For All I Care
He wandered through his room, pulling clothes over his still damp body. He had already showered and shaved, and was preparing for the day ahead. He walked past all the things that, just months before, would have been some of his most treasured possessions, but were now nothing more than trinkets from old times, times he no longer cared for, and at the moment they were times he would rather forget. They were mostly photos, pictures of himself with the cybernetic man or orange alien, or the boy in the traffic light costume, and later, on the black and blue suit.
Then there were pictures of himself with her. The young woman with flowing violet hair and deep indigo eyes. Those pictures, while few in number in the earlier years, were the most numerous of all the photos in later times. Himself standing beside her with his goofy grin, and her with her stoic expression. Then there were the ones that showed her Mona Lisa smile, while her eyes betrayed her contented happiness. Then there was a single photo that showed her with a real, honest to goodness smile. So bright, so happy, that he often wondered if it really happened. He was shocked that he himself had been the one to cause the smile, because of how he'd been trying- and failing- for six years.
He scowled down at the picture, which had been pushed to the back of the shelf along with the others. He shouldn't have even looked, he knew. He was trying to leave all that behind, especially her. He wanted nothing more than her to become simply a memory, and he had trained himself to think as such so he would immediately become bitter whenever thoughts of her or his old team came up. He was making a fresh start, and hadn't heard from them for over six months. They had stopped trying to call him after two months, and the yellow and black device with the large white T had gathered a thick layer of dust.
He turned away from the shelf and resumed his morning activities, gearing up for a day with the Doom Patrol. He placed his hand on the door to his room, opening it and beginning to walk out when a sound reached his hyper sensitive ears. Of course, he didn't need to have great ears to hear the sound, which he immediately recognized. Even with months of trying to forget that sound, it was still just as familiar as the sun beginning it's trek in the sky.
He walked towards the shelf, debating whether or not to pick up the communicator. He scowled down at the fowl device, anger churning in his gut. His hand automatically clenched into a fist as the device let off it's shrill sounds, and he found himself ready to simply smash the thing. How dare they bother him, and at this early hour nonetheless.
Still, he knew he had to be mature about this. So, with an angry groan, he picked up his old communicator. To his surprise, the screen did not show Cyborg, who had been the one making most of the attempts to talk him into coming back. Instead, it was the masked face of Nightwing. Through the mask, the green changeling could see a serious and… forlorn expression. He could see the tiredness on the man, even through the screen.
He still didn't want to talk, though. "What is it, Dick?" he asked in a sharp voice. "Don't you know it's six in the morning?"
"I'm well aware of the time, Gar," came Nightwing's tired reply. "I know you must not be pleased to get this call, but I wouldn't have tried to get a hold of you were it not important."
"Well, what is it?" he asked, wanting to get straight to the point. "If you want me to help you on some kind of mission, I'll save you the trouble and tell you, once again, that I'm not coming back. You can handle your stupid missions on your own."
"It's not that, Gar…" Dick said, then trailed off, pinching the bridge of his nose. For a moment, the green man thought he heard his ex-leader choke back a sob, thought he saw a glistening wet trail going down his face. He didn't blink, though.
"It's Raven," he said, regaining his strong and composed voice.
The green man visibly scowled, and anger boiled within him. "I'm not speaking to her, Nightwing, you know that! If this is about her, then I'm ending this call, right now."
"You haven't even heard what I'm going to say!" Nightwing shouted, obviously trying to contain his own anger.
"I don't care! I don't want to hear about her! For all I care, she can go-"
"She's hurt," Nightwing interrupted.
There was a heavy silence, as the changeling stood with his jaw open but no sound coming out, his words having caught in his throat as he heard what his old leader told him. His mind faltered, unable to comprehend what had been said.
"What?" he got out, wondering if he had just misheard.
"She's hurt," Nightwing said again, and this time the green changeling was sure he had heard correctly.
His expression immediately changed to a stoic one, rivaling the signature stony expression he remembered seeing on the empath everyday for six years. "What do you mean, 'hurt'?" he asked.
Nightwing eyed his former teammate before answering. "She's in critical condition. The doctors don't know if she's going to make it."
Gar's face turned a shade lighter green as he stared into the communicator's screen at the dark superhero. "How?" he asked, after finding his voice.
Nightwing sighed, and this time Gar was sure he saw tears flowing beneath the mask. "We had a mission last night… against Slade… it didn't go down well, not well at all. I shouldn't have let her come. She was tired, looked like she hadn't been able to meditate…"
"How was she hurt?" Gar pressed in a hissing voice.
"She took heavy machine gun fire before Starfire managed to take the Slade-bot out. She's at Jump City Memorial Hospital now," Nightwing said, then broke his authoritative tones. He took on the voice of, not a leader, but just a friend, as he spoke to Gar. "Look, Gar… I know you and Raven… I know it's complicated, the way you feel about her. I know that you're still mad at her for what happened…"
"I'm on my way," Gar replied. "I'll be there as fast as I can."
They simultaneously shut their communicators, and Gar rushed to where he knew the Doom Patrol ship was.
On the other end of the severed line, Nightwing was staring down at his own communicator, his face mournful and exhausted.
"Hurry, Beast Boy. We don't know how much time she has," he whispered beneath his breath.
It was fortunate that the hospital had a good helipad on the roof, or else the ship would've been landed in the middle of the street. As it was, the hospital staff didn't take too kindly to the giant Doom Patrol ship coming down on the roof, sending tremors throughout most of the building. Gar didn't care, though, as he shot past the protesting men and women pouring onto the roof and ran into the building, leaving behind the rest of the Doom Patrol to take care of the disgruntled staff.
He found a woman sitting behind a desk, staring at her computer screen, obviously playing game of solitaire. She looked up at him with bored eyes, peering at him. Her eyes widened slightly as she took in his green form, as well as the familiar black and purple suit he was now wearing, having changed out of his civvies after getting the call from Nightwing. She let out a sigh.
"She's on Level 3, room 304. Follow the signs, you'll see find the others there," she said in a droning monotone, before turning back to her virtual game of cards.
Gar went zooming down the hall and found the door to the stairwell, then morphed into a flying squirrel to glide down several flights before stopping at the third floor and ripping through the corridors. His eyes quickly scanned the signs to see which direction he should be going in, only to have his ears give him the answer. They perked up, having received soft sounds coming from down the hall. They were the sounds of whimpers and crying, but not from just anyone.
"Starfire," he whispered, running in the direction of the Tamaranian's mournful sounds, and found them sitting huddled in chairs beside a door down the hall.
As he walked up to them, they all slowly turned their heads up to look at him. Each of them were tired-looking, their faces stricken. Starfire had obviously been crying for hours. Cyborg's one human eye was red and the changeling could see dried tears on his face as well. Nightwing's mask hid his eyes from the world, but Gar could see that he was in just as bad a shape as the tin man.
The two men stood up simultaneously and both extended their hands to him in greeting, but before the green man could even react to them Starfire threw her arms around the changeling and began to sob into his shoulder. He immediately returned the embrace, then looked at his former teammates.
"There's been no change," came the tin man's voice, as if reading his green friend's mind.
"C-can I see her?" Gar asked, his voice faltering as he tried to control the emotions that were raging within him and keep them from affecting his voice. He failed miserably at this.
"Go on in," Nightwing replied, putting a hand on his girlfriend's shoulders. She released Gar from her embrace and turned instead to Nightwing, resuming her sobs.
Gar made his way to the door as Cyborg's voice reached him. "It's good to see you, grass stain," he said, a hint of his old happy attitude in his voice.
"Nice to see you, too, chrome dome," he replied, but his voice did not show the barest trace of happiness. He didn't say anything else, just walked into the room and left them behind.
And he saw her.
She was laying in the bed, with any part of her above the covers being almost completely covered in sterile white bandages. Tubes ran in her arms and on her face, connecting her to perhaps a dozen or more different machines, most of them letting off steady beeps. As he walked to her right side he looked up at the heart monitor, watching the steady peaks of the red line and praying that the line would hold up. In his mind he could see that red line going flat, could hear the shrill alarms announcing she had gone into cardiac arrest.
He knelt down beside her unconscious form, staring at her face. Her eyes were closed, hiding those deep indigo orbs away from him. She looked deathly pale, even paler than her normal pristine gray tones. Her face was expressionless, something that should've been familiar to him, but this was different from her normal stoic look. Her face wasn't stony and hard like it was in conscious times, but instead it was soft. It was like she was asleep, but without dreams. Like she just wasn't there, and the very thought made tears flow down his cheeks.
He placed his hand on hers, which had remained limp at her side. It was cold against his warm palm. He willed some of his warmth to go into her hand, wondering if she could feel it. Perhaps it would make her fight harder to wake up.
He looked her over, seeing a broken girl, and she truly looked like just a girl. It didn't matter that she was a superhero. She looked small, laying in the colorless hospital bed. Her entire torso and chest was wrapped in bandages, and he could only imagine how many bullets made it into her body. It had to have been many, for she would have gone into a healing trance had the wounds been less damaging. She was too weak to go into a healing trance with her injuries, however.
"Oh, my god," he whispered, placing his hand on his face and closing his eyes as hot tears came down his face. "Oh, my god. Rae…"
This was his Raven. The same girl who used to threaten and insult him, the same girl who had been the only one who knew how to comfort him in his worst moments, the girl who became his best friend.
She was the girl he loved.
She was the girl he hated.
She was the girl he couldn't live without, and yet had left behind without a second thought.
"Oh, Rae… how did it come to this?"
Memories of their fight came back to him. It had started out as one of the best days of his life, and ended as one of the worst.
He didn't have a party, at least not the kind that would be remembered by very many people. There was no disco ball, much to Cyborg's disappointment. There was no blaring music, just a single stereo playing his favorite bands. There was no buffet, and the others would have tried to fill a buffet with meat anyway. There was no big crowd. The only people invited were the Titans East, Kid Flash and Jinx, and of course the core five Titans. That was the way he wanted it. For once, he didn't think bigger necessarily meant better. This was his perfect party. Besides, he knew he would have a big party next year, when he turned twenty-one and could have alcohol there.
They all spent that night together, watching movies and hanging out. It was perhaps the best birthday he'd ever had, especially since he got to spend so much time with her.
They had grown extremely close over the past few years, and the changeling was happy to call her the best friend he'd ever had, and he never trusted anyone as much as he trusted her. He trusted her so much that was able to tell her about his past and how his parents died, something he never liked to talk about with anyone. She was like his second half, but he often wondered if she realized just how much he wanted her to be more than that.
A particular song came onto the stereo from his play list, and he recognized it in an instant and began to sing along to it.
"Without you there's no reason for my story," he sang, his voice hitting the perfect pitch for the melody. He locked eyes with Raven while the others all turned to watch him as he sang along.
"And when I'm with you I can always act the same," he sang, smiling as he did so while keeping steady eye contact with her. He took satisfaction from the light blush creeping onto her cheeks.
"Forever yeah if we're together," he went on. "We can make it better."
He let the song go on after that, while the others gave him a small applause, which he smiled sheepishly at. He then got up from where he sat and walked over to Raven.
"I didn't know you could sing," she said in her usual gravelly monotone.
"This is one of my favorite songs," he said. "Anarbor's a pretty good band, and 'You and I' is the best."
He listened as the song went on, then looked down at her. She had changed over the years, letting her hair grow out past her shoulders, as well as gaining a more voluptuous figure as she matured. The Titans had just celebrated her own twentieth birthday two months ago.
He had changed as well. He was proud to say he grew out of his scrawny teen phase, and guessed it was the animal side of him that caused the tremendous physical change in him. He now towered over Raven, not quite as tall as Nightwing but still impressive. He had gained a strong muscular physique. His face had also matured into one of a young man and not a boy.
The song ended, and he looked around the room. The others were finishing off the pizza and ice cream, talking with each other. He then looked at Raven. While friends with all of them, she didn't do the 'socializing' thing very well. He smiled at her, and his grin grew even wider as she gave him a Mona Lisa smile.
"It's kind of hot in here. Why don't we go up to the roof and get some air?" he asked her, holding a hand down to her.
She glanced at the others, who were still deep in their own conversations, then back at the changeling. She took his hand. "Sure," she said simply. He grinned at her as they walked away without anyone else in the room even noticing.
They made there way to the roof, coming out into the light of the full moon shining down on them through a cloudless sky. The night air was crisp and cool, and a light sea breeze blew past them.
"It's nice out," the changeling said, looking up at the sky. "Look at all the stars!"
"You'd think the city lights would be too bright for the stars to show," Raven deadpanned as they sat by the edge of the roof, in the spot where he knew she liked to meditate.
"My parents taught me to use the stars to navigate," he told her, smiling as he laid down and looked up into the deep indigo sky. To his surprise, she laid back as well, turning to look at him as she did so. He smiled at her, flashing that boyish grin with his fang poking out the side of his mouth.
That was when their moment began. They found themselves staring into each other's eyes. He looked longingly into her deep amethyst eyes, while she looked with wonder at his emerald orbs. He saw her smiling, a small smile that to him looked like the rising sun.
"Raven?" he asked, still looking deeply at her.
"Yes?" she replied, her voice softer than usual.
"You trust me, right?" he asked her.
She looked confused for a moment, before nodding.
"Good," he said, then leaned in and kissed her tenderly on the lips. She seemed surprised, but then melted into the kiss, and for a moment it seemed as though time stopped. It was just them at that moment, and he felt a warm and light feeling run through him. He concluded that this was the best moment of his life.
Until he was sent skidding across the roof by a blast of dark energy.
As he staggered to his feet, he saw her standing up with her eyes glowing white, her eyebrows fixed into a scowl. She approached him, her furious expression never leaving her face, while he watched in confusion.
"You really are an idiot," she spat at him.
"What?" he asked, genuinely surprised that she was being this way.
"You shouldn't have kissed me!" she shouted. "Do you know what could have happened?"
"Rae, you kissed me back," he told her.
"Raven," she corrected him, even though she had let him call her Rae for over a year. He looked at her eyes which had been consumed by white light, and she began to speak again. "I didn't want you to kiss me! I never want you to kiss me!"
"Raven," he said in a sinking voice. "But… I thought… I thought you would like me back…"
"Why would I like you?" she spat at him in a low growl, so different from her normal monotone. "Why would I love an idiot like you?! Why would anyone love a worthless idiot like you?!"
Tears began to pool in his eyes as he morphed into an owl and flew far and fast away from the Tower, never looking back. He never saw the trail of tears running down her face, as he was blinded by his own.
Later that night, he returned and began packing. He told the others he would be leaving for the Doom Patrol for a few days, just so he could clear his head. He left without saying goodbye to Raven, even though she was there for his departure.
In those first few days with the Doom Patrol, he thought back on what Raven had said. She had called him a worthless idiot, and it was then that he realized she was right. He had never felt like he was worth anything to the Titans. He never felt accomplished, except that one time he led the assault against the Brotherhood of Evil years before. He knew he couldn't grow or feel like he was worth anything while he remained with the Titans, so he decided to leave and rejoin the Doom Patrol. He'd had fights with each of the Titans as they attempted to keep him from leaving, and it was during a group call over the Titans giant screen that the final straw had been broken.
While the others had all begged him to stay, Raven stood behind them, and he was able to hear her mutter something in a foul voice. "Let him leave. It's no real loss."
All of the Titans had heard it, but none had believed it. He had severed the communication line afterwards, and had only answered a few calls from Cyborg since then.
He had soaked in anger and bitterness, never bothering to try and make amends or fix anything with her or the team. Now, looking at her broken form, he gently bent down and kissed her hand, holding it in both of his own.
"How did this all go wrong?" he asked no one in particular.
"Beast Boy?" came a soft voice from the direction of the door. He saw Starfire enter the room.
"I made a mess of things, Star," he told her.
"This is not your fault, friend Garfield," she replied, walking up to the foot of the bed. "I must tell you something. Friend Raven has made me do the promising to not ever tell anyone, but I feel that in this case, an exception could be made."
"What are you talking about, Star?" he asked the orange-toned alien.
"I know you, friend Beast Boy. I know you must be doing the blaming of yourself for everything, but this is not your doing," she said.
"I ran away like a coward, Star. Maybe if I had been with you guys last night, watching her back like we always did, then she might not be…" he choked back a sob as the words came out.
"She did not wish to reject you, Beast Boy," the Tamaranian said. He looked up at her in confusion, wondering how she knew about the fight. However, she wasn't finished. "After that night, friend Raven did the confiding in me. The reason she turned you away, friend Garfield, is because she believed she was unable to love anyone without the interference of her powers. She believed she could not be close to you anymore, and so she pushed you away."
"But… but what she said during the call a few days later… she said that if I left, it would be no great loss," he stammered, looking between the alien speaking to him and the empath laying in the bed.
"She told me her reason was, the farther away you are, the better it would be. That you would do the moving on and forget her, and that she, in turn, would be allowed to forget," Starfire said. "I tried to convince her of the nonsense of it, but she only said, 'I know what I know', and left it at that."
"She's wrong, though," he said, holding Raven's limp hand even tighter in his.
"After you left, she… changed. She never came out of her room, and became very closed off. On missions she was often reckless, and she told me this was due in part to her being no longer able to meditate with ease," Starfire told him. "She seemed to be sinking, ever since the night of the celebration of your birth."
"I… I just don't understand."
He felt a hand on his shoulder, and looked up into Starfire's calm, if sad, face. "Gar, friend Raven truly believes with her whole heart that she is unworthy of you," she told him, then turned and walked quietly out of the room.
He looked down at her soft face, running his fingers through her violet hair, not quite believing what he had just been told. For years, he had been hanging on to the far fetched hope that she might feel the same way about him as he felt for her, when the entire time she was beating herself up on the ill-conceived notion that she was not worthy of him. She was the most worthy girl in the world, and if anything, she was too good for him.
And he had run away from her, lying to himself and everyone else by saying he didn't care.
"For all I cared…" he muttered, before the tears truly started coming. She was, in all likelihood, going to die, and he couldn't do anything to fix what had happened. "I'm sorry, Raven. I'm so sorry," he told her through his tears.
But she couldn't say anything back.
"I do care, Rae," he whispered. "And I know you do, too. I love you, Rae."
His hand curled around her fingers, as his tears rolled onto her skin. He felt the warmth from his hands transferring into her cold ones. He listened to the heart monitors giving off steady beeps in the background.
Then something clicked in him. It was a sudden inner knowledge, a feeling in his gut, that told him the beeps from the machines would keep coming, and the red line would not go flat. He wasn't sure what made him feel this, but he knew it was true. He had faith in it.
"I love you, and you love me, too," he whispered to her. "You're gonna wake up, Rae. I know it. And I'm gonna show you just how much I care."
(A/N) This was me trying to train myself in romance, because I really suck at it in my opinion. What did you think of this? Aren't I evil, ending it there? Yes, that was the end. I'm not showing whether or not she actually wakes up.
It's review time, my favorite time! Let me know your thoughts, and if I am any good at romance.