Disclaimer: I do not own Teen Titans. Also, trigger warning, and I'm sorry the format was funky the first time around.

Chapter 31: Cloak's Off

Everyone in the tower stopped what they were doing and just stared at her as she froze up and for a few moments. Her mouth started to move like she had something to say, but she was unable to form words. She felt her heart rate quicken and her hands start to shake. It was really ironic, but now she really felt like she needed a cut. Especially as she saw Starfire's, Robin's, and Cyborg's shocked faces. The longer she let those few moments pass without action from any of them, the more heightened her longing for a nice deep cut swept over her—something to release everything that was becoming pent up inside of her so quickly so that it could just disintegrate into the air.

Beast Boy was the first to move. "Raven," he said simply in a soft voice. This shook her out of her frozen trance immediately, but did not shake her need for a cut. She didn't think anyone's voice was that powerful, not even the Devil's himself. She grabbed her cloak off the ground and put it on, casting darkness on everything they had all just seen, as she quickly left the room with a stern face that she thought was going to surely shatter once out of sight. But not even doing this made any of them move, except Beast Boy who heaved a heavy sigh.

Raven covering her markings did not make the four friends forget their intensity, however. None of them would ever be able to get the picture of her body laced in scar after scar after scar, even if they weren't able to pick them out individually. For the three most shocked members of the team, this didn't matter. They would never be able to look at anything but the picture as a whole; they would never be able to hone into one scar at a time. Not that this bothered the demoness in the slightest. She was not a monkey in a zoo, and she sure as hell didn't want to be picked at.

"I... I do not understand," Starfire finally said, turning to Robin for an explanation. She felt sadness of an unexplainable depth. Knowing her friend was in that much pain, knowing that she obviously didn't trust her enough or feel comfortable enough to come to the alien girl about such feelings made her ache inside. She felt as if all the scars that lay upon her friend cut into her own heart and the image caused her to be come weak from the pressure it put on her. She blamed herself, telling herself that she should have tried harder, she should have been there more, she should have helped protect her better. And by God, she should have seen didn't she see it? The sadness, the distance, and most of all, the scars. Her emerald eyes welled with tears; her friend's pain was now becoming her own; her heart skipped two beats as if struck by an unexplainable and brute force. Starfire now wondered if this was how Raven felt when she did those awful things to her body: confused, alone, helpless. Tears rolled down her face as she realized how isolated her beloved half demon friend must have felt. Jesus, how could she not have seen it? It was right there, right under the piece of fabric, right under their noses. Hidden in plain sight.

Her words took Robin and Cyborg out of their trance, causing Robin to turn to Starfire in shame.

"It's fucking stupid," he said angry, mostly at himself, but a little of such anger was toward Raven. How could he not have seen it? How could she hide something from him so well for so long? How could she be so selfish?! He knew that it made him selfish for thinking this way, but he was too angry to care; he could feel the emotion boiling inside of him as it ate away at his brain to the point that he couldn't think with full logic. How could she be in so much pain and be too damn prideful and narcissistic to not even come to someone?! He was suppose to be the one closest to her! Her best friend! They had been through so much together—he literally ventured into the depths of hell for her, God damn it. Was he the only one thinking this way? He couldn't have been, surely! The more he let it tumble around in his mind, the more heated and hurt he became. He tried to make as much sense of it as he could, but he found none. He knew that she wasn't exactly thrilled about not being able to partake in real combat, but he found it to be so...so... childish! She was a grown woman, for Christ sake, not a blonde teenage girl whose daddy grounded her from her phone for a week!

Beast Boy had to let out another breath to steady his annoyance, trying to remember that not everyone understood. Just because he wasn't an empath didn't mean that he couldn't feel the hurt in Starfire's heart, or the anger radiating off of Robin, which Beast Boy, if he wasn't careful, would be able to feel the same anger Robin had toward the rest of the team due to their ignorance. But he knew that wasn't the route to go, and it surely wasn't going to be of any useful service to Raven.

"That's totally going to help her, dude," the green teen said as he went to the sink to clean a bowl or twenty. He felt like he needed something to do, something to busy his mind from all of the havoc that he knew was brewing.

"We should have seen it," Cyborg said sitting down in a dining room chair, "I should have seen it," he corrected, putting his head in his hand. "The girl has been off since she came back." The big brother like friend felt a mixture of Starfire's and Robin's feelings. He too was sad that he wasn't able to be of more help to their half demon friend—she had spent hours with him and he felt as if he didn't take enough initiative, didn't MAKE her tell him what really was wrong. He blamed himself. And the blame hurt, just as much as her cuts did. But it frustrated him that his friend destroyed such a beautiful body. Her skin may have been gray, but at least ALL of her had skin—and her skin color in no way made her less was coming from a man who was half robot mind you. He learned to cherish the skin and bones he had left, he learned to know that as a human, you must take care of what you have before it's gone, because most don't have the blessing to getting back a clean slate. How someone could do such a thing to themselves was beyond him—especially when they under went torture for so long. And for Raven, the torture was not just this round with Slade, but when her father decided that he wanted to take over the Earth. She had been through so much and each time he was there for her—a listening ear for when she needed someone. He was her big brother, no matter what planet they were from; loyalty had always been at their side. So why, if they both considered him this way, did she turn away from him when she obviously needed him the most? Why make things harder on herself? Why destroy such a beautiful temple you were given?

"It saddens my heart," Starfire said quietly, trying not to let her tears show, but with little avail. She wanted to be strong for Raven, even if she wasn't in the room and couldn't see her, but the orange skinned beauty never could hide her emotions. She just couldn't.

As he heard Cyborg and Starfire talk, Robin became more and more boiled with anger because he was able to think more and more. The words "stupid," "selfish," and "childish," swam through his brain like Aqualad in the ocean. He was almost as red a tomato and began walking so fast to exit the room that he would have had a chance at racing with Kid Flash. The fire he felt, it fueled him. The leader, the one usually so level headed, so balanced between fury and justice, had a tipped scale.

"Woahh there Bird Boy," Beast Boy quickly grabbed his arm, seeing the scale fall quickly. Robin immediately turned to face him. If looks could kill, Beast Boy would have been engulfed with flames right on the spot. "You're just going to make it worse," Beast Boy warned. He could only imagine what Robin would do: storm into her room, screaming and yelling, letting her be a verbal punching bag for every impulsive thought he had. And the changeling didn't even want to imagine what Raven would do. To herself; to them. It was unthinkable. He knew he had to keep them all away from her for the time being, for everyone's sake.

"This is ridiculous! How do you know she's not sitting in their right now slitting away at her wrists!" Robin screamed, the image adding another heap of coal to the fire, and another weight to the scale.

Beast Boy winced at his choice of words, and at the image. Something about the word "slitting" made his skin crawl in the worst of ways. It was like saying the word "retarded" to the parent of a child with special needs.

"Well going in there like that is really going to make her want to, don't you think?" he asked calmly, keeping eye contact. He knew he had to stand his ground with Robin, or the Boy Wonder would try to step on him like an ant.

Starfire walked softly toward them and put a hand gently on Robin's shoulder. Normally, this would have solved just about everything, but his temperature only went down a degree or two. He was still heated; he wouldn't even look at her. She wasn't asking him to, though, via physically, with words, or otherwise. Instead, she looked Beast Boy in the eyes quizzically. He did not bare the same amount of sorrow and fumes that neither she nor the other two did, and Starfire took notice.

"How are you not the upset?" she asked quietly, very perplexed.

"Because being upset only makes things worse," Beast Boy told her calmly. Cyborg's head shot up. He knew Beast Boy, and if it was his first time seeing Raven's body like that, he would have some sort of dramatic reaction, one worse than the rest of them. No one was blind to his love for Raven, except maybe Raven herself. Hell, even Robin had picked up on it. Beast Boy would protect the purple haired demoness with his last breath, and Cyborg knew this. He also knew that even though Beast Boy had grown and matured, Raven was still his weakness. She was the ticking bomb that could blow him up in the scariest of directions. Calm was not such a destination.

"You knew, didn't you?" the half robot asked, now as riled up as Robin, "you fucking knew!" Beast Boy didn't say anything at first. He just heaved another heavy sigh, trying to pick his words and tone carefully so that neither of the boys would do anything too hasty.

"Yes," he said very calmly, "I knew."

"How in the hell—" Cyborg was cut off, Beast Boy already knowing his question.

"She didn't tell me, but how I know is between us," he said.

"Between you?!" Robin blew up, "we're a team! I am leader and this is damn sure something I needed to know!"

"Needed to know?" Beast Boy asked, "why? Why would she tell you? So you could scream at her like this?" he said, slightly annoyed, "and this has nothing to do with you—any of you, or even me, dude. This is about Raven. And if you want to help Raven, you'll leave her alone for now."

"Boyfriend Robin," Starfire said, a little weakly as she mulled over Beast Boy's words, "perhaps he is right."

"So what? You think we should do nothing?!" Robin asked, infuriated. He thought that ignoring the problem was the worst piece of advice he had ever heard.

"What do you expect to do, then, dude?" Beast Boy asked him pointedly. Robin hadn't the slightest clue, not really. He thought about scaring her out of it, threatening to take privileges away from her. He was at a loss. The leader could deal with catching criminals and being at the side of the greatest detective in the world, but this was above his head. And he hated himself for it, which infuriated him further.

"Whatever is to be done or said," Starfire spoke in Robin's place, "needs to not take place when feeling the sadness or the angry or the confused are so intense," she reasoned with them. She did not want any of them to be the cause of new markings on her dear friend's body, for Starfire knew that it would not hurt only Raven, but the rest of them in very deep ways. She also knew that Robin could make or break the situation with a decision, and for him to do so in such a state of mind would be walking across a mine field during a time of war and hoping for the best. Starfire wasn't willing to take that chance.

Her words had hung in the air while the three boys and herself went silent once more. The tension was still there, and all knew it wasn't going away anytime soon. If anything, it would only mold into something else after emotions weren't as high.

"I need to look into something for Titans East," Robin mumbled before he stomped off to the evidence room for peace and quiet with his own thoughts. He had thought about hitting the Tower's gym, but decided that it was his mind that he needed to distract so that his body would follow suit. He needed something to remind him that despite behavior coming from Raven that he knew nothing about, he was good at what he did.

The person to take up the gym instead was Cyborg. He felt like he needed his muscles to be on fire and ache to get rid of the pent up emotion inside of himself. He needed to be reminded that he was indeed part human, and that he was going to put that to good use, even though he felt as if Raven was taking advantage of it. For him, if his body was tired, his mind was as well.

This left Beast Boy and Starfire by themselves for a few seconds before Starfire informed her friend that she had promised Silkie that she would sing a Tamerianian lullaby to him before bed. Her pet moth larvae always made her feel a bit better, no matter the circumstances. Even if she couldn't fix the problems everyone else had, or even her own, she knew that just her mere presence warmed Silkie's heart, and in turn, it warmed her own.

Beast Boy, content with the fact that the rest of his friends left Raven be, decided that he was going to check on her, already expecting her to be a bloody mess. He had no other thoughts to keep himself busy as the others had; seeing the girl was all that was on his mind, despite whatever state she may be in.

He knocked softly on her door and said her name. "Rae."

"Go away," she said in her monotone. Seeing how the others reacted reminded her of how ugly Beast Boy must actually think her body is, completely forgetting the fact that he once told her that she was beautiful not long ago, and how much he probably pitied her. This made her feel terrible waves of Guilt. He had handled her so well, but she shouldn't have been a burden for him to handle. She shouldn't have let him in so far, because now, she would have to shut him out. Or so she reasoned. She would have to slam the door so that she wouldn't be able to hurt him any further.

"You know I can't," he said, his voice still soft and longing for her. Longing to hold her and tell her that he was going to protect her and keep her safe, shield her from the shit storm that they both knew were going to come their way for reasons that were different but the same.

She wanted to protest further, but she was mentally drained. The emotions everyone gave off coupled with her own, along with physical exhaustion made her weak in every sense. Beast Boy would nag her and put up a fight until he got his way, they all knew this. Raven especially. So, she heaved a heavy defeated sigh and let him in. After getting up and doing so, she didn't linger at the doorway. Instead, she turned around, her face full of indifference, and sat on her bed, her cloak wrapped around her tightly.

Beast Boy felt a little awkward walking in, but didn't want her to feel the same. He didn't know what to say, and was too fearful to speak at all; if he did, he knew that he would surely be too intense for the demoness and she was send him out immediately. That was the last thing he wanted. So instead, he didn't say anything at all; he didn't utter one word. Instead, he walked beside her bed, turned into a lion and curled up right on her floor. He just laid there, looking at her door, able to hear her steady breaths of life. Finally, he heard another deep sigh come from her.

"You can come on the bed," she said. She didn't want him just on the floor all night—he would eventually turn back into his human form. It wasn't fair, especially when he was the only one on her side, even if part of her didn't want him to be for his own sake. She heard him shift back, but he didn't move off of the floor.

"Are you sure, Rae?" he asked her. He knew how sacred her bed was to her and didn't want to contaminate her space just because she felt bad about him being on the floor. He didn't want her to be uncomfortable for his sake, and it would have defeated the whole purpose of him coming in her room entirely.

"I wouldn't have offered if I wasn't," she replied. He stood as she scooted over and he sat next to her, both sitting up, him with this legs out and her with her legs up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them, but hidden by her cloak. They sat together in silence again for a good while before Raven finally spoke up.

"They hate me," she said. And she fully believed this. Part of her even wondered if she would still have a spot on the team come morning. She could only imagine what Robin must have said or done, the decisions he would be making at that very moment. She didn't want to admit it to herself, but it was scary. Outside of the team, she had no one, she had nothing. And now, she felt like she barely even had them.

"They don't hate you," Beast Boy said calmly. He didn't want to have his feelings mess up hers in Nevermore, he knew it would only make things worse, so he tried to keep a calm and level demeanor. "They're just worried and confused," he said, "and ignorant," he added. She merely nodded and didn't say anything for a few moments more.

"When you saw me," she began, still in her monotone, but more hushed, "why did you not have the same reaction as they did?" He let himself choose his words very carefully.

"You had been away long enough. I didn't want to be the reason you were in pain for a second time."

She felt an emotion come off of him, something very strong and powerful, but it didn't hurt, and she was unable to put her finger on what it was. She did her best to dismiss it, but she felt the warm bubbles come back to her. The more she was with him, the more she had felt them, but what had happened was so intense that it delayed such feelings. She was glad for them, though, glad to feel something other than despair.

"Garfield?" she asked timidly. She never used his real name, so he knew it had do be very serious. "Can... can I see your scars again?" she almost whispered. She didn't know why she had asked, and it made her feel shameful to do so. She could only imagine the fit she would throw if anyone had asked her the same question, especially right after the events that just took place. He was very different from her, though, and complied silently with the nod of his head. He didn't question her in the slightest; it was as if he wasn't capable of such a thought.

Both heroes moved to turn their bodies so that they were facing each other, this time, both with their legs crossed. Raven refused to look Beast Boy in his eyes. Instead, they both looked at his gloves as he took them off, his mind remembering the events that caused him to make the scars, but from a distance and without feeling, while she felt slightly anxious, but revealed nothing of the sort. He scooted up closer to her just a little, reminding her of the warm feeling in the pit of her tummy, and held them up as he did before with the insides of his wrists up.

When he had showed her the time before, it was only for a quick second. Now she was able to take each other of them in, examine them as detailed as she had pleased. They seemed to look worse the second time around, even with only the moonlight showing them. They were right on the major vain at the place where the hand and the wrist meet. They were risen and puffy, one on each of his limbs, and she knew they had to have been very deep. This time, it was she who felt pity, sadness, and curiosity, but this seemed to only warm her tummy more, which made her wonder if she was even more psycho than she thought prior.

The purple eyed girl took his left wrist and looked at it first, deciding to take them individually before looking at them together. She held it in her hands, which she rested on her lap, and just stared at it. Beast Boy, however, kept his eyes on her. The structure of her jaw line, bright violet eyes that she tried to dull, her long feminine neck, her tiny nose, all of this making up a very beautiful face that gave very little away. He picked up on things passing on it, however, here and there. They only stayed for half a second before they were gone, never staying long enough for him to make them out.

She decided to take a chance and very lightly and slowly let her index finger run over the soft marking. When she did, she heard him take in a breathe of surprise, but did not feel any discomfort coming from him. Still, she began to pull away, but he used his right hand to softly touch her leg, making her eyes shoot up at him. Instead of being scared, he let his hand rest there, just for a moment and took the chance to admire her eyes. It was like she was stuck in time, the only thing around her being him and her—her with her belly flopping into a pit of warm, comforting fire that made her feel alive. Alive and well.

"It's okay," he assured her before taking his hand away with a slight blush. She broke eye contact and looked back down at his scar, touching it again in the same way.

"It's not okay," she said quietly, switching to his right, "you shouldn't have felt like you had to do this," she said. He could almost hear the anger in her voice, none of it directed at him.

"No," he admitted, "I shouldn't have. But a lot of things shouldn't happen. And great things can take place due to the 'shouldn't happens.' None of the things that happened to the team should have. But they did. And now we're together, and it's great," he smiled softly, trying to stay positive for her.

"Why... why did they happen?" she took another chance timidly. He was always so positive, so happy, even when darkness came over the Earth and there was almost zero chance of survival, it was he who never deterred from his hopefulness with a spring in his step. For some reason, she felt the absolute need to know what could possibly have altered him into something completely different from the Beast Boy she knew.

He was silent for a while, not answering her as she continued to examine, and she didn't ask again. Finally, he spoke up.

"We should get some sleep." She nodded, still very curious, but complied with him as he put on his gloves. She laid down, never taking off her cloak but left room beside her so that he could do the same. He took her in his arms like so many nights before, letting him be her protection and the fuel to the fire that she felt within, relaxing her in the way only he could. He didn't close his eyes, however, and neither did she. He had her lay on his one arm while he let the other drape across her waist. Instead of burying her face into his neck, though, she moved so that she was laying face up, holding his arm so that it didn't move. She then took her hand and started playing with his glove before slipping one of her delicate fingers under it, lightly letting it brush over the scar once more.

He loved her touch. Loved having her soft body perfectly fitted next to his, even though it was so covered. And had anyone else touched her in the way that he found her touching him—touching the very window to his soul, he would have probably exploded. But she wasn't just anyone. She was Raven. And he could deny her nothing.

"Beast Boy," she whispered, looking down at his hand and what she was doing, begging him to answer the question she had asked him, knowing he would understand. This caused him to heave a sigh of defeat.

"After my parents died," he began softly, but with little emotion, the tribe we were part of took me in, all of them pitching in to help me. But you can't be a green child that changes into animals without heads turning. You especially can't do that in Africa without someone trying to hunt you down. And that's what happened. These two guys, I just called them Thing 1 and Thing 2, they tore through the village. The men tried to protect me, and I was afraid, but willingly left with them after I had seen enough injuries," he sighed. He had then noticed that she never stopped grazing his scar as if trying to comfort him. He hadn't told any of the rest of the Titans about his past, other than the fact that his name was Garfield Logan and that he once lived in Africa, along with the story about how he became green. Cyborg knew just a little more, mostly just that his parents were scientists. But the changeling kept everything else to himself, not that anyone had asked him about his past anyhow. Except Raven. Who was beautiful. And laying in his arms, comforting him. Still, it was hard for him. He couldn't just let it all out at once. Giving her that little window was already painful enough, so he fell silent and she knew there was more, but didn't want to push him too far. She could clearly feel the sorrow and grief he was trying to mask. Usually, it was too much of an annoyance a strain for her to handle, but it was different when she felt his emotions like that. She wanted to feel more of his pain. She didn't really know why or what to do with it, but she wanted it; however, she knew that demanding this was unfair to him. It was already selfish enough for her to push him this far and she had not yet found his limit, and did not think that tonight was the right time to do so.

"They were mean to you," she concurred softly, not looking at him, just at his wrist which she was still playing with. She didn't want to make him feel more uncomfortable than he probably already was.

"They weren't exactly Starfire," he nodded. "Raven—" but she already knew what he was going to say.

"You don't need to go any further. Not now," she finally began to lift her eyes to look at his. "I don't want you to hurt anymore," she said. She slightly found the statement counterproductive because in her mind, she constantly brought pain to those around her. But she couldn't pull herself away from him, not matter how hard she tried. Yes, to her, it was counterproductive—counterproductive but true. Truer than truth.

Her statement warmed his heart knowing that she truly did care about him, and he showed it with a small smile before leaning his forehead against hers as they laid together. He wanted to say cheesy sweet things to her so that she would no longer worry about him, heal her from the ground up—because if anyone deserved to never feel pain again, it was Raven. It was always Raven. But he also knew better, and in the pit of his heart was aware that doing so would only make her feel uncomfortable. He was already taking a chance by putting his face so close to hers. A stroke of luck that seemed to be in his favor because she hadn't pulled away or thrown him out the window. In fact—was she...? God she was. She was smiling. It was small but it was there, and to him, it shown brighter than a thousand suns in the middle of July, and he was begging for it to blind him.

The girl had felt her lips turn upward slightly, usually able to catch them from doing so, but she seemed to have no control over them and hadn't a clue why. But for once, she didn't care. She just wanted to feel it—feel the happiness he gave her. And the least she could do for him in return was show it. Show it and pray it didn't backfire. But he had done nothing but try to ease her pain so far, so she trusted him. She remembered how tender he had been with her, how he knew to keep some acts of kindness small, like checking on her that night, while knowing when to make other large, like cleaning up her terrible messes. It frustrated her knowing that someone wanted to physically beat that out of him, and thinking about it hurt her in ways she never thought possible. But she didn't want to cut—for once she felt pain and didn't want to cut. She just wanted to sooth his hurt like he had done for her so many times.

She took his hand in hers, his wrist facing up, and moved her eyes from looking at his, down to his scar. She brought it up to her lips slowly and gave it a soft kiss that sent shivers down his spine. He knew that he had done something right because Raven never showed affection in such a way. He was shocked, but knew if he showed it, it would be a death sentence to their moment. And he loved it too much for that to happen. He was in the midst of something more beautiful than he could describe. The gesture was so small but so meaningful, and for a second, he forgot his scars entirely, forgot the pain he felt to get them, forgot everything except the feeling of her soft lips on his skin. He stayed silent but his smile never wavered, knowing that if it did, she would become anxious in thinking that he didn't appreciate it—and that was the last thing he wanted.

"I don't hurt when I'm with you," he finally replied in a whisper, "I think we heal each other, Raven."

She wasn't looking at him, just at his scar, their foreheads still together, but he knew she could see him out of the corner of her violet eyes. She had heard what he said, but made no reply. She didn't need to. She knew it was partly true, at least when it came to him healing her—well, attempting to. Her scars weren't gone and the pain she had still hurt. But with him, she felt free from all conviction; free from all the ugliness she saw every time she passed a mirror; freedom from feeling like a mental case. And freedom was a start.

They stayed like that for a few minutes, him just looking at her face, taking the chance to soak up her beauty while she continued to rub his wrist lightly, but with intense emotion. They were silent, but they didn't need words. Just the company of each other, and that company was enough to cast a sense of peace over the both of them, letting the two fall fast asleep hand in hand, arms in arms, and heart in heart. Whether they knew it or not.

I am so sorry I was away for so long; I've had a lot of things come up. I know this chapter was really long, so I'm hoping it make up for lost time. I have ideas for upcoming chapters, so it shouldn't take me as long to write. Thank you so much for your continued support of my story, it means so much. Also, if you guys sent me ideas, an extra thank you, and even if I don't use them, know that they are greatly appreciated and got my gears turning when they greatly needed oiling. As always, a special thanks to my beta reader. Please leave me a review if you can, you know I love feedback. Stay strong everyone.