What's that you say? I said this was a one-shot? HA! And you actually listened to me? Let's take a look at past experience, shall we? I said there wouldn't be a sequel to Aftereffects. Woops, theres a sequel finished and a sequel to the sequel on its way! I said Redemption was a one-shot. It has four chapters. I said there wouldn't be a sequel to Shadow Creature, there is. All In The Game was supposed to have one chapter. It has eight.

Seeing a pattern here? I'm a pathological liar, what can I say? For those who asked what The Zipper is, I'll elaborate, for those who recognized it, yes it is horrid. Nearly lost my mind on the stupid thing. Someone asked where the other titans are...lets see...Star's in Tamaran for Galfor's day of creation, Beast Boy and Cyborg are engulfed in a week long video game battle. Satisfied?


"Done?"

"Um..." Robin's words were abruptly cut off by another gut-renching wretch, a nasty splash or two making Raven cringe slightly, a mixture of sympathy and disgust showing on her face. A few minutes later, there was another break, in which the only sound was his heavy breathing.

"Ok, one more time...done?"

"I...I think so." Robin pushed himself unsteadily away from the sink, rinsing his mouth and splashing his face before smiling weakly at Raven.

"No 'I think so's. Be positive." She was coming across rather harsh, she realized, so she gave his shoulder a light squeeze to soften the blow. Robin tensed, and she released him instantly, wondering if she had squeezed hard enough to hurt him.

Shrugging it off with difficulty, she found there was still a dry comment down there somewhere. "So...you have a dislike for The Zipper?"

Robin scowled, going even more pale in the memory of his horror. "Yeah, you could say that," he practically snarled, poking his stomach as though wondering if it was going to turn inside out again. "I mean, come on! You're in a tiny basket thats spinning like a thing gone mad, and, by the way, the basket is attached to something that is spinning as well--and then, on top of it all, the whole thing is so rickety and rusty that its practically falling apart on the spot! You know how crushed you would be if you fell from that thing? You know what metal looks like when it's mixed with bits of--" His face turned dangerously green, then he leaned over the sink and puked once again, somehow managing to find some food to get rid of.

Raven patted his back sympathetically, wondering how The Zipper could be considered any worse than that horrid Ring of Fire. And even if it was worse, she had never seen Robin react this way to anything nerve-wracking...she'd hardly even seen him scared before, that is, without the mention of Slade. She hadn't thrown up...why had he?

"I know what you're thinking," grunted Robin, resurfacing and rinsing his mouth once again. With a sigh and a nervous jerk of his hand through his un-spikey hair, he elaborated. "When I was, lets see...about six years old, I went on that thing with..." he paused, a confusing emotion written in his brown eyes, "with my dad. Don't know how I managed to be tall enough...but anyway. I hated it...loathed it. And I do not exagerate when I say that I was throwing up for a week afterward." His face twisted in disgust at the memory, and he glanced at the sink warily as though ready to dive over it again. False alarm, thankfully. "Things like that just don't leave you..."

He sorta expected Raven to laugh at this little revelation, but she didn't. Instead, she shocked him right down to his steel-toed boots. "I'm sorry...I didn't know." Fixing him with her violet gaze, she asked, with the most sincerity he had ever heard from her, "Are you all right?"

At first, it was just a small twitch of the lips, reluctant and more or less against his will, then it grew into a small smirk, and before he knew it he was wearing a full-blown grin. "More than."

Brown eyes widened slightly as the words slipped from his mouth, and a light blush spread across his faintly green cheeks. The crowded bathroom had gotten very hot very fast, and Robin felt a strong desire to be out in the cool air of twilight once more. He awkwardly reached for her hand, then thought better of it, and did a sort of pirouette in mid-air, stumbling for the door and sweet freedom. Raven followed slowly.

The empath was rather surprised that he hadn't looked in the mirror even once while in the bathroom. True, he was rather busy with other things, but still...most people automatically looked when they were around a mirror. She rather hoped he would discover the absence of his mask, because she had a feeling that the longer it went, the larger the explosion of realization would be. Her guilt at last overcoming her personal prefferences, Raven said, very carefully and casually, "They're an interesting color of brown. A mix of dark and light, amber and sepia, swirled together yet at the same time seperated..." She coughed, attempting to stop herself from getting completely carried away and hoping he wasn't about to strangle her. "Unusual. Unique. I don't think I've ever seen eyes quite like yours." It was her turn to gape in shock at the blurted thought, but she didn't have long to question it.

Robin had stopped dead in his tracks, a twitch working furiously at his temple, hands trembling slightly. At first it was disbelief, then horror, and then realization as he reached tentatively toward his face and felt, not the customary cold of plastic, but the warmth of skin. Bare skin. Maskless skin.

"What...how...when did I...Why didn't you...?"

Raven hastened to explain. "You lost it on the roller coaster. The wind just ripped it off. I knew you wouldn't be able to find it, and I didn't want you to feel uncomfortable, so I didn't mention it, but when you didn't notice-- Robin..." Her voice held the merest hint of desperation, of pleeding.

"You mean...this whole time I've been...?"

"No one noticed," she assured him. "No one gives anyone the time of day in a crowd like this. Besides...I don't recongnize you. I doubt they would." The words slipped from her mouth before she could stop them. "Please don't be upset. This has been so fun, and...and I don't want it to end on a bad note." She bit her lip, watching for his reaction.

Robin was struggling to comprehend, fighting to kick out a reaction, fighting over which reaction to kick out. It was perfectly natural for him to yell, wave his arms around, have a mental breakdown, and storm off leaving an either angry or hurt Raven in his wake, and later feel like crap because of it. Whoa...that didn't sound like much fun. To heck with natural reactions! He was spontaneous, after all. Why not avoid that emotional soap opera, just to shake things up a little. Besides, the look on Raven's face...well, it did things to him that he just couldn't quite work out. All he knew was that he wanted to make her happy.

"Hey...that's all right, Raven. It'll be dark soon anyway." Taking her hand on impulse, he smiled warmly at her, trying not to feel exposed without his mask. It was strange...but somehow, around Raven, it was more a good feeling than a bad one. "So...now I guess you get to dunk me again, huh?"

Raven blinked in complete shock, her gaze traveling from his open smile to his gloved hand wrapped around hers. She was tempted to poke him sharply on the arm, wondering if she had been hoodwinked into going out...to the fair with a hologram. She shook it off with difficulty, adding it to the list of the many other un-Robin-like things the Boy Wonder had done that day. "Hmm...I don't think so. The arrangement will be a little different this time."

Robin looked at her questioningly, but she didn't elaborate, merely tugged him along to the Whale Wash, which still had a shocking lack of costumers.


"Oh for pity's sake Robin, just throw the ball!"

"No."

"Why?"

"Because I don't want to! I...I have bad aim!"

Raven raised one thin eyebrow skeptically. "Right, which is why you could kill someone with a single birdarang from twenty feet away."

"Fifty," he corrected, then frowned as he realized his mistake. "I just don't want to, ok?" he growled, glaring icily at the attendant who was sniggering behind her hand.

"Why don't you want to?" Raven pressed, her butt rapidly becoming numb on the uncomfortable metal projection, the night wind playing with her hair.

"Because!"

"Because why? I made you ride The Zipper, so now you get to dunk me. You should be happy."

"Well, I'm not! Get off that contraption--"

"Or what?" she teased, smirking at his distressed expression. She wasn't entirely sure why he was making such a fuss, but it was amusing all the same.

"Or...I'll..." he faltered, casting a helpless glance at his shoes, "...get you down...myself?" The statement had somehow lost something in translation.

Raven chuckled, swinging her legs slightly. "You only wish you could, Robin." For some reason, this statement brought a crimson blush flaming into his cheeks. Raven's eyebrow cocked in suspicion. "What?"

"Idon'twanttodunkyoubecauseit'snotfunandthebottomkindofhurtsanditjustseemsrudeand...I...I just...can't." The rubber ball fell from his limp hand, bouncing slightly on the hard-packed dirt as he turned slowly and walked away from the Whale Wash, leaving silence in his wake.

Raven blinked several times, drooping slightly as confusion set in. "What on earth is wrong with him?" she mumbled, not expecting an answer.

"You don't know much about guys, do you?"

The empath turned to face the attendant, unpleasantly surprised at her unwanted input. "I beg your pardon?" she droned venemously.

"He's practically clobbering you with signals, yet you don't pick up on a single one. Don't you get it? The classic protective nature, the blushing...oh, and in case you didn't know, friends don't kiss on the lips. Cheek, forehead, sure...but not lips." The attendant helped her down off the seat with an exasperated sigh. "Unless of course you want to torture him...because you're certainly doing that."

Raven scowled. "And I'm supposed to listen to a brainless airhead who--"

"You're not supposed to do anything. Just giving a bit of advice, take it or leave it." Gesturing towards the bench where Robin was sitting, head in his hands, she droned, in a rather good imitation of Raven, "Now, if I wasn't a brainless airhead, I would tell you to go talk to him. But then, what do brainless airheads know, after all?" With a wink and a flick of her blonde hair, she turned away from Raven and went back to her romance novel: no doubt her source of information.

Resentful at the prospect of taking the girl's advice, yet grudgingly seeing some value in it, Raven made her way toward the bench, wondering what she should say. Mentally, she stopped herself. The best conversations were always the ones that weren't planned in advance.

"Robin?"

"What?" he grunted, voice muffled by his hands. He was in a state of shock, too humiliated to articulate properly. Had he gone completely insane? You just didn't say things like that...not to Raven...especially when they were true.

Sighing quietly, she sat down next to him, gazing absently at the brightly lit ferris wheel before them. The racket of the fair was the only sound for a moment, then...

"Thank you."

Robin still didn't emerge from his shell of protection. "For what?"

Taking his head and gently lifting it until their eyes met, Raven smiled one of her rare yet beautiful smiles. Her hand found its way to his, fingers entwining comfortably as she felt him relax under her gaze. They fit. Somehow...they just fit.

"For a new beginning."


Ok...so...maybe that part was a bit sappy, but...oh give me a break! Even unsappy people are sappy sometimes! This is the last chapter, THE LAST CHAPTER, DO YOU HEAR? Hope you liked it...it was a lot of fun to write. Review please! -Dusty