A/N: I was listening to "Snoopy's Christmas" by the Royal Guardsmen, and got inspired. It probably sounds a little rushed, but I wanted to finish it. Sorry.
Disclaimer: I do not own "Teen Titans" or any of the characters. I also don't own "Snoopy's Christmas", but since it was only inspiration, I guess that doesn't matter, does it?
It was Christmas Eve, and it showed all over the Tower.
The door to the monitor room slid open before Robin, but stopped halfway. He stuck his head through the opening and saw the wreath that had jammed the door. "Who puts a wreath on a sliding door?" he muttered to himself.
"Oops," Starfire giggled embarrassedly. "I was told that such circles of dead branches were to be placed in the center of entranceways." She yanked the wreath out and the door slid the rest of the way open. "Please accept my apologies."
A smile crept to Robin's lips. She was too adorable. "You don't have to apologize. Why not hang it over the door instead?" he suggested, trying to forget that the word "adorable" was anywhere in his mental vocabulary.
Starfire beamed at him, then floated up to arrange the wreath in its new position.
In the corner of the room near the kitchen stood a large green pine tree covered with twinkling lights. Red bulbs glinted with golden sparks whenever a light flashed. Raven was using her telekinesis to arrange tinsel into thin icicles on the braches. Beast Boy was on the floor unwrapping the golden star that would crown the tree. Cyborg was framing the window with green garland while Starfire, having finished with the wreath, added bright red bows to it. On the coffee table sat a plate of sugar cookies in holiday shapes while Christmas carols drifted from the stereo.
The entire scene was festive and homey. Nobody but Robin sensed the dark cloud hanging over the holiday.
Robin stared out the window at the city. The usual neon signs had new neighbors in the Christmas lights scattered around on other windows and houses. But he wasn't seeing the happy glow of holiday cheer. Instead, the dark masked face of his enemy stained his mind.
Slade was still alive. Still out there. He knew it! He felt it as clearly as he felt the hand on his arm shaking him.
"Du-ude!" Beast Boy complained. "What are you doing?"
Robin barely glanced at his friend.
"C'mon!" Beast Boy grinned and held up a microphone. "It's Christmas Karaoke time!"
Reluctantly, Robin moved to the sofa. Starfire sat on his left and Cyborg took the space on his right. Raven settled herself into the loveseat.
Beast Boy fiddled with the CD player, then turned to his audience, the music to "Jingle Bell Rock" blasting from the stereo. Robin wasn't able to focus his attention, though he could tell Beast Boy wasn't a half-bad singer. His eyes were drawn again to the window. To the darkness.
After everyone had had a turn at slaughtering holiday songs-- even Raven had had a go after much teasing and prodding, mostly from Beast Boy-- Robin insisted they go out and patrol the city.
"Patrol!" Beast Boy goggled at him. "You can't be serious!"
Cyborg agreed. "It's Christmas, man. No one's going to do anything tonight."
"Just because it's Christmas doesn't mean bad guys take the day off."
Starfire looked at her friend worriedly. "But... is this not the night of Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards All?"
Robin looked at her sharply. "That's just a song. It doesn't mean anything."
Her mouth dropped open. She looked completely crushed. The others glared at their leader.
"Here's an idea," Raven began in a tone that cued the beginning of a sarcastic remark. "Why don't you go patrolling while we stay here and enjoy the holiday?"
Robin stared at her. "You can't be serious."
She glared back. "I am."
"You'll be back in an hour," Beast Boy quipped confidently.
Robin looked at each of his teammates in turn, then spun around and walked out of the room. They may not think anything would happen on Christmas, but he knew better. Bad things happened everyday of the year. And something would happen tonight. Something big.
Robin knelt on the roof of a drugstore, carefully watching the dark streets. As Cyborg predicted, nothing had happened so far. But something could happen soon, he reminded himself.
A nearby clock chimed the hour. Eleven already? he thought. Three hours he had been on patrol. And the only living thing on the street was a woman in a fashionable trench coat leaving the still-opened toy store across the street. Balancing the tower of colorfully wrapped boxes in one arm, she fumbled with her car keys. A man in a ratty jacket neither she nor Robin had noticed came up behind her.
"Hey, lady!" he said.
The woman almost dropped her gifts as she spun around, startled. Robin rose slightly from his position, his whole body tensed. If this guy was looking for trouble...
"You dropped this." The man handed her a small leather purse which she had apparently dropped.
"Oh, thank you." The surprised woman smiled.
The ratty man smiled back. "Merry Christmas," he said, turning to leave.
"Merry Christmas," she answered before opening her car door, loading the gifts n the back, and driving away.
Robin snorted. He'd bet his belt that the purse was empty. But the man hadn't done anything to her, so he just sat back and continued his vigil.
After fifteen minutes without activity, Robin finally decided that his friends were right. Maybe I'm just being paranoid, he thought, sliding down a drainpipe to the sidewalk. Who would do something criminal on Christmas?
Just then, something in the alleyway caught his eye. Something had moved. Robin spun around and pulled a birdarang from his belt. Nothing.
His eyes narrowed. Not nothing. Something. Someone.
Carefully, he crept into the dark alley, looking through the corners of his eyes for anything that would betray the presence of something that should not be there. Slowly he slinked, keeping to the middle to avoid an ambush. When he finally reached the end, he almost turned back, but something made him continue. He turned the corner to go behind the building, only to freeze in his tracks.
"Hello, Robin," Slade greeted him. "A bit past your bedtime, isn't it?"
"Slade," Robin growled, trading his birdarang for his retractable bo.
"How nice to be remembered," Slade observed in that mockingly condescending tone of his.
Robin ignored it (for once). "You won't escape this time," he promised.
Slade's eye narrowed. "I don't intend to."
With a loud battle cry, Robin attacked. Slade dodged his bo repeatedly, leading him further back into the alley. Robin changed tactics and started taking Kung fu chops at his enemy. Slade blocked them all, and returned a few of his own.
Gritting his teeth, Robin knew he was losing the upper hand. He doesn't want to escape? Fine. Then he can follow me for a change. Executing a smooth back flip, Robin dodged out of Slade's reach and started climbing a fire escape. Slade followed, just keeping up with him.
A the top, Robin scrambled onto the roof, ran toward the edge, and leaped to the next building over. Slade soon followed.
On and on they ran, across roofs, down and over walls, through abandoned houses, Robin lead Slade over the most difficult areas he knew of to wear Slade down. Slade followed easily. His breathing growing heavy, Robin pushed himself to move even faster. He couldn't let Slade win.
Finally, he stopped and turned to face his foe.
Slade stepped calmly out to face him. "What an amusing run, Robin," he said. "But I can see you are tired, whereas I... I have just warmed up." He attacked.
Robin fought him valiantly, but the chase had taken its toll on his strength. His moves grew slower, his punches weaker, his breath came harder.
Robin cried out in pain as Slade delivered a kick to his stomach that should have been easy to avoid. Clutching his abdomen, Robin sank to the ground. His strength was gone. The long battle was over. And he knew it.
Soft footsteps grew louder. Robin opened his eyes to watch as Slade approached him. He stopped next to the young man and pulled out his own retractable bo, this one with a sharpened point at one end. His visible eye glinted with cruel triumph as he brought the long spike to rest on the exposed part of Robin's neck. Robin tried to draw away from it, but his back was flat against a wall. He had no where to go anymore.
"It ends now," Slade said, and prepared to thrust the bo through Robin's throat. Robin closed his eyes and, for the first time in years, began to pray. He prayed for the strength to get up and fight. He prayed that it wouldn't end this way. He prayed that he would wake up in the Tower to Starfire's cheerful greetings, Raven's caustic remarks, Cyborg's bacon, and Beast Boy's tofu. He prayed harder than he ever had before.
But the pressure of the spike began to increase. The point pricked his skin, a small prelude to the driving stab that would end his life.
Then both of them froze as across the street, the clock on a church steeple began to chime the hour. Once, twice it chimed. Three times, four. Over and over it called out the hour over the city. Again and again until it had struck a dozen times, voicing the midnight hour. As the final echoes faded, they were replaced with another sound. The church bells began to chime, ringing out over the city, hailing t the first moments of Christmas Day.
Through all this, neither the hero nor the villain had moved. They stood still, a macabre scene of pending death.
Then, as the church choir began to sing, Robin felt the pike at his throat vanish. His gaze turned away from the church and encountered a hand. Slade's hand. Held out as if to help him up. Cautiously, Robin placed his hand in Slade's and was assisted to his feet. Immediately, the hands parted. They stood facing each other, but neither was about to attack. Finally, Slade turned away, walking towards the shadows. Robin son followed suit, turning to the opposite direction.
Just before he disappeared, Slade stopped. "Robin," he said.
The teen turned and looked at the man's who moments before had been about to kill him.
After a moment's hesitation, Slade continued. "Merry Christmas," he said.
It was a minute before Robin answered. "Merry Christmas, Slade."
With that, they parted ways, both disappearing into the shadows. They knew they would meet again. The battle that should have been over would continue. Neither knew for how long. But for the moment, it didn't matter.
As they both returned to their homes, the Christmas bells continued to ring out over the city, singing of peace to all the world and good will to men.