Summary: "Raven, why are you spelling in your alphabet soup?" Oneshot
Rating: T for language and light insinuation.
Genre: Romance/Drama (you know, that usual angsty crap)
AN: This was quite randomly inspired, and is probably at least in part a result of reading too much of Em and Guyute's awesome writing. Definitely pay attention to your playlist for this one, folks. Song no.1 was heavy muse-fodder.
Disclaimer: -sigh- I don't even own my soul anymore. I am a Book Slave. If you must sue, sue my master. (B-A-M)
--Three Days Grace – Pain
--Plain White T's – Hate (I Really Don't Like You)
--The All American Rejects – Dirty Little Secret
--The Killers – Mr. Brightside
--Blue October – Ugly Side
--American Hi-Fi – Something Real
--Disturbed – Want
--Fall Out Boy – Sophomore Slump or Comeback of the Year
Raven stared into her bowl, a vague frown tugging down at her mouth as she pushed her spoon absently around in her broth. The soft pattering rain on the windows and hush of the air circulating created a perfect backdrop to the gray landscape of her thoughts.
Not really paying any attention to her lunch, the spoon moved about, arranging the soup according to the subconscious notions that guided her hand.
"L-I-N-E-S. Lines. Lines?"
Raven started, swearing a mild oath as a little broth splashed over her bowl's rim and onto her lap. She scowled over her shoulder at Robin as she dabbed at the damp spot on her yoga pants.
He merely smiled bemusedly back. "Raven, why are you spelling 'lines' in your alphabet soup?"
Because I find myself crossing them lately, and I don't know why, or how many back was too many. Aloud, she replied dryly, "The better question, Boy Wonder, is why I am eating alphabet soup."
"Not eating. Spelling in it."
Her mouth twisted in an unamused line. He was like a bulldog, persistently worrying at a bone. "Why, of course I'll answer your question, Robin. I'm eating alphabet soup because someone," she raised her eyebrows at him to mark her point, "forgot to go grocery shopping yesterday, and all that was left in the kitchen was this, and canned miso soup." He coughed, pursed his lips, and pretended to become very interested in a loose thread on the back of the couch. Raven continued staring him down. "I hate miso soup, Robin. And I only hate alphabet soup a very, very little less."
"Oh, so it was my turn to go shopping this week," he said with weak casualness.
"To put it perfectly crassly, no shit, Sherlock."
Robin grinned sheepishly and leaned over the couch back to take her spoon from her. "Well, here."
Raven looked down into her lap to see he had spelled "SORRY" in her soup. Wordlessly, she took back her spoon, scrambled his apology, and arranged her own letters, hunched over a little so he couldn't see what it read until she was finished. She sat back up and looked at Robin with the corners of her mouth tight from not smiling.
"D-U-N-C—hey. I said I was sorry."
"No," she denied primly, shaking her head at him. "You spelled it. In the alphabet soup I wouldn't have to be eating if you'd done your chores on time, I might add."
He grinned again, and bit his lower lip as if holding back from saying something. Shaking his head and chuckling, he bent over to look at her sideways. "Well, will you forgive me if I go shopping this afternoon?"
She put her head on one side meditatively, peered at him from under her lashes, and tapped her spoon rhythmically against the lip of her bowl. "Perhaps. If you buy me a pint of ice cream. Vanilla fudge brownie will do."
He feigned a scandalized expression, going so far as to press his hand against his sternum. "So cheap, Raven? Bought by a carton of Ben & Jerry's?
Scoffing in offense, she pushed lightly at his shoulder. "That's Breyer's, thank you. And do you want to be forgiven or don't you?"
He straightened and said wryly, "Oh, I want. You're frightening when you hold grudges."
Raven faltered a moment, going still as someone else's all too similar words echoed in her mind. "Ooh, I want. You're hot when you're angry."
She blinked rapidly and shoved the memory away as Robin came around and slumped heavily onto the couch cushions beside her. "What're you doing? My ice cream's not going to buy itself."
He shot her a look that said "cute", then jerked a thumb at the floor to ceiling glass panes that made up the common room wall. "Mind if I wait till it stops raining? I promise to have the kitchen fully restocked before it's time for dinner."
"I suppose I'll allow it," she conceded grudgingly, "so long as my ice cream finds its way into the freezer."
"Thank you, oh gracious Master," he retorted sarcastically, bowing to her at the waist. She returned his "cute" expression, and he grinned and flipped on the television.
Raven zoned out again as Robin channel surfed, her spoon resuming its lazy stirring. She didn't realize there was anything significant about the absentminded motions until Robin cleared his throat awkwardly.
"Raven… this whole subconscious spelling thing is starting to worry me a little."
She looked at him in surprise, then down into her bowl, her cheeks warming a little at what she read there. P-A-I-N. She had spelled "pain" in her soup, and Robin was sitting right beside her. She remembered the shape of the word on her lips.
"Why? Because this… with you… it reminds me I can feel. Even pain is better than nothing at all."
"Raven, is there anything you want to talk about?" The concern that softened his voice only made Raven's cheeks hotter, and she pursed her lips to keep from scowling.
He was quiet a moment, as if choosing his next words and actions very, very carefully. "Are you absolutely certain, Raven? We're friends. Very good ones, I like to think." He touched her arm, and she glanced sidelong at him hastily. "Not trying to throw your words back in your face, but I know you better than anybody. And you've been acting a little… odd, lately."
She tensed and stirred her spoon through her broth, scattering the letters back into a random pattern. "I don't know what you mean."
She didn't look at him, but she heard it when he shifted his weight on the cushions and sighed. "Come on, Rae, don't make me beat around the bush." His tone was soft, but the words were blunt. "There is such a thing as trying too hard, you know. If you wanted to pretend nothing was wrong, sorry, but you've been going about it the wrong way."
She shifted a glare at him. "I don't know what you're talking about, Robin. Nothing is wrong." She wouldn't say she wasn't pretending anything, wasn't hiding anything. She didn't want to outright lie to him. She didn't want to cross that line.
He searched her face for a long moment. She could feel his eyes mapping out her features, even if she couldn't see them. You'll have to do better than that, Boy Wonder, she thought. You won't find the chink in my armor that easily.
Finally, he seemed satisfied that her face wasn't telling him lies, or at least that it wasn't betraying them to him. "Are you sure, Raven? You've been, I don't know how to put it—more, well, lively isn't the word. More emotive lately, I guess."
She crafted an expression of skepticism to hide her relief. "I show a little more mastery of my emotions, and that makes you think I'm hiding some horrible new problem." Her heart pounded a little faster as she realized how accurate that assumption really was, and she hoped he wouldn't notice it. Of anyone, he was one of only two people who might.
"Admit it, dollface. You enjoy the attention. You like that I notice you. The only part you have a problem with is my hobby, and you don't seem to mind it so much it stops you kissing me."
He shrugged, as if he wasn't sure he was sorry for accusing her of hiding something. "Well, Raven, you've got to admit, you're not that big into sharing. I'm your friend. I care about you, a lot, and if I want to know something without having to interrogate you, I have to watch for signs. So, yeah, I worried a little when you changed your behavior."
She frowned, and couldn't help that it was a little sad. "Can't I change and it be a positive thing, Robin? It doesn't have to mean the end of the world every time I smile."
His own smile was a little forced, and also a little sad. "You're right. I'm sorry." He widened his mouth into a grin. "But expect a round of twenty questions if I find you making pancakes. 'Cause last time, that did mean the end of the world."
She snorted despite the tightening in her chest. "You're never going to let that go, I see."
"Nope. Never." He smiled for real and leaned back into the couch, propping his feet on the coffee table, tuned the TV to the local news, and turned up the volume. "Now eat your soup."
As he became engrossed in a special on revisions of the law enforcement budget, she looked into her bowl and found that she had been spelling again. Secrets, she thought morosely. I think I've about had enough of those.
Despite that her soup had cooled to lukewarm, she slurped it down, Robin grunting at the newscasters beside her. When she had finished, she rose silently and walked into the kitchen.
Stopping in front of the sink, she looked down inside the bowl, at the half dozen letter-shaped noodles that remained floating in a shallow puddle of broth. The letters she couldn't stomach swallowing.
Looking over her shoulder, she could see the back of Robin's head over the couch, and she felt a little pang in her chest. She didn't like that she was hiding something so big from him. But she couldn't tell him, now or ever. He'd be furious. Furious, betrayed, and disappointed. She never wanted to see the expression that would put on his face. It was enough torture enduring his kindness and concern, knowing that she didn't deserve it.
And despite all this, even as she rinsed the X's down the drain and ran the disposal, she knew she didn't have the strength in her to end it.
She needed the pain.
And he had no problem giving it to her.
AN: Um, yeah. Another weird little one. I think it's pretty self-explanatory, but if you're still confused, this is a Raven/RedX with wee little hints of Rob/Rae.
Now, it's a oneshot, so please don't ask me to continue it. You break my heart when you ask that, because while it's awesome to know you'd like to read more of it, I'm still not gonna. However, there is a slight, very slight chance that I might make this into a vignette chain of RedX/Rae drabbles. If I do, those of you who have me on alert will get an update alert you won't recognize, because if I make this a chain, I'm changing the title. Just warnin' ya.
By the way, I don't do this often enough, but thank you. All you guys who read and review, and those of you who just read and are either too lazy to review or plain don't care, thanks for reading. ) It makes the writing that much more worthwhile. It still wows me when I see the hits on my profile (though I don't think it really gets read much) and I'm above 70 on favorites and alert lists, so THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for all your support. ) I really, really do appreciate it.