I know I usually start by responding to a few reviews here and there, but honestly you've all been so sincere and thoughtful with your reviews that I just can't seem to pick just a few this time to acknowledge. Like the things you guys wrote, especially for Chapter 21, just...I cried. And I know I'm probably going to say this a dozen more times before this chapter is over, but seriously, thank you all for being so responsive to my work.
Oh, and another thing, Pitch Perfect is really a BBxRae AU. No, but seriously guys, just think about it the next time you're watching that movie and you'll see what I mean. I can't watch that movie without thinking of them now. Gahhh. It's a blessing and a curse.
I also like to imagine that maybe in some alternate universe, Raven actually would know all the words to "No Diggity" and sing and rap it with the same confidence of Anna Kendrick.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans or anything even remotely related to the Teen Titans.
Raven stood silently on the roof of Titans Tower, watching the sun rise sanguinely on the horizon. She closed her eyes as the ocean breeze danced happily through her choppy hair. Her cloak curled around her like a security blanket, though the breeze blew right through most of it since it still had the numerous tears in it from the night before.
Yet despite the hopeful weather, Raven herself was not in the most cheerful of moods.
Despite the intense healing she'd done once they'd gotten back to the Tower, her body still possessed an overall ache from their fight with Slade. And if that wasn't enough to sour her mood, she had yet to shower as well, so she was still wearing the same tattered and mucked up cloak and leotard from the night before. Her hair felt grimy against her skin, and the rest of her battered body was sticky with dried blood. She was also in some desperate need of sleep.
Even after everything that had happened that night, Raven just couldn't seem to shake a restless feeling from her bones. While everyone else had retreated to their beds or a shower, Raven felt herself being pulled up here to the roof, as if the answers she were looking for were somehow waiting patiently in this spot.
Partially, she knew she was trying to hide from herself up here, that she didn't want to face a number of truths that were forced upon her last night. Deep down, a small, barely visible part of her was afraid to face her reflection in the bathroom mirror, or allow her mind to unwind on one of the pillows in her room.
Azar help her if she fell asleep right now; who knew what kind of nightmares awaited her after last night's events.
She was also vaguely aware that she was hiding from the booming uncertainty that her future now posed. With everything that had happened, she now found herself worrying about her future even more so than usual. She'd finally gotten her wish, the whole Slade-apprentice ordeal was finally over, and Raven could finally go on with her life like she'd whined about from the very beginning. The troubling part was, though, she wasn't even sure what going on with her life entailed anymore. In about a week's time, Raven had gone from being the sketchy new girl from Azarath, to Slade's potential and very much unwilling apprentice, to the Teen Titans' frenemy, and now...
What was she supposed to do now? Now that it was all over?
How in the world was she expected to move on with her life when so many things had transpired in the last few days? How was she expected to go on like nothing had changed, like she was the same Raven as before?
Because as scary as the idea seemed, she wasn't the same Raven as before. She had changed, and she was different now, maybe not in the most obvious ways, but she was. The changes were all there inside her, both mentally and physically, smirking at her as they knew she had no choice but to adapt accordingly. She could feel the subtle changes in her posture, in the way in which she held her head or spoke a word. This whole experience had inevitably forced her to take another frightening step toward the person she was destined to become, be it good or bad.
A few days ago, when she'd stood on this very rooftop for the first time, Jump City had seemed like completely different place to her. It had seemed so foreign and so reluctant to accept her, yet full of possibilities and hope at the same time, if that made any sense. She'd initially thought that after all this, she could move somewhere else, to a different city, and just practice being "normal" for a while before deciding how to tackle the world and/or potentially help it.
And now here she was, standing on top of the same Titans Tower, and she found that she didn't want to leave Jump City at all. In fact, leaving right now would be almost devastating to her. She'd finally found a place that she felt like she could belong to, a place she could call her own. There was no taint of her past here, no horrific reminders of her heritage or prophecy. And the craziest part was, she'd also found a group of people she could see herself wanting to stay with, wanting to live with, even.
Not that she'd ever admit it out loud. She was far too prideful for such actions. No, if she was going to stay, she would have to be invited, otherwise it would just be too painful any other way.
In a non-romantic sort of way, she wanted her feelings toward Jump City to be reciprocated. Otherwise, she would leave. She was no fan of unrequited love, after all.
The other reason for her foul mood was that, although they'd survived and thwarted Slade's plans, last night did not necessarily feel like a victory to her.
Yes, they'd stopped Slade and everyone had survived through the terrible ordeal with only minor injuries (besides Raven of course), but they still had no idea where Slade had gone after the second detonator went off.
They'd spent hours searching the wharf, but had ultimately come up empty handed. Apparently, according to the Titans, Slade found a certain delight in pulling a mysterious disappearing act every so often. Usually, this entailed him destroying his own base, or simply vanishing in the blink of an eye, never to be seen or heard from until further notice. Then a few months, or maybe even a few years later, he showed up again, his next plan already underway. It was a vicious cycle, to be sure. Raven honestly didn't know how the Titans had put up with him all this time without going insane.
Well...most of them hadn't been driven insane, anyway...
Raven was pulled out of her reverie when she felt the air shift around her. As usual, she felt Beast Boy's presence before she ever saw him, and remained quiet as she waited for him to take his place next to her on the roof.
"I'm guessing this is your favorite spot in the Tower," he said sincerely. His face then screwed up suddenly as if he was reconsidering his statement. "Err, well, on the Tower, anyway...or..?"
Raven fought back a laugh decided to put him out of his misery. "Either way, I suppose you are right. I do like it up here."
"Did you just say that I'm right again? Cyborg did check you to make sure you don't have a concussion, right?" he asked her with feigned seriousness.
"I said I suppose you are right, not that you are right. There's a difference," she reminded him, rolling her eyes.
He eyed her smugly, undeterred by her correction. "Uh-huh..."
"Is there a reason you're up here?" she asked him abruptly.
"If I told you it was because I wanted to bask in the pleasure of your company, would you believe me?" he inquired, a tone of teasing in his voice, but his eyes revealing something much more earnest.
She looked away from him, her face warming. "No."
"Well then, what's a guy to do?" Beast Boy concluded, though he said it more to himself than her.
Raven was suddenly struck with bitterness, and before she even realized what she was saying, the words were already toppling out of her mouth. "Better enjoy my company while you can anyway, since this nightmare is finally finished."
In her own mind she knew she was referring to Slade as the nightmare, but when she saw Beast Boy flinch beside her out of the corner of her eye, she suddenly felt like a jerk. He probably thought she meant meeting him and the Titans was the nightmare.
Barbs of guilt needled her, and she was about to amend her comment, but he somehow managed to speak before her.
"So, I guess you'll be leaving now, huh?" he asked her quietly, unable to look at her.
Raven turned to face him, the question nearly jolting her out of her senses. The question itself wasn't all that surprising, for she had expected someone to ask her at some point today. What had stunned her most was in the way he'd asked, the abruptness and coldness of the phrasing. Did he want her to leave?
That question was almost too painful to consider. Of all the Titans, she'd at least expected him to want her to stay, if any of them did. But maybe she was wrong. Maybe, despite everything they'd been through in the past week, Beast Boy still didn't like her or trust her enough to want to remain...
Friends? Is that what they were now? Or maybe something more, maybe even less? Raven herself had no idea. She just knew she wanted to stay in Jump City and remain in contact with the Titans somehow.
Or, on the other hand, maybe that was the precise reason he didn't want her to stay in the first place. He'd finally realized that she wasn't who he thought she'd be at all, and now he couldn't wait write her off as a distant memory and get on with his own life.
"Yes, I suppose I am," she replied monotonously, betraying every thought and emotion she'd ever had before this moment that implied she wanted the exact opposite. Her words felt flat as she spoke them, and she wondered if it was obvious to him that she wanted him to ask her to stay.
His eyes, though ringed with a certain sadness, remained fixed on the rocky shore below them. His mouth twitched as if he desperately wanted to ask her something else, but he didn't. When he finally looked at her, she felt as if he was trying to look right through her, to the girl beneath the surface.
"Well you can't leave without showering first, right?" he said with a forced lightness in his voice.
Raven began to flush when she remembered how dirty and ragged she still looked from the fight, and briefly she wondered how badly she must have smelled. She certainly must have been a fearsome sight to behold. He, on the other hand, smelled of ivory soap and mint. She couldn't help but notice that his hair seemed even softer than usual, and a small part of her longed to rake her hands through it.
She didn't want to overstay her welcome at this point, especially now when it was clear that she was probably never welcome at all, but a shower was just too good to pass up. "I think I will shower before I go," she decided, albeit a little coldly.
She left him there on the roof, and somehow made her way to a shower to scrub the dirt and disappointment from her pale skin. Her mind was still a little numb from her encounter with Slade, not to mention she could probably use a few hours of sleep.
A while later, she was back in her room with the blinds drawn, attempting to meditate a little, when a knock resounded on the door. Warily, she walked over and opened it slightly, a sliver of light from the hallway sneaking into her dark room. To her surprise, Starfire was waiting for her.
"Robin has called a meeting in the control room," she informed Raven without any preamble. Raven noticed that Starfire seemed a little distracted, and strange feelings of guilt were wafting off of the gorgeous alien, which only served to make Raven even more confused.
"Alright," Raven said, coming out of her room and hearing the door slide shut behind her. She moved to leave, but faltered when she saw that Starfire stood grounded in her spot, a look of apprehension in her bright green eyes.
"Umm, Raven? May I speak with you for a moment?" the Tamaranian asked in a small voice.
Raven nodded her head and waited.
Seeing that she had Raven's attention, Starfire let out a huge sigh and stepped closer to the sorceress, and for a terrifying moment Raven wondered if Starfire was going to cry. "I am sorry for the way I treated you in the beginning. I should have listened to Beast Boy when he said you could be trusted, but instead, I acted like a chlorbag vorblernelk and treated you like you were the enemy when you clearly were not. I ask humbly for your forgiveness, and it is my dearest hope that someday we may be friends."
It took a lot of focus for Raven to keep her face composed, especially when Starfire mentioned those two particular words that definitely did not sound like English. No one had ever spoken to Raven so sincerely before, and she wished she could really show her appreciation without her usual awkwardness tagging along.
"While I appreciate the apology, Starfire, you did nothing wrong. You acted the way you did because you wanted to protect your friends, and I respect that. Besides, it's not like I gave you guys the best first impression."
Starfire's eyes were optimistic and lit up like a firefly. "Then...I am forgiven?"
Raven unconsciously took a step back, not quite liking where this conversation was inevitably leading. "I'm not sure that you should even require my forgiveness, but yes, if that's what you want."
"Oh Raven, you have made me most glad!" Starfire cried out as she swept Raven up in an overwhelmingly cheerful, yet physically painful, hug.
"Uhh, Starfire..." she somehow managed to eek out, her entire body feeling like it was caught in a vice.
As if remembering, Starfire released her so quickly that she practically dropped Raven. "Oh. Sorry, Raven."
But the grin was still there on the Tamaranian's face, and it was so infectious that Raven herself nearly smiled. "Don't worry about it," the sorceress reassured.
Down in the control room, Robin looked at all of them evenly, though the weariness in his eyes was unmistakable, even behind the mask. It was a little unclear to Raven as to why he had called them all down for the meeting, but it was most probable Robin had received new details about last night from the police.
Robin exhaled, his shoulders slumping a little, as if the very news he was about to announce weighed heavily upon him. "I've just received the official report from the Jump City Police Department, and I'm afraid their findings were the same as ours."
There was an uneasy stirring amongst the group, but no one said anything, so Robin continued, his strong voice unusually hoarse. "There were no remains found. No way of proving his..." he trailed off somberly. They all knew the end of that sentence anyway.
There were no remains found, so that undoubtedly meant that Slade was still very much alive and still out there somewhere, biding his time and no doubt plotting his next destructive move.
The five of them sat there in hushed silence for who knows how long. No one really knew what to say or how to make the situation alright.
Then, suddenly, Cyborg spoke up. His expression was fierce but his single human eye held a gentleness to it. "Look y'all, I know none of you probably want to hear this right now, but seriously, so what if we didn't capture Slade? That doesn't make us weak, and that sure as hell doesn't make us failures, so we shouldn't feel disappointed in ourselves in the slightest. When it comes right down to it, we still stopped Slade from achieving his goal," he glanced at Raven quickly as he said this. "And we're all here, safe. That's a damn victory in my opinion."
Cyborg really was like the older brother of the group. He was strong, not just in the physical sense, and he understood the importance of words being said the right way at the right time. In another lifetime, Raven believed he could've led a nation's army if he wanted to, because he possessed a subtle charisma that made people want to listen to him. And right now that was exactly what was happening.
As she looked around at the different faces, she saw Beast Boy nodding his head and grinning confidently. Starfire seemed reassured enough, as a smile smile had bloomed on her lips. Surprisingly, even Robin seemed a little less tense than he was a few minutes ago as he stared up at his teammate with pride.
"Cyborg's right, we kicked serious ass last night," Beast Boy concurred, his eyes glittering with mischief.
Starfire's giggle filled the room, and it was obvious she was happy that her teammates were no longer focusing on the negative. Small amounts of relieved chatter began to erupt, and Robin cleared his throat to reel them all back in for yet another announcement.
Strangely enough, unlike the first announcement, the other Titans seemed to have expected this one, as Raven found herself to be the only one in the room looking at Robin with a curious expression on her face. The others were waiting patiently, and Raven could swear that each of them were attempting to stifle a grin. She didn't know whether to be hopeful or scared.
Robin eyed each of his teammates carefully as he proceeded. "We still have one more topic to discuss, guys, and I think you can all guess where I'm going with this..." he trailed off meaningfully.
It was then that his gaze locked onto Raven, and immediately she could feel her face heating up with embarrassment. All the Titans were staring at her now. She didn't like this kind of attention, and so far she didn't like where this conversation was headed at all. It would seem that this was the dreaded moment where the Titans would unceremoniously throw Raven out and tell her to never darken their door ever again.
Raven snapped out her thoughts and looked up at Robin, a bemused frown prominent on her lips. She could feel Timid shivering in the dark recesses of her mind, and it took a lot of effort to keep Raven herself from fidgeting with discomfort.
But when she really looked at Robin, she could see that his expression wasn't cold or disgusted, but that instead it was proud and maybe even pleased. She couldn't help but turn to Beast Boy at that moment, who in turn gave her a nod of encouragement.
"Raven, there's something we've been wanting to ask you. We've all talked it over, and we're all unanimous in this decision," Robin prattled on authoritatively. Raven was about ready to throttle him if he didn't end this torture soon.
Cyborg seemed to be feeling the same way. "Oh c'mon man enough with the formalities! Just tell her already!"
"Yes, please Robin. I fear the anticipation is doing the killing of me as it is the rest of us," Starfire agreed.
Robin frowned, a little annoyed that his teammates had interrupted his meticulously planned speech. "Alright, fine," he sighed. "What I'm trying to say, Raven, is that we'd like you to be apart of our team. As an official Teen Titan."
It grew deathly quiet as they all watched her and intently waited for her reaction. She wanted to be happy, she really did, because this was in fact what's she'd always wanted, but a huge part of her was still convinced that this was all a sick joke. "You can't be serious," she accused dryly.
The Titans' faces went blank and they all glanced at each other in confusion. Clearly, no one had responded to their offer in this way before.
Starfire smiled, bravely volunteering to try to reason with Raven first. "The best part, Raven, is that we are most serious about this. Never have we encountered a hero with such impressive abilities such as yours, and you would be quite the proud addition to our team."
"Yeah, not only can you whoop some serious ass," Cyborg jumped in, "but most importantly, you don't let it all go to your head, and you're a team player."
Raven was still in shock, and found that she could only blink in response to all of their outrageously sincere compliments.
"I know we got off to a rough start, but we all think this will be a really good change for our team, and we'd be honored if you'd join and stay here in the Tower with us," Robin concluded ardently.
Finally, Raven found her words. "So, you guys don't want me to leave...?"
The Titans seemed genuinely surprised by her question. "Of course, not," Robin reassured her, like the whole idea was just ridiculous. "We thought you wanted to leave."
Raven shook her head slowly; she had far too much pride to admit to anything more than that.
"So...you're staying, then?" Beast Boy asked sheepishly, like he was a five year old asking his parents if they were still mad at him for breaking the precious heirloom vase.
Raven felt a smile tug at her lips, and for the first time since she'd met the Titans, she let the smile unfold for them to see. "Yes, I am staying."
Joining the Teen Titans was a lot less formal than Raven had expected it to be. After her acceptance, she'd been sworn in right there on the spot, and afterwards, a small yellow communicator was bequeathed to her.
After that, Cyborg and Starfire had immediately run off to plan the night's celebration, with Cyborg taking control of the night's menu and Starfire dragging Robin with her to pick up decorations at the local party supply store.
With just Beast Boy and Raven left to themselves, it was then that Beast Boy had awkwardly offered to show her how to work the security panel attached to the door of her now permanent room.
Now that they were actually standing in front of the panel, however, Raven was beginning to wonder if Beast Boy really understood how to operate the complicated mechanism in the first place. She wondered if she should just wait for Cyborg to teach her instead.
"Shhh, wait, just give me a minute," Beast Boy protested, still eyeing the security panel with determination.
"It's okay if you don't know how to use it," she consoled patiently.
His shoulders slumped slightly. "I should at least be able to tell you how to create your own security passcode," he admonished himself, frowning. "But the one Cyborg's installed into your door is an upgraded version, so I'm not entirely sure."
"It's alright, Cyborg can teach me how to use it later."
Beast Boy sighed defeatedly and backed away from the panel. It was quiet for a little bit before he glanced at her, his demeanor seemingly changed from before. "For a minute there, back in the control room, I actually thought that that might be the last time I ever see you or talk to you."
She didn't know what he wanted her to say to that, but she found herself replying anyway. "I thought so too."
His eyes searched her fervently, asking a hidden question she wasn't entirely sure of. "So what was all that back on the roof? What changed between that and the control room? Why did you decide to stay?"
These were all very good questions, and they were all equally as good at making Raven feel guilty and vulnerable. But, as it was, she was Raven, and she would never consciously allow anyone to see her as weak and vulnerable.
"Nothing particularly..changed," she stumbled along her words, her nervousness increasing as he drew closer to her, a familiar spark in his eyes she couldn't quite place. "I had already made up my mind before our conversation on the roof, and it was the same as my answer in the control room."
Beast Boy regarded her skeptically. He genuinely wanted to understand her and her thought processes. "Then why did you act like you were leaving before? Why did you make me- us, think you were saying goodbye?"
Instead of answering his question with the truth, she followed up with another question. "Why did you ask me to join if you were so sure I wanted to leave?"
"Because!" he sputtered. "I- We didn't want you to leave, so we thought maybe you'd consider staying if we offered the position to you anyway."
Raven stared down at the floor, her eyes unable to bear the weight of his intense gaze any longer. "Well," she almost whispered. "I'm glad you did."
She peered up at him and found his mouth slightly ajar, though there was that same familiar look in his eye from earlier that made her want to hide in her cloak like a camera-shy child. In the back of her mind, she noticed the distance was closing between them, and her eyes slowly began to flutter shut-
"RAVEN! BEAST BOY!" Cyborg called on the intercom, not even bothering to hide his enthusiasm about the night's festivities. "STOP WHATEVER IT IS THAT YOU TWO ARE DOING AND COME HELP ME WITH ALL THIS FOOD!"
Beast Boy sucked in a breath and backed away. "I'm going to kill him. I swear I'm going to kill him," he growled under his breath.
Raven backed away as well, her mind not entirely able to comprehend what had just happened or, rather, the numerous possibilities of what had almost happened.
Her smokey violet eyes met his emerald one's one last time before she turned to head to the elevator. When Beast Boy's mouth suddenly broke out into a soft grin, Raven's confusion was instantaneous. "What?"
His head cocked to the side in response, as if he was weighing something in his mind. "You know, not to be cheesy or anything, but your eyes really do remind me of irises, Raven."
He gazed at her like that a little longer before moving away from her and continuing down the hall toward the elevator, while Raven stood there like an idiot, her face scarlet. What the hell was he talking about?
Her brow was knitted so tightly she was sure it would stay that way no matter what after all this. She was about to call after him, when, as if reading her mind, he stopped and gave her a teasing sideways glance. He seemed to be waiting for her to catch on to his observation, as if there were more to it than he had originally let on.
"Wait, what?" she couldn't help how clumsy the words sounded spilling out of her mouth, but she didn't know how else to respond to such a statement.
His eyebrows lifted, as if to prompt her, and she wanted to scream. She had no idea what he was trying to hint, and for the briefest moment she wished she was a mind reader. It would certainly make this moment a hell of a lot less embarrassing for her if she knew what he was talking about.
"Just think about it," he said, a tinge of teasing in his voice. He turned away from her once again and continued his trek to the elevator.
Raven racked her brain over and over again, at this point she was on the verge of bringing the roof down on him to wipe that knowing smirk off his face. He was leaving her there, and she was still frozen standing there feeling like a pouting small child, and more than anything, she wanted to be walking with him, wanted to be in on the joke.
It was at this moment that he stopped and grinned at her, the most obnoxious grin she'd ever seen. "You coming or what?" he asked with a chuckle, but there was a seriousness to his tone.
She remained there a few moments longer, as if she was actually trying to decide. Finally, with a slight scowl, she caught up with him, and they continued down the hall in silence, though, had they been paying attention to each other rather than themselves, they would have noticed the shy, yet excited energy reverberating off each other equally.
It wasn't until they had reached the door to the elevator that Raven suddenly caught it, her posture snapping upright as her whole body jumped at the revelation, and Beast Boy nearly fell over in surprise.
Hey guys. Haha I bet a number of you are really bummed I didn't end it with BB and Raven making out or something, but I decided a long time ago that nothing romantic would happen between them in this story because this is just the story of how Raven joins the team, and as you all know, the whole BBxRae thing takes much more than a few days to develop. So I wanted the focus to be on Raven finding her place on the team and then there being that small peculiar possibility that they may be developing feelings for each other but they're just not sure what to do about it yet. Plus this leaves me room to develop their relationship even more in future stories, especially if I do a sequel.
I know Terra's role in this story was kind of cut short, but try to look at it more as me alluding to Terra's possible future role in other stories. Please don't be too bummed that I kind of dropped her from this story because personally I don't really care too much for her to begin with, and adding her into the plot would have just been one more thing for me to stress about. It would have been too many plots at once all trying to be woven together and it would have made for messy writing.
Furthermore, I'm sorry this last chapter took so long to write and post, and I'm also sorry if it doesn't meet your expectations. I had a family emergency come up in the last couple of weeks and I was finding that I couldn't write anything true to this story without my emotions being all over the place, so I elected to wait until I had absorbed the news a little better. So yeah.
I really want to thank all of you again for reading my fanfic, especially those who've stuck with this story since I first posted it back in...February I believe? I love all of you so much and I really don't think I could've written this story the way I did without all of your gracious reviews and support. Every single one of you helped me write this story whether you know it or not, and I really appreciate that the reviews were constructive, rather than insulting. That aspect alone really helped me to improve my story.
Looking back, the first chapters of this fic are a little painful for me to read, because everything has changed so much since that first chapter, the tone, the style, everything. But I know it's all a process, and this is the first long story I've ever written and completed, so I'm proud of myself.
Oh, and did any of you happen to notice the five x's I use to separate the beginnings and ends of my chapters? Bet you can't guess what that symbolizes...I'm being half sarcastic here.
So...now what? Well, since I'm back in school, don't expect me to be posting anything long for a while. I MIGHT post a few one-shots here and there, just to keep my hand in and keep my writing up to par, but otherwise I probably won't post any more chaptered stories till next summer because my life is just in a huge transition mode right now. I definitely have a lot of ideas for future stories, and I write them down as they come to me, so don't worry, just because I'm not posting doesn't mean I'm not writing.
Once again, I love you all, and I thank you all from the very bottom of my heart.