Author Note: Sorry for the long wait. Alot of things have been happening with life. Also kudos to Ophelia'song for going ahead and editing this mess. All the tenses and awful language. Honestly this would have been a cluster fuck without her. Thank you!
Beast Boy should have woken up early that morning just to finish their 'conversation'. Raven, should have been avoiding Robin again, and with good reason. Robin had admitted his feelings, past and present. That alone could have broken their current truce.
However, today was the most peaceful the Tower had been in the last couple of months. As peaceful as it could be given the current situation. Even if Starfire's eyes always wandered towards Robin, only for her to notice her mistake and quickly look away. Which worked wonders on his guilt.
In retrospect, Robin couldn't blame Starfire. If he had 20/20 hindsight, he would have never pursued her in the first place. Yes he loved Starfire. He would always love Starfire, something he was painfully aware of. Yet he found those feelings selfish and obscene. Selfish because even though he cared about her, he couldn't help but want Raven's attention. An issue that even the growing presence of the Tamarian in his heart just couldn't snuff out.
Robin sighed, looking away from the kitchen counter. Starfire had left in a hurry after finishing her breakfast. Cyborg walked in moments later after her departure and had started his meat filled breakfast. Taking a sip of his morning coffee at the couch, he thanked his lucky stars. He was at least fortunate that all the people involved had done a fantastic job keeping Cyborg in the dark. The overprotective Titan was the last bridge Robin wanted to cross.
That was the only silver lining in this situation.
Even if there was this so called peace, Beast Boy's behavior, he couldn't help but find this to be an anomaly. Maybe he was a bit paranoid (an emotion he'd become famous for) because there wasn't even a spark of discontent from the resident jokester. He watched as Beast Boy walked into the living room, got himself a box of super sugary cereal and said nothing but a 'Hey Robin'. At least Beast Boy's death glare was a welcomed subtraction to the situation. Robin presumed he should be more worried about Raven. She hadn't even woken up yet, or left her room.
Her absence was pretty normal. Well it used to be up until two years ago.
All his thoughts ceased when he heard the small patter of footsteps. Robin looked behind him towards the hallway to watch Raven enter her room. On instinct, his eyes shifted towards Beast Boy, awaiting his reaction. Any slight hint of body language that might show the changeling's discomfort.
Robin watched in silence from the living room couch as Beast Boy slapped his hand over his mouth to muffle his laughter while Raven walked behind him. She opened the cupboard doors without even a sideways glance to the green fella. The green jokester continued eating, as though the elephant in the room wasn't standing behind him. Robin couldn't help but find the whole interaction weird.
"Rae Rae" Beast Boy called out.
Robin tensed at the sound of Beast Boy's voice. He held his coffee mug tighter as he watched Raven turn to Beast Boy in mild interest. Robin watched her demeanor, the hood of her cloak was up, covering half her face, her sluggish posture and the small twitch of her lips as she tried not to yawn.
Late night?, the Boy Wonder thought, no, that never bothered her before.
Emotions, Robin put his bet on emotions.
"Me and Cyborg are going to play stankball," Beast Boy gulped down the almond milk of his cereal. " You want to referee?"
Raven looked at him for a minute with a hint of interest before she shook her head. "No thanks, I have some files to look over," she said, grabbing her tea and leaving.
There was a twitch in Beast Boy's smile as he watched her go. "Suit yourself."
"Dude, I don't know why you ask." Cyborg patted Beast Boy shoulder, causing him to hunch over the counter. "You know that girl rarely says yes."
Beast Boy laughed. "I know, but I thought—" he stopped before shaking his head. "Whatever, Miss No Fun can go back to her dark and mysterious room." The changeling got up, putting his bowl in the sink. " Let's go play."
"Better be ready to get your ass beat," Cyborg chuckled as Beast Boy made a disgruntled moan."Come on grass stain," he hollered as they both exit the dining room.
Robin got up, placing his cup on the kitchen counter. He didn't know why, but something about the whole conversation didn't seem right. Yes, the conversation between Raven and Beast Boy seemed natural and familiar, but where was the tension that plagued them the last few weeks? Where was the green jokester that hated him, the Beast Boy who had ran after Raven to comfort her after Robin had said way too much. Running to her when he couldn't because he'd silently promised not to act in a manner that could be perceived as romantic.
Robin tapped his fingers against the kitchen counter, but it doesn't make a satisfying enough pater on the hardwood. He stared at the long corridor that led to their rooms and he considered walking after Raven. He wanted to confront her. Ask her if she had civilly solved the issues between them. Maybe Beast Boy and Raven had decided to give their relationship another try. An idea that seemed agreeable after Robin's awful words.
Yeah that had to be it, Robin concluded.
But why was he stomping over to Raven's room without a plan or reason?
Robin rapped on her bedroom sound echoed against the empty hallways and he knew everyone on the floor had to have hear him. Somehow he couldn't find it in his heart to care. Even if the thought of, what Starfire would think, had crossed his mind.
He rapped harder, knowing that Raven was avoiding having to open the door. He yelled her name at the top of his lungs, the sound raspy and piercing, making Raven finally open the door. Her face is scrunched up in anger, a pale fist with white knuckles at her side and her hair a wild purple wisp. Before she was even able to open her mouth, a witty and sarcastic remark ready on her tongue, Robin spoke first:
"What did you do?"
Raven's head lifted slightly, carefully watching the heavy scorn on Robin's face. Her scowl deepened, her eyes flashing him a warning. "I don't know what you—"
He pushed her personal space, leaning over the threshold of Raven's room and the corridor. Their faces were too close and effectively moved her back just enough to allow Robin to step into the room. He quickly closed the door, slamming his hand against the button. Taking a deep breath, his body shaking at the attempt to calm down. He asked again, "Raven, what did you do to Beast Boy?"
Raven clicked her tongue. "I don't know what makes you think you have the right to barge into my room?"
Raven turned to her bed, lifting her hand forward, ignoring the Boy Wonder's question. Robin's eyes wandered to her bed as the books lay on top in a circle. He caught a glimpse of foreign handwriting before a black aura encloses them and snaps them shut. She shot him a small glare in warning; she wasn't fond of being snooped on.
"You aren't answering my questions." He folded his arms over his chest, standing, eyes firmly on her. "Beast Boy shouldn't be chummy with me or you for that matter." Raven lifted the books up with a twitch of her finger. "He should have bit off my head first thing this morning."
"Sorry that everything doesn't go like your fantasies," Raven shrugged, not turning to look at him. "Maybe Beast Boy isn't as barbaric as you—"
"He called you Miss No Fun. I haven't heard him call you that in years." Robin scowled. "Funny thing is that I almost thought you just patched everything up."
And there it was, the insinuation of her powers.
There was a spark in the air, the room slightly colder than it was moments ago, and the hairs on his arms stood on end. He watched Raven scowl before she flicks her wrist the books flew towards him. Robin back handspringed out of the way, a book barely missing his face. The bookshelf behind him shifted suddenly as books settled into their slots.
Raven's body tensed, rolling her shoulders back and a huff escaping her lips. She shook her head and ran her hand through her hair in frustration. "I did patch things up," Raven whispered, her eyes averting his.
Robin's back straightened and he took a second to look at the bookshelf behind him. It was layered with books, each crevice used, leaving some books placed between the small space at top of each tomb. Some of them seemed mundane, simple spells or common reading. Others felt a lot more dangerous, despite their harmless looking covers. If he listened closely, ignoring the background noise and the settling of the tower, he swore he could have heard them hiss and sing.
"Not by means of talking?" Robin looked back at her with a fresh frown on his face. Raven lips twitched in response, raising her shoulders and hugged herself.
"No," she whispered, the words monotonous and dry.
Robin couldn't bite back the snarl that escaped his lips before he turned over to the bookshelf, his hands running across the bindings. He had no idea what he was looking for, but he intended to find it. "Which book?"
Raven's voice raised an octave or two, her voice almost singing a plea, "Robin it's for—"
"Which book, Raven?!" he yelled, pulling out the nearest book and opening it.
In a second she was at his side, her hand gripping tightly onto his wrist. She stared at him with all her fury, but only spoke in whispers, "Robin this is better for Beast Boy, he—"
"You don't get to choose that for him, Raven. You don't get to choose what is better for him!" Robin yelled, trying to pull his wrist out of Raven's grasp. She was stronger. A small remainder of his humanity.
"I don't want him to suffer like I suffered!" Raven screamed, a burst of wind enveloping the room. "I care about Garfield enough to do this for him. You may have forgotten about me, but I haven't forgotten about you! You think it's fun watching someone pine over another?!"
She squeezed his wrist and suddenly it felt scalding hot and burning. Robin's grip loosened, dropping the book in his hand to the floor. Raven clicked her tongue before kneeling down to pick it up. She quickly closed it, walking past him to place it back into its space.
He watched Raven's back as she clutched to the bookshelf slouching over. There was a small shake of her shoulders, her body arching further as she took a breath, but said nothing. Robin rubbed his wrist. There weren't any marks, but he could still feel the heat on his skin. It wasn't her intention to hurt him, he was awfully aware of that fact. This whole situation that had escalated within the last months was spiral down on her control.
"You don't erase someone's memory—their love for you, just because it's convenient," Robin whispered, rubbing his face in frustration. She gripped the book shelf a little tighter. "You have to let him get over it"
"What happens if he never gets over it?" she said, her voice small, but with more emotion than he ever heard her speak. "He just stuffs it down, hiding the feeling in a cold, dank place. Hell, the feeling was so well hidden that he had forgotten where he hid it. "
Her shoulders continued to shake, and Robin could've sworn she was crying. The thought seems impossible, Raven never cried in front of him. He'd always seen the aftermath—cold face and words so slow and monotonous to hide the hoarseness of her voice that was inevitable from long hours of crying. The shock subsided when he noticed that they're weren't any tears. Her body shook due to silent chuckles. He found that even worse.
"Then the feelings just pops right back up like a kick right in the teeth. Worse, I just feel sorry for him and feed into it."
Robin pursed his lips, watching Raven in cold calculation. She slumped, turning around to lean against the bookshelf. She gave Robin a side glance before looking away because the hurt was so awfully etched in her face. She hugged herself as a form a protection, a way to hide her vulnerability as she tried to reel back the emotion.
Silence befell them and Robin did something that shocked them both. He picked at the edges of his mask, peeling it off before connecting his stare with hers. Vulnerability meeting vulnerability with a silent mutual agreement forming between them. They were both a god awful mess. Robin crumbled his mask in his hand before breaking the silence.
"Is that what you think I did?" Robin hummed as Raven shifted uncomfortably under his blue gaze. "Kissed you out of pity?"
Raven bit her lip, shaking her head. "Yes and no. I once thought it was out of pity, but yesterday..."
She stopped, eyes downcast to the space between them, then shifting her eyes to the mask within his hand. She counted it as the third time that she'd seen him unguarded. It was three times more than anyone else, making it three times too many. Raven held herself a little tighter.
"Who knew my powers would be such a big obstacle even for us?" She shrugged. "You know my powers better than anyone and you still—maybe that's why I didn't pursue you because you know exactly what I can do."
Raven gave him a bitter laugh and a flicker of black electricity flashed at her fingertips. "Maybe you are the smart one to stay away, to keep me at arm's length. Beast Boy must be insane to try to pull me closer."
She waited for him to say something, anything at all. A rebuttal, a retort, any string of words that would disprove her interpretation of his words yesterday. Robin made no motion to speak, instead, opting to use his hands to twist his mask in guilt.
"You kissed me because you were jealous," Raven finally said, her eyes again watching him as he winced at the word 'jealous'. A cruel and ugly emotion, stirred by the threat of losing someone. He still wasn't sure if it was the threat of losing that special spot in Raven's life or—he couldn't find the or. Robin could throw in another sin—gluttony, because he was afraid of losing her, when he already had someone else.
"I waited for you," Robin said quickly, throwing a new curveball of words in there slowly diminishing relationship.
Raven let her lips part, but said nothing. Confusion, astoundment and disbelief were a few emotions he noticed. He expected some type of damage to occur, some pop of power, since she showed emotions so vividly, but nothing occurred.
"I did." Robin affirmed, "I waited for you to show me some sign that you felt the same. But then, while I waited, I started thinking that maybe you couldn't see me in that light. That you didn't allow yourself to see me in that light That you would never see me that way.."
He watched for some type of reaction, but there wasn't one. He found that far worse than any anger or disgust.
"You wanted control, Raven," he said, shaking his head at the thought. Control seemed like a recurring theme in the matter. "I couldn't burden you with all the emotions of a hormonal teenager. That feeling quickly turned into guilt, guilt that I might bring down all your progress. I thought my feelings could hurt you, and I never wanted to hurt you, Raven, especially after Malchior."
Robin bit the ball of his thumb as he saw Raven's eyes narrow at the name. Even after so many years, Malchior was still a sore subject. "I do know how it feels to see someone pine over another. Imagine my surprise knowing you had a boyfriend. Someone who understood the different world you lived in." Robin rubbed his knuckles against his lips. "You were so engrossed with him, drunk on your own feelings, you lost control of yourself for a split second, and..."
Raven lifted her head, a silly attempt to hide her embarrassment.
"That moment I knew I had to protect you from me," Robin finished, looking away while pulling off his green gloves.
Robin raised his head. Raven glared at him, her eyes a murky violet.
"When did your focus switch to Starfire?"
Robin bits his lip, peeling off the dead skin. That was a complicated questions.
"That's not how it works," Robin hummed, eyes darting away from her intense stare, "that's not how these things work. It was a crush on both of you then somehow, Starfire caught my attention more. It just happened."
He watched her purse her lips as she held back words.
After too long a moment of silence, Robin added, "I still love her."
There was a sharp lump that caught in Raven's throat.
"I wasn't able to tell her that," he mumbled, rubbing his face in frustration, thinking of himself as a jerk, but he had to be honest. Raven deserved that and so much more. "I won't be able to. She hates my guts and with good reason. I cheated on her, there is nothing else to call it but cheating." He watched Raven wince at the ugliness of the word, "All because of my pride, old feelings, jealousy and new feelings, which I have no idea where they're leading. I shouldn't be saying this."
Robin bit his lip again. It was a nervous tendency, but it provided him comfort as he tried to muster the strength. "It will only complicate things further. But there is something about your presence that my love for Starfire just can't snuff out."
"It's the bond," Raven answered with certainty. "I don't choose who I bond with." She stayed quiet for a while, until their eyes locked. "I can break it, I can try to break it."
There were palpitations within his chest as she mentioned breaking the bond. For a moment he wondered if was the bond's self preservation or his own selfish desires that made him think it was a very very bad idea. However, he finally concluded that even if she took the bond away, he still wouldn't be able to think straight. Raven would always be there.
"That won't fix our problem." He shook his head. " I wish things were back to normal too, Rae." Robin grunted at the idea of normal. "Before this whole mess between you and I. But we have to live with the consequences. We can't force things to be normal."
Raven tilted her head away from him and he saw the guilt loud and clear. Her nails dug deep into her skin. Biting the skin on her lip, she turned to him once again, a proposition falling from her lips. "I can make her forget too."
Robin watched Raven turn her back to him and pick a book from the shelf.
"No, forget is a strong word..." she said flipping through the pages. "Rewriting—writing your own truth of events. She won't forget, but remember a new scene of even—"
The book was snatched from her grip and Robin threw it on top of her bed.
"Raven, I know this is all stemming from your guilt" Robin reasoned. "This isn't like you."
There was a dangerous spark of energy again, and a silent rumble followed. He watched Raven grind her teeth before she looked at him through narrowed eyes.
"I thought it was made very clear that you don't know anything about me." She pulled away from his grasp, and there a silent voice in his head that told him he dare not touch her again.
Robin pursed his lips and looked away. "I know enough."
Raven shook her head, but said nothing; her silence was rebuttal enough.
"I'm not going to make you give back Beast Boy's memories, his original memories." Robin walked toward her, resting one hand on her shoulder. Raven shrugged it away before staring up at him through lidded eyes. "I want you to make the right decision on your own."
Raven shuddered a breath, deep and raspy, as she grabbed Robin's hand, hers warm on top of his rough skin. For a brief moment of time, he was stuck in that moment again. The moment where he wondered how her lips and tongue would feel. He watched her part her lips and the tip of her tongue pressed against her teeth. He noticed himself watching and he hated himself for it. But his moment of lust was shattered by the complete and utter sense of guilt.
Raven stared at him, a small twitch of her lips as she clicked her tongue, squeezing his hand tighter before it was ripped away from her person.
"Roger that, leader," she said, taking a step back away from him.
The word leader had the same malice that Beast Boy uttered just yesterday. Yet there was an entirely new element to it, a weird hitch in her breath that wasn't quite sadness. It was unlike her, she was giving him way too much information on her feelings by her demeanor. Again, he accounted her lack of control as his fault. The weird stroke of desire and the feeling of being the scum of the earth etched deeper. Robin took a step back, furthering the distance between them.
"Right" Robin sighed. "This whole mess needs to be cleared before it ruins—"
"—Team dynamic," Raven added, shrugging to try to console the words that were snaking up her tongue.
She didn't tell him how team dynamic had been shot since she kissed him. How Starfire's powers were so heavily connected to joy and there hadn't been much joy in the alien's life lately. Nor did she mention that she couldn't be more than five minutes near Starfire without blowing something up in the Tower's basement. Surely it wouldn't be a shock to find half of their stored equipment growing mold due to a flooded basement.
Raven walked past Robin to pick up the book that laid on her bed. Robin watched her hold the book tightly in her arms before turning slightly to him, her eyes blank.
He couldn't watch her shut herself in again so he opted to look at the small trinkets on her vanity mirror. He heard her settle on the edge of the bed and noted it as an invitation for him to leave. However, he didn't, because he was an awfully stubborn person.
"We are infiltrating the Casino tomorrow," Robin mentioned.
Raven quickly realized the 'we' did not mean the team. Raven bit her lip again, eyes focused on Robin to see if this was a badly timed joke. Finding no humor, Raven folded her arms with a scowl. "Why can't you—"
"I have three reasons why Starfire can't come," he said raising three fingers. "One, Starfire hates me."
Raven hummed and he swore he heard her sarcastic voice in his head saying: "Why would she hate you, I wonder?"
"Two. "Robin dropped one finger. "She sticks out like a sore thumb."
Raven nodded in agreement. Starfire was beautiful, too beautiful at times. Even if she placed a glamour spell to tone down Starfire's orange skin and normalize her green eyes, Raven could not remove Starfire's beauty and charming personality. Half the casino's patrons would be at Starfire's side in seconds, that wouldn't be very covert.
"Lastly," Robin dropped another finger, pointing his index finger towards Raven. "You've seen my face, you know my name. You know who I really am."
Raven took a moment, staring Robin down to figure out his meaning. "I'm not going—"
"No, you misinterpret what I'm saying," Robin said. "This casino has high class rollers. No average joe can just waltz in. I don't need Robin, I need Richard."
"Richard Grayson," Raven's said, eyes cascading to the space between them, "Dashing socialite of the Wayne family. The first heir to the Wayne fortune. Ward of Bruce Wayne up until his seventeenth birthday. Adopted after the untimely demise of Bruce Wayne's second ward, Jason Todd."
Her words sounded as if they were ripped straight from his Wikipedia page; he couldn't have found it any more impersonal. Maybe that was her intention, to distance herself from the man she knew, by reading about the man she never had. He didn't give her the satisfaction of a response, not even a reaction.
After a moment of silence, Raven purses her lips, placing the book on her lap. "And if I refuse?"
"It's not something you can refuse, Raven." He stepped toward her. "You are the best—"
"Because you think I know you?"
The word 'think' hit him hard, because Robin thought she was the one who knew him best. It was another low blow. "Because you are discreet, you can blend to any shadow—come and go without anyone knowing you ever existed."
It went unnoticed, but Raven clutched the book a little harder. Something about his words don't resonate with her. "Tomorrow?"
Robin nodded. "I'll have a dress—"
"Dress?" Raven quirked a curious eyebrow.
"Like I said, this is a fancy place, Rae. Hundred dollar dresses won't cut it. "
"You sound like Starfire when she goes out shopping," Raven quipped thinking about the Tamarian's choices of attire. She was a princess after all , luxurious clothes fit her. Raven, however, came from a humble background. She couldn't see herself in garments worth a townhouse in New York.
"This is an order?" Raven looked at him, and he noticed the challenge peering back at him.
Robin looked at her, shocked at the comment, but conceded with a, "It's an order."
Raven lifted her head and looked at his hand at the door. Their eyes locked and a silent conversation formed between them. An apology was said, but not spoken, yet, somehow, in that instant, they forgave each other, that was their new cycle now. They fought, tensions built between them and they forgave. Because after all settled, after each harsh word, and the even harsher reality, they understood each other best. It didn't mean they understood each other completely, or even a fraction of each other's being. However, they understood each other better than any other person that had come into their lives.
Raven sighed, placing her book beside her. She walked to him, her eyes shying away from him as she stood arms lengths away. Raven took his hand, lingering a little longer than intended before unfolding his hand that held his mask. She retrieved the mask, smoothing out the sticky cloth with care, softening the wrinkles to the best of her ability before looking back up at him. Robin stands and waits.
Raven leaned forward, standing on the balls of her feet to reach his face. She carefully placed the mask on his over his eyes, smoothing the edges with careful grace. He watched the wrinkles between her eyebrows as she concentrated, making the mask look just right. He wondered if it was all in his head, when something told him to look away or he'd be pulled in again. He ignored the voice and marveled at the slender tongue that presses against her bottom lip as she smoothes her fingers against the edges of his face before standing on her own two feet.
She looked at the mask, her face stoic, but he knew her better than that. There was a small hint of satisfaction fixed on her face by the very subtle smirk of her lips. She may have been stuffing emotions into her little Pandora's box for years, but physical queues were still there. He couldn't help but find it beautiful. Then he caught himself staring at her, their eyes locking in some magnetic pull.
Then the guilt hit him like a freight train. The words, I don't want to hurt her anymore, echoed in his head.
And Raven must have heard it, because her eyes went wide and the moment was lost. She took two steps back, saying nothing. Robin looked away as she folded her hands behind her back and her body turned away from him in reservation.
"Cyborg will drop off the dress," he said, placing his hand on the door, opened it, and left.
Author Note: I hope you liked this chapter! Please review with your thoughts and comments. =3 See ya next time!