the source of the wail. Beast Boy's by the sound of it.

She left her room, the soft whoosh of the automatic door almost soothing if not for the wailing suddenly getting louder without the barrier, and headed towards the common room and the source of the ruckus. The common room door whooshed open. Raven merely lifted a brow at the sight she was greeted with; all of her teammates were standing at the fridge looking at something blocked from view by the open door.

"Star! How could you?" Beast Boy's hands were gripping his hair in a way that was sure to result in premature baldness; crocodile tears were streaming unchecked down his cheeks.

"I do not understand. I thought that items stored in the refrigerating containment unit were protected from degradation."

"Um, yeah, they are, but only up to a point. And that mostly only concerns human food with preservatives and stuff. I'm not even sure what that is Star." Robin was explaining, ever patiently, to Starfire about whatever it was that had Beast Boy so upset.

"Seriously Star, we need to come to some sort of agreement about which alien foods are safe to keep in the fridge. Your food ate all of our food!" Cyborg interjected, similar waterworks on display. Ah, that explained it. Boys and their food.

"My tofu!"

"Dude, good riddance!" Cyborg smirked.

"To your nasty meat paddies!" Beast Boy shot back with a scowl.

"But, friends, I am still confused. Is this containment device not meant to imprison food until it is to be consumed?"

"Yeah, but you don't keep anything alive in there!" Beast Boy yelped and leapt back, staring in horror at something in the fridge. "Get it! Get it before it gets us!"

Raven made her way to the stove to put on a kettle, steadfastly ignoring the sound of a sonic canon from somewhere behind her. Cries of 'Get it off me!' were also ignored as she rummaged around the cupboards for her favorite tea packets. Tea leaves gave a much richer flavor, but they were also much more of a hassle than the boxes of individual tea bags available at the MegaMart that was a convenient ten minutes down the road. As she waited for the water to boil, Raven thought over what she was hoping to get done today, oblivious to the battle overtaking half the kitchen. As the kettle started to whistle, Raven pushed off the counter, waited as something green, and covered in something else blue and fuzzy, whizzed by before she poured herself a mug and added a tea bag. She made her way to the couch and picking up the book she'd left there earlier began to read, tuning out everything else.

Raven only had a handful of pages left and planned to start her errands as soon as she finished her book. The bookstore was likely to be her first stop. She could admit that books were her one of her greatest weaknesses. As such, she didn't much care for interruptions. That was why interrupters were normally dealt with too little patience on her part. That never seemed to stop Beast Boy however. She lowered her book to look into large, green, glistening eyes begging for a favor. "What?" she asked with her normal monotone.

"Raven…Rae," Beast Boy's eyes were almost glassy with unshed tears, begging for pity, "you know I never mean to annoy you right?" She lifted a brow but said nothing. "And you know that I'd be more than willing to do you a favor if you weren't afraid I'd totally screw it up, right?"

She heaved a sigh, "What do you want Beast Boy?" Raven had long since given up correcting him about her name; besides she'd never admit it to anyone, but she was secretly pleased that Beast Boy had a pet name for her. He was the only one who ever got away with it that was for certain.

"Please, please, please! You're almost done with your book which means you're going to the bookstore today and today's the day that the latest Dark Stalkers graphic novel comes out, and Robin says I can't go get it because it's my turn to clean up the alien food fight mess and that I owe him laps for the greased dummy prank in the training room and if I don't get it today it'll be sold out and I can't get it until it's rereleased in two weeks and I can't wait that long and can you please, please, please get it for me? I'll pay you back I swear!" Raven was almost impressed that he'd managed that all in one breath. In fact, had it been anybody else she would have been.

"A comic book?" she asked, uninterested.

"Graphic novel, but yeah…please, please, please?" His hands were clasped pleadingly under his chin; he was on his knees and practically sprawled in her lap. It would have been rather pathetic if her more annoying emotions hadn't been cooing at her to give in to him. "I'll do the face! No one can resist the face!" Beast Boy morphed into a small cat and crawled up into her lap. He mewed up at her before rubbing his head and flanks against her stomach, a powerful purr rumbling in his chest. He curled up in her lap on his back, looking up at her with impossibly large emerald eyes, mewing hopefully, pawing beseechingly up at her.

'Oh my goodness, isn't he just so adorable! Cuddle him Raven!'

'Does he realize that the oversized eyes appeal to the feminine instinct to protect and mother, or is it just a coincidence for the animal he has chosen?'

'How dare he resort to such underhanded tactics of endearingness to gain my consent! I SHALL DESTROY HIM!'

'I want one!'

'So FLUFFY!'

Raven grimaced at her rampant emotions and the green cat hair clinging to her leotard. That was going to be impossible to remove. "Sure." She answered shortly. She lifted her book, not because she was blushing, and went back to ignoring him. She wasn't sure why she'd given in. It wasn't the face. It didn't matter that she had a soft spot for cats, and it didn't matter how large he could make his eyes. 'The face' didn't work on her, just Starfire. Of course, any sort of appeal worked on Starfire, the problem was keeping the communication simple enough that she didn't misunderstand what was being asked. That, and she still struggled with Earth currency. She knew every conversion imaginable for the Galaxy Exchange which operated in gold and other precious ores, but failed to comprehend how thin pieces of paper could hold such value on Earth. It was made from trees wasn't it? And didn't they have trees almost everywhere?

It wasn't until the deep, vibrating rumbling stopped, that its existence penetrated her thoughts. Raven looked down to see that Beast Boy was still in her lap. She was rather shocked, and supremely embarrassed, to note that she'd been absent-mindedly scratching him behind the ears as if he were a real cat. Damn her fondness for cats! Beast Boy had actually fallen asleep though so she had the potential to slip away without him waking and without her having to face the utter humiliation that would most assuredly accompany this little episode. Ever so carefully she enveloped his small, warm body in her ebony magic and lifted him to the couch. She stood and left for her room, finishing her book before she'd reached the common room doors.

Depositing her book on her 'finished' shelf, she grabbed her wallet and headed for the doors. Just before leaving she heard Robin yelling at Beast Boy for sleeping when he was supposed to be cleaning the kitchen and then running laps. If Raven's step was a little quicker to leave there was no one but her myriad of emotions to notice and tease her about it.

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Raven felt at home. Nowhere else did she feel as if she belonged. Nowhere else spoke to her like a library or a bookstore. Books, only a place that housed books could be so comforting; not even her room—she didn't have room for all her books. Not that Raven would ever say she'd bullied Robin into letting her turn one of the equipment storage rooms into a library, but he had eventually agreed that a library wouldn't be such a bad thing to have in the Tower. For villain research, of course. Raven took in one last deep breath, absorbing the smell of ink and paper, before heading into a section of the store that she'd only been aware of existing, never actually having perused it before. The isle was colorful, but disorganized. How were the comics, sorry graphic novels, sorted? What was the one Beast Boy wanted called again? Raven reached the end of the isle and looked around. She approached an employee. "Excuse me," her monotone may not have inflection, but it made up for it in authority, "can you show me where to find the recent release of the graphic novel Night Walkers?"

The clerk, surprised to be address by a Teen Titan until he realized which Titan she was, corrected her, "You mean Dark Stalkers?" She nodded, that sounded right. "Yeah, recent releases are going to be at the kiosk at the isle ends. You walked right past it. We're probably sold out though, sorry." Raven thanked the sales clerk and turned back towards the kiosk, ignoring the small feeling of unexplainable dismay she couldn't have been feeling. The clerk was right, there weren't any—wait, there at the bottom, just one left. Bending down, Raven retrieved the last copy of Beast Boy's book—she used the term loosely—before another hand attempted to snatch it from her. Her fingers clung with surprising tenacity.

"Hey! Leggo! This is the last copy in the whole store and it's mine!" Raven knew that voice.

Turning ever so slowly, eyes glowing white with power, she addressed him, "Perhaps you should have come earlier then. As it is, this was in my possession first, and if you try to take it by force, I would have no problem sending back to jail, Control Freak."

"T-t-t-t-t-Titan!" Despite his apoplectic fit, Control Freak calmed himself and a sly smile stretched his face unbecomingly. "Why would you have any interest in this particular series? It's dark and gloomy to be sure, but might I interest you in Space Zombies 47 instead? Much more up your alley."

"No thank you. I came for Dark Stalkers and as I found a copy, I'll be keeping that copy."

"You can't! It doesn't get re-released for two whole weeks!" he wailed, clutching pitifully at the book still grasped tightly in Raven's hand. Was this really such a good story people would go to such lengths to obtain it?

"I will be going now." she hinted.

"I'll give you twenty bucks to let me have this!" he promised, panicky.

Raven lifted a brow, "If I were merely purchasing this for myself I'd let you have it, as it is, it's for someone else."

"Then I'll give them twenty bucks!"

Raven tugged the book from his grasp and looked at the back, "That's more than this even costs."

"I don't care! Do you know how long I've waited for that to come out?"

"Why didn't you just pre-order it, or reserve a copy?" He didn't say anything, just crossed his arms and grumbled something unintelligible. "Like I said, if I wasn't buying it for someone else I'd let you have it; as it is, you're just going to have to wait the two weeks. Perhaps in the future you'll take steps to make sure you get to the store early or reserve a copy. Sometimes you can even get the book at a reduced rate." Raven turned to head over to her usual section before glancing back over her shoulder, "Control Freak," when he glanced at her in acknowledgement she continued, "it's good that you've got something to occupy you other than your couch and suped-up remote. Reading is good for you."

That, she decided, was why she'd been so insistent upon purchasing Beast Boy's book. He didn't spend much free time away from the GameStation so any activity that gave his thumbs a break and engaged his mind ought to be encouraged. As insulting as Raven knew it sounded, Beast Boy was surprisingly intelligent, what he lacked was focus. He might not know technology like Cyborg, mathematics and physics like Starfire, tactics and leadership like Robin, or literature like herself, but what he did know, he knew well.

Beast Boy was a whiz when it came to geography and the natural world. Maybe it was all the Animal Planet shows he watched, or perhaps he had an innate knowledge base because he could actually become those animals, but Beast Boy knew terrain, he knew survival, and he knew animals. Not just different animals he could become, but he knew things about them. Strange factoids that amused Starfire greatly, but were also interesting to her despite herself. Who would want know how long a giraffe's tongue was or how fast a cheetah could run? Her apparently. But it was more than that. He knew the habitats of those animals; he knew which plants typically grew in which areas. Granted this information might not seem important to a lot of people, but there were fields he could pursue, excel at really, if he just applied himself.

Raven's musings were disrupted when she realized that she had an armload of books she hadn't even realized she'd picked up. Glancing at the titles she realized that her emotions had been interfering while she'd been distracted. Anger Management for Dummies was probably Sass' jab at Rage, How to Tame Your Inner Conflict was probably Wisdom's choice, The Raven and Other Poems was a book she already had so she wasn't sure which emotion would have picked that one up. There was also How to Train Your Cat, which she immediately stashed on the closest shelf regardless of the fact that it didn't go there before quickly relocating. She put most of the books back but kept about four of them to purchase. Since three were larger tomes she decided she'd leave them to be delivered to the Tower later so her hands wouldn't be full when she ran her other errands. Placing Beast Boy's book on top Raven placed the stack on the checkout counter.

"Hi, you find everything alright Miss Raven?" The sales girl asked with a giant smile. Raven nodded. The girl glanced through the titles, unsurprised by the large tomes; Raven was a regular and the staff generally knew her tastes, sometimes even making good suggestions. She was surprised however by the graphic novel on top. Her eyes grew wide and curiosity got the better of her. "Trying something new Miss Raven?"

"It's for someone else."

"Oh, a gift! I'll just wrap it shall I?" The girl pulled plain brown paper and white twine from below the counter and started to wrap the book in deft, practiced movements. Since the packaging was nondescript and almost had a classic feel to it, Raven approved and so didn't bother to correct her. "Do you have anything you'd like the card to say?" the sales girl asked, slipping a small folded card onto the twine through a hole in the corner before tying a bow around it all.

"I'll just sign it." The girl handed Raven a pen. She hesitated, the girl was reading over her shoulder and Raven didn't want any unnecessary or pointless—not to mention most likely embarrassing—questions. Rather than signing it to Beast Boy she signed it to his civilian name, most civilians didn't know Garfield Logan after all. Once the rest of her purchase was wrung up and she'd left instructions for the delivery for her larger books, Raven left, pulling the smaller book she'd kept to read on her way to the grocery store for her next round of errands.

Despite the book in front of her face, she couldn't help but be distracted by the book she was carrying from a small plastic bag around her wrist. She actually wished she hadn't had the store clerk wrap it. She wouldn't have minded taking a look at what had caused all the fuss earlier with Control Freak. If the book had sold out the day it came out then it had to have some promise, hadn't it? She supposed she could just ask Beast Boy the premise of the series but for reasons she didn't really want to examine too closely, she felt reluctant to do so.

Perhaps—Raven's thoughts came to a violent halt when she was slammed into the wall of the building beside her. Disoriented, she didn't react as fast as she should have, and then a face was inches from her own. "He took a mate? I can't believe he's made a claim!" Raven looked up into the vaguely familiar face that had a grating, growling unfamiliar voice that was growing more of a snarl than a sneer. Looking down at her was a humanoid face that was rapidly losing its humanoid features. Reddish-brown fur burst from his skin and his features distorted. Adonis in his beast form snarled down at her. Hadn't Cyborg said that he'd fixed this little problem? The thing that was Adonis took a slash at her, but she'd finally regained her senses and phased through the wall behind her. Chanting her familiar mantra, Raven levitated through the ceiling and circled around behind the creature slashing at the stone wall she'd disappeared through.

"Over here!" Adonis turned just as she'd thrown a dumpster at him. The dumpster slammed the creature between it and the brick wall, but the leviathan wasn't even stunned. The dumpster shot outward, propelled by the beast. Raven was still levitating, but that didn't keep her from the creature's reach. She'd forgotten how strong and fast this thing was. The last time she'd faced off against this thing she'd been put into a healing trance. If it hadn't been for Beast Boy, Raven had no doubt her team would have been scraping her remains from the hallway. She really hoped this time around would be better since back up wasn't right next door this time.

She flung herself backwards through the air, grabbing any objects in reach with her powers and hurling them at the beast. Nothing stopped it; barely anything slowed the damn thing down. It just kept barreling through. She really needed that back up. She uprooted a lamp post and wielding it like a fencing foil attempted to keep the creature at bay as she reached for her communicator. "Titans, Raven calling Titans!" she called into it, making sure she'd hit the alert button.

"Raven, this is Robin. Report." Raven only spared a brief glance at the screen and saw a mass of red behind Robin's spiky hair so she knew at least two Titans would be alerted right away and Starfire could get to her location in practically no time.

"I'm downtown, about four blocks from my bookstore." Raven smacked the lamp post against Adonis' head several times, still levitating herself backwards with no idea where she was going, just away from the infernal beast still chasing her. "I'm facing Adonis and I could use some back up."

"Adonis? Isn't he still in jail? What's he doing out?"

"Don't know, don't care, just get here! I'm running out of things to throw at him!"

"Friend Raven, what is—"

"It's not just Adonis, he's in his beast form," she ducked a car that he'd just launched at her, "and he's most definitely pissed at me!"

"Dude, why is he pissed at you Rae?"

"How is he the beast? I checked him myself, his DNA was clear yo!"

"How did he get out of jail and we weren't alerted?"

"Can we please save the debate on why and how until after we take care of this? I really am running out of things to throw at him; he just keeps coming through it all! And there are a lot of civilian gawkers! Seriously, back up would be much appreciated right about—oof!" A chorus of "Raven's" and "Rae's" reached her ears before she landed on her back, hard. The beast had grabbed the lamp post and swung it back at her. That hurt. How the hell was it still coming after being whacked with that thing? Winded, Raven rolled to the side just as a large clawed appendage came swinging down at her. Raven grabbed the discarded lamp post and wrapped it around the beast's body and arms, squeezing with all her power's strength. She really needed to slow this thing down until the others got there. The beast snarled and by merely flexing its arms the lamp post burst outwards, large shrapnel clipping Raven's shoulder as she ducked behind a bus. Shit, but that hurt! And now she was bleeding, fan-freaking-tastic. Adonis let out a snarled howl; blood lust, just what she needed.

The bus providing her meager shelter was suddenly lifted from behind her and without thinking she launched herself forward between the creature's legs before scrambling up the front of a car and pulling herself into the air above and behind Adonis. She grabbed the bus with her powers and lifted it several feet before slamming it down with all the force she could muster. Once, twice, three times for luck. Once the dust settled, only the bus and the crater it was sitting in were visible. Raven turned to warn away a couple of foolhardy gawkers and was caught by surprise by a massive clawed hand grasping her painfully around the waist. Twisting she found herself face to fangs with Adonis. If he wasn't pissed before, he most definitely was now. His breath was foul, saliva dripped from his fangs, and he snarled in her face before bringing his fist up in preparation to slam her into the pavement. She phased through his fingers and threw a federal mailbox at him. He shrugged it off.

"You go Goth Girl!"

"Come on, let 'im have it!"

Those idiots were still watching and now they were drawing attention to themselves! Adonis glanced their way and, picking up a car, threw it at them. Ignoring their screams Raven reached out and caught the car with her powers, unfortunately that left her open to anything else within Adonis' reach. She didn't know what it was that hit her; she just knew it brought her oblivion.

Sharp, stabbing pain brought her back. Light was blindingly bright, and even the slightest shift sent shooting pain through her skull. What had hit her, a bus? Blinking away stars, Raven slowly shifted and sat up. She was lying beside an overturned bus, ironically enough, and had a front row seat to the fight her back up—finally—had taken over. She was surprised to find Beast Boy was actually fighting Adonis in his own Beast form. The others had the two of them surrounded, prepared to intervene if necessary. Raven wasn't sure what was going on but it didn't look good. Her teammate's expressions were not what they would normally be at this stage of a fight. It might be concern for her, but she didn't think the tenseness in their expressions, their attention to the battling beasts, lent itself to that explanation.

Raven attempted to shift herself to a better position to get up; that was not her most inspired idea however. Her head reeled and she gasped, choking back the urge to throw up the tea she'd had however long ago it had been. A clammy sweat broke out over her skin, and she had to take several deep breaths to gain her center. It would be better to lay down, but she wasn't about to concede the point, even to herself. Her head ached. She reached up to the back of it and was dismayed to find it sticky. She'd suffered more damage than she'd thought. With such an injury she was surprised her friends had left her alone on the side lines. Then again, they had their hands full. The battle was vicious, brutal, and decisive. The green beast took down his counterpart and roared his victory. Unsurprisingly, to Raven at least, her other teammates didn't stand down, they braced themselves to confront the green Beast.

"Oh, Beast Boy." Raven squeezed her eyes shut, trying to overcome the pain and nausea. Starfire's startled gasp sent Raven's eyes open and head up. Unfortunately, that was a really stupid reaction to have in her condition. The pain sent Raven gasping, her head reeling, and she slumped back against the bus. She was too disoriented to understand anything going on around her but she gathered there was something wrong. People were yelling and arguing.

"You guys should have just let me handle it and helped Rae! She's probably going to end up in a coma thanks to that asshole!" Warm hands were against her face, feeling the back of her head, chafing her wrists. Soft curses, crying, somebody calling her name. "Rae? Rae, can you hear me? Rae, squeeze my hand if you can hear me." There was a hand in hers, go figure. She thought it a rather stupid request but he sounded rather earnest so she decided to humor him. Surprisingly the action proved much harder to complete than she had expected. "Good, that's good Rae."

"We need to get her back to med bay, man. We should tell Rob—"

"Yeah, but we don't want to make her injuries any worse. She conscious, just, give me a second Cy. Rae, can you open your eyes? Come on Rae, try for me." Again, stupid as it seemed, he really sounded scared for her so even though she felt like death might be preferable at the moment, she worked her eye lids until they fluttered. The light caused her unimaginable discomfort, but she squinted them open anyway. "Geeze, Rae, you nearly gave me a heart attack!"

"Tha—," she cleared her throat, swallowing the dry feeling down, "that's the last time I go buy you a book." Her voice came out a lot weaker than she'd intended, but his nervous chuckle chased the scared tone from his voice so she'd take that small victory. "What happened?"

Beast Boy let out a small growl, his hands tightening around her shoulders. When had he picked her up? "We got here just as he threw a mangled mailbox at you. Caught you in the back of the head and you went down hard. I—I don't really remember what happened after that," he admitted quietly, "I'm sorry."

Before she could continue questioning him the others caught her attention. Starfire was crying and Cyborg was having a hard time restraining her. Robin was by Adonis, surrounded by police. Beast Boy was making his way to Starfire who looked like she was about to lose it. "Star," her voice rasped unpleasantly, "Star, calm down." As if acknowledging Starfire's raging emotions made her suddenly aware of them, a wave of emotion slammed into her, catching her off guard. If she thought she knew pain before, that was nothing compared to this. Agony seared behind her eyes. She bit her lip to keep her surprised cry internal. Apparently she didn't do a very good job, or maybe it was the sudden stiffening and death grip on him that alerted Beast Boy to her suffering.

"Rae? Rae, what's wrong?" His concern and sudden fear were overwhelming on top of everything everyone else was feeling. She couldn't take it all in, she couldn't keep it all out; her shields were shattered. All she could do was whimper and clutch her head. The physical pain that had seemed so unbearable was a blessing compared to this. Her head felt like it was splitting in a dozen different directions. "Rae, talk to me!"

"Too much. Can't keep it out!" She squeezed her head harder, as if that would force the emotions to stay out, or the physical pain would overwhelm her and knock her into blissful unconsciousness. She let out a high pitched whine that would have mortified her if she could bring herself to care, "Make it stop." she begged him. She wasn't sure what he could do, but it couldn't hurt to ask.

"I'm taking her to the Tower."

"Dude, Robin—"

"Is busy. Raven needs help NOW!" Beast Boy shifted into something large but was still cradling her; whatever it was shocked the hell out of Starfire and Cyborg, at least she assumed that's what that was. It was getting too hard to distinguish anything anymore. Overwhelming. But then they were running away from the overwhelming emotions, the further away they were, the less intense. Beast Boy was radiating worry, but his emotions were blunted in his changed form. The ride was surprisingly smooth. And he was surprisingly warm. Everything was getting muzzy and the pain was receding finally; finally, it was dimming to a dull roar, a manageable level. The pain lessened even more, and the fuzziness was consuming her awareness until her awareness was just gone.


AN: Though I have dabbled in writing, this is my first "publication". My sisters are the only people who have ever read any of my work so I'm hoping this doesn't come back to bite me. Feedback is much appreciated, let me know how I'm doing!