A/N: This fic is a birthday present for AnisYamamoto. It's her birthday today (7/25/17) and she's been very sweet, and said she enjoys my writing and always makes sure to review what I write, so I figured I could write her a quick little one-shot as a birthday present. She asked for a Robin/Raven AU, "their first meeting in college or school".
One Awkward Move
"I don't have any fancy story, / about the way we fell in love. / It was that one awkward move, / and the next I remember, / I was looking at you."
- Jasleen Kaur Gumber
Richard stopped, his eyes fixed on the spot just under the large oak tree a mere ten feet away from where he'd been crossing the lawn toward the student union building.
Richard turned toward the voice of his companion who had stopped a few steps away when he realized Richard hadn't been walking with him.
Richard smiled, but waved him off. "I'll catch up," he called back.
"Alright, you know where we'll be."
Richard smiled again, hitching his backpack up onto his right shoulder and looking toward the tree again. He considered it for a few moments, but what was it his philosophy professor had said? Venus favors the bold.(1)
The girl sitting at the base of the oak tree noticed the change in the shadows around her as he stopped in front of her and she glanced up at him from the book on her lap. He couldn't believe that her eyes really were as violet as he remembered.
He grinned. "Hi," he said.
She arched an eyebrow and cocked her head a bit to look at him clearer. "Yes?" she prodded.
He crouched down in front of her so she wouldn't have to crane her neck. "I'm Dick," he said.
Her other eyebrow rose to join the first. "You're what?" she asked.
He realized how his introduction had sounded and laughed self-consciously. "Sorry," he shook his head. "I should've said, I'm Richard," he amended. "Dick's a nickname."
"I see," she offered, and there was enough inflection in her tone that he knew she was asking herself why she should care.
This was not going the way he'd intended it when he'd been gifted with the surprise of seeing her.
He sighed. "I'm kind of fucking this up," he said, a bit more to himself than to her.
She was silent for a few moments, while he wondered how to fix it.
"Why don't you tell me what you are trying to accomplish and perhaps we can get through this faster?" she finally said.
He recognized the mild sarcasm in her tone, but he couldn't help but laugh just the same. "I saw you the other day," he told her. She cocked her head to the side again, and somehow he knew she was asking a question. "Near the gym," he tried to clarify. "There was the freshman who was being harassed by that idiot and you got between them and stood up to the guy and he ended up stalking off."
"Ah," she said, her cheeks flushing a bit.
"I was walking by when I heard the same thing you must've, only I was on the other side and you got there first," Richard told her. "I thought he was going to start in on you and was about to step in, but whatever you said to him, you didn't need my help." He could hear the amazement in his own voice and grinned at her. "You were pretty amazing," he admitted. "And I wanted to meet you then, but you left before I could get there and I lost you in the crowd in the rec center."
She looked a bit surprised at his admission, but she didn't say anything else.
"So, when I saw you across the lawn, I had to come and say hi, but…" he trailed off and laughed again, scratching at the back of his head. "I've messed it up," he shook his head. "I swear I'm usually much smoother than this," he said, looking at her.
He could see her measuring him, and he wondered what she was looking for, wondering if he should keep the grin on his face or let her see he could be serious too. Before he could decide, she leaned back against the tree again, obviously relaxing.
"You're doing just fine," she said softly, her hands flipping open the book she had been reading.
"I am?" he asked, grin widening.
He could see the edges of a small smile curve her lips, even with her head bowed to the book.
"My name's Rachel," she added.
He actually lost the balance he'd barely realized he'd been keeping to remain on his haunches and fell back onto his butt on the ground in front of her, keeping himself from falling onto his back only by his hand bracing behind him. Her eyes turned up to watch him for a moment, and he hastened to straighten himself. Beaming, he was sure, stupidly.
"It's nice to meet you, Rachel."
She was quiet for a few moments. "Likewise, Richard," she replied, glancing at him so he could see the small smile brighten her face.
He stared at her for a few moments in blatant amazement, before he realized he should say something. "So, what are you reading?" he asked.
She looked back at her book and flipped it to show him the cover.
"The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern," he read, his smile widening. He looked up at her. "You like the circus?" he asked.
"I don't know," she admitted. "Never been."
He looked at her in mock horror. "Unacceptable!" he exclaimed. "We'll have to go at the very next opportunity."
She cocked that eyebrow again, but the shadow of the smile lingered around her lips. "We?"
"Oh, trust me," he said playfully. "You'll want me along." Her lips quirked and her eyes sparkled with mirth. "I'm something of an expert on circuses, you see."
"Are you, now?" she prompted.
He leaned forward, closer to her, catching the scent of her lavender and jasmine in a stray breeze. "Ever heard of the Flying Graysons?"
(1) Attributable to Ovid.