Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans.
The Titans had been invited to the mayor's annual Christmas Eve ball as honored guests. A tradition that the Titans had honored with their appearance for the first time last year. This year, every one of them, including Raven, had anticipated going. As per the usual, the event was being held at one of the satellite houses of a rich multi-billionaire playboy, whose name Raven had conveniently forgotten. The Titans had each dressed their best. The boys had brought out their best formal-wear, and the girls, even Raven, spent considerable time sprucing.
Starfire wore a sparkling pink dress. Its low back and figure hugging design showed off her model figure and smooth skin. Her hair was, for the most part, left alone, allowed to flow freely down near her waist, slightly curled. Each time she turned away from Robin to appreciate at the lavish mayoral decorations, he couldn't help but ogle absentmindedly at her. Each time she swayed, her hair would inch sideways just enough to give him a glimpse of skin. It was torture.
Speaking of Robin, 'Boy Blunder' had never before been so fitting a nickname as it was now. The habitually composed and confident team leader suddenly found himself blundering through an elaborate waltz with his partner. She had charmed him, leaving him star struck and distracted beyond functioning capabilities with her charms and naivety. For the night, he chose to wear a formal tuxedo; black coat and pants with a white shirt. A red tie complimented the outfit and the Christmas spirit, efficiently killing two birds with one stone. Classic Robin. He even kept his mask. Since he was invited as a superhero, he decided to go as a superhero: Robin, leader of the Teen Titans, not Richard Grayson, orphaned teenager.
Cyborg hadn't followed his leader's footsteps. Instead of asking a team member to be his date to the dance, he went stag, much preferring it that way. Instead of going as Cyborg, he had donned a holo-ring, masking his cybernetics. Everyone probably still recognized him as Cyborg, even without his trademark attire, but today he went as Victor Stone. That privilege and relief was for himself. He wore a holographic gray suit with black shirt and red tie. Coupling that with a charming smile and trademark funny-in-that-charming-sort-of-way personality, he had no trouble at all scoring a dance with a pretty lady. Or multiple ladies. His current conquest was a pretty blond. Tall for her gender at 5'10, but Victor had no trouble keeping up with her at 6"4'.
"No sweat, I can handle that," he said to an incredulous Beast Boy. After eating his words, the green boy huffed and let his date lead him astray.
"You don't need to worry about catching a date Beast Boy, you've already got one," said a cheery Terra. It did the trick. Her floor length, sunshine-yellow gown drew his gaze away from his best friend's conquests. The fabric hugged her figure and showed off just enough skin to keep his attention fixated solely on her.
Raven huffed at a table, arms crossed, glaring at everyone who looked at her weird. She was the only one not out dancing or socializing with a group. She used those glares as a cover for her real target: Beast Boy and Terra
I came so close this year, she cursed inwardly. He was right there. Right in front of me and it was on the tip of my tongue. If I only had another few seconds…By Azar, yellow and green aren't even pretty colors together!
The first Christmas Eve dance the Titans went to, Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg did the same thing. Terra hadn't joined the team yet, allowing Raven and Beast Boy to skirt around the idea of going together as a couple for weeks. They each wanted to ask, but neither had the courage to do so. Finally, Beast Boy steeled himself enough to ask her to be his date to the ball, to which poor flustered Raven instantly agreed. Her hood covered her burning cheeks just nicely at the time.
It was that night that had made Raven look forward to this one. They had spent the majority of the night together, eating food, taking walks around the lavish mansion grounds, and generally getting to know each other. Beast Boy revealed a startlingly mature side of himself to her when he recounted his history. It was much more in-depth than what he shared on their second night as Titans.
Raven reciprocated with exactly what she had told Cyborg that night, plus a little more. Despite what she said or did to him, deep down she harbored some sort of affection for him. She ignored this as best she could, of course, afraid of what it would mean if she became too attached to someone like she did with Malchior. Not that she was afraid Beast Boy would betray her either. She was more afraid of what he would say to her when he found out about her father. She didn't want his ultimate rejection of her to hurt too much, so she tried to keep her distance.
They ended the night a year ago with a slow dance, Beast Boy leading and Raven following, glad she wasn't making a fool of herself in front of him. Beast Boy made a remark about how difficult it was to gather the nerve to ask her to the dance. Her desire to keep the conversation flowing prompted her to deny that asking her was as difficult as he claimed, resulting in Beast Boy placing the burden of asking on her for the next year. This year.
She regretted saying it wasn't that hard, because it was, more so now that she had unforeseen competition from a blond geo-mance. Beast Boy and Raven had been lounging around on the couch. She had specifically found excuses to be around him as often as possible so she could work on getting the nerve to ask him. For a whole week she had pushed at that massive wall of anxiety, trying to get it to budge but to no avail.
Finally, after sitting on the couch next to her target, pretending to read her massive bricks she called books, she had resolved that no amount of stressing could prepare her and decided to jump in and fire away. She had sucked the breath in to prepare the question until Terra walked in out of nowhere.
"Hey Beast Boy," she said. "That ball is in a few days and it's my first one. Wanna be my date?" She had winked at him and pulled out all the stops with the question. Everything from her body language, to her silly hair flip, to the way her eyes and mouth smiled at him waiting for an answer. It was such an effortless and confident trump card that Raven had instantly deflated and let her extended question hand fall to her side.
Beast Boy was oblivious to everything as always, and had forgotten it was Raven's turn to ask. He totally missed all of the subtle cues indicating that his dark friend had been scratching and heaving against a wall trying to earn a night with him.
"Uhh, sure Terra. Sounds great," he smiled. He didn't catch how small and sunk into the couch Raven had suddenly become. She was grateful that Terra didn't catch it either. He would have said yes to either of them, not being one to really discriminate since he could dance with both if he wanted to. But Terra had asked first, and probably wouldn't let him go for the whole night. Not to mention it was common knowledge in the tower that he had a raging crush on the blond, much to Raven's dismay.
I thought it wouldn't be this bad, she said to herself. I didn't think it would agitate me this much, but seeing those two together like that just makes my stomach turn.
She had gotten over her initial dislike of Terra, and the two had finally become friends. Still, seeing her ask Beast Boy to the dance so easily, and to hear him accept with such gusto ignited a spark of envy within her.
Sitting glumly on a chair all by herself didn't do much to lift her spirits. She finally decided she had enough torture and looked around the room to find a distraction.
I'll be damned if I let that ruin my entire evening, she thought. I'm sure I can find something to do around here. -
She glanced around and saw a small counter with barstools in the corner of the room, and she found an empty stool in between a burly man and a small shape slumped against the counter-top. Standing up and grabbing her small, black purse, she made her way over to the open stool, her heels clacking on the hardwood floor with every step.
When she reached the barstool, she took note of the two individuals on either side of her. The burly red head ignored her and the shape on her right looked like passed out man. Must be tired she thought as she grabbed a seat and placed the purse on the countertop.
"What can I get you today miss?" asked a waiter. He had a confused look on his face; as if he were wondering what she was doing at the table.
"Can I get a hot chocolate please? As big a size as you can get me," she said. She'd indulge in some chocolate for now. She wanted it. Maybe it'd help her feel better or something like that.
The man to her left and some of the patrons farther than one seat away turned and gave her an odd look. The waiter just smiled at her and said, "Hot chocolate eh? Afraid we don't have any of that here miss."
Raven was confused. "Uh, okay…tea instead then?"
Now everyone started laughing at her and she felt herself go red. She had no idea why she was being laughed at but now she wanted her hood to hide behind.
"No tea here either ma'am," he said, holding back a chuckle. "Why don't you head off elsewhere young lady, this is no place for you."
She didn't know what he was going on about and was about to say something back until a strong hand grasped her right forearm, making her jump. The passed out man to her right was now looking straight at her. Cool grey irises behind an elaborate, Venetian eye-mask met her embarrassed ones.
"This is a bar, young lady, not a coffee shop." His voice was playful, like he knew how to press her buttons and was anticipating doing so.
She was apprehensive about being touched by him until he smiled at her. Not seductively, but still friendly and slightly impish. "Come, I'll find you your hot chocolate."
He got down from the stool and led her away, waving goodbye to the patrons and waiter who were all still grinning and laughing at her. She turned away from them, still red in the face.
She followed him down a few halls and corridors, keeping silent and wondering who this man was. He just led the way and by now he had let go of her forearm, content that she would follow him to their destination.
He stopped at the door to a deserted room. Deserted save for one old butler, bent over and dusting a cabinet. They both waited for a while, just watching the old man do his work.
"Hello young master Ellery," the butler said.
The man named Ellery nodded. "Greetings to you Mr. Pennyworth. May I trouble you for a beverage for my acquaintance here? Hot chocolate if you have any."
Mr. Pennyworth glanced at the girl and looked her up and down. She scrunched down in an effort to appear smaller, despite the fact he was merely inspecting her as one would inspect new furniture. Shyness wasn't her forte, but this butler had a look to him that meant he could read her like a book.
"Certainly sir, I will return shortly with some of Master Bruce's favored brand."
"We'll meet you in the adjacent dining hall then," Ellery said.
He led her to a room across the hall and came upon a small, single dining table with six chairs. He ushered her to one, taking seat adjacent to hers. She felt at ease around him, despite the area's seclusion.
The opportunity to get a good look at his face had finally arisen, and she was surprised to find how handsome he was. He was young, maybe only 17 or 18 years of age. His steel grey eyes contrasted sharply with his shaggy, jet black hair, which barely reached shoulder length, framing strong facial features. An elaborate mask covered the area around his eyes. Aside from the fact this one was for show, it was similar to Robin's. Intricate silver embroidery stood out against the black of the mask, and blended nicely with his eyes. She couldn't help but feel a tad intimidated by this creature, the amount of testosterone and confidence he exuded so effortlessly and carelessly played with her empathy. Or was it her hormones? She couldn't really tell.
She reached out with her mind and probed around his psyche. He wasn't insane or full of himself either. He was a decent guy, and she found no trace of lust in his mind. He's not using this favor to get into my pants or win a date, she thought. So what's his deal? She realized she hadn't spoken a word to him yet.
"Hello Mr. Ellery," she said. "Thank you for the hospitality. I admit I'm not used to accepting favors from strangers."
"I'd assume you aren't used to accepting favors at all," he said. "You have me at a disadvantage. May I ask for your name?"
She gave him a skeptical look. "You mean to say you don't know who I am? Purple hair and eyes? Big ol' chakra stone on my forehead?"
"And a cold and piercing gaze to go along with it," he nodded. "I know who you are but still I ask. May I have your name?"
Raven was confused, and that didn't happen often. He knew who she was, but wanted her to tell him anyways? "I'm Raven, of the Teen Titans." She decided to play along, and pride niggled at her. She was proud to be a member of a team, especially such a well regarded team such as the Titans.
Ellery must have caught it, for he smiled. "Tell me then, why do you speak of the Titans with such enthusiasm, and deride your own name?"
"What do you mean? I didn't deride anything I merely told you who I was, like you asked."
He held up a hand. "You're mouth didn't tell me nearly as much as your eyes did."
"Who are you?" she asked, "And what do you want?" Less than a minute into the conversation and Raven began to feel threatened. This man was a lot more than he let on, and her mental probing hadn't revealed that. She tensed for a fight and kicked herself for stumbling into this kind of situation.
He put his other hand up in mock surrender and laughed. "Calm down hero, I am not here to threaten you. I merely wish to talk and escape the toils of work for a little while. You looked to be in need of rescuing. Quite frankly, so was I."
"I didn't need rescuing," she said indignantly. Still, she cooled down and Ellery noticed the desired effect take hold.
"I'd beg to differ."
"Whatever. Why wear a mask to this place? It's not a masquerade you know; it's the mayor's ball. Self conscious much?" Two could play at the mind reading game.
He shrugged. "What can I say? I like the mask, so I wear it." He waved his hand dismissively. "But enough of that. You asked who I am and what I want. I've told you the latter. As for the former, I am a detective."
"A very young detective I might say. How old are you?"
"And what exactly were you doing passed out at a bar, hmm?"
"Detective-ing," he said with a wide grin. Her eyes rolled into an exasperated look.
"18 year olds aren't allowed to drink, even if they are…'detective-ing,'" she said.
"I was eavesdropping. Pretending to be passed out at a bar, so people wouldn't pay much attention to me when they conduct private business. I didn't really drink anything, so don't cuff me or anything."
Raven grew alarmed again, missing the sarcasm with the last statement. "Trouble?"
"Geeze, you hero-types are so high-strung. 'Is there trouble? Trouble here? Trouble there?'"
She scowled at him and he continued.
"You ever watch 'Up'? You remind me of that dog that drops everything and stares whenever he sees a squirrel." He smiled at her again, trying to gauge her response.
She gave him a bored look. "Never seen it."
He sighed in defeat and slumped a bit. "No. No trouble. Some paranoid dweeb hired me to eavesdrop on people he thinks are trying to rob him. I've been tracking those men at the bar for a few days now and there's no hint of a planned robbery." He reached over and patted her head, earning a glower. "Relax hero, nothing is amiss today. Enjoy your time here, or at least try to enjoy it rather than glower at dancing couples all night."
"Yeah, whatever," she grumbled.
"Are your panties all twisted because that little blond thing stole your date?"
She sputtered. "How did you-…why did-…what-…No! "
He didn't say a word, just grinned at her as she tried to win back her dignity. She sighed at him. "Yes, although I wouldn't use the colorful vocabulary you employed to describe it."
"It's nothing to be ashamed about." When she didn't brighten he added, "Be happy you at least have the maturity to admit it."
She quieted. "I shouldn't feel things like that. I shouldn't let myself feel things like that. It's irresponsible, not mature."
The butler had returned with two giant mugs of hot chocolate for the both of them. "Enjoy young masters," he said and left them.
"By Azar, this is delicious," said Raven as she took a sip from the mug. "It's the perfect temperature too." Her eyes were wide and she had forgotten her emotional turmoil for the moment.
Ellery smiled. "I'd assume so, that old butler could make anything taste good. He even showed Bruce how to cook edible food."
"Wait…Bruce and Mr. Pennyworth. Bruce Wayne helped host this party? This is his house?"
Ellery nodded as he took another sip from his mug.
"How'd you get to know them?"
"A friend of theirs trained me to snoop," he said.
"Is that friend any good?"
Ellery caught the jab. "You have no idea."
She let the conversation go and they sat in silence for some time, sipping hot chocolate. Ellery had out his smart phone and was perusing its contents. Raven gave him a questioning look.
"Updating my employer on the status of his 'robbers.'"
She nodded. "Ah, yeah. Okay."
Ellery put the phone away and looked up at her. She had an anxious look on her face. Her brow contorted in concentration and worry.
"So what's the deal between you, the blond and that green kid? Besides being teammates."
Her gaze hardened into a scowl. "None of your concern, detective."
"But very much a concern to you it seems."
The scowl intensified. "And you would know wouldn't you?"
"Asking a detective a question like that seems pretty ironic doesn't it?" He grinned.
This is all a game to him, she thought. Raven defense was becoming desperate. "Whatever. If you already know, why ask?"
"For my benefit," he said. "I'm a detective. I like to know things, and you certainly aren't one to talk about yourself. I'm helping you talk."
"Getting a little too daring for our own good aren't we?"
"You don't get what you want without risking a bit," he said.
"Oh, and I assume what you want is to just 'get to know me,' isn't it?" She couldn't hold back the bite in her voice. Any person trying to learn about or get closer to her was candidate for immediate suspicion.
The sincerity and abruptness of his response caught her off guard.
"What if I don't want to talk?"
He shrugged. "Then I guess you won't talk."
She sighed after an internal battle and pitched silence. "What would you have me say then?"
"Why sit at a table by yourself, and then slink over to a bar to order a hot chocolate?"
"I wasn't slinking. And I didn't feel like dancing."
"Because I don't like to dance."
"Then why come to a ball in the first place?"
"Because we go as a team. It's tradition."
"Tradition after two years? That's a fast growing tradition isn't it? And you're all dressed up too, that's peculiar."
"It's a formal ball, what do you expect? Do you expect me to dress like a cow or something?" She punctuated each word slowly, like she was talking to a dunce.
He shook his head vigorously. "I mean that you are especially dressed up. There is a difference between dressing for a formal outing with the intent of looking good for you, and the intent of looking good to impress a certain someone. The first is normal. That's how the majority of folk here dress. The second? Only people with their eye on someone dress that way. Guess which way you came dressed tonight."
Raven just raised her eyebrow at him she already knew the futility of asking him how or why he knew what he knew, but he was skirting dangerously close to the truth, and she decided to mutely plead the fifth.
"Black, figure hugging dress. Low backed and high cut. Designed specifically to show off your body's curves. Six inch heels, worn with the intent of further sculpting what your dress draws attention to. Fingerless gloves, red ruby necklace and earrings," he said waving his hand dismissively. "Everyone wears accessories, regardless of culture." He was tapping the table rhythmically with each thing he called off. "Chakra stone, of course you never go anywhere without that. And push up, lace bra and panties. I'd say that last one is very different than what the majority at this party are wearing. Very different than the people who don't have anyone to impress."
"How in the hell do you know what kind of underwear I'm wearing!? What are you, some kind of pervert?" She jumped up from the chair, ready to make a break for it or phase through the floor.
He shook his head vigorously again. "No, you're an empath. I'm pretty sure you've already scoped me. We wouldn't be having this conversation if you knew all I wanted was a quickie. Besides, fifteen year olds are way too young for me. That's just…no." He indicated the seat she had just vacated. "Please, stay."
She sat back down and tried to relax, although it was very difficult.
"Like I said, I'm a detective, and I'm very good at what I do. As you can see, sometimes it is more of a curse than a benefit." His grin told her he thought of it mostly as a gift.
"Detective is an understatement. More like Sherlock Holmes himself."
Ellery chuckled. "Quite a compliment from such a pretty girl. Thank you."
She tried to shoo away the blush before he could see it.
"Stop that. What is it you want?" This conversation was starting to bug her, and Ellery being able to read her like a book made her very uncomfortable.
"Really, I'm just here for the distraction. Work is stressful," he shrugged.
"Thanks. Good to know I make for a decent distraction," she said. Her tone was biting. It hurt to be used.
He got up and started to walk out the door they came through, mug in hand. "Come, walk with me. Bring your drink with you too if you aren't done with it yet." She thought about staying, as an act of defiance. Eventually, she obeyed, still sipping the half full mug of chocolate as she followed him through the halls like a collared animal.
"Where are we going?" she asked.
"Back to the party."
"Why?" She didn't really want to go back and be forced to witness Terra and Beast Boy dancing again.
"Because it's a party." She couldn't see his face, but she figured he was flashing another smile that could make a girl bend to his will. She groaned in discontent.
"You want to dance with the green kid, don't you?"
"What of it?"
"I'll get you the last slow dance of the night with him," he said. "On one condition."
"Oh? And what would that be," she asked, not allowing herself to be taken by hope.
"Dance one song with me first."
She scoffed. "Are you kidding me? I already said I don't like to dance. Why would I dance with you?"
The noises and music of the party were louder now, and they reached a door that lead to the party floor. He turned to her and now she could see the smile on his face. She felt herself go red involuntarily.
Stop smiling at me! Agh!
To distract herself, she walked back a ways put her mug down on a nearby counter.
Ellery noticed her complexion darken and he laughed, also putting his mug down next to hers. "You want a dance with green boy? I can give you that in exchange for a dance with me. Besides, am I really that bad of a prospective dance partner?"
She just glared at him in response.
Ellery shrugged and turned back to the door. "You're loss." She quickly got in front of him and put her hand on his when he reached for the door handle, stopping him dead with another killer smile plastered on his face.
"Yes?" his eyes said.
"I don't like to dance because I don't know how to. Beast Boy and I shared a slow dance last year and it was just swaying in each other's arms." She still didn't meet his eyes.
"How touching," he said. "Typically, the man leads in the dance, and the DJ has a simple three-four patterned waltz planned. One hand on my shoulder, the other in my opposite hand. My free hand goes on your waist, like so." He put her hands on the correct spot on his body, allowing her a good feel of the muscles rippling beneath the expensive fabric. She also shrank a bit under the touch of his hands, suddenly feeling very self conscious.
"I'll guide you as best I can. Take cues from my upper body, and let your movements compliment mine." Feeling how tense she was, he added, "And try to relax. This is supposed to be fun, remember?" He counted in three for her while they practiced in the hallway, his voice very smooth and calming. Easy to listen to and follow. Raven found herself mirroring him a bit late at first, and then got into the natural rhythm of things as time went on. She lost herself at first in concentration, before enjoyment took the reigns. The feel of two moving together as one was intoxicating. Addicting even.
His counting voice became more melodious. A quick switch and he went from counting in three to singing an improv waltz, his voice smooth and velvety, like chocolate. "I like your voice," she said, and caught herself for complimenting him a little too eagerly. He merely smiled in response. She tried to play off her slip up as casually as possible. "You must get a lot of girls singing to them this way Mr. Ellery."
He smirked. "I like your smile Miss Roth; you would get all the boys with it, if you only employed it more often."
Raven broke their connection, suddenly surprised. She power-walked to the nearby hallway mirror and looked at herself. Her pale complexion was complimented by rosy cheeks, and a glowing smile. Nothing was forced about it either.
Ellery laughed from the doorway. "Don't worry; nothing is going to explode because you're having a good time. Just don't go developing a crush on me now."
Raven gave him another scowl, but its bite had softened out of contentment. She decided to take a line from one of her many books. "No promises." She tried out her best seductress look.
The music on the other side stopped.
"Come," said Ellery, urging toward the door with his head. "The DJ is about to play the waltz. You pull that off with me and you got yourself a slow dance with greeny."
She went to the door with him, and strode through onto the party floor, confidence pushing her spirits high. She saw Terra and Beast Boy together again, but it strangely didn't affect her to see them dancing any more. She knew she was going to have a good time with Ellery, and she trusted he would keep his promise. She had no clue how he'd pull it off, but forced her focus onto her part of the bargain first.
They both assumed the position Ellery had taught her earlier once they reached a suitable spot. Like before, she faltered at first, and then slowly got into the motion with strict concentration on the beats. She imagined Ellery's beautiful voice guiding her. Counting for her. Assisting her. Quicker than last time, the concentration ebbed away and was replaced with a feeling of bliss.
She was having an even better time than before, being in the middle of the floor, surrounded by people and blending in for once.
I can dance, she thought. Her glee was threatening to knock down her carefully erected barriers. To compensate, she slowly let her guard down and enjoyed being out in public. She let the emotion flow through slowly but steadily, coursing through her body. She enjoyed every second of it. The fact that nothing exploded because of her made the moment even better.
The song ended, cutting off her cherished moment.
"Don't look so glum Raven," Ellery said. "You did well, and have earned your prize. Prince Charming awaits." He winked at her and vanished into the crowd like smoke. The DJ announced the final song and encouraged everyone to partner up with 'that special someone.'
Raven felt like an idiot just standing there while partners switched hands.
A flash of yellow moved across the floor and Raven saw Ellery sweeping Terra off her feet, literally. He was carrying her to the other side of the dance floor, bridal style. She didn't look like she was objecting either. In fact, she looked entirely star struck. Beast Boy was standing a ways off, looking incredibly confused and a bit miffed.
"One last chance for the year Raven," she said to herself. "You can do it." Mind made up, she took a steadying breath, and made her way through the crowd towards a green man garbed in a green vest and tie.
"Looks like someone stole your partner," Raven said, forcing a light tone.
"Yeah no kidding," he said. 'Where in the hell did that guy even come from, I mean geeze, he just carted her off like it was nothing."
Raven remembered what it felt like to see Terra cart off Beast Boy like it was nothing. "I think I understand where you're coming from. Wait, where are you going?" Panic laced her rasp as he turned and made his way toward the snack bar.
"I guess I'll just grab some food or something. Wanna join me?"
Raven found it hard to believe he would pass up on an open girl, ready to dance, right in front of him. Maybe oblivious men don't dwell solely in the pages of my books, her thoughts mused.
She cleared her throat, stopping Beast Boy in his tracks and making her turn around to face her. "Actually, would you…would you care to dance with me?"
She tried to keep calm and eek out a cute smile. Her heart was pounding and instantly she regretted asking, waiting for the imminent 'no' from him.
"Uhh… you okay Rae?"
"What do you mean?" She thought her body was going to explode from the anxiety.
"You look like you have an upset stomach or something. And did you just ask me to dance?"
Her 'cute' smile vanished instantly, and a worried look overtook it. She bit her lip. "I'm fine. Actually, no I'm not. I asked if you wanted to dance and I'm still waiting for an answer." She didn't move a muscle.
"For real? Man, of course I'll dance with you Rae. I just didn't think you'd want to after last year."
She brightened considerably. "What do you mean 'after last year?'?"
"You didn't say anything to me after the dance and just ran off to your room when we came back. Not to mention how weird you acted around me for a month after that. I just figured you didn't like it."
"Oh," she said, embarrassed. "That's not…what I thought of it." Her face went pink. She had avoided him, convinced that he didn't have a good time. She hadn't wanted to face him or talk about it out of sheer embarrassment.
By now, the slow piece was playing, and Beast Boy dropped the conversation to urge her closer to the center of the floor. Before she could react, he had his arms around her, and the heat attacked her face.
Her hands defaulted around his waists, and she slowly moved them up to rest on his shoulders, allowing her hands to stealthily feel his tight stomach, chest and shoulders. His hands made their way to the small of her back and pulled her close, a move that elicited a gasp from Raven. When she saw Ellery swing around her field of view with Terra, he gave her a wink, causing her to hide her burning face in Beast Boy's chest.
"Everything okay?" he asked.
"Peachy," she mumbled into the vest. She was going to pop her head up and repeat herself, afraid he didn't hear her, until she felt him relax a little more, allowing them both to move a bit less woodenly.
The dance dragged on, not that she cared. She was enjoying this. She was surprised that it didn't feel shorter, having read about how good things come and go very fast in many of her novels.
"You're thinking too much Rae," Beast Boy said. "Just relax and go with it. Enjoy the moment."
"My name is Raven," she said as she brought her head up to meet his eyes. "And I am enjoying myself. Very much." Her face continued to burn and she resolved to keep it on his chest for the rest of the dance.
The next time she looked up, she realized the music had stopped playing and the couples were drifting off the floor. She and Beast Boy still swayed in each-other's arms. A voice from behind startled her.
"Well it looks like you enjoyed your dance too," Terra said.
Raven quickly detached herself from Beast Boy and turned around, nearly knocking him off balance and running into the arms-akimbo blonde, who was closer than she anticipated.
"Uh…hi Terra," she said. "Sorry, I saw him alone on the floor…and…well, yeah." She didn't want to cause a scene.
"Nah don't worry about it girly," she said, punching Raven's arm. I know you wanted a dance with him too. At first I wasn't going to let him go, afraid I wasn't going to find another dance, but someone quite charming came along." A provocative smile slithered onto her features.
"I'm right here you two," Beast Boy said cutting in. "And yes he was quite charming wasn't he? He literally swept you off your feet and away from me," he pouted.
"Are you complaining that you got a dance with Raven?" Terra asked.
"Well…no, just stating facts," he said with a sheepish smile.
"I assume we all enjoyed our nights?" Terra asked. The question was posed to both of them, but subtly directed at Raven.
"Yeah, we did," they both answered, nodding their heads.
Each of their communicators went off and they pulled it from their respective hiding places.
"Text from Robin. Time to go," Beast Boy said.
"I know that. I can read ya dumb," Terra said, playfully rolling her eyes. "Come on, let's go." She tugged at his arm and off they went.
Beast Boy stopped a ways off and turned back to Raven, who hadn't moved from her spot. "You coming?"
She nodded, not quite looking at him just yet. Her nerves from the dance hadn't yet abated. "A little later, go on without me. I want to walk around for a bit longer."
He nodded and followed his impatient date out the door and to the rest of her family.
She let out a lungful of air she had been keeping in during the whole exchange. I'm really glad she didn't make a scene out of that, she thought. She looked around and found a few stragglers outside on the balcony; Ellery was leaned over on the railing, away from her.
"Thanks," she said, coming up on his left.
"Oh yeah." Enthusiasm leaked through and Ellery caught it. She shifted uncomfortably.
"You were going to ask me something."
"No I wasn't."
He didn't answer, keeping silent.
"Oh fine," she gave in. "How in the world did you know what kind of underwear I was wearing?"
She couldn't tell, but she had a feeling he was grinning ear to ear away from her.
"You're kidding me." She gave him her best defeated and incredulous look.
"Nope," he shook his head. "Complete guess. I turned out lucky today I guess."
She grumbled to herself. "What do you want Ellery?"
"Hmm?" she was beginning to hate that response.
"I hate being indebted to people, and I assume you helped me expecting a reward in return."
He sighed and turned to look at her. No smile was on his face now. "It was you who came and sat next to me and tried to order hot chocolate at a bar. But it turns out you can help me yet."
"Oh? And how would I do that."
"Richard Grayson, he's my contractor for the robbery inquisition. You know him." It was a statement, not a question.
She was treading dangerous ground here. She nodded, preferring to keep silent.
"Tell boy blunder that plans are in the works to steal his briefcase, but so far there is no concrete threat."
Her confused look put another grin on his face. This one was different; devious and thin. It looked like a skull was grinning toothily at her and it sent a shiver down her spine. She looked away and played with a potted plant nearby as a distraction.
"Tonight was fun Raven. If you ever need help in the future, you and I can work something out."
"Why do I get the feeling I'd be making a deal with the devil if you and I 'worked something out?'"
He just laughed. "Another compliment, I thank thee fair lady," he said in perfect imitation of Shakespearian prose. She thought his voice had changed slightly. Another shiver was sent shooting down her spine, and her hair stood on end. She still didn't turn around to meet his gaze.
"Who are you Ellery?"
He chuckled and now she could pinpoint the change in his voice. It sounded like it had been run through a synthesizer.
"If I wanted you to know that, would I be wearing a mask?"
Raven's eyes widened. "X?" she gasped as she swirled about to face him.
She got a good view of the balcony railing and Jump's city lights. Some stragglers were still there, taking in the view but Ellery was nowhere in sight. She was left alone, suddenly cold and shivering as the winter air caressed her.
A somewhat lengthy OneShot done in commemoration for the holiday spirit. Read and review please! It makes me happy :)