Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans.
A/N: Thanks for clicking on this story! I'll be uploading these in groups of 10, until I hit 100. Happy reading!
"Oh my god, Rae, you're red!"
"Well, you were the one who pulled me into the ocean with non-waterproof sunscreen. I wonder what happened."
She'd thought about killing herself before her 16th birthday, but only sometimes and never that seriously. It wouldn't have stopped Trigon from finding a way to destroy Earth, at least not permanently. Still, she was taken aback at Gar's horror when she'd told him the honest answer to his question. He'd sat up in bed, sheets falling away and revealing a broad green chest and muscled arms.
"How could you think we'd get over it?" he'd asked. "We're your family."
She'd sat up too, wrapping their dark sheets around her naked body. "We weren't family yet," she'd reminded him. "Not at the beginning."
Gar's lips had tightened and he looked away from her, face contorted in a pained expression.
"We would've cared," he'd insisted. "I would've cared."
She'd reached out her hand, hesitating before resting it on his clenched forearm.
"Okay," she'd said.
It was such a stupid argument – literally over Raven's reluctance to sing karaoke with the rest of the team downtown – but one thing had led to another and Beast Boy had become incensed.
In a moment of weakness, Beast Boy flung the first insult that came to mind.
"I bet you sound like a toad, anyway!" he shouted. He immediately paled, bracing himself for a flight out the window or, at the very least, a cutting comeback.
Starfire, Cyborg, and Robin looked uncertainly from Beast Boy to Raven, who stared blankly at Beast Boy from where she sat on the common room couch. When no rebuke came, Beast Boy opened an eye (he'd clenched them shut in fear and regret). Cyborg glared at him, motioning for him to get out of the room while Raven hadn't killed him. Starfire held up her hands, palms out, in a halfhearted attempt to prevent the impending fight. Robin just studied Raven.
Raven's eyes had widened imperceptibly at Beast Boy's insult, a thousand thoughts running through her brain. Some were dark insults to put Beast Boy back in his place while others had found the humor in his statement. But the most pervasive one was, quite simply, how he'd managed to pinpoint her singing voice so perfectly.
Finally deciding not to grace Beast Boy's insult with a reply, Raven returned her eyes to her book. But just before she immersed herself once more, Robin caught her eye and chuckled.
Raven had never realized how dangerous having long hair could be. She hadn't had the time to cut it, what with the formation of her newfound team and the logistics that came with it. Besides, she'd never grown her hair out before – the acolytes had claimed that the gem should not display any signs of vanity – and she'd been curious as to how it would feel. Granted, her hair wasn't even that long – it was shoulder-length, which was a far cry from Starfire's red mane – but it still got in the way of her battling.
The latest incident had been during a fight with Plasmus, who'd shot a glob of goo that Raven's wind-whipped hair had thoroughly concealed until it had hit her straight in the face. She'd gone down spluttering and hit the ground in an ungraceful heap. Plasmus had then gone on to smack Starfire out of the sky, causing quite a few injuries to her friend. Raven had healed Starfire after the battle, but she'd rather not risk any more injuries on account of her hair.
Raven held up the pair of scissors she'd swiped from the kitchen, squinting at her reflection to gauge where to make the first cut. If she wanted to return to her original, chin-length bob, she'd have to cut just below her jawline and leave some room to trim the choppy ends.
The first piece of hair came tumbling down, but before Raven could continue cutting, three sharp knocks sounded at her door. She gritted her teeth – the middle of an at-home haircut was not the ideal time to have a conversation – but gingerly set the shears down on her dresser.
"Yes?" she intoned, sliding her door open to reveal Beast Boy's grinning face.
"So you sort of ran out of the med bay after healing Star," Beast Boy said. "And I noticed what happened with your hair during the battle, so…"
Raven tensed. Even though Starfire's injuries had been her fault, no one would outright blame her, would they? It was one of Robin's unspoken rules – fight as a team, lose as a team. Beast Boy seemed to be the most outspoken of her teammates, but she sensed that even he knew not to cross that line.
Beast Boy's shock broke her reverie. "You're cutting your hair?" he asked, hand automatically coming up to touch the jagged ends that framed her face. Raven reflexively leaned away and Beast Boy dropped his hand a moment later. The crestfallen expression on his face made her heart clench.
"It gets in the way," she replied. "I shouldn't have let it grow this long in the first place."
"You don't have to cut your hair because of what happened," he ventured. Beast Boy brought his other hand out from where he'd hidden it behind his back, revealing small black bag in his grip.
"Here," he said, grabbing her arm and transferring the bag into her hand. Raven glanced down, turning it over and reaching inside. Beast Boy smiled, taking a few steps backward as she unraveled his present.
"I thought they'd come in handy, but you don't have to use them. Especially if you're cutting your hair," Beast Boy said.
Raven pulled out the gift, feeling Beast Boy's expectant gaze on her. He had given her a pack of thin, purple hair ties; he'd even managed to match the shade of purple to her natural hair color. Heat rose to her cheeks and she swallowed a lump in her throat. No one had ever given her a present before, much less a hand-picked one like this.
She didn't trust herself to meet Beast Boy's gaze – he'd been a little too good at reading her emotions lately, if this gift was any indication. Instead, she stared down at her present and whispered, "Thanks."
Needless to say, she didn't cut her hair that night.
5. Panda Bear
"Come in, come in Beast Boy!" Robin's voice filtered through the Titans' communicators.
"Green Machine here and at your ser-" Beast Boy, cut off by Robin's harsh glare, fell into a sheepish silence.
"Raven's in trouble."
That was the first, and last, time that Beast Boy would ever shift into a panda bear. Oh, China. How he wished he could forget the memory of the panda bears that had held Raven captive.
In another life, she would've been standing at the altar. She would've beamed up at Gar without worrying about the destruction that Affection might wreak on the wedding guests. She would've said her vows without hesitation, no prompting from the priest required. She would've let him kiss her in front of all those people, despite her aversion to public displays of affection. She wouldn't even have that aversion in the first place – she wouldn't have a reason to hate PDA so much.
In another life, she would've laughed at his jokes openly, willingly. She would've humored his over-the-top, cheesy date ideas. She would've pressed him on his annual day of silence, always on the same date. She would've told him that she noticed he did part-time entertainment gigs right before the holiday season and her birthday. She would've told him that she loved him.
In another life, she wouldn't be watching Gar marry Terra.
Beast Boy had been yelling at her for three minutes and seventeen seconds now and her teammates still refused to do anything about it.
All five Titans were crowded into the med bay, four of the five surrounding the bed that Raven lay in. On her left was Starfire and Cyborg, Starfire nodding every few moments to back Beast Boy up while Cyborg studied a computer with Raven's vitals. Robin stood at the foot of the bed, arms crossed as he gazed pensively at Beast Boy. Beast Boy stood on her left, gripping her hand in both of his as he lectured her.
"-know how reckless you are? This isn't the first time, Raven! Do you know what it would do to us if Cinderblock had crushed you? God, you couldn't have just called one of us-"
"For the last time, I sent the alert to your communicators-"
"-before trying to beat him on your own? What were you thinking? You nearly died! Your collarbone was cracked-"
"I can heal," she interjected.
"-and look how many bruises you have! You clearly don't have enough energy to heal yourself, so don't even use that as an excuse! You're not invincible, Raven, you're not. Why would you try to apprehend a criminal on your own?"
Beast Boy finally paused to take in a breath and shake his head. He still hadn't let go of his iron-grip on her hand; she couldn't tell if she was exerting a pressure back, he was holding onto her so hard.
Raven pulled her gaze from their hands to Beast Boy's shining eyes. He seemed to await a response, but Raven could find none.
"Apprehend. Big word, Beast Boy," she finally said.
Beast Boy spluttered and gave a choked laugh. He seemed caught between wanting to strangle her and simply continuing with his tirade. She sensed a shift in him a second before she felt his lips on hers, grip finally softening on her hand. So she had been clutching him back. Interesting.
As suddenly as Beast Boy had kissed her, he leaned back and released her hand. He blinked once, then twice, then turned on his heel and walked straight out of the med bay. A pillow exploded on the bed beside her and she felt the telltale fire in her cheeks that told her she was blushing.
Starfire's squeal of joy caught Raven's attention, and Raven reluctantly turned to find her three teammates grinning at her.
"What?" she said, busying herself with the white sheets that covered her. Cyborg simply smirked as Robin raised an eyebrow and Starfire continued to squeal. "If everyone's done lecturing me, I'm going to rest now."
With that, she covered herself with the blanket and shut her eyes. It didn't stop her from feeling her teammates' amusement as they filed out of the room.
"Raven calling Beast Boy."
Raven stared at the communicator, sighing at the black static that filled the screen. She waited a few moments before closing the device and returning to the campsite that Cyborg had prepared for himself, her, and Starfire. Starfire lifted her head upon hearing Raven's footsteps, while Cyborg continued pitching their large tent. She flew over to Raven, stopping a foot away and clasping her hands together hopefully.
"Beast Boy has still not returned your call?" Starfire asked.
"No," Raven replied. She walked over to Cyborg, lifting the heavy fabric with her powers so he could more easily secure the pole in the mud. He shot her a grim half-smile before returning to the task.
"And… and Robin?" Starfire had followed close behind her, which only amplified her worry. Raven silently chanted her mantra, taking a breath to compose herself before answering the alien.
"Nothing," Raven said. "From either of them."
"Maybe if we called Robin's communicator directly-"
"They told us not to," Raven interrupted. "The Brotherhood has it. If I call his communicator, they'll be able to intercept our messages and locate us."
"But what if-"
"We can't, Star," Cyborg said gently. He'd finally managed to shove the pole into the ground and the tent, though shabby and misshapen, seemed secure for the moment.
Raven walked over to the fire Cyborg had started, sitting down on the wet leaves despite her initial disgust. This was not the time to worry about the unnamed creatures that were, without doubt, adhering themselves to her cloak. At least she had a cloak. Starfire, to her right, had just a scrap of fabric separating her bare skin from the wet ground.
Cyborg walked over too, laying one hand on her shoulder and the other on Starfire's.
"Hey, it'll be alright," he said. "They're together. They'll be okay."
Raven swallowed the lump in her throat as Starfire began to quietly sob.
"Everything will not be alright," Starfire said. As they sat in silence, Raven couldn't help but agree.
Because how could everything possibly be alright when Beast Boy and Robin had been missing for over forty-eight hours? How could it be okay that Beast Boy's last words to her had been a desperate, "I love you, Rae," like if he didn't say it then, he'd never get the chance ever again? How could it be okay that he hadn't let her reply, the idiot (the screen had blinked out and she'd been left staring at nothing like a fool)? How could it be okay that her friends might be injured, imprisoned, or worse?
Azarath, Metrion, Zinthos, she chanted to herself. Then, dropping the pretense altogether: Please, Azar, please let them be okay.
9. And Conquer
"Beast Boy calling Raven!"
In hindsight, maybe partnering Beast Boy and Raven together during combat practice had been a bad idea.
Robin could've handled an argument or two – in fact, he'd expected many. After all, the point of this partnership had been to get both teammates to realize the value that the other brought to the Titans. He could've handled loud complaints and snide remarks – he'd gone on multiple outings with Starfire this past week to avoid being cornered by either of them. He could even have handled malfunctioning training equipment and broken glass – that seemed to be the outcome of both Beast Boy's and Raven's (but mostly Raven's) irritation.
But what he hadn't seen coming was the sight of Raven pressing Beast Boy into the wall, kissing him senseless as his hands roamed around her body and clutched at places Robin wanted to erase from his brain. And the moans – the moans.
No, Robin thought, face on fire as he walked straight back out of the gym. This, I won't handle.