AN: I do not own Teen Titans
Last First Date
The atmosphere in the tower was…strange. Something wasn't quite right but no one was exactly sure what it was. At least, that's how Robin, Starfire, and Cyborg felt. It seemed like any other Saturday and yet they could feel that something was off. But they couldn't put their fingers on it. This made Robin a little more anxious than usual, suspecting that there may be a big criminal act in the making, so he was on constant alert. Cyborg and Starfire didn't feel that this was the case but agreed that there was definitely something going on.
"Well there isn't a full moon tonight," said Cyborg. "Actually the weather looks great. No storms on the horizon or anything."
"And every report I've gotten says the city's secure," said Robin. "The prison's running smoothly, the police departments are on the ball, even the traffic isn't all that bad. So why the heck does it feel like something's…off?"
"On my planet such a feeling in the atmosphere is a sign that the planet has aligned with the moons in such a way as to promote excellent fertility," said Starfire. "Tonight many babies may be conceived!"
"Well let's hope that's only true on Tamaran," said Cyborg. "Nonetheless, I think we should keep you two lovebirds apart tonight. Whatever you two are gonna do I'm chaperoning to keep you out of mischief."
"Cyborg…" Robin blushed.
"Oh! It is Saturday!" said Starfire with a gasp, causing both young men to give her a look. "Today is the day Raven goes out on her weekly date. Perhaps that is why we are unsettled."
"No, I don't think that's it," said Robin. "This is her fifth date and the tower's never felt like this before."
"Though she did seem upset last week," Cyborg noted. "Well, you know, as upset as she can seem."
"She did?" asked Robin. "I don't remember that."
"Yeah she kinda sped through the common room when she came home," said Cyborg. "You and Star must've missed it because you were off…alone." He eyed them both to which the couple looked in opposite directions bashfully. "Anyway, maybe Star's on to something."
"I shall go ask Raven if everything is alright," said Starfire, flying towards the common room doors.
"I wonder where Beast Boy is," said Robin. "I haven't seen him much all day. Usually he's dying to challenge one of us to some Mega Monkeys by now."
"I'll go see what the grass stain's up to," said Cyborg. "You stay here and give us a heads up if anything happens."
"Sounds good," said Robin, looking over the monitors again.
Raven sat on her bed tapping her foot, anxiously watching the clock tick over closer to that dreaded moment when the teammate she often couldn't stand came round to pick her up for their…date. She still couldn't believe she'd gotten herself into this. She should have called it off as soon as she'd come to her senses and realized what she and Beast Boy had arranged. But she couldn't. She wasn't going to be the one to admit this was a bad idea and that she'd made a mistake. She'd rather put up with one evening alone with the green shape shifter.
She jumped a good three inches and her powers knocked seven books off of her bookshelf when she heard knocking. She was instantly on her feet, swiftly walked to the door, and went to open it. But paused. It was too early, far too early. She decided to make certain that it wasn't him and called out, "Yes?"
"It is Starfire. I wish to know how your emotional state of being is."
A wave of relief washed over the empath and she slid the door aside. "I'm fine."
"Are you certain?" asked Starfire. "There is an unsettled feeling in the tower this evening and we were wondering if perhaps you had noticed it as well. Tell me, do you feel strangely?"
Raven had thought that she'd been the only one who felt the anxiety filling the hallways but obviously it had leaked to the others. "No more than usual. I'm sure whatever you're feeling isn't anything to be worried about." And with that she attempted to close her door, only to have a slender yet strong hand reach out and stop it.
"Then may we perhaps speak of your date tonight?" Starfire asked with an excited grin.
The door creaked and squealed as Raven's powers surged and twisted it into a wrinkled, crumpled mass of metal. "D-Date? What date?"
"The, um, the date you are going on this evening?" Starfire offered carefully, staring at the mangled door. "This will be your fifth date with your young suitor, correct?"
Raven realized that the alien wasn't aware of her breakup or that she was going to be going out with Beast Boy that evening and relaxed. She cleared her throat and said, "Sorry, I don't really want to talk about it. It's…personal."
"But I share my personal information concerning dates with you," Starfire pointed out.
"True but I never ask you to," said Raven. She reached out with her powers and grabbed the door, straightening it and shoving it back into place. "Now, if you don't mind, I have to mentally prepare myself."
"You are still uncomfortable being intimate with another?" asked Starfire.
"No I just…well yes but…look, Starfire, it's complicated," Raven sighed. "Tonight's going to be very different than my past dates so I'm a little on edge."
"Oh is tonight the night you admit your feelings?" Starfire asked curiously but sympathetically.
"No!" Raven snapped firmly. "I will never admit to anything concerning him."
"Then…you do not like your date?" asked Starfire, confused.
"Not in the slightest," Raven assured her.
"But if you do not like him then why are you…oh, I see," Starfire nodded. "Tonight is the night you are doing the breaking up."
"What? No I'm...never mind," Raven groaned, massaging her temples. "Like I said, it's complicated. And I don't want to talk about it."
"I see," said Starfire. "Then perhaps before I take my leave you will allow me to present you with some parting words? I believe it will help you."
"If you must," said Raven.
Starfire smiled kindly. "I have found that the most difficult hindrance in a relationship is honesty and trust."
"Thanks Starfire, but I think I of all people know that," said Raven. "And I doubt I'd ever find anyone who was honest and trustworthy enough for me to get intimate with."
"No, you misunderstand," Starfire said quickly. "It is not the honesty and trust with your partner that must be questioned. It is within yourself. If you are not honest with your heart and if you do not trust in your heart then you will forever find yourself unable to connect with anyone. And you do wish to make a connection, do you not?"
Raven found she couldn't answer that. She didn't want to admit that she did but she also didn't want to lie. Not to Starfire, at least. And what she'd said was very wise and did speak true to her. So after a moment she said, "Thanks, Starfire," and retreated into her room, forcing her injured door shut.
Cyborg whistled one of his favorite tunes as he walked down the hall towards the changeling's room. It was very strange that the green teen hadn't been seen much that day, especially since it was a Saturday. He usually liked to get into extra special mischief on the weekends. The partially automaton man approached his friend's door and knocked.
"Yo, B, haven't seen you all day. What's going on?" he asked. The door slowly slid aside and revealed a very distraught looking Beast Boy. "Uh…you okay."
"No," he squeaked.
"What's wrong?" asked Cyborg.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you," he sighed and went back into his room.
Cyborg followed him inside. "Wow, I haven't seen you like this before. You actually look worse than the time you got stuck in the washing machine. So spill, what's the problem?"
Beast Boy collapsed onto his bed and let out a long frustrated groan. "I did something really stupid."
"Well I was gonna let that go without saying," said Cyborg plainly. "Usually you don't get into such a funk unless you've done something wrong. So what is it this time?"
The changeling battled with himself whether he should reveal his predicament to his friend. Cyborg may have some good advice for him but he was also a terrible gossip. In the end, after a full minute of scratching his head and grumbling to himself, he decided he should accept any help offered. "Okay, so you know how last week you accidentally told me about Raven dating someone?"
Cyborg eyed his friend. "Yeah?"
"And you remember how you guys told me to leave her alone and to completely ignore the fact that she had a boyfriend?"
"…You spied on her, didn't you?"
The shape shifter nodded. "I went out and found her and watched her and her so called boyfriend."
"And you got caught, didn't you?"
"Oh yeah. Her date was so mind numbingly boring that I screamed at them to stop acting like statues and sorta gave myself away."
"And now she's gonna kill you, isn't she?"
"Well…no. Actually things turned out way way different."
"Okay, so, when I got caught she grilled me, of course, and I told her how much I didn't like her boyfriend."
"Why would you do that?"
"Cy, you should've seen him! The guy had absolutely no interest in her and Raven just sort of took it. He didn't even look at her. And I told her she deserved better than that. Then she sent me home."
"Okay…well it sounds to me like you got out of it pretty unscathed."
"Oh that's just the beginning. I went home and a little while later she came back and told me that not only had she broken up with her boyfriend but it was now my responsibility to find her a new one."
Cyborg stared at his best friend for a moment. "She…what now?"
"I know, right? Since when does she care what I think? And in what weird universe would she want me involved in finding her a new guy? But that's what happened, I swear to tofu."
"So you've gotta find Raven a new boyfriend. Alright, this might not be so hard. We can-"
"Cyborg, I'm not done yet. After telling me I needed to get her a new boyfriend I told her she could do it herself but she'd just have to pick a better guy this time. I told her to find a guy the complete opposite of that goth kid and she said that I'm the opposite of that goth kid and that that means that she should be dating someone like me."
"Whoa whoa, wait! She wants to date someone like you?"
"We kinda argued and she said that she'd never date me cuz she'd be settling but I said that she'd be lucky to have me cuz I'd be the best boyfriend ever and…well…I'm taking her out tonight at seven."
The room went very quiet. Eerily so. Then from the depths of robotic innards there came a crackly rumbling sound that, once it got more air behind it, grew and eventually exploded and filled the room. Cyborg fell to his knees and slammed his fist against the carpet, his good eye streaming with tears as he laughed the hardest he had in a good long while. "You're taking Raven out on a date?!"
"Dude stop laughing, this is serious!" Beast Boy threw a pillow at him. "Not only do I have to take her out but I've gotta be the best boyfriend ever! How am I supposed to pull that off when I've never really been anyone's boyfriend before? And this isn't just some normal girl that can be swooned with my charming good looks and cute pointed ears, it's Raven. I need help!"
"Boy oh boy, do you," Cyborg snorted, wiping his eye again and again of tears. "But why are you getting so freaked out? She's obviously doing this to get back at you for interfering with her relationship."
"You don't understand, that's not what's going on," Beast Boy groaned and grabbed his head. "She genuinely wanted me to find her a boyfriend, she genuinely agreed to go out with me, and she's genuinely as freaked out about this as I am. She wants to back out as much as I do."
"Well if neither of you want to do this then why are you?"
"I'm not gonna be the one to surrender! And you know she's not gonna back down either. So we've both gotta just do this. And if I'm gonna do this then I've gotta do it right. So tonight has to be the best date of Raven's life and I've gotta be the perfect boyfriend for her. If I'm not she's never gonna let me live it down and then she'll probably think that she'll never find anyone else to ever go out with her and I don't want that on my conscience! If I fail I might ruin her chances of getting a guy for life. And she deserves to have a guy that loves her and cares about her. All girls do, right? But especially her."
By this point Cyborg had ceased his chortling and was now staring at the changeling. He was actually surprised by all he'd heard. "So…this isn't just about proving to Raven that you'd make a good boyfriend, in general I guess, but also that she can have a real relationship. That's a lot of pressure-"
"Tell me about it!"
"-but what you're doing is actually really…kind."
Beast Boy nearly snapped his neck he looked at his friend so quickly. "Kind?"
"Well yeah. You wanna make Raven feel like she's worthy of a great guy. That's really admirable, B. You probably don't even realize it, but it is."
The green teen hadn't realized this. And now he really knew that he couldn't fail. Because he wasn't just doing something to prove himself right and her wrong, he was doing this to give Raven some hope that she could make a connection with someone and that she really didn't need to feel and be all alone. "So how do I make this night a success?"
"Like you said, be the perfect boyfriend."
"Gee, you're a lot of help."
Cyborg smiled. "Alright let me give you some advice. Don't set up a date for a girl. Set up a date for Raven. Think about her. What does she like, what doesn't she like, what things can you compromise on? She's the type of person that doesn't like to be forced into things that make her uncomfortable but also doesn't want to hold anybody back from enjoying themselves. She's not a stranger, B, you've known her for years. You live with her for crying out loud! Man, we've even been in her head. You know more about her than you think and if you stop comparing her to any other girl you usually go drooling after then I think you'll be able to give her a great time. I think that if you at least put some thought into it and did your best she'll be happy…or as happy as she gets."
Beast Boy knew that was a lot of good advice and decided to sit on it for a while. And as he sat with his hand on his chin and his brow uncharacteristically furrowed Cyborg took his leave. He couldn't wait to tell Robin about what was going on. He practically skipped down the hall with glee.
Seven o'clock. The time had come. Raven sat on the edge of her bed, staring at the scarred door. She wasn't sure what was going to happen but she knew that no matter what it was going to be uncomfortable. Maybe it was time she gave in and just called it off. She would be admitting defeat but she would also be saving them both from not only an awkward evening but possibly crippling their already strained friendship.
His voice startled her. So much so that she found herself barking, "Yes?"
"Well, uh, I'm here," he said. "I was gonna knock on your door but it kinda looks like it's about to fall over. What happened?"
She quickly moved it aside and out of the way. They were face to face. It was the first time they'd properly seen each other since the week before. Both were wearing their usual uniform and both were equally relieved to see that the other hadn't gone out of their way to dress up. "Nothing."
He looked at the door again then shrugged. "Okay, so you ready?"
"Are you ready to be an amazing boyfriend?" she asked dryly, putting her defenses up.
"I dunno but I'm gonna try," he said frankly. "You look…well rested."
"…Thanks?" she replied, not really sure what to do with that statement.
"Sorry, I'm trying to give you a compliment that you'll accept," he admitted, scratching the back of his neck. "I know that if I said you looked nice you'd say that I was shallow or something for caring about physical appearances. But I didn't want to avoid saying anything or you'd think I wasn't trying. So…uh…you look like your emotions aren't bothering you. How's that?"
She would never admit it but she was pleasantly surprised that he'd actually put so much thought into something as simple as giving her a compliment. The critical attitude she'd answered the door with faded away and she relaxed a bit. "It's fine. Thank you."
He instantly relaxed and smiled. "Cool. So, uh, if you'll follow me, we can begin our date."
"Alright, let's get this over with," she said, exiting her room and following him. She thought it odd that he was walking ahead of her and not by her side. Wouldn't that be the right place to be on a date? But then she realized that she wouldn't like that. It would make her uncomfortable to walk so close next to someone, especially him. So he was giving her space but not enough to look like he was keeping his distance out of fear or resentment. He was already starting to impress her. But only marginally, she convinced herself. "So where are we going?"
"Yeah, sound good?"
"I'm guessing you're thinking along the same lines as me about not wanting anyone to know about what we're doing."
"Uh…actually, no." Honestly, that thought had never crossed his mind. And now he was glad he had chosen the roof. It probably wasn't a good idea to let the public know about their date that evening. "I thought that you wouldn't want to be out in the city where there are so many people. I know that crowds mess with your head cuz of your powers. Plus the tower's the one place we can both feel comfortable."
"Oh," she said with light surprise. "So…what're we going to do up there?"
"You'll have to wait and find out," he smiled playfully.
They made it up to the roof and she saw what he'd set up. It was still light out but the sun was setting and there were two lawn chairs facing west as well as a cooler. She was taken back by how minimal it was, since the week before he'd practically claimed to be capable of being the best boyfriend on Earth. But she was relieved to see that there weren't candles or flowers or romantic music playing.
"My lady, your seat awaits," he grinned and escorted her to her lawn chair, never touching her of course.
"Thanks," she said carefully, still keeping herself guarded. "Aren't you worried that the others are going to find us up here and…you know…never let us live this down?"
"Well I sorta spilled the beans to Cyborg already," he admitted sheepishly as he opened the cooler. "And after laughing at me for a good ten minutes I talked him into helping me. He's gonna make sure Rob and Star don't come looking for us up here."
"And you trust that he won't blackmail us?" she asked, growing scared and angry that he'd told Cyborg, of all people. "He's probably set up cameras or a microphone at the very least."
"Yeah but lucky for us I'm well prepared for situations like this," he smirked.
"I've got some blackmail on him that's pretty juicy."
"What sort of blackmail?"
"The good kind." He then pointed to the left and alerted her to a small hidden camera with a red light on. He pointed again and again and soon she realized they were surrounded by eleven cameras that were all recording. She looked back to him, furrowing her brow, but he only winked and stood up. "And if he is listening or spying on us right now he better stop unless he wants me to put a Jinx on him that will sting like a Bee!" Within five seconds all eleven red lights extinguished. "See? I've got everything under control. If he even thinks about recording or spying on us all I've gotta do is whip out my guns of extortion."
"Wow. You used the word extortion in a sentence. And correctly, no less."
"You're not the only one who's good with words. I have quite the vocabulary buried in my brain, believe it or not. I just don't like using most of them. Brings back bad memories." He handed her a glass of iced tea with ice and a lemon wedge then sat down in his chair with a glass of his own. "Let our date commence." He held his glass out to hers and, after a moment of reservation, she raised hers to his and let them clink.
"So what are we going to do on this so called date?" she asked.
"This," he shrugged. "We're gonna sit here and talk."
"That's not typically romantic," she pointed out.
"You don't think so? We've got the sun starting to set, some nice drinks, and we get to be alone together. I think it's incredibly romantic. Besides, it doesn't matter what you do, it's who you do it with," he said honestly. Then he smirked and added, knowing he was supposed to be acting like an amazing boyfriend, "And when I'm with you it doesn't take a lot to make me happy. Like right now all we've got is some lawn chairs and iced tea and I couldn't be happier."
She rolled her eyes but quickly looked away from him and kept her lips tight, willing away the flutter she'd felt. She wasn't sure if it was what he said or how he'd said it, but he'd certainly elicited a feeling from her she wasn't happy about. He'd scored a point against her. "So what are we supposed to talk about?"
"Anything," he relaxed into his chair. "We've never really hung out so there's a bunch of stuff we still don't know about each other."
"Fine. Ask away," she sighed, slowly crossing her legs and sipping her drink.
The dying light illuminating the pale skin of her legs, the slight lift in her pinky as her slender hands held her sweating glass, her full lips pursed around the rim as she took a long slow sip. He'd never admit it, but in that moment he actually for just the slightest fragment of a second thought she was attractive. Of course the moment he realized what he'd thought he shook it out of his head as quickly as he could. "Uh," his voice cracked so he cleared his throat, "I don't really have any ready. You wanna start?"
"Fine, if I must," she said and gave it some thought. "You said that you have a decent vocabulary but you choose not to use it and that it was due to the fact that it brought back bad memories. Why?"
"Oh," he said, shifting in his chair uncomfortably. "Well it's cuz of the Doom Patrol." And he seemed to want to end it there.
"…A little more information would be appreciated," she pushed.
He sighed. "Fine. You may not believe this but I had a seriously strict upbringing. I mean, I love the Doom Patrol cuz they're the closest thing I've got to family, but it was basically like living in a twenty-four hour boot camp. I had to keep up with the adults, take orders, and never ever talk back. They used big words around me and if I wanted to know what was going on I had to learn what they meant and if I wanted them to take me seriously I had to use them. It was awful! Not to mention having to start and end every sentence with 'sir'. So glad I don't have to do that anymore."
Raven was honestly surprised to learn that he'd grown up in such a strict environment. Granted, she had met Mento and the Doom Patrol and they did seem a bit hard on the changeling, but to hear that he was raised in such a tight fisted environment was startling. Especially considering how fancy free he was now. She also grew up with strict rules and that was why she was so controlled and serious. How had he managed to break free of such ground-in disciplines?
"Okay, my turn," he grinned, disrupting her thoughts. "What was it like growing up for you? I know you didn't grow up on Earth so how was a childhood on Azarath different than one here?"
She gave this some thought. "Well I suppose a childhood in either dimension isn't all that different. But I didn't have the luxury of having what you would call a 'childhood' so I can't really tell you."
"Sounds like you and me had that in common," he smiled. "So how bad was yours? I only got to watch TV on Christmas and my birthday, if we weren't on a mission. Now that sucked."
"We didn't have television," she replied flatly. "And I was never allowed time for frivolity. We didn't celebrate holidays and especially not my birthday."
"So you're telling me you never got to relax and be a kid?" he asked skeptically. "Not even once?"
"I was born a ticking time bomb and it was more important I learn not to unleash my unstable powers than jump rope or play hide and seek." She went quiet for a moment then said softly, "But I did get to watch other children play, once. Until I was caught, that is. I had to continue my studies and meditation in a room without windows for a week. But…for those few minutes I was able to see how other children behaved. It was truly bizarre. They were running around and laughing. And no one scolded them, no one called attention to it. They were allowed to be free to feel whatever they pleased. To be honest that was the first time I truly realized how different I was."
Beast Boy couldn't believe he'd managed to elicit such a confession from her. He was certain she'd never told anyone else of this memory. And he felt sorry for her. As tough as his childhood with the Doom Patrol was, he was allowed some freedom now and then to goof off and be a child. Normally behind Mento's back, but he'd still gotten the chance. Raven was not only deprived of such simple necessities but was also punished for something as minor as watching others enjoy childhood. It was no wonder she was so serious and unable to understand his silly tendencies.
"So you really never got to play or anything?" he asked gently.
She shook her head. "No. Any physical activity I participated in consisted of exercises or taking walks. Supervised, of course."
"And you never had any friends?"
"Friendship was a dangerous concept. Friends are people you care for and caring is a recipe for emotions I was supposed to deny at all costs. I had as little contact with people as possible."
"Jeez, you sound like a prisoner. People in Azarath must've been scared to death of you."
She breathed a chuckle through her nose. "No, they weren't afraid of me. They pitied me, respected me. They knew the burden that had been placed on me and that it wasn't my fault. I was a victim and therefore should be treated kindly. They made sure to never make my life harder than it was. And because of this I felt safe. I knew that no harm could come to me as long as I was surrounded by the people of Azarath."
"Well at least you got to be around people who cared about you, even if they didn't get to show it a lot. And you had your mom, right? I'm sure she was always there for you."
She said nothing for a moment. "I wasn't allowed to see my mother."
"What? Why?" he asked, shocked.
"Why else? To keep my emotions stable. The love between a mother and daughter is incredibly strong, I've been told, and for me it could be deadly. So I wasn't permitted to see her except at a great distance. But I knew she loved me, despite being separated from her. No mother would suffer the heartache of never seeing their child in order to ensure they were safe unless they loved them."
"I guess that's true," he agreed. "Wow, I don't know what's worse. Having your parents die and never getting to see them or having your parents alive and never getting to see them."
"It must have been terrible losing your parents," she said, turning the subject towards him. "Not only were you left alone in the world but you were unique in appearance and ability. As hard as it was being with the Doom Patrol I'm sure it was worse before they came into your life."
"Oh yeah! The time between losing my parents and getting picked up by the Doom Patrol sucked. Never knew what was gonna happen and it seemed like people were trying to capture or kill me every freaking day. To be honest I've kinda blocked that whole part of my life out of memory. I've had so many good things happen to me that it'd be stupid to just dwell on the bad stuff."
"That's a good way to look at life," she noted. "You're incredibly optimistic for some who's experienced so many unhappy circumstances."
"You know, saying stuff like that really ticks me off," he frowned. Not at her, but in general. "People think my life has been nothing but sadness and tragedy. Did bad stuff happen to me? Yeah but bad stuff happens to everyone. I'm not the first kid to lose their parents and unfortunately I wasn't the last. I'm not the first person whose appearance changed after something bad happening. I'm not the first person who's been targeted and tricked and hurt. As much as my life has 'sucked' I love who I am and I love what I can do. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally self-conscious and go through phases of low self-esteem, but as a whole I wouldn't change who I am. I'm alive, healthy, and surrounded by people who care about me. There's nothing tragic about my life. And no one will ever convince me otherwise."
She hadn't expected him to say anything along those lines and she was left in awe of his perspective. She couldn't imagine being so positive after enduring so much heartache. She certainly wasn't capable of such a feat. "Your philosophy of life is quite…enlightening."
He let out a laugh. "Bet you never thought you'd say something like that to me."
"You'd win that bet," she admitted. "I'm certainly learning a lot about you this evening. I still can't believe that you grew up with strict rules and discipline and yet you still managed to come out of it smiling and silly. I just can't wrap my head around that. I was conditioned to believe that if I broke the rules there'd be consequences. How were you able to disconnect yourself from how you were trained to behave?"
"I don't know," he shrugged. "I just sort of realized I didn't have to act the way they wanted me to act anymore once I was out of the Doom Patrol. Once we started the Titans and no one was telling me what to do or how to behave I did what I wished. And when no one yelled at me or punished me I knew that I was free to be whoever I wanted. But it's not like I've thrown everything they taught me out the window. I still know that when you're on a mission you need to focus and that you have to respect your team leader, no matter how much he may bug you. I still believe in the core ideals of the Doom Patrol but now I act them out as I see fit and how I want to. I've got my own morals to act on now, not just the ones the Doom Patrol brainwashed me with."
"Like how you thought it was more important to save your friends rather than stop the Brotherhood of Evil," she pointed out. "The opposite of what Mento believed."
"Exactly," he nodded. "My friends are far more important to me than stopping a bad guy, no matter how bad he is. Cuz we can always try again when it comes to stopping a villain. But if my friends die then I can't get them back. Mento will never understand that kind of logic. And he might think I'm dumb and unprofessional for having those kinds of beliefs but that's okay. Cuz I know we're different people. We don't all have to believe the same thing. And just cuz we have different points of view doesn't mean one of us is right and one is wrong. It's just different. And I'm cool with that. He may not be but I am."
She couldn't help but stare at him with new eyes. Who was this young man? He was always so frivolous and comedic it was hard to imagine him not only getting serious but confident. When he spoke she could hear his true self coming forth, the one hidden beneath the jokes and carefree demeanor. And, for a brief moment, she caught a glimpse of the grown man he was on the path to becoming. And she felt her core flutter again.
She cleared her throat before breathing a chuckle. "Wow, you've certainly matured over the last year. I've never imagined you saying anything like this with such thought and depth. I never noticed before but you've really started to grow up."
He blushed and turned away from her, scratching behind his ear bashfully. "Uh, heh, I don't really know about that. I think I'm still pretty much the same."
"That's the thing about growing up," she smiled. "You don't feel it happening and then one day you look in the mirror and it's done. And you can never go back."
"Jeez, you're gonna give me a panic attack," he laughed nervously, uncomfortable with the thought that he was really growing up and that he would never get to be a kid again.
"It's nothing to be scared of," she said, reading his emotions. "It's life. And I've learned it's best to take it one day at a time."
"Well I guess I'll just have to take your advice," he said, taking a breath and calming down. "So how about I ask you another question before we keep going on about me?"
"I'm more comfortable talking about you but go ahead," she chuckled.
He grinned. "Alright. What's the one thing you absolutely have to do before you die?"
"That's thought provoking," she said and began to think. "Well, since I've already died, I've done the one thing I wanted to do already."
"And what was it?"
"Have a good day where I don't have to worry about embracing my emotions. I mean, at that point the end of my life and the coming of my father was imminent so I didn't have to worry about feeling my emotions."
"Well that's boring," he slumped into his chair. "Though I guess it was a big deal for you. But I meant something like going bungee jumping or singing the national anthem at a major league baseball game. So since you're still alive what else do you want to do before you bite the dust? And be creative this time. Think big!"
"Before I answer what do you want to do?"
"Go bungee jumping and sing the national anthem at a major league baseball game," he said with a big smile and a wink.
She rolled her eyes. "Should have seen that coming."
"Yup. So let's hear it. What's the one thing you've gotta do before you die? Something that you won't forgive yourself unless you do it. When you're lying on your death bed the last thing you're gonna think is, 'I'm so glad I did 'blank'.' So what is it?"
She sighed and thought for a bit. She really didn't have any outlandish desires or ideas. She was a pretty simple and practical person. But there was something she wanted to have before she died. "There's nothing I want to do. But…there is something I'd like to experience before I die."
"Well let's hear it," he encouraged her. "And don't skimp on the details. Paint me a picture. What do you wanna experience?"
She opened her mouth to speak but paused. "No, it's stupid," she shook her head. "Let me think of something else."
"No, I wanna know what it is!" he said, growing more curious.
"It's nothing special," she insisted. "I certainly can't paint you a picture with it. So let me think of something better."
"Hey don't try to think of something exciting on my account," he said. "I want the truth. And nothing leaves the roof. Whatever you tell me will never be heard by anyone other than me. So what do you want to experience before you die?"
She chewed on her cheek, uncrossed her legs, crossed them again, and tapped her foot anxiously. He'd never admit that the way she was pouting was incredibly alluring. She began to try to form the words but they came out as grunts and hisses from her tight lips. He strained to hear her and moved his pointed ears to get better reception. Finally she took in a quick sharp breath through her nose and said, "Iwanttoknowwhatit'sliketonotfeelalone."
He blinked. "Uh…wanna run that by me again?"
She groaned and said with a bit more clarity, though still quickly, "I want to know what it's like to not feel alone."
He was actually surprised to hear this. Had he not told her time and time again that she wasn't alone? Hadn't he done his best to include her in everything the group did and show her that they were there for her? How could she still feel this way? He was about to point all of this out but she continued before he could.
"I know it sounds absurd since I'm constantly surrounded by you guys. But even though I'm not physically alone I still feel…lonely. I would like to make a connection with someone and trust them enough that I can put my guard down. If something's bothering me or if I'm in need I can turn to them and know that they'll take care of me. Just once, before I die, I want to know what it feels like to know that someone is there for me." A beat passed between them and she realized what she'd revealed. She blushed and turned away from him, mortified. "What in Azar am I talking about?"
"No, I get it," he said with soft understanding.
"Look, just forget what I said," she said quickly, obviously not hearing him. "I'm just rambling."
"No no, I know what you're talking about," he insisted.
"What kind of a question was that, anyway?" she said crossly, trying to cover up how embarrassed she was. "Do you really ask something so personal and deep on a first date? What sort of boyfriend would do that?" And with that she placed her now empty cup down and stood up.
He was quite sure she was going to make a run for it so he hopped up as well. "Raven, it's okay! I know what you're talking about. Don't be embarrassed."
"I'm not embarrassed!" she snapped, causing the cooler to burst and send ice all over the roof. Her cheeks flushed and she turned to walk towards the door leading back down into the tower.
"Good cuz there's no reason you should be," he chased after her, doing his best to remain calm so as to help her calm down as well. He knew that she could be influenced by the emotions around her. "I know exactly how you feel."
"Oh, you do?" she scoffed, not stopping. "How could you possibly know how I feel?"
"Cuz I want that too! I want exactly what you want," he said with pure conviction. And it was enough to cause her to pause. "You think you're the only one who feels lonely? You think you're the only one who wants to know what it's like to share a special connection with someone? To trust someone so much you would put your life in their hands?"
"Of course I know I'm not the only one," she said lowly. "It's a basic desire in human nature. The difference between myself and everyone else is that I have little to no chance of ever acquiring that kind of connection."
"Come on, that's not true," he said. "You've got as much of a chance as-"
"Don't! Don't you dare," she warned, her back growing menacing. "You of all people should know why for me it can only be a dream. My presence alone is unnerving, I'm uncomfortable with any sort of intimacy or physical contact, I'm only allowed to feel a fraction of my emotions, and at any moment my demonic side could corrupt me. So don't tell me I have an equal chance as anyone else. Because I don't. And that's why it's the one thing I want to experience before I die. Because even though I know it won't happen I want it more than anything else."
This was something he never would have guessed about her. Not only did she yearn for companionship but she wanted it with all of her heart. He had guessed that deep down she didn't want to be as solitary as she was but he never thought she longed so dearly for it. It was a side of her he'd never seen; a side of her he knew she'd never let anyone see. And it was a side of her he was certain she had never meant to ever reveal.
"Look, I know you already don't believe me when I say that I know how you feel. But I do. I really do," he said gently. When she said nothing he continued. "I told you earlier that I love who I am. And it's true, I do. But my biggest fear is that…no else will." She slowly turned so that he could see the swell of her cheek, the tip of her nose, her lashes. "I know what it's like to feel like you're completely alone. I know what it's like to want nothing more than to find someone who you can trust and rely on. And I know what it's like to feel like it'll never happen. I don't blend in with a crowd, I'm not even in the same league as other superheroes, I have baggage that everyone cares about except me, and my personality is an acquired taste." She was now facing him fully, her eyes wide with recognition and something else he couldn't quite place. "I may not have as much against me as you but it doesn't mean I have any better a chance. Deep down I feel as alone in this world as you do. So trust me when I say that I want exactly what you want."
She continued to gaze at him. What he hadn't been able to identify in her eyes was admiration she suddenly had for him. She'd never believed anyone could ever know how she felt. But here he was. And as she reached out to examine his emotions they synced up perfectly with her own.
They stood silently regarding each other. It was as though they were seeing the other for the first time; truly seeing them. There were no masks, no shields, nothing to hide who they really were and what their hearts truly looked like. And both could feel a strange connection form between them.
At last Raven unlocked her eyes from his and said, "I'm sorry. I had no idea you…well I'm sorry."
"Don't be," he shook his head. "When you feel like you're all alone it's hard to believe there's someone out there who feels the same way."
She placed her face in her hands and groaned. "This is surreal. I should be the one saying something like that to you. How did our roles reverse like this?"
"Well I don't think our roles have reversed as much as you're rubbing off on me," he smiled gently. "Cuz you're right, that did sound like something you'd say." He chuckled and was glad to see her drop her hands and suppress a grin. "Anyway, I meant everything I said."
"I know," she said softly. "So…what now?"
"Well we can go sit down and talk about something else," he suggested. "Or nothing at all. We can just sit and watch the stars come out. I don't know about you but that sounds good to me." He watched as she shifted her weight from hip to hip. He felt his chest grow heavy at the thought that she wanted to end their time together. "Or, you know, we can just call it a night."
"No," she said quickly. "I'd…I'd like to watch the stars come out."
He felt his heart flutter and dug his fang into his lip to keep himself from grinning like a fool. She wanted to continue the date. He knew he shouldn't be as happy as he was but he really was glad. He didn't want the date to end. Not just yet, at least. He was enjoying talking and getting to know her.
She couldn't believe she hadn't taken the out he'd given her but, for reasons she couldn't quite understand, she wanted to continue the date. It certainly wasn't the evening she had anticipated and for this she was glad. And again, she wasn't sure why.
They walked back to the chairs, sat, and leaned back so as to look above at the emerging stars. It was very quiet but, oddly enough, it was comfortable. They watched as the sky melted from peach to pink to violet to midnight blue. The stars began to shine brighter with every minute. They were lucky it was such a clear evening.
"So…is talking out or are you up for another chat?" he asked.
"I think we've talked enough for tonight," she replied. "At this point we should just focus on enjoying each other's company."
"I don't need to focus," he shrugged nonchalantly. "Cuz I'm definitely enjoying being with you." He had meant it genuinely but he realized how it sounded like an attempt to woo her and he feared she'd take it that way.
And she did. She closed her eyes and did her best to keep her powers within her grasp. But he was certainly making it hard. She had never believed such lines would work on her but his delivery of them were so real, so pure, that she couldn't help but feel affected by them.
"Yes, well, I suppose I'd be lying if I said I wasn't having a good time…with you," she said, acting as though the fact bothered her. And, in a small way, it did.
He smiled up at the night sky. He was so pleased to hear her admit she was enjoying herself. He wasn't sure he'd ever had such an effect on a girl. And the fact that it was Raven no less really made him feel like he was ten feet tall.
And as they sat both could feel an odd sense come over them. And, nearly at the same time, they both came to a realization. The gnawing lonesomeness that always had its cold arms wrapped around them was suddenly no longer there. And it had been replaced with a soothing warmth; a feeling both had always longed to have.
Perhaps intoxicated by the feeling, he held his hand out towards her while never taking his gaze from the sky. It was a risky gesture, this he knew, but in that moment he wanted to make more of a connection with her; he wanted to know if it was possible. And if it was…well he wasn't quite sure what he'd do. "You don't have to take it, but I just want you to know that it's here whenever you're ready."
She looked and saw the held out hand. She quickly looked back to the stars and pursed her lips, doing her best to will away the heat in her chest and fire in her cheeks that was spreading down to her collarbone. How long had she waited to hear someone say those words to her? To offer her support but on her terms? She couldn't believe he'd managed to peel her shell away and tap into the core of her heart. At the beginning of the night offering such an act would make her uncomfortable. But now it didn't seem awkward or forced at all. It seemed…right. So, also keeping her eyes glued to the heavens, she slowly moved her hand towards his.
Then she stopped.
Her senses came rushing back to her and she quickly retracted her hand. Had she really been about to hold his hand? Beast Boy's hand? Well that was that. He had won. "Alright, I concede."
This caused him to turn towards her. "Huh?"
"You win," she sighed.
"What do you mean?" he asked, confused.
"You would definitely make a great boyfriend." She turned to him and with a defeated smile said, "And I'd be lucky to have you."
He stared at her, flummoxed, until the horrible realization occurred to him. She had thought what he'd said was part of the act! His jaw dropped in preparation to set her straight but he couldn't make the words appear. What should he say? Had this not been the point of the date? To settle the matter of whether he'd make a suitable boyfriend? But the thought of her chalking up everything he'd said and done that night to the bet was unsettling.
"And you've got nothing to worry about," she said kindly, interrupting his racing thoughts. "There's no way you're going to be alone." And with that she stood up from her chair and headed towards the door once again.
He sat there, dumbfounded, for a moment before scrambling to his feet, catching up to her, and jumping in front of her to stop her exit. "Whoa, wait a sec!"
"What?" she asked, startled.
He could see the confusion in her eyes and he realized he still didn't know what to say. "Uh…well…I just…you don't have to go," he fidgeted. "I mean, um, the date's not over yet."
"We don't need to go any further," she said simply. "You've proved your point."
"Yeah but it just doesn't feel right, you know?" he said, still trying to work out what he wanted to say. "Don't I get to at least walk you back to your room and say goodnight?"
She was really giving him an odd look now. "Beast Boy it's done, it's over," she said, unsure as to why he was pushing the matter and feeling herself growing agitated that he wanted to continue playing with her emotions. "You don't need to-"
"I know I don't need to but I want to!" he blurted out, immediately regretting it. He sensed the bridge of his nose and the tips of his ears become flushed but he did his best to not look as scared and vulnerable as he felt. "What I mean is, um, I want to finish the night off right. And we never said that you could call it off once I showed you how good of a boyfriend I can be." He then tried to swallow, despite how dry his mouth felt, and held his hand out to her. "If I'm only gonna get to be your boyfriend for tonight I want to see it all the way through. Because I want to. And because you deserve it."
She wasn't sure what to do. Why was he so adamant about continuing on? Did he really want to drive home the fact that he was an exceptional young man and would make a wonderful boyfriend? She couldn't go on with this charade any longer. Her heart was starting to get involved and it was causing her pain. He was giving her a taste of what she would never have. And his acting wasn't faltering at all. He still seemed so genuine, so honest. And that was what was really starting to upset her.
"I don't want to continue," she said firmly but looking as though she were about to break in front of him. "So please don't make me."
The site of her so frazzled upset him but the thought of her not wanting to finish up the date hurt more. "Why don't you want to?"
She groaned. "Why do you want to? What more do you want from me? An apology? Fine, I'm sorry, alright? I'm sorry I didn't believe in you and forced this situation upon us."
"I don't want an apology."
"Then what do you want?"
"I want to know why you don't want to end this date the right way. Why can't we keep going for just a few more minutes? Why are you suddenly so upset about it?"
She didn't want to admit why. She had already humiliated herself enough that night with her big mouth. She didn't need to go telling him that he'd properly managed to attract her and that she was now starting to feel depressed at the fact that he would make a great boyfriend. No, she couldn't say anything along those lines or she'd never be able to show her face again. It wasn't right! And she cursed her heart and emotions for betraying her. So, in the end, she decided to say what she believed would get her out of there. "I'm feeling really uncomfortable. And you insisting that we keep going isn't making the situation any better."
"Why are you uncomfortable?" he asked.
She felt like screaming. Why wasn't he getting the point? "I just am! So thanks for the date and goodnight." She sped around him and nearly ran to the door.
He was about to lose her and he knew that he'd never have a chance like this again. So, before she disappeared down the stairs, he shouted, "What are you doing next Saturday?"
"Why?" she asked, opening the door with no plans of stopping.
"Would you go out with me?" he asked.
She nearly tripped down the first step but caught herself on the door frame. She didn't turn back towards him but she didn't continue on either. "What?"
He cleared his throat and repeated, "Would you like to go out with me? Next Saturday at seven?"
She slowly turned around and faced him. Her mind was racing with numerous thoughts. Was he being serious? Did he want to use her for practice? Had he really been genuine throughout the night? Was this all still part of the act? Or…could this really be a chance for her to experience that one thing she wanted before she died?
"You…want to go out with me?" she asked, unable to process the information. "Again?"
"Yeah," he nodded. And as he realized that it really was what he wanted he smiled. "Yeah, I do."
She wasn't sure what to think. "You mean…like a real date?"
"No," he shook his head. "Like a second date." He couldn't believe he'd said what he'd said. And, further still, he couldn't believe that he'd meant it. He'd never imagined at the beginning of the evening that he'd end up not only considering this as a real date but that he'd be asking for a second.
She blinked then furrowed her brow for a moment. She took in a slow breath. Her lips gently parted and at last she said simply and quietly, "…Alright."
He was obviously shocked that she'd not only replied but had agreed. He didn't want to smile and show how happy he was but he couldn't control himself. He grinned and said, "Okay, great! Next Saturday at seven it is then."
She turned away from him and nodded. She too was doing her best to suppress the strange sensation of delight she was feeling. His emotions were the best way for her to know what he had intended by asking her out again. And from what she could read he was overjoyed and excited. He did want to go out with her again. It wasn't an act. He really truly meant every word he'd said.
She proceeded to walk down the stairs but stopped. "If our next date goes as well as this one…then you can walk me back to my room at the end of it." And, blushing from eyelash to heel, she was off down the stairs.
Once she was gone he felt all of the strength drained out of him and he fell smack down onto the roof. He looked up at the dark sky that had been long forgotten and felt as though he could pass out. It had been quite some time since he'd became so riled up by a girl. He couldn't believe he'd managed to score another date with her. He obviously had proven he'd make a great boyfriend. Not just in general but for her.
He suddenly saw a small red light shine from the darkness. It appeared as though Cyborg had turned one of his cameras back on, no doubt because he'd somehow found out that Raven had left the roof. The changeling looked towards it and smiled. He held his thumb up and said, "Success."
AN: Well there you have it. The incredibly long sequel to 'First Last Date'. Not very good but I hope it's good enough. This took far longer than it should have but I'm glad I managed to finish it. And this is the end of the road for this particular story. Please imagine the second and all future dates however you wish. But I think you can guess by the title how the story goes. They definitely get a happy ending.
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