Another chapter for you all to read. I know I say it nearly every chapter, but thank you all for the wonderful reviews! And by the way... 54 follows?! I love you guys!
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"Hurry up, Robin! You're going to miss the show, man!" Cyborg exclaimed, sat down in his place on the couch and as giddy as a child in the candy aisle.
"Do you want popcorn or not?" Robin called back. "I'm not going to miss it. Just give me a second." He exited the kitchen and parked himself beside Starfire, handing out bowls of fresh popcorn to his teammates. Starfire frowned.
"So, our friends are not actually in the television, correct?" she asked. "It is only a moving picture of them?"
"Right," Robin nodded. "When we battled Control Freak, that was very different than how T.V. really works. Simply, a camera transfers a bunch of moving pictures to our television." Starfire smiled, satisfied with the answer, and Cyborg leaned over to Robin.
"Sure she understands know, but try explaining about animated T.V. shows and movies," he whispered. Robin smirked.
"I can't wait for that conversation," he said.
Just then, the T.V. screen exploded in an eruption of colors. A deep announcer's voice boomed through the speakers. "THE CUTEST COUPLE COMPETITION!" Quick pictures of couples holding hands, talking, going on dates flickered across the screen before finally zooming up to a woman with black hair and a bright pink shirt on. "LIVE!"
"Hello!" the woman cried. "My name is Charmaine, and welcome to The Cutest Couple Competition! We have a big variety of competitors here with us today, so it's sure to be an interesting night! Our first participants are married couple Eleanor and Sebastian," she introduced. A duo wearing identical bright green outfits that sparkled in the light waved to the camera.
Cyborg laughed. "What, did a confetti machine throw up on them or something?"
"Maybe it was a disco ball," Robin offered with a smile.
"Hello. How pleasant it is to be on this lovely show," Eleanor said all prim and proper. Her husband nodded in correspondence with her words.
"I'm sure Beast Boy is punching himself in the face right now," Cyborg grinned, tossing a kernel of popcorn into his mouth. "The way she talks must be drivin' him nuts!"
"What, speaking correctly?" Robin asked.
Charmaine motioned to a large upright wheel beside her. "Come on over here you two, and spin the wheel to see where your date will take place!" Eleanor stood without waiting for her partner, and, grasping the side, thrust the wheel into a wild rotation. Eventually it slowed and the marker at the top landed on a slip of paper. Charmaine removed the sheet, flipping it around. "Oh, it looks like you've spun the…," she turned the sheet to the camera, "graveyard!"
"The what?!" Eleanor cried, horrified. "A date in a graveyard!? What am I supposed to do in a graveyard: die of fright?!" Sebastian took her arm, trying to calm her down, but the woman was hysterical. "You cannot be serious! I demand to spin again! I will call my lawyer!"
Charmaine smiled helplessly. "Sorry, there is nothing I can do!" she apologized, sounding the furthest thing from sorry. "You're the one who spun! Have fun, you two!" she called, waving as Sebastian dragged a sobbing Eleanor off camera. Charmaine looked at the camera. "What an interesting couple to have been sent there! I'm sure they'll have wonderful time!" She smirked, and then looked to her next victims. "Up next is a college couple, Jace and May!" The camera panned to a boy in a blue tux and a girl in a sweet red dress. Jace smiled at the camera while May, blushing, played with her hair bashfully. "Don't be shy! Go ahead and spin that wheel!" Charmaine urged. Jace led May over to the wheel, and together they spun it. Once it came to a stop, Charmaine removed the paper at the top.
"And it looks like you are going…," she paused dramatically, and Jace squeezed May's hand, "to the park! Not bad," she added, smiling. The couple walked off, relief obvious in their expressions. "Up next are Terre- err, Tear and his girlfriend, Spike!" Charmaine exclaimed. Two faces that the Titans knew only too well appeared on screen.
"What's up, Jump City?" Tear sneered. Beside him, Spike gave a peace sign and stuck her tongue out to the side like a mischievous devil.
"Are you ready to decide the fate of your date?" Charmaine asked.
"I'm ready for anything!" Tear proclaimed boldly.
Cyborg watched, crossing his fingers as the two teenagers approached and spun the wheel. "Please get something horrible, please get something horrible, please get something horrible!" he pleaded. Robin frowned at him, and Cyborg, catching his leader's eye, shrugged. "What? You know you're thinking it too."
"And," Charmaine plucked the paper from the wheel, "your date location is… a fancy restaurant, providing free dinner services!"
"Are you serious?!" Cyborg cried, getting to his feet. "That's so unfair!"
"Calm down, Cyborg," Robin quieted, pulling him back onto the sofa. "Raven and Beast Boy haven't gone yet. Let's see what they get before you freak out."
On the television, Tear and Spike grinned, walking off screen. "See ya there, suckers!" he called.
The camera slid to back Charmaine. She smiled. "Our final contestants of the night are none other than two of Jump City's very own heroes: the Teen Titans Beast Boy and Raven!" The two teenagers appeared on the screen, Beast Boy smiling wide whereas Raven looked as emotionless as usual. "Having only started dating recently, these two have not had a first kiss yet!" Charmaine winked at the camera with a wide smile. "But who know? Maybe tonight will give them the right incentive to pucker up?"
Cyborg cracked up. "Man, look at BB's face! He's getting red!" he roared, slapping his leg. Robin remained quiet. Beast Boy had undeniably turned red, but the leader was watching Raven, who, with no hood to hide under had also gotten a shade darker. Robin lifted an eyebrow, smiling, but stayed silent. Ever since Beast Boy's movie night when he'd seen Raven asleep on the shape-shifter's arm, he'd developed suspicions about the two and their "fake" relationship and how far it had really developed. Still, he said nothing.
Beast Boy smiled, rubbing the back of his head. "Heh, yeah, not yet. Um, could we turn the wheel now please?" Charmaine nodded warmly, laughing on the inside at their awkward reactions to the mention of a first kiss, and motioned for them to take a spin at the wheel. The Titans turned it together. Leisurely, it came to a stop, and Charmaine removed the slip of paper.
"Your date location is…," she said, turning over the sheet, "the junkyard!"
The teenagers were quiet at first, and then Raven sighed, tilting her head back to stare at the ceiling. "Wonderful." The screen cut to black and then a commercial came on: an intermission for the show. In the tower, the other Titans stared at the T.V. for a few seconds.
Robin ran his hand through his hair. "Okay, now you can freak out, Cyborg," he permitted.
"Please Robin, I do not understand," Starfire asked as Cyborg started picking up the kernels of popcorn off of the floor from his outburst which had transpired after Robin had given him the all-clear moments ago. "Is the junkyard not the place that friends Raven and Beast Boy are going on a date?"
"Yeah, that's where they're going," Robin confirmed.
"But is the junkyard not an unsuitable place for a date?"
"You got it, girl," Cyborg replied glumly.
"Then why are they headed there?"
"It's part of the competition," Robin explained. "They have to be cute enough, or charismatic enough in my opinion, for people to vote for them wherever their date is at. And now they have to somehow do that in a scrapyard."
"Oh," Starfire said, tapping her chin. After a pause, she asked, "Things are not 'looking the good' for our friends, are they?"
"No Star, they're not," Robin answered, "but I have faith in Raven and Beast Boy. They'll figure something out." A sign announcing THE CUTEST COUPLE COMPETITION came up on T.V. again, and the first couple wearing the matched sparkly outfits appeared at the edge of a graveyard. Eleanor hadn't stopped sobbing, and Sebastian looked a little sick himself at the sight in front of him. "At least we know that Beast Boy and Raven must be doing better than these two," Robin remarked.
Beast Boy stepped out of the car which had driven them to the junkyard and surveyed the scene. Behind him, Raven set her feet on the ground, feeling the peering eyes of the cameramen on her. She glanced at them. A light on the top of the camera signaled that it was indeed running. Sighing, Raven joined Beast Boy. The shape-shifter crossed his arms. "Man, this place is a dump," he stated with a huff, and then grinned widely at his joke. Raven slapped a hand to her forehead.
"Yes, because I'm sure that horrible jokes are going to please the audience," she groaned. A brown basket nearby caught her eye. "That must be our dinner." Raven glanced at Beast Boy. "Now we've just got to find a place to eat."
"Way ahead of you, Rae," Beast Boy replied, shifting through the mountain of garbage in front of him. He found a blanket that hardly had a smudge of dirt on it and laid it on an open area far away from the piles of junk. He turned to Raven, gesturing for her to sit down.
"Wow, how romantic is this?" Raven stated sarcastically, lowering herself cross-legged onto the sheet. She opened the basket.
"Wait!" Beast Boy exclaimed, digging through the trash again. He removed a wilted bouquet of flowers from a broken vase and handed them to Raven, beaming.
She regarded them with distaste. "Thanks…"
Beast Boy looked down at the dirt already coating his jacket. "Boy am I glad I didn't wear a tux." He smiled. "But really, it's not that bad. This place is kinda like a supermarket, you know? Except everything is free!"
Raven narrowed an eyebrow at him, tossing the flowers off to the side while he was distracted, and then removed the food from the basket. There was a large pan of lasagna, accompanied by a fruit salad and two bottles of champagne and water. Raven placed the wine off to the side. "I don't know what they're expecting us to do with that," she muttered, setting plates out for her and Beast Boy.
"Aw, dude, there's no tofu!" Beast Boy complained once everything had been set up.
"Why don't you go look through your 'supermarket'?"
Beast Boy grinned, rubbing the back of his neck. "Okay, so it's a supermarket for like everything except food. At least there's fruit," he added, taking a heap of the salad. As they ate, the temperature slowly started dropping along with the sun. Beast Boy noticed the lack of light when he stabbed at a slice of apple and missed completely. Skimming over the mounds of rubbish, he suddenly stood and climbed to the middle of one. Grabbing hold of something, he pulled hard. When the object abruptly came loose, Beast Boy tumbled backwards and landed hard at the base of the mountain with a thud.
Raven got to her feet. "Beast Boy?"
The green teenager sat up, smiling and rubbing his head. "Whoops!"
Raven walked over to him, lifting an eyebrow. "I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public again."
"Again?" Beast Boy thought over it, then remembered the underwear incident a few days ago. "Heh. Oh yeah." He stood, brushing off his pants, and then held up the thing in his hand that he'd pulled out from the garbage mound. "But check out this candle I found! It should give us some light I think."
"And how are we going to do that without matches or a lighter?" Raven asked, placing her hands on her hips. Beast Boy opened his mouth, and then bit his lip, thinking. He inhaled as if he was going to say something, but then his face fell.
Raven took his hand and threw the candle off to the side. "Don't worry about it; I have an idea." A few minutes later, both of the Titans were stretched out on their backs on their dinner blanket, now placed up top a platform of wood which had probably been part of a porch in its past life. The board was high above the ground, firmly positioned on the pinnacle of a mound of trash. "Have you learned any new stars yet?" Raven asked the green teenager beside her. "Other than the North Star?"
"Uh, no," Beast Boy admitted, crossing his arms behind his head. He looked at her guiltily. "Was I supposed to?"
Raven rolled her eyes. "No. I just wondered." She looked at the stars for a moment. "Let's find out if you can figure out which one is the North Star again."
"Hm… Okay." Beast Boy examined the sky. "Find the big dipper…" He caught sight of it. "And now from the bottom bottom of it…" Raven rolled her eyes. "I go in a straight line… Hey, there it is!" he exclaimed, spotting the bright star.
"Wow, I'm impressed," Raven confessed. "You actually remembered what I told you." While Beast Boy was busy feeling accomplished, a gust of wind brushed over the Titans, and Raven shivered before she could stop herself.
"Hey, you're cold?" Beast Boy asked, sitting up. He took off his jacket and held it out to her.
Raven shook her head. "I'm fine."
"Rae," Beast Boy said, trying to be stern but doing a very bad job at it. Raven lifted an eyebrow. She was in fact feeling very exposed without her cloak to hide behind, and it was getting cold out. Unable to believe she was accepting his jacket just like a helpless girl in the movies, Raven reached out and took the coat. Beast Boy shivered. "Wow! It is chilly!" he declared. Raven frowned, not amused, and Beast Boy grinned. "Heh, just kidding."
He and Raven watched the stars for a little longer together, and, eventually growing tired, they decided the date was over. With thumbs-up at the cameraman, they signaled that they were done. Believing the competition was over, the Titans headed back to the tower.
Back in the studio, all cameras flickered to Charmaine. She smiled naughtily; this was what she'd been waiting for. "Alright viewers back at home, we've got a little surprise in for our contestants. They all think that their time on CUTEST COUPLE COMPETITON is over, as that is what we've told them. What they don't know is that there are hidden cameras concealed all over town so we can see what their personalities are really like once they believe they are off television, and if anything happens that could change your votes." She smirked. "This should be interesting."
Unaware that such a situation had occurred, Raven and Beast Boy walked down the road in the direction of the Tower, neither of them really wanting to rush home to the other Titans' teasing. Raven had given Beast Boy his jacket back, and now both of them were lost in their thoughts regarding the competition and the past three weeks, among other things. A barely audible rustle in the bushes attracted Beast Boy's attention. He twitched his sensitive ears, placing the sound. A shadow flickered in front of both of the Titans, and Beast Boy stopped. Raven, having seen it too, also came to a halt.
"Enjoy the competition?" Tear emerged from the shadows, Spike hanging over his shoulder along with a large chunk of his gang.
"The contest is over, dude," Beast Boy reminded tiredly, waving his hand at them in a "shoo" motion. "Just leave us be."
Tear shook his head. "It's not over until the money is awarded. Spike and I had a wonderful date, so I think we have a good chance to win. You and the Witch though, need to be taken out of the picture just in case. Your popularity might give you a small edge, and that could be a problem." He pulled a knife out of his pocket and leered at Raven, who unconsciously moved her hand to touch her healed shoulder. "Speakin' of an edge…," Tear sneered. Beast Boy saw Raven's reaction, and along with comprehending the meaning of Tear's words, it all suddenly clicked into place: Raven's strange cut and the conversation with Tear before the competition. He stepped in front of Raven.
"You're asking for trouble, dude," Beast Boy said, clenching his fists. Raven glared at him. She could defend herself.
"I am trouble," Tear smirked.
"What is your problem?!" Beast Boy exclaimed, still not stepping away from an irritated Raven. "Quit being a bully!"
"Bully is an understatement," Raven muttered beneath her breath.
"What's it to you, Witch?" Tear snapped, fingering the blade in his hand. "Are you worried about your pathetic excuse for a boyfriend here? How could you find yourself attracted to such a Grass Stain?" Raven glowered at him as Tear continued with a disapproving look. "What would make you like a weirdo kid like him? He's green, has little more common sense than a rock, and is nothin' but a freak."
Raven pushed a hurt Beast Boy to the side, her eyes glowing with power. "He is not a freak, and I would gladly choose Beast Boy over you any day. You're a thief, a thug, and someone who deserves no more than to call a jail cell his home." She lowered her head a little. "You know you can't beat us."
Tear shouted angrily, and with a flick of his wrist, threw his knife at Beast Boy. Before the shape-shifter could move, the blade suddenly stopped in mid-air. Beast Boy looked at Raven; she had her hand out, fingers and eyes blazing black. Jerking her arm to one side, the knife flew into the bushes. Tear signaled to his gang, and they jumped forward, all brandishing different weapons of some kind. Beast Boy transformed into a giant bear and roared, stopping the majority in their tracks. As he slashed at them with a large paw, Tear slipped past and confronted Raven. "Stupid Witch," he sneered, swinging at her with his fists. "Did you forget what happened last time?" From behind him, he pulled out a large net and threw it at her.
"No," Raven said, extending her hand. A flash of black cut through the air, and the net was in pieces within seconds. "That's why I have backup this time." Tear looked at her, confused, when a growl from behind caught his attention. Turning around, he found Beast Boy crouched over in the form of a tiger, his tail flicking back and forth as he prowled forward. While Raven attended to the other criminals, Beast Boy pounded on Tear, landing heavily on his chest with sheathed claws. They crashed to the ground, the Titan on top. The green tiger rumbled, and, with a single claw on scraping a thin line of blood on Tear's shoulder, Beast Boy transformed back into a human.
"Don't try anything like this ever again, Terrell," he snarled, bunching the teenager's shirt in his fist. "And leave Raven alone." Standing, Beast Boy looked to his teammate, who had taken a phone from one of the gang and dialed the police, notifying them of the criminals' whereabouts. The gang was huddled next to a tree, leaning as far from Raven as possible. Apparently she'd given them a scare. Beast Boy pulled Tear over and left him beside them.
Raven hung up the phone and tossed it to Spike, who flinched when it hit her. Raven looked at Beast Boy. "The police should be here soon. Ready to go?"
"Wait, we're leaving them here?" he asked, scratching his head.
Raven grinned humorlessly at the gang. "I don't think they're going anywhere anytime soon. Right?" she questioned them. They all nodded, wide-eyed.
Beast Boy smiled. "Okay, let's go." Raven moved beside him, and, with a wave of her arm, enveloped them in black, teleporting to the Tower. The moment they were gone, the gang members exchanged glances. None of them moved, and they stayed in the same position they were in underneath the tree until the police arrived five minutes later.
At the entrance of the tower, the two Titans emerged from a sphere of black. Both of them stared at the door for a moment. Beast Boy's ears twitched, detecting the same sound he'd heard right before Tear had appeared, and he looked at Raven. "I never asked; are you okay? Did you get hurt in the fight at all?"
"Fine," Raven answered impassively. She covered her mouth, obscuring a yawn. "Tired though. Ready to go to my room."
"Yeah, I'm sleepy too," Beast Boy admitted, and then paused, fiddling with his fingers. "Um, thanks for sticking up for me before."
"You're welcome," Raven replied with a small nod. She'd been wanting to teach Tear a lesson for a long time now, and tonight she'd finally gotten the chance to do it. "He should know no one gets to make fun of you but me." Beast Boy laughed.
"I'm feeling the love, Rae," he chuckled. Smiling a little, Raven grabbed the door handle, but before she could open it, Beast Boy stopped her. "Wait." He placed a hand on her shoulder, knowing if he'd tried to do that a few weeks ago she would have very possibly blown him to the moon. Now, she just looked at him with annoyance, impatient to get to bed. "Before we go in and, you know, face Cyborg's teasing and stuff," Beast Boy paused, lowering his voice, "I want to thank you, Rae, for being my girlfriend for these past three weeks. I know you really didn't want to do it, and even if we don't win the money, I'd like you to know that I had a good time with you." He rubbed his arm, blushing. "So, thanks."
Raven tilted her head. She hadn't been expecting any kind of recognition, especially from him. "You're welcome?" She moved toward the door when Beast Boy stopped her yet again, but this time in such a different way from before that it made the girl freeze in surprise. Beast Boy leaned forward, closing his eyes, and kissed Raven gently on the cheek. It lasted but a second, but before she could react, Beast Boy slipped into the tower, shutting the door behind him with a quiet click. Raven stared at where he'd been a moment ago, her arms frozen at her sides. She didn't know how to react. She didn't know whether she should knock the boy into tomorrow with her powers or not. Why had he kissed her? Why had she let him? They were no longer going out, so for what reason did Beast Boy have to take such an action? Was it a way to thank her? But Beast Boy hardly used such means for a simple thank you. Raven took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She faintly felt her cheek for a moment, and then turned and entered the tower.
Unknowing to her, in the main room there sat three teenagers glued to the television, their eyes as wide as disks and their jaws dropped far to the ground.