AN: This was inspired by "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" by Meghan Trainer and John Legend. The muse actually perked up every time I heard that song, and a few different scenarios came to mind as I listened, and this is just the one that got written. There's also some scenarios poking at me when I hear the song, "Powerful" by Elie Golding & Major Lazer, but nothing's been written for that one yet…at least, not outside my head.
Now, don't get your hopes up, folks…I wouldn't say that the muse is back…he's just not completely dead. He's maybe "Mostly dead". He's been beat down by "the man" (aka, my law firm, which demands I bill 2,000 hours a year…and so you don't have to do the math, that's about 167 hours a month, or almost 42 hours a week…of billable time…that's not the same as time I'm in the office…that's time where I'm actually actively working on matters for clients…it's killing my brain cells and making me not want to think when I'm off…seriously, I didn't even want to have a discussion with my best friend about the debates or anything going on I've been so sapped…but I digress…)
Finally, I kinda hate the title...but if I keep waiting to figure out the right title, I'll keep forgetting to post this, so I just went with it. Feel free to comment with suggestions to change it. If one of them tickles my fancy, I'll change it out and give credit where it's due!
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters.
"A Whisper of Smoke"
"…we'll never know when we'll run out of time…"
-Like I'm Gonna Lose You, Meghan Trainer & John Legend
She saw it when the block of concrete crashed against his back.
The image played itself over and over in her mind, like a song on repeat, as she did what needed to be done at the end of a fight of this magnitude. Normally, it was Robin that took care of these things, but this time…and Cyborg had taken him back to the Med Bay…
It was several hours after the accident before she was able to get to the Tower, and by then, she'd had several status updates from Cyborg and she knew that Robin was awake and suffering nothing more damaging than two broken ribs, some bruising, a few scratches and a bump on the head.
Still, her emotions were in chaos.
'He could've died,' she thought. If things had gone differently, if he hadn't moved as quickly as he had, if the concrete had hit more squarely over his body – he could've died.
He would be gone. As good as disappeared.
And it was her fault. He had pushed her out of the way while she was distracted, and gotten hit instead.
'Stupid boy,' she thought. 'Stupid, cocky boy,' she amended, angry for a moment, imagining how he'd tell her that he knew what he was doing – that he had it under control with that stupid, cocky grin…
The image of his grin flittered across her mind's eye, slowly fading away, taking with it the anger, and leaving behind only frustration and a feeling akin to desperation.
'He was almost gone…'
By the time she got back to the Tower and walked into the Med Bay, Robin was sitting up on the examining table, his right arm out in front of Cyborg as their resident EMT wrapped a bandage around the forearm.
They turned to look at her as one, similar grins of amusement on their faces and Raven could only imagine what sort of jokes they'd been telling to each other to take their minds off of what almost happened.
"Hey Rae," Robin said lightly. "Sorry to leave you to deal with the JCPD," he winced at something Cyborg had touched. "Was it Detective Eddison again?" he asked, looking back at Cyborg.
Raven didn't speak until she was next to Cyborg. She put her hand on his shoulder. "I'll do this," she told him softly. "You go get cleaned up."
Cyborg studied her face for a moment before nodding and surrendering Robin's arm to her softer touch and walking quietly out of the room.
"You don't have to heal me, Rae," Robin said as Raven began undoing the binding. "It'll be fine in a few days, no worries."
The livid scratches, shiny with antibiotic ointment on his arm exposed to her view, she turned from them to stare into his unmasked eyes.
He sighed. "I know," he said, looking away. "But it's not like I could help it," he said, trying for levity.
"Then you're stupid," she said succinctly. He looked at her, a ready grin on his lips, but it died at the seriousness in her expression. "I could've taken it and healed myself with hardly a problem."
"I'll be fine," he tried to interject, but she cut him off.
"It was stupid," she argued, starting to wrap the bandage again, her smaller, gentler hands making neater work of the wrapping.
"It was instinct," he excused.
"It was stupid," she insisted, her gaze focused on her work.
"Yeah, maybe," he admitted, sighing again. "Logically thinking, yeah," he said. "But battle is instinct," he said. "I've taught you that, haven't I?" he said, gaining confidence. He was trying to search her expression, but she kept her gaze on his arm, her face hidden from view by the curtain of her hair.
"You could've died," she said, her voice neutral and unemotional.
The tone caught his attention, and in the momentary surprise, he noticed that her hands had stopped wrapping his arm. He looked down and saw that although almost done, she hadn't fastened the clip to hold the wrapping in place yet. He was about to look for her expression to see what was wrong when he saw it – the slight, almost imperceptible tremor in her hands.
Shocked by the realization of what he was seeing, he almost didn't hear her next words, so soft were they spoken.
"I almost lost you."
He looked up in surprise at her words, unsure of what he'd heard, of the rawness of her voice. "Hey," he said, softly, almost chidingly. "It's alright," he said, his tone light, sure that he couldn't have heard what he thought. "It's part of the job description, remember?" he told her. Her face was still lowered, but her grip had loosened on his arm and he was able to bring the arm up to cup under her chin and raise her gaze. "It's what we—"
The look of naked anguish in her eyes caught him completely off guard and the words of empty comfort he was about to speak dried in his throat like sand.
Their eyes held for a few moments, his fingers still lightly touching the skin of her chin. "Rav—" he started to say, without knowing what would come after, but he was cut off by Raven's lips pressing against his.
'I almost lost you,' she repeated in her mind, the words somehow transferring to him and he could feel her despair, even though the kiss was soft and tentative.
Before he knew it, she had stopped and pulled away. Their eyes met for a brief moment, but long enough for him to see the shock and panic in her eyes, before she turned and took a step away.
Before her foot came down for the first step, however, his hand had gripped her forearm, and he had pulled her back to face him.
He could see the apology in her eyes, and he reacted before she could figure out how to let it out, pulling her close against him, hand with unraveling gauze trailing coming up to cradle her head so he could bring her lips to him again and his uninjured arm wrapping around her back, pressing her closer.
If he had been thinking at all, he would have been surprised when her lips opened under his, when her tongue slipped out to spar with his and the feel of her hands fisting in the robe he wore would've thrown him for a loop, but in that moment, Raven was finally in his arms, she was kissing him as passionately as he was kissing her, and he felt the thrum of her sing through him in places she couldn't touch, a feeling of warmth and belonging and rightness filling him from the center outward and he could think of nothing very much at all, so that the only deliberate thought that repeated itself like a metronome in his head was 'Finally. Finally.'