A/N: Okay, so nearly a year ago, I issued this challenge here: (Can't link ya, but look for the Feb 22, 2007 entry to my emsscraps journal.) Then, I got complicated in all manner of things and didn't finish the entries I said I would. I didn't forget, I just got really really busy and crazy and couldn't finish it. For some reason, back at the end of October, I just felt like finishing up this tidbit, so I did. I posted it on my lj (where it got summarily ignored, for some reason) and because it got ignored, I forgot about posting it up onto here. So, I do apologize. In any case, here it is.

This is the second entry to that TimeStamp challenge I mentioned above. It is a response to Aileene's (user id: 1112018) request. One month after the first part of this story. It is done now, just so you know. There will be no further continuation of it.

Laid Bare
One Month Later
By Em

"We can only learn to love by loving."
- Iris Murdoch (1919 - 1999), O Magazine, February 2004

It was a good thing Raven wasn't of a particularly jealous sort. Otherwise, she might have actually been feeling the bite of the green emotion already. She was sure any other girl would be jealous (at the very least) if her boyfriend was paying more attention to a spot three feet away from her than he was to her—especially, when he was being so incredibly inattentive during the first date they'd been able to have in weeks. (The first time they'd been able to be alone, even, for almost that long.)

But Raven wasn't a normal girl, and she was still getting used to the idea that she had a right to be jealous in the first place.

It did irk her, however (a little, anyway), until she noticed exactly what had drawn his attention from her presence at his side. As her keen eye took in the situation and her logical mind made quick work of figuring out the details, she couldn't help but smile.

He was tall (another thing she was finding she had to get used to), so she got his attention the only way she knew how…

She raised her hand to cup the back of his head and physically turned his face toward her. By the time their eyes met, his were smiling in obvious mirth.

"Yes, my love?" he asked, highly amused.

"Go," she said, smiling only minimally.

"Go?" he questioned, blinking in confusion.

Raven raised her brows and motioned to the area that had drawn his attention with a quick jerk of her chin. "Go on, I'll wait."

His eyes drifted to the spot just over his shoulder that Raven had referred to and when he looked back at her he was slightly flushed from embarrassment. "That obvious, huh?" he asked, chuckling.

She sighed, but smiled as she did it. "You've only been staring at them since we walked into this area."

He laughed and wrapped his arms around her, ducking to touch her lips with his in a soft, gentle kiss. "I'm sorry, Rae," he said sincerely. "I'll be good."

She looked into his twinkling eyes and felt happy. She was amazed that he could make her feel that way just by smiling at her. She had never imagined it was possible. She knew happiness before, happiness when things went right, when she did good, when her friends were happy, when they were all together, but the way he made her feel happy was different. Just with a look, like it was a contagion she couldn't help catching just from being near him.

"Roy," she said, trying to not grin and scare away any little children or animals, "Please go over there and do what you have to do," she insisted.

"Oh, you're not getting rid of me that easily," he joked.

Raven touched his back and smiled. "You want to go over there and quiet that braggart, I know you do."

"I want to be right where I am," he smirked mischievously. "Only tempted to be elsewhere if it's someplace where we can be naughty without permanently traumatizing children."

Raven chuckled and shook her head. Impulsively, she lifted onto her tiptoes and pressed a quick kiss on his lips. "As Victor would say, 'Go kick that guy's ass.'"

Speedy smiled mischievously and tightened his hold on her, "Oooh, baby, talk dirty to me again," he said in a low seductive voice.

She shook her head. "You're incorrigible." She stood away from his arms and waited. She motioned the carnival game booth he had been staring at and the man who was being unnecessarily cruel to the children at the booth trying to win their toys. "Go on."

"Rae," Roy said, running a hand through his hair. "This is the first date we've been able to have in weeks, Rae," he said. "It's about you and me, and it's about us figuring out whether you like this kind of stuff, right?" he motioned the carnival around them. "It's certainly not about me proving myself better than some...some..."he trailed off, searching for an adequate descriptive.

"Amateur," Raven interceded.

"--rank amateur," Roy agreed, "This is about us tonight and I don't need to prove myself."

Raven's lips relaxed into what people were starting to recognize as a smile and felt what she was starting to recognize as warmth inside at the way he was willing to not do something he very obviously wanted to do quite badly, just because he felt it wasn't appropriate for their date.

"So," he said, slipping an arm around her shoulder. "What do you want to do next?" he asked, turning to look at the various things available for them to do at the carnival.

Raven watched as a girl wrapped up in her boyfriend's arms pointed to a large plush toy hanging over the ring toss booth and the boy smiled at her and plopped down money to win it for her and a thought occurred to her. She turned back to the archery booth and noted the plush toys hanging along the walls.

"Anything I want to do?" she inquired.

He nodded. "Anything you want."

"I want..." she turned him toward the archery booth again and pointed to the row of large teddy bears waiting to be won, "...one of those."

Roy looked down at her and grinned, brilliantly, turning her stomach into tight little knots. "Do you now?"

She nodded.

"I never thought of you as a teddy bear lover..." Roy mused.

She smiled a little at him, "I'm acquiring a taste for them."

"Well, if that's the case..." he said, laughing. "I guess I have no choice, do I?"

Raven rose a brow, "You did ask what I wanted."

Roy laughed and led her to the archery booth, taking out his money.

"Wanna try your luck, sir?" the carnie behind the booth asked, showing him a bow and three arrows.

"I'm going to win that Teddy Bear right there," Roy answered, handing the man his money and taking the bow and arrows in exchange.

"Oh yeah?" obnoxious amateur in the Hawaian shirt asked. "Gonna hafta beat me first," he boasted.

And as Roy raised a brow and looked back at her, Raven smirked and knew that Roy was going to enjoy beating that man's ego.

What surprised her, however, was that she was really and truly enjoying sharing it with him.


A/N: Kinda pointless, maybe, but it's the clear image I got when I thought of them one month after where I last left them with the first part.

You can find the first response to the TimeStamp requests at my emsscraps journal, dated March 24, 2007 or as the next chapter to the original Trial and Error story (story id: 2828011).