The Importance of Secrecy
By: Lunatic With a Hero Complex
Masks are a thing of wonder, they cover such a small space, but they encase an entire personality. They bottle it into such an existence that only the person behind the mask knows the truth of it. Swings of a bo-staff, or the way a bird-a-rang is flung may give hints. Small glimpses of certain aspects of a mind. But whole chambers of conciousness remain unknown to outsiders. They stay unexplored and untainted by human eyes.
It could be lonely, and at times, the missing familiarity stung in one of those unvisited chambers. But when your head was unpopular with dangerous people of a certain moral ambiguity, it helped that they didn't know what color your eyes were. When it came down to it, he supposed it was the lesser of two evils. You collapse with a defeated, albeit relieved, sigh into the safe circle of friends you have grown to love and allow them to know you, or you could make do with your own comforting and protect those friends from an eyeless standpoint.
It was choices such as this when he missed Gotham. Longed for the understood law of confidentiality between himself and his mentor. The lack of pressure to reveal your face and your last pinch of advantage. Both were anonymous, and neither cared.
Now that the new debate had broken out in the Tower, the line between abandon and friendship he had been tightrope walking had begun to shake and threaten to spill him off the side.
Every hour that he was in their presence and not fighting crime, the questions began. All of them there and subtly yet blatantly presenting questions that aspired to shatter his facade. "Robin, dude, like when do you wash that eye mask, its gotta get sweaty." "Yes, friend Robin, its odor must surely be pungent, perhaps if you wished, I could cleanse it for you." "Man, that thing's gotta be dangerous in battle, the glass could break."
All of them, except Raven. She'd helped him begin the Titans, both of them starting out with a truckload of things they didn't know about each other. She, at least, did not seem interested in coercing him out of the eyemask. "Seem" being the key word.
One night, when coming down for a glass of water when he couldn't sleep, he'd been stopped in the hall by the sound of his name in a heated conversation, "Dude, Cy that's ridiculous, of course Robin's got eyes, his aim with those funny discs is too good for him not to."
He'd caught Beast Boy's mid-adolescent tone and stopped to listen to the response. Cyborg had spoken next, "Okay, man I'll admit the eye thing was far fetched, but I do wonder what color they are." Here, Starfire's voice had joined in, "I believe that Robin's eyes are blue, like the skin of a gulnark."
A brief silence pierced the air and then Starfire continue, "What of you Raven, what color do you think friend Robin's eyes are. We are most interested in your input."
Robin expected with all certainty to hear her preach to them in a deadpan voice about how his identity was his to keep or reveal, but instead, he'd heard her voice waft out of the kitchen timidly, "I would guess they were hazel, or maybe brown." She'd said it conversationally, like she was interested as much as they were.
From that moment, he'd known his mask wasn't safe.
So now, as he sat on the roof the Tower, the metal soles of his boots dangling off of the side, he wondered if the secrecy was worth it.
Sighing, he shoved the thought out of his mind and simultaneously shoved himself off of the ledge of the Tower. For a few seconds, he let himself fall, enjoying the feel of the wind. Then, he turned and shot out a grappling hook . It caught on the edge of the roof and he was jerked to a stop in midair. Pushing the retract button, he let it draw him back towards the ledge.
When he got close enough, he pushed up and off, flipping on the way and landing on the rooftop in a fighting stance. Extending his bo-staff, he went into practicing his techniques, alternating swipes and swings with the staff with roundhouse kicks and punches.
The anger built up inside of him, the anger that made him fight every day, and his swipes grew more forceful and his kicks more fierce.
He didn't like not being able to be open and free with his emotions like the others did. He didn't like being the voice of reason when the others were deep into chaos of excitement or fear. And he certainly didn't like not having the option of falling back into arms of people he trusted. But he was the leader of this team, and he was responsible for them. That being as it was, he certainly wasn't going to abandon them to just any fate for the sake of his own mental well being. It was fruitless, pointless, and dangerous. If he were to do such a thing, what kind of leader would he be. The truth was, he wouldn't be one at all, and that, he supposed was what stung the most.
You couldn't allow your own problems to get in the way of your duties, as revealing his identity and showing the true color of his personality surely would.
Gods could not be fair in creating orders in the universe, you were never allowed more than one or two pleasures at a time. You couldn't have your cake and eat it too, you couldn't have love and keep it, you couldn't keep people safe and be comforted.
All of this, Robin had gone over many times in his head, he knew each side of the argument by heart, but yet, he still fought it with himself. When he was alone, studying the criminal trail of Slade, the thought would pop into his head. When he was training all alone in the gym, he'd lose focus and start to think about the possibility. When he took his R-cycle out of the garage and went for a ride in the city, his hands went on autopilot, and his thoughts would trail to the life he hid behind the two white ovals over his eyes. These days, Robin couldn't escape his worst enemy, the boy he used to be.
Letting the anger build, Robin didn't notice it had grown dark until an arm stopped him on the shoulder. Out of instinct, he turned around and raised a hand to bring it down in a sharp, swift hit on the neck of the intruder. The hand stopped mere inches from the pale and slender neck of Raven.
Robin stood there panting, eyemask wide. Raven didn't bat an eye, "Its raining, I thought you should know."
His concious mind leaked back, and now he could feel the drops hitting his skin and he could feel the wetness of his costume. He regained his composure, and became once more, the leader all of them was accustomed to seeing, "Thanks Raven, I was just finishing up, I'll be down in a minute." Raven shrugged and turned around, "Alright, just don't blame me if you get sick."
She headed back towards the door of the roof, and she didn't look back as she spoke. Robin watched her exit and he allowed himself to marvel at how close he'd come to knocking Raven out. Turning around, he went back to his practice, ignoring the increasing wetness, not noticing the figure that stood just under the overhang over the door to the roof. Watching him swing and punch and occasionally, shout.
Raven came up to the roof about 10 minutes after Robin. She'd come out and seen him sitting on the ledge, lost in his own thoughts and she'd thought nothing of it. Not caring if he noticed her presence or not, she sat about twenty feet away and began to meditate. But she hadn't been able to get into the spirit required to do such. Every time she would begin to find her center, her eyes would slit open and she would catch a glimpse of Robin sitting there, staring out into the light of the city, and every thing would topple over again.
A loud sigh brought her out of her latest attempt and she looked over, only to gasp. As she watched, Robin vaulted himself off of the building, falling to what would certainly mean one less member of the Titans. Dropping from her position she'd leaned over the ledge, raising her hands to use her power, when she'd been stopped mid chant. The Boy Wonder had turned around mid-air and shot a grappling hook up towards the building. She watched as he saw it make contact and pushed the button.
His body had risen fast through the space he'd fallen and Raven silently cursed him. He'd gotten her worked up over absolutely nothing. He hadn't been committing impromptu suicide, he'd been training.
Robin kicked off of the side of the Tower and rose in a glittering arc over the ledge to land on his feet, crouched in a fighting position with his back to her.
Immediately extending his staff, he'd gone into an imaginary battle, fighting demons she'd probably never see. Forsaking any attempt at meditation, she'd hovered in place and watched him progress through the motions. His mouth was twisted into a grimace. A mark of either pain or anger, empath that she was, she couldn't tell. It had always been hard for her to read Robin. He worked so hard so that no one could read him in any way. Nice and polite, he became vicious when needed on the turn of a dime.
Watching as his eyemask worked as he did, she brought the question to her mind that was becoming more frequent in her thoughts with each passing day. What color were the optics underneath those white ovals. Something told her that they were hazel, or brown. She didn't know why, he just seemed like the kind of boy to have brown eyes. Boy, the word struck her as she thought it. It sounded different than when you said Boy Wonder. Boy Wonder had some sort of respect to it. When you just said boy, it sounded much younger. But yet, it was the truth. This... male, could end the lives of men, he could destroy mastermind criminals of increasing danger, and he could swing a mean Bo-staff, but he was still only sixteen years old. He wasn't even old enough to vote yet and still he led a group of superheroes, in a stoic manner that didn't waver.
He was the rock that they all turned to to keep them together, and he probably wasn't even sure who he was going to be yet.
Steadily, Raven noticed that he became more volatile. Killing off imaginary enemies in a lawnmower whir of color. She was astonished at how graceful he seemed about it. Sure, he looked strangely powerful when standing for a sixteen year old, but still, he didn't seem like the type who fought like water. The movement of his arms was fluid and smooth. He didn't pause in between attacks and he rotated as though he were on a pivot.
Out of all the Titans, she' d known Robin the longest, and he her. But considering that, he hardly knew anything about her. And the things she knew about him could fill up a basket. Not to mention, most of the knowledge she had was shared with the others. There were tidbits that were exclusive to her, but nothing that would unravel the mystery of the illusive boy wonder.
Sitting there watching him, the sun set behind her. Soon after, raindrops began to fall, splattering on the concrete and dying swift, painless deaths. He didn't seem to notice that anything had changed and he went on fighting off illusive attackers, kicking water now as well as air. Thinking that it wouldn't be good if their leader ended up with a headcold, she decided to make him aware of the condition of the weather.
Floating up behind him and touching down, she lightly touched his shoulder. Internally, she was shocked when he spun around and raised a hand. He brought it down swiftly and in her head she prepared to be knocked down, but the hand stopped at her neck as he realised who it was.
The whites in his eyemask widened and he stood there panting, looking at her as though she were a ghost. He seemed frightened and lost in a world she couldn't enter. Raven should know the look, she felt it all the time.
Watching him compose himself, she held true to her persona and deadpanned him a sentence, "It's raining, I thought you should know."
He changed right before her eyes, he grew in stature, and became the person that she saw every day, keeping them together, "Thanks Raven, I was just finishing up, I'll be down in a minute."
Turning, and feeling anything but stoic, she headed towards the door, "Alright, just don't blame me if you get sick."
She heard him turn back to his work and when she got to the door, instead of going in, she stood in the shadows, out of the rain, watching him.
He lost himself in the fight again and every turn of his body,and every lift of his leg seemed a defiance to Gods she couldn't understand, and didn't care about.
What she did care about was that in his own way, Robin seemed to be scooting in on what was her persona territory. Lately, silent and short, he came down for breakfast, ate lunch, briefed them on cases, trained, and slept.
Raven rather guessed that the subtle administrations of the others questions, trying with increasing desperation to root out the remaining secrets of the young bird, were tolling on him, angering him maybe, but probably just making him uncomfortable.
She watched him for another thirty minutes. The rain increasing steadily until it was a full out downpour. She didn't mind the weather, it was somewhat peaceful.
He stopped suddenly, just in the middle of a kick his leg lowered and he stood there in the rain, the red and green spandex thoroughly soaked everywhere. She could see the rapid motion of his chest as he caught his breath and was just fixing to turn and go, guessing that he had finished, when she was stopped.
He sank onto the wet concrete of the roof. His knees were raised in front of him, about a foot apart and his elbows rested on them. In his hands, was his head.
A gloved hand ran through the black hair, now dripping with rain water.
He looked up and out at the peaceful city.
Raven watched this and waited to see what he was going to do.
Before she had even begun to register what he was doing, the eyemask was coming off.