"We've got things covered here, why don't you get some rest?", said Cyborg, looking at Robin with concern.
"Sounds like a good idea", Robin replied, giving a little smile to, hopefully, reassure his friends. He knew he would not be sleeping tonight.
Robin stumbled down the hallway, finally reaching his bedroom door. He opened it, turned on the light, and headed straight for his bed. He was exhausted, every part of his body ached from bruises and stung from cuts, and his head was throbbing fit to burst. Cyborg had made him take some Extra Strength Tylenol, the only thing he was willing to accept, but it was having no affect.
Robin thought briefly about turning off the light and trying to get some sleep, but he dismissed this idea with a shudder.
"Coward!" He berated himself for his fear, his weakness. "Cyborg says your fine now. What are you so afraid of?"
Robin knew the answer to that question, but it was the last thing he wanted to think about right now.
He caught himself staring nervously at his closet door. "Great! What's next, you going to check under the bed?" He felt trapped, helpless.
"That's it!", he said aloud, noticing how strange his voice sounded in the utter silence of his room. Jumping off the bed with a groan, he headed for the nearest exit, tripping over a huge stack of papers on his way out. He opened the door…and there was Starfire, fist raised as though she had been about to knock.
"Star!", Robin yelled, as his heart and stomach switched places. "I- what are you-?"
Even in the dark, Robin could tell she was blushing. "I…was feeling the anxiety for your well-being, friend Robin. I thought I should perhaps do the checking up on you…"
"Great…now she thinks I've lost my mind", he thought bitterly, trying to remember exactly what had been said while he was…earlier that evening. "Oh…", he said awkwardly. Star was staring at him with such intensity that he wondered if she was trying to examine his soul.
"Now I see that you are not at all right", she said sadly. "Robin, you must not-"
"And here comes the lecture." He was feeling more and more angry, though he was vaguely aware that it was not Starfire's fault. "I'm fine, Star", he said, a little more harshly than he had intended to. Robin could see that she was hurt, but that didn't bother him as much as it should have.
"Oh…I see." She looked pleadingly at him once more, but he avoided her eyes. "Robin…please rest well…" When he didn't answer, she slowly turned and walked towards her bedroom door. She glanced back when she reached it, but Robin was gone.
It was cold up on the roof. The breeze nipped at exposed noses and ears, as though to remind everyone that summer was drawing to a close. Not that anyone in their right mind would be outside at three o'clock in the morning…
Robin stared out over the city that he risked his life every day to protect. He shivered slightly, not so much from the cool breeze as from the cold inside him.
"Don't think about it, don't think about it…" He chuckled; ironically, this was the first time that he had tried not to think. The laugh died quickly…Robin sat with his knees drawn up to his chin, wishing he could ask Raven how to make his mind a perfect blank…And then, as though he had summoned her…
"Isn't it a little past your bedtime?", came an even, monotone voice from behind him.
Robin spun around to see Raven staring at him. She looked tired, and why wouldn't she be? It had been a horrific night for all of them. "What are you-"
"Your emotions have been keeping me awake", she replied, without waiting for Robin to finish his sentence. He was shivering, but Raven knew better than to try to get him to come inside. She could tell that, right now, Robin wanted to be cold.
Her statement made him slightly uncomfortable. He stared down at his feet.
Raven smiled slightly. "Great, now you're afraid, angry, and embarrassed. Looks like I can forget about sleeping tonight."
Robin knew she was trying to be funny, a rare event indeed, but instead of laughing, he felt the lump in his throat get even bigger. He gulped, and continued to study his shoes, wishing she would go away.
"Well, that's nice", said Raven, dripping sarcasm. "I was only trying to help, but it looks like you're not interested, so I'll grant your wish." She turned and headed for the roof access door.
Once again, Robin felt hardly any remorse for offending Raven; fact was, he didn't feel much at all right now. Or, at least, that was what he was trying for.
Raven looked back when she reached the door. He looked pitiful, curled up and shivering at the edge of the roof… "Edge of the roof", she thought, and fear crept up her spine. "I better not leave him just yet."
She walked quietly back over to Robin, placing a hand on his shoulder. He jerked away, fiercely wiping something off his cheek. Raven almost winced at the emotional pain Robin was experiencing. For once, she didn't know what to say.
"So here's the part where you say 'this obsession with Slade is unhealthy, Robin, you've endangered yourself and us many times because of it, Robin, chill, stop freaking out, let it go, calm down!'" He breathed heavily for a minute. "Have I forgotten anything?"
"You didn't mention therapy", Raven said, automatically.
Robin scowled. "Great, well, now I've taken care of the lecture for you, so why don't you go back to bed?"
"I would, trust me, if I didn't care about whether or not you throw yourself off the roof in desperation."
Robin flinched. He really needed to be more careful about what he thought around her. "I didn't mean…I wasn't serious!"
"Right", she said sarcastically. "Well then, if you weren't serious, why don't we go inside? You look like you could use a blanket."
There was no arguing with that. Robin tried to get up, but the combination of a battered body and sitting on a cold, hard rooftop for an hour had done a number on him. He fell back down with a groan.
Raven hurried over to him and extended her hand. He took it without looking at her, and she helped him inside.
"I'm fine now", Robin said gruffly, once they were inside. He let go of her arm, but the instant he did, swayed and nearly fell again. Raven forcibly reclaimed his arm.
"Alright, tough guy", she said, "where to?"
"My room, I guess", he grumbled, still not looking at her. Raven made him uncomfortable in a way Starfire never had. He didn't think much on this, though, since his mind was already far too busy with other things.
Robin punched in the access code and his door slid open. Raven flicked on the light, and saw that his room was just as she had imagined it: messy.
Robin turned red as he fully realized what a disaster site his bedroom was. Crumbled papers littered the floor, and his crime files were piled high in various places all around the room. There were two or three pizza boxes lying in corners that he just hadn't gotten around to throwing out yet, and his bed was a tangle of blankets and pillows that looked more like a nest than anything else. To top it all off, the single, dying light bulb illuminated four walls covered in various newspaper articles, most of which featured Slade's single, glaring eye. Even Raven, whose bedroom was far from cheery, was creeped out by this room. She wondered how Robin could stand having Slade constantly watching him.
"Love what you've done with the place", she said dryly.
Robin blushed even more as she helped him over to his bed, somehow managing to avoid the various obstacles on the way. He eased himself down on the bed.
Raven sat down next to him, feeling a little more than awkward. "Why do you bother trying to talk to him, anyway?" she asked herself, exasperated. "That's easy", she answered herself, "Because I'm the only one who can."
"So…anything you want to talk about?", she asked, knowing what the answer would be.
"No", said Robin instantly. Raven just wouldn't understand.
"I understand a lot more than you give me credit for." She smiled a little, watching him jump. No matter how many times she pulled that stunt, Robin was still unnerved. He said nothing and tried to clear his mind as well: a huge failure.
Raven sighed. "I might as well be bashing my head against a brick wall. What can I say to him?", she thought desperately, knowing that, no matter how much he denied it, Robin needed someone right now, and that someone was going to be her.
"It's going to be ok." Pitiful, but it was all she could think of.
Robin didn't snap at her, didn't throw her efforts to help him back in her face. Instead, to his horror, he felt his eyes begin to burn, and the lump in his throat choked him. Worst of all, there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.
Raven's eyes widened. Was he…? She almost cried herself when she felt the ripples of his emotions. Robin turned his face away form her, ashamed but unable to stop the tears. He didn't pull away when he felt her take his hand and squeeze it. Before he knew what he was doing, he had pulled her into a hug. Raven was shocked; she had never seen Robin like this…She patted his back awkwardly, hardly knowing how to deal with this kind of thing from anyone, much less Robin.
"Thank you", he whispered, breaking up the hug.
Raven smiled genuinely. "You're welcome." Robin was drooping like a wilted plant, on the point of falling asleep on his feet. Raven gently pushed him back onto his bed, and Robin didn't resist.
"Good night", she whispered.
"Night", he mumbled, eyes already closing.
Raven made her way to the door and reached for the light switch.
"Raven?", Robin said, looking at her from his bed.
"Would you leave the light on?" There was a slight quiver in his voice.
"Sure", she replied, shutting the door behind her. Why? Why did Robin have to go through all this? What had he done to deserve Slade? At the thought of Robin's tormentor, a rare anger flared inside Raven. There was no one she wanted dead more than that psychopath.