Chapter 1. Things change – Part 2
It'd been six months. Six months since the last fight, six months since the Titans got together to save each other, since their last fight with the brotherhood. Six months of lazy, peaceful days, of friends sitting by the television every night to eat popcorn and talk about the good old days. Six months since they returned to Jump city, since they returned to their home. It was a strange feeling, to go back to a place you loved so much and find it completely changed. The tower felt empty at first, but it slowly regained its usual cheerful aura. It was almost as if the building, the furniture, the rooms, had missed the team as much as the team had missed them. But now they were at peace. For now.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zynthos." Chanted Raven, her eyes closed. She'd been meditating, as always. As much as she liked the peace, it was still hard to maintain control without letting some steam out. It'd been far too long since their last fight, since the last villain had gotten out. And how many had gotten out. It'd been a war. There was no other word to describe that massacre. But they'd won and that was all that mattered.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zynthos." She chanted again, before taking a deep breath, still in lotus position. How long had it been since she started meditating? Something was still bothering her, something that was not finished. It was as if the entire thing had been left open, like an unfinished circle craving to be closed. But what was it? There was something in the air, in the tower, around her and she just couldn't rest until she found it.
"Azarath, Metrion-" A loud bang on her door broke her trance and she opened her eyes, glaring at the door. "What?" She asked between gritted teeth, unable to hide her anger. There was no answer though, so the empath just raised an eyebrow. Had she imagined it? At least she'd managed to tell how long she'd been meditating and, from the view of her window, she'd been here a long time. The sun was setting, making her entire room glow yellow and red. She glanced at the window, the sun making odd shapes over the sea. Truly a sight proper of a painting. But not a sight proper for a meditating room. Raven's eyes glowed dark, and the curtains closed as they were covered in dark energy. Much better.
The girl took another deep breath before closing her eyes again. She hummed for a moment, her energy releasing slowly, her hair moving around her face as if wind had entered the room.
"Azarath, Metrion, Zi-" Another loud bang on the door. She almost fumed as she opened her eyes again. Raven's eyes glowed dark and the door opened fully. "WHAT?" She asked once again, raising her voice, but then calmed down, confused, as she saw no one there.
Raven stood slowly, peeking at the darkness of the hallway. What was happening? She walked to stand on the door, barely lighted by the few candles inside her bedroom. Her shadow danced against the wall, but other than that she saw no movement. What was happening?
After a moment, she turned on her heels, fully intending to get inside her bedroom and go back to meditating, when her feet hit something. Blinking down at it, the girl leaned down to pick up what she'd hit. She frowned as she straightened her back, a card in her hand, an arrow painted on top. The sight was familiar, but she couldn't place where she'd seen it before.
It wasn't until she raised her eyes that she noticed the rest of the cards, all placed neatly on the floor, all with arrows pointing a direction. She was hit with a sense of déjà vu, leaving her confused, but she still followed the cards, smiling slightly. Whatever it was, it was a happy memory.
"Alright." She said as she walked toward the living room, sensing her friends there, "What is it?" When the door opened, her eyes widened in surprise as confetti fell on her head. The entire place was full of balloons and presents.
"Surprise!" Screamed her teammates in unison, but her expression was left unchanged. "Don't tell me it's been a year already?" She asked, her voice bitter at the memories, but she was quickly pulled by Starfire.
"Oh, this is the most joyous day!" She exclaimed, hugging the empath, but Raven tried to push her away. "Don't tell me you forgot your own birthday?" Added Robin, walking towards them with crossed arms and an annoying smirk on his face.
"We've been busy." Was her reply, but she couldn't hide the fact that she was touched by the sentiment. There wouldn't be a birthday left uncelebrated from then on, would it? As grateful as she was, she still had a problem dealing with parties.
"You didn't think we'll forget, did ya?" Said Cyborg with a huge grin, waving a plate with a cake far too big and far too tall for it to still be standing. "And I made you something special!" He placed down the cake, every layer in different colour and with different coloured frosting, to pay attention to another plate, once that was covered.
"Ta-da!" He said dramatically as he opened the plate. Raven raised an eyebrow at the sight. "Waffles." She said, her voice stoic, "How did you know?" Cyborg, already used to her humour, grinned at her in answer and shrugged. "Come on, Rave. We know it's your favourite."
Starfire hugged her once more and this time Raven let out a tiny "Ugh!" As she was squeezed far too strongly. "And I have ready the traditional meat crown to celebrate the anniversary of your day of birth!" She said, before flying toward the kitchen to grab the crown from the fridge.
Robin grinned at Raven, taking a step next to her. "We also have herbal tea." He added, waving a gloved hand to the table. She turned to see a still steaming teapot. Raven smiled down at the neatly placed cups, before frowning as she noticed there were only four. Now that she thought about it, one of the titans was missing.
She tried not to point it out, but Robin knew her far too well for her taste. "Beast boy should be here any minute now." He said with an easy, knowing smile. Raven just looked at him, but said nothing. Cyborg had heard him though, so he was the one to speak up. "He's been gone all day." He said as he served Raven a plate of freshly made waffles. "He's been gone most days." Noticed Robin, but Raven said nothing on the matter; taking the plate Cyborg was offering her.
"Friend Beast boy has been arriving after the hours, hasn't he?" Commented Starfire, as she flew closer to them, a crown made out of meat on the plate she was carrying.
Raven was quiet but she looked down sadly at the plate of waffles, wondering for a moment if they were vegan... "No worries!" Said Robin lightly as he noticed her expression, "We planned the night for you, so Cyborg?" The robot seemed happy to be called and he moved toward the television.
"Ladies and gentleman!" He started, grinning and bowing dramatically, "May I present to you: Raven's night!" He pulled out some CDs from a compartment in his chest. "We got this today! The kid at the movie store said you'll like them." He showed the cases to Raven as she was moving to sit on the couch, her plate of waffles on her lap.
"Art movies?" She asked as she noticed the covers. She raised an eyebrow at her friend, "Are you sure you're up for it?" Cyborg shrugged while grinning as Starfire and Robin joined Raven on the couch with their own servings. "Hey, it's just a lot of foreign languages and dark backgrounds. It'll be like watching you meditate." He was teasing her, but Raven just smiled in response, accepting his excuse.
"Happy seventeen birthday, Raven." Said Robin as the movie started and she turned to return the smile. "Thank you." And the titans settled to watch the movie. Well, three titans were watching the movie, one was missing, and the last one was wondering where he'd gone.
Four hours later, and a movie was still rolling. Starfire, Robin and Cyborg were already asleep on the couch. Apparently the movie wasn't as trilling to them as it was to Raven, as she managed to understand the meaning behind the many symbols the movie shown, but they didn't. Cyborg had spend the entire first movie complaining at the black and white style, arguing that it's taken a lot to invent T.V. in color to be watching old stuff. Starfire seemed to enjoy the romance some of the movies had, but was terribly angry when she found out there was no happy ending in these movies. Robin just seemed bored with the lack of action. But they'd stayed and they'd endured, and Raven appreciated the fact that they took time to do something they disliked for her sake.
Raven yawned, covering her mouth and leaning back on the couch, before blinking sleepily at the screen. She barely caught on the two kissing on the screen, before the woman pulled out a gun. She snorted at the reaction, rolling her eyes at the unnecessary drama created. She was so focused on the screen, she barely heard the door opening. But she had, and she knew full well who it was.
"Woah, man!" Said Beast boy, walking inside, his back lightened by the elevation, but he was quickly covered in shadows again, the only thing lightening the room being the T.V. screen. "There was a party?" He asked to no one in particular, before noticing the four in front of the screen, a pair of emotionless blue eyes staring at him.
"Um." He said, scratching the back of his head, "Did I miss something?" He asked, and Raven's eyes narrowed. "No." She answered, before standing up. She almost stepped on an empty bowl that a couple of hours ago had been full of popcorn.
"You're late." She noticed, but her voice was devoid of emotion. It wasn't an accusation, merely a statement. "Yeah." He said, laughing awkwardly and her eyes narrowed again. She walked toward him, staring. He was hiding something; she could feel his nervousness and something else. Sadness? No… something deeper.
"Um..." He started, before gulping, looking everywhere else but her. "I didn't mean to get here this late. I was just… busy." He laughed awkwardly before his eyes set on something. He narrowed his eyes, staring up at the sign that had been placed over the kitchen counter, trying to read the message in the dim light. "Happy Birthday… Raven!" He said out loud as he deciphered the message, before his eyes widened. "Oh right!" He could almost hit himself.
Beast boy turned to smile at Raven, and she was suddenly hit with his guilt. "Happy Birthday, Rae!" He said awkwardly, "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to miss your party. I didn't realise how much time have passed and I-" "Save it." She interrupted, walking past him toward the hallway, intending to go to her room. "But I didn't mean-" "My birthday was yesterday." She said over her shoulder, before walking away, leaving him staring after her.
"Man! What's her problem?" He asked to no one in particular once she disappeared, but jumped as someone answered. "Where were you?" Asked Robin, standing from the couch. "Dude!" Yelped Garfield, not expecting anyone to be there, "How long have you been there?" Robin's eyes narrowed in the dark as he walked toward the changeling.
"I asked you a question." Said the team leader, his tone showing how unhappy he was with Beast boy. The green boy gulped, before returning the glare he was being given. "I didn't realise I had a curfew." He said, half joking, but Robin wasn't amused. "You're not answering." He noted, crossing his arms as he stood right in front of Beast boy.
"Dude." Said Beast boy, walking past him, bumping Robin's shoulder with his. "Stop acting like my father." Robin turned, glaring at him, "I am your team leader. You do remember you're part of a team, don't you?" Garfield stopped letting out a frustrated sigh, "I know, dad." He said, rolling his eyes, "Relax, dude! I missed a party! Big deal. I'm sure Raven doesn't even care." Robin's glare didn't go away. "You don't know what she's feeling." He said and Beast boy returned the glare this time, "And you do? Come on! She doesn't care. It's just some silly party." Robin's eyes narrowed again and Beast boy sighed in defeat. "Look, if it makes you feel better, I'll go apologize tomorrow morning." He tried sending the wonder boy a smile, but it wasn't returned. "Come on, I'm beat. And Raven's probably sleeping right now." He turned to walk to his room, waving a hand back, "Night, dude." And he was gone, leaving Robin glaring behind him.
The next morning, Raven was hiding inside her room. She was trying to concentrate, trying to forget the pang of sadness and disappointment she'd felt last night. It wasn't at all about the birthday, not really. There was something else, something foreign, and something that didn't belong to her. Where had Beast boy been off to that was so important and left him so… emotionally drained?
"Azarath, Metrion, Zin-" A knock on her door almost made her drop from her floating lotus position, and she sighed, blowing a strand of hair away from her face in frustration. "I'm a little busy." She said toward the door, her voice devoid of emotion, but the voice on the other side broke her barriers.
"Uh, sorry, Rae." Said Beast boy from the other side, staring at the big metal door, holding something behind his back, unsure of what to do. "Um… I just wanted to apologize for missing your party yesterday. I was- You know I never would have missed it unless it was- unless it was something important." He laughed awkwardly, knowing full well he was lying, but then the door opened and there stood his teammate, looking as emotionless as always.
"Um, hi." He said with an awkward smile, "Look. I'm really sorry for forgetting your birthday." He grinned next, "But I'll make it up to you, I promise!" He wiggled his eyebrows, before showing her what he'd been hiding. "Ta-da!" He announced as he showed her a poorly packed present. Raven raised an eyebrow at the package and Beast boy couldn't help but comparing the two… They were just so different. She had opened it widely, had smiled, she'd been so happy.
"This is for me?" Asked Raven in her usual monotone, and Garfield grinned as he nodded, "Yup. Made it myself. Stood up all night too." Raven's eyes widened and he saw a glimpse of emotion that made him slightly nervous. "Well, come on. Open it." Raven blinked down at the package in his hands, before taking it. She seemed unsure about what to do, so Beast boy pushed her slightly, "Come on, Rae. I promise it's not a joke." Though that would've been fun.
Raven smiled gently, surprising him, before she tore the paper. She blinked down at the present, losing her smile. It was a box, just like Terra's, except this one was in a more intricate shape. Apparently, he'd tried to shape it into a Raven, but it looked more like a random bird. She opened it, noticing the mirror.
"I figured hearts weren't really your thing." He said, feeling awkward. They stood there for what felt like forever, and Beast boy really was hoping she would say something. "Um… I thought you probably needed one too, you know? You girls have all kinds of random stuff and, well, you like mirrors so… um… Do you- do you like it?" Why was she making this so awkward? She turned her gaze at him, still stoic, and he tried smiling. Why wasn't she normal? Why couldn't she just smile and hug him and thank him or something? Why did she have to be so, so Raven like!
"It's the same thing you gave Terra." She noticed, instead of following the short scenario he'd created in his head. Beast boy shook his head, "Well, this is a raven." He said, unsure if she was mad over it or not, "See? Hers was a-" "You gave the same thing to Terra." She insisted, and he noticed some emotion in her voice. She was… angry? "Uh, yeah. I know how to make them and, well, I thought you would like it."
Raven nodded, before looking down at the box again. It was pretty, she couldn't deny that. "Thank you." She said, finally, and he grinned, despite her tone. "Yeah, you're welcome. Happy birthday."
There was awkward silence again, and he laughed to fill it. He didn't like silence. But the noise had made Raven look up at him. "Well, I better leave you to it." He said, before taking a step back, and then turning, hurrying to get out of her scrutinizing gaze.
"Beast boy." She called and he stopped, turning to her over his shoulder. She was just standing there though, not saying anything, so he had to ask, "What?" Those eyes were far too cold for someone human, but then again, Raven wasn't exactly human, was she? He almost gulped but he was sure she would notice that. "Whatever it was that made you miss the party," She was saying and she sounded as awkward as he was feeling, "I'm sure it was important."
Garfield stood there in shock, before nodding at her and smiling. "Yeah." He said, relieved that she wasn't angry, "Don't worry. Won't happen again." With that he left, leaving her to stare at the space he'd been occupying before.
Just their luck. The Hive Five was back. Even when missing one member, they still managed to hold their stance against the Titans.
Beast boy turned into a gorilla, taking Mammoth straight. They grabbed each others hands, pushing, both growling, until they both jumped away from a blast. Just then, Starfire flew by, her eyes and hands glowing green, as she tried to get Kyd Wikkyd. The boy just disappeared into his cloak, making the alien girl fly away. Robin jumped in the way, staff out, as he fought many Billy Numerous copies as they laughed annoyingly, trying to get the boy wonder. A blue blast from Cyborg and they all gathered away, just as Robin jumped away. The half robot ran toward them, intending to help Robin, but then a metal tentacle grabbed him. Gizmo laughed as he shook Cyborg, before a black energy surrounded him, and the gadget around him exploded, dropping Cyborg onto the floor once again. Raven's eyes were still black, when a laser hit her. Seemore was grinning triumphal, changing his eye back to normal, but then he was hit by a green ox.
And so the circle started again. The Titans truly were a team, but the Hive Five were exactly five, so it was hard to keep the others safe when there was always someone else to hit them.
Raven groaned, holding her head as Beast boy tried to pull her up. "Come on!" He hurried her and she managed to float again. "Azarath, Metrion, Zynthos!" She chanted, managing to grab a couple of cars with dark energy and throw them at Mammoth, who was trying to grab Robin while he fought Billy. It was truly a free for all.
"Stand back!" Gizmo was screaming at his team, waving a tiny arm at them. "Quickly! To the school!" And Mammoth and Seemore started to run away, as Billy and Kyd Wikkyd held the others back.
"No!" Screamed out Beast boy, his tone far too desperate to be normal. "Beast boy!" Screamed Robin after him as he saw a green panther jump over them and into the school, running desperately.
"Follow him!" Ordered Robin, turning to Raven and she nodded, before disappearing into a black shadow.
Inside, everything was far too quiet. Raven floated through the hallway, only the hum of class being given filling her ears. She looked around, looking for any sign of Beast boy, but found nothing. And then laughter. "Gizmo." She muttered under her breath, before floating her way around the corner. Her eyes widened at the sight.
Gizmo had Beast boy trapped by some sort of leash, the green panther trying desperately to get it loose. "X is not the only one with a few tricks!" Said the small genius and Raven recognized the red material. "Beast boy!" She managed to yell out, before her ankles were suddenly grabbed. Billy was laughing, hanging from her, and pulling her down. When his weight wasn't enough, another Billy climbed up, and then another, until the weight was far too much for her to handle.
"Let me GO!" She yelled out, a wave of black surrounding her, pushing away everyone holding her. Many Billys fell around her, before she dodged Seemore's laser again. "Fool me once…" She said, her eyes black, and she pushed him away with a wave of black energy.
Her red hateful eyes turned to Gizmo, who merely managed an "Uh oh." Before yelling out as he was sent flying backwards with a wave of her hand. Raven managed to relax enough to fly toward Beast boy.
"It's okay!" She said as he was pulling desperately at the leash she was holding, "Hold still. I got it." She said, before the leash turned back. "Azarath, Metrion, Zynthos!" She chanted, and the leash exploded, sending red everywhere. But Beast boy wasn't done. He transformed almost immediately into a cat, jumping away from her and taking off.
"Wait!" She called, before dashing behind him. What had him so nervous? Why was he so- She stopped as, around the corner, she saw Beast boy looking through the glass of the door.
She floated nearby, but he didn't seem to notice. Raven raised an eyebrow, before noticing the sign on the door. Biology. What had him so-?
The bell rang and he turned quickly, only now noticing her. "We have to get out of here!" He yelled out, grabbing her wrist and pulling her away and around the corner. "What are you-?!" She started but he shushed her, holding a finger against his lips. Then he moved to peek over the corner. Raven couldn't help her curiosity, so she leaned around him to look what had him so nervous.
Students started to come out and until one in particular made Raven gasp in surprise. "Terra!"