Teen Titans the animation is owned by Cartoon Network under the auspices of Turner Broadcasting Corporation and also by those crazy, madcap gents at Warner Bros' Animation and that cool cat Glen Murakami. The characters are owned in joint by these fine gentlemen and DC comics, specifically the wonderful Marv Wolfman and his impressive compatriot writers and illustrators. This story is mine, may it do them justice.
Hello and greetings to all readers, whether you be new to my stories, or experienced in the Twisted Hearts series. Fed up with the eternal question of who should get Robin, I decided to take a slightly different approach and make answering that god-forsaken query the entire focus of a story. I had intended for it to be a one-shot, but then I got to writing it, and damn if the plot didn't grow legs I didn't know it could have! In any case, I'll just say now that I probably should rate this higher than T, mostly due to strong language, abundant but non-graphic sexual content, descriptions of the effect of illegal (and imaginary) drugs, and themes like underage drinking and sexual assault. Only my firm belief that you'd hear worse than any of this in the average high-school hallway, and my utter disdain for censorship, keep the rating down.
Twisted Hearts: Triangular
For those familiar with my writing style, I have to apologize, because below is not quite what you might expect. Going in a different direction for once, I decided to begin with an experiment in the power of dialogue as the driving factor in the story, and so long, descriptive paragraphs from my other works are absent (for this chapter only, I'll return to my old style in future chapters as plot circumstance dictates). Instead, I hope you enjoy the banter between Robin and his friend, a character I chose as the only conceivable foil to the love-sick hero, and the only character in Teen Titans who could be made into a total pig without having to go OOC. Also, most of the opinions expressed here are the characters', not the author's. I don't need any hate mail.
Chapter 1: Ice Cream Confessionals
"Have you ever felt like you were living in a nightmare?" Robin asked, the sound mildly muffled by the fact that his face was pressed into his arms where he had them crossed and propped on the bar in front of him.
"I guess… how do you mean?" asked his companion, who sat immediately next to him at the bar, leaning back against it and keeping his eyes on the room.
"I mean, like the world is caught in some kind of surreal warp," and he didn't look up as he talked, a shroud of defeat weighing down on his crumpled shoulders, "like every moment is impossible to deny and impossible to believe at the same time," his voice was colored by the force of his emotional exhaustion, doing nothing to improve his friend's ability to understand, "like you keep expecting to wake up and end the insanity."
"…Damn… you are so depressing," Robin's compatriot accused him rather than answering that unbelievably sad expression, his eyes surveying the large, quiet diner systematically as he spoke his aside to the miserable heap next to him. "You have to be the only guy I know who can manage to get upset about having too much action." From the tone it was clear the young red-haired man, so similar in build and appearance to the utterly dejected Boy Wonder, was not talking about crime fighting when he said 'action.'
"You just don't get it Speedy," Robin accused, never looking up, "This isn't about running around and nailing anything with a pulse. If it was only a question of 'action' then hell, I'd have thrown caution to the wind and kicked back to enjoy the ride from square one. But man, that's not… I just can't be that way, not normally, and never with these girls."
"I swear," and Speedy smacked a hand down on the bar to emphasize it, "I swear that you're over-thinking this Robin. You gotta stop wracking your brain over the issue and just chill. I've found that if you go with the flow, things will just work themselves out on their own. I guarantee—"
Robin lifted a hand out from under his head and waved the other man to silence, clearly lacking any interest in hearing more of Speedy's life philosophy. Just because there was no one else he could talk to about this right now, didn't mean he had to sit there and listen to the only advice he was liable to get. Especially when it so thoroughly contradicted everything he was trying to do in this crazy, messed up situation.
"Geez—fine, if you want to give yourself an ulcer avoiding the problem, if you want to permanently keep those two babes from grinding you into the dirt with all that terrible affection you can't seem to handle," the force of Speedy's mocking was not improving Robin's mood, "then hey, just go ahead and keep doing what you're doing. You're a hell of a guy, I'm sure you could successfully run from those two for the rest of your life. I just thought you respected them a little more than tha—"
Speedy's needling was cut short when Robin's head flashed up and he slammed both hands onto the bar, spinning and fixing the other guy with a stare that would have singed the tarnish off of brass.
"Shut the hell up, okay? Just SHUT UP!" Robin screamed at Speedy, shattering the diner's tranquil atmosphere quite completely. He glowered at the other guy in silence as he waited a long moment for everyone's attention to return to their own business, the red-haired bowman's face twisted into an uncomfortable grimace the entire time.
"Okay, okay, I know—" Speedy tried to apologize, but Robin's heated whisper overran his words.
"You don't know Speedy, you really don't—okay?" and Robin returned to an unhappy slouch before detailing his misery further. "I do respect them, I really and truly do, down to the bottom of my heart. I swear to god and country that I would lay down my life for either of them at a moments notice, and I have complete and utter faith that either of them would do the same for me. In a way, it's that trust and friendship that's making all this so damn difficult."
"I still think it's all only as hard as you're making it for yourself," Speedy cut in rather snidely, and he earned another withering stare for Robin for his comment, squelching him into silence before the intensely brooding crime fighter went on again.
"Why the hell did all this have to happen?" Robin asked the universe in a rather pleading tone, "Things were perfect before—and I don't mean good, I mean perfect. We'd beaten the ass of everyone to take us on, we'd saved the city dozens of times, we had a perfect set up to keep on defeating evil and protecting the innocent for a good long time. And then this came along… and I just need to ask… WHY?" His question drew a few more stares from around the diner, but those quickly dissipated as people began to get a sense of the type of diner patron he was going to be tonight.
"I'll tell ya why," Speedy cut in, utterly fed up with Robin's melodramatic display. "It's your own damn fault! No matter how much cold professionalism or obsessive workaholic insanity you cover it up with, you can't deny that you are a grade-A chick magnet. I'm telling you, it's the mask man, its worked for me more times than I could count, and it does the same thing for you."
"Speedy…" Robin made a half hearted attempt to cut him off, trying to catch him before he could go any further down what he knew to be completely the wrong road, but the other guy was on a roll.
"When you're out doing the hero thing, being brave, strong, noble—all the stuff that comes with the territory… well, you have to expect to put off an undeniable magnetism. Women totally dig all the mystery, the dynamic personality, and hell—being chiseled better than the average soap opera star doesn't hurt either. You and me, we have to expect things like this, and the biggest surprise to me here is that you didn't see it all coming sooner." Speedy had fixed a spectacular grin on his face as he explained it all in calm, simple terms that Robin had to admit made pretty good sense from his perspective. It was just too bad that had nothing to do with what was getting him down. "For now," Speedy continued, "I'm still trying to understand why you aren't shouting joy to the rooftops over all this."
"Okay… I guess I can see part of what you're saying, but hear me out before you go patting me on the back and envying my lot, because there's one key fact that you're not getting." Robin geared up for something truly depressing, and Speedy rolled his eyes, amazed by his friend's capacity for looking on the grim side.
"I suppose I always felt a little something between me and Starfire," Robin admitted right away, "I mean, the situations we've been in since I first helped her get acquainted to the planet have been pretty suggestive… in retrospect… but I always kind of believed that the whole species thing would keep that from going further than it has. I got some weird signals from her that day we were shipwrecked on the alien planet, but I was kind of hoping it would die down a little once I made it clear how committed I was to always being there for her."
"Whoa there, you never told me about that!" Speedy snapped out accusatorily, as though furious that the other guy would hold out on him where hot and heavy action was concerned. "Come on, out with it!"
Robin sighed heavily, then broke with his tirade to tell the other guy about the misadventures of him and his girlfriend/not-girlfriend on the deserted alien planet. Speedy seemed to get a huge kick out of it, and went off on a rant at his first opportunity.
"So… wait now," he began, feigning extreme confusion, "are you trying to tell me that you and that sweet red-head were stranded, alone, on a dangerous alien world, alone, in constant peril for your lives, alone, and you didn't get any action!"
"Would you stuff it already? Starfire isn't like that!" Robin was obviously put off by Speedy's asinine ranting, staring into the shiny hardwood of the bar as he recalled the dangerously intense emotions that had been running around that night on the alien world. It wasn't as if he wasn't attracted to the woman, absolutely the opposite, but it just wouldn't work out, none of it could work out, especially not after last night.
"I'm telling you man, you have to have set some kind of record for passing on the freely offered attention of incredibly hot women!" Speedy jibed, elbowing him the shoulder suggestively in a way that really annoyed Robin. "I mean, I can understand wanting to keep it professional with hotties you work and live with, but when they're practically begging for it—"
"Drop it, okay?" Robin didn't ask so much as he commanded, fed up with Speedy's overly familiar taunting, "I'm not done explaining why all of this is such an unmitigated disaster."
"Oh, right, this I gotta hear," Speedy sighed out in exasperation. "Come on and just try to convince me to pity rather than envy your lucky ass!"
"Oh, you'll see soon enough," the Boy Wonder assured the marksman. "Anyway, I at least had some warning with Starfire. Hell…" and he hesitated, lost for a moment in wistful thoughts, "I might have even been able to deal with that. It genuinely could have worked out between us… if the whole situation hadn't gotten the shaft via sneak attack. Honestly, the whole thing with Raven, I mean my god! How was I supposed to see that coming?"
"You're kidding, right?" Speedy wasn't amused now, giving the other guy an annoyed look of his own.
"What do you mean?" Robin obviously didn't know how he'd upset the man.
"What I mean is," and Speedy looked about ready to smack the dark haired man, "you'd have to be a myopic twit to not notice the way that woman looks at you! Jesus Christ Robin, what do you need, a friggen blinking neon sign on her forehead saying 'I'm incredibly attracted to you?'"
"I—I have no idea what you're—" Robin stammered indignantly, only to be cut off.
"Now you need to stuff it my friend, 'cause you're full of it," Speedy overran Robin's pathetic denials effortlessly, showing his analytical and intelligent side rather than his goofy party-boy side for once. "I barely know Raven, but I know her type well, and you two might as well have been custom printed for one another! Dark, mysterious guy with more inner strength and effusive nobility than you can shake a birdarang at, and a dark, mysterious woman with a depth of emotional issues matched only by the volumes of personal insecurity she keeps all bottled away. I mean, where did you think she was going to go for a powerful, supportive figure in her life?"
Robin considered Speedy's stark evaluation for a few seconds, eyes wide at the change that had overtaken his friend all of a sudden. It was easy to forget how much he and Speedy were alike; it was easy to forget just how smart the other guy was, especially when he was being his generally priggish, chauvinistic, womanizing self. The truth was that the other guy had about a billion times more experience with women and relationships than Robin himself had managed to accumulate, thus this meeting during his time of need.
"I guess… I guess I figured there was something going on between her and Beast Boy," Robin made a hesitant, grasping excuse, hating to seem ignorant in front of his friend. "There was always chemistry there if you ask me." Robin didn't sound too sure of himself, and after hearing out his proposal, Speedy just shook his head sadly.
"B.B.? That twip?" Speedy insulted the other guy freely, secure in the knowledge that since he was only telling the truth, it wasn't wrong to do. "Honest to god Robin, I don't know how you can live in denial like that and pretend to be happy. As attractive as it sounds for a goofy, insecure clown like Greenboy Furrybutt to get together with a deep, intensely needy and vulnerable spire of feminine grace and beauty like Raven, that kinda thing only happens in the movies. In real life, B.B. obviously wants to be supportive of the freight train load of serious issues Raven has to face, but is that really what he wants to do all the time—forever?
"And even if he did, how would he manage it? Boyish charm and a good heart only go so far in that kind of relationship… I mean, Raven's type is always looking for something deeper, a person she can talk to and lighten her 'burdened soul' upon. Honestly, even a thimbleful of what she'd need her partner to take on would pop old B.B. like one of his own zits."
"Dang man, that's pretty harsh…" Robin said, even as he internally agreed with Speedy's assessment. Beast Boy meant well, and he'd done more than a little to help Raven come out of her shell, but he just didn't seem the type to stay up late engaging in long, serious discussions about complex issues; or for that matter, could he see Raven playing video games and freaking out over imaginative but poorly-written movies. As cute as it was to think of those two hitting it off, it wasn't exactly the kind of relationship to stand the test of time.
"I don't want to sound too mean here," Speedy went on, not actually sounding as if he cared that much, "but there's one more thing. I've seen the way those two act together most of the time, and I'll let you in on a little dating secret that I picked up a ways back. When a guy does something intentionally to bug a girl—or hell, the other way around works too—that means the guy, or girl, digs the person. Duh, right? That much is obvious to any nut with eyes. What you have here is different, and I'll tell you why." If he was waiting for Robin to tense with interest during all that beating around the bush, then he wasn't going to be satisfied anytime soon, the dour hero virtually carved from stone as he sat at the bar.
"Right…" Speedy gave up and went on, "When something a person does for shits and giggles makes the other person want to pull his or her hair out, that's called inherent incompatibility, and you'd be friggen amazed at how many relationships go south when people get together without realizing they've got one of those. Not to say that things like that can't be overcome, but… well… Beast Boy is into cheep antics and self-absorbed ranting, while Raven would sooner eat one of the green man's socks than let him get away with that kind of egomaniacal bull. Meanwhile, Raven is into solitary, quiet pastimes that—I'm sorry, but you must have noticed yourself." Speedy obviously felt he didn't need to carry that discussion any farther.
"Yeah, yeah," Robin acceded without argument, "most of what she does is way far beyond the land of weird—just past 'fantastically abnormal' on the supernatural side of the road." He paused for a moment to think of some of the bone-chilling things he'd been through since he met her, then shook his head and appended, "It really doesn't bother me."
"But it bugs the hell out of B.B., and that's the final nail in that romance's coffin. SOOO…" and Speedy fixed a new, incredibly obnoxiously suggestive grin on his buddy, "you were bemoaning your lot in life… please continue."
Robin didn't answer at first, staving off any further pestering from Speedy by burying his face in his drink. As he pulled down the second half of his fifth chocolate shake, he seemed to sink into his chair at the same rate that the fluid level in his cup dropped, so that by the time he was slurping loud bubbles through the long bendy straw, he was practically slumped over. Rather apathetically, his lips released the straw and it slinged back up to its full and upright position, his head remaining planted in the bar.
"Come on Robin, it can't possibly be as bad as all that," Speedy attempted to prod him into answering, and Robin turned a frumpy grimace his direction without lifting his head, a dire glare silently assuring Speedy that, yes, it was very much as bad as all that. It was the particularly pathetic, piteous, hazy look behind that glare that finally tipped Speedy off to what the central problem was. When it occurred to him at last, he went through a series of natural stages.
"Oh man…" he gasped, shock stabbing him with adrenaline and a cold sweat breaking visibly across his brow, "you gotta be kidding me." Robin didn't answer, he just continued to focus that sad, sad stare Speedy's way, and the young man's feeling of shock ballooned outward into a great many other powerful emotions.
"Robin!" he snapped, outraged, "My god, what were you thinking!" Speedy suddenly screamed as irrational anger had its say.
"I know…" Robin moaned, "It… it just kind of… snuck up on me," he made the pathetic excuse, obviously not needing the other guy's yelling to feel awful about what had happened.
"Oh hell no, Ninjas have nightmares about sneaking up on you, you're Robin for Christ's sake! Damnit man, guys like us—that just isn't supposed to happen! We're not allowed to—to—well we're not!" Speedy wasn't even able to say the word, lest he soil his tongue with its horrific bite.
"I know!" Robin assured him hopelessly, rolling his head on the bar until he was staring at it instead of his outraged friend.
"I mean, what if there's a hostage situation—or heaven forbid, a conflict of interests? It's okay for them to feel that way—hell, it's only natural! But you—you can't afford to be involved like that!" Speedy begged Robin to deny what he was saying, hopelessly bombarding him with the reasons for it to be a lie. The other guy didn't answer, instead merely banging his head gently against the bar with a harsh wooden sound. Speedy felt himself begin to choke, and he took a moment to get his breathing under control, grabbing his root-beer float and draining it to the dregs. He wiped the ice cream off his nose, then continued to express his disbelief.
"Say it isn't so man… tell me it's just a fling, just spring fever getting to you," he continued to beg, rather hopelessly now as he recognized the telling sag of his friend's shoulders and the odd set to his face as he pressed it against the bar.
"It's too late man…" Robin assured Speedy in a calm, resigned voice, "I'm so gone… I don't even know how to describe it. And you haven't even heard the bad part yet…" Speedy shuddered, trying not to imagine what could possibly be worse than loosing one's own heart, then began starring into his empty mug and joined his friend in moping for what had left him.
"I mean, this is epic Robin," Speedy muttered randomly, "this is… good lord." The ultimate undoing of the virile young male, the nemesis of the independent superhero, the terrible, soul-sucking demon that plagued all man, had come to visit his good friend at last. Except for the very best, it hit them all eventually, with varying degrees of horror as the result. Speedy had never suspected that a guy like Robin could fall victim to it, never a workaholic nut like Bird Boy.
As he finished coming to terms with what he'd finally managed to realize, he organized his mind to begin the damage control process, kicking himself repeatedly even as he gave his good buddy a gentle pat on the back. He really couldn't help but feel the complete ass considering the way he'd treated his friend in a time of such dire need, and he was determined to make up for it.
"So, I guess you should start by telling me which one," Speedy commented calmly as he accepted another drink from the barkeep.
"What do you mean, 'which one'?" Robin asked dejectedly without lifting his forehead off the bar, and Speedy couldn't help but feel a flash of anger at such veiled denials of what had happened.
"Okay, we've established that you went and fell in love—" Speedy spat the dangerous word, "with one of your teammates…" and this seemed to particularly disgust him, "despite all the great reasons for not doing that. If you want my help riding it out, you'll just have to break down and tell me which one cupid's trick shot managed to nail you for."
"I reiterate…" and Robin was utterly serious, utterly miserable, and also the slightest bit floaty as he made his biggest point, "What do you mean, 'which one'?"
Speedy dropped his cup from one numb hand, the sturdy plastic container clattering against the floor in a storm of sweetened carbonated water and frozen sugary milk. As he blinked in fuzzy shock, the monumental implications of what Robin had just made explicitly clear sunk into his brain and began to set off minor explosions behind his eyes. He slowly, slowly clenched his hands, unclenched them, then pressed his face into his palms.
"Please… Please tell me you didn't fall in love with both of them," Speedy begged, not sure if he could handle the consequences of that being true. Even before the other guy answered, Speedy knew more or less what he'd say, and a spreading well of pity began to form in his soul for the dire circumstances his pal had landed in.
"Oh no, I didn't fall 'in love' with both of them," Robin started, and Speedy resigned himself to what he was about to hear, "I mean, 'in love' simply doesn't begin to describe what I feel for them."
"Basically," he went on, head motionless against the bar, "I lack the words to describe the feeling I have toward each of them, to depict, even in the shallowest and most phantasmal manner the crazy sensation in my chest. I don't know how it happened, but what I always thought was just a detached, professional friendship and completely natural, brotherly affection and protective instinct just up and… transformed—right under my nose. Now, I look at them and—Jesus, I can't even believe it."
"Starfire…" Robin said the name and paused, as though it conjured such a reaction in his mind that he could do little else, and then continued in a slow, hesitant mumble that would persist as long as he tried to fumble through an explanation of his 'feelings.' "I told you I always felt something for her… right from the moment I met her… but since last night… it's all just blown up. Sitting here, just thinking about her… the way she looks… the sound of her voice… the particular way her face bends when she smiles… "
"Stop!" Speedy pleaded, "I get it."
"Right, okay," Robin wasn't really listening, "but really, that literally is only the half of it. That by itself, this crazy feeling of… what? Happiness? Floating? Trembling in my chest? Whatever it is, I associate it with Starfire now… since I first began to see the light last night. Anyway, it's… it's… wonderful—maybe the greatest thing I've ever felt… not that I've been keeping track… but whatever else, it does have a match. It has a twin that was born in the same moment it was… the other feeling… the one I can't help but associate with Raven."
"Oh brother," Speedy moaned, having never imagined the day when he'd see his buddy and rival attempt to talk about love in the sadly inadequate vocabulary of the adolescent male. He even knew that he sounded like a complete fool, that he couldn't possibly actually convey what he felt, but like so many other idiots in love, that wasn't stopping him from effusively spouting the drivel. His complaint was ignored by Robin, far too wrapped up in his own troubles to give Speedy's discomfort any mind.
"What is the other feeling?" Robin asked rhetorically in that slow, hesitant voice, so very burdened by the secret misery underscoring his newfound and intense emotions. "For that one I can't even compare it to anything… it's only describable as 'what I feel when I think about Raven,' and 'very nice.' Honestly, what can I say about that woman? Mystique, quiet intelligence, a bearing and poise that border on the regal, and such incredible… legs! Have you seen her in that leotard man?" Robin asked in complete earnest, rising from his lovey-dovey tirade to mention a snippet of pure lust, something the other guy could finally relate too. It was heartening to hear that he still had at least one of his priorities straight, though he didn't wait for Speedy's conspiratorially lurid smile before continuing with the emotional drivel.
"I've been thinking nonstop since I got the hell out of Dodge last night, and I… I may know the root of all this… the feature they both share that most likely roped me in so hopelessly." At Robin's continuing admission of being completely beyond hope as far as his feelings went, Speedy began to wonder how on Earth he was supposed to help out, but for the time being just sat and continued to listen to him vent.
"I thought about it for a long time," Robin repeated himself, "and I realized, it's their strength man, that's what I can't resist. That's what's making my heart race, my palms sweat—the whole nine yards."
"Are you sure its not that they're both in that wonderful place between eight and ten on the Babe-o-meter?" Speedy cut in, trying to break the dour, serious mood somewhat with a little sport. Robin glared at him, the cutting sadness behind his eyes pressing out to make Speedy instantly regret his comment. For him, regretting anything was exceptionally rare, and he continued to fear finding out just what could make Robin so inconceivably intense.
"Each of them is possessed of unbelievable strength on so many levels," Robin continued, as though having Speedy hear every last word of his long-considered internal debate would somehow convince him that Robin wasn't out of his mind to even entertain the feelings he was having, "and yet they are both so vulnerable, so completely defenseless in other respects. I find myself torn between a crushing awe of their beauty and strength and an overwhelming need to protect them from whatever might try to stab at their weaker sides."
"Ever since I gave into these feelings," and Robin's love-struck tone reached sort of a fever pitch as he neared the end of his face-down, distant-starred lecture, "I've felt different… empty, like suddenly some piece of me is gone and missing, like the moment I let these feelings loose, I lost a part of myself to those two… those two… glorious women."
"AGG, okay just chill for a minute man," Speedy gasped out desperately as he watched various ranges of love-struck stupidity travel languidly along Robin's face. "I don't know if I've ever seen such a severe case before, hell, yours might even be terminal, but if you'll just calm down and come back to reality for a few minutes, we can talk this out."
"Reality blows," Robin stated angrily, his mood shifting suddenly as the core of his discontent finally bubbled to the surface past all the goofy, tingling 'feelings' he was expressing, "in reality, I have to leave behind the very safe, secure knowledge that I am completely, utterly, and totally in absolute and extreme love with two women that, as you so astutely observed, have strong feelings for me in return. In reality, I have to consider the mountain of really shitty extenuating circumstances that transform what should be the most beautiful thing to ever happen to me into an endless, waking nightmare. Come on now Speedy, do you still envy me?"
"I envy your flare for the dramatic Robin, a lot of women go for that, and I've never been able to fake that particular tone of sincerity. As for your situation, I'd sooner hang up my bow than trade places with you… okay? Happy now?" and the red-haired maverick was utterly serious, trying to pry his friend out of misery and get some sensible words from him. "Now please, calm down for a minute and tell old Speedy what the root of your problem is. I've got an idea but… uh… you'd better explain it anyway."
"It's quite obvious," Robin muttered, dropping his head back to the bar and reaching a whole new level of crushing, smothering depression, "the thing that's breaking my heart… the thing that's twisting my mind… the thing that's stomping on my dream and making love really, really hurt… is the Choice Speedy."
"Oh dear god…" Speedy mumbled in disbelief as he began to rub his forehead in frustration for his hopelessly love-struck friend. Questions like the ones torturing Robin only arose when one allowed women to dig their charms into your heart, rather than merely your libido, something he'd always avoided, and so he couldn't imagine being much help at this point. He resigned himself to being an ear for the Boy Wonder's misery to vent upon.
"That damn, fucking, heartbreaking Choice," Robin went on, not quite holding back tears but obviously in a stark emotional state as he spoke, "what in the world could possibly have caused me to deserve such a miserable curse? I love them both, I can see now that I love them more than life—I actually, physically need them! They've each captured a piece of me, and now I'm not complete without them around!" He finished making his rather broad and incredibly expressive lover's exaggerations, and then let his voice drop as he prepared for the 'but.'
"But… how in the hell can I express that to them? I've been wracking my brain all day and all of last night, trying to figure some way to manage it. What method could possibly serve to allow one man to tell two women such an absolute and all-consuming fact? I couldn't possibly, in a million years, ever bring myself to break even the tiniest crack into either of their hearts, and yet, what other choices do I have man! Everything is in a dire balance, a kind of murderously precarious dance wherein the moment I move to tell one of them how I feel, the other side falls apart in a way I simply can't allow!"
"Okay, Robin, you have to calm down!" Speedy demanded, not unreasonably, as the acrobat finally stopped to breathe, the effort of getting out the core of what was torturing him leaving him quite breathless, "You're being a friggen drama queen!"
"What am I going to do?" Robin muttered miserably to himself, basically ignoring Speedy's rather well-founded insult, his normally iron will and pristine self-confidence shattered before the burden that had been placed upon him. "My hands are tied… and the clock is ticking."
"Well now…" Speedy was on questionable ground, but he still felt that he should give it a shot, especially now that Robin had finished venting his emotions and might actually manage to be reasonable, "just what's so bad about sitting down and telling them how you feel? I can't claim any experience there, but I've heard it tends to work okay."
"No… god no," and Robin was clearly adamant, his emotional ranting replaced by a much more calculated tone, "I've been thinking about this for the past twenty hours, and it just can't work. Consider if I confront woman A with my feelings… would that not automatically drive woman B away? Could you honestly expect my affections toward one to not instantly shatter the other's heart?"
"Well, I guess I could see—" Speedy tried to comment, but Robin was back to not listening as he poured out the long line of logic he'd twisted his mind into knots trying to apply to love.
"After all, aren't women after one thing? I can only claim the experience of television and books, but as far as I know, women need loyalty, they need commitment. For some reason that I haven't been able to understand, love is something that's black and white, yes or no, all or nothing, a situation taken in absolutes that can't be compromised. In every case I've ever heard of, demonstrating affection for anyone other than 'your girl' is a signal that your love for her is somehow less than what it should be, or that it no longer exists."
"Okay—okay, I can see your point there," Speedy had a great deal of experience in the 'wanting commitment' department, the discussion of which always seemed to come right around the time he felt the need to make himself scarce. "So… why not just quietly…'neglect' to mention that your heart pines for more than just woman A, then do the same in an equally discreet manner with woman B? Eh?" A rakishly raised eyebrow said he obviously thought he had something here, but Robin shot the plot down without hesitation.
"Perhaps you feel fine lying to and deceiving women," Robin knew he wouldn't hurt the other guy's feelings with such comments, "but I care about them Speedy. Like I said earlier, that depth of caring is what's making this so damn difficult! Damn… even if I could lie to them, I could never keep up such a ruse, not with them both living in the same building as me. Besides… they're best friends Speedy, I mean close. Do you know what would happen if they found out that they'd both been dating me… for a while? Two possibilities my friend—they blame me and I die a painful death—or they blame each other… and god save us all. With women, when friendship goes sour like that, it just blows away anything men ever go through, and I'd not like to see the other side of that line of events, not a chance."
Robin fell to silence for a moment, he and Speedy both absorbed in deep thought. That Robin was stressing over his circumstances and Speedy was fondly remembering the brunet he'd most recently nailed demonstrated the difference in their personalities. In any case, Robin was the one to pick it up again.
"I don't know man, I really don't know," the spiky-haired one sighed sadly, "Maybe I'm just screwed up, but I honestly feel this beautiful emotion equally for both of them, maybe I always have, and it just took the insanity of last night to open my eyes!"
"Then why don't you just tell them that man!" Speedy suggested in exasperation, suddenly self conscious of the number of date's he'd lost due to his compulsively wandering eye. There had been times he'd managed to interest more than one girl at once, but: A) they were drunk, B) they were only after a one night stand anyway, and C) that really wasn't anything like this.
"Oh, yeah, I can see that working out spectacularly!" Robin moaned sarcastically, his frustration at his situation heating his tone unreasonably. "I get them both together, sit them down, and explain that I have different, beautiful, equally intense feelings for each of them, then expect them to… what? Take me at my word? They'll think I'm some kind of jack-hole player like you! I'd be lucky to survive the experience, much less do anything other than erase their feelings for me!"
"Okay, hold it right there lover-boy!" Speedy demanded fiercely, slamming his fist on the bar and drawing up his slight height advantage over the spiky-haired nut, his sudden outburst actually shocking Robin into silence. "First of all, I'm not a 'jack-hole player,' alright? I'm actually a highly successful 'philandering dick-head player' and I'd thank you to remember it! More importantly—actually not more important, but important—I came out here tonight to help you, not get yelled at by some emotionally-high reject whose had his balls removed by a tag-team of pretty eyes!"
"I—I—" Robin was livid, at an utter loss for words, and for an instant it seemed he would actually snap. At the last moment, he swallowed his frustration, took a deep breath, and turned back to his drink. "You're right," he clipped out stiffly, "I'm sorry. I've been through this cycle about fifteen times now, so I should have been expecting it. First I get depressed, then I get bubble-brained and love-struck, then I remember how fucked up this all is and I just get angry."
"I'm so angry," and as Robin made his next point, he seemed to gain a great deal more clarity, much more like his normal self, "and not just about the situation in general, but angry at myself! I feel like, if I could just clear my head—you know, think like I normally do without all the whacked-out emotions getting in the way—well, then I could figure out a workable solution. Its just so frustrating that every time I clear my head, I either remember what a god-forsaken situation I'm in or I let some thought of one of the ladies slip into my mind and viola!—The cycle begins again. Please man, you gotta help," and now Robin's voice became rather pathetic as he slumped down onto the bar again, his clarity ending as he plopped squarely back into his depressed phase, "This is killing me."
"…Right…" Speedy said non-committaly, following it with a deep sigh as he considered his options for helping out his bud. Eventually, he got a thought, and as the thought coalesced into an idea, he grew a rather fiendish smile.
"Okay Robin, I'll tell ya what we're going to do," he started to explain, and the distinct improvement in his mood was more than enough to pique Robin's interest. "First, we're going to blow this joint. Screw ice-cream, we need to get you wasted my friend. There's nothing ailing you right now that won't look better out the bottom of an empty whisky glass."
"Ah, really—I don't—" Robin tried to back away from that suggestion, but Speedy gripped him around the shoulder forcefully, obviously determined to not let him chicken out.
"It's no problem man," Speedy assured him, "I happen to know for a fact there there's an underground party down on pier 24 where they don't care who you are or how old you are as long as you're there to have fun, and you can pay the door charge. They might be a little leery of the fact that we're technically 'the man' but I know how to get around that too. Seriously, come on, right now, its time to get you shit-faced."
"Ahh crap," Robin's resistance snapped, too worn from his battle with new emotions to put up much of a fight, "whatever, if it'll get my mind off of this mess, then hell yeah, let's go."
"That's what I like to hear man—and on the way, you can tell me about this 'crazy night' you had. If it left you in this mess, it's gotta be a story worth hearing." Speedy gave Robin a huge grin as he smacked a hundred dollar bill down on the counter and leapt off his stool, careful not to land in the sticky, slippery mess no one had gotten around to cleaning off the floor. Robin, also accustomed to receiving milk money in the form of Benjamins from his wealthy legal guardian, paid the large bill and even larger tip no mind, following Speedy over toward the door.
"Seriously man, last night—you have no idea," Robin assured him as they walked out into the plaza and parking lot in front of the little diner. By the downright suggestive tone of those last two words, Speedy could imagine he didn't, and his interest exploded, his eyebrows raised as eagerness quickly wrote itself all over his expression. When Robin noticed, he threw caution and decency to the wind, saying, "I can summarize the part's you'll enjoy by mentioning the presence of mind-control drugs and alien aphrodisiacs… "
"WHAT?" Speedy nearly face-planted, tripping over his own feet at hearing this. "Holy mother of GOD Robin, why the hell didn't you start with this story? Just hearing that and I'm back to envying you again!" At this, Robin stopped walking, and Speedy actually took a few extra steps past him before he stopped too and turned around. One look at the utterly serious, completely pained look the other man sported, and he was back to one of those uncommon moments of regret. "Of course… I'm only almost back to envying you…" he amended, and thankfully, that was enough for Robin to pull himself back together.
"I swear Speedy, you're such a fucking pig, how do you ever get a date?" Robin asked, completely serious as the two made their way down the road.
"I already explained this dude, remember?" and Speedy was almost taunting, dangling the obvious fact of his lack of lady troubles over Robin's head. "Mask? Hero? Magnetism? Any of that ring a bell? And… it doesn't hurt to know just where to go to find ladies more interested in a hot body and a wild night than 'commitment.'"
"Yeah… right," and Robin made it clear how very little he begrudged Speedy his carefree lifestyle.
"Of course, you know," Speedy opened another line of conversation all of a sudden, getting one of those peculiar smiles he sometimes managed, "There is one more option you could consider for resolving this whole mess."
"And what would that be?" Robin asked, without any hope at all.
"Why, you could send some of that abundant action my way, of course."
Robin didn't hesitate, he just stuck out a leg, grabbed Speedy by the arm, and launched him backward onto the ground full force, laying out the other guy like a sack of potatoes and a causing a nasty thumping noise. Before the marksman, who was taken by complete surprise, could even think about going for his bow, Robin had his staff out and was holding it threateningly over Speedy's eye.
"Hmm, lets think about this for a moment," said Robin dangerously, squelching any comment the red-head might have made with the terrible threat abundant in his tone. "Why would I send a woman I LOVE, a woman I can't imagine, even momentarily, incrementally, or theoretically harming, anywhere near your womanizing, philandering, faithless hide?"
"It was… just a thought?" Speedy squeaked out, fully aware that he'd crossed a line he shouldn't have messed with this time.
"Well think again dick-head, because no matter what else goes between the three of us, I'm always going to protect them, no matter what. The likes of you are actually quite high on the list of what I feel they need to be protected from." With that, Robin immediately put away his staff, bent over, and offered Speedy a hand up. He took the offered hand, and in a moment he was standing again.
"Point taken and duly noted," Speedy managed to sound pleasant about the whole matter, even as he rubbed the throbbing lump on the back of his head. He knew better than to go there again, though in retrospect, the pain was just about worth seeing the extent of Robin's commitment. Internally, on a level that operated independently from his free-spirited, skirt chasing instincts, Speedy's cold intellect came to the conclusion that, if he could just find a way to show it correctly, Robin might actually have enough to serve both the ladies. But then, that thought was crushed by anticipation.
"So now you owe me one man," Speedy stated eagerly, "come—out with it! Tell me the tale of mind-control drugs and alien aphrodisiacs already."
"Ah god… fine," Robin went through a series of emotions in a big hurry, then acceded to the marksman's pleading tone. "At this point, it'd probably cheer me up a little anyway. So…" he sighed, thought about it for a moment, then began, "It all started late yesterday afternoon. Beast Boy and Cyborg had left that morning to attend a three-day comic book convention and car show, the Ink and Oil Con, so it was just the three of us in the tower…
Oh HO! What's that I said? Mind control drugs and alien aphrodisiacs? SWEET! Honestly, my ideas for the next chapter are steamy to say the least, and since I fully intend to revert to my classic writing style, you know it's going to be descriptive too. I thought about it for a long time, and eventually just came to the decision that I'd post this first, get the whole 'in medias res' thing going, then let loose with all my guns in the following chapters.
Besides, wasn't that great? If you didn't like it, please stick around, because I'd like you to give the second chapter a shot. You won't want to miss one incredibly hot moment of it, I assure you. If you did like it, all the better, and this, right below here, is where you can take a moment to tell me about it.