A/N: I started this one briefly months ago when I re-read the poem herein mentioned and I got this idea. I sort of left it off without finishing it, but today I was in the mood to work on something but didn't know what, and I 're-found' this one. So, it was mostly done. Just had to be reviewed and a few gaps filled in. Not beta'd.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Still poor.
"If I should lose you..."
- If I Should Lose You, Nina Simone
Robin saw the look of almost confusion on her face. The book she had been reading lay open on her lap, forgotten or temporarily set aside as she stared through the window to the brilliant summer day outside. She wasn't seeing the day outside, he knew that from three leagues away, what he didn't know was what she was seeing?
As he approached, he realized that confusion wasn't exactly the right word. She had the look about her of one who was only just now starting to feel the stirrings of indigestion or of one who had been given something distasteful and didn't quite know what to do with it.
She looked, for lack of a better word, unsettled.
"Raven," he called softly.
His presence startled her and she flinched, clutching the book in her lap for a moment before forcing her face into calm lines and turning to find him watching her.
He didn't expect her to say anything in greeting, she usually didn't, so he approached. "You look as if someone told you that you had to go into Beast Boy's closet."
She blinked at him for a moment, thinking how she might have looked had that beent he case and what that meant about how she did look. When she made the connection, she glared at him meaningfully. "No need to get nasty," she intoned.
His initial response was a short bark of laughter as he sat down next to her. He glanced at the book and although he couldn't make out content, he could tell it was poetry due to the formatting of the lines on the page.
"So, what's wrong?" he asked.
She looked for all intents and purposes as if she was going to brush him off. Then, her expression changed so that he could almost see the walls crumble. "It's stupid," she said dismissively.
"From you?" he asked, turning to face her, "Doubt it."
She took the compliment with inaudible gratitude and motioned the book on her lap. "It's this poem," she said. "I am..." she trailed off, choosing her words carefully, "...bothered by it," she admitted.
He looked at her, clearly disbelieving for a moment and then motioned to the book, "May I?" he asked.
With nimble fingers, she raised the book and held it out to him. He took it and looked down at the words on the slightly yellowed page.
He always read poetry aloud, it was just his way. He found hearing it about him in the air helped him decipher and understand it, somehow. Of course, he usually read it only by himself and never in front of anyone else, so no one had reason to know that. But he and Raven had shared interest in poems before, so he felt less embarrassed about his habit with just the two of them in the common room and so he read;
"IF I should learn, in some quite casual way,
That you were gone, not to return again—
Read from the back-page of a paper, say,
Held by a neighbor in a subway train,
How at the corner of this avenue
And such a street (so are the papers filled)
A hurrying man—who happened to be you—
At noon to-day had happened to be killed,
I should not cry aloud—I could not cry
Aloud, or wring my hands in such a place—
I should but watch the station lights rush by
With a more careful interest on my face,
Or raise my eyes and read with greater care
Where to store furs and how to treat the hair."(1)
He looked at the last lines for a moment, then up to look at her, only to find she was staring without seeing out the window again. "I thought it might have been one of those Poe poems or Shelley or some other Gothic writer."
She took a moment to glare at him, "I am a multi-faceted literati," she answered with just a hint of offense.
Enough so that he chuckled and looked back at the pages. "So what is it that bothers you about it?" he asked.
"The lack of emotion in it," she answered, staring back out the window, as if something she could focus on outside helped her think about what was happening inside. "...or the overabundance of emotion in it..." she added as an afterthought, "I don't think I can decide which it is and that's part of the problem."
"Well, if my interpretation would help any, she almost seems as if she's being sarcastic to me," he told her.
Raven looked at him, no surprise, just expectancy and he knew she was waiting for him to explain.
"Don't tell me I have to explain to you about sarcasm?" he asked, raising a brow.
She didn't take the bait and didn't react, just continued staring at him. "Sarcastic..." she said softly, as if she were trying out the sound of a strange word on her tongue, "To me, she seems almost..." she paused momentarily, searching for an adequate descriptive, "...dry..." she shook her head, not satisfied, and looked back out the window again just as a sparrow flew from one end to disappear passed the other, "...drained."
"Well, you know what they say about poetry," then, realizing an incongruence that might eventually help her figure out her problem with the poem, he sat up, "I thought you said you didn't know if it was the lack of emotion or the abundance of emotion that bothered you?" he asked.
She nodded, slowly.
"Well..." he stopped himself from saying one thing, choosing instead another, "Dry and drained can be two completely disparate things, can't they?" he asked. She raised a brow and he took it as a sign to continue, "I mean, dry implies that there's nothing there and never was, like she doesn't feel anything for this guy that she finds out she's lost...and if there's nothing there, then she can't feel anything for him anyway, right?" He didn't wait for her answer, but continued down his train of thought, "But if she's drained," he emphasized, pausing a moment, "Then it implies she has felt something and those feeling just..." he paused, searching, "I don't know, ran out...like the way people feel when they've cried so long that they can't cry anymore even though they still feel the pain in their hearts that would normally bring about tears."
"You missed your calling," she said seriously, calling his attention back to her. He hadn't realized he had taken to staring out the window as he spoke just as she had until her voice called him back.
"Oh yeah?" he asked, recognizing the beginnings of a teasing undertone to her words.
"You should have been a writer," she announced.
"And why is that?" he asked, raising a brow.
"You see too many possibilities in the simplest of things," she explained, "You're making up stories already."
He shrugged, "It's just detective work, really," he answered. At her incredulous look, he shrugged again, "It's just putting the pieces together that you're given to form a possible conclusive whole, that's all detective work is, really..."
"I suppose writers are a bit like detectives," she conceded.
"Well, in any case," he continued, looking back down at the page. "She doesn't seem dry or drained to me."
Raven cocked her head to the side in question. "No?"
He shook his head. "To me, it's like she's trying to be strong. Like she doesn't want anyone on that train to see her suddenly burst into tears, but that she'll cry when she's ready...she'll grieve in her own way, but she will grieve."
She looked down at the book and nodded, slowly, contemplatively. "Yes, I suppose I can see that."
They sat in silence for a while, Raven's hand on the pages of the poem and her eyes still cast outward.
"So," he started after awhile, "Why does it really bother you?" he pressed, his tone deceptively light.
He could see it on her face when she intended to not answer or to give him some easily dismissed response and when she sighed, he knew she meant to continue to answer honestly. "I'm..." she trailed off, and looked back at the page, "I can see myself in this poem," she admitted quietly.
He could see what she meant by it and although he knew why it might bother her, he wasn't sure she would admit to it so openly. So, he didn't know quite what to say to her admission. After another few moments went by, he decided to go for honestly.
"You're not as cold and indifferent as you are forced to let on," he said.
She stared at him, "How can you be so sure of that when I'm not?"
He chuckled. "Because usually, the people who know us best are the ones who get the view from the outside."
She frowned. "And who are observant little birds," she added, not unkindly.
He shook his head but he was still amused. "No," he argued. "We all know that about you, Rae," and before he could even think about it, he reached out and covered her hand with his. It surprised him to suddenly feel her warm flesh under his bare hand, but when she didn't slip it away, he continued, "even Beast Boy," he tried for some levity.
She snorted delicately, "I doubt it." She looked down at the book on her lap, her hands covering the pages and his tanned flesh covering hers. "I doubt you really know it either," she added, "As much as I believe you'd like it to be true."
He could keep arguing with her but he knew it would be pointless. She wouldn't believe him. Not until she was ready to believe him or not until he found a way to show her rather than just tell her. The fact she hadn't pulled her hand away was enough concession for him...for now. "You don't have to believe me, Raven," he shrugged. "We all know how you feel most of the time, we've learned to read your non-expressions, and someday maybe you'll be able to realize that you have them too."
She was quiet for a long while. Robin was okay with that and wasn't expecting for her to speak. Almost absently, his thumb caressed her the the skin under his fingers and when he felt her hand move, he was stopped, thinking he had crossed the line. Instead, he was surprised to realize she extended her fingers and opened them. He looked at her, but her eyes were on their hands intently and she wouldn't meet his eyes. So, as if of its own accord, his fingers stretched out between hers and clasped down. The only thing that surprised him more than the fact that her own fingers curled down over his own was her voice.
"I hope you're right," she finally spoke, her voice even and measured. "I wouldn't want to act like in this poem – to feel nothing if..." she paused for a moment and looked back through the window.
Robin turned to her, his brow furrowed. He was deciding if to prompt her or to let it lie, when she spoke again.
"If I lost you."
It took him a moment to realize that she had spoken and that he hadn't misunderstood her. But when he did, he was shocked enough to give in to his first instinct: he tightened his hold on her hand reflexively and chuckled, "Is that all?" he asked lightly. She swallowed but refused to look at him. He didn't expect her to, so he continued, "That's easy to remedy..." he smiled, the shock wearing off and the true meaning of Raven's words sinking in. "You won't ever lose me, Raven," he told her seriously. "I won't let you."
Raven looked at him. "You can't promise that," she practically whispered.
"I've waited years for you, Raven," he said sincerely. He reached out a hand to cup her cheek. His heart soared when she leaned into him slightly rather than pull away. "Do you really think I'd let a trifle like death keep me from you?" He raised a brow, "Especially now that you've finally caught up to me emotionally?" he asked somewhat teasingly.
She met his eyes unerringly, slowly turned her hand in his until they were palm to palm, and ever so slowly, but ever so sweetly, smiled.
(1) "Sonnet V" by Edna St. Vincent Millay
A/N: So, I thought about being cruel and leaving it at Raven's 'confession', but I thought I hadn't really written a Robin and Raven getting together for the first time scene since "Tried and Tested" so I continued it.
It felt strange to me because it was Raven who stepped up to the plate to make the first move and I'm not altogether certain that's in character for her, but I kind of buy it more in the way it happened here. How about you guys? Did you buy it or no?