AN: Hello again. Long time no see, huh? I just have a few questions to answer before we continue on with the story. --For the confused, the switch between "Robin" and "Dick" is on purpose. Please be wary of it. Also, I've only watched the animated series of TT so excuse the wrong "Robin" ID, and I only know very little about the original comics -- it's not Tim or Jason here but the original Richard (Dick). For the sake of enjoying, you'll have to suspend disbelief on the characters. Wilson is characterized differently than you're probably used to, thanks or no thanks to my creative directing here. So... I hope that clears up a few things for people. Anymore questions can and will be answered via Author's Note at the beginning of the next "Part."
Dick opened his eyes as the song ended and changed. He tilted his head forward again to watch the dancers.
Dick glanced up at Wilson. "What?"
"You might as well. You're fidgeting."
Dick snorted. "No."
Wilson stared back down at Dick. Dick really didn't like how the man looked at him; his eyes were disturbing. He quickly looked away, suppressing a shudder at the chill that slid down his back. Robin once again waved his yellow flag, yelling at him to move away from the older man, but Dick was glued to the floor. It was like he didn't know how to move; he just stood there, staring straight forward while his mind reeled with many incoherent and incomplete thoughts. He didn't know how to handle this situation, so awkward and new to him, and he seriously doubted he wanted to find out how well he could.
Dick bit and chewed on the corner of his bottom lip. It was a nervous habit he hadn't done in a long time. Whenever he was up next for a performance at the circus, he'd chew on his lip and run over his cues in his head. He always got jitters before getting up the pole, but once he was up there, his butterflies would suddenly disappear and he'd fly through the air like his namesake.
Now, though, was no such situation. He wasn't preparing for a daredevil leap through the air or taking on a high-speed chase on his R-cycle, or anything as dangerous. He was just standing next to a stranger in a club... avoiding his gaze.
The back of a finger brushed against his bottom lip. Dick jerked out of its reach and glared up at Wilson, knowing it was him who touched him.
"Hey, hands off."
Wilson smirked. "You're going to ruin your lips."
Robin narrowed his eyes, still not trusting of the other man. He didn't enjoy the idea of other people -- strangers in particular -- touching him, and hardly did he even juggle the thought of allowing them to touch him in any way intimate. That brush across his lips was a definite cross into personal space and territory Robin wasn't going to let the other man in.
"Don't touch me."
Wilson gave him a half grin, silencing what chuckle he certainly would've let out if Robin didn't glare at him so vehemently. It was best to be a little cautious around the young man, whilst he snap out at the harmless tease. He raised his hands palms out, familiar as a sign of surrender, though here it was used to dissuade the teen from punching him (since he looked like he was very tempted to).
"I meant no harm," he assured the teen.
But Robin continued to glare at Wilson. He opened his mouth to snap at him when something vibrated in his pocket. Startled by it, Robin quickly fled from Wilson's side, seeking the nearest bathroom. Inside, he checked to make sure no one was lingering about before he locked the door and pulled out the T-communicator. It was buzzing. Dick sighed as he fished out Robin's mask and slipped it back on.
He paused, then taking a breath, answered. "Robin, here."
On the small screen of the handheld was Starfire. "Friend Robin!"
"Hey, Star. What is it? Do we have a crime?"
Starfire blinked, staring at him before shaking her head. "N-no, everything is peachy as Kleine."
"Then... what did you need?" It made Robin nervous to talk to Starfire right now. He was inside a club, risking both his identity amongst all these strangers, and the dear trust he had with his comrades. The longer he spoke to her, the more in danger he was becoming.
"Oh-- well," Starfire gave him an embarrassed smile. "Nothing, I was just calling. ...You left so quickly, Robin. I was worried."
Robin gave her a reassuring smile. "Sorry about that, Star. I'm fine. I'm still patrolling."
Suddenly, Starfire looked startled, as if ashamed she had interrupted his job. "O-oh!" She nodded at him in understanding. "Then we shall see you again soon?"
"As soon as I'm done with what I have to do, I'll return," he answered with a nod of his own. "See you."
Starfire gave a small smile. "'See you' as well, Friend Robin." And with that she disconnected, leaving Robin to stare at the black screen in silence. He took a deep breath before shoving the communicator back in his pocket. He reached up to rub at the bridge of his nose when he touched the fabric of his mask. He had forgotten it was still on.
Without hesitation, Robin tore it off and returned it to his pocket as well. It wasn't needed anymore. He wasn't needed anymore. Dick shook his head, forcing himself to calm his nerves. He didn't realize how heavily his heart pounded. Pressing his palm to his breast, he was surprised to feel his heart jump.
"I shouldn't be doing this," he realized, his hand closing into a fist. Robin knew this was a bad idea. To feel his heart race, to understand the panic that rose to suffocate his throat, Robin knew he wasn't ready for this. But he needed it so badly... Dick roughly scratched at his skull.
This wasn't working.
He couldn't keep second guessing himself! He had decided this would come, whether Robin accepted it or not, and now that it was here, he was going to do it. No matter what or who -- the Teen Titans or otherwise -- he was going to enjoy himself tonight and leave the hero business alone. No excuses.
But-- Robin still carried the communicator in his pocket. He still had a duty to perform. How was he supposed to protect the city and just be Dick for the night, a regular teen yearning for fun and excitement and a little reprieve?
A sudden knock on the door of the bathroom brought his attention back to his present situation. Dick gathered his wits (he was startled by the sharp noise) before he approached and unlocked the door.
On the other side of the door stood Wilson. He cocked an eyebrow at Dick when their gazes met. "Finished?" the man asked.
Dick had the decency to look embarrassed. He was hogging the bathroom, after all. He nodded and moved out of the way, allowing Wilson enough room to go in while he exited. As they passed each other, their arms touched, their shoulders just barely brushing. The sudden contact shocked Robin and he jerked away, fleeing the bathroom and Wilson's stare. He retreated to a secluded spot different from before, and stood here. A heavy sigh escaped him. Dick ran a hand through his hair and rubbed at the bridge of his nose. He rested his head against the wall, closing his eyes momentarily. Around him the bass of the music vibrated the walls, hammering his very bones with its intensity.
For a moment he wished the heavy bass could just shake away all the doubt in him. He wasn't even Robin anymore, let alone Dick. This uncertainty that plagued him was a trait neither of them ever had before. They were both confident young men, trusting their instincts and learning as they progressed. But now...
Robin pushed away from the wall. This wasn't going to work, he knew it. He wasn't going to last. Breaking away from the crowded room, Robin darted for the nearest exit, weaving past the dozens of people dancing and drinking and mingling together. When he neared the door, a relieved smile broke on his face, a sigh ready to burst from his chest.
But before he could let it out, a hand circled around his arm, strangling a gasp out of him. Whipping around to damand release from his captor, Robin was surprised yet not entirely so, when he saw Wilson at the end of that strong grip.
"Let me go," he demanded.
Wilson stared at him for a moment. "What's wrong, Dick?"
"Nothing." Robin made another jerk to pull out of the man's grip, but the hold on his arm was like vice, stronger than Dick was used to. "Now let go, I'm leaving."
Wilson continued to stare at him. His striking blue gaze unsettled Dick, causing him to fidget. It didn't go past Wilson's notice. Without warning, he pushed the teen out the door, following after him.
Outside, the night air was crisp and clean. His surroundings were quiet -- much quieter than inside the club -- and so iopen/i Robin felt grateful just for the chance to breath. There was no mistaking the relief that washed over him; he couldn't resist the breath that welled in his lungs, trapped there by the suffocating atmosphere of the club.
Dick was used to the overwhelming heat and tension brought on by large crowds; he knew how to deal with the masses of people. Yet Robin was nothing like Dick. Robin grew up in solitude, nursed by a Bat in the depths of a cave. he was no sunshine bird -- never was, never will be -- and there was no hope for him to indulge in the joy of social behavior beyond crime fighting and politics.
"Why can't I...?" he groaned softly in realization.
"Why can't you what?" The question came behind him. Robin winced; he had forgotten Wilson had followed him outside.
"Nothing. It's none of your business."
"Oh?" came Wilson's reply. "Then if I let you go, what would you do in your panicked state?"
What would he do? Robin didn't really know. Well-- actually, he did know: he wanted to return to the T-Tower. But would he? Dick wanted to return to the club and go through with his plans.
Wilson seemed to know exactly what he was thinking. Taking him by the wrist, the man proceeded to drag Robin down the alley and back into busy streets. Robin protested, tugging away, but Wilson would not relent. It made Robin feel and look like an insolent child, that brat he once was when Bruce first took him in. It didn't take long for that stubborn pride of his to kick in, contradicting his earlier intentions, and forced him to obey Wilson's directing.
Wilson took him down the sidewalk through throngs of night people. Many bystanders stared as he led Robin by the hand, but the man took no notice of them. Robin, on the other hand, was more than aware of the passersby that looked at their joined hands and made their lewd assumptions. He didn't like it very much, choosing to glare back and challenge someone to say a word about it. No one cared.
It almost made Robin smile; he felt confidence rise in him at the reminder of the authority he could command. He walked beside Wilson, forgetting why they were out there together in the first place. Even as Wilson ushered him inside a 24-hour diner, Robin didn't even think about the horror of that club and its asphyxiating atmosphere.
He sat down on the opposite of the tiny couple's booth Wilson escorted him in, allowing his body to sink in the well-worn cushion. He wasn't bothered when Wilson sat across from him wearing a slight grin.
Dick didn't feel discomforted by the man's presence -- surprisingly, he was actually grateful Wilson had saved Robin from a complete breakdown -- but he was curious about Wilson's intentions. They were strangers; they had nothing in common. They only met that night at a club. Wilson shouldn't have any reason to extent his help to him, if unless he was an overly sympathetic guy, yet Robin didn't see that as the case.
Sitting up slightly, Dick turned his gaze toward Wilson, catching the man's bright stare. "Why are you doing this? Why are we here?" he asked once he gained the confidence to do so.
Wilson seemed calm despite his sudden demand. He answered evenly, "Does it bother you? Would you rather go back to the club?"
Of course not. Robin hated that place.
"Think of it as a favor, then," Wilson continued after spying Robin's expression. "Order whatever you want, treat you tonight."
"You may find it rude of me, but thanks to you, I've found a great deal of entertainment in this night."
Dick rolled his eyes and turned his attention to the waitress who ambled her way to their table. He wasn't really hungry, but just to be courteous he picked off a few choice items from the menu. The night was still young... he might as well make good use of the time he had left since his previous plans had failed miserably. No thanks to Robin.
chapter finished 4/1/08