First of all… wow! 18 reviews! Thanks, guys:)

Now, before we start (and before I start with my long, gushing author notes that everybody – except Utopia, who once complained they were too long – seems to like), I want to clarify something about one of the reviews this has received. If you haven't read it, you simply have to… like, right now! It's by a person called comickdude595 and there is a funny story behind it. That massive rant in the last chapter about Robin being Dick Grayson (and everybody agreed with me!)? It was aimed at comickdude595. Because the review posted isn't a real review. It was a PM sent to me in response to Underneath Your Clothes. It's the argument that Robin is Tim Drake; unfortunately, comickdude595 is near-illiterate and the message itself is practically unreadable for spelling mistakes, typos and… well, you'd have to read it. It made me laugh, but it also pissed me off that someone could be so goddamn stupid. Hence the rant at the end of Lace. Sooo… I sent the message to AutumnDynasty and she posted it up in an anonymous review in the guise of "comickdude595" so that you all could read it. You'll know which one it is, trust me…

So, to properly get started, and in my usual style, huge thankyou to; Green Gallant (NosyargKcid… hehhehheh… gotta love 60s Robin…); Peace215 (you've read everything? Even Asylum/Black Magic? Whoa…); rgfawkes (there have been three mainstream Robins – Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake. TT Robin, as we have all just argued, is Grayson. As for Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns… Robin was a girl in that, but it was a weird comic book anyway… just don't go there…); Immoral Burnings (you must wait no longer, my friend! Leather is here!); Ljo (bring on the leather indeed! And yeah, Robin's gonna be mouthing off about poor Raven…); Novemberscorpion110388 (yes, I'm afraid there is more than one Robin…); Alex (yeah, I read something like that; that he is written as Grayson, but the designers say that he's Tim, because he has the spiky hair and the bo staff, etc); Calamol (afraid Raven wears lace now, my friend…); Ramza (yeah, he does resemble the Batman: TAS Tim, I think. But he also kinda resembles the Batman: TAS Dick, at least costumes-wise, soooo…); evilsangel (there! I've updated!); FredTheBedHead (glad you like it, fellow Brit:P); ravenrogue19 (don't worry, you didn't offend me in any way…); NightRobin (glad you like how I write Robin! Us Robin fans gotta stick together, right?); comickdude595 (yeah, thanks for the review…); Daybreak25 (I know there's no escaping you and your praise, my friend. I've just resigned myself to it… ;P); RobRae5000 (nice to see a self-confessed RobinxRaven fan on the scene! Sorry for making you wait…); brokensoul0917 (don't worry, here's the other half…); and last but certainly not least, Snowyshadowwolf (I've never figured out how "Dick" comes from "Richard" either… anyone know?).

Wow… that was long… sorry about that…

Lace and Leather

Part II: Leather – Robin

There is another photograph.

I don't have very many; maybe around six or seven. Not enough… But I have the one of her in that dress.

And I have this.

It's pretty old, I guess. It's of her… holding me. I'm not quite sure how old I am. Maybe ten months? Perhaps younger than that. The point is that I obviously don't remember this picture being taken.

I remember it, though. It used to be in a frame on the wall of our trailer. A green wooden one. I can remember that, just like I can remember what kind of coat-hanger mom's dress used to hang on.

I wasn't allowed to take much after they died. Just some clothes and books. A few photographs. I remember choosing the ones I wanted very carefully. I have since always wished that I had taken more.

Because this all I have.

Seven photographs; and my memories.

The dress. All their show outfits. All my baby things. I wonder what happened to them. Probably all thrown away. Burned.

Dad used to take almost all of the photographs. I only have two with him in.

One with me on his shoulder. And one with her on their wedding day.

But this one doesn't have him in it. It's just me and mom. She's looking at the camera, smiling, her blue eyes shining. She's in a… floaty summer dress, pure white. The baby in her arms… I think I must be younger than ten months. Whatever. I have her shiny black hair and her blue eyes. I think I am smiling too; and pulling on a black wave of hair.

I stare at it a while longer; and then it begins to become too much.

I lock it away before I—

I ache in different places than before. It's not just physical anymore. These past few days have just been so…

crazy. Which is a clichéd term I do not want to use. But I'm afraid that there is no other word for it.

It's her.


Because it's not okay. It hasn't been since she got into my head. I know she was trying to help; I know she was. She did help, even.

But she saw too much. Way too much. She saw "Slade"… and she saw a whole lot of other things too. She suddenly seems to know, to understand; perhaps better than I do myself.

Trouble is, maybe I don't want her to.

Raven's got problems of her own. I'm not sure what they are, but I know they're big. I know she has to maintain that control.

So I don't want her worrying about me; about problems I've had for eight years. Maybe hers are older; I don't know. But my pain… is stale. They died a long time ago. And I may have needed pity then – when I was eight – but I don't need or want it now.

It doesn't ever go away. It's still here, and it hurts.

But it has numbed considerably. I have learned to live with it because I have to. Bruce learned the same lesson.

That the world doesn't wait for you.

And the kid who still cries himself to sleep eight years down the line…

…has a lot to learn about that.

That life is like leather.



I feel better now that I'm not just sitting on my bed staring at an old photograph.

Much better.

Nothing a can of Coca-Cola and some good music can't cure.

Because now I'm down in the garage, nodding my head to some CD that Cy lent me, shining up my R-cycle with wax (also lent to me by Cy). He just looked over it for me this morning and gave it a few little upgrades; recommended I slick it up before taking it out for a spin.

I'm sure there's a better way of phrasing it. One that doesn't sound so…

…like it's out of Grease.

So I'm on my knees on the garage floor, gloves off and that can of ice-cold Coke on the floor next to me, rubbing with a cloth at the red paintwork of the bike. My arm is aching; but it hurts less than most of my other cuts and bruises.

The music is pretty good. A compilation, I think. Seems like there's a bit of everything on there. At the moment it's some hip-hop track. Before that it was some pretty heavy rock.

I'm not really listening to it, and there haven't been any I have recognized.

Some good background noise, though.

I pause and give my arm a rest. Pushing my hair back (I realize that I need a haircut), I take another sip of Coca-Cola and run my gaze over the bike.

Looks pretty sharp. Cy waxes the T-car with the utmost care; sometimes, if he has time, he'll run over my R-cycle too. It's not something I do very often myself, and Cyborg never does as good a job on it as he does on his "baby".

It looks like a new bike. Maybe I should do it a little more often.

In fact, it's so shiny I can see my reflection in it in almost mirror-like detail.

I study it for a while – it's perfect in detail, but red – and then I smile…

"If you wanted a mirror, you could have just asked."


I start and drop my Coke. Looking at the bike still, I see her reflection materialize behind me now as she emerges from her Soul Self. Irritated, I right the overturned can, mourning the loss of at least half of what was left.

"I have plenty to spare," Raven says, approaching me.

"You have plenty of what?" I snap, irked by her presence. "Coke?"


"Honestly, Raven, you're so funny…" My tone indicates exactly the opposite. "Seriously. Like, Beast Boy: The Sequel."

"Robin—" She starts angrily. Then she takes a deep breath and calms herself down again. "Robin, I know you're—"

"You don't know anything, Raven."

"I know a lot more than you would like to believe," she replied coolly.

"So you've been in my mind. Big deal."

I don't look at her… because I know that I am lying. It is a big deal. It's a very big deal. She knows. She knows far too much about me, more than I would ever wish to tell her. And yet…

I did tell her, didn't I? This morning. I got all weepy on her and told her and showed her…

…that damned photograph.

The one that I have never shown to anyone else.

Not even Bruce.

So what is happening to me? Have I changed so much since… last night? Have I changed because of… that?

Or what? Was it her? Did it start before that? When she entered my mind… did she do something to me somehow? Did she read my thoughts so intimately that she knows how I think? Or did she leave a part of herself – or her Soul Self, at least – behind in me, so that she can somehow control me?

I know that Raven cannot feel emotion. Or, at the very least, is not supposed to.

So has she – since entering me – found a way to feel them… through me?

I don't feel myself; I don't feel okay. Sure, I ache and I smart and I sting in places I didn't even know I had, but it's not just that. "Slade" beat me almost to death, true; but this is not the first time I have ever been badly injured. It's not the physical pain that bothers me so.

It's… something else. Something that I cannot explain. I feel different; like all those emotions and feelings and pains of my own that I have repressed in my mind…

…suddenly refuse to stay locked away any longer. I feel like they are all on the verge of spilling forth, and that I won't be able to stop them. Like they are about to burst from my head (like Larry… bad memory…)—

Last night; at the height of it… when something else spilled from me…

That was easy. It was nature. I had never done it before and neither had she but it was easy and it was natural and I knew, because…



But the mind… and memories…

Those things aren't quite so simple.

All of these theories and scenarios run through my head. I can't help but think in this way; this is how Bruce taught me. I dislike to think of Raven like this, but… something just doesn't add up.

Because Raven…

…scares me.

We don't know what she is. We know little to nothing about her, apart from that she came from a dimension called Azarath.

And I know she's hiding something. Something really big. Something really bad.

But I don't know what.

And not knowing… scares me even more.

"It's no big deal?" Raven repeats incredulously. "Robin, I been inside you in a way that… I do not think I have ever been inside anyone else. I have sent my Soul Self into others –evil others – to purge and draw out what makes them evil. I have taken that evil into myself and destroyed it. You have seen me do it. But I have never been inside someone's mind. Nobody's… but yours."

"So, what, I'm supposed to throw a parade here?" I say sharply; I turn to her, my fists clenched. Not because I wish to hurt her, but because it makes me feel… safer.

She's just standing there, her hood up, shadowing most of her face. Her cloak is draped across her body so that I can see nothing of her.

Maybe that makes her feel safer.

"No, but…" She sighs. "You're supposed to understand…"

"I do. I do understand. You went into my head. You saw Slade. You made the others believe. You pretty much saved me. We've been through this."

"Then why does it feel as though we haven't?"


She looks floored for a moment. Then I see her eyes narrow in the shadow of her hood.

"Don't tell me you're cracking stupid jokes too… what are you? Beast Boy: Part Three?"

"Something like that."

I try to force myself to smile, and I can't. I can't because the joke wasn't funny and this isn't funny.

I don't understand anything anymore. Last night, on the roof… I felt okay. In pain, yeah, but I really felt like Raven did understand. Then… well, we'll just say I'm not the "innocent" Boy Wonder I was 24 hours ago. But that felt okay, too. It didn't feel awkward or wrong; it felt right. Perhaps more right than anything else I've ever felt, because it felt like… she understood. It felt right to shed my clothes and let her see – because I wanted to. I wanted to show her. And it had been mutual. She had done the same for me; opened up to me. Shown me.

There had been understanding and trust. It had felt right; maybe because we didn't allow it to feel wrong.

And this morning…

I had felt a little awkward to awake in her bed, naked and in her arms. So I had slipped away to the bathroom without waking her; I had only gone back for my clothes. But she had been awake. And while I had felt embarrassment at first at being confronted by her – I had thought she might be angry with me – it had soon faded because I had realized that it was still okay. What we had shared wasn't a sin; we wouldn't be condemned for it, and that there was no reason for any hatred or awkwardness between us.

It had been okay… until the lace.

That's when I went over-sentimental on her. That's when I showed her the photograph, when I curled up against her and cried and then started kissing her—

I didn't understand. I didn't know why I was suddenly feeling this way. I suddenly didn't feel in control and that scared me and she scared me and all I wanted to do…

…was get away from her.

So I walked out on her.

And she might understand everything else… but I could never expect her to understand that.

I've always thought us to be so… similar

Robin and Raven. Raven and Robin. The birds. Like calls like; deep calls to deep; and dark calls to dark. I've always trusted her because trusting her is like trusting myself. She always seems to understand.

Seems to.

Maybe I saw the truth of her last night. The Raven beneath the hood… just as she saw the Robin beneath the uniform. And at the time – pretty much delirious with what I suppose you would call desire – I thought I liked what I saw. And maybe, in the physical sense, I still do.

But she called me beautiful. And I couldn't… still can't… say it back. Because I'm not so sure I believe it. We aren't talking physical appearances here; we're talking what's underneath. What's inside.

And I am not in any way perfect myself, but… whatever Raven is, it's not beautiful.

"Robin, it's okay for you to be scared," Raven says softly. She pulls down her hood, allowing me to see her face. "What we shared was… I know it was your first time. Don't look at me like that—" – I'm perfectly aware of the disgusted, furious expression on my face at such an accusation – "— I know because I felt your sexual purity last night. It has, of course, since left you. Azar, it's hard enough for me to get my head around… But I understand. I understand… it's a big thing. We both lost our virginity and—"

"Raven, I don't wanna hear this!" I interrupt snappily. "I know what we did! I know!"

You'd think, as a guy, I'd be trilling it for all to hear. And perhaps, in a normal circumstance (and as a guy), I would be. But this is different. I still have that feeling that I wasn't – and am still not – in control. I am certainly not going to start bragging to Beast Boy and Cy about something that freaks me out the way this whole situation does. Solving a case or defeating a villain or winning at Gamestation is something else entirely; I will not be full of myself about something that…

terrifies me.

You lost your virginity to Raven?

Yeah. Sure. Go ahead. I wish you the joy of it…

She didn't hurt me. Pressed a little too hard on a few bruises, and she bit my shoulder as she neared her edge; but she didn't hurt me.

I might be less afraid if she had.

"Robin…" She steps towards me, her hand outstretched, and I back off sharpish. I can't explain why she suddenly scares me, but she does.

Because I've realized that things have changed between us. It's not just the sex… it's not just the fact that we both spent our first ever sexual experience with each other. It's her. Because she's not like me. I'm a human; the son of acrobats. She's… god only knows; daughter of who knows what

And I don't judge her on that; just as I don't judge Star for being Tamaranean, or BB for being green, or Cy for being half-robot. I can't explain it… maybe it is the sex.

All I know is that I am really starting to regret last night. Not because I want my virginity back; but because I don't want to feel this. I don't want to be scared by her.

Raven withdraws her hand, her eyes narrowed.

"I should have known you'd be like this. Afraid and ashamed of what you've done. And don't look so panicked. You don't have to propose to me or anything."

That's the least of my worries.

"You don't understand…" I turn away from her again. I don't want to look at her.

"I don't understand? I don't understand what? You?"


"I think I understand this whole situation a lot better than you do, Boy Wonder."

Boy Wonder? Not a title I go by anymore.

"Ah, I suppose you pried that from my mind too?" I shake with hot silent rage. "I suppose you know Batman's true identity, then, too?"

"Bruce Wayne, of Wayne Manor, Gotham City."

"Name of his friend and butler?"

"Alfred Pennyworth."

"Names of Bruce's parents?"

"Thomas and Martha Wayne."

"How did they die?"

"Assassinated by a gunman in Crime Alley, East Gotham."

I close my eyes. My fists shake; and I can feel a sudden burning wrath building within me.

"Well, aren't we fortunate to have you on our side…?" My tone is forcefully light; near mocking. "Picking people's minds like that…"

"Robin, I told you that I have never—"

"You obviously saw enough, at least in my head. Enough to destroy Bruce, at least."

Raven seems aghast.

"But you know I would never—"

"There are things that you should never know. Things that no-one should ever know. But you know them, don't you, Raven? You've seen them…"

"I didn't mean to," Raven argues. "Robin, I went into you to save you… How can you expect me not to see anything else of what is in your head?"

"I don't want you to go in there ever again."

"I won't as long as I never need to…"

I snap.

"NO!" I scream at her, whipping around. "You don't ever come in my mind again! Ever! Just stay out; stay away!"

She stares back at me, her violet eyes wide with shock at my sudden angry outburst.

"You know things that you shouldn't!" I continue to rant at her. "You've seen things that I… that still hurt me… things that still haunt me… It feels like you've stolen some part of me, some part that I can't ever have back; and it's not virginity we're talking about here. It's something that no-one was ever supposed to have; to know or to take from me…"

"I don't understand what you're saying," Raven says softly, her voice sad and confused.

"No," I reply coldly. "No, you don't understand, Raven…"

She stares at me for the longest time.

"Robin, why won't you let anyone help you?" She finally asks of me. "Why won't you let anyone in?"

"I did let you in," I reply moodily. "I did, and I don't want to let you in again. Oh, god, Raven… it's screwing me up so bad…" I press my palms against my forehead – because it really does feel like my skull is about to burst open. "Raven… what have you done to me? You've… I don't feel in control when I'm around you… It's like you're somehow… manipulating me…"

I look up; and I see tears in her eyes.

"How can you think that I would ever control you?" She whispers, silent tears running down her pale face.

"Because I…" I trail off and sigh. "Look, I don't, okay? But that's how it feels… Like there's some part of you in me… Like that darkness that surrounds you is in me… like… like it's trying to suffocate me…"

She looks frightened for a moment; genuinely concerned. And then her face hardens again.

"You're such a coward," she accuses. "If you regret what we shared last night, then just say so. We don't have to start dating because of it…"

"Do you regret it?"

She looks away for a moment or two.

"When I was younger, and far more naïve, I used to want my first time to be with someone I loved deeply and truly. I always said I wasn't going to rush into anything; that it wouldn't be a first-date thing. And when I realized that love was an emotion I could not feel, I said that it would be someone I cared for, and who cared for me. That is true between us; am I right?"

I nod.

"And yeah, we… there was no first date. There was no dating, no kissing, no stolen glances… there was nothing between us, Robin. Nothing but a bond – a bridge that has been formed between us. I have been in your mind, tread through your memories and seen through your eyes. I think that means more than any old cinema date; and I do not regret last night because, to me at least, it felt right. That bond made it special and beautiful."

I open my mouth, but can't make a sound. So I close it again and shake my head to clear it. And then I sit down on the leather seat of the bike behind me, absently rubbing at a bruise on my arm.

My brain hurts more than the bruise.

"You know that it can't go on," I say finally. "Nothing can come from it. You know that… right?"

She looks at me, then at the floor, and then at the ceiling.


"Because it's not… that I don't like you… but…"

"I know. It just can't happen. Nothing can happen. However… I can't help but think… if that's because you won't allow it…"

"Don't do this, Raven. You know why it can't happen. There's the team to think about, and… and you…"

You scare me

"I'm not ideal girlfriend material. I know. That honor goes to Starfire."

"It's not because of Starfire, Raven…"

She shrugs.

"Maybe not…"

We both fall silent. I had forgotten that the music was still playing, but it suddenly makes itself heard again, and I nod my head along to it for lack of anything else to do with myself. This is quite possibly the most awkward situation I have ever had the misfortune to be subjected to.

It's another song I don't recognize; the lyrics seem to be about girls in chains and leather straps…

I begin to wonder where Cy actually got this CD from

Raven wrinkles her nose in disgust as she listens to it; I can't help but grin at her reaction.

"It's Cyborg's," is all the explanation needed on my part. She nods in understanding and uses her telekinesis to skip to the next track.

Heavy metal. She doesn't seem impressed, but says and does nothing.

Finally my discomfort becomes too much and I stand. I can't bear to sit here with her any longer.

"I should get back to work," I mutter, passing her. "See you later…"

I'll leave the cloth and the wax and my Coke and the CD player down here; and I'll come back and finish the wax job when she's safely gone.

My hopes were very high when I expected to just be able to walk past her. She catches my arm (and I suppress a hiss of pain as her fingers dig into a large indigo bruise hidden by my sleeve) and whips me around.

"Don't walk out on me again," she hisses angrily.

"Would you rather I threw down a few smoke bombs and sneaked out while you were coughing and blinded?"

She doesn't respond to my retort.

"Don't walk away," she whispers desperately. "Don't walk away from me. From this…"

"We have to walk away from it, Raven. For both of us."

"You're afraid."

I feel my stomach twist unpleasantly.

"Of commitment?" I reply, my voice strangled. "What makes you-?"

"You're afraid of me."


"Me. You're afraid of what I am. Of what we have done."

It's everything I've been thinking; and I get a sudden suspicion and the rage builds again—

"GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" I scream at her.

"I'm not in your head," she replies, her voice juxtaposingly calm in comparison to mine. "I know that you fear me because I know that there is good reason for you to. You do not understand now, but… Let's just say there's going to come a time where you're gonna wish you'd never met me…"

"Raven…" This sudden and strange confession from her douses my rage and I can only stare at her. "What are you-?"

"For now, it doesn't matter," she interrupts, putting her fingers to my mouth to silence me. "You will know, and soon enough… But at this time just know that I do not blame you for fearing me…"

Our mouths meet; but it's a kiss that barely lasts. We break apart with a sudden gasp, even though there is no reason for us to be in any way out of breath – our lips barely touched.

"And just know," she continues in a whisper, "that when I said that last night was beautiful and special… I meant it. You may regret it, Robin, and you may hate me for it, but I do not hate you, nor do I regret it; I can only thank you for it."

I pull away from her – her hands clutch my wrists, although I have only just noticed – and back away.

"Emotional blackmail doesn't work on me," I inform her icily. I wipe my mouth on my wrist even though there is no reason for me to, and then I turn away again.

"Raven, you're one of my best friends, and I care about you and I respect you. And believe me when I say that I will always be here for you, and will always help you no matter what. But…"

I look back over my shoulder at her.

"…I can't love you. I'm sorry, but I can't. And I'm sorry if that angers you, or if it upsets you; but I won't pretend and hurt you even more with lies. I just can't love you. Please, care for and respect me enough to understand that."

I close my eyes and sigh.

"Because… because it can't work. You know that, and I know that. It can't work because… we're too similar, and yet, we're vastly different… I can't bring myself to hurt you any more than I already have…"

"Robin, you haven't—"

But I don't listen to her any longer. I turn my back on her and walk out on her again…

…because it's the only thing I can do.

It's the only thing that, during the past few days, has made any sense.

Any sense at all.


It has begun.

Neither of them knows how it has gotten to this; from simple meditation to kissing to—

He lies back on the sheets, propped up on his elbows. She leans over him and they kiss for yet another time; they have lost count. It doesn't matter because it all just feels so right

He admires her plain beauty as she withdraws. Nothing elaborate; and yet she is exquisite. Large dark amethyst eyes, icy-pale skin, the glittering jewel on her forehead, and the perfectly straight violet hair, framing her face perfectly. There are no pretences about her; nothing (at the moment) hidden in those eyes.

They kiss again. She tastes a little blood and realizes that she has disturbed his split lip from his brutal beating the night before. She licks his mouth clean, not because she likes the taste of blood, but because it is his and she cannot bear to see his beauty spoiled further. She kisses the bruise at his jaw, and she kisses the brow bone over his right eye where the swelling begins. She kisses his hair and his forehead and the tip of his nose and his mouth and his chin—

He exhales heavily and lies back and holds her to him.

Her hands slip down over his chest to his waist and she begins to loosen his belt. He stifles a moan of anticipation and draws one leg up against her; his crotch presses against her leg and he squirms as her hands reach his face again. She strokes the side of his face and they kiss again. He moves his head with it and she grips his jet black hair. Her other hand returns to his waist and the belt is unbuckled and wriggled from beneath him.

She can sense his purity; and his excitement. He has never been satisfied in this way before and longs for her. She feels him arch slightly underneath her even as she only removes his belt…

It begins this way; and ends on the same trusting, enthralled note. They are spellbound by one another and hold each other close, intertwined as closely as possible, still faintly kissing and touching, long after it is over.

They sleep that way.

The sun rises; and with it so do the problems.

The differences. The embarrassment. The anger. The awkwardness. The fear; the denial; and the muttered, half-formed explanations for their behavior.

They cannot stay naked, warm and intertwined beneath her sheets forever.

The questions come; but are absent of answers.

Indeed, the only thing that seems to make sense; to make it all go away; to enable them to pretend that it didn't happen and that nothing has changed; that they haven't changed…

is to goddamn walk away.


I shut my bedroom door behind me and lock it.

Since walking out on Raven in the garage I have taken out my rage and confusion and misery on a defenseless sparring dummy; and I have taken a long hot shower.

I throw my towel and sweaty uniform on the floor, already dressed in a clean one, and flop onto the bed. I let my eyes slide closed and put my arm over my face. I need to think

Then I squirm as I feel something sharp suddenly poking me in the back. Irritated, I roll over and pull whatever it is out.

It's something small and rectangular, wrapped in black tissue paper and tied with a purple velvet ribbon. I would think such a thing to be from Starfire if I didn't know that Starfire dislikes using black for anything. If this were from Star, the tissue paper would be pink.

So the only other logical candidate is therefore…


Unless Cy and BB re suddenly wrapping things up in purple ribbon (Note to self: Be afraid, be very afraid…).

I untie the ribbon carefully and peel back the layers of ebony tissue—

It's not much of a present, being mine in the first place. But my heart skips a beat even so, because…

It's mom's picture. Raven has put it in a frame for me.

But not just any frame. It looks like one she's made herself. Black wood at the back, but decorating the front around the picture is dark leather. She's burned gothic patterns and runes and Azarathian-looking symbols into the surface of the leather, with an incense stick, looks like.

And around the edge of the leather is… the lace. She must have cut it off her nightgown.

I smile at what must be one of the nicest and most thoughtful things anyone has ever done for me.

I turn it over and find a little note taped to the wood at the back. I recognize Raven's neat, elaborate writing immediately;

It's okay to be different. Sometimes the contrast is more beautiful than two things that are alike.

I turn the picture over again and suddenly I realize what she means.

Lace and leather. Two things that shouldn't go together (unless you're watching something X-rated); because one is so delicate and elaborate, while the other is plain, tough and as-it-comes. Lace is created by hand, while leather is simply… well, Beast Boy has already lectured us on it. I won't go into it. None of us could eat burgers for a week, which I think is what Beast Boy was hoping for…

Whatever. I know what she means, and that's what matters.

We have a lot in common, Raven and I; we really do. And yet I think that our biggest similarity is the mutual knowledge that we are different too. It was something I could not understand, mainly because I thought she was wrong; but I do now because I know that she was right.

And as Raven has been known to say; anger solves nothing.

And even if it seems to make sense, neither does walking away.

Because I didn't walk away from what we have shared; I simply walked away from her in an effort to ignore it. And I know – and knew even then, the both times I swung the door shut behind me - that forced ignorance won't make it go away.

The events of last night happened because I was afraid (of him). Because I was afraid, and because Raven tried to take my mind off that fear by offering something else in its place. She helped me, and came out of herself to do so.

The bond. She may now know me intimately, both because of entering my mind and the other thing. But it would be naïve of to think I have learnt nothing of her. Her earlier confession in the garage still confuses and worries me, but I understand it to be, at least, Raven's own plea for help.

Like I said, Raven's got problems of her own.

And we will help her. Not just me; but the others too. Star and Cy and BB.

We'll be ready and it'll be okay.

I can't love her; but I can save her – and I will – no matter what it takes.

I take another vow; another pledge…

I guess I owe her that much.

Because, in the end, hope and promise are the only things that matter.

I am sorry if that was not quite the ending you were hoping for… They didn't kiss and make up. They didn't make out in a closet. They didn't pledge their love to each other or decide to "make a go of it". And yeah, it was pretty much the same ending line as Raven's in Underneath Your Clothes. But that was what I wanted; and I exchanged "love" for "hope"… because that's all Robin mouths off about in The End Part III.

However… does anyone want to go for a third fic? Anyone at all? A third part would mean more RobinxRaven… Well, if just one person says "Yes please!" to the prospect of a third (and final, I promise) part to what has become the Underneath Your Clothes saga, I will be happy to write it. Yes, I have deliberately left this open for such. My plan? A continuation of this bond, moving forward to Season Four and Birthmark… yes, that episode where Robin actually says that there's a bond… It would be another two-parter, one chapter from Raven's P.O.V and the other from Robin's (unless you don't think I did a very good job of Robin, in which case we'll just stick to Raven).

There may or may not be some proper RobinxRaven action… I haven't decided…

Now, before you all slope off… Do me a favor. All RobinxRaven fans (and I should hope that you're RobinxRaven fans if you're reading this…); read a fic called Blue. It. Is. Stunning. It's got ten chapters (all quite a bit shorter than this) and is by a writer called GDeacur. Both she and the fic are on my Favorites lists. Without giving too much away, it's about Robin getting a terminal illness that slowly turns his skin blue; it's like a visible calendar of how long he has left. There is a lot of closeness between Robin and Raven, as she is the only one who knows that he is dying, and I suppose it certainly borders on RobinxRaven. There is also a brilliant twist at the end. Now, I wouldn't plug it like this, but… it only got 33 reviews. Now for a piece with ten chapters – and for a piece of that quality – that is terrible. It now has 35, actually, because I have given reviews for the first two chapters and am going to review the other eight when I next have a free in school. Because I've read the whole thing and just… wow. Really. It's so different and poignant and GDeacur handles the theme of inevitable death (and Robin's reaction) really well. Plus each chapter has a little poem at the bottom…

So that's Blue by GDeacur. You can find the story on my Favorite Stories list. Read it; it's fantastic and you won't regret it, I promise.

Oh… and review it! Let's get that review count way up there! Revolution!

Anyone who wants a third "sequel", let me know!

Ta-ta, daaaarlings!

- RobinRocks xXx