Chapter 12- Robin
Fourteen plus hours flying a jet across the world was more than enough time to do a lot of things, especially when you were more or less alone to your thoughts throughout the majority of the flight.
Luckily for them, the Bat Jet was equipped pretty well for such a journey. The seats were capable of ejection in a pinch, stored numerous pieces of survival equipment in secret compartments along the sides and back, and they even had storage for their own water and food supply if you did have to bail out in some crappy jungle somewhere. Or a frozen tundra, a desert, and pretty much every other major landscape across the globe.
They were also incredibly comfortable, with adjustable everything. You could heat them in specific places to help ease aches and pains, or have them even deploy a little foot rest to help you get to sleep if you needed. They even had a built in vibrating massage system that was rarely used.
Raven decided to disregard all of that by curling up into a ball all over his body.
He didn't complain for the first several hours. He liked holding her, running his hands over her as he passed the time with slow, light touches so she didn't wake up. But after about five hours his body inevitably reminded him that it had needs in the form of his bladder attempting to explode. It was pretty entertaining actually, since he ended up having to wake Raven to ask her if she needed to go. She did, so they ended up 'parking' somewhere over Spain.
Since the jet was known as a VTOL aircraft, it was capable of what aircraft designers called Vertical Takeoff Or Landing, which meant that it could hover in midair. So Robin ended up bleeding off the speed and switching it into hover at a safe, low altitude outside of a small Spanish villa where it wouldn't have been noticed. Raven phased them out of the cockpit and flew them quickly to a small coffee shop, which thankfully had just opened its doors at a brisk five o'clock in the morning to start the day.
The two of them were dressed in civilian clothes again to avoid suspicion, so they very quickly went to the bathroom. Robin bought the two of them a delicious little breakfast of different flavored muffins and got himself a Spanish coffee which basically made him wired from caffeine.
Seriously, those little things were dangerous.
All in all, it only took them about fifteen minutes before they got back in the jet and took off again, climbing higher than the other commercial air traffic so they didn't have to constantly duck between commuters. Raven ignored the spare seat and laid on him again, this time making their seat lean really far back so she could lay flat on her stomach across him. Happy to be comfortable and not hungry anymore, she drifted back to sleep in record time even before they reached their cruising altitude again.
Robin's mind went back to that rooftop the night before.
Was it all a dream? It wasn't like that would have been out of the question or at all surprising. After all, at that time he had not only survived crash landing a 747 into a river only fifty feet wide enough to accommodate it, but he had also steered the damn thing so well it didn't destroy a single bit of Gotham in the process. All the passengers suffered only minor injuries. And on top of all of that, Robin even saved his father's life by battling drowning, hypothermia, and the Bends all at once.
Even now, his body still tingled with pain from that whole incident.
His neck felt about as stiff as the armor making up Cyborg's chest, his thighs seemed to have endured an entire marathon of running that complexly slipped his mind, and the space between his shoulder blades felt even tighter than the leotard over Raven's slender, amazingly attractive body.
Worse than all of that, his head felt like a chord of firewood post-split. The damn thing pulsed in hopelessly random fashions as if it were a migraine in the making, creating mini pressures that tried to bust his skull from awkward small points all over his cranium. Maybe lack of sleep had something definitive to do with it or, if he considered it honestly, it definitely had to be.
Weeks on end fueled by less than five hours a night could really screw up a guy.
But some part of him refused to accept that logic. Some tiny part fueled from his past called out the idea that it had been a dream total bullshit. Robin never really dreamed when he slept, and it wasn't like he hadn't suffered even less exhaustion and stress than this before. Besides all that, Robin didn't sleep walk and he certainly moved from where Raven demanded he stay to recuperate.
His intellect ran through every possibility of why the whole thing could not have been real, considering everything from possibly getting a contact high from something on the plane to suffering a really nasty case depressurization from ascending from such deep water so quickly. Every proposal he made to try and shield the truth got shot down by not only a massive machine gun of his own damned counter logic, but also by a massive, glaring missile of what his feelings told him about the whole thing.
Batman warned him to listen to his instincts. Robin did, and it saved his ass more times than he cared to admit. So eventually, after hours of stewing it over in the steadily brightening sunlit sky, Robin came to accept the inevitable.
She was alive. And, sooner or later, he had to tell Raven about her. Not only did Raven have every right to know because she used to be more than just a friend to him, but Robin also had no clue how she could have survived the horrible death that he had been forced to watch, unable to stop it.
The memory alone made his heart drop. Sent a cold shiver barreling all the way down his spine. And made him blink rapidly under his civilian sunglasses to clear the wetness blurring his eyesight.
Tucked closely under his chin, Raven finally stirred. He couldn't help but smile a bit at her short violet hair all a mess across her face, the silky strands chaotically flipped over her eyes and in the corners of her mouth. Feeling her stretch her upper back like a cat all on top of him was an added bonus that thankfully brought his mind back down to the here and now, clearing the uncertainties.
"Morning sleepyhead," he whispered, pecking her right on the forehead, next to that dazzling gem. "How was the R mattress? Not too bad?"
She didn't miss his meaning despite the grogginess at all. "It was really comfy…nice and stiff in all the right places."
Oh. She had, uh, noticed that too. Damn. She really didn't miss a single thing, did she? Now he was kind of starting to blush.
Unfortunately, despite the teasing tone and the clear invitation to act on it, Raven abruptly sat up a little and glanced her gaze out the window to the clouds below. "Turn left and descend for me," she said, pushing her hips back.
Grinding against him ever so mischievously.
Okay, yup, they didn't just turn and descend at all. Roll and dive was a more accurate statement, the way Robin yanked back on the throttle and pushed the joystick over and forward. The altimeter started to digitally spin like it had just inhaled a line of cocaine and the G forces pushed the two of them together even more, really making Robin feel every single curve of her body against him.
She caught his hand to ease back the joystick out of nowhere, forcing the descent into more gradual territory just as snow started to smack roughly into the canopy glass. "Easy there, big boy," she cautioned, still playfully aware of just how much the contact was making him excited. "The weather is going to get really rough this close to the place. Very…bumpy."
"I could go for some turbulence right about now."
"Oh, I bet you'd like a little more than that. But we need to get serious here. I don't think anyone has tried to approach this from the air before so we have to be extremely careful."
Right on cue the shenanigans ceased, vanishing faster than a bolt of lightning as the first real wave of the raging blizzard hit them hard. The jet lurched roughly as if it somehow stubbed its toe midflight, the nose dropping far too low to be safe.
Robin engaged the flaps, pulling up on the stick as their airspeed started to drop. The wind was easily over forty knots and gusting heavily with a crosswind, meaning the plane was being hit from both in front of and on one side of them, slowing them down laterally while simultaneously bucking the nose off in random cuts to the left or right. He snatched the throttle again, firmly getting his feet on the rudder pedals before he pumped up the engine output with a steady hand.
"Get back to your seat and strap in," he ordered, the entire windshield completely white from the onslaught of snow flashing over its glass surface. "Can't see a thing anymore."
"Bank left, pull up another thirty feet," Raven responded instantly, her body phasing through his with a shivering cold wave of her magical energy. Robin complied, totally unable to get his bearings at all. Without solid visibility or any heat sources to use for references with the thermal imaging camera, Robin had to trust Raven's senses to guide them.
"How far?" he cut out, leveling out while fighting with throttle to keep their speed up.
"Three miles. Bank slight right, lean us over twenty degrees and drop about fifty feet."
Damn it. The Bat Jet's sensors were going ballistic at this point. Numerous collision alarms and low altitude indicators were muted to avoid a ton of robot voices screaming at him they were so very close to their imminent demise. Robin could just imagine the maze of mountain peaks flooding through the area, all covered so well by the snow storm the two of them would've already been dead if it hadn't been for Raven. He didn't even have time to admire how precise her instructions were, how curtly she was dipping and climbing them through the maze of the vast snowcapped landscape.
Right about then was when the whole aircraft went dark.
Out of nowhere, no warning whatsoever. The light red HUD, or Heads Up Display, showing digital readouts of information across the canopy itself cut off. All instruments winked out like candles in a single, rough breeze, silencing all the functions that were keeping them alive. The vibration of the engines faded, replaced by the unmistakable drone of white noise in his ears.
"He's got the plane. It's okay," Raven sighed, blowing air out of her cheeks. "Meliodas."
For a second, Robin wasn't sure he heard her right. At least, until he felt the plane begin to very swiftly slow down, its huge mass suspended by an invisible force as it glided lower and lower to the ground. The wind still rocked them hard as it blasted the side of the frame, trying to topple them off balance.
But the magic holding the plane was so powerful it felt more like an ocean wave splattering on the side of an air craft carrier than a snow storm trying to stall them out of the sky. From where he sat, Robin could feel a pressure enclosed around the frame, like the walls of the jet were straining against the force of a gigantic hand that was squeezing them tight. He even heard the groan of the metal as the magical grip solidified.
It sounded like that eerie sound submarines made when diving deep in old war movies.
Every sense and instinct in his mind screamed at him to take action. Restart the plane and give full thrust in hover mode, to shoot above the turbulent mountain air. Or failing that eject with Raven and have her fly them to a nearby slope or peak, to seek shelter from the inevitable explosion of the jet colliding with the mountain face.
But Robin trusted Raven. The idea that something else could have clamped down on them crossed his mind, but he disregarded it almost immediately. Raven recognized her father's magic.
With a careful twist, the jet's nose turned sideways a full one hundred and eighty degrees as it began to descend. As it did, Robin felt the familiar force of the landing gear deploying below them, having been manually released so smoothly by magic it seemed like the jet was actually still on for a moment.
Just how powerful was this guy? Robin really had to wonder. If he was able to do stuff like this seemingly effortlessly, Robin had to wonder what he would do if he found out what Robin had already done to Raven, before meeting him.
Yeah, he wasn't going there. Maybe if he didn't make a move on her while they were there he wouldn't even know they were…well, a thing.
Just when he thought there was no other way to show off just how powerful he was, the jet entered what felt like a tangible force field. It slid across the hull like a gigantic bubble, making the jet groan even more from its strength, and the weather quite simply disappeared. All the snow was gone, raging like Hell on the surface of the shimmering dome now above their heads as if still desperately trying to reach them.
The guy could not only turn off a jet midflight, catch it, and lower it safely to the ground using magic, but he could also simultaneously control a massive dome around his entire castle that kept the full force of a blizzard out. And he did it without as much as moving his fingers from his cane.
The jet landed with a tiny bump, as gentle as taking a step on a set of stairs. A thin cloud of dust puffed into the air ahead. But almost instantly it flashed away, as if sucked down over the castle walls by a gigantic invisible vacuum, leaving a striking view of the massive stone platform where they now sat. A circular landing pad easily big enough for even that Boeing Robin landed earlier was where the jet landed, which just seemed to float in midair off the side of a massive, super steep slope. A stone bridge, covered in cobblestones like an ancient European castle guard wall, connected the pad to a massive set of double doors that opened a way quite literally into the base of the castle and the mountain itself.
It was like something out of a Disney movie, mixed with historical accuracy and maybe a James Bond villain's lair all in one. Robin was completely blown away by the size and scale of the place; the whole thing was built into the near vertical side of the mountain, centered with a huge meeting hall and several smaller galleys lower on its sides, and crowned by over a hundred different towers that split off one another. Each tower seemed to look higher and even more precarious than the next, almost all of them lit by flickering orange lights that had to have been candles.
"You should see the look on your face," Raven teased, opening the canopy with a whisper of her magical spell. "Well, I guess I ought to say it, since you look that amazed by it. This is Edolas, the place I truly call my home."
Robin was still blinking in awe at the whole thing when he stepped out into the chilly mountain air, which apparently only had the tiniest whisper of a breeze from the force field. "This is…incredible, Raven. I can't believe just how huge this place is."
"Most people can't, at first," said a jovial, amused voice.
Robin wasn't sure what to think of Meliodas, when he looked down the four lane highway sized stone path towards the base of the castle and saw him. His first impression was that he looked awfully similar to the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland.
He was a tall man, very tall. A very colloquial looking gray suit covered his body, which had frilly white wrists and a very distinct green bowtie across his frilly white collar. Both of his hands sat on the top of a very ornate looking black cane, which was topped by some kind of eerie green gem almost the size of a fist that glowed gently in pulsing flashes. His head was mostly covered by a ridiculous looking English top hat, but Robin noticed he had stark white hair, the same color as the snow outside the dome, that hung all the way down to his waist behind him.
His face was mostly shadowed by the rim of the massive hat he wore. All Robin could tell was that he seemed young, maybe in his early thirties by his face, and he was extremely pale. Like, pale as a Vampire. He also seemed very handsome in a regal, royalty harsh kind of way.
Even from over several yards away with a pair of circular, wire rimmed sunglasses on his face, Robin could see the color of his eyes.
They were that same eerie shade of green as the gem on his staff. A sinister kind of color, like something that glowed in the background of a horror film about witchcraft or ghosts, right before something jumped up and attacked you. It was so distinct and bright those eyes he had seemed to dwarf the entire scenery behind him with their intense glow. Despite being still so far away, Robin could almost feel those eyes were looking not at Raven, but directly at him, sizing up the way he walked, talked, and examined the world around himself.
Apparently he was in fact doing something magical with his gaze because almost as soon as Robin looked in his direction Raven stepped in front of him, shielding him from the contact. She jutted out her chin a little and glared at him, and Robin felt the familiar cold of her own powers starting to well inside of her.
Wait, was she protecting him from something?
"There's no need for that," Raven said, sternly. "I taught him how to deal with magic. Knock it off."
Meliodas chuckled. "I must say, either you taught him well how to reduce the effects of illusions or he is naturally gifted, my child. Most people would have thrown up by now from holding my gaze for so long."
Raven didn't change her tone, didn't budge an inch, and didn't release the power she was building. "He's tough enough to deal with everyone in there. So you can stop your little 'test' and actually be hospitable now."
Robin felt the pressure of whatever the hell was going on drop away in a whoosh, let air let out from a balloon. Her father laughed a little more, obviously amused. "I'm sorry, darling. The others have been getting very rough with one another lately and I didn't want to bring him in if he couldn't handle it. You know how intimidating they can be, whether they try or not."
Raven finally relaxed too; Robin saw her take a deep breath and release it again, her shoulders returning to their relaxed state again. Then she totally threw him for a loop by taking off at a dead sprint straight across the platform, jumping full force right onto her father.
He caught her with both hands as if she weighed nothing at all, not even buckling slightly as her weight hit him like a tackle. Meanwhile, his cane, impossibly, just stood on its own accord as if he was somehow still holding it. Even while Raven laughed happily and kissed Meliodas on the cheek, practically the happiest he had seen her in a long time, that cane still just seemed to chill all by itself. The big green gem on top of it sparkled slightly in the small light cast through the blizzard above them, but otherwise stayed still.
How the hell did he do that?
"Don't worry about your things, my boy," he said between patting her back. "I've already sent them to your room. Come with me."
He waited until Robin was side by side with him before he began to walk, still holding Raven in a tight hug on his upper torso. The staff floated slightly in midair then began to follow along his other side, so smoothly it seemed like the thing rolled on invisible wheels somehow.
"I take it she hasn't told you much about me or her home, has she?"
"Ah, no. Sir." Robin felt compelled to add, impulsively.
Meliodas noticed and chuckled at it. "That's not necessary, child. Speaking of which, Raven. I'm sure there's a few others you'd like to visit. Why don't you go on ahead while I walk with young Robin here?"
Raven looked into his eyes, a very shrewd expression on her face. So he waved one hand in a dismissive way and promised her, "I won't test him again, I swear. I just want to show him around. That's all."
She didn't change her expression. "Be nice or I'll kick your ass."
"Why yes, of course, darling," he said, his very English accent reminding Robin distinctly of Alfred. Albeit, maybe somehow more formal than even that.
Which reminded him. How did Meliodas know his name already? He doubted Raven talked to him about Robin, so….how?
Satisfied, Raven dropped out of his arms and changed into Robin's before he could pretend they weren't actually a couple. She pulled him in for a kiss that normally would have made him feel incredibly frisky but now just seemed to seal his death sentence with the scary, possibly overprotective inter dimensional being beside him. But as she left she gave him a warm smile, like he shouldn't worry about anything at all, then transformed into her namesake of dark energy and phased through the ground.
Leaving Robin all alone with her father.