And I'm back with another oneshot. Woohoo. I had a lot of fun writing this because most of my writing is so dark; this was a nice break from the usual. One thing that was challenging about writing this was that in a lot of stories with Robin and Raven they have Raven making Robin looking like a total idiot. I tried to keep them somewhat equal, but as always, I think Raven triumphs. Poor Robin.
Disclaimer 1: This is not Rae/Rob, it's just a fic that happens to have both Robin and Raven in it.
Disclaimer 2: Nothing is mine.
It wasn't often that Robin had free time with which to do what he wanted. Sure, finding Slade leads and working out in the gym made him feel like he was accomplishing something-sometimes-but it wasn't really fun, and it certainly wasn't relaxing. So every once in a while he would give into his friend's requests (or sometimes just not tell them he wasn't working) and take some time for himself.
Now was one of those times, when the crime rate was down just enough to not be suspicious and he was feeling like being a normal teenager instead of a superhero. Robin pulled open the bottom drawer of his desk and lifted out the small board he turned to every time he was in need of distraction. It's rich mahogany and pearl white wood reflected the light and shined under its careful polishing. The accompanying box, also made of mahogany, rattled as he put it on his desk, evidence of his haste the last time he had put it away and not taken the time to restore its belongings in an orderly fashion.
Robin had bought this chess set three years ago, shortly after he had left Batman to form the Titans. It was a purchase made for both sentimental and leisure reasons. For one thing, it was something he missed greatly about living in Wayne Manor. Almost daily he had pitted himself against either Bruce or Alfred in a game, and depending on who he played against the outcomes were bound to be different. Bruce never let him win; that wasn't to say Robin never beat his adoptive father, but when he did win it was because he had been the rightful victor, not because Bruce had held back. Alfred, on the other hand, whether it was because Robin often didn't win against Bruce or because he thought the young boy spent enough time fighting in the real world and deserved a break, often lost under mysterious circumstances.
Chess had even been a crucial step in his training to become the Dark Night's sidekick, or partner, as he preferred to call it. Robin had been just seven when Bruce had taught him to play, and after some frustration with the complicated pieces and moves, he had finally been able to hold his own in a game. Robin wasn't sure if his memory was accurate, but the way he remembered it the first time he had gone out as Robin was the night after he had won his first game. Even at eight he had known enough not to boast after winning, just to shake Bruce's hand with the utmost feeling of maturity. Anyway, the real excitement had come the next night when he had for the first time donned his gloves and mask.
So upon leaving Bruce he had also left behind his chess opponent and chess set, and when he had come across a hobby shop on a night patrol a few weeks after setting up the Titans, he had come back in civilian clothes to buy it.
It was only after Robin got home that he had realized that in order to play the game you needed someone to play with. A quick survey around the Tower had indicated that he didn't have many adversaries to choose from.
He had been sure Cyborg would know how to play, and he had been right. However, it had taken just one game to figure out they would never be able to play together again. Everyone agreed that when the two most competitive and hot-headed members of the team tried to play a game together tempers flared, pieces got thrown, only to be found weeks later, and both 5-foot leader and half-man-half-robot got insulted.
Beast Boy had bragged to Robin that he knew how to play, in fact had invented his very own techniques. But playing with the changeling had proven unsuccessful, as though he did appear to know how to move the pieces, his attention span was never long enough to get him through an entire game.
Robin hadn't been surprised to learn that Starfire didn't know how to play. He didn't think she wasn't smart enough, just knew that the game was complicated, even for most teenagers their age, and those people had lived on Earth for around 16 years longer than Star had. Robin had been able to learn young, but that was only because of his and his teacher's determination.
And that left… Raven, who most certainly knew how to play. She was good, too, maybe even as good as Robin. But Raven, while she had the patience and intelligence to carry out a match, never had the desire to. It often struck Robin as odd that she didn't like the game, because it seemed right up her alley: Contemplative, almost meditative, in its strategy and techniques.
Knowing how much she hated to be bothered, especially when reading, Robin barely ever asked her to play. Just every once in a while, when he was feeling especially in the mood for a game, would he ask her. And today was one of those days.
Taking the game board and box of pieces under his arm Robin trooped out of his bedroom and made his way to Raven's, where he knocked on the door, and, after waiting in silence, knocked once more.
"What?" Was her unsurprising and unforgiving reception when she opened the door just enough to see who was there.
In response Robin held up the game board and smiled. "One game. Please."
"Not now," As she tried to close the door Robin put his hand out.
"No, wait, Raven!" When she opened the door again he continued. "Just one game. It won't take long. Look, I got the set out and everything."
"Then you can just as easily put it back."
"Then you can just as easily play a round and then I can put it back."
Raven sighed. "Fine. One game," She opened her door to allow him entrance.
"Thanks, Raven. Just one game, I promise."
"Yeah, I'm sure," She mumbled under her breath.
Robin sat down cross legged on the floor, putting the board out in front of him, and motioned for Raven to do the same. Grudgingly, she sat down across from him.
"Do you want to be black or white?" He asked, dividing the pieces into separate piles according to color.
"Does it matter?"
"Come on, which one do you want? Do you want to go first or second?"
"I don't care."
"Okay, you can be white."
"The excitement is killing me."
"And your enthusiasm is killing me."
They set the game up in silence, placing kings, queens, rooks, knights, bishops, and pawns in their proper places.
"Okay, your move." Robin sat back and watched Raven look over her pieces, trying to decide which one to move first. Picking a pawn, she enveloped it in black energy and began moving it forward.
"Hey, wait, you can't do that."
Raven looked up at him. "Do what?"
"Use your powers to move the pieces."
Sighing, Raven asked, "Why not?"
"Because you're allowed to change your move until your hand leaves the piece, but your hands aren't even touching the pieces."
She shrugged. "So I won't change my moves."
"Just use your hands, Raven."
"You're wearing gloves," she pointed out, more to annoy him than because she cared.
"Okay, fine, I'll take off my gloves." Robin pulled his gloves off his hands and put them down on the floor next to him. "Happy?"
"Oh, so happy. Your move."
For a while they played in silence, and as the game progressed each accumulated a pile a captured pieces. At the end of twenty-five minutes Robin still had his king, queen, one bishop, both rooks, and three pawns. Raven was playing with her king, both bishops, a knight, and two pawns.
Now Robin has sitting with his chin in his hands. It was his turn, and he was trying to decide between two moves. One would leave his queen open but would capture one of her bishops, and the other one would keep his pieces safe but only remove one of her pawns from the board.
"Do you plan on moving today?" Raven asked, her voice betraying just how long Robin had been contemplating his move.
"I'm thinking. And aren't you supposed to be the patient one?"
"I just pretend to be the patient one. Aren't you always telling us to think fast?"
"Yeah, but if I could have a super power I'd be able to stop time. Your move." He moved a bishop and captured one of her bishops, then looked up at her.
"If you could have any super power you'd be able to stop time?"
"Yeah. Why? What's wrong with that?"
Raven smirked. "Robin, the time-stopping Boy Wonder?"
"Raven, the black-energy throwing half-demoness?"
Just as he expected, Raven picked up her knight and swept his queen off the board.
"What's wrong with stopping time?"
"If you could have any ability… fly, become invisible, do anything… you'd want to stop time. It would have to start again some time, you know."
"And when it started again I'd have a leg up on everyone else."
"Plus you wouldn't have to think fast."
"Yeah, I wouldn't have to-what, no! That's not why!"
"Your move, Robin."
Mumbling under his breath, Robin knocked away one of Raven's pawns and then crossed his arms. "You do this on purpose, don't you?"
"You bother me on purpose when we play just so I won't ask you to again."
"You bothered me first by asking me."
"But you like playing!"
"Why do you think that?" She moved one of her bishops across the board.
"Because when you're having fun you let your hands relax on your knees like that." Looking down at her hands, Raven noticed that they were indeed lying placidly on her knees.
"The famous protégé of the world's greatest detective strikes again."
"You could just admit you like playing and not put up a fight when I ask you."
"Not on your life, time-stopper. Check."
Glancing down at the board, Robin noticed that his king was in danger of being taken by Raven's bishop. He smiled when he saw her king sitting all alone on the other side of the board, a clear path between it and his rook. Picking up the rook, Robin placed it on the square right next to her king. "Oh how the tides have turned."
"Oh how right you are." Raven picked up her own bishop and knocked Robin's king away. "Next time you're going to put me in check, take yourself out of it first."
Robin raised his eyebrows, looking back and forth between his fallen king and her proud and mighty one. "Uh… Good game?"
Raven smiled, or as much as was possible without actually calling it a smile. "Good game."
In silence, the two put the pieces back in the box and stood up, stretching their stiff limbs. Taking the game in his hands once more, Robin turned towards Raven. "Seriously, thanks for playing, Raven. I had a nice time."
Robin made his way to the door, but when he reached it he heard Raven's voice behind him.
"If you ever want to… have a rematch or something… that'd be okay."
Robin turned back to her and smiled. "Sounds good."
"Oh, and Robin?"
"I wouldn't mention that time-stopping thing to anyone else. Beast Boy's already got enough bad joke material with your color scheme." And with that she closed the door, leaving Robin alone standing in the dark hallway.
As he made his way back to his room and put the chess set away, Robin remembered something Bruce used to tell him when they first started crime-fighting together.
"Never underestimate your opponents," Bruce had told him, "You could end up getting hurt."
Or, Robin mentally added, getting insulted.