***NOTE: MERRY CHRISTMAS! HAPPY HANUKKAH! HAPPY HOLIDAYS! HAPPY NEW YEAR?! I wish you all a wonderful year and I hope you had a merry season! I'm ready to get back to this - winter season made me quite busy! Also, excuse me if my style is rusty, please feel free to point out any vague/confusing/wordy/un-pretty sections! Thank you!
Chapter Seven - To Reconcile
A green palm pressed into his forehead, his posture slumped and his face contorted with that of depression.
A large broom held by black clad gloves, glass tinkling as it was swept into heaps of broken facades and aching truth.
A cybernetic man, patching up the windows, the light once flowing through replaced with dank darkness.
Not even five minutes had passed before other fragile objects began to break, though none so large and dangerous as the windows. Raven may had retreated to the sanctity of her room, but even the spell-enforced walls couldn't hold back the tidal wave of emotions flowing throughout the tower. Starfire departed seconds after, lingering only to brush a finger on the jaw line of a stoic green titan in sisterly comfort. Her lips were sealed and thoughts were not escaping, as she couldn't defend the anger nor quarrel against it. But all the young men in the room knew that she would be the only one who could speak with Raven now, and hopefully be able to reason the conflict.
The boys were left in silence. Only two were uncomfortable with it. Robin meticulously cleaned the room, finding comfort in fixing something physically broken, though how he wished he could follow Starfire and discover the truth to this conflict himself was near overwhelming. Such mysteries, the ones of emotion, how such trivial arguments between friends could evoke pain in all around. Of course these heroes weren't just friends, but family to him - and that made it all the worse. Here he was with two down-trodden teammates, a giant vine curled in the center of their home.
As the glass was discarded, he knew he wouldn't have the patience to continue worrying. From his tool belt, a petri dish, and scraping away at the thick and unruly plant Robin would dissolve his mind in this problem. It was not his turn to speak words of any wisdom for he knew all too well that the cloaked empath was probably angry at him as well.
He didn't look back as he entered the crime lab.
Cyborg, however, felt no sympathy to Robin's understanding but to Raven's argument instead. As the steel plates he fused to the walls made the room darker, he found the red light from his eye depicting his sullen expression in the reflection on the metal. Even after the stream of welding fire had left from his index finger, he found himself staring - how long had he denied his emotions too? The girl who never felt was suddenly feeling, and the man who felt so strongly suddenly realized how blind his happiness had been.
"She does trust you, man, she just..." Cyborg noted his words felt heavy and he sighed, "She just didn't know how to express herself."
The green best-friend replied with a snort, lifting his head and trying to exhale the weight off of his chest. He interlaced his fingers together, cracked his knuckles, twiddled his thumbs - anything to try and occupy himself.
"She said otherwise, Cy," he muttered, choosing now to peel away at his thumbnail. It bled.
"Yeah, well, you know her. She can't say what she means to say even when it's simple to say!" A dry chuckle was forced past his lips, and Cyborg retreated from his reflection to sit by the brooding Beast Boy. "But...but you also know that Rae doesn't let little things get to her. We all know you didn't plant this vine - or whatever - and we all know that her anger was from something different."
"Really? I mean, maybe your tin ears need some cleaning," he retorted, licking the thumb that bled, the copper tang in his mouth not dulling his emotions, "I'm pretty sure she said I did this."
Both eyes looked at the massive plant settled only a few feet away, but the perplexing mystery behind the root didn't change the mood at all. In fact, with out the light, without the rain, the massive vine looked like a fossilized creature. It looked dead, grey, and silent as the grave.
"Maybe 'this' didn't refer to-" he gestured before him, "-all this."
The green hero huffed, throwing his hands in the air to try and express his exasperation. "Well, what else could it be?! I mean, I've been nothing but nice since I've got back: no annoying noises, no gross breakfasts, no intruding on her personal time! To be honest, I'm not even so sure I really do those anymore! I've been nice and I've just pretty much picked up where I left off here...if it isn't this damned vine, and it isn't me, then what is it? Was her tea not hot enough for her this morning?"
"You got it wrong, BB, I think it is you!" Cyborg continued, holding up a hand before Beast Boy could yell at him again. "I don't think it's something you're doing, but something you've done."
"Oh, so she's holding a grudge?!" The green hero quickly stood, his hands gripping at his hair as if he were to rip it out. "God, what the HELL! I haven't done ANYTHING!"
"Dammit, Garfield, I know you and you can't possibly be this stupid for a little green man!" Cyborg too stood, but with so much more anger than Beast Boy had expected. Not only that, his real name had been used only making the situation more intense. He looked into his friend's eyes - red glow and human wrath streaming from both - and managed to hold a slack jawed expression as he tried to process what was being said.
"BB, you're my pal, my best pal, but just think," pushed the blue titan, his gaze serious. "Who are we to Raven?"
Who was he to Raven? Beast Boy's immediate thoughts went to descriptions and words meaning 'pest' and 'nuisance'. In this moment of anger all he could conjure were past fights and past punishments from the strict girl with a stricter sense of humor. The days when all he wanted was to make her smile and he got a new bruise instead filled his memories. But that was then, when he was a boy, and even at the end of the day they would fight evil for each other - they would fight for everyone.
Breakfasts in the morning, board game tourneys at noon, training in the evening - all five of them living together and sharing a single bathroom. He thought of those times, of the split chores and gambling their free time for gaming and just being kids. That was what they did, essentially, even if they were heroes. And the only word that seemed to fit that description was a word that was bittersweet to all of the Teen Titans.
"Family - we're her family," stated Beast Boy, scratching his cheek like a dejected child.
Cyborg nodded, but continued to press the topic. "We're her only family. Us? Well, you've got your Doom Patrol, Robin has the B-Man, Star's got her sister and that guy who practically raised her, and I got my dad back at S.T.A.R. But Raven? Who else does she have but us?"
His green mouth opened, ready to retort, Beast Boy began to respond with the name of Raven's mother. Raven had mentioned her a little throughout their time together, yet he had forgotten why. It came back, the day when the cloaked Azaranthian came clean about the entirety of Trigon's prophecy, and how she had tried contacting her home. Raven may have found her mother, but it was an illusion of what once was - Raven's home, and mother, were gone.
His voice was hardly a whisper, "But...but what does this have to do with why she's angry, what I've done?"
"Her family - you and Robin - left," Cyborg answered, voice rising with his own tangled emotions. "You left her, and she felt alone and empty and replaced. And she is not the only one, BB! I got over it a while ago, 'cause man, we're growin' up and it was bound to happen eventually! But Robin and Starfire have been arguing too, you know, at night - they probably think I can't hear them, and it's all about how you two never called, never wrote, never even tried t'contact us. Either way, here you are, coming back all tall and older and different, but acting like you never left in the first place. Can you imagine that, huh? How confused she must be? How confused we all are?"
The silence that followed was unlike the first, unlike the thick sorrowful tension that had been there before. It was contemplative. As Beast Boy slowly lowered himself down to the couch again, Cyborg left. His work was done, he needn't linger in that place any longer. Remembering the reflection, Cyborg's metal palm went up to his cheek - there was no more sorrow there. Perhaps all that was bothering him was the fact that his best friend didn't know the truth. But now he did.
And Cyborg felt a whole lot lighter.
But Beast Boy felt heavier.
And heavier and heavier, as suddenly everything started to fall into place. He remembered their night out for pizza, how she had dumped cola on his head. How she said she was mad at him for something else than the terrible joke. Even there, right in front of him, she was honest and told him it was something different! Not his antics, not his jokes, but that he left her. The changeling clenched his jaw, his fists coming together as shame bubbled in the pit of his stomach. Raven may had said she was over it but she wasn't, what with her emotions always arguing within her night and day. It was just stunning how something that had been hinted at and hinted at could suddenly come crushing down a person and Beast Boy felt like his ribs were cracking under the pressure. The worst part of it all is that he probably would have felt the same - maybe for not as long or not as intense, but certainly the same.
"I said you may not!"
"But Starfire, please! I'm apologizing! That's what I want to do, I want to apologize!"
A golden hand flicked a stray lock of hair behind her shoulder, then returned her hands to her hips. More often than not this intense pose would intimidate or express her serious nature, yet the young man before her seemed all immune. Her gaze was not angry as she blocked the entrance to Raven's room, but sympathetic and sorry. She had not managed to talk to Raven, but Starfire knew precisely how her good friend was feeling - exactly how she felt when she would discuss her emotions with Robin.
"Friend, troubled Raven is resting, and you must understand I am guarding her from anymore stressful interactions," she whispered, green eyes locked with green, "Even I could not speak with her, and she and I share similar quarrels."
At the word quarrels, the changeling felt the guilt wash over him yet again, and his eyes cast down.
The Tamaran Princess smiled fondly, reaching forward to grip the two green hands in her own, causing her brother-friend to look up at her yet again. Perhaps it was her smile, or perhaps her warm hands holding his, but the changeling pulled his alien friend into a hug. It was reciprocated immediately and without hesitation.
To say that these two did not love each other would be a lie, for the bond they shared was similar to the love shared between siblings. Two children, families lost and residing only in memories, abusive caretakers, and then finally remorse and a renaissance found through new family connected them.
Burying his nose into the soft curly red hair, Beast Boy breathed in the comforting smell of sugary scents that he now associated to Starfire - his sister. And with light fingers did Starfire brush the tufts of jade hair, more-so enjoying the texture of a friend long lost.
"I'm sorry, Star," he whispered, knowing well that he hurt her too, "I mean - I thought I was doing something good, yea? Thought I was finally gettin' some recognition from the big-guys! I didn't want to leave-leave you guys...just, like, leave and come back soon. You guys are my best friends, I didn't mean to screw that up!"
Pulling back, a genuine smile lit the princess's face, and she pat his cheek in good manner, saying, "Cyborg and I knew it would be only a small amount of time before you understood that leaving was hard on all of us. But I can say the only thing you need be sorry for was simply not contacting us in any way while you were departed from home - we are all quite glad of your fortune and time spent with the League of Young Justice! But we are a family, friend Beast Boy, and it was indeed quite worrying when reports of villainous activity came to us without information on your whereabouts or health."
It was then, she pulled away, kicking one of her feet into the clean carpet, folding her golden arms over her chest, "We had many nights without the sweet dreams, without sleep - we worried like knorfkas over little bungorfs who were away from home. Yet you and Robin are not bungorfs, yes? Was a call too much? Or a mail over the world-wide spider-web? Many days we felt forgotten. And while Cyborg and I spoke of our feelings and cared for our thoughts, friend Raven would not speak with us over this matter. You must understand she has kept much in a bottle, like you say."
Little did the green and gold titans know that behind the door Starfire was protecting, the back of the empath they spoke of sat, holding her cloak around her and hanging on to each word she listened to. Meditation had finished a while ago, only mostly because Starfire failed to keep using a hushed voice - but the meditation was a lack of help anyways. Raven understood her own irrationality and her own anger, why she was upset and how what she said was wrong. Listening to this now she wished her heart and mind had the nerve to let her open the door - just a crack - to forgive and forget and move on.
And yet Starfire spoke of key points - the cloaked heroine had a right to be angry and upset, even if she wished to badly not to.
The back of her skull pressed into the steel door, it's chill penetrating the heat of anger and frustration. Maybe the two heard the small sound it made, because all was silent out in the hallway. Violet eyes looked at the stars beyond the open window, how the storm had passed and gave way to a clear sky. Withing her mind, the delicate thought that perhaps this entire explosion was just like the storm - now that it was over, perhaps all will be clear and she could see the stars.
The next morning was a cold, bright one, the glistening morning frost giving all it covered an ethereal appearance. The skyline was glowing gold and rested in its small moments of peace, as often mornings could be tempered with or destroyed by devilish fiends and clever criminals. Yet this morning was new, like every other morning, promising a fresher start. Of course, the only hero to view such a kind omen was whose appearance countered the light, though her dark skin felt pleasant in the early morning glow.
Raven finished her meditation as the sky lost its morning gown, dressing itself back into its promising blue. Mornings like these were special moments to her and she enjoyed knowing that below the roof she hovered above, her friends were safe and tucked away in their beds. Little did she know that they had risen hours ago and were awaiting her arrival to the downstairs common room.
It had been the spontaneous plan of Beast Boy, starting by struggling to pull himself from his bed hours before his normal rising time. It was dawn, perhaps, and after checking that Raven was nowhere to be seen the green boy did run across to the other corridor, secretly making his way to Robin's room. What he discovered surprised him, a nestling Starfire curled into the chest of the sleeping boy-wonder, and he near foiled his plan at bursting into loud-mouth teasing right then and there. But no, he had a mission, and with a cautious hand he shook Robin awake, and soon the two were headed to the kitchen and discussing the idea working its way through the changeling's mind.
Cyborg rose soon after, his programming doing so at exactly the same time each morning (unless emergency override by Tower alarms, of course), entering the kitchen to see two sleepy young men slaving away at a stove, both preparing breakfast for the entire team. Words were shared, and Cyborg started his morning with a big smile, feeling happier than he had in a long while. Because his two teammates had taken breakfast over, the cybernetic hero found time to read the paper - the headlines was about Kardiac, how the villain was thwarted by five heroes, not three.
Robin's absence had made the bed grow cold, and a droopy eyed Starfire awoke next with alarm. She flew into the kitchen, hastily tossing on a winter robe adorned with snowflakes - had she failed to hear a mission alarm? Or was she dreaming, yet again, of the nights she had long missed? But entering the common room she was greeted with warmth and cheers and smiles, and the princess found herself near to spilling tears over the sight she felt she had forgotten.
That left Raven, the girl of little happiness and fewer smiles, descending the stairs and hitting an odd aura. She was only minutes from the common room, yet all around her she felt swirls of warm emotions that hadn't been felt since Robin and Beast Boy's homecoming. Her mind discarded the idea that they were true, but only memories of auras long gone. They lingered in the halls and around the town, and many nights she would visit the kitchen just to catch a wisp of laughter that had come from much younger voices. But soon she picked up smells - eggs, bacon, pineapple perhaps? It gave her mixed emotions, and instead of rushing to the main room she stopped.
Was she ready to face the damage that had only happened last night? She may have heard that Beast Boy wanted to apologize, and though she had accepted it already, there was Doubt in her mind informing her that perhaps it was not a true apology - just an excuse to get out of an awkward situation.
She looked to her room - it was dark, warm, and safe. If she went in there, no one would really bother her. Maybe Starfire would voice her worry at not coming to breakfast, and maybe a jail-bird would tear her away from its cozy interior, but behind those walls she could spend eternity. But was sacrificing precious time with friends, family, worth the safety and lack of anxiety? If that is so, she might as well run away, hide, and never return.
No, Raven thought, drawing down her hood, and taking a breath as the door before her opened at her presence.
I have hidden long enough - it may not be in my nature to be social, but socializing is part of nature. And these are my teammates - my friends.
"Yo, mornin' Raven!"
"Raven! Glad to see you up."
"Oh, glorious sunny day, is it not, friend Raven?"
"Uhh...hi, um, Raven!"
All were able to catch the surprise on her face, and the cloaked titaness wished she had her hood up instead of down.
It was Starfire that caught the girl by her arm, tugging her to the clean dining table. She remembered it had been stored away after the boys left - it took up space and no one sat there anymore. But it was out and clean but, not only that, set with breakfast plates filled with real eggs and bacon and breakfast potatoes. Each cup was filled with coffee and there were bowls filled with fresh fruit and an even bigger one with steaming hot cereal. Robin was sitting next to the now seated Starfire, chuckling as she tried to pick out bits of egg from his hair that had found their way there when he accidentally whisked the eggs much too hard and fast. Cyborg had gotten himself a pair of scissors, cutting out the article he had read earlier - "Another one for Rob's wall, he can start it up again!" - as he went on about how whisking eggs was an art only mastered with time. And finally, a pair of green arms set a steaming mug of herbal tea by the empty setting, his face casted down. But when he glanced to make eye contact with the flabbergasted Raven, he delivered a sheepish smile her way.
"I, uh, I-I mean we," managed the titan, gesturing to Robin, "Thought it'd be nice to, y'know, make everyone breakfast! If-if that's, uh, okay...with you!"
In response, Raven only drifted forward, settling in her seat. Beast Boy must have found this acceptable, as he sat too and without another word. Grey hands found warmth around the mug that had been set for her, and she tested the aroma - it smelled strong enough, and sweetened only with a bit of honey. Not how she usually took it but certainly not horrible.
She found the gesture endearing.
"When Beast Boy and I were making this, he and I had a discussion over something that," Robin rubbed his neck, a common sign of nerves. "Well, we talked about things that have happened."
Even in his mask, Robin managed to look sincere as he gazed at Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire, lingering slightly longer on her face.
"That argument last night-" Raven winced "-and then many smaller arguments between us few, were...well the fault was derived singularly from one source, and that source completely befalls the blame t-"
With haste, Beast Boy stood, his voice cutting off Robin's fading words.
"What Robin is trying to say is that he and I kind of haven't been exactly the most wonderful, best example, definition of good friends. We left not 'cause we wanted to leave any of you, or leave Jump City, but because we were following a dream! And, well, we kinda forgot about our other dream," he continued, running a nervous hand through his hair, "Our dream. The dream about us five, taking care of ourselves and being a team."
He looked nervously down at Robin, who only smiled in an encouraging gesture to continue. The changeling chuckled nervously - all knew he wasn't the best at speeches.
"We're, uh w-we're," he muttered, sighing and taking a breath.
"We're sorry. We should have written. We should have called. We should have visited when we had the chance." Again, Beast Boy cleared his throat, finally mustering up the courage to look Raven in the eyes. She knew, of course, this entire extravaganza was a big apology for last night, but a look to Starfire and Cyborg displayed that they were touched by his words too. Beast Boy picked up his speech yet again, and though Raven wanted to shuffle and hide from the attention of such a grand apology, she kept her eyes stationed on his - he would know that she accepted and respected this.
"I never meant to hurt yo- I m-mean WE never meant to hurt y-you GUYS and that this breakfast is so we can focus not on what we should have done bu-but what we WILL do! In the future!"
When the young man finally sat down, a chuckle was voiced from Robin and Cyborg, and finally jubilant applause from the red-headed Tamaran. Raven, in turn, stood. All eyes turned to her and she noted the look of horror in her teammate's green eyes - he was afraid of her storming off, yelling, or possibly breaking something to convey her anger at him. A dark aura engulfed her mug, raising it to her shoulder, and her violet eyes looked right to his nervous expression. But then, a break in silence, when Raven cleared her throat.
"A toast," she tried to say with happiness, drawing a smile from all around, "To the future."
And she noted that the sound of glass coming together was so much nicer than it falling apart.
Ah, such a nice way to make up - happy mornings make happy heroes! Now that everyone is reconciled (for now), Beast Boy and Raven make an effort to clear up any confusion over things that may have changed while BB was gone. Also, results from the vine make for an interesting decision! What will it be, and will it lead the Titans on a journey no one is expecting?!
Stay tuned for more, and as always, thank you for reading! Love you all!