Chapter 13: Answers
One week had passed since the incident.
Seven miserable, lonely days.
Three hundred and thirty-six horrible, dreary, unbearable hours.
Raven's thoughts were cut short by a short, sharp rapping at her door. Her heart jumped against her ribcage, the intrusion jarring her forcibly from her melancholy thoughts as she stared at the ceiling.
"What?" Her reply was taut and a bit breathless, her voice unable to conceal her startled reaction.
"Raven…" A gentle voice addressed her softly through the door, filled with the uncertainty of one unsure of whether not one was a friend worthy of trust or an enemy that at any given moment might strike. With Raven's irascible and contentious mood lately, she was unsure of where she stood. "It is I, Starfire."
After a few seconds of undeterred silence, Starfire continued meekly.
"Will…will you join us for dinner?"
"Unlikely." Was the short reply.
Starfire slouched slightly in defeat, her shoulders hunching over. Her friend was not well and she could not find a way to 'fix' her although she knew from which the illness originated. "Please friend, is it possible for you to converse with me using more than one worded sentences?" She pleaded.
Lately, Raven's vocabulary consisted of 'what', 'unlikely', 'no', and often enough, low growls or snarls of warning. Beast Boy especially afforded the dark girl a wide berth. The longest sentence so far had been, 'leave me the hell alone'. That had been directed to the resident shape shifter accompanied with a low growl of warning and a piercing glare.
Starfire sighed heavily, not even attempting to keep the desolation from her voice. "Well, I shall save you some pizza then?"
After hearing a long sigh, Raven listened for the soft footsteps that indicated the departure of Starfire and wasn't disappointed as she was left once more to her overwhelmingly, dark and depressive thoughts.
She had no idea it would be this hard. Passing Robin in the halls of the Tower and not be able to run her fingers through his hair, On bad days, the only way to deter the impulse was to curl her fingers into a tight fist and hope no one noticed, which wasn't remotely difficult when her cape was undeterred. Having to simply stand next to him during missions or when the whole team was forced together was hell itself. Someone once said it was better to love and have lost than not have loved at all.
That was the biggest crock of bull that she had ever heard in her entire life. Nothing was worse than the constant ache in her heart every time she thought of him or the shortness of breath every time he smiled or laughed, even when it wasn't directed at her. Dreaming about him only to wake up cold and alone, without him by her side after days of becoming accustomed to it was like a dagger in her heart. Not having him hold her hand and whisper softly in her ear, the warm breath tickling her senses and driving her wild seemed to be hell on earth. She was seriously betting money on the fact that the creator of that particular adage had never truly fallen in love.
'Besides,' she scowled. 'I was perfectly content in my emotionally constipated reality.'
Maybe it would have been better if she didn't see him every day and wasn't reminded of what she couldn't have but her chest tightened uncomfortably at the thought. It was better to have him just beyond her reach instead of not knowing what he was doing and not having him a stone's throw away.
Sitting in the living room wasn't really worth the trouble of reassuring her comrades unless he was there. Conversation and other things usually ceased when she entered the room, the occupants usually wary of the resident empath and her cantankerous mood at that moment. Some days she was bearable and other days…just calmly and slowly leave the room with no quick movements and no one would get hurt...too badly.
Why did she love him? Was it vestiges of the love spell? Could it be that it awakened something that was already there? Or created feelings because she knew he wanted her? It was almost too much to consider. Maybe it was his humor, or the quirky way his eyebrow would raise when she say or did something that was out of the norm. The expressive tone to his voice and brightness in his face when talked to her—and only to her—as if he had developed a special persona only for her. Maybe it was his powerful grace and the way he drew her eyes whenever he entered a room. Or maybe it was his innate hopefulness and that fact that he believed in her, beyond anyone else. She didn't know. But all she did know was that she wanted it to stop. And yet the thought of it ceasing hurt beyond anything else.
A soft knock at her door interrupted her thoughts once more and a low growl emanated from her throat. "Leave. Or die." Her ultimatum was spoken in clear, low tones that demanded immediate obedience.
"Raven?" Sounded the voice that seemed to haunt her dreams. It was firm and louder than normal as he demanded her immediate attention. He didn't need to raise his voice, she would have heard and recognized the voice if he had just whispered. "We need to talk."
Raven stiffened, remembering the day she uttered those very words, as she responded flatly. "Why?"
"Why?" He echoed incredulously, his voice muffled by the door. Suddenly the urge to see him swamped her. "Because I'm worried! The team is worried! I want to know that you're alright. Raven, please come out." He voice had gentled towards the end of his speech and she softened considerably. After several seconds of silence his voice sounded again. "Can I at least come in?"
Raven nodded stupidly before realizing he couldn't see her. She cursed herself silently before calling aloud in the best monotone she could manage, "Fine."
She didn't bother to lift her head up from the pillow. If she saw him, she couldn't be sure that she could keep her hands to herself. She waited a few seconds for him to talk but only silence answered her.
Aggravated, she propped herself up on her pillows to glare at him only to find him at the foot of her bed. "What?"
He stood stoically in front of her, only the gentle rise and fall of his chest claimed him to be alive. The intensity of his stare was unnerving her. Yes, he had his mask on but she could still feel the weight of his ponderous gaze. She sat up fully, pressing her back against her headboard as she pulled her pillow into her arms to fiddle with it nervously. Assuming her lotus position, she just stared back, her eyes going everywhere but to his face. Why was he just standing there staring at her? What was he thinking? What emotions were hidden behind his mask?
"Robin…was there something you wanted or were you just going to stand there and stare?"
He suddenly smiled softly. "I got you to actually use my name…and what was that, a fifteen word sentence?"
She growled, her face tingeing red. "If you're just-"
"Quiet Raven, I was just getting started."
Surprisingly, she shut her mouth. Frowning furiously at him, she crossed her arms over her chest as her knee tapped impatiently against the sheets.
"I really don't buy that story you guys told me about Jinx knocking me out for two weeks. It just doesn't feel right."
Raven opened her mouth to make a snide remark but Robin cut her off again. "It makes no sense that I dream what would never happen, not in a million years and yet they're so vivid it's almost as if they were actual memories."
Staring intently at her, she felt his gaze heavily and it made her nervous and excited at the same time. Horror replaced her mixed emotions at his next statement.
"I dream of you, Raven. Every night without fail. I want to know why. I want to know why it is that when I walk into my bedroom at night, it feels strange, like I don't belong there but somewhere else. With someone else."
Hardening and blanking her face, she sneered at him. "I sorry if you still have wet dreams." Inwardly, she was cursing herself for botching the memory alteration, reasoning that it must have been because of her massive energy loss that night of the sheer exhaustion.
His face emptied, and she could almost see the cogs turning in his mind as he stepped closer, his knees pressing into the bed. "I've heard a variation of that from you before, haven't I?" He muttered as racked his memory, trying to recall why it seemed like such strong deja vu. He was never one to ignore his instincts, and they never led him astray.
"Get out of my room, Boy Blunder. I've had enough of your nonsense."
He narrowed his eyes, his arms crossing against his chest in an obviously defiant challenge. "Make me."
In a flash, she was kneeling before him, her bed just high enough so that the two birds were at eye level. "Out. Now. Don't make me, make you."
"What are you trying to hide from me, Raven?" His eyes searched her narrowed ones, hoping for a sign or a clue to assuage his misgivings. The muscles in his hand twitched, a spasm in his arms here or there, desperate to complete a motion that they've become mysteriously accustomed to when around Raven. A muscle memory that he didn't possess merely weeks ago tried to reassert its existence, but his will locked the muscles in place. Closing his eyes and sighing, he relaxed, and blanked his mind of all conscious thought as he endeavored to figure out what it was his subconscious was attempting to do; trying to remember.
Raven became wary as his tense, searching features suddenly slackened. She watched with slight trepidation as his hand lifted shakily into the air. What was he doing?
She froze, inhaling sharply when his hand slid into her hair; his gloved fingertips caressing her smooth cheek, sliding along her curved jaw, brushing against the shell of ear, before coming to lock in hair by the base of her skull, palming cupping her neck. Her eyes widened dramatically. Robin only did this when he wanted to kiss her. But, how would he remember that? He gently pulled her face forward and she offered no resistance, her eyes fluttering close as her heart palpitated wildly, and her blood pounded like the roar of the bay outside in her ears. Her breath remained stuck in her throat as longing and the thrill of anticipation overwhelmed her. Oh how she missed this...
His lips brushed hers softly: once then twice, his tongue slipping out to savor the taste upon them. Her fingers lifted tentatively, afraid to touch him and break the moment, almost as if he wasn't truly there, just a phantom or a shadow that would melt away if she tried to hold on to it.
Letting her fingers rest lightly against his chest, she quietly sighed against his mouth. Taking advantage of the parting of her lips, his tongue slipped in, playing only at the entrance. When Raven's tongue met his own boldly, beckoning him in even farther, he complied. His free arm snaked around her waist and brought her closer to him, trapping her hands between their bodies. The hand clenching her waist then slid to her backside, gripping it slightly as he pressed her hips towards his. She mewled softly, breaking him from his trance, and his eyes shot open in shock as he stared at her, the realization of what he just did crashing into him with the frightful intensity of a nuclear warhead. Nevertheless, he couldn't summon the strength to pull away from her. His heart was beating erratically in his chest, his breath caught in his throat and his mouth was suddenly dry. He was still trying to grasp the enormity of the situation. But despite the strangeness of it....he felt complete, as if an emptiness he hadn't been aware of for the past several weeks had finally been filled.
His fingers clenched hard in her hair as he pulled back slightly from her face. Sighing in completion, his breath ghosted across her sensitive lips and she shuddered, her fingers twisting in his shirt as she clung to him. "I've missed this...I don't know how, but I did....I do"
Brushing his lips against her petal soft ones, he pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes again. "Tell me why I'm doing this, Raven. You should have kicked my ass into the next century for even thinking about touching you. And oddly, this feels right."
"Do you...remember anything?" She was going to tell him what happened. There was nothing else for her to do. She tried to give him a chance at happiness. Apparently she had botched the task of erasing his memory and there was nothing she could do about it because she had already erased most of it. Searching his mind for individual memories anchored to nothing would be essentially like raping his mind, and she refused to do that. Unless he really wanted to forget.
Frowning at her, he racked his memory. "Only little things that come to me while I'm dreaming...like this."
'Like what?' was going to be Raven's next question before his lips suddenly attached themselves to her weak point, the area where her jaw met her ear. Shocked, she gave a very un-Raven-like squeal of surprise, before turning her face towards his, pushing it away, and tucking her cheek against her neck.
"No fair!" She gasped as Robin laughed at her expense but she really couldn't find any anger. Anger was the farthest thing from her mind.
His expression became serious again as he fingers began twirling silken strands of lavender between them. "Will you tell me the truth now?"
Sighing once again in defeat, she diverted her eyes. "It's a long story."
"We've nothing but time." He brushed his lips against her temple, enjoying the scent of her shampoo which seemed excruciatingly familiar.
Raven went into a rushed, ten minute account of the whole incident and Robin listened, slack jawed. Coming to a close, Raven chewed on her bottom lip as she racked her brain for something she might have missed. "Nope that's all."
Robin stared blankly at her. "Right....well. That was...interesting?"
"That's an understatement."
He nodded in agreement. "So what's next?"
Raven suddenly remembered why she tried to erase his memory. She looked at him, before looking away again, misery shining in her eyes as she steeled herself, ignoring the pain in her heart. "I want things to go back to the way they were."
"What? You can't be serious, Raven." He couldn't control the tinge of disappointment and hurt in his voice. "I can't turn back now that I know Raven."
She growled in frustration. "That's why I erased your memory in the first place! I don't want you to be trapped loving me if it's not your choice! All because I botched the job and couldn't erase all those memories properly."
Pushing away from him, she slid from the bed, placing her feet on the floor. The empath skirted around him and stared out the window, holding her arms.
"Raven, all I want is you! I don't remember being in love, I remember you! And I miss you. I don't think I've ever been in love, before---not that I remember---and if this is love, then I don't want to give it up. Can't we at least try?"
"Then, you're in love with a memory of me induced by an errant love spell. A memory you only have because of Jinx's interference. Without her, these memories wouldn't exist!" She rested her forehead against the cold window, her hands braced against the sill for support. The setting sun burned crimson onto her closed eyes, as she tried to keep her tears from slipping free.
Why was she doing this to herself. Her mind kept telling her she was torturing herself for him. So he wouldn't be trapped into loving her by any misconstrued memory. But her heart screamed at her to stop. Because he just might listen to her befuddled reasoning and turn away, leaving her broken and alone. But she was doing the right thing...right?
"Didn't anyone ever tell you not to look a gift horse in the mouth? Because that is what Jinx's interference was. When I held you just then, kissed you, I felt complete, like I had found the one thing I hadn't known I was missing. That was something I felt while caught up in you." She felt him move behind her, closing in on her position and she pressed herself against the window as if, if she pressed hard enough, it would protect her from the fury of her turbulent emotions and those churning at her back. His hunger and need was palpable, searing the air with colors only she could detect.
"I...I don't," She flinched, stiffening as his arms encircled her from behind, his nose burying into her neck, inhaling her scent like a man dying of hunger.
Eventually she relaxed against his hold, enjoying the warmth and comfort of his arms around her while it lasted. Her reply was a whisper.
Shocked, Raven's gentle push actually caused him to stumble back and she melted into the floor, the scent of her tears and the sound of her stifled sob lingering in the thick air.
The night was icy, as if all the warmth in the world had abandoned her leaving her cold and lonely. Even the stars hid themselves from view as raging, churning clouds obscured the entire night sky. Normally cold didn't bother her, but tonight, she felt as if she would never be warm again.
She said no for a reason. But at the moment, her resolve was faltering as her heart questioned her motives. Why did she say no? She had been pining after him for an entire week and when the moment of her dreams arrived, she thrust them away, like some type of grotesque nightmare. Was she afraid of love? Of want would happen, perhaps?
Under a love spell, Robin couldn't break her heart. He wasn't allowed to so she was secure in knowing that her heart was safe. But now...there were no guarantees. Her new, tender emotions were raw and still perplexing. It was okay to show emotions and affection to Robin because, if anything, she could subconsciously blame it on the love spell and Robin would still be there. Because he had to come back. However, she no longer had that safety net to depend on, and she could screw up badly any relationship she wished to pursue with Robin. Already their friendship was probably screwed.
Sometimes the sheer magnitude of her feelings for him scared the living crap out of her. It was frightening how a facial expression of his could change her day or a single sentence could determine her mood. Or how a simple caress could make her heart flop and her stomach feel leaden.
However, as the fear of love choked up her throat, the terror of losing him rolled like molten lava in the pit of her stomach, burning her with it's intensity. Pulling her legs against her chest and twining her arms around them, she tried to get her shallow breaths to even out.
Raven loved him so much it hurt. And that's what scared her beyond comprehension. Being so beholden to another person was against her very nature. She grew up alone, and with out peers. Even her own mother was forbidden to show her affection, lest it cause her powers to lash out. But did she want to at least try? There were no guarantees that she could or even would emerge from this unscathed.
But as she thought of the fluttering of her heart upon his touch, or the way her senses heightened when he entered a room, or the feeling of security and warmth she felt when he held her, or the boundless happiness she experienced when he smiled or laughed, she only had one answer. She had to try.
So involved in her introspection, she didn't notice the presence behind her. Jumping to her feet, she whirled in place, determined to chase Robin down but halted instantly: he was standing behind her, the rain dropping from him...and completely maskless.
Her eyes widened and amethyst clashed with steel and caught. She had to catch her breath against the gasp that lodged in her throat.
"I…I" The words refused to move past the lump of pure emotion in her throat and her frustration with her own lack of words mounted. Why couldn't she just say it? Why was it always so difficult to express herself and the emotions that welled up in her? After years of bottling up and forcibly repressing her emotions, trying to bring herself to say them aloud was like sticking needles through her eyelids.
"Fuck it!" She growled, throwing herself at Robin while her arms twined around his neck. He reflexively caught her, stumbling back a step from the force. Tipping herself to her toes, she crushed her mouth against his, letting her actions speak for themselves as she poured her soul into the kiss. Grey eyes widened in shock and amazement before drifting close with the moment. He returned the kiss just as feverishly. His arms tightened around her body as he attempted to mold her body to his so that she would never get away again.
He stopped slanting his mouth across hers to take a break for much needed oxygen. "Does…does this mean what I think it means?"
A full-blown smile found her lips and she closed the distance between their lips, stopping just short of his. Her breath was hot and moist against his as she paused, "What do you think Boy Blunder?"
"Raven!" The shout rang through the T Tower and Cyborg instinctively cringed, the sound reminiscent of days better left in the past but then he took a second to pause. The voice wasn't filled rage but with something a bit more subtle and full of a different type of promise. "Wait a minute, what? Raven?"
The aforementioned person slid breathlessly into room. Upon finding him in the room, Raven gave him a salacious wink before exiting the room via the window.
Cyborg stood stock still, completely bewildered as four seconds later, Robin entered the room.
"What the hell is going on here?" He demanded from his leader, forgetting from previous episodes that when he asked the birds' this type of question he never ended up liking the answer.
Robin flashed him a wicked smirk before strolling to the window so that there was no confusion about the implications of his words. "Raven usually likes to make me work for it."
"Oh HELL No! Too much information, man!!! Have you no decency at all? Oh GOD, my ears!" He did NOT want to know anything at all about their sex life. He shuddered as his imagination went to work with those words and produced scenarios that made him want to permanently shut down his power core or wipe his entire hard drive.
Robin shrugged, wicked grin still in place. "You asked, Tin Man." Then he disappeared out of the window.
Cyborg had finally learned his lesson about asking questions.
He found her in the training room waiting for him and when he entered she smiled, a curve of lips so wicked he had to pause to catch his breath, desire nearly renting him in half. Raven had awakened in him a fierce, nearly careless counterpart that he did not know existed; that could not exist except in her presence or by the promise of her. He could still not remember the events that had happened over a month ago but he looked forward to, with a wicked glee and anticipation that made his knees go weak and his head spin, the opportunity to make new and even better memories. He was irrevocably in love with her and if it were up to him, they would stay together for always. He knew it because it was in her rarely given but exquisite smile, and the way she blew the hair away from her eyes when it was obstructing her view and the simmering look she would give him--and only him. It was in both the quiet moments and the loud; the gentle moments and the fierce as well. She still had trouble controlling herself around him--honestly, who could blame her? Hence the training room, the strongest, most reinforced room in the tower. But he would walk with her every step of the way until she could achieve that plateau. He was under her spell and there was no where else he'd rather be.
"Took you long enough." Her cloak fell to the floor; he loved that she didn't feel the need to hide from him. The action was followed by a flicker of movement from her hand and the steel enforced door behind him slammed shut, the lock crashing soundly into place.
She playfully quirked an eyebrow, "I thought maybe you weren't coming."
A disbelieving snort escaped Robin as he leaned against the door, arms folded nonchalantly across his chest as his eyes drank in the sight of her. "You know me better than that."
She sauntered over, his eyes following the subtle swaying of her hips. Bracing her hands against the door to either side of his head, she meet his eyes as his arms snaked around her waist. "Kiss me?" It was half plea, half demand.
He smiled. "Your wish is my command."
Four floors below, Beast Boy jumped out of his skin as the lights flickered and a loud crash from above drew his eyes straight up to the ceiling.
"What the hell was that?"
Cyborg shook his head, before laying it between two hands and covering his ears.
"Please, just don't ask."
Man, nearly three and a half years later. This needed to be finished and it seems like a huge relief to me. There's certainly a definite amount of pride in having finished my first story outside of one- and two-shots. I've decided that if I'm to become serious about my writing and becoming an author then this had to end. No loose ends...for the most part.
I love everyone--absolutely everyone--who reviewed and stuck with me through this. I know that this fandom had dwindled, but I had to finish this, not only for myself but for you guys as well. I might start with fanfiction again, maybe not, but there is a strong possibility, although not in this fandom. I definitely want to concentrate on other aspects of writing, like developing my own characters and worlds. To all, thanks for sticking it out. God Bless.
Spread your wings and Fly… Butterfly
P.S. I was up last night (til 'bout 4 am when I had a 8 am class) shifting through all of my old email from my old email account when I realized, "Holy, crap! All of my old work is still here!" It's all there because this was before I discovered the joys of memory sticks and the crappy floppy drives kept failing on me. So there's a really good possibility that I will be revising, reposting, and finishing my other TT fic, Hell's Fury. As I said, I don't like any loose ends. So my really, really, old fans, who remember that one, don't despair. And I really love all the positive feedback from you guys and the understanding. (04/07/2009)