AN: Chapter two! It just rocks to have the opportunity to write! Hope ya enjoy it, had a hell of a time working on it! Thanks for the input and the support, now, let's see what awaits our dearest Raven! I do not own Teen Titans, or they're...
2. Feels and Feelings
"I'm not a witch..."
Raven's jaw was hurting. In fact, it was throbbing, and her cheek felt like it was on fire, but for some reason she had yet bothered to heal it. Cleaning after her own mess was a habit already, but this was the first time in a while she had broken so many things in such a short time. The TV was burned, but not trashed, so it was still salvageable. The cups around the counter had exploded with her screaming, but the china inside the shelves had survived. Two windows had exploded, and a hard drive from the mainframe had been fried.
Picking the pieces with her powers, it took no less than a couple of minutes to clean the mess entirely, except for the ruined cake on the floor. Lilac orbs traced the silly little patterns on the frosting over and over, read the words lazily over and over, and closed in hopelessness.
Ever since Trigon, Raven found out she could express emotions more freely; her self had been cleansed of her father's evil and she had been restored to her youth, all with the help of her friends. As many in the team understood, that she could express emotion did not, under any circumstance, mean she was a professional in dealing with the very thing she had fought her entire life to suppress.
For the most part, the team respected her and gave her room to grow. Beast Boy was adamant on "helping" her express herself, as was to be expected, but he continued to somehow rub himself off in the wrong way, in a way that ended most of the time in her yelling or threatening him.
Now, more than ever, even with their induction to the Young Justice League, their green changeling tried to include her in group activities, take her to whatever parks he could find and otherwise invade her personal space and time with bickering nonsense about flying chickens or pathetic knock-knock jokes. `In a way, he succeeded.´ Raven mused, still staring at the green head painted on the cake.
Beast Boy always managed to get her a rise out of her, whatever he did. Weather it was discussing yet again with Cyborg and Conner of the advantages of a vegetarian diet, or loudly declaring each new comic book he got, or simply talking (quite loudly) with Starfire, his emotions were always somehow connected to hers. Raven's bond with Robin was mental, but the strange thing she had with Garfield was purely on an emotional level. Most of the time, she barely even managed to scratch the surface of what he was feeling, he hid everything so well behind his constant hyper-activeness.
In rare moments that were few and far between, she managed to pick up some of the self-doubt that assaulted him, sometimes she even sensed some of the sadness he harbored, some of the depression he hid so well and the anger that had helped create the beast inside him. Beast Boy's emotional barriers were stronger than her walls, as was the pain of his heart and the effort he went through to hide those dark parts of him from the team. Barely and hour before, though, she had nuked every wall and barrier he had erected, and his emotions were for once bare for her to feel completely.
How long had she been staring at the cake? Somehow Raven didn't care, she kept a ridiculous silent vigil over the spoiled gift as if at any point Beast Boy would explode from it and tell her one of his jokes.
She kept trying to remember how he looked like when he smiled or laughed, but all her brain seemed to wish to show her was the utter despair he had expressed and given her before his glance became a glare and his aura filled with red. The dumb green face kept smiling at her from the cake, but all Raven saw was his face, tears running down his cheeks, fangs showing when he snarled at her, at them all. Her fists clenched. She felt like a witch.
"I'm not a witch…"
She was not a witch. Not in the sense Megan had spat it at her. It felt horrible, to be insulted like that, but it was better than being called a demon.
"Or an animal…" whispered the young woman to herself. Witches stole children, cast spells on people just to poke fun at their pain. Witches were evil, twisted things who found pleasure in bringing others despair. Okay, maybe she was a bit of a witch to him sometimes. Most of the time. Like this afternoon. Like the day before, and the day before that.
`This really isn't helping.´ Raven sighed for what it felt like the hundredth time that day, but otherwise stayed frozen, standing even when her legs started cramping.
It had been a particularly bad day. Normally, she could meditate a few hours in peace before greeting her teammates and taking her breakfast, but last night she had stayed up reading, resulting in fewer hours of sleep. To add a bit of stress to her tired mind, she had been subjected to the very loud series of emotions that filtered through her team. It was Saturday, there was no immediate threat to the world and the team was sitting in the Common Room by the time she made her appearance.
Their emotions had been loud all day. Very loud, excruciatingly loud. Between Beast Boy's enthusiasm, Robin's smugness, Conner's brooding and Cyborg's… cyborgness they had positively given her a headache before she had even finished her tea. She had tried to read a couple of pages, but at that moment the boys had gotten bored with their video game and found a more endearing way of getting on her nerves.
Frisbee. Of course, with the amount of devices on the room, Conner's super-strength, Cyborgs booming booyahs and Robin's agility, they'd given Frisbee a new name. Naturally, the catcher was Beast Boy himself; shifting from one animal to another and bragging his technique of "catch and destroy" whatever object they deemed fit of being an improvised Frisbee. Soon enough, Megan's adoration for the kryptonian and the green shape-shifter had been added to the mix of emotions and noise, and Raven had simply risen and disappeared to the mount's top to meditate for three hours straight. Had Starfire not been gone on a mission, she would have surely lost her mind.
She had made the grave mistake of leaving her book on the table. Hence, she was left with her current predicament. Raven blinked.
The cake was still on the floor. She heard footsteps on the hallway; large, metallic footsteps.
The empath failed to move even when she felt Cyborg standing right next to her. They stood there together, watching the cake in silence for a few heartbeats, until he put a giant hand on her shoulder and nudged gently to his direction.
"Come on… let's sit down." He spoke in a soft tone, but there was steel in Cyborg's voice. With the utmost care, as if she was dealing with an injured bird, Raven enveloped the fallen cake in her black energy and placed the crumpled remains on a clean plate by the sink.
The violet-haired sorceress followed her metallic friend to the couch, where they both dropped quite unceremoniously a few centimeters away from each other. Cyborg had always been the big brother, especially to her. Too numb and smitten to sense his aura, Raven simply stared ahead, almost glaring at the burnt out television, waiting for a reprimand yet again, perhaps even an offence too for good measure.
"You called my best friend a dirty, stupid animal," said Cyborg, all emotion leaving his voice in seconds. Raven remembered she could feel somehow, and felt seriousness ooze from his aura. He glared at her. "Take it back."
Raven sighed, if only she could. If only it were that simple. "I take it back, I didn't mean it. Any of it." Her words were clipped, spoken in her usual monotone, expect this time it was not part of her mask. She felt numb to her very core. Her teammate nodded, catching the sincerity in her voice.
"You crossed the line, you know." Cyborg rubbed his large hands together, eyeing her sideways. There was no aggression towards her person anymore, at least not from him. She could even sense a bit of humor coming from him, sure, if it was him on her place she would find it funny too, in a sick, strange and pathetic way.
"Yeah, I know." She whispered, not really caring about much. It was strange, to not feel Beast Boy. Before leaving, he had felt so much in such little time. All his feelings had flooded through her; all those hidden traumas, all that sadness, all the anger, the rage, and then, nothing.
"I've never seen M'gann so worked up before. Not that I've known her all that long, but still…" `The gall of this man´, thought Raven, feeling slightly annoyed. At least annoyed felt better than the crushing hollowness she'd been feeling before. "Yeah," she said back, "Me neither…"
"You crossed the line," repeated the cybernetic hero."Called him the A word." Azar, where was he going with this?
"Yes. I did. I didn't mean it." But she did. Oh, she did at that moment. Raven knew it, Cyborg knew it, and now Beast Boy knew it too. He knew with every living brain-cell she couldn't stand him. And it had torn him apart.
"Pretty much jumped over the line." Said Cyborg, amused.
"Like drove over the line with my baby. At top speed."
"I did. And I feel like the worst human being in the world."
"You should," answered her `big brother´. How charming, thought Raven sarcastically. How sensible, how helpful. "You pretty much nuked the line."
"I understand your point." Raven stressed, feeling her annoyance quickly turn to anger. Was it so easy now, to make her angry?
"You like, vaporized the line. Sent to a hellish dimension and burned it with hellfire."
"I get it. I crossed the line."
"More like flew over the line! Girl, to you, there IS no line." He was audacious to let out a chuckle, which was enough to make Raven's teeth grind together. He was acting like him! On Purpose!
"Okay, I flew over the line." The only surviving cup in the kitchen was engulfed in black energy, but was yet to explode.
"Heh heh, pretty much made the line extinct. Crashed the line, girl!"
"ALL RIGHT!" Raven yelled, not too loudly but not quietly at all. Somewhere in the kitchen, the cup burst into a hundred pieces, making Raven growl. Back in the day, that same scream would have totaled both the kitchen and the Common Room.
To her great displeasure, she heard Cyborg chuckle good-heartedly at her outburst. Resisting the urge to blush in embarrassment and frustration, the young heroine huffed and pulled up her hood, obscuring most of her face as she sat back down, crossing both her arms and legs.
"There we go," said Cyborg merrily. How was he so upbeat, after she had pretty much done an irrevocable thing to his best friend? "Don't really know how to deal with a depressed Raven, that's either BB's or Rob's area of expertise." She finally looked up at him, catching the sunny smile he gave her. "But an angry Raven? Now that's easy!"
Just like that, it clicked in Raven's mind. She probably looked as miserable and empty as she felt, and Cyborg, being an old friend, had seen right through it. In his own way, he was taking her out of her fuzz and trying to cheer her up, while at the same time making her feel all the more guilty for her actions. He wasn't judging her, just trying to comfort her and coax her out of her depression, while being a good best friend. Raven gave him a light, minuscule smile.
"Thanks." She whispered, looking down at her crossed arms.
"Any time, girl," he whispered back, before straightening his back. "Now!" he boomed, making the empathy jump. "What the hell was that all about? Since when can you not stand BB? Since when do you not give a shit? Since when do you curse? I know you meant it when you said it, was that one of your emotion thingies taking over?"
Instead of answering any of his questions, Raven sighed for the umpteenth time and countered with one of her own. "Did I really look that depressed?" Cyborg raised his one existing eyebrow at her.
"Girl," he started "you looked at the floor for like an hour. Thought I'd have to poke ya to get a reaction!" She snorted out something between a sob and a laugh. Wouldn't Beast Boy give his comic books to see that?
"I can't feel him." She said suddenly, eyes fixated on the ground. "I… he's usually the loudest, with his emotions I mean. Before he left… I felt like I ripped out a band-aide and this gushing wound came crashing through, and then…nothing."
"You're used to it, ain't ya?" Cyborg said, eyeing her sideways. "Feeling him happy. Upbeat. Seeing BB sad or bothered feels…unnatural, y' know?" And it's your fault. That part went unsaid, but Raven could read between the lines. At least, she thought she did.
"Yeah, it doesn't feel right. I can't even feel anything from him. It's like he's shutting me out." Cyborg relaxed back on the couch, and remembered all the times he'd caught Gar with his mask off, that smile of his was better than the Bat's own mask. Beast Boy didn't hide who he was, only how he felt, and his best friend knew a little of what was behind that happy face and hyper attitude.
"What d 'you expect, Raven? He's really sensitive about people calling him stupid, and… and the A word. But both you and I know that's not what pissed him off like that." Yes, that much was obvious to her. What had destroyed him had been her first words, those ugly, disgusting lies.
"You really don't care about how he feels? Don't you know how much he l-"
"Victor." Raven cut in, her voice hard as stone; before he could say what she knew he was going to say. "Please." She added, whispering, almost pleading with him.
"Do you?" Insisted the metallic man. "Do you care about what he feels?" Something inside Raven threatened to snap again, but she took a very deep breath, biting her lip and almost drawing blood. She was not going to cry twice in one day.
"Of course I care about what he feels." She answered, frustration and defeat gnawing at her. "I care about everything he feels. I haven't felt this empty since… since Trigon and… and know his intentions are good but he always ends up, I don't know, crashing into me or touching me or telling me a stupid joke and I can feel when he gets sad every time I tell him no or yell or threaten him. But, but… Now I can't even feel him, not a thing and it's… crazy. I don't even know what it'd be like, if he never talked to me ever again. I keep pushing him away because he makes me feel these things, everything, every little thing, and it's so confusing sometimes. I know I don't have to suppress my emotions anymore, but it's a habit, and it's hard to… to…"
Raven's knuckled were bone-white, her hands were clutching the cape of her suit so hard she felt her nails digging into the soft skin of her palm. She took a deep breath, two, three, and realized she was rambling like a stupid schoolgirl. Cyborg kept looking at her with that gaze that was both fond and hard at the same time.
"It's so hard to accept him, because I feel all I've ever been good at is hurting him. I don't deserve it, any of it. Not one bit of his attention, not one of those feelings." Raven felt something ache deep in her chest. That was the disadvantage of her new freedom, the fear it brought her. Now that she could live and feel more freely, those feeling could get hurt all the more easily.
"He shouldn't keep trying, I'm not worth it. Someone like me doesn't deserve someone like him." It was Cyborg's turn to sigh; he exhaled slowly, looking at her with his fond harshness. I still love you, said his eyes, But you really messed up.
"Why'd you say all them nasty things about him, then?" Raven racked her brain for a proper answer, finding nothing that truly justified her words. She sighed, again.
"I've had a really bad day." She said at last, and let her shoulders slump. She could apologize in ten different languages, dressed as Beast Boy's favorite characters, and still felt it wouldn't be enough.
"Yeah," said Cyborg sadly, staring at her. "I guess we all have our bad days." They fell into a strange, somehow comfortable silence then, each mulling over the other's words. To Raven, the blessed silence felt like hours, but it was mostly minutes. Before long she felt her brother figure rearranging his position on the couch and heard him clear his throat.
"Look," he started. "If the grass stain feels you deserve his attention, then you do. It's not really your decision to make, and if you don't want to spend any time with him, just tell him, but be nice about it." He clasped her shoulder, giving her a reassuring smile.
"You deserve to be happy, to feel whatever it is he makes you feel. Ask Conner, or Diane or M'gann or even the Bat, any of them! If it weren't for that, then this hero life would be borin' as hell! And too depressing, too!" Raven stared at him, and felt somewhat stupid. She was feeling quite a deal of things, as of late, more than one of them regarding the green changeling. Even Cyborg knew it, hell, the whole team but her and Garfield knew it.
`Beast Boy, ´ she thought to herself. `You don't even have the right to think of him like that, you lost that right when you called him an animal.´
"Do you think I can fix it?" The sorceress blurted out before the words were properly mulled over in her brain. She even failed to notice the tone of hopelessness in her voice. Cyborg gave her another smile, a smaller one, sadder.
"Maybe, maybe not. It's up to you, really, Rae. He's a forgiving guy, but nobody can take rejection forever. Y'all 've been dancin' over the matter too long, and I think the pressure just built up and exploded today. You need to see him." Dread filled Raven's stomach at the very thought of seeing Beast Boy again, she feared seeing that hurt, that level of dejection and self-hatred, or worse, feeling it from him. Hers were already threatening to drown her. Who knew emotions could be so strong?
"What can I do?" The young empathy asked, already knowing but trying to dance around the answer. "Should I wait for him to approach me, give him some time to cool off..?" Cyborg frowned a bit, deep in thought.
"No," he said after a moment. "The more you wait, the more he's gonna simmer in what you said, and he's gonna believe it. You give him today to cool off, maybe all day tomorrow, but it can't go beyond that." He fixed her with a hard stare, not frowning but not smiling either. His aura felt almost… melancholic. "You never know what might happen tomorrow, or the day after that." He shifted his stare to the ground, this time almost glaring at it.
"You might not get another chance to take back those ugly words, with us being always in danger and all…" A small beep erupted from Cyborg' arm, distracting him from his sadness, but the strange feeling lingered between his and Raven's aura.
"Well, time to go kick some criminal butt! You stay put, Rae, nothing mayor, I'll take care of it in a beep! Booyah!" In an instant, Cyborg was up and walking towards one of the teleporting devices. As he dialed the coördinates into the machine, Raven realized the Base's alarm hadn't even gone off, so it was probably nothing that required the attention of more than one of them.
Slowly it came to her, what that sensation was. Cyborg had lost his parents, like most of them, but he had said some nasty things to his father, and never had the chance to take them back, to tell his father he loved him and was thankful, ever so thankful to be alive and be able to help others. Raven's eyes widened a bit, characterizing the feeling deep in her thoughts. It was empathy, true and sincere.
"Raven." Cyborg called out, shfting his frowning eye directly into her lilac ones. "Don't ever hurt my friend like that again." She frowned as well but for an entirely different reason, and gave him a stiff nod. It wasn't a threat, it was a warning, and she accepted it. His demeanor changed completely once again, before leaving he gave her one lasting smile. "So uncool, girl. And do something 'bout that bruise! If it gets any bigger it'll grow its own head!"
The purple-haired heroine rolled her eyes as Victor disappeared through the light, leaving her once again alone with all the voices and sensations inside her head and chest. Raven gave a tired sigh and stood resolutely from her seat. She wasn't really hungry, in fact, her stomach felt like a battleground in the middle of a war, but he had made that cake for her. Beast Boy had baked it, probably made the frosting from scratch, using all environmentally friendly products and most likely going against his own principles and using real eggs and maybe whole milk.
`He baked a cake, made the frosting, decorated the cake, got me a copy of my book and came back in less than 3 hours.' Raven mused lightly, cutting a slice through one of the remaining `salvageable´ parts of the sweet treat.
She grabbed a spoon from the dishwasher and sat on the counter, cake in her hand. He really was something else. Perhaps that was why she felt she didn't deserve his attention or care, perhaps that was why she felt like she needed to make things right, however necessary. Perhaps that what why she felt, period.
"Hmm…" Raven mused, chewing slowly, savoring every bite. "It's good," she said to no one in particular.
"It's really good…"
AN: There you go, a little longer, but I just felt I needed to cover this before continuing.
Coming soon in Chap. 3: Beast Boy shares some bro time! Tim remembers some good and bad things, Conner broods! Beast Boy faces his sister, and Miss Martian clashes with Raven! What the hell was that slap all about, anyway?! Stay tuned! RXR!