Author's Note: Later, read first. Short chapter, apologies.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans.
Chapter 26 - Whatever Happens
The blinding streak of light coming from the part in the curtains didn't wake him. Nor did the constant drip and rattle of the leaky pipes in the walls. It was the dark haired beauty in his arms. Her warmth, a warmth he wasn't used to, emanated from her and seeped into him. Calming him, a calm he wasn't used to.
It had been too long since he'd slept like that; quietly, serenely, well. Being with her made him forget that which nothing else could. Forget the past, and concentrate on the now. He was so engrossed in her, in her beauty, in her heat, in her eyes, that the fear never crossed his mind. The morning had been a peaceful quiet that he had never experienced in his entire adult life. A peace he only before found in the dark. Now in the light.
She stirred beneath him. His left arm was trapped under her, his right tucked around her stomach, their fingers intertwined. Usually when he slept with women he would have either have left by now or they would be on opposite sides of the bed. But now, despite the numbness in his arm, he didn't want to move.
And that scared him. More than any job he's ever pulled. Affection he had never gotten; affection he had never had to return. Attraction he had dealt with easily enough in the past. But Raven. My God, even the thought of her name… Raven was something deeper. More fulfilling than beauty, more lasting than lust. Love was indeed many a splendoured thing.
But he couldn't help but feel it. That stirring in his gut, that pain in his heart and that ringing in his brain. It had been too long since the last attempt, there was sure to be another one. And he was afraid, afraid that this was going to take the cake. And whatever happened up there…
He looked down at her. He might… Raven…
He lifted his right arm and untangled it from her own. He propped himself up as much as he could in his position, trying to steal a glance of her face. Gar ran the back of a finger down her cheek, then back up again to draw back a few stray hairs. She's glowing, he thought. She's so beautiful.
Suddenly his dark haired beauty, his, stirred beneath him. She gave a small groan and leaned her head back into his chest. She savoured the smell of her velvety hair. Lavender.
"Are you still asleep?" he asked, tangling his feet in hers. She kept her eyes closed but couldn't help but smile.
"Stop," she groaned, "I'm ticklish." Raven opened her eyes and turned to him. He smiled at her sleepiness. He himself had been awake for hours, just savouring the feel of her.
He smiled at her, "Mornin'."
She smiled back, "Morning." She leaned up and kissed him, not being able to hold back her smile.
"What?" he asked.
"You have morning breath," she said, a smirk on her face. He quickly cupped a hand to his mouth and breathed in it, checking. She grinned and pulled his hand down and kissing him again.
"Don't worry, it's not bad. Besides, I didn't expect you to be flawless." He laughed and kissed her again, letting himself get carried away. He rolled on top of her and they stayed that way until Raven pulled away.
"I know this is going to be terribly unromantic but," she said, blushing slightly, "I'm starving." His own stomach gave out a low grumble and they both laughed.
"Well," he said, "I guess it's unanimous." He gave her a few last kisses along her chin and lower jaw before prying himself off of her. He got up and grabbed his shorts from the ground and slipped them on. She just sat up, grabbing the blanket around her chest, managing to keep the private parts private but with bits of skin still peeking out from under the white sheets. Her long black hair was messy and wildly framing her face. Gar pulled back the curtains letting sunshine in before turning back to her with a warm smile.
He bent over and picked up his shirt, offering it to her, "Come on let's get up before I jump you again."
Dick sighed and massaged his temples with his forefingers. Not her, not again. Not now. He turned to face her, peering at her over his glasses.
"Isn't it?" she continued, ignoring the obvious apprehension in his body language. She went to stand beside him, both of them peering into the glass case. Inside sat a golden bangle, adorned with carnelian and lapis lazuli. The royal blues of the stones reflecting majestically off the glass; the halogen lights doing their job well.
"Yes, Laura, it is magnificent. Now may I ask what you are doing here?"
She looked at him innocently and pouter her lips, "Now Richard, I'm a tourist here. Can't a woman admire some jewellery?"
"No, not you. When you say admire, you mean shop. You can't buy these Laura." She turned and gave a small laugh, making her way to another display case across the floor.
"I don't plan on buying them, Richard."
She stood in front of a much larger display case, her eyes growing hungrily at the sight before returning to normal again.
"Do you know of Antony and Cleopatra, Richard?" He sighed and made his way to her, one hand in his pocket anxiously fingering his phone.
"Of course," he replies, "any historian worth his salt would have heard of the tragic Antony and Cleopatra. Not to mention any English student who's studied Shakespeare."
"Yes," she responded sarcastically, "the greatest love of all of history. Before Romeo and Juliet were even conceived, Antony dies for his love."
"So did Cleopatra," his comment made her laugh. She chuckled heartily before walking around him, draping her arm across his back seductively.
"You can't possibly believe they were in love, Dick? I didn't take you for a romantic," she raised her eyebrow mockingly.
"He killed himself with his knife and had his dying body dragged to her. Upon seeing her beloved impale himself, Cleopatra killed herself with an asp." Dick waved off the story as if it were common knowledge.
"But you forget, she didn't kill herself immediately. She was first brought to Octavian."
"She committed suicide before Octavian," insisted Dick. What was the point in this? Why were they talking history when clearly she had other things in mind.
"The story goes, Octavian wanted her humiliated. After what she did to Caesar. He was a brat, and Cleopatra was not about to be paraded like some harlot," she smirked before adding, "so she killed herself."
"What is your point, Laura," asked Dick, clearly agitated.
"My point is: Cleopatra was a brilliant strategist. A visionary woman of her time. She was a cunning politician with the charms of a snake, and the bite of one too. Not even the great Caesar could resist her," she turned her head towards Dick who was busy looking down at the piece of jewellery.
"When Caesar died, she found herself another military wonder, Antony. Unfortunately for Antony, he made the mistake of falling in love with her." She too looked down at the display. It was a gold necklace with a papyrus shaped pendant and a disc clasp. The pendant was made of gold but adorned with a large carnelian in the centre in the shape of "Hercules's Knot". The brown and black veins of the stone were few, giving it a rare, 'pure' look. The style was so obviously Greco-Roman. It had traces of influences from the Hellenistic period.
"This was his gift to her. It was a far less extravagant gift compared to Alanya, the city in Turkey which they were married in and which he gave to her for their wedding," she began again with the history lesson, "This piece was from Greece, left over from the conquests of Alexander the Great's reign. The centre piece of carnelian was later added, on top of the Gorgon face that was once on the pendant."
"The Knot of Hercules was a popular healing symbol in Egypt and was used as a protective amulet in Greece and Rome," she gave a small smirk, "Oddly enough, it was also considered a wedding gift to give a Knot of Hercules, coining the phrase 'tying the knot'."
Dick waved his hand annoyed, "Yes, yes. I know the folklore. The bride would tie the knot on her girdle and the new groom would untie it, symbolising losing her virginity."
She clapped amusingly, "Well done, Richard. What's surprising is that this was not a gift for their wedding; it was during his courting her."
"A little straight forward don't you think?" asked Dick, eyebrow raised defiantly.
"Yes, you would think so, wouldn't you," she gave him a sideways glance, "That is if you believe in the romanticized version. In reality Antony would have to have been a complete idiot to assume that Cleopatra was a virgin. She was married to Cesar and bore a child for God's sake. He gave her the necklace, but the Knot, so obviously out of place, was added later on." She gave an amused chuckle as at the look of realization on Dick's face.
"He hadn't meant it as a romantic gesture," he slowly took of his glasses, "nor a proposal of marriage."
She shook her head, "No. The knot was used by sailors and known to be nearly unbreakable. Tied by looping two ropes together. It was to symbolize the merger of two, two great empires."
"Meaning to say that Cleopatra was in it for the money and not the love?" She scoffed at his audacious comment.
"Of course not! She was a politician first and foremost, not a giddy school girl," she said laughing, "She lost her ticket to merge Egypt and Rome when Caesar died, so she found herself a handsome new general."
Suddenly her voice became harsh and criticising, "But then of course, there was one big fault in Antony. He was no Caesar. He was weak and stupid," she gave a sigh of remorse, "unfortunate really."
"So, why the sudden interest in Egyptian history," asked Dick finally wanting to get to the point.
"I have no interest in history, Richard. Although," she looked down at the necklace enviously, a smirk found its way on her face and her eyes glistened with desire, "My future interest me very much."
He scowled at her and replaced the glasses on his face, "I told you, Laura, it's not for sale."
She pouted at him again, "Richard, can't you do something about that?" The older woman placed a tantalizing hand on his shoulder, slowly dragging her hand down his chest.
"No," he turned away from her and started walking towards the offices, "It doesn't belong to the outside collection. It belongs to the ROM."
Gar walked closely beside Raven, his arm draped around her waist despite her protests. She would pinch his arm and tell him it would be highly inappropriate for them to be seen in public like that, that people would say things. Gar would just smile and lean in close to her ear, whispering that they shouldn't give a rat's ass about what people think.
"Stop! I'm telling you, the media would have a field day," she complained. He just winked at her held onto her tighter.
The happy couple walked along the hallowed halls of the ROM, bickering like a teen couple when they finally reached the door of Raven's office. She shrugged off his arm and pointed at finger at him, signalling for him to behave himself. He just played along and gave her a puppy dog pout.
Suddenly the door swung open on the two to reveal a startled Dick on the other side. He had his hand on the door as if he was about to open it, behind him a woman sat on one of the guest chairs either unaware or uninterested in the goings on behind her.
"Oh, Gar. Raven. Good morning," Richard addressed the two and made his way back to the room, "Raven, we've been waiting for you."
Raven shook of Gar's instinctive arm and straightened her blazer while Gar simply stood, sceptically looking at Dick. He watched as the woman in the arm chair rose to reveal a familiar black haired vixen.
"Raven Roth, this is Madame Laura Rouge," he turned to Gar, is covered eyes never looking directly at his as if out of shame that he had to be the one introducing them, "and Garfield, I believe you've met."
Madame Rouge gave a smirk and made her way to Gar, Raven watched her swagger as she passed. She moved easily, gracefully, as if she already owned the place. Of course, her reputation preceded her. Anybody who was anybody in the art world knew of Madame Rouge, the Baroness of DuMassy. She was a ruthlessly prominent art collector, famed for her venomously seductive demeanour, her penchant for rare art, and the fact that she always get what she wants. Legally or otherwise. Of course no one could prove anything. She had her money to cover her tracks, but despite her clean record with the authorities, the art community noticed the pieces in her collection that she could not have gotten through legitimate sources.
"Garfield, how are you? Such a long time it has been, has it not? My you have grown," Gar stood, unwavering to Rouge's advances. Raven watched as his jaw clenched with apprehension and forced a smile through his lips.
"It certainly has Madame." As soon as the words escaped his mouth she had already turned her attention to Raven. The woman stood almost half a foot taller than Raven and certainly emanated that aura about her stature. She looked down and Raven and smiled, stretching out an arm as an offering. Raven took it and was met by a firm shake.
"It is a pleasant honour to meet you Madame Rouge, I assume you-"
Rouge released her hand and waved her off with the other, walking back to the chair, "Yes, yes I am here for the exhibit. Quite a quaint museum you have here Miss Roth. Very… modernistic."
Raven caught a glance from Gar before she made her way to her desk, she wasn't quite sure what it meant but it didn't look pleasant. She sat across from the Madame and noticed that the good woman had been twirling one of her letter openers in her hand. It was in a non-threatening manner, but in her hands a pencil could look threatening.
"But of course, I'm not interested in the aesthetics of your museum-"
"What is it exactly you are here for then?" The venom in Gar's voice startled Raven but Rouge did not even flinch.
She merely closed her eyes and smirked, "I'm here to admire the exhibit Garfield. Why, what ever were you expecting?"
"I don't know," He stood behind the chair, glaring into the back of it, his arms crossed firmly across his chest, "Maybe I thought you were up to your of shenanigans, Rouge." Raven watched the quiet argument that transpired while Dick casually leaned against the opposite wall from Gar.
Raven cleared her throat, "Well Madame-"
Rouge cut her off, "Of course, yes. I suppose it really isn't my place to be intruding in on you like this. I just wanted to meet the famed curator of the exhibit." She rose and bent over the desk to shake Raven's hand one more time. Raven stood and took it, smiling politely.
"I must speak to you some other time Miss Roth," she turned and caught Gar's glare, "Yes, some other time," she glanced back at Raven, a full smile on her face, "Perhaps someplace more private?"
Raven smiled back and nodded, "Just let my secretary know and I could arrange a meeting."
"Come Richard, escort me out of the building will you?" She motioned for Dick to follow her and he did, pushing himself off the wall and continuing to walk with his arms still crossed. Gar watched as they left and closed the door behind them then walked over to the armchair.
"Okay, what was that?" asked Raven, she sat crossing her arms and legs. Gar slumped in the chair and stared up at her.
"I don't like her being here, Rae," he shook his head, "Me and her, we don't get along. And that woman doesn't do anything without an ulterior motive. She wants something, just… watch her."
"For what reason? Garfield you are going to have to give me more than that little Doberman line."
"I know her, Rae," he looked up at her with a look in his eye, "I know her."
Vic and Karen leaned against the wall observing the museum. People passed in by then without a second thought as they watched pedestrians lean over sealed glass and read little information cards, oblivious to the cameras and security personnel around them. They didn't know about the set up, they were just here to see an exhibit, maybe someday they can tell their children about it.
Vic frowned as he watched Rouge and Dick rush past through the front doors. They stopped at the foyer, seeming to disagree about something. Dick nodded his head solemnly and let her go. On his way back he glanced over at Vic, his face unreadable because of his glasses.
Karen looked up at Vic's expression, "You don't like it?"
"What's there to like? 'Cuz suddenly it smells like a sewer in here, like rats in the building."
"I'll take you out for lunch."
"Garfield, I can't skip out everyday," Raven sighed as gar watched her from across her desk. He had been sitting there for an hour. "Why don't you go out and bring me back something?"
"Because its not the same?"
"Don't you have work to do?" she asked getting a tad tired of it. He sighed and stayed silent for a moment. She watched as he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. Then he opened them, getting up and walking over to her behind her desk. He pulled out her chair and kneeled in front if her, grabbing both her arms and looking her straight in the eye.
"Raven," he began, "it's going to end soon." Her heart skipped a beat. "I can feel it Raven. A-and… I don't know how it's going to turn out. I wish I could tell you, I-I wish I could tell you not to worry about… about me because I'll be fine. T-that whatever happens I'll come home to you at the end of the night. But, I cant. I want to promise you I'll be alright, but I can't. So please Raven-"
She stopped him with a kiss. A chaste one, just to make him stop. She didn't want to hear it; she didn't want to hear the dangers of what he's doing. She didn't want to picture him shot again, to think about him getting thrown off any buildings.
"Stop, Gar, stop. Don't say it. You will be fine," he shook his head at her hopefulness, "Stop that! You will! And you are going to come home, okay? You are going to come home, and you're going to cook your little breakfasts, and make your little jokes and carry me to the bed and fuck me right." He chuckled at her bluntness, and so did she. "And-a-and…" She trailed off, nothing more to say. She held his face in her hands and he kissed her again. They pulled away, foreheads still touching.
"I'll take you out for lunch," he repeated.
She closed her eyes tight and fought that fear, "Okay."
"It happens tonight," a voice rang through the phone, "It doesn't matter about the cops, they can be taken care of. But the longer you wait, the better they get."
Red X didn't move, he just held the phone against his ear and listened.
"You take care of them, alright? Whatever it takes."
And he did take her out for lunch. Not far, not fancy. They went to the diner along Yonge, a small little place meant for people going shopping. It was small, grungy and Greek, forgettable in a city like Toronto.
"Moo, get it? Moo?" He asked hoping to get a chuckle out of her. She rolled her eyes and continued to pick at her souvlaki.
"You know for a great guy, you have the worst jokes."
"You should see me on a bad day then," he smiled as they spoke. They were casual about everything. He didn't need to impress her anymore, they were just a couple sitting in a diner eating lunch. The conversation carried along.
"But I think that's stupid, you can't confuse charity and altruism," she argued, "charity is giving to others and altruism is giving for others."
"Raven, that's the same thing," he smiled.
"No it's not, altruism is when you give to the poor because you want to be seen as the guy who gives to the poor. Charity is when you give to the poor because you don't want them to be poor anymore. It's a difference in who you care for."
"Sooo, when I care for you… Am I altruistic, or charitable?" She shoved him, "because when I care for you, I just feel selfish. Which is a whole other topic."
She raised an eyebrow to ask, "How so?"
"Well, when I care for you, it's because I love you. Not because I want you to be cared for, or I want others to see that I do. But because you make me feel… amazing," he looked in her eye and had a moment, "So really, I'm being selfish."
"So you really don't care about me?" she challenged.
He laughed, "No, but I will give you anything you ever want in the whole world, because I love you. That's a truly selfish emotion."
She smiled at his words, "I guess I'm selfish too."
A/N: Okay, soooo I'm back. I'm sorry for the short chapter but I wanna finish this. I can feel the tension mounting; we are building up for a fight, stocking up for a storm, bracing ourselves for a punch and every other metaphor I can give you.
They kind of said I love you. Kind of. I got back to this very very very recently and I almost forgot where I was going with it. But now I remember so we're okay. Stay tuned, I'll be writing.