Summary: Raven never joined the Teen Titans. Living life as a (somewhat) normal citizen of Jump City, she finds that heroes can be surprisingly ordinary, and that she can't escape her destiny.
Pairings: Mentioned BB/Terra. Some BB/Rae, though the focus is on their developing friendship.
Warnings: OC character death, some language, mentions of suicidal thoughts and attempts.
A/N: So, this started because I wanted to write about Raven doing some mundane things, but then my brain was like, "No! Have some plot!" and I was like, "Okay." And so my little oneshot…grew. There has been some minor messing about with the timeline, but just chalk that up to this being an AU.
Also, this story is Raven-centric, and in first person POV – I've found that this is a difficult combination for me (I've tried to write her…well, subdued), so let me know how the characterization is.
I regained consciousness as I fell.
The fact that I was in the air was overshadowed by my realization that the ground was rising towards me far too quickly for my liking. For a few panicked moments, I couldn't recall what I had been attempting to do before I passed out, but once I did, I gathered my emotions and controlled my decent. By the time I landed, my heartbeat had settled and I was composed once more.
Travelling to Earth was not what I had expected. I had never crossed dimensions before and I had thought that after doing the ritual I would perhaps be instantly transported to Earth, much like the teleportation rituals on Azarath. My memories were of instead flying through a tunnel of blue light before everything went black.
A quick mental check assured me that all of my possessions were currently in a pocket-dimension and accessible with a quickteleportation. I had been planning to travel to Earth for some time now, and though I hadn't allowed myself to plan out more than the basics, I did have a strategy for what to do next.
I made my way to the nearest city and spent time just taking in all of the bustling people and the bright lights, before noticing that I was getting a few strange looks, probably due to my clothes. I decided to get clothing in Earth styles.
I found a small thrift shop that smelled musty but had a wide enough variety. While examining a black shirt, a little girl came up to me and looked me over with a critical eye.
"You with that circus? 'Cause that would be so cool."
That was as good an excuse as any. How fortunate that a circus appeared to have stopped in this city.
"Yes." No use looking a gift horse in the mouth.
"Cool. So what can you do?"
"Yeah, your circus job. You're definitely not a clown; you look more like an acrobat or a magician."
"I'm…a magician, of sorts."
"That's so awesome. Can you show me a magic trick? Just one?"
A frazzled-looking woman hurried towards us, saving me from an attempt at mimicking parlor tricks with my Energy. "Jade! Where were you? I was looking all over for you; don't you do that again, you hear me?"
"But, Mama, this lady's from the circus! A magician! She's gonna show me a magic trick!"
"Jade, stop bothering the other shoppers." She shot me a weak smile.
"I'm not bothering her!" She whirled to me and demanded, "Am I bothering you?"
Before I had a chance to give an answer – which would doubtless be a resounding 'yes' – the woman said, "I'm sorry for any trouble she caused you."
"No problem." My efforts at imitating casual behavior didn't seem to work. Her eyes flicked over me, taking in my bare legs partially hidden by my cloak. Her smile became more strained.
"Again, sorry." She dragged her child away.
Huh. My current apparel might be having a stronger effect on people's opinions of me than I had thought.
With that thought, I went back to shopping, and picked up a few more pairs of pants on my way to the dressing room.
I learned that shopping was tiring and time-consuming, especially to someone who needed to start from scratch. Moreover, the amount of time spent trying things on was no predictor of the amount of clothing I actually bought. I didn't consider myself picky, but many of my clothing choices were rejected on the basis of size, fabric, style, etc. Altogether, I felt strangely exposed in my new clothes, but if I wanted to blend in on Earth, I would have to get used to the fashions.
And then I had to buy underthings, which was more embarrassing than it should have been.
My main criterion was the color; I had tried to get clothes in black or dark blue. My wardrobe now consisted of four shirts, two pairs of shorts, and one pair of pants.
After clothing, my next most pressing concern was the acquisition of lodgings. I had enough money to live comfortably. (It wasn't like anyone on Azarath really needed money anymore, but I wasn't thinking about things like that.)
Paperwork had already been dealt with; for all intents and purposes, I was Rachel Roth. I was born in North Jump Hospital, homeschooled my whole life, emancipated after my aunt's death and well-off thanks to her sizable inheritance.
That was the official story, and I had the documents to prove it. At least Mother had tried to ensure that my years on Earth would go relatively smoothly and hassle-free.
In one of my spell books, I had found something that would help me maintain this cover immensely: a weak compulsion that acted as a deterrent for any suspicion towards me. It proved easy to make; the mix of ingredients was fused with magic and ground into a fine powder that I rubbed into my skin. This also had the added benefit of making my skin not quite so (sickly ugly demon) grey.
In addition, I had inked glyphs representing trustworthiness into my skin (just below my inner ankles; easy enough to hide), so that people might take my words at face value and not be tempted to look any deeper.
This was a bit trickier, because keeping the spell running all the time would be draining for my Energy reserves. I had managed to make it so that the spell only worked when I wanted it to, after a few experiments involving trial and error – a lot of error.
It was a fascinating exercise in spell crafting. Now that my control was deemed sufficient, I was allowed to create my own spells from scratch, so I was only just starting to get the hang of it. For so long, the monks had said this branch of magic was 'too volatile,' and they had a point. Things went wrong as often as not; it was slow learning. But it was useful and fun and oh so satisfying when I applied my own understanding of magic towards a problem and made it all fit.
Needless to say, I was pretty well-prepared for this moment, so I immediately found a phonebook and called a random real estate office. I was able to make an appointment for one o'clock. With three hours to kill before then, I headed to one of the most useful places in the world: the library. I found a book that informed me of the all the technological improvements that had occurred in the past ten years. There were a lot of them.
I did have a book in my personal collection that gave a basic overview of the notable events in Earth's history, but I double checked with a newer one at the library. My knowledge of history was more than satisfactory, but it never hurt to be sure. History and events specific to Jump City was easy enough to look up. There was an archive room which had newspaper articles from Jump's main paper, The Daily Observer, dating back at least fifty years ago.
Lunch was some Pad Thai that I scarfed down before using my Energy to teleport near the address for the real estate agent. Her name was Stacy, she was cheerful, and she seemed like the kind of person who would do anything in her power to find me living space, even if I was young-looking. Perfect. We spent the whole afternoon looking at apartments that fit my admittedly low standards, but there was nothing that appealed to me.
It was nearing six, and we had one more place to look at. It was located above a bookstore, which immediately drew my interest. Stacy nervously explained that the only reason this apartment was cheaper than it should be was because the landlord wasn't…the most good tempered.
The instant we walked through the door, I could see what she meant. The old man at the counter gave us the evil eye when Stacy announced that we were here to see the apartment. The man's name was Hezekiah and he was rude, obnoxious, and complained bitterly about noisy teenagers with no appreciation for books. When I asked him questions about the apartment, he cussed me out.
The apartment was a good size for me, with a living room, kitchenette, bathroom, and a small bedroom. The electricity worked, as did the heating and AC. I was pleased to learn that the building had a side-entrance; it would be very helpful in reducing the amount of time we spent in each other's presence.
I turned to Stacy, who had obviously been of the opinion that this had been a bust from the moment we walked in the door. "I'll take it."
The paperwork was quickly drawn up – I had a feeling that Stacy wanted to get us bound to a contract before either of us could change our minds – and I became the new tenant of Apartment 14B on 327 Magnolia Drive.
As she left, Stacy let us know that she would be back tomorrow with some additional forms. Hezekiah took one look at me, snorted, and jerked his thumb towards the apartment. "Get some sleep, girl; you look like shit."
And with that, I went shopping, and bought a small fold up couch and all the necessary toiletries. For a bit extra, the store transported the couch to my apartment and sent me two workers who help me bring it up the stairs. I was bone-tired, but my stomach decided to remind me that I hadn't eaten all day. I made a beeline to the nearest place that served food – a pizza parlor, and ordered a medium pizza. I ate almost half of it before I felt full and left the rest of it on the counter. Then I fell asleep on my wonderful couch-bed.
In the next few weeks, I learned that Hezekiah lived in the basement apartment and he was just as cantankerous in everyday life as he had been the first day we met. Hezekiah also hated everyone equally, he couldn't stand noise, and his bookstore was actually quite successful despite his attitude. His granddaughter came to visit sometimes, and they had loud rows that I suspected he secretly enjoyed.
He was up at the crack of dawn every morning, making as much noise as he could get away with calling accidental. After about a week of that, I informed him that I was an early riser myself. I wasn't sure if that had made his opinion of me better or worse, but at least he stopped banging things around downstairs.
I went shopping several more times and bought a small fridge, table, fan, and three bookshelves. I was in the process of looking for a television.
There were so many things that I didn't know about Earth. Sure, I had read about it, and my mother was from Earth, but this wasn't one of her stories. The library was a valuable source of information and a good way to relieve myself of some of my ignorance, so I applied for a library card now that I had an address to put down. However, even though the books were informative, I didn't know anything about popular culture or current slang.
Celebrities in particular I found to be confusing. There had been no equivalent on Azarath; with such a small community and our beliefs being what they were, there had been no point. Still, on Earth celebrities were a big deal, to the point of obsession, and my ignorance on the subject might be awkward later on.
It was this understanding that prompted me to go to an electronics store in search of a television. The salesman tried to convince me that I needed a large, expensive TV. He annoyed me, so I bought the smallest, cheapest one I could find. I got digital cable and phone services, and I was frankly amazed at all the channels I received. Who had enough time to watch all those shows?
By the time I finished making the apartment look like a livable space, I was exhausted.
July passed quickly as I acquainted myself with Earth's Western culture and its differences with Azarath. Soap operas in particular were fascinating. Their characters' lives were dramatic to the point of comedy. It almost made me feel better about my own life.
I also spent time finding all of the true psychics and Seers so that I would be able to avoid them. They were easy enough to tell apart; whenever I got near, they started shuddering and muttering about evil and doom and Armageddon. The fakes were the ones who were able to sit in an enclosed space with me while they traced my palm and told me how great my future would turn out.
I started to take walks around Jump City as well, to familiarize myself with its layout. I had supposedly grown up in this city, so I needed to know things about it that its citizens thought common knowledge.
On one such walk, two suspicious-looking men approached me.
"Hey there, Pretty."
For Azar's sake.
I could have just moved to Gotham if I wanted to get harassed by scumbags with no sense of self-preservation.
A minute later and two whimpering thugs were hanging upside down. "Leave me alone," I said evenly.
They both frantically nodded. I released my powers and thy both fell to the ground. They scrambled up to their feet and hightailed it out of there. A wise choice.
Other than that minor irritation, my walk was calming.
While walking aimlessly around the city another day, I noticed a gas station was advertising slushies for a dollar.
I thought about it.
My justification was that I should let myself have the full Earth experience.
Four minutes later, I was one dollar poorer and slurping down the artificial raspberry flavor on the way back to my apartment. When I looked in the mirror, my teeth and tongue were bright blue.
Surveying the restaurant that I had entered (though that was slightly too grandiose a name for this fast food diner), I judged that the place was clean enough, but the other customers left something to be desired.
At my left, a young boy was methodically plucking the pickles off of his burger and dropping them on the floor, to his father's chagrin. Three teenagers near a window were loudly chattering about nothing of importance. Across the room, a pair of brats were arguing over their meal's toy.
I ordered, and found the burger and fries to be surprisingly appetizing, though the soda was too sugary for my tastes.
My conclusion: the clientele was annoying, but the food was tolerable.
As July turned into August, I gave the matter of schooling some thought. I had changed the small bedroom into a library, buying more shelves and filling them with books on all kinds of subjects, but I wanted to know what it felt like to learn in a different way. I didn't really have a plan for the next two years beyond 'blend in.' Going to school was what teenagers did; surely there was something useful to be found in public education.
One of the schools I was considering was called Ferdinand M. Livingston High School, a pretentious name that had the unfortunate abbreviation of F.M.L. Yes, there were jokes about it.
I awoke to light.
This was unusual and unexpected; normally, I drew the curtains closed because it made me feel more secure in my isolation. Then I remembered. I was no longer on Azarath, with my large bed and thick curtains. I was on Earth, sleeping on my folding couch while shafts of sunlight spilled on my face from between cheap blinds.
Well, I wasn't going to get much more sleep after thinking about Azarath. I threw the blankets off of me and stumbled towards the suitcase that I kept all of my clothes in. I didn't have that many of them, so it wasn't really necessary for me to have a more permanent place to put them.
I had been able to find clothes in darker colors, and I felt more at ease in them because of that. Sweat pants were surprisingly comfortable, though I still wore my leotard and cloak around the house and outside when it was dark. People didn't pay nearly as much attention to some girl wearing a cape if it was nighttime.
For this reason, I decided to wear my leotard on my evening walk today. I was feeling a bit homesick; my thoughts of Azarath from this morning were coming back to me. I meandered through the city, sticking to the shadows, though I had no particular destination in mind.
The sounds of fighting drew me to a man street. I watched from an alley as a guy in tights (Robin, my mind supplied, a superhero) fought with an…alien girl? An outlandish theory, but possible. Perhaps she was a dimensional traveller like me.
Her clothes included body armor made out of plated metal, and she wore a headpiece. Nobility? Or the mark of a warrior? Either way, she was clearly foreign.
She was exceptionally strong and possessed the ability to shoot green energy bolds from her hands. She could be a meta-human, but the language that she spoke – harsh sounds and guttural intonations – sounded nothing like anything I had come across in my studies. I knew more about languages that most people, and I had never read of a language like the one she was speaking.
It was obvious from her body language and behavior that she was panicked; she seemed more like a frightened animal than a rational being, something cornered and desperate. And those cuffs on her hands…dehumanizing and probably the reason she was acting this way. If they were removed, she might be more of a threat.
I watched as she slammed her arms onto various surfaces. Then again, if I was interpreting her behavior correctly, she really wanted the cuffs off and that was the reason for her rampage.
Then a strangely masked green boy entered the fray in the form of a ram, followed by another man in a hoodie.
As I watched and debated what to do, old insecurities crept up on me.
Coward. I had hesitated too long. If I showed myself now, they would question me. My powers were strange; I knew that. I had been trying not to use them. They would think I was creepy. And what did I know of heroics anyway?
I could help though. I knew I could. If I just stepped forward, I could tell them that fighting wasn't the answer.
Okay, if they don't get it soon, I'll step in, I promised myself. So I watched and waited. Always waited.
It took some time, but they finally guessed what had her so agitated. It had actually been the green boy that had figured it out. That made sense; he had most likely felt the desperation of prey. As the girl kissed the brightly-clothed boy hero and suddenly started speaking English – interesting; what I wouldn't give for a power like that – I could tell that the fighting had come to an end.
They didn't need me. I faded back into the shadows.
The days following my decision were ordinary, dull. I still dwelled on my choice, though I tried not to.
I hadn't done anything, even when the giant hologram had appeared and large, trident-wielding aliens had swarmed the streets. They were gone soon enough, before I could even decide whether or not to resist.
Heroics weren't in my nature. I knew that. To do something like that…wasn't me. I had hoped that I had it in me, but evidently not. And if I couldn't be a hero, and I didn't want to be a villain (never that, no matter who my father was), then all that was left for me was normalcy.
I had been trying, though my inaction tasted bitter on my tongue. Eventually, I put it out of my mind. It was in the past, and I couldn't change it. I tried to return to my mundane activities.
"But Rebecca, I'm still in love with your reincarnated, evil half-sister."
I sighed and turned the TV off.
It really wasn't my desire to sit around the house all day and watch soap opera reruns. Instead, I wrote up a list of items that I needed and then found aforementioned items.
"That'll be $42.59!" The cashier said, with far too much cheer. I paid and left.
In the end, I decided to go with Ferdinand M. Livingston High School, because it proved the easiest to join, with minimal hassle from the administration for my late enrollment. The light bulbs flickered when I walked into the building. I was actively suppressing my powers, so I knew that wasn't my fault.
The office wasn't hard to find; it was just to the right of the main doors. When I arrived, the secretary was busy, using her shoulder to hold a phone while she typed away at the computer. She held up a pink-nailed finger in a 'wait a minute' gesture before turning away.
I sat on one of the chairs provided and scanned my surroundings. Motivational posters and trophies lined the room. From what I could see, the school had a champion knitting team called the KnitWits. Funny.
"What do you mean the shipment of light bulbs has gone missing? What kind of villain?...You're kidding. That guy?"
I couldn't help but listen in.
"Fine, I'll let them know. But Mr. Crawford isn't going to be happy about that; he's been waiting on those lights for a month now."
After the secretary finished her phone call – something about some petty villain obsessed with electricity – she was surprisingly helpful, giving me a few sheets of paper. "It looks like everything's in order. Here are your locker combination, your schedule, and a map of the school just in case. "
She gave me a moment to look over my schedule. I was pleased to note that I had Friday afternoons off. Special consideration had been given to me, thanks to the help of a little spell. Even if I was going to be in a formal educational institution, that was no reason for me to have to suffer through Math and Gym.
"And I assume you're gone over the code of conduct?"
"Good, great. Oh!" She snatched the map back from me and crossed off a few areas. "Keep in mind that the right wing is off limits for now. Construction's still going on from when the Titans fought Cinderblock over the summer. Sure, they stopped him eventually, but not after destroying a portion of the school while doing so." She offered me a friendly grimace. "Superheroes you know?"
I didn't know.
I offered vague shrug anyways.
"Ah, before I forget: you have an appointment with Mr. Richards in ten minutes."
Mr. Richards turned out to be the guidance counsellor. No, that was a wholly inadequate way of describing him. Mr. Richards was an elderly British man with high levels of patriotism, and a dramatic flair.
"Why 'ello, Ducky!" He scrutinized me from all angles, taking in my clothing, my hair, and my expressionless face. His eyes lingered on my chakra gem.
"Hmm. Who are you? Yes, yes," he flapped his hand at me before I could open my mouth. "I know your name, Miss Rachel Roth. But I want to know what makes you tick. Am I seeing a cry for attention, a future suicide case? Ah, well, not that it matters."
He flipped through a file on his desk. I got the feeling that it was mostly for show. From what I could see, I was pretty sure it was upside down and written in crayon. "You don't talk much, do you, Love? Excellent, children should be seen and not heard. Well, you'll fit in with all the other snots here, I'm sure. If not, don't come crying to me; I've got better things to do than coddle you tossers."
I showed no other reaction besides a blink, but he didn't seem fazed.
"Now!" He clapped his hands. "Stay in school, do drugs, and for the love of all that is holy, if you're going to commit a felony, don't get caught!"
He seemed to be waiting for some sort of acknowledgement from me, so I nodded. "Remember, stay in school. That's where children belong. Find some other depressed delinquents, form a gang, I don't care, but if I catch you lot playing truant…well, now. That's a whole 'nother issue, innit? Now get outta my office."
With that, I found myself bodily propelled out the door, courtesy of a flashy cane topped with a red gem. If this meeting showed the standard for Jump City's public school system, so far I was not impressed.
"Did he give you the Hooligans Speech?"
"Mr. Richards," the boy in the hallway clarified. "He gives pretty much the same speech to everyone. Um, if you actually find yourself in need of a guidance counsellor, I'd recommend finding a different one."
There was a pause that seemed to require some kind of verbal response from me. "Thanks…" I trailed off.
Getting the hint, he said, "Oh, my name's Simon, hooligan extraordinaire." I looked him over. For a self-proclaimed 'hooligan,' he was remarkably ordinary. His clothes were neat on his lanky figure and sandy blonde hair flopped into his eyes with his every gesture, periodically obscuring blue eyes.
"Rachel," I said.
"You're new, right?" He apparently didn't need my confirmation, because he continued, "Don't sweat it whenever Mr. Richards talks to you like that. I have this theory that he only gets hired each year because he's just as messed up as the rest of us. Though I'm not so sure that makes him more qualified to 'counsel' us."
"What's your first class?"
"Who's the teacher?"
I consulted my schedule. "Mrs. Habib."
"Cool. Follow me." He took my books from me and started walking.
"What are you doing?"
"Guiding you to your next class."
"I have a map."
"Good for you. But does your map show you the best shortcuts to get to class if you're going to be late?"
A glance at the clock confirmed that there were only two minutes left until the bell rang. "…You were saying?"
"Come on. This way."
English class was stimulating, as I was interested in historical literature. The boy, Simon, attached himself to me as I walked out the door after my class ended. His intentions weren't malicious, I could tell, but I didn't particularly feel like having such a helpful guide. Then again, I didn't care enough to actively try to get rid of him. My personality would probably drive him away soon enough, so all I had to do was pretend that he wasn't there.
He was undeterred that I was ignoring him, and started talking to me. "English is my only AP class. But…" he snatched the paper out of my hands. "Hm, yup. You've got a few classes with Dee. I'll introduce you."
Simon showed me to my Science class, while I tried to memorize the route he led me on. When we got to the classroom, he walked right in, despite what he had said earlier about not being in this class. He walked over to a small girl whose wavy dark hair blocked her face as she bent over slightly to read something. "Hey, Dee." She looked up with curious brown eyes. "This is Raven. Raven, Dee."
"Nice to meet you," she murmured.
That seemed to satisfy her, as she turned back to her notebook.
"Bookworm," Simon 'whispered' with a confidential air.
Just then, the teacher walked in. "Simon, what are you doing here?" he asked with a slightly exasperated tone.
"Hi, Mr. L. Just showing the new girl around." People's heads swiveled about to stare at me. I ignored them.
"Yes, thank you, Simon. Now leave."
"Hey, I'm not late yet; the bell hasn't rung."
The bell rang.
Simon held up his hands. "Alright, alright. I'm going."
As the teacher started with an introduction, Dee quietly made room for me at her desk.
A few days later, Simon found me at my locker as I was putting my books away in preparation for lunch. "What are you doing?" I eventually asked, seeing as he didn't appear to have any intention of moving until I acknowledged him.
"You mean what are we doing? Going to the caf for lunch."
"We," he confirmed. "You, me, and Dee. Let's go."
"You and Dee. With me?" I needed more verification, because really, who would willingly sit with me at lunch?
"With you," he said cheerfully. "Come and sit with us."
Dee softly welcomed me to the table when I came with Simon. She didn't seem put out at my intrusion. In fact, they both appeared to be happy enough to have me there. Maybe I could become casual acquaintances with them. They didn't seem opposed to the idea. I hadn't been planning on anything like that, but now that the opportunity presented itself I might as well take it.
My acquaintanceship with Beast Boy started the day that a green dog jumped on me and started drooling on me.
"Urgh! Stop that!" I shoved him off of me. I briefly entertained thoughts of sending him to another dimension but dismissed them. That would expose my powers and I supposed I was enjoying my life as a (somewhat) normal Jump citizen.
It really wasn't that hard to guess who the dog was. Jump City's resident shape shifter was distinctive in any form. "You think just because you're a superhero you can do whatever you want? You might have shifted into a dog, but that's no excuse to be rude."
He barked at me. I scowled.
Then another green dog showed up and things just snowballed from there. The new dog was suddenly a human, and if he was Beast Boy then who was – ?
"Dude! That's not me!"
"Yeah, I got that, thanks."
"And who're you anyway?"
"Raven," I said automatically, before almost cringing. I wasn't not Raven, not anymore.
"Raven, huh? Cool name. I'm Beast Boy."
Our introduction was cut short by the arrival of a spaceship which shot out a beam at the other green dog.
"Did that imposter of me just get zapped up by a spaceship?"
"Oh, okay. Just wondering."
I thought that was the end of it, but when I was walking home from school the next day, I was again pushed to the ground by an enthusiastic green dog.
"Thought not. Just checking."
With that, I grabbed the thing by the scruff of its neck and headed to the Titans' Tower.
While organizing some of my books, I idly flipped through one ("But it did seem the power of Rorek was greater than my magics could defeat. And as the foul beast struck…"). It sounded interesting, but I was going to be late for school, so I left it on a cardboard box for later perusal.
During my classes that day, I found my thoughts to be occupied by the book as I noticed that everyone but Dee avoided me. By the time lunch came around, my feelings of seclusion had grown so that all I wanted to do when I got home was curl up on the couch and read. Simon found me at my locker as I was contemplating ditching school for the day. "Hey, Rachel, you want to go out for pizza? There's a good place right across the street."
"Just because," was his convincing argument. When he saw that I wasn't swayed, he added, "To eat and hang out, of course. Dee'll be there, though she's got some important test to study for so she might be all stick-in-the-mud for a while."
"Then why do you want me there? I don't think it would be very fun for you to eat with two 'sticks-in-the-mud.'"
"Hey, you're not a stick-in-the-mud. Most of the time." He grinned at my sour look. "C'mon, it'll be fun."
I doubted that, but I went anyway.
It wasn't as bad as I thought, but I wasn't going to admit that.
Of all the places that I thought I would meet Beast Boy again, I hadn't thought I would see him crouched under a table in Mega Meaty Meat.
I was probably going to regret this, but I approached him anyway. "Um. What are you doing?"
"This is the only place that hasn't kicked me out for attempting to avenge my brethren's senseless slaughter and subsequent consumption."
"Let me get this straight. You thought it would be a good idea to try and switch out all the meat in the store with tofu?"
"And it would have worked to, if it weren't for those meddling store employees."
I raised an unimpressed eyebrow.
"Dude, stores like this are a menace! They promote the systemic murder of innocent animals as they desecrate and harvest their corpses afterwards!"
"You got me banned with you."
"Such actions only serve as further proof of the nobility of our actions."
"They're filing a restraining order."
He waved his hand airily. "A badge of honor."
I pinched the bridge of my nose. "What exactly were you hoping to accomplish with that harebrained scheme of yours?"
"If I could just introduce people to the wonders of tofu, they'd fall in love with it and repent from their animal-eating ways."
He was oblivious to my incredulity. "And for standing beside me in my moment of need I'll give you a bunch of tofu to make up for it."
"Really, it's no problem."
"Really, no thanks."
"I'd even be willing to part with a few slices of tofu bacon."
"I respect that you don't eat meat. Please respect that I don't eat fake meat."
He barrelled on like he hadn't heard me. "Besides, it's supper time right around now. If you're hungry, I know this place on Main Street that caters mostly to vegans but also has a few dishes with meat."
"And you don't boycott it because it serves meat?"
"Nah, I really only have a problem with places like this, that are like, meat shrines."
"I'm not hungry."
My stomach took the time to loudly announce my lie and Beast Boy smiled like he had won some sort of argument. My withering look didn't seem to discourage him. If anything, it made him grin wider. Somehow I ended up in a little restaurant, squeezed into a booth across from Beast Boy.
The food was…not as horrible as I'd expected and after he wheedled that out of me, he looked unbearably smug for the next few minutes. He spent the majority of the time asking me odd questions like what my favorite color was and then giving me information about these same topics even though I hadn't asked. Stranger still, he seemed to genuinely care about what I said.
If I hadn't been convinced of his eccentricity before, I was now.
After he managed to engage me in a debate about politics – specifically, our current mayor's policies on crime fighting; we both agreed they were tolerable –I realized that it was quickly getting dark out which brought an end to our discussion. I paid for my own meal despite his protests.
"This was really fun," he said.
"Hm. While at first I was skeptical that you could hold an intelligent conversation, I may be forced to re-examine that."
I had been sniping at him all throughout the meal, so I was reasonably sure he wouldn't take offence. My behavior towards him was partially the result of my irritation that he got me banned from Mega Meaty Meat and partially to see how he would react. I knew my personality and I wasn't going to change the way I acted, so if he insisted on eating with me, he would have to put up with all the baggage that came along. He had been doing surprisingly well actually.
He made an exaggeratedly stupid expression. "You just insulted me, didn't you?"
"Only partially," I assured him.
"Oh, well that's okay then," he said as he rolled his eyes. I smirked. Sarcasm didn't suit him, but at least he was trying.
"You better start heading home; your place is halfway across the city."
"You know where I live?" For a moment, I thought that he sounded almost hopeful or something, like it mattered that I knew this.
I scoffed. "You live in a giant T." He deflated. "Everyone knows where you live."
"Oh, right. So, uh, see you around?"
I studied him. "Sure."
I carefully weighed the pros and cons to associating with a Teen Titan. My biggest concern was that he would somehow find out my papers were forged, or even worse, see through me. In the end, I reassured myself that Beast Boy was neither that suspicious or forward-thinking.
Then it was decided.
I nodded to myself in satisfaction. I would continue to spend time with him in small quantities; he was a pleasant diversion but not one that I wanted to get closer to.
For all of my determination, Beast Boy continued to draw me into his life as he slowly but surely wormed his way into mine with no regard for the defences that I had built around myself. And the worst thing was that he didn't even seem aware that he was doing it.
He joked with me, though I imagined that since he didn't know the extent of my true powers, he felt comfortable enough to treat me familiarly. Perhaps if he knew that I could back up my threats, he would not be so at ease with me.
I also suspected that if I had to be around his type of personality all the time, I wouldn't be able to take it, especially considering that at first, he had struck me as a rather shallow person – at the very least, an irresponsible one. This was a false assumption and first impressions didn't tell me much about Beast Boy.
With the way that he kept badgering me, I was slowly introduced to these other facets of his character. He was tactless but not deliberately hurtful. He was outgoing where I was not; interestingly, after the first few times I had used him as a buffer, he had caught on and had purposefully placed himself between me and social interaction.
He wanted attention and affection. This much I understood right away. I also came to learn that when given these things, he responded in kind. If he knew of my powers, he would likely not be so relaxed around me; he thought me a helpless citizen, but I found that I rather liked how unguarded he was with me.
And so despite my best efforts, he continued with his friendliness. He endeavored to do things I would like. He tagged along with me to the library, and even managed to keep his fidgeting and noisiness down to an acceptable amount. After, he invited me to go to an arcade with him the next day, since he managed to behave himself ('behave himself' being loosely defined as 'not getting us kicked out of the library').
I pointed out that he didn't have to come with me to the library; in fact, he had invited himself along. He said that was beside the point and he'd see me at the arcade tomorrow at two o'clock.
There was no reason for me to go. I didn't even like video games. I had a book to read.
And yet, when Saturday came, I sighed and absently placed the book in the storage pile; it wasn't as interesting as I had thought, despite its tale of knights and magic and that, I made my way towards the location Beast Boy had named.
The arcade was noisy and dirty. There appeared to be a birthday celebration underway in one corner; there was a mass of sticky-fingered children chattering while one child – anointed with a paper crown – tugged on the shirt of a harried-looking mother.
It was loud and obnoxious. My heart squeezed inside my chest for no reason.
"Raven! You're here!"
I raised an eyebrow to hide sudden, irrational uncertainty. "You invited me, didn't you?"
"Well, yeah, and I was hoping you would come, but I wasn't sure if you would."
"I'm here now." Now what?
Perhaps he sensed my hesitation, because he took charge, obviously at ease in the chaotic environment. "Have you ever played any of the Galactic Invader games? No? Okay, then we'll play Galactic Invader 3, my personal favorite." He paused, then added condescendingly, "Don't worry. I'll go easy on you."
My eyes narrowed.
Despite Beast Boy's accusations of cheating, I beat him fair and square by a landslide – the first time and all seven rematches.
A/N: Yeah, Raven has avoided the whole Malchior episode with the power of friendship. Makes total sense. (Though in all seriousness, for the purposes of this story, Malchior was able to feed/amplify a person's loneliness, but Raven was able to unknowingly counteract that by…the power of friendship, and being too busy to brood.)
By the way, there will be three chapters for this, no more, no less. And the ending of this story will cliffhanger-ish, but the ambiguity is what I want. All three chapters have already been written.
Anyway, review? I'd like feedback on Raven's character as seen through first person POV.