Number sixteen ladies and gents.

Enjoy.


Chapter sixteen: Cause and effect.

By La Anjita.


Two weeks passed since that fateful day in the gym. Two weeks of the absence of Raven's company, and it was driving Robin crazy. She would emerge for meals and to brew her tea, to respond to alarms and even to train, but she kept whatever conversation she did make down to single word replies. Robin had half expected her look away, shamefaced, every time the two of them madde eye contact. But it wasn't so. Inexplicably, instead of shame and humiliation, her eyes would swirl with astonished wonder, deeper emotion hidden behind the shadows of her stare. And, what's more, everything around her was silent and still. Despite the war of emotion taking place, not onece had her magicks lashed out. And she seemed as surprised as he.

It wasn't until the third week of this peculiar behaviour that Robin realised where he'd seen that particular mesh of emotion before. Robin spent days thinking back to their conversation after that episode in the gym, trying to recall what had prompted her to react so. But all he could come up with was the two of them discussing the nature of her various emotions. He was confused, and a little hurt, that what small faith she had learned to put in him and his ability to understand was snuffed out, like so many birthday candles.

Finally, by the fourth week, her sustained silence finally got to him, and he decided that now might be a good time for another confrontation.

Robin began to stay up late in the night, in the hope of catching her on one of her nightly tea runs. She must have known he was there, because for the next few days she avoided the kitchen like the plague, kettle and teacups lying unused and forgotten. Inevetably, the lack of sleep began to catch up with the black-haired young man and he was on the verge of giving up on his silent vigil and getting some well needed rest. That night was the night Raven decided to show herself, or maybe her senses were out of whack. It was completely plausible that Robin just got lucky. In any case, when Robin heard the quiet mechanical swish of the common room doors opening, what did he find but a pair of startled amethyst eyes gazing back at him through the gloom. He stood quickly, watching as her eyes bled with nervousnes.

'Raven!'

The younger teen took a small step back and began to turn quickly, evidently seeking escape. Robin crossed the room in a few long strides, hand out imploringly.

'Wait!'

She didn't, and Robin pitched his voice lower as he drew nearer.

'Aurelia .'

Raven stood still, all the time keeping her slender back to him. Her shoulders slumped as she let out a shuddering sigh.

'What is it Robin?' She asked, voice soft and resigned. 'What do you want?'

'Well, for one I'd appreciate it if you faced me when you address me.'

Raven jerked and turned her head swiftly, body following, obviously surprised at his audacity. She set her mouth in a thin line. The effect was ruined by the emotion in her eyes swirling starkly against the severity of her expression.

'Well?'

Robin sighed, honestly not expecting to get anything out of her but trying anyway.

'Look, Raven, I'm worried about you.'

A raised eyebrow.

'Don't give me that look. Something's different about you, and you keep avoiding us because of it. The whole Tower's feeling your absence; Cyborg and Beast Boy fight more often and more violently Beast Boy and Star's relationship is on the rocks. They're all hurting each other with the things they're saying, awful things.'

'And this is relevant to me because...?'

'Because you're the peacekeeper Rae. You're the glue that's holding us together.' He ran his hand through his hair agitatedly. His voice was soft when next he spoke. 'We're falling apart without you.'

'I hardly think - '

Robin had had enough.

'Raven!'

She stepped back in surprise.

'Jesus when will you learn, when will you realise that you actually matter to us? When will you figure out that without your calming prescence this whole place goes to pot!'

He took a few calming breaths. Lowering the tone of his voice.

'I'm worried about you, Raven. Whatever it is that's bothering you has you locked in your room, bottling it all up. I've already said that that's not healthy.'

Raven's face softened at his words, and Robin continued while she still seemed inclined to listen.

'You've trusted me so far, Rae. Why can't you trust me with this?'

There was a drawn out silence as Raven mulled his words over in her mind. Then she sighed and took a slow step forwards, averting her gaze to some point in the near distance.

'I'm not sure I can trust myself with it. Not yet.'

'But Raven - '

She swuung her gaze around to pin him with a stare.

'No Robin! This isn't something you can help me with. These are my emotions, this is my mind. Only I have any true understanding of both. It's something I have to sort through on my own. Your giving me the answers will only result in some superficial understanding.'

Robin let out his own sigh. She was right, of course.

'How long do you think it will take?' He asked her resignedly.

Raven looked away agaiin.

'I'm stubborn Robin. Each time a new emotion manifests I have to accept it. Admit to myself that it's there and what caused it. This...I don't handle this emotion welll. I'm...I'm not used to it.'

'Is it pride?'

'What?'

'What's holding you back. What's stopping you from admitting this to yourself. Is it pride?'

Raven held his gaze, then looked away.

'I...no. It's not...It's denial. I don't...I can't bring myself to believe that this emotion....that I can feel...'

Raven growled and ran her hand through her hair.

'Which one is it?'

'I won't tell you that. I can't. You'll get a whole load of romanticised notions in your head. You'll give me false hope. I couldn't bear to let myself believe only to have it pulled from beneath me.'

'Romanticised...?'

Raven shook her head vigorously. 'Just...just leave it Dick. I need to do this alone.'

'Fine. I just...fine. Just make sure you come out more often, alright? We need you out here. You have support Rae, even if we don't know what we're giving support for.'

'I...thank you Robin. I'll...I'll do this. I'll tell you, once it's sorted through. I promise.'

'No rush Raven...Aurelia. When you're ready. As long as we know you're alright, that's all that matters.'

Raven nodded and smiled ever so slightly. Robin wondered past her. Confrontation over, he was headed to bed.

'Good night Dick.'

'G'night Aurelia.'

Robin typed in the code to his door and stepped through, dropping his robe from his shoulders and stretching his arms above his head, before heading over to his bed and slipping his nude form beneath the cool sheets. As repose caught him and began to lead him away, a single thought sashayed across his mind before he succumbed to the darkness completely.

'Romanticised notions...?'


Well, there you go folks. Sorry for the wait, my life kind of went to pot for a while there but I'm back now, with loads of ideas.

Trying to slow it down a touch, how does it effect the story's rythm?

And here's a heads up, a couple more chapters and we might be ready for some citrusy goodness.

Reviews please?

-- La Anjita