Red X (cont…)

"Oh, frick…how am I ever going to think up a good enough task for that sly snake?" Robin wonders aloud as he paces in Titan Tower, in front of the big-screen T.V.

Starfire tries earnestly to assure her friend. "Robin, it is alright," she ensures. "I am certain you will figure out a hard enough task for the Red X. You have always beaten him before, Robin. Why not now?"

"Shut up, Star! This isn't like other times!" Robin screams out at the shocked Star, now fiddling with her long orange hair to distract her from her feelings of sadness creeping over her.

"Robin, take a chill pill. Just relax; it'll all turn out alright. And anyway, if he does beat your tasky-thing, it'll be okay. He seems like a changed guy," Beast Boy explains.

"BB, you don't know what you're talking about! Villains are villains…once they choose to become evil, they stay evil! And come on, if Slade, on day, came up and said 'Titans, I am a changed man. I am no longer evil! I want to help you fight evil! I want to join you!' would you accept him without a fight? NO! You'd be fretful and anxious. Red X has backstabbed us before, of course he can do it again." Robin paces the floor, looking out the window every now and then to the sun setting deeper and deeper into the sky.

"Robin, what is the matter. Do not be worried about the Red X. Is that all that troubles you?" Star crosses over from her seat in the kitchen to her friend. She places a hand on Robin's shoulder. "I am certain you will find a task too hard for the Red X."

"Get off me, Star! I can't think straight with you all-over me." Robin yanks Star's hand off of him. "And yes—I have more to deal with than finding out something that will beat Red X. I have to come up with something in a short amount of time. I told him to be ready by night-fall. It's only a few hours away…"

Star backs away and stares out of the window.

"Robin, can't you just tell him you need more time?" BB asks innocently.

"NO! Are you mad, BB? Since when do good-guys ask their enemies for more time?" Robin screeches.

BB and Star take a good, hard look at Robin. Then, with deep sighs, they leave their friend to fend for himself.

XXX

"So…"

"So…"

"Do you feel pretty good about this, so far?"

"Yeah, I think I can handle whatever it is Robin throws at me. After all, he really owes me a break. I saved him!" As the sun continues to set, I grow more worried as to what the hell Robin has in mind for me, though I conceal this truth from Raven. I stare up into the darkening sky. How the hell am I going to get myself out of this?

"What's wrong?"

"What?"

"You're shaking…" Raven grabs my hand and rubs it, in a massage.

Holy crap! Ooohhh…Raven should be a masseuse. Wow, she's good!

"Hey, Raven…"

"What's up?" Raven's hood falls off her head. Her purple hair shines dimly in the darkening light. Her eyes are twinkling in the fading sunlight. Her lips are shining.

"I—I well, I was wondering if, uh..." I lose my concentration as Raven's hands move from my hands to my shoulders. "Ahhh...a little to the right. No, no, the left. Oh, perfect. Wait, a little higher. No, lower. In the middle… Ahh…"

"Just relax, X," she soothes. "Don't be tense. If I'm going to do this, ease up."

Immediately, I breathe out and loosen up. My shoulders drop, my head falls to my chest, my back feels better already. "Hey, Rae…"

"Hmm?"

"I…well…"

Raven stops massaging me and crawls around to see my face. Slowly, she reaches up to my mask. Her delicate hands pull off my mask and drop them beside her. She runs her hands across my face.

I can almost not take it! It's just too good. "Oh, Raven…"

"Don't talk," she orders.

I don't.

She crawls nearer. She envelops my arms around her tiny body. She wraps me around herself.

I grip her tightly and wish to stay like this forever. I do not need anything more.

Raven is whispering about something, I haven't been listening for a while now. I am focusing on her smell. She has the smell of mystery, yet trust. I like it.

She buries her nose into my chest and breathes in deeply. She remarks that I smell like "peppermint with a hint of caramel." Oh, how good that must smell.

"X…"

I nod.

"I…" She slides her fingers across my cheek and smiles slightly, ever so slightly.

And it is this smile that breaks my heart.

I cannot hurt her.

I've realized how big of a thing I've actually gotten myself into.

XXX

"Red X!"

Quickly, I put on my mask. Damn! Why does that little twerp have to ruin everything! Just when I was really going to open up to Rae. Oh, I could just…could just… I glance over at Raven, trying desperately to hide what she's been doing here with me. …could…just…no. No I couldn't just…not for Rae. For Rae, I'm genna' change! I'll be different. I swear. So what if nobody believes me…so what if I don't believe myself…uh…I'll do it. I know I can!

"What the hell do you want?" Great start, X-ie, boy. Now all you have to do is slit Rae's throat open to add the icing to the cake. But…she did say that Robin was a brat, too…no…who cares…I can't do this anymore.

"I have the task for you."

"What is it?" There…that was a little more polite. And I didn't even use such a bad tone. Yeah, I'm getting there. This is easy. I can do this!

"You have to…" Robin looks over at Raven, twitches his eyebrows, sighs heavily, and then turns back to me. "You have to do our obstacle course…"

"What? You gotta' be kidding me! That's easy as shitting!" X…watch yourself. Why do you want it harder? You're so close…so close…DON'T BLOW IT NOW!

"Red X…there's a twist. You can't use your powers." Robin glances at Star, BB, Cy, and Raven. He nods his head and they all arrange near him.

"Best of luck to you, Red X," Star says.

"Have fun…" Cy snickers. "While you can," he whispers.

"Good luck, bro," BB exclaims, looking me over and gulping.

"You'll need it," Cy adds.

Raven stares at me. When our eyes meet she looks intently into mine. I know what she's thinking. 'I'll be waiting for you, X. I know you can do it!'

I walk over to Robin. We walk over together, making the what-will-seem-like-forever journey to Titan Tower, where the obstacle course will be waiting for me…alone…bare…naked…without my powers.

What did I get myself into? I'm nothing without my powers! That's the reason I stole Robin's suit and mask and name. Now I'm a something…and hey, it got Rae.

What am I going to do?

To be continued…