Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans.
The sunset was beautiful. Streaks of orange spread across the horizon, their reflections glittering on the expanse of ocean beneath. A strong, wide beam of gold led to the setting star rippling with waves, the other end coming right to the shore of the island far below. Above the disappearing orb rose a majestic column of tinted clouds, straight up to curve graciously at its peak. Like a raven.
Robin shook his head, trying to get the idea out of his head. Ravens had been on his mind a lot lately. Well, one Raven in particular. Tonight had to be the worst, though. He'd never seen great celestial birds before. Anyway, in those colours, if he was going to see a bird, he ought to see a phoenix. That would be far more logical. Robin was all about logic.
Then again, he'd never seen a phoenix before. He saw a raven almost every day. She was a much darker raven, without the sparkling tints of gold and red, but to his mind, a far more beautiful raven.
What was he thinking? Beautiful ravens? That sounded almost romantic. Robin had to stifle a gag at the thought. Since when did he do romantic? He had bigger things to worry about.
Robin shrugged uncomfortably, disliking his line of thought. Maybe coming up to the roof of Titans Tower hadn't been such a good idea. Maybe he should turn around and look at the city. It would stop him thinking about ravens, at least.
Never one to hesitate long after making a decision, Robin spun on his heel and strode over to the other side of the roof. He stood looking at Jump City, spread out in all its panoramic glory, bathed in the fading light of the setting sun. Glass windows glinted merry reflections, and all seemed peaceful and quiet this evening.
It was nowhere near as interesting as the raven on the other side.
With a sigh of exasperation, Robin gave up, and headed back into the tower.
Raven tuned out the usual noises of the living room. Cyborg was currently thrashing Beast Boy at yet another video game, this one involving cars which flew and floated on water and turned into giant ice skates and could do three hundred and sixty degree flips at just the touch of a little red button. It was "the coolest game ever, dude!" according to Beast Boy. Starfire apparently thought so, since she'd spent the last hour cheering for the players. Not just one player either. Both of them- Starfire was far too nice to take sides.
Raven ignored them all, and continued to read her book. It was a very disappointing book, actually. It wasn't at all what she'd been expecting when she'd picked it up. With a title like "The Dark Arts" there ought to have been some kind of mysticism, at least a hint of dark magic, evil necromancers, vampires roaming the night- that sort of thing. The title was just so promising.
"Adding precisely 50 thimblefuls of the crushed powder of the cocoa bean to one small mug of warmed milk produces a surprising result…" Raven suppressed a groan. If she had to read one more page about the discovery and making of dark chocolate, she was going to hang herself. She couldn't decide what was worse: her imminent death through sheer boredom, or the self-disgust she'd suffer if she didn't finish the book. She always finished a book. This one really would kill her though.
It was definitely a lose-lose situation.
Raven held the book in front of her, but her eyes went out of focus, no longer paying any attention to the words in front of her. There had to be an alternative, a middle ground- some way that she would not have to read the book, and it wouldn't be her fault. Like Titans Tower burning down and taking the horrible leather bound monstrosity with it, or the Tower flooding and making the ink run all over the pages, rendering the words illegible. Both of those seemed a little extreme just to get rid of a book. If the book got caught in some crossfire though, and was blasted to smithereens- that could work! But where was she going to get a convenient crossfire?
Robin had all those wonderful bombs… it was a start. He never used them in practice, but if Raven could come up with some excuse to do some training with him, and then accidentally-on-purpose throw the book at him, his reflexes might take over and he'd destroy the book before he realised what it was. He had very good reflexes, and with all those muscles, surely he could…
Raven caught herself up short. Thinking about Robin's muscles? Again? What was wrong with her? She was a superhero, she was on a professional crime-fighting team, and she was not supposed to have lustful thoughts about her team-mate's muscles!
Backtrack, backtrack, backtrack! Screamed a voice in Raven's head. Did you just think "lustful thoughts"? Raven's eyes widened a little as horror tried to claw its way up her throat. Her instincts came to her rescue, her brain automatically reciting her mantra to stem the sudden flow of emotions, but not before a spurt of cold black energy consumed 'The Dark Arts' and reduced it to ashes.
Raven didn't even notice. She needed some air, and somewhere quiet to think. What better place than the roof of Titan's Tower, since everyone was down here? Taking a quick look around to check that nobody was paying her any attention, she enveloped herself in her darkness, and disappeared up to the roof.
Robin stepped through the door back into Titans Tower, and slowly pulled it shut behind him. Something made him hesitate before closing the door completely- a soft rustle, and then a troubled voice reciting a familiar mantra, drifting across the roof.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos, Azarath Metrion Zinthos."
Robin liked to think he knew Raven pretty well. He liked to think he understood when she wanted to be alone, to sort things out for herself. But whenever he thought about Raven, he couldn't help remembering everything she'd been through, all the evil she'd faced, and how badly she'd needed help. He couldn't help remembering how reluctant she'd been to ask for it.
He always remembered how beautiful she'd looked when she overcame it all.
Robin almost growled in frustration. Why couldn't he stop thinking thoughts like that?
Before he could answer himself, mostly because he didn't want to hear the answer, Robin pushed through the door and strode back out onto the roof. He glanced around, and spotted Raven immediately. Dark gothic girl hovering in mid air- she was a bit hard to miss. Her hood was up, covering that shaped fall of purple hair. A sigh of regret escaped Robin. Then he mentally kicked himself.
As softly as a cat, he made his way to Raven's side, and stopped a little behind and to the right of where she floated. He could see part of her profile, her nose, the wide eyes whose colour he had memorized years ago, the pale, smooth forehead, slightly creased, the dark eyebrows drawn minutely together. She seemed troubled.
"Is everything alright?" He asked softly, hoping not to startle her.
He hoped in vain.
Raven fell out of the air, and tumbled gracelessly onto the asphalt roof, her eyes popping open, and her head whipping around as she fell.
Robin was surprised, to say the least. Raven always maintained her poise. Furthermore, she was an empath. The presence of another person should never have surprised her. And yet, somehow, he had. Quickly recovering from his confusion, Robin leaned down to help Raven up.
"Are you ok?" He asked, concern lacing his voice as he held out a hand to her.
Raven glanced warily at the hand he offered, then, ignoring it, she pushed herself up. "I'm fine." She replied with her expression shuttered once more, her voice its usual bored monotone. "I just came up here to think. You surprised me."
"I noticed." Robin smiled, bringing his hand back towards him and pretending he'd never extended it.
A silence settled between them as they both turned to regard the last rays of the departing sun. The raven had shrunk in the few minutes since Robin had turned away. Its head had curled down, the tail was shortened, and the wings no longer spanned the horizon.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Robin's voice didn't shatter the silence. He pitched his question low, inviting confidence. He wanted Raven to trust him right then more than he wanted anything else.
Raven's head turned sharply. Robin could feel her stern gaze, had almost felt the tug when she'd stopped herself from snapping a negative in reply. Raven slowly turned back to regarding the setting sun, and didn't say anything until the very last vestiges of light were all that was left of the day.
"Do you ever think things you're not supposed to think?" Raven finally asked. To a stranger, her voice would have sounded normal. Robin knew her better, and he heard the small inflections that showed she was forcing her voice into its accustomed single tone.
He was frantically trying to take his mind off what she was asking. She hadn't been reading his mind? She couldn't be! Some of the thoughts he'd been having about her lately- Robin suppressed a shudder.
"Well, doesn't everyone?" Robin tried to sound off hand, without sounding as if he thought she was asking a pointless question. Raven made a small, thoughtful 'hmm'.
Another silence settled around them, this one slightly less comfortable than the last. Robin strained his eyes to catch the last fleeting motes of sunlight, as if when they were gone, he would be forced to confront his thoughts. As if they were the only thing keeping him from a really awkward conversation.
Soon even his imagination couldn't supply another iota of light.
Sure enough, Raven's voice once more filled the darkness. "What if you keep thinking the same thing, over and over again, and you can't stop yourself?"
Robin could feel the sweat starting on the back of his neck.
"What kind of thoughts do you mean?" Robin asked, still valiantly trying to keep his voice steady and confident. He could feel a blush starting on his cheeks, and he could only pray it wasn't noticeable in the dark. He kept his eyes looking straight ahead, into the empty, black vastness of the ocean. He didn't look at Raven once, so he didn't notice an equally subtle blush spreading across her features, one that she was avidly praying would remain unnoticed.
There was another short pause, as each fought down their discomfort, and tried to play it cool.
"Thoughts like… how another person looks, for example." Raven's voice was starting to show signs of strain, the desperation with which she tried to keep it normal lacing through.
Robin felt his temperature rise another notch. Things were starting to get more complicated than he was entirely comfortable with.
"Like… who?" Robin couldn't believe he'd asked that. What was he thinking? How was that helping? Why couldn't he, for five minutes, ignore the fact that he was crushing on Raven, and just help her out?
Wait a minute- crushing on Raven? Robin's thoughts brought him up short. He didn't have time for a crush; a crush on Raven was entirely unprofessional. That had to have been the weirdest, most errant thought that had ever gone through his mind. He took a minute out to scold himself thoroughly.
Luckily for him, Raven didn't notice his preoccupation. She had problems of her own. Like how could she answer that question? A thousand possibilities raced through her mind. It would have helped if her mouth hadn't had an agenda of its own.
"Like you." It said, as Raven listened in helpless horror.
Robin's head snapped around, his masked eyes locking on to Raven. Raven couldn't help herself, she had to meet his gaze, had to try to see behind the mask, and find out what he was thinking. His face was rigid, impassive. There was no emotion evident at all. He had such iron control on what he was feeling and thinking, Raven couldn't make anything out.
In her eyes Robin saw the timidity. It was not something he usually associated with Raven, but he recognized it in those indigo depths. Her voice had run away with her, and dragged her out onto a limb, and she was desperately trying not to fall.
Robin turned to Raven more fully, and regarded her thoughtfully.
"Yes." He answered, slowly. "Yes, I do think things I'm not supposed to think, about how another person looks, for example. About how you look, for example."
A soft 'oh' escaped Raven as she stood looking up at Robin, entranced.
"Actually, I think those things a lot." Robin continued, softly, stepping half an inch closer to her. Raven didn't move, couldn't move.
"And I'm starting to think it's not such a bad thing." Robin whispered, taking another small step towards Raven, bringing them ever closer. He could hear Raven's breathing quicken as he reached up and lightly traced a finger along her jaw, bringing it to rest just behind her chin. Her eyes were wider than he'd ever seen them, and this close he could make out all the individual little stars reflected in them.
"I'm starting to think-"
A resounding crash from the direction of the roof door interrupted Robin. It startled Raven, snapping her out of the reverie. Robin didn't move an inch, keeping his hand tenderly under Raven's chin, but Raven snapped back, and with a final, wide-eyed look at Robin, she ensconced herself in darkness and melted away.
"Boo YAH!" Cyborg's victorious cry rang out as Beast Boy rolled out of the roof door with a particularly gruesome stank ball connected to the back of his head. Shaking his head Beast Boy groaned, and looked around to see who had witnessed his ignominious defeat. The only other person on the roof was Robin, and he wasn't looking towards Beast Boy, but was focused on an empty spot centimeters in front of him.
Robin stood, a contented smile hovering on his lips. That last wide eyed look Raven had given him- in her eyes there hadn't been any fear, no nervousness. Deep down, there had been a small, scintillating flutter of excitement.
That was all he needed. For now.