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Wisps of Smoke

Chapter Text

The smell jarred her from her practice and she scowled. Beast Boy’s latest recreation had managed to tiptoe its way through the hallway and into her room.

Annoyance bubbled in her chest and she uncrossed her legs, allowing her feet to hit the carpet. It wasn’t that she particularly cared about what Garfield did in his free time. It was only an issue when the aftermath of his previously mentioned hobby began to stick to her walls.

Right. The smell was what bothered her. Nothing else.

She pushed down an image from last week, his green form shifting and stumbling with bleary eyes. He had turned into a koi fish. Apparently, he had meant to morph into a lion. A few tries later, he settled on a cheetah.

Her muted footsteps bounced around the hallway until she faced the solid grey of his door. It was bare except for a small plastic sleeve where Garfield had slipped a piece of paper with his codename.

Gar Beast Boy

She spared it a glance before rapping her knuckle once on the metal doorframe, waiting a moment before pressing her hand to the scanner—he never answered anymore—It slid open with an audible whirr.

And there he was, red eyes and pointed ears.

“Hey Rae.” He was slumped against the wall, feet straight out in front of him. The way his body was turned towards the door, it was almost like he was expecting her. Raven scowled, and it might have intimidated him before. Now, he just gave her a lazy little wave.

“It smells.” She frowned as she stalked over, one foot in front of the other.

“I opened a window.” He gestured towards the curtains flapping in the breeze.

“Doesn’t matter.” She squatted in front of him. To his credit, he met her gaze, green eyes rimmed with pink. “It still smells. Find somewhere else to do it.”

“Robin won’t let me do it on the roof. He says it would give us a bad image.” Garfield hummed.

She forced down a sneer. “Then quit.” She repeated, scrunching up her nose before flicking his arm. “Just because you smoke doesn’t mean I have to inhale the fumes.” Beast boy’s gaze flicked to the floor and she tried not to deflate. She wasn’t wrong. She wouldn’t back down.

“Mkay.” He stretched and allowed his eyes to slip shut. “You got it, Rae.”

A harsh exhale and she shifted to sit in front of him. It looked like this was going to take a while. “I mean it this time, Garfield.”

“When did you start calling me that?” He murmured and she frowned in response,
clearing her throat. What was with him? If this was a couple months ago, they would have had a little argument and just continued on their way. Easy. Now there was…this.

“I’m serious, no more. Got it, Beast Boy?” She emphasized his codename, hissing the syllables.

“I said I got it.” He gave her a thumbs up. She wanted to scream.

“You said that last time.” The words practically shot themselves in his direction.

“Did I?” The darts bounced off him, shattering defenselessly onto the tile below.

“Are we having an issue here?” She planted herself closer to him, nails curling into the carpet. Her gaze softened when he rubbed at his arm. “Are…” She paused, pressing her lips together, “Are you having an issue?”

“An issue?” A crease appeared between his eyebrows, fang jutting out from his lower lip, “Me? Come on, Rae,” He shot her a cocky grin. “I’m just having a good time.”

“You’re sure having a lot of those lately.” The words came out as her usual sarcastic quip, but they sounded wrong in the room. It jarred the air between them and Garfield’s ears flattened.

“Lay off, okay? I said I would stop doing it here. Besides, it’s not hurting anybody.” His nose twitched and he gave it a swift rub. “I get it.” He shifted.

“I don’t think that you do get it, because if you did, you would stop bullshitting me!”

The sound of lightbulbs shattering made them both freeze.

Embarrassment burned her throat and she glanced at Garfield for his reaction, only to pause when she noticed something strange. “Look at me.”

“Huh?” His nose wrinkled. He never took Raven to call someone out like that. This wasn’t exactly the norm for them, though, so he opted to meet her gaze.

“Your pupils changed.” Her face was suddenly much, much closer and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

“So?” Garfield squinted, eyebrow quirking up. Raven felt a rush go through her stomach. The red eyes, the cough, the sluggishness.

Her hand lunged out to grab his wrist and he jumped. It burned hot against her own skin. “So, You’re not high.” Her grip tightened and he yanked his arm back, pressing it against his chest. “You’re sick.”

She would have been smug if not for the burning question: Why? He had no qualms about people knowing he was sick before. Every year the occasional cold hit him, and he sneezed, turned from a guinea pig into a velociraptor and that was that. Why was he going through this much effort to cover it up?

He cleared his throat. “Alright Alright, you caught me.” He hoisted himself up to stand before putting his hands up in mock surrender, “I’ve got the sniffles, big whoop. It’s not lik-“ His face contorted and he cleared his throat again, pressing a fist to his mouth. “Not-like-hu-“ He doubled over, wheezing out painful-sounding coughs, and Raven’s eyes grew wide.

“You’re really sick.” It gradually came together, like watching and explosion in reverse. Her hand slipped out of her robe and hesitated, just for a moment, before placing itself on his middle back. This was no case of “the sniffles”, as he had so delicately put it.

He slumped, defeated, as if the coughing fit had taken all the energy he had to keep up the lie. “…Yeah.” He grasped the wall and she could see a slight shake of his hands. The sight of it turned her stomach to lead, she glanced away. Instead, allowing her eyes to focus on a poster of David Bowie, smiling down at them.

“What’s wrong with you?” Her voice sounded so small compared to just moments ago.

“Besides the obvious?”

“Garfield.”

He pressed his lips together before heaving a sigh, “My DNAs falling apart.”

 


The rest of the lights blew out.

Chapter Text

He kicked at a loose water bottle on the ground, refusing to meet her gaze. “It has been for a while. I mean, I didn’t really notice it at first, cause, you know…not the first thing to come to mind—” 

“You didn’t tell me.” The words come out as a statement more than anything else and Garfield has no idea what to do with that. 

He decides to try his best, “Um. No.”

“Who did you tell?” The shaking in his hands are back and she can see it all so clearly now. It was as if every detail about him was in hyper focus, and it was all falling apart.

 “Well, Robin, you know cause of how it’s going to affect the team and stuff.” He shrugged. “And I can still go out and fight.” He said, jokingly taking a boxer’s stance. “The symptoms aren’t as bad as you think. It’s like my body is a little confused, you know? Sometimes it’s like ‘oh yeah! You’re a bear now! You’ve always been a bear! Now and always, baby!’ and other times it’s like ‘remember that disease you had when you were ten? Here it is!’, you know?”

 No. Raven did not know. Raven had no idea what the fresh hell Garfield was spewing. She could only focus on one thing: “Robin knew?” Garfield stepped back, wringing his hands together. Robin knew that Garfield was ill, deathly ill, and still stuck him out on the battlefield. It didn’t sound like Robin. But then again, she wasn’t sure of anything regarding her teammates right now. Her nails dug into her palm.

“Uh. Yeah. I mean keeping it from you guys was my thing. It was a big argument, being able to go out on missions and stuff.”

That made more sense. She could clearly imagine Robin’s stern orders to rest, Garfield eventually wearing him down (He had a knack for that).  She shook herself from her thoughts, “Good. He’s right. You shouldn’t be out there with us.”

He snorted, “You sound just like him. Listen, this isn’t exactly something bed rest and a cup of tea can fix.”

God, she wished it could. She tilted her head up, forcing herself to take in his entire appearance. His hair, usually slicked back, was messy and wild. His breathing hitched every so often. His posture slumped. Well, come to think of it, didn’t he always slump? Or was it more of a crouch?

“Raven?” His soft, low voice jarred her from her thoughts. If he was serious enough, the husky rasp faded into a low rumble. Despite her occasional teasing to offer him a throat lozenge, right now, she found herself missing it.

She took his hand into her own and he leaned back in surprise, “Uh, Raven?” He repeated, face red. She didn’t respond, only held both of their hands up to see, his slightly trembled against hers. 

Her voice held nothing, “Does this look like you should be on missions, Garfield?”

He thought for a moment before gently unslipping his hand from hers, allowing it to fall to his side.

“I’m…” He paused before straightening his back, the vertebrae clicked and popped, “I’m going to make lunch.” He finished, pushing past her. Her mind whirred with things to say. However, it would seem there was no air left in the room to breathe, so she followed.

 She took a seat by the counter and watched him pull contents from the fridge. It always surprised her—Garfield was usually the one to go grocery shopping. She had no idea when it started, probably shortly after the team was assembled. None of them had any idea what kind of tofu or ingredients a vegetarian needed, so Garfield just took over. 

He unrolled a few sheets of paper towels and wrapped a block of tofu in them. If he was being completely honest, he hadn’t expected Raven to follow him. Not that he really minded, it was nice to have company. Even if that company was staring holes into your back. Yikes. Maybe ending the argument with “let’s have lunch” wasn’t his brightest plan. The muscles in his neck relaxed when he glanced over and saw she had opted to watch the onions in the pan rather than him.

 When his stir-fry had cooked, he scooped it into two small bowls. Raven left hers untouched. They sat in silence, a soft orange glow bathing the kitchen. It kissed the top of her head and set her eyes on fire. He fidgeted.

“So, uh. You want some tea? Or…something.” He drummed his fingers on the table. It wasn’t like she couldn’t make her own tea, but the tension was killing him.         

“I’m fine,” she deadpanned. “How was your day?” Day of lying, pretending to be stoned, shattering the lights in your room with your demonic friend. The usual for him, apparently.       

 “It was good. I, uh, there was a sale on black beans.” What. “I’m thinking of checking out that new movie theater today, maybe you wanna come?” WHAT. Oh my god, could he just die faster? Would it be too much to ask to keel over now?

“What, like a date?” She frowned.

 “Ha!” He yelped, then was immediately silent. His face dropped as their eyes locked and Garfield couldn’t help but notice the fact that Raven was definitely very much not smiling. “…sure.” W.H.A.T? A million little red alarms went off in his head.

 “Great.” The evening had taken several turns, it would seem. She wondered what Garfield’s angle was. Nonetheless, it would be good to see him take it easy.

“Great!” He squeaked back. “Get your coat.”

“It’s 85 degrees outside.”  

“Don’t get your coat. Get your wallet—No, don’t get that either. Just— get outside.” Strong finish, BB. His nostrils flared as he pushed open the doors, extending his arm to direct her.

 She strode outside, cloak flowing behind her. 

Watching him flustered and goofy almost made her forget that his cells were dying.

 

Chapter Text

The sun dipped behind the buildings and Raven blinked to adjust her eyes. Beside her, Garfield looked as if he had swallowed a porcupine.

“So…which movie are we seeing?” She asked.

“If I’m being totally honest, I’m not sure. Hopefully something good is playing.” He shrugged, relieved at the break in silence.

“…And if there isn’t?”

“Then we watch a bad movie? Besides, there’s got to be something. I heard they have like, twenty theaters.”

She quirked an eyebrow, “Twenty, huh?”

“Okay, maybe more like five.” He sheepishly grinned at her, fangs jutting out. She rolled her eyes but he swore he saw a flash of a smile.

Garfield visibly relaxed as the conversation went on. That is, until, it came time to pick the movie.
“We’re not seeing that.”

Garfield groaned, rubbing at his face. “It’s the only thing playing right now!”

“Well this wouldn’t have happened if you had planned before we left.”

“It was a spur of the moment thing!” He threw his hands up in exasperation. The movie theater employee, clad in bow-tie and all, took a step back. Every time he glanced over, her polite smile grew tighter. If she kept it up, her face might split and turn into a certain Gotham villain.

Honestly, Garfield couldn’t blame her, though. Raven and him looked like danger waiting to happen, with Raven’s eye twitching in annoyance and a black film cracking around her hands. And he, well…

He was green.

The culprit for their little hissy fit was a horror flick starring Michael Douglas. And fine, it didn’t look incredible but what was Raven expecting? It wasn’t like he had control over what Main Street Cinemas put out that day.

The growing black energy disagreed. He reconsidered, was she really that upset?

“Alright, fine.” He deflated, pushing open the door for her. “Let’s go rent Redbox or something.”

“Wait. I—” She grabbed his arm, suddenly very interested in the popcorn stuck in the carpet. “It’s not that I don’t want to see a movie. It’s just…don’t you remember what happened last time?”

Memories of four eyed monsters lurking in the hallway came to mind. He took a moment to look her up and down. The more Garfield thought about it, the more he realized something was off about the way the black energy sparked and flew. It wasn’t a slow angry buildup, more like an erratic, nervous spark. So that was it: she was scared.

He glanced at the glowing board of playing times and hummed before stepping back inside the theater, “How long do we have left of The Old Man and The Gun?”

Starting at the second half of a movie wasn’t so bad. The plot wasn’t hard to grasp either. It was about an old guy and, you guessed it, a gun. The attendant didn’t even make them pay, since it was only half a movie.

The only thing was, Raven couldn’t seem to focus. She kept replaying Garfield slipping into a coughing fit, his form bent over and shaking. She clenched her fists as her stomach did summersaults.

He seemed to notice because he gently placed a reassuring hand on hers. She looked at it from the corner of her eye. He always had big hands for his size, it was only until last year that he seemed to be growing into them. Not to say that he wasn’t still lanky. No, Raven was pretty sure Garfield Logan would forever remain a beanpole. However, had a couple inches on her. It was concerning, to say the least.

Number one fear: Garfield getting tall enough to rest his arm on her head.

She shuddered and forced her grip to loosen. She shook herself from her thoughts in time to notice something very, very strange.

He had left his hand there.

On hers.

Shockingly, she did something even stranger: She didn’t pull away.

They sat like that for a good chunk of the movie. Garfield, with his warm hand resting on hers. Raven, not moving and wondering if he could notice how clammy she was through his gloves.

Then, right before the last scene, he twitched. It was subtle, just a flick of the ear. But it was enough for her to glance over and see his face pinched in a tight grimace.

“I’ll be right back.” He stood up suddenly, and she felt annoyance radiate from the people behind him. She frowned but nodded, watching as he shuffled past a row of people. She frowned, finding herself watching his retreating form more than movie.

Outside, the back alley doors made a loud, banging sound that bounced around in Garfield’s head. Which, by the way, felt like it might crack open at any moment.

He stumbled and slammed his back against a nearby brick wall, sweat already gathering on his neck. He grabbed his head and squeezed his eyes shut before letting out a choked groan at his bones shifting. He felt himself stretch, morphing. It happened so fast, he could only guess what the hell his body was going for. A cat, a…fish? A bird.

When the pain had shrank to a dull thud, he allowed his eyes to slowly blink open. The brick wall had behind him had grown about ten times in size. A long, thin tail curled around from behind him.

Great. A mouse. What awful timing.

Even better, he wasn’t alone. The doors to the alleyway swung open, revealing a young girl with a blue, flowing robe. His heart hammered against his chest and he resisted the urge to run and hide. He could just tell her he would meet her at home, that he left the oven on or something.

In fact, he would have if she wasn’t looking directly at him.

She knelt down and held out a slender, pale hand. Ears flattening in hot embarrassment, he slowly walked onto it. Worst. First Date. Ever.

“I guess there’s always Redbox.” She quipped waving her hand and conjuring a swirling, black oval.

He tried not to notice how chilly her hands were.

Chapter Text

Garfield immediately recognized the overpowering scent of lavender.

Raven’s room.

Candles illuminated the space with a soft glow and he tried not to look the statues in the eye. If he was 6 feet taller (coughfiveeleveninchescough) He would have said something clever about taking him back to her place. Or, maybe he wouldn’t. At least being a mouse gave him some time for self-reflection.

Raven gently set him down on her bed and god he was glad he couldn’t talk. Not only because of his huge mouth but because, if he was being honest, he was freaking out. Her scent was all over this thing and it was…Raven. Brimstone and turmeric all mixed with loads and loads of lavender.

He glanced up just in time to see Raven dust off a white book.

Holy shit.

“Hold still.” She commanded.

He screamed (squeaked) and darted for the edge of her bed, sheets bunching up where his feet kicked.

“Garfield!” She growled, scrambling after him. “Listen—stop that! Garfield, Listen!”

Garfield did not listen. Instead, he slid down her bedsheets, onto the floor, lunged for her desk and cowered underneath it.

Raven sighed. “Alright, I know that dark magic isn’t the most convenient solution,” a squeak in response, “but it’s only this once.”

Silence.

Worry began to settle in the bottom of her stomach“…Garfield?” Dropping to her knees, she pressed her face to the floor and peered to where he had scurried. She squinted, trying to detect a hint of movement.

The nightstand flew into the air with an audible bang, sending its contents flying.
Candles, papers and a vase all soared and crashed around the room.

Among the wreckage sat a human Garfield, rubbing at the crown of his head. “Don’t use that garbage to morph me!” His said, a repulsed tinge in his voice.

“Someones picky.” She crossed her arms “What about beggars and choosers?”

“Alright. I’m begging you to choose another option! Either that or screw it, I’ll wait it out. I mean it basically just fixed itself.” He snorted.

She rolled her eyes before standing and offering her hand to him. He stared at it before rubbing the back of his neck.

“Actually,” he cleared his throat “This usually leaves me, uh, pretty dizzy.” He patted the space next to him. “Mind if we just hangout for a sec? I’ll help you clean later.”

“Oh.” She bent to gently sit beside him, leaning her back against the wall. “Sure.”

He picked at a loose string on his shirt. “So, probably not the best date you’ve ever been on, huh?”

She thought for a moment before murmuring, “Not the worst.”

“Ha. Not my worst either.” His response came out muffled and she glanced over at him. His frame was hunched over and he pressed his palms into his eyes.

“Here.” She took one of his hands. He silently watched her slide his glove off and firmly press the web between his thumb and pointer finger. He winced, about to protest before he felt the tension in his skull slowly ebb away. He gave her a crooked smile, figures she would know about all that pressure point mumbo jumbo.

“You’re warm.” She tried to mask the fear in her voice. “Do you still have a fever?”

“Nah. I think you just run cold.” He murmured, glancing in her direction. She gave him a disbelieving look. “I’m serious! I don’t know how you haven’t noticed, you don’t retain heat. I’m getting a little worried.”

That made her snort and the sound surprised them both, “Yeah, right, like I’m the one you should be worried about.” She wonders when she started tracing the outline of his knuckles.

“At least I usually wear gloves,” He wiggled his other hand, “I’m taking some extra precautions.”

She breathed a laugh through her nose at that. It was strange, her hands felt as if they were moving on their own as they lightly touched his shoulders and guided his head into her lap.

Now his eyes were wide open, ears at attention. Her eyes pleaded at him to keep his huge, fanged mouth shut for once.

He shifted from surprise to quiet curiosity as she began rubbing small, soothing circles into his temples. After a few moments his eyes slid shut and he let out a sigh.

The silence in the room was less deafening with his soft and slow inhales and exhales. She slid her hands to his head and ghosted her nails along his scalp. His dark, grassy hair looked black in the dark of her room and she idly wondered what its original color was.

Her finger snagged a knot and his eyes fluttered open. They held each other’s gaze. She swallowed and sat as still as possible. His green eyes remained unblinking and steady. A hand on her cheek. She slowly, gently leaned down closer to him, dark hair tumbling towards his face.

He moved up to meet her halfway, steadying himself with a hand on the ground. They weren’t as clumsy as she thought they would be. His lips were hot against hers and she wondered if he was lying about the fever. It was gentle, hesitant.

Then, it wasn’t. His teeth grazed hers and he adjusted himself to sit up and cup her face with both hands. The heat sank into her and she’s sure she’s never felt this warm before. He inhaled roughly through his nose and if he was still dizzy, this definitely wasn’t helping. The thought jerked her away from him. She pressed her back against the wall and he looked at her, questioning and wild, their heavy breathes crashing into each other’s face.

A knock on their—her—door broke the standoff and sent them scrambling. She coughed, trying to find a voice resembling something normal.

“Yeah?” She croaked. Garfield stood as still as the statues around him.

“Dinner’s ready.” Robin’s voice came muffled through the thick metal. “Everything okay? You sound kind of—”

“Everything’s fine! We’ll be down in a second.” Raven’s eyes went as wide as saucer plates. Garfield’s mouth hung open.

“Alright.” There was a moment’s pause before Robin spoke again. “Uh. Who’s ‘we’?”