Special A/N: This chapter is courtesy of rockerbaby150 who, when she won a contest I held on my lj, requested the next chapter of Burn as her prize. (I offered to write something new, or the next chapter of one of my ongoing fics, and she chose this one) so g'on and thank her if you like it.
A/N: That said...I understand completely if all y'all want to hang me up by my toenails and roast me over the fire of your hatred for keeping you on that cliffie for so long. I have reasons, but I doubt they'd be worthy...it's been almost 2 years since I updated this story. I'm really sorry. But I think I kinda psyched myself out from it. Honest. I kept trying to write this chapter and the way I was going with it just wasn't, well (forgive the pun) light my fire. I didn't like it. And then I didn't really like the way it was going and I just got all tangled up in trying to make what I had already written worth a damn, instead of just scrapping it and starting over.
Which is what I ended up doing.
That said: this has not been beta'd. No one of the usual suspects has even READ this, so yeah. If it sucks, blame it entirely and solely on me.
Thanks: As always to Kysra and Absentia, who although I didn't torture them with this final draft, I did torture with enough talk about this chapter in the preceding two years so as to merit a humanitarian award for patience. A very special thanks, though, goes to Absentia who actually provided one part of this chapter in one of her reviews to me and gave me a great big whomping idea of how to pursue this from that. And of course, to all the reviewers who consistently read my stuff, and don't give up on me. ::great big massive huggle:: (Yes, I'll respond individually, if you asked something, through review response.)
"Fever / 'till you sizzle / but what a lovely way to burn."
- Fever, Peggy Lee
"I think I'm interrupting something," Robin spoke.
Raven turned to look at Robin, but he wasn't looking at her and before she could say a word, the man at her side leaned casually against the wall at his back and smirked.
"Yeah, actually, y'are, mate," X answered, slipping easily into an accent. "D'you mind?"
Robin took a step toward X, his every muscle tensed for a fight, "Do you really want to do this here?" he asked, motioning the restaurant around them, his tone cool and collected.
X grinned. "What, you wanna challenge me to a duel, or something?" he asked, laughing. "I'm sorry, mate, but I left my sword at home."
Robin reacted before any of the parties present thought he would and within two steps he had X pressed against the wall. "You think this is funny?"
X remained calm, with the twist of his lips still in the perfect place to mock Robin. "I think it's a riot," he answered. "You getting all worked up over some guy talking to your girl you've been too lazy to make a move on yourself," he said, his voice low. "It's bloody brilliant, it is," he continued, still in his accent.
"I don't," Raven spoke up before Robin could. "I don't think it's funny at all," she added when she saw she had both their attentions. "And you've still got quite a bit to learn if you think I'm going to stand around while you two duke it out like this was the 18th century and I was some damsel in distress," she said succinctly. "Both of you," she added, looking from one to the other. "I'm leaving," she announced, pushing past X and sidestepping around Robin to walk back into the dining room. She grabbed her coat on the way passed their table and waved to Ranka-san as she exited the restaurant.
X grinned. "She's a spitfire, gotta love that," he said, more to himself than to Robin, but Robin heard and glared at him regardless. "Well," he said. "Are you going to 'take me in' or go after her?" he asked. "What a dilemma!" he mocked.
Robin narrowed his eyes at him. "This isn't over," he said, his tone low and careful. "If you know what's best for you, you'll stay the hell away," he warned, and with a quick shove backwards, released X's shirt, turning and walking out of the restaurant after Raven.
"I really think that's up to her!" X called after him.
Robin ignored him, exiting the restaurant and catching up to Raven halfway down the sidewalk. He reached out for her arm to stop her, but having sensed his presence, she shifted her arm out of his reach and continued walking briskly down the mostly empty street, stopping only at the intersection to wait for several cars to pass before she could cross.
Robin took the opportunity to stand in front of her. "Just what the hell was that?" he demanded as soon as she looked at him.
"That?" she asked, and he could feel the indignation in her demeanor. "That was two little boys playing who's got the bigger penis," she answered coldly.
"So you would've wanted me to just let him go, is that it?" he asked, his tone giving way to anger. "Just like you've been doing these last few weeks?" he added.
"Oh, I let him go, did I?" she asked sarcasm dripping from her voice. "Just as you did just now?" she asked caustically, but she didn't let him answer. "You know as well as I do that he's absolutely right and we have no proof of his actual identity," she reminded him. "If we were to take him in and claim he's Red-X what would that do?" she questioned. "He could just say he isn't and without any tangible proof of his identity, how long do you think it would take even a half-baked lawyer to get him out?" she demanded, ignoring the rumble of thunder in the distance and the clouds gathering over the city. "Forty-five minutes? An hour?" She pointed back in the direction of the restaurant. "He knows that." She shook her head as more thunder sounded. "You think he'd have come to me showing me what he looks like if he didn't know we couldn't do a damn thing about it without catching him in the act--?" something in his eyes stopped her from continuing, and the frustrated anger in her expression died away as she read his expression. "You do, don't you?" she asked, her tone surprised. "You think I've had a way of bringing him in but haven't because..." she trailed off and shook her head. "Why do you think I'd let a criminal get away if I had a way to bring him in lawfully, Robin?" she asked.
He didn't answer and she shook her head again, just as the sky opened up and the rain began falling in buckets, drenching them in seconds. She shook off the hand he'd left on her arm and with a glare, started to stalk off down the alley. "So much for trusting me," she threw over her shoulder.
Before she had gotten three feet from him, Robin caught up with her, grabbing her wrist again and whirling her around to face him. "You're not the problem!" he exclaimed. "It's him I don't trust."
She didn't look angry anymore and that, more than anything, twisted Robin's insides. "And yet it's me you're questioning," she pointed out calmly, the rain falling off her hair and down her cheeks like tears. "Trusting me includes believing that I won't throw away my morals and my loyalties just because some guy tries to seduce me," she stopped looked away, taking a deep breath. She exhaled, releasing her breath slowly and turned to him, her eyes broadcasting her disappointment. "You either trust me or you don't, Robin, there can be no in between."
Robin searched her face as if he thought he'd find the answers there. "I trust you," he said, his voice tired. "I trust you," he repeated, stronger. "But I don't want you to get hurt."
Raven kept his eyes, her expression once again neutral. "I can take care of myself," she answered.
"I don't mean physically," he countered.
"You can't mean emotionally," she said.
Before he could think about it, he had raised a hand to brush away a strand of hair away from her forehead where the rain had flattened it. He left his hand near to her temple for a second too long. "I know you, Raven," he said softly, just barely above the rush of the rain hitting the pavement and the metal of the fire escape stairs around them.
"If that were true, then you'd know I won't become some stupid love struck fool just because he pays me a few compliments," she answered, just as softly. "If you knew me, you'd know that I'd learned my lesson well when it comes to bad boys," she added and she was searching his face as thoroughly as he had searched hers. She reached up with her free hand, took the hand that still lingered close to her temple, and brought it down between them. She released him and cocked her head to the side. "If you really knew me, you'd know that I know you well enough to know when you're making excuses."
She could see the confusion on his face as he worked through her statements, but before he had completely worked through them, she slipped her arm relatively easily out of his loosened grip and faced him squarely. "If you trust me, then trust me," she said, earnestly. "And the next time you want to warn me about my getting close to some guy, don't bother unless you're willing to come to me with the truth," she added, and, before he could speak, she turned and walked away.
"I'll see you at the Tower," she said as she disappeared around the mouth of the alley, walking in the opposite direction from where he'd parked his bike.
A/N: Yes, I know it's short. I know! ::hides:: Put away the pitchforks and torches, please! There's good news! I actually know where this is going NOW. Which means, it shouldn't take me another two years to post up another chapter! Yey! (yes? no?)
I know there's no way anyone would say this was "worth the wait", but...was it somewhat good? Are y'all glad to get off that cliffie?
Did anyone get something pretty big that happens in this chapter????
(You guys are usually really good at getting my subtextual clues here, so, I'm hoping it was as good a little clue as I thought it was when I wrote it!)
Anyway, if you still decide to come after anyone for this chapter...::shoves Puck in front of her and points over his head:: get him. He's at fault. Totally. He's the muse.