A/N: So, um...hi? I know it's been forever since I updated this (two years? Really? Has it been that long? OVER two years? Wow.) And I probably won't help my case by telling you that this bit that I'm posting actually has been written since pretty much two years ago. It was actually part of a longer bit, but that next bit hadn't been beta'd. Abbie actually beta'd part of (most of) this part, but then she got complicated in life and never finished the rest and I sort of lost myself in waiting for her to continue betaing it.
I've been getting your reviews and favorites and alerts, though. And the fact that people are still asking me to update this story finally got me off my ass tonight and made me actually review it and see if it was postable.
It's almost 2 am now, though, so I really have no energy to continue editing the rest of what I have, but I figured you guys might prefer to have 7 pages worth than nothing...am I right?
So, there's more written (NOT all, please note...I have not finished writing this story, nor have I written the end), and I promise not to wait another two years before posting the rest! I'll probably go through it sometime soon and post at least another part of it by next week at the latest?
Thanks: To everyone who has kept the faith. Rock on. I hope this was worth the wait.
Chapter 13: Decisions and Resolutions
"Although every man believes that his decisions and resolutions involve the most multifarious factors, in reality they are mere oscillation between flight and longing."-Herman Broch
"Just what do you think you're doing?" Cyborg asked, and he was anything but amused.
Robin looked up, surprise naked on his features for a brief moment before it was replaced with confusion. He stood. "Doing?" he echoed, tone casual and unconcerned.
Cyborg shook his head and sighed. "In here, with Raven," he specified; he wasn't about to let this go.
Robin blinked, even more confused. "We were just talking, Cy," Robin answered. "She was asking me about my meeting with the—"
"You know that's not what I meant," Cyborg cut him off.
Robin couldn't seem to keep looking at him, and looked down at the stack of files and papers in front of him instead. Before he could further evade the topic, however, Cyborg spoke again.
Cyborg took a few steps closer to the table, landing his hands on the back of the chair Raven had just recently vacated and held it. "You realize Speedy was looking for her, don't you?" he asked.
Robin's head shot up to look at Cyborg and even though the younger teen still wore a mask, it wasn't hard for the metal man to see the flash of anger in his forehead, the clenching of his jaw, the bunching of his shoulders. "Yeah? So?" he asked intensely.
The eldest Titan sighed again, bringing a hand to massage the back of his neck and his voice, when he spoke, had softened - was almost sympathetic. "Rob, man, that isn't right—"
"What isn't right?" Robin snapped, slamming the papers he had forgotten were still in his hands down onto the table with a sharp clap. He shook his head and released the papers, forcing himself to unbunch his shoulders and look straight up at the metal's man's unyielding stare. "Raven and I were just talking," he insisted.
For a few moments, Cyborg didn't move and it seemed to Robin as if they were in the middle of the kind of staring match Cyborg and Beast Boy indulged in every so often, where they bet who would break first. Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was only moments, Cyborg blinked and looked away, exhaling as he pulled out the rolling chair and sat down. He opened his mouth to speak, but Robin had a sinking feeling he knew what Cyborg would say if he gave him a chance, and irrationally, he didn't want to hear it. So, he cut him off.
"Since when have you cared what happened to him?" Robin demanded. "Last I remember, you were making plans on breaking his fingers," he mimicked Cyborg during the first few days of Speedy's appearance and mimed breaking a stick between his hands, "and threatening his future capacity to have children," he raised a brow challengingly. "And now, what?" he shrugged. "You've changed your mind?" Robin shook his head and leaned one fist on the table, his eyes blindly falling on the statistics reports he had walked the council through that morning. "He doesn't even belong here," he breathed, lifting his gaze and meeting Cyborg's eyes again. "Who's side are you on, anyway?"
At those words, Cyborg narrowed his human eye, the light gleaming off the cybernetic one in warning. His hands on the table clenched, and his shoulders stiffened. Robin had seen that look before, and it usually preceded the appearance of the Sonic Cannon. "Raven's," Cyborg answered succinctly through grit teeth, jaw clenched in obvious restraint. "I watch her back—I make sure she doesn't get hurt, understand?" he leaned forward across the desk to pin Robin with his glare. Robin was momentarily speechless. "So," Cyborg paused and out of the corner of his eye, Robin could see Cyborg's hands clenching and unclenching as he took a moment to get his attention, "I will ask again," he enunciated. "Did you just ask Rae out?"
The reminder of Cyborg's loyalty was like a physical slap, and Robin blinked for a few moments, breathless as a result. "I asked her to run an errand with me to Gotham," he answered plainly. "That's all."
"That's all?" Cyborg asked, incredulous. "I can't believe you asked Raven to go to Gotham with you," he said, his tone one of mild disgust as the leash he'd managed to keep on his temper until then snapped with an almost audible crack. "I would've credited you with better sense that that, Robin!"
Robin narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw, hating the fact that it seemed he had to account for his motives to anyone, even Cyborg. "A week ago," he enunciated, exhaling slowly so that it didn't come out sounding angry. "asking her to accompany me on an errand wouldn't have so much as raised an eyebrow."
Cyborg wasn't mollified. "A week ago, she didn't have a boyfriend," he pointed out.
Robin scoffed, "Is that what he is?"
"You know," Cyborg shook his head, "since Speedy and Raven started going together, you've been skulking around with a bug crawled up your ass."
Robin looked at him in indignation. "And you haven't?" he challenged.
Cyborg shook his head emphatically. "No, actually," he argued calmly. "I've been acting hostile and protective."
"So what's the difference?" Robin challenged.
"The difference is I'm supposed to act this way," he answered immediately. "Hell," he said, "I've still got one or two threatening gestures planned, a few meaningful looks to throw at him and several veiled threats to make," he waved his hand dismissively. "It's expected of me, since she's the closest thing I have to a little sister." He leaned forward and narrowed his eyes at Robin. "Can you say the same?"
Robin knew he couldn't. He was as far from considering Raven in the sibling category as Cyborg was to going vegetarian. But he couldn't figure out how to explain himself to Cyborg. He wasn't sure he wanted to explain, because he knew that to explain to anyone, he'd have to question himself first. And he wasn't anywhere near ready to do that. Everything was moving too quickly for Robin's liking, everything was changing, and he wasn't sure he could keep up.
In the time it took him to figure out what (if anything) to say to Cyborg's inquiry, Cyborg spoke again. "So, why'd you do it?"
Robin sat down in the chair that was thankfully still behind him. "Because she said it was just casual between them," Robin answered. He met Cyborg's eyes, recognized the disbelief there and went on. "She told me that Speedy couldn't love her."
Cyborg relaxed his stance, but only because he realized that although he hadn't intended it, it looked as if he and Robin were going to have this conversation after all. "You know better than anyone that what Raven says and what Raven actually feels aren't always co-extensive."
Robin nodded, leaning back in the chair. "I know," he confirmed, and the tone of his voice, the tightness of his jaw told Cyborg everything he needed to know.
Cyborg approached the table, sitting in the chair Raven had vacated. "Are you really going to do this, man?" he asked, trying his best to look right where Robin's eyes would be behind the mask.
"Do what?" Robin asked.
Cyborg sighed, loudly. "Get between Raven and Speedy," he spelled it out, because he knew if he let Robin beat around the bush, they'd be there all day.
Robin winced at his bluntness, but didn't bother playing coy anymore. "That morning, after the first night he spent in her room," he started instead of answering Cyborg's question, "I went to talk to him," he admitted.
Cyborg raised a brow. "And?" he asked.
"He said he thought I might be a rival," Robin spoke, with absolutely no inflection to his voice.
"Crap," Cyborg exclaimed. "Speedy's known how you feel about her?"
Robin shrugged. "Or suspected."
"And he still went with her?" Cyborg asked.
Robin didn't look happy. "That morning, when he asked," Robin paused. "I said no."
Cyborg frowned and shook his head, leaning back into the chair, "Now, that was a dumb ass move."
"She had just admitted to being attracted to him, Cy, not me," he said, and his voice rose an octave above his normal tone, too close to an exclamation for Robin's liking.
"So you thought you'd deny the fact that you love her, is that it?" Cyborg asked. "God, Rob, you've really fucked this all up, haven't you?"
Robin's expression hardened. "You would've wanted me to what?" he asked. "Confess to her what I felt and mess up the way the whole team works together?"
Cyborg was unmoved by the hostility in Robin's tone and raised an eyebrow. "You mean you didn't want to chance her saying she didn't feel anything for you and having that ruin the way the team works together."
Robin sighed. "You want me to admit I was afraid of losing her altogether?" he asked. "Okay, yeah. Hell, yeah," he admitted, more than a little angry still. "Do I prefer to have her as a friend, than have things be weird between us, hell yeah, again." Robin's jaw worked as he decided what he should say. "I made a choice," he said, but not like he was happy. "I couldn't lose her friendship, Cy, I couldn't – even if it meant I never knew if we might be something more."
"You're right," Cyborg said sarcastically. "Ignoring her and being pissed all the time is a much better way of dealing with it."
"Well, what would you have me do?" Robin demanded. "It turns out, I was right in not saying anything, wasn't I?" he asked. "She obviously likes Speedy."
"And yet you ask her out?" Cyborg asked.
"I—" Robin faltered, standing and pacing across his side of the room. "I miss her." He shook his head and didn't see the softening of Cyborg's expression. "And she told me things would go back to normal when Speedy left next week, like she doesn't feel anything for him."
Cyborg sighed deeply, recognizing in that quick way he sometimes had, that there would be no right answer here; he had started this conversation thinking maybe Robin had been overreacting with the jealous bit, the way he always has been just a little jealous of the archer (if for no other reason than because he was another human amongst non-humans who kept pace with them), thinking (hoping) that maybe the Titan leader had lost his head a bit, but never imagining the depths of his obvious feelings for their resident dark witch. "You know he loves her, though, don't you?" he asked softly.
Robin stopped pacing, his shoulders dropping along with his arms. He looked at the one man whose opinion he had always trusted to be fair and true and knew he couldn't lie to him. "Yeah."
Cyborg crossed his arms and shook his head. "This is all sorts of messed up," Cyborg mused.
Robin sighed. "Speedy told me something else," he admitted. Cyborg looked at him and Robin had a moment to decide if he truly wanted to tell him this or not. He wasn't sure he could really believe it, and he could use an outside perspective.
"Well?" Cyborg prompted.
"He said he knew Raven didn't love him," he said.
Cyborg's eye widened. "Why would he admit that to you?"
Robin sat again. "When I asked him just that question, he essentially said that he wanted me to let her know how I feel."
"What the hell is that boy playin' at?" Cyborg asked, confused and worried.
"He said he wanted to know that Raven being with him was her choice, when she could be with me if she wanted to," Robin admitted. "He said that if he was with her, he didn't want to have to wonder what she was thinking whenever I walked into a room."
Cyborg's eyebrows rose. "That's pretty damn smooth," he admitted grudgingly.
Robin scoffed and looked at the ceiling. "So, what do I do, Cy?" Robin asked pensively. "Do I tell her how I feel at the risk of loosing her, or stay quiet at the risk of loosing her?"
Cyborg scoffed and it almost sounded like a laugh. "Seems you might be screwed either way, don't it?"
Robin looked at him, lips pursed. "Gee, thanks for the keen observation."
Cyborg shrugged. "Look, all I know is both of y'all sniffin' around her could be quite a bit more emotionally than she can handle," he said.
Robin's face registered recognition. "I hadn't thought of—" he started, only to be cut off by Cyborg.
"—but," he cut in. "If Speedy is saying he wants her to choose him knowing she's got you as an option, maybe Red's seen something we haven't, you know?" he asked.
"Okay, you obviously don't," Cyborg mused. "God, for being so observant-master-detective, you sure do miss things." Robin narrowed his eyes at him and Cyborg shrugged. "Speedy's singled you out to tell you he wants her to know she has a choice, right? Not Aqualad, not Beast Boy, not anyone else—you."
Recognition dawned and Robin's jaw went slightly slack as a result. "You mean he might think she—?"
"Yeah," Cyborg cut in again. "I think maybe he does." He shrugged. "It would make some stuff I've been noticing make sense." Robin raised his brows and started to ask what, but Cyborg waved his hand around before he could, shaking his head. "Don't worry about that," he said. "You have bigger things to worry about," he added.
"I know," Robin sighed.
Cyborg echoed him and for a moment, they were both silent. Then, Cyborg raised himself from the chair slowly and started to make his way out of the room. At the door, he stopped. Catching the movement, Robin turned slightly in his chair to look at him. "You better make tomorrow count," he advised.
Robin nodded and turned back to the desk, starting to gather his files.
When the door slid open, however, Cyborg turned around again. "And one more thing," he added. Robin stopped and looked at him again. "You fuck this up and hurt her, Boy Blunder, and when I get through with you, not the Batman with all his fancy computer crap will help identify you, understand?"
Robin was caught so off guard by Cyborg's vehemence, he could only nod dumbly before the metal-man walked out of the room, calling out, "Y'all went and started without me?" joyfully toward the kitchen.
A/N: So...worth the wait? Yes? No?