Warnings for angst and apprentice-arc noncon.

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Beast Boy tells him he doesn't laugh enough, and it's true. Maybe because Robin doesn't find Beast Boy's jokes even remotely amusing, or maybe it's more than that. Robin often wonders what it would feel like to throw his head back and let loose a side-splitting, shoulder-shaking peal of genuine laughter, spontaneous and complete. He doesn't try, because it wouldn't be worth it for the loss of control. Raven, he thinks, is the only one who really understands this.

He doesn't cry, either, and he wonders what that would feel like, too. To fall to his knees and scream and sob and choke on tears and spit. Wonders if it would make him feel better or worse. He has the feeling he knew, once, what it felt like. To cry. And to laugh. He doesn't remember.

Slade makes him remember. When he drags Robin down to his knees, fingers twisting in his hair, and whispers a story about a boy who tried to be a leader and failed, that's when it occurs to Robin that the control he's so desperately tried to maintain is long gone. Then he has the choice of whether to laugh or to cry.