Disclaimer: I own nothing in this story but the plotline, thin and worn-out though it may be.
Better Than Me
Robin lay stretched out on his bed, mask and top tossed carelessly on the floor. His utility belt was draped across the nearest table, and his boots were kicked to the end of his bed. Every nerve in his body screamed for him to move, but he kept himself inactive for fear of doing something stupid...like walking up to Raven and kicking her in the shins. Sighing, he reminded himself for the hundredth time that he had no right to feel any ill toward the gothic girl. She had given him more than he deserved.
"She's still waiting, you know." The simple statement would have startled most, but Robin had long since accustomed himself to people appearing from shadows.
"Hm?" Robin asked, not bothering to look up from his scrutiny of several Jump City maps.
"Starfire. The two of you were supposed to go to the movies, so she's been sitting on the couch for over two hours," Raven said, taking a few steps into the room. Again, Robin responded without looking up.
"Starfire and I are going to the movies Thursday. Why would she be waiting tonight?" There was a pause.
"Today is Thursday, Robin," she stated. This brought Robin up short. Frowning, he glanced at her before digging through the papers on his desk to find a calender. Finally pulling one free, he checked the date and his frown deepened.
"Huh. Well, I guess we'll have to reschedule," he said and dropped the calender on the other side of the desk. Pulling the maps back in front of him, he continued, "Could you tell her I'm sorry and that we'll set it up for another day? I'm this close to finding Slade's new hideout, I'm sure of it."For a moment, the shadows in the room seemed to flicker, almost as if they were trying to reach out and strangle the oblivious young man. The moment passed, and the shadows receded. Raven's eyes dimmed from bright red back to their normal color, and a look of resolve was set upon her features.
"No," she said, and this time Robin stopped working and gave her his full attention.
"Excuse me?" he asked.
"I said, no, I will not tell her you're sorry. I will not apologize for you, nor will I make any more excuses for your behavior. You pull her in with rare displays of non-committal emotion, only acting like you're in a relationship when it's convenient for you. Starfire deserves better than that, Robin. If you can't see that by now, then maybe..." She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, then captured Robin's gaze with her own. "Maybe she deserves better than you." Robin saw her intent in her body language but found himself asking, just to be sure,
"What exactly do you mean, Raven?"The air was thick with tension, and neither teen was willing to break eye contact.
"I mean, Robin, that you have one last chance to make Starfire happy. If you can pull yourself away from those maps and that damned one-eyed psychopath long enough to go to the main room and apologize to her in person, then I'll stand back and never bring this up again. But if you don't take this chance, this one opportunity to make her smile again...then I will." Raven continued to stare at Robin, even as he finally broke eye contact to glance down at his work. "What will it be, Robin? Is it really that hard for you to walk away from all of this?"
Robin glanced back and forth between Raven and the maps. She had to be kidding, right? She wasn't seriously going to-
"This is it, Boy Wonder. Last chance. Going once." The shadows started to creep up around her, and he knew he had only seconds to leave this room before she disappeared. Otherwise, he could never beat her to the living room. His eyes fell back to the maps.
"Going twice." Could he really leave when he was so close to finding Slade that he could feel it in his bones? It took mere seconds to switch his gaze back to Raven, and just that quick she was...
Gone, along with his last chance to tell Starfire how he truly felt for her. At first, he didn't really believe that to be true. Everyone knew Raven could be a little protective of the jovial alien, but in love with her? Robin wasn't even really sure Raven could feel love without losing control. He was wrong. The next time he saw Raven and Starfire, they were sitting at the breakfast table and giving each other the goofiest grins. Well, Starfire had on a goofy grin. Raven's was more of a shy smile. Whatever you call it, the sight made Robin drop his bowl in the sink, cereal and all. The two girls didn't even notice the clatter.
As the days passed, Raven and Starfire put on more and more public displays of affection while Cyborg and Beast Boy, who were both understandably shocked at first, grew gradually more comfortable with the two girls as a couple. By the end of two weeks, you couldn't say one girl's name without the other...and Robin was no closer to finding Slade than he had been the night Raven confronted him. To top things off, he had to go and be a complete dick about things by spying on the girls. He'd followed them on more than one date, and one night he even put a camera in Raven's room to see what they did when they returned home from such dates. Half an hour after they got home, Robin switched off the camera and took a long, cold shower. He knew what he had done sent him straight to the top of the 'asshole' list, but he missed Starfire more than he ever imagined possible.
Now here he was, laying half-naked in bed and wishing his heart would stop pounding so damn hard that his chest hurt. He felt his heart thud at the mere thought of her name, and his whole body shuddered with the ragged breath he took. Finally giving in to the urge to move, he stood up and began pacing about his room. He came to a stop in front of a poster carrying Slade's face, one of many that had been posted in every station house across Jump City. As he stared into the picture's unblinking gaze, he found himself wondering for the first time not about the mysteries the mask held, but about the chances he had passed up in pursuit of a face he couldn't see. He leaned against the wall as his vision began to blur, closing his eyes to try and fight the tears that threatened to fall. A moment later, he forced himself to open his eyes again. All he could see were flashes of green eyes, red hair, and golden skin. In an explosion of pent-up emotion, Robin began ripping all the posters down from the walls. Suddenly every piece of paper and clue gathered was nothing more than a reminder of every date he'd blown off, every moment he'd missed, and every time he'd never told Starfire how pretty she actually was. He tore everything to tiny shreds, kicking and throwing the flecks of paper around the room until he thought he would scream at the top of his lungs. Anger then gave way to weariness, and Robin stumbled to his bed as his body shook with silent sobs. Slowly, exhaustion took hold and his body slipped into a fitful sleep filled with dreams of last chances not missed.
The next morning, four Titans looked up to see their leader entering the main room...in jeans and a t-shirt with a packed bag swung over one shoulder. Beast Boy leaned over to Cyborg.
"Hey, am I the only one who doesn't remember him talking about a trip?" the changeling murmured. Cyborg shook his head and stood up.
"Hey, man, where're you going? And, you know, since when?" Dick Grayson smiled serenely, and that combined with the sight of his blue eyes pretty much gave everybody the creeps.
"Since this morning, actually. See, I started thinking, and I realized I haven't been the greatest leader as of late-"
"What?" Starfire interrupted. "What are you saying, friend Robin? You have been a fantastic leader."
"No, Star," he said a little harshly. Seeing the hurt look on her face, he sighed and continued in a softer tone, "For a while now, I've been too busy obsessing over things to really consider the good of the team. I've been so stuck in my own past that I haven't put any thought into the Titan's future."
"Dude, we know you've got issues with Slade," Beast Boy spoke up, "and we get that. We understand-"
"It's more than just Slade, Beast Boy. It's..." For a moment, Dick let his gaze linger upon the beautiful Tamaranian before closing his eyes and breathing deeply. "It's a lot of things. All of which combine to show that I haven't been doing my job. So...I'm leaving the Teen Titans."
This announcement was greeted with shocked silence. Finally, a soft voice broke the wave of emptiness.
"For how long?" Raven asked, subconsciously grasping Starfire's hand in search of some sense of comfort. Starfire squeezed her girlfriend's fingers as Dick ran a hand through his hair.
"I'm not sure. Long enough to rediscover my reason for starting the team, at least. Who knows? Maybe I'll rediscover myself along the way."
"Dude, can't you do that here?" Beast Boy asked weakly, already knowing the answer before Dick began shaking his head.
"I wish I could, but there are too many distractions here- too much temptation to fall back into the same old patterns." Dick smiled again. "But, hey, at least I'm leaving you in good hands. Right, Cyborg?" The older teen regarded his friend carefully.
"You want me to take over as leader...indefinitely?" Dick nodded, and once again the room was packed with silence. Dick cleared his throat.
"Well, my bags are packed, and my bike is sitting outside. Guess I'll be going now," Dick said and gave another nod. Turning around to leave, he took a deep breath and started out the door. Halfway there, he was stopped by a pair of slender arms wrapping around his shoulders from behind. He had half-expected to be hugged, but this... "Raven?"
"Be careful, Robin. And don't disappear on us for good," she said and received a chorus of agreeing remarks. One by one, the Teen Titans joined in to hug their leader - their friend - goodbye.
A year passed, and the roll-call for the Teen Titans steadily grew longer. One Friday morning, as the Titans all prepared for what they hoped would be a relaxing night off, an alarm sounded. Rather than the usual crime alert, however, this alarm was a repetitive buzzing coming from the main computer console. All of the teens gathered in the main room (and there were a lot of them) turned inquisitive faces to the original team members, most of which were looking just as inquisitively at Cyborg. Frowning, Cyborg logged into the system.
"What is that? And why is it so annoying?" asked Beast Boy.
"You know how we started changing the security codes every two weeks? I programed the system to let us know if someone was trying to get in with any code older than a month. No one's ever set it off because of the code-delivery system we set up with the communicators," Cyborg explained. Starfire and Raven joined Beast Boy to stand behind Cyborg.
"So why is it going off now?" Raven asked, one arm wrapped around Starfire's waist. Cyborg's fingers stilled over the keyboard.
"According to the computer, the code they're trying to use is a year old," he said as he commanded the computer to open a comm-channel to the front entrance security panel. An image popped up on the screen of a young man smiling into the camera as it blinked to life.
"Hey, guys. I guess I should have known you'd change the code, especially with all the new Titans who've joined. Do you think someone could buzz me in?" A young blonde girl sitting on the couch looked up from her magazine and made a low wolf-whistle.
"Damn," muttered Cassie 'Wonder Girl' Sandsmark to another blonde girl standing behind the couch, "who's the hottie with the long hair?"
"I don't know," replied Terra while openly gawking at the viewscreen, "but I sure hope he's planning on moving in." Beast Boy, whose sensitive ears had caught the brief conversation, glowered before leaning around Raven and Starfire. His mouth fell open as his wide eyes fell upon the figure that stood in view of the camera. There was something undeniably familiar about the young man. His stance was wide and balanced--a sure sign that he was prepared to move in any direction at a moment's notice. The outfit that he wore was skintight and black, save for a bright blue sigil in the shape of bird's wings splashed across his broad chest. His hair hung down to his shoulders, fluttering with the breeze and catching the light. The man's appearance, however, was not what made Beast Boy's jaw drop. The black mask and the gaze of the whited eyes were an image that would never leave the original four Titans, and they were all too happy to see it again.
"Dude," Beast Boy whispered, "is that Robin?"
"No, it is not," Starfire said, a strange smile on her face. "That, my friends, is Nightwing."
Please Review! Also, this was written as a one-shot, butI realize I left it kind of open for a possible continuation. Let me know if you'd like to see more along this plotline. Thanks for reading!