For Thea: Michael/Robin, "escape"

Word count: 586

Escape

She brought him coffee-- this was what, the third time, fourth time?-- and perched herself on the edge of Karasuma's desk, hands clasping a black mug and looking dreamily at the ceiling.

He was sitting at his usual spot-- he was eternally glued to that seat, it seemed-- while his fingers raced tirelessly across the keyboard, rushing to complete this request, and then the next.

The room was silent, save for the clatter of his keyboard. Out of the corner of his eye, Michael observed Robin's slightly upraised chin, contemplative eyes, and elbows tucked into her body, musing, that she rather looked like she was praying. A moment later, he reached for his coffee, and winced as the brown liquid struck his lips. Hot.

Her voice unexpectedly broke the silence.

"Michael," she said,

"Have you ever tried to escape?"

His eyes widened fractionally, and he slowly lowered his arm, setting down his cup. It took him a moment to think about her question; at first, he was not sure what she meant.

"No," he replied, a few seconds later.

She tilted her head, an inscrutable expression in her eyes. Michael, unused to being the object of concern, squirmed a little under her gaze.

"Why?"

"Well," his fingertips paused, hovering above the black keys, "I'd get caught." It was a short, blunt answer, but true enough. The one time Michael approached Zaizen with the issue of leaving the STN-J (someday, at least; he knew that it might be many years, at least), he'd received a flat "No" in response, with a veiled threat underneath the rejection. "Why do you ask?" Michael inquired, sipping his coffee again, though it was still too hot.

She shook her head. "No reason."

And then neither said any more.

They went back to what they were doing: Robin to her thinking, Michael to his typing. The room was filled with the sounds of Michael's rapid clicking once more, but this time, it was accompanied by music, blaring from his earphones. Only one was in his ear; the other dangled somewhere down by his knees, the wire trailing across his lap.

Several minutes passed. Then Robin spoke up again.

"Michael," she said. Michael inclined his head slightly, to show her he was listening, and automatically lowered the volume of his music.

Her head was turned toward the view-less window, its grey blinds casting dim sun-outlined shadows on the carpet. "If you ever decide to escapeā€¦" At this, Michael's ear twitched, hotly, and he turned a little toward her in his seat, helplessly curious to hear what she would say next.

"I'll help you."

It took a second for her words to register, and then he couldn't help but laugh out loud, leaning backwards, body shaking. Robin turned to frown at him, bright eyes fixated on his mouth.

"What? Did I say something funny?" she asked.

"No," Michael replied, cheeks still smiling, unable to stop. They felt like they were burning. He turned to look brightly at her. "Just that it will never happen."

"Oh." She smiled demurely back. "Well, if it does, I really will help you."

Michael just laughed some more, and turned back to his computer, dismissing the crazy thought, insides warm and embarrassed.

All of a sudden, the idea of escape didn't seem so dangerous after all. He glanced at Robin fondly, who wandered off to open the blinds, and was peeking at the setting sun.

"Nah," he muttered a second later. He felt affectionate and touched, all the same.