AN: Here comes the gigantic cliché: the ubiquitous Nevermore chapter. I've tried to handle it in a manner that's not horrifically overused, and there's at least a marginal bit of reasoning behind its presence here... plus it was just plain fun to write. Please let me know your thoughts!
Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters... or is it either of these characters? Whatever; they're not mine.
The trip into Nevermore was far smoother with Raven guiding their journey; she even managed to deposit them straight into Air Freshener Land instead of the initial spooky floating rock place. That settled it: Gar wasn't coming back here ever again without a ride from Raven. He released her hips with some reluctance, but not before pressing his lips to her forehead. She was kinda maybe his girlfriend now, and he was going to take advantage of that and make her feel precious and loved for as long as he could.
Oh, that little blush on her cheeks was so beautiful. Her eyes sparkled and she gave him a little smile before she pulled her hood up and walled herself off. It stung just a little to see, but he understood the necessity.
"I'm going to call them all here," she said. "Hopefully they'll actually come; it's difficult to wrangle them all up even under ideal circumstances, and with an imbalance like this, I'm not sure if they'll—"
Gar held a finger to her lips, bringing her musing to a halt. "I know you can feel what they feel. Does it work the other way?"
Eyebrows crinkling in confusion, the empath nodded.
He smirked. "Sweet." With that, he placed a hand behind her head and one on the small of her back, widening his stance in preparation. One smooth movement brought his lips to hers as he dipped her toward the ground, arms holding her weight easily as he went into a lunge. The sorceress let out a wide-eyed squeak before her eyes fluttered closed and her arms wrapped around his neck.
The kiss was slow, sweet, and more than a little sensual, and as he reluctantly broke contact, a little whimper from Raven sent his heart— and ego— soaring. Still holding her parallel to the ground, he watched her eyes open, savoring the beautiful shade of purple, before tilting them both upright once more. He breathed in deeply and let out a noise of pure joyful satisfaction... then with a smirk, he released Raven, cupped his hands to his mouth, and hollered, "Free kisses if you sit and behave! Come and get 'em!"
Within seconds, half a dozen shades of Raven had cropped up along the countryside, all approaching fast. Predictably, the first to reach the couple was clad in pink.
"Ooh, that was so fun!" she exclaimed, clapping her hands and jumping up and down. "It was just a tiny bit scary and then bam kissing and then..." The emotion paused, body vibrating with the need to express something beyond the descriptive power of words, finally settling for an explosive gesture and a squeal that would have done Starfire proud.
Garfield grinned. "Glad you liked it. Wanna cash in on yours right now?"
Before the pink-robed girl could answer, Beast Boy was tackled by a flash of green. They landed hard on the ground, Brave straddling his pelvis and resting both hands on his chest. "Ah, ah, ah!" she said with a smirk. "I call first dibs." With that, she hauled him to his feet, and before he could react, dipped him into a mirror of the technique he had just used on Raven. The world spun, and he came back upright with what he was sure was an idiotic grin. A firm, full-handed grope of his backside made him yelp, and Brave smirked and shrugged. "Couldn't help it. You've got a nice butt. Raven's been wanting to do that since you hopped out of the shower."
"I know, right?" came a peppy voice from beside them. "BB could totally stand for Bootylicious Boy! Okay, my turn!" Happy yelled as she shooed Bravery away and jumped into Garfield's arms. He barely had time to catch the emoticlone before they both fell... and as she wrapped her legs around his waist, her posterior landed squarely in the palms of his hands.
Don't squeeze, don't squeeze...
"Y'know, it's okay if you wanna cop a feel, BB," she said, eyes sparkling. "Turnabout's fair play and all." A growl sounded beside them, and Beast Boy turned, expecting Rage, only to find his Raven fuming. "Hey," the pink-clad girl said, "You know you like it when you catch him looking at your butt." The blue cloak was pulled firmly over a bright red face, and Happy turned back to Garfield. "That's our cue." Quick as a flash, she brought their faces together.
This kiss was more teasing than sensuous, and just as he was about to deepen it, she pulled away and gave him a loud, smacking smooch right on the tip of his nose. Blinking, he shook his head. Did that just happen?
Happy's cackle answered that question for him. "Oh, your face is priceless!" A quick flex of his hands made her squeal, and she landed back on the ground. He wasn't quite done yet, though; his fingers found her ribs, and she dissolved into a fit of giggles before retreating past a stiff-as-a-statue Raven, who then proceeded to sit down and chant. It would appear she was having some minor trouble tolerating the parade of clone kisses... but he had promised one to each of her aspects, and he was going to follow through.
Just as he was about to try for a quick talk with Raven to settle her nerves, a gentle cough behind him made him turn. There, a bespectacled version of his maybe-girlfriend inclined her head. "That was... an interesting sensation you chose to convey to us," she said. "Might I enquire as to where you learned that particular... technique?"
"It was probably Terra," came a trembling voice from behind Knowledge. An extra-gray version of Raven poked her head out, eyes downcast. "She was always good at being fun and interesting. And we're really bad at that." She brought her gaze up to meet his, eyes shining with unshed tears. "You'd probably be better off with someone else. We'll understand, really."
"Nah," he said with a grin, taking a knee so as to appear less threatening. "Raven's plenty interesting and fun for me, thanks. And just so you know, it wasn't Terra. Wasn't even a girl." He smirked as both Timid and Knowledge gaped at him. "If you want to know, though, you gotta come over here so I can whisper it to you."
Timid balked, shooting behind the yellow cloak, before peeking out once more. With tiny, shuffling steps, she made her way over to Gar's side, where he cupped his hands around her ear and murmured a few words. Her eyes went as big as saucers. "Really?"
Garfield grinned. "Eeeeyup. A little before I turned eleven, girls were suddenly the most interesting thing in the world, and I kept asking Robotman and Negative Man the way to win a girl's heart. They got so tired of the questions that Cliff grabbed Larry and showed me how to do that... and said that was all I needed to know."
The gray-clad emotion twiddled her index fingers. "It was nice, but... I'm not sure I'm brave enough for something like that." She made as if to shy away again, but Gar grabbed onto her hands as gently as he could.
"You don't have to be brave, you know." He stroked the emotion's palms with his thumbs, soothing her. "Raven's already got plenty of Brave as it is... but don't ever forget that you're important too. Okay?"
Eyes welling with tears, Timid nodded.
"Good," he said. "Oh, and just so you know, there are plenty of kinds of kisses that you don't need to be super brave for. Do you trust me?"
The girl stammered her assent, and Beast Boy pressed his lips to her forehead, light as a feather. It was more sound than sensation, but it was still a kiss. Timid turned bright red and retreated behind Knowledge, but when she poked her head out one more time, there was an infinitesimal smile on her face.
The Raven with glasses tapped her fingers together. "You seem to have a kiss to fit each of our personalities," she observed. "What would you suggest for me?"
Stroking his chin, Gar said, "I'd guess you want to learn something new, right?" Upon receiving a nod, he continued. "Well, how 'bout this? I try a couple different things so you can find out which does what and what you like best."
"That certainly sounds intriguing," she replied. "How shall we begin?"
In answer, Beast Boy simply walked toward her, cupped her face, and gave her a soft, gentle kiss. He waited for a moment, then deepened it, bringing his tongue to play as he rested his other hand against her hip. From there, he tilted her head to the side and gave her ear gentle kisses before bringing his tongue to play. Her shiver was intoxicating, and he moved on eagerly to her neck, repeating the process of escalation and receiving a full-throated moan. Pulling back with a grin, he placed one more peck on her lips and waited for her evaluation.
The girl's eyes fluttered open, and she blinked repeatedly as she let out a shuddering breath. "F-fascinating," she whispered. "I had read about erogenous zones, but that..." She shivered again. "Fascinating."
As he was about to respond, a none-too-gentle slap to his rear made him yelp and whirl around.
There stood an orange-robed Raven, who made a dismissive gesture toward Knowledge. "Shove off, Miss Myopia. Go read some erotica or something. It's my turn now." Slowly, teasingly, she ran a finger along Beast Boy's chest— wait, he still wasn't wearing a shirt! "Y'know, Bootylicious Boy's got a good ring to it, but I still don't think that's the right name for you. From what I saw in the shower, I think we better start calling you Big Boy. Know what I mean?"
Gar sputtered and turned a deep forest green. "I... but... wait, what? I was covering..."
The smirk on the emoticlone's face would have best been described as lascivious, had Garfield had the mental wherewithal to think of that word in the moment. As it was, he was thinking along the lines of scary-sexy-scary. "Oh, trust me, your hands aren't big enough to cover up all of it. And I can fill in the blanks just fine." Her hand brushed down past his navel, and he snatched it back upwards with a gasp.
"Geez," Rude muttered, "You're a major prude sometimes, y'know that?" With no further warning, she grabbed him firmly by his nipples and dragged him into a kiss. The immediate overload of sensation made his knees buckle for a moment, and his hands shot out for support, only to land firmly on soft, well-rounded flesh. As he squeaked and tried to remove them, Rude's hands covered his own and began massaging. Garfield's eyes bulged, but soon the teenage boy in him took over and he stopped resisting.
In the midst of the wave of new sensations, a bizarre vibration and noise made him pull away in shock. Did she just end a kiss with a raspberry?
There was that grin again, a mixture of desire and sadistic mirth. "Whoa there," she said, looking pointedly downward. "Might wanna cool your jets a little, Big Boy." With that, she walked away, leaving Garfield hastily readjusting his sweatpants in a futile attempt to hide his... reaction.
"Hey!" came a shout from nearby. There, seated with her back to a tree with cotton candy blossoms, was a brown-clad Raven. "Gimme."
"Come and get it," he called back.
Sloth folded her arms. "Nuh-uh. You come here."
With a little sigh, the changeling wandered over to the tree, only to stop short as a horrific stench assaulted his nostrils. That's right... this one's big on dumpster-diving, and never heard of bathing.
He approached despite his instincts, and knelt to address the emotion. "I have a message for Raven, and it's important you remember it, okay?" Sloth shrugged, and he figured that was the best he was going to get. "I'm in love with her all the time, and that includes the times when she's all sweaty from training or covered in muck from fighting Plasmus or has horrible morning breath. I'm gonna do my best to make her as happy as I can, even if all she wants to do is stay in bed and get a foot massage."
Sloth's eyes lit up. "Foot massage?"
Garfield tried to hide his cringe. The combination of his heightened olfactory senses and this incarnation's... hygiene issues... made him regret having mentioned those two words. Still, this was part of Raven; he couldn't say he'd accept all of her and not follow through. Taking a deep breath, he nodded and pulled the boots off of the emoticlone's feet.
Five very long minutes later, eyes watering, Beast Boy pressed a quick kiss to Sloth's lips and beat as hasty a retreat as he could manage without looking like he was hurrying. On the way, he snagged a gigantic strawberry out of the air, hoping it would do something to combat the odor clinging to his hands. A quick scrub later, he was pleased with the results, even if his palms were now a reddish pink. The berries here smelled mostly real, with just a touch of something a little too sweet for nature.
Beast Boy wandered his way back to his Raven, now floating in midair as she meditated, the emotions that had already received his attention in a circle around her, mirroring her posture. As he laid a gentle hand on her shoulder, her eyes opened, and he was shocked to find tears in them. "What's wrong, Rae?"
"N-nothing..." she began, choking through the word. "It's just... too much. You're so kind and sweet and wonderful, Garfield, and I'm just a demon. I don't deserve someone like you."
Gar brushed the tears from her cheeks, a tiny bit of indignation in his chest. "First off, you aren't just anything. You're Raven... and for as long as you're willing to put up with me, you're my Raven. Second, you deserve more happiness than anyone can possibly give you, but I'm sure gonna try my best. I love you, not just the one or two parts of you that are convenient to love. And this is just one of the ways I can show you that." He snuck a glance over his shoulder. "Speaking of which, I think there are a couple more colors somewhere around here... know where they are, by any chance?"
No sooner had he spoken than the last two emoticlones phased up through the ground just to his left. Rage growled and clenched her fists, but oddly enough, refrained from attacking him. Beast Boy marveled at this for a moment before noticing that the purple-clad emotion was resting a hand on the demonic avatar's shoulder. Raven's more pleasant side wasn't being violent, but there was a firmness to the gesture that would not be denied.
Well, well... it turned out Love really was stronger than Hate... or at least Rage. Who knew?
Still, restrained as her body might be, Rage's tongue was still free to lash out at will. "You stupid, stupid boy!" she hissed. "We were fine without you. We were content before your meddling... but you couldn't leave us alone! You forced us to feel, made us love you... and now you give us a tiny taste of love and ask us to wipe your memory, to give you up? You selfish bastard!"
The changeling squared his feet away against the screaming clone and clenched his fists. "You think this doesn't hurt me too?" he snapped, face inches from hers, uncaring as the four red eyes did their best to burn him. "Blasting away some of the best moments of my whole life, not knowing what I'm going to remember, maybe having to start our relationship almost from scratch? At least you get to keep the memories."
The embodiment of Raven's wrath sneered at him. "And you think that a mercy?"
That question broke through the anger, leaving him spent and despondent. He shook his head, arms going limp. "Not at first, no. But later, when we're back together— and we will find our way back together, I promise— you get to remember our firsts, our real firsts. I just get the do-overs." Garfield took a deep, shuddering breath. "It kills me to think about it, Raven. But y'know what would hurt even more? If Slade shows up and I can't fight him... and he hurts you. I can live with picking up the pieces of this fragile little thing between us. I can handle having to start over. But losing you completely? I can't live with that."
Rage glared at him, all four eyes burning into his skin, but she had no rebuttal. "Bastard," she snarled.
"Whatever," he growled, grabbing the front of her cloak with both hands. "Shut up and kiss me."
For all the tenderness of the other kisses, this one was pure animal fury. She bit him, he bit back. Clawed fingers raked across his shoulder blades, and he pulled her hood down to grab fistfuls of her hair. When they separated, panting and bleeding, the part of him he struggled to keep dormant was howling with glee. His crimson-stained lips twitched into a smile, and they would have been joined again if not for a purple-robed girl interposing herself. "You had your fun, Rage, now sit with the others. That was the agreement."
As Rage wandered off and the animal in him settled back down, Garfield licked his lips. Blood. The thick, coppery taste of it flooded his mouth, and as he turned his head, pain flared in his feet and forearms. He fell to the ground, writhing in agony. But no matter how he turned, his vision was filled with a two-toned mask and a bloody hammer being raised and swung downwards. The crunch of bone was horrifically loud, but louder still was that voice, oily and unwavering even as the most unspeakable tortures were inflicted. His throat was closing, the collar growing tighter and tighter...
With a gasp, Gar sat upright, a pair of gentle but firm arms encircling him. A ferocious round of blinking, and Love came into focus, concern and relief and a million other things present in her eyes. There was more diversity of emotion in this aspect's personality than in any of the others', but that certainly made sense: no one ever accused Love of being simple.
From somewhere nearby, the sounds of a riot made their way over to the pair. As Beast Boy looked over, he found his initial assessment to be accurate. Timid was bawling despite Happy's halfhearted attempts to distract her. A pensive Knowledge was being practically throttled by Rude, who demanded in between creative strings of profanity that she do something to help Gar. Sloth was still slouched against her tree, but the tree itself had moved all the way to the outskirts of the circle, and her expression was one of worry. Brave was trying— and failing— to restrain Rage, who was shrieking and gnashing her teeth, raking clawed fingers across her own face. And to top it all off, his Raven was on the ground in the middle of the chaos, curled into the fetal position as she wept.
Garfield couldn't let this go on, however much he might want to stay in Love's arms and recover. The moment he tried to rise, though, Love was in front of him, offering a hand up. He took it with a little smile, the symbolism not going unnoticed.
The brawl in the circle had risen to a deafening crescendo, and so Beast Boy used his powers to fudge his lung capacity and vocal cords as he yelled, "I'm okay! Everybody cut it out!"
All activity lurched to a halt. Even Rage quieted, though her sobbing growls continued and she tore at the skin on her arms.
"Look," he said, addressing them all at once, "I know that was scary; trust me, I know. But it's over, and I'm fine now."
Knowledge chose that moment to speak up. "No, Garfield, you are not 'fine'. This magnitude of trauma is—"
"I know, and I'll discuss it with you all in a sec," he interjected. "There's something I have to do first, though. Well, two things." Turning to Rage, who was muttering about how worthless and weak she was as her claws ripped at ever-healing flesh, he pointed a finger at her. "You. Shut up."
Two pairs of red eyes still burned with self-loathing, but Rage reluctantly complied, though her hands still focused on tearing herself apart.
"Good. Now I have news for ya, Red." Leaning in close, he gave her a predatory grin. "I enjoyed that kiss." Before she could open her mouth, he placed his hand over it. "No, no. My turn to talk. You're not the only one with a dark side, and sometimes it's gonna be good for us to let it loose on each other when we need to, so you'd better be ready. Got it?"
When he removed his hands, Rage's mouth was curved in a predatory smirk. "You will scream for mercy," she growled, her autoflagellation forgotten in light of his offer. It was not often that she was welcome outside of Nevermore.
Gar grinned. "That's the spirit." Turning away, he saw Knowledge waiting. "Almost done," he said, holding up a finger. Striding over to where his own Raven was now sitting with her face in her hands, he knelt and gathered her into an embrace. "Shh," he murmured, "It'll be okay. It's over." The irony of echoing her earlier comfort might have been funny if they weren't both so tragically broken.
"But..." she whimpered, "I caused it. I hurt you."
"No," the changeling said, voice turning firm. "You didn't hurt me. He hurt me, and you're helping me through it. Now we're going to talk with all your emotions and get ready to fix what's wrong with me. Please, Rae."
With a deep breath and a recitation of her mantra, Raven brought her head up, face betraying only hints of her distress. Her hand found Gar's, and together they rose to stand in the circle of her emotions.
Beast Boy looked around at the girl's different facets and squeezed her hand a little tighter. The discussion ahead was going to be long and unpleasant.