Notes: So here's another headcanon! I've decided to pick and choose some and write little one-shots for them. Feel free to give suggestions, if you have any favorite headcanons you'd like me to try! I love critique, and any comments you guys have I'd love to hear. Thanks so much to everyone who reviewed last time, I really appreciate it!
Okay, here it is:
#494: All of the Titans know about Raven's fear of thunderstorms, but it has always been a secret that one night, during a particularly vicious thunderstorm, Raven couldn't sleep, so Beast Boy invited her to stay in his room for the night. They decided not to sleep after all, instead staying up telling each other corny jokes. Afterwards, they act as if it had never happened.
The sky crackled again.
She didn't scream. Raven didn't scream. It was something she prided herself on, both as a female rejecting offensive stereotypes of cowering, ditzy girls, and as a firm follower of Azar.
Well, perhaps she trembled a little bit, but she decided to ignore that. All things considered, it could be significantly worse. The first time she'd experienced a thunderstorm at the Tower, she'd shattered every bit of glass close by when a rushing tide of panic overwhelmed her. It was something about being so high off the ground, and the Tower had so many windows — and then the Titans all knew how frightened she was of thunder. She didn't tell them why, because then she hadn't known them well enough to want to, and now that she wouldn't mind no one asked. Besides, the last year or so had had gentle weather, and the storms were nothing more than rain fluttering against the building, as if asking politely to be let in.
Tonight, however, was a different situation entirely. The world had never felt so angry before, clattering and bellowing with rage, and as she tucked herself farther into a corner of her bed, the masses of swollen clouds crowded together and the sky itself shrieked.
She winced, trying to count her breaths, as she'd had to when first learning to meditate. She got up to three before lightning sizzled a few miles away, and the next inhale was lost in a gasp. Her fingers twisted in her hair, nearly pulling it as she frantically tried to regain some semblance of control. It wasn't working, and her breath was coming hurried and sharp.
She stood and made for the door. Yes, she would have liked to call it a graceful retreat — but she didn't lie to herself, and what truly happened was that she bolted out of her bedroom and ran straight to the windowless bathroom. In a moment of complete insanity, she clicked the lock on the knob.
That was a stupid thing to do, she told herself, eyeing the door doubtfully as if a simple breeze could blow it away. There was no reason to lock anything. Storms couldn't open doors.
But then there came an insistent knock, and it felt her heart would leap from her chest.
"Hey," said a somewhat confused voice from the other side of the wood. "Is there someone in there?"
Her anxious lungs whispered out a sigh of relief. "Uh. Yeah. It's me."
"Can I use the sink, or what? I forgot to brush my teeth."
She swallowed, let everything slip gently from her features, and unlocked the door. Beast Boy blinked at the sudden shine of fluorescent light from the bathroom, and then cocked his head at her. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah. Of course. Why wouldn't I be?"
But then she heard the snarl of thunder, and her wince told everything.
He frowned sympathetically. "I forgot," he said, giving her shoulder a pat as he passed her to grab his toothbrush and squirt it with toothpaste. "Did the storm wake you up?"
She thought about saying that she hadn't been able to even close her eyes, sensing the extra energy laden in the air, but instead she just shrugged.
He spat some foamy blue into the sink. "Yeah, I didn't sleep. I was finishing that new game Cyborg got me." His words were slightly garbled by the toothpaste in his mouth, and the grin he flashed at her was messy.
A nod seemed all the answer he needed, as he immediately continued. "You should have seen it, the last boss was —"
She tuned him out, taken aback to remember how awake he could sometimes be during the night. Something about his animal genes occasionally seemed to give him nocturnal habits, and so he'd gotten up past three that afternoon, and here at midnight he was totally alert. She might have been annoyed if his cheerfulness wasn't calming down her nerves.
"You sure you're okay?" he asked, and she realized he'd finished his video game rant.
"Yeah —" she started to say, but there was a booming sound from the sky looming beyond the Tower, and the bathroom went abruptly pitch black.
There was another sound, and this one was the stark cracking noise of the mirror breaking.
"Raven, Raven, calm down!" Beast Boy's hands took hers.
She was glad it was dark, because she could feel the stricken horror scratched into her face, though she was sure he could hear her wild, uneven breath anyways.
"It's okay," he said, and his hands were warm around hers.
"Yeah," she responded thickly. "I'm fine."
There was a silence, and she knew he was giving her a look. Probably one of disbelief.
"I know there's a flashlight in one of these cupboards," he muttered after a moment. He leaned down, his warmth never leaving her side. "Nice, found it." A click, and light emerged. It illuminated both their faces eerily, and he glanced at her worriedly.
"I'm fine," she said again.
He just directed his gaze up at the mirror. The snaking lines traced all the way over its surface, though the pieces of glass remained on the wall. He looked back at her. "That's not fine."
She growled at him a little bit. He instantly looked surprised, and it occurred to her that she normally didn't throw her emotions around so easily.
"Raven," he began, and then paused.
"What?" she snapped. Or attempted to — it came out a little frightened instead, and she hated herself for that.
"If you want..." he swallowed. "You could sleep in my room."
She said nothing, and was glad she'd retained self-control enough not to let her eyebrows fly so high they soared off her face. They'd all had those nights, after an especially bad fight or just because, when everyone refused to leave the common room. Someone would say it was bed time, and yet no one got up. They cast awkward glances at the ground, no one wanting to be alone and no one wanting to admit it. Eventually, Starfire usually grabbed a huge blanket from the hall closet and laid it on the floor, and Cyborg would scrounge up a mound of pillows. They all curled up together, flicking on the TV or playing a game, and there was a silent agreement that they wouldn't discuss whatever had brought it on. Those nights were sacred — whatever occurred during them was never spoken of again, and they never happened often anyways. They all remembered the night Robin had cried against Starfire, her arms wrapped around him as she hummed soothingly (her humming was rather pretty, even if her singing wasn't), and though none of them had asked, everyone had been quite sure it was the anniversary of someone's death — a parent, a friend? There'd been another time, when Cyborg sniffled and Beast Boy handed him tissues periodically, and everyone stared at the walls as if they might begin to collapse at any moment. She'd found Beast Boy's hand slipping into hers that evening, though they both pretended it never happened. But she'd never spent the night in another Titan's room before — it felt different somehow. More personal.
"I mean, of course you don't have to, I was just offering because I know I don't wanna be alone when I'm scared, and besides—" he stopped, and in the vague light he looked exceedingly uncomfortable. "Whatever. Sorry."
And she stared at him, feeling a thousand things she knew she shouldn't have been because she was already off-balance enough.
"No," she said, when she'd remembered her voice. "That'd be — nice."
"...Really?" His smile was a bit stunned.
She nodded, and for a moment it felt easy just to stand there, with the little flecks of relief and simple content spiraling off him.
But the treacherous sky screamed again, and there was the harsh rumble of thunder. She jumped, and he took her hand again. She wondered for a nasty second if he was taking advantage of her distraction to touch her more often than she typically allowed him to — then she crushed the thought. They were all animals, but he was much more animal than the rest of them. Touch was automatic for him in a way she could never understand. If they were all like him, they'd probably spend a lot of time having group cuddles on the couch.
"Come on," he said softly, pointing the light down the hallway.
She swallowed, and they padded on quiet feet to his room. His fingers felt reassuring on hers, but as the door slipped open and they entered, she could see the sputter of lightning through his window.
"Gimme a second," he muttered, tossing the curtains closed and pushing his wardrobe in front of the soaked glass. The sound was immediately muffled, and she let out a breath.
She nodded, and he sat cross legged on his bed, patting the spot next to him. Her legs weren't particularly steady as she sunk onto the mattress. "The power's still out," she near-whispered, her voice slightly hoarse.
He shrugged. "I have candles around here somewhere." After poking through a few drawers and boxes, he held up a package of tealights, and an orange pillar candle so wide his hand hardly fit around half of it. "These'll do, right? I don't have matches, though."
"I'll light them."
He set them around, on his bookshelf, on top of the desk which he'd cleared by simply swiping everything covering it to the floor. "Okay, that's all of them."
Her inhale was solid, firm. She flicked her fingers at every wick, and a velvet flame settled onto each.
"Cool," he murmured, sitting next to her. She gathered her knees to her chest. "Top or bottom?" he asked after a moment, his eyes resting on her face.
She blinked at him.
"Do you want top or bottom bunk, I mean."
"You should probably have top, then. I mean, I sleep in the bottom, and, uh, I don't really know the last time I washed these sheets..."
She could feel the tiny wrinkle of her nose that showed her disgust, and he shrugged apologetically. For a few minutes they said nothing, and after a while he laid down on his side, somewhat like a crescent moon curved around her. There was the quiet sound of him yawning, and she wondered if he wanted her to move up so he could sleep, but when thunder crashed menacingly again, her entire body seemed to freeze and she knew she wasn't going anywhere for a long time.
"Raven," he mumbled, when she imagined her tremble was shaking the whole bed and she couldn't pull her gaze from the only bit of window that still showed. "It's okay." His hand reached and brushed the closest part of her, which happened to be her back. She flinched a little, but she could feel the warmth through her clothing as he gently swept his hand in little circles. She thought again of animals, of all the unconscious touching Beast Boy would do if society only let him. She guessed he was starting to get too sleepy to care, or even notice, that this was something normally she would never, ever allow. "Wanna lie down?"
She shook her head.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
She swallowed. There was complete silence, except for the ever-present rain at the window. "Well." She paused. "It started on Azarath."
He sat up a little, his face more awake, and propped himself up on an elbow. The hand that had touched her back stopped, and slipped down to the bed again as if it had never done anything at all. "Yeah?"
"There weren't many storms. Azarath was — is — a very consistent place. Safe. It doesn't rain often, and when it does—" she looked away from the window, where light was flashing yet again, "it's soft. Calm. Thunderstorms only mean one thing."
He was entirely attentive now, all sleepiness gone. "What's that?"
She wanted to turn away. She could picture all the fear in her eyes, which must seem so foreign to him, and resented the fact that she'd taken him up on his offer. She could be suffering alone in her room, yet, here she was, forcing him to experience her anxiety and having to explain it too.
She couldn't turn away, though. Those green eyes of his were horrifyingly honest and curious. But she didn't say anything.
He was the one to look away first. "You don't have to tell me, Raven. It's okay. We can just sit if you want." He turned onto his stomach, with his chin on his palm, and she glanced at the curve of his back, realizing they were both still in their suits. If she wanted to change, she'd have to make a trip back to her room. It didn't seem worth it.
"You can lay down," he said after a minute. "I don't mind."
She considered getting up and leaving instead. She'd rather be with Robin right now, for his understanding, or Starfire. Cyborg, even, could leave well enough alone and let her work through it on her own, his non-invasive company the only comfort she'd need.
But Beast Boy was the opposite of her in that way. He was touchy-feely, passing out hugs and physical consolation instead of the passive listening she gave others. Unfortunately, he was also the only one awake.
She didn't lay down, but she convinced her limbs to move, her body posture to open. Her arms were no longer holding her in.
"It means Trigon is breaking free," she said. The words swam with the strange emptiness that she could summon to lock everything inside. Her sentences were emotionless, and so she seemed to be as well. "Thunderstorms are the cosmic accompaniment to him breaking through his bonds and getting closer to Azarath. Closer to me. My mother would lock me away in a windowless room and tell me not to listen." She stopped. Her throat felt sore, as if what she was saying burned. "I could always hear anyways, though. The sounds of him destroying stars to get to me."
She closed her eyes. Behind her lids blazed images she wished she could forget, paintings she'd found on accident of her father in old spellbooks, moments from her dreams.
"It will never happen, Raven," Beast Boy whispered. "It's over. He's gone. We're all safe."
But the thunder screeched again, so deep and frightening it jarred her bones. Her body quivered and she pressed herself against the bed post, the fire from the candles suddenly stretching high, orange tongues licking close to piles of books and clothing.
He sat up, abruptly, and she wanted to tell him not to touch her, because she was dangerous and even if she wasn't, she wasn't sure she'd want him to anyways.
He did, but not in the way she expected. He placed his hands over her ears, curled his fingers protectively around them and began to sing. It was a stupid song. Something about an inchworm, or a garden (raking, perhaps?), and his voice was mostly tuneless. But the words bounced softly in the air, cheery and innocent, and she knew the storm raged beyond the sound and feel of him, but all she could hear was that dumb rhyme. Inches and rows and gardens growing, and after he sang it a few times, the shaking had stopped and his hands fell away very slowly. Her eyes flicked to the candles, whose flames had relaxed back to normal.
Her voice, when she spoke, was nearly non-existent. "Thanks."
He nodded, his face serious, and laid down again. This time she copied him, cradling her chin in hand and lying on her stomach. "I won't be able to sleep," she said flatly.
"That's okay," he said. "I'll stay up with you."
She gave him a look, and he gave her one equally as determined. "Wanna hear a joke?" he asked.
She shook her head.
"What do elephants and grapes have it common?"
She rolled her eyes. "What?"
"They're both gray, except for the grapes!" He paused, giving her a lopsided grin, that bottom tooth showing.
It was so bad she couldn't help a wisp of a smile.
"What's clear on the outside and gray on the inside?"
She shrugged a shoulder.
"An elephant in a plastic baggy!"
The edges of her mouth curled into something that maybe could have been called a smile.
"What's pink and fluffy?" he said, turning on his side and facing her.
She moved to imitate his pose. "I don't know."
"Pink fluff! What's blue and fluffy?"
"Pink fluff holding its breath!"
Her smile widened.
"Roses are gray. Violets are gray."
She gave him a quizzical look.
"I am a dog."
She grinned. "That's so dumb."
"You're the one smiling," he said, but he was too, and she felt very safe, all of a sudden, surrounded by the little pinches of candlelight and lying on his bed and seeing him right there, very real and a bit ridiculous, but there all the same. This was no colorless room. There was no demon in the sky searching for her.
"What did one lawyer say to the other lawyer?" she asked after a second.
"'We are both lawyers'."
He laughed, and the sound painted the walls.
She tilted her head. "Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?"
"I don't know. Why?"
"Because it was dead."
They both paused. Their eyes met each other's, and both pairs were wide.
And then they started to laugh. Both of them. He cracked up so hard he nearly cried, rolling on the small bedframe so much it groaned in protest. She simply laughed, turning onto her back and staring at the bottom of the bunk above, which was filled with years of doodles and carvings. Normally she might have pressed her hands to her mouth, tried to contain it, but that night she let it spill out as if it were the best sound in the world. It might have been, too, if not for the laugh accompanying it.
"You're horrible," he said, when he could breathe again, beaming at her.
"Both of us," she replied, unable to quell her lingering grin.
"Know any more?" he prompted after a moment.
"Are you kidding?" she snorted. "After listening to you for all this time?"
His eyes glinted in the faint light. "You were listening?"
She glanced at him. "Don't get too excited. Most of them are terrible."
"Not if they came from me, they aren't!"
"Okay, give me a second." She took a deep breath. "This one's a knock knock joke. You start."
"Knock knock!" he said enthusiastically.
He stared at her blankly. His mouth worked in silence for a second, and then a smile bloomed. "I forgot about that one."
"Your turn," she said, with a touch of satisfaction, scooting more onto the bed. "And give me more room, I'm falling off."
He squeezed against the wall, and she moved closer so her entire body fit on the mattress.
"Alright," he started, "how about this one? A horse walks into a bar—"
It went on for hours. Occasionally, the storm would reassert itself, but eventually the rain died down. The power came back on, evidenced by the insistent wink of Beast Boy's alarm clock, and they kept going, even as their eyes blinked closed and stayed that way.
"It's dawn," he yawned after a very long time. "The birds are up."
"We should get some sleep," she said softly, voice dulled from so long talking.
He looked at her, eyes happy but exhausted. "You can sleep here, if you want."
She shook her head. "It's fine, I'll just go to my room." She stood, stretching her cramped muscles. Beast Boy's bed was small for two. When it felt as if she'd cracked every bone in her body, based on the noises they made, she stopped, glanced at him. "Thank you," she murmured.
He sat up, swinging his legs over the side of the frame. "Anytime," he answered earnestly.
The smile that touched her lips was not amused, like all the others from that night. Maybe it was affectionate, or thankful, or maybe just tired. It was beautiful, all the same. "Goodnight, then, Beast Boy. See you at breakfast."
He nodded, and she left, hiding her laughter away in her heart for the next time she'd need it.