Rating: upped to M for language
Summary: Three little words can mean so much.
AN: I am actually going to continue this! I know, try not to pee yourselves out of shock. However, there is a slight addendum necessary for this thing's prolonged lifespan. I have decided to do away with the exclusivity of the Rob/Rae pairing and make this a Pairing Potluck Drabble Collection Special! Aren't you excited!? For minor consistency's sake (and because I am completely and totally biased in her favor), the pairings will always include Raven. D Yay! Everybody do the wave! –waves- Now, some pairings will almost definitely repeat, and some pairings will never ever see life in these collections, because I just don't write them. I can predict no possible order, except that I will try not to repeat one pairing collection directly after posting that same one. Other than that, expect no real continuity in here. –shrug- Themes will run the gamut from fluff to angst, be forewarned.
Disclaimer: I don't take shit that's not mine. I just write fanfiction about it. Also, the song used for the second Word is "Whistle for the Choir" by the Fratellis. I am not a Fratelli.
Dedication: To ravenslair, who has always so faithfully and kindly reviewed my crap, with nothing but good things to say, even when what I've written hasn't been your particular cup of tea (like this set!). Thanks, Gerry. ) I am your #1 fan. Rock on.
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Raven was not a fan of high speeds. She staunchly refused every time Robin offered a ride on his motorcycle, for he took corners as if he were the one who could self-heal. She flew with speed only when absolutely necessary, and tried not to let anyone see her face tinge green whenever Cyborg pushed the T-car to the speedometer's long limits.
Her distaste of speed was not a widely advertised fact, but it wasn't exactly a secret, either. And while Raven wasn't nearly as self-confident as most believed, her abhorrence of fast cars was one thing she had never felt the need to doubt.
So, loathing speed as she did, it came as rather a surprise to her when, one day, at a Titans East hosted barbecue, as she watched that broad smile, listened to that warm, honest laugh and eyed those well-toned, long-fingered hands, she realized herself in love.
"Well it's a big, big city, and it's always the same. Can never be too pretty; tell me your name. Is it out of line if I was simply bold and said 'would you be mine'?"
Raven stared at Speedy as if he had a huge, hideous, parasitic Trogladorian Moon-Spider attached to his head, and wondered faintly if it was actually possible to die from embarrassment. Surely, all this blood rushing to her face could not be healthy. "Yes," she responded at last, "yes it would be too bold. Why in hell are you singing at me?" Her eyes darted frantically around the crowded park, praying no one had noticed Speedy's odd, melodious behavior.
Speedy, ignoring both her answer and her return question, merely grinned rakishly, opened his mouth, and increased his volume. "Because I may be a beggar and you may be the Queen—"
Raven's color increased, and she glared daggers at him. "Is this because those damn tabloids keep calling me 'the Ice Queen'? Speedy, if you're mocking me, I swear I will—"
Speedy sang over her, "And though I may be on a downer, I'm still ready to dream. Though it's three o'clock, the time is just the time it takes for you to talk."
People were beginning to stare. Raven's ears and cheeks were on fire, and she jumped off the bench she'd been sitting on, tucking the book she had been trying to read in peace under her arm and started speed walking down the park path. To her chagrin, Speedy strode right behind, still singing.
"So if you're lonely, why'd you say you're not lonely—"
"I am not lonely," Raven snapped over her shoulder.
"Oh, you're a silly girl! I know, I hurt you so. It's just like you to come and go! And, oh, me, no, you don't even know me; you're so sweet to try—"
Raven groaned in exasperation, whirled on him, and jabbed an accusing finger into his chest. "Are you saying you don't want to be friends? Because I can stop getting to know you, believe me, it's suddenly very tempting—"
Speedy's lungs expanded under her finger. "Oh my, you caught my eye," he grabbed her hand in both of his and made serious eye contact, momentarily robbing her of her breath, "A girl like you's just irresistible."
Raven scoffed, the spell broken, and jerked her hand free. "To you, every anatomically correct girl is irresistible." She noticed that they had begun to draw a crowd, and some enterprising young art college lad appeared to be putting his camcorder to use. Throwing a quick glare at a smirking Speedy, she took off down the path again, hoping to lose the redhead, or at least their audience.
"Well it's a big, big city and the lights are all out—" Speedy sang after her, a little breathless as he jogged to catch up.
"It's broad daylight, Speedy," Raven sniped as the selfsame archer drew even with her quick steps. She was being petty with details, but damn if she didn't feel she had the right of it.
Amusement colored Speedy's next line, "But it's as much as I can do, you know, to figure you out. And I must confess, my heart's in broken pieces and my head's a mess."
Raven scoffed. "I'll definitely agree to the bit about your head." Glancing behind them, her fears were confirmed by the growing crowd that followed them, Camcorder Guy leading the pack.
As if to torture her, Speedy raised his voice further, and while Raven had to admit he had an agreeable singing voice, she would much rather it be silenced right now. "And it's four in the morning, and I'm walking alone, beside the ghost of every drink I hear who's ever done wrong—"
"You really need a new watch," Raven muttered bitterly.
"And it's you, woohoo! That's got me going crazy for the things you do."
Raven shot him a glance laced with venom and disbelief. "I refuse to take the blame for any such thing."
The first few words of the next line were as much laughed as sung, and Raven's cheeks lit like candles. "So if you're crazy, I don't care, you amaze me! But you're a stupid girl—"
"I beg your pardon?"
"Oh me, oh my, you talk, I die, you smile, you laugh, I cry! And only a girl like you could be lonely—"
Raven's spine stiffened and her chin tilted up stubbornly. "I am not lonely."
Speedy darted in front of her, stopping her short as he clutched his hands dramatically to his chest and infused his voice with angst. "And it's a crying shame, if you would think the same! A boy like me's just irresistible."
He winked at her, then, grinning with his usual charm, and she couldn't help a small, half-annoyed, half genuinely amused laugh as she stepped around him and walked on, poorly attempting to master the small smile that tried to curve her lips.
Speedy resumed the chase, following only steps behind and whistling the tune of the song, and to Raven's shock and chagrin, a few in the audience following them whistled with him, apparently familiar with the song.
Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed Camcorder Guy had circled to follow alongside of them just off the path, his camera trained on their profiles, and Raven wished she had worn her cloak today after all, summer heat be damned.
The whistling support continued as Speedy picked up the chorus again, pacing just behind her. "So if you're lonely, why you'd say you're not lonely? Oh you're a silly girl! I know, I hurt you so. It's just like you to come and go! And, oh, me, no, you don't even know me; you're so sweet to try!"
Speedy dashed in front of her again, jogging backwards and making extravagant hand gestures. "Oh my! You caught my eye!" Abruptly, he dropped to one knee in the dirt, and Raven nearly stumbled into him, stepping slightly back and to the right just in time.
All the while, Speedy stared up at her earnestly, the smile almost disappearing from his face and the sudden seriousness of his expression made Raven's heart trip unsteadily in her chest. "A girl like you's just irresistible."
They stared at one another for what felt like an eternity, the crowd around them seeming to hold their collective breath as Raven first reddened and shrank into herself, then appeared to deflate, her shoulders slumping as she expelled her breath in a great, gusting sigh of surrender.
"Alright," she said, her voice charged with all the enthusiasm of a cat faced with a tub of water, "Alright, fine." Sighing again, she pinched the bridge of her nose and shook her head. "I can't believe this, but I've been serenaded into submission."
Rising slowly as if not to startle her, Speedy's face was hopeful and slightly guarded, with a hint of triumph and joy at the corners of his mouth. "Are you saying what I think you're saying, Raven?"
Throwing him a sullen frown, Raven crossed her arms over her stomach and nodded reluctantly. "I'll go out with you."
Whooping aloud in joy, Speedy grabbed Raven around the waist, laughing over her startled yelp, and swung her around once before hefting her against his chest, her feet dangling a few inches from the ground. "It's about time, Rae! I've only been asking you every day for the past two weeks. I warned you I was persistent!"
"Incorrigible is more the word," Raven groused, pushing at his shoulders. "Let me down."
Speedy laughed an apology and set her on her feet, only taking a step or two back, and grinned sunnily down at her. "You'll see, Raven. You won't regret this."
Raven futilely ordered her heart to stop thudding irregularly every time he flashed that smile at her, her eye skimming the sizeable crowd gathered around watching them. Camcorder Guy was still there, and had been joined by a couple of Polaroid photographers. "That's assuming I don't already. Do you at least promise not to sing to me in public anymore?" Sweet merciful angels, was that a Channel 4 news crew?
Speedy, watching her face, noticed her blanch and followed her line of sight. Spotting the news crew himself, his grin widened, his lips tilting mischievously. "I don't make promises I know I'll break."
And with that as his only warning, there before all the world to see, he tilted her chin up, bent down, and kissed her.
Later, Raven would maintain that it was entirely Speedy's fault the Channel 4 news van exploded.
Raven bolted upright in her bed, staring into the dark of her room for a moment of confusion before the pounding that had awakened her sounded at her front door again.
Willing her heart to climb down from her throat to its proper place in her chest, Raven slid from between her sheets and reached for the black satin robe that hung from her closet door. Belting the sash around her waist, she ran a hand over her sleep-tousled hair as she padded down the short hallway of her apartment and into the living room.
Just as she reached for the doorknob, the pounding started again, and, annoyed, Raven jerked the door open in the middle of this round of abuse, and in stumbled a tall, shadowed figure dimly backlit by the faint light from the parking lot.
Giggling quietly, Roy crashed into Raven, who locked her knees out of habit to shore up his heavier, lengthier frame. "Hi, Rae. Hehehehee, guess y'was sleepin'?" Roy's head dropped to her shoulder, and he snickered against her neck. "What're you doin' in bed now? It's party time."
Raven sighed and wrapped one arm around Roy's trim waist, grabbing his wrist with the other hand and slinging his arm over her shoulder. Carefully, slowly, she maneuvered him away from the door, nudging it closed with an awkward backward kick, and steered her mostly uncooperative burden into the living room.
Easing Roy down onto the couch, Raven grunted as she disentangled the redhead's questing fingers from her hair. "This is the last time, Roy," she groused, none too pleased to be woken at this hour to tend to the incapacitated archer. And every time he left, he always promised it was the last time. She was going to have to put her foot down, sometime.
"Y'lways say 'last time'," Roy slurred dismissively, propping himself on his elbows and squinting at her when she turned on the lab on the end table. Warm light created a halo of softness around everything in the room, but it wasn't enough to disguise Roy's bloodshot eyes, or the way the green of them had almost entirely disappeared behind the black of his expanded pupils.
Raven gripped his chin with a firm hand, peering into his wild eyes, the fine red stubble on his chin rasping against her fingertips. "You look like hell," she announced, eyeing the hollows of his cheeks and the way his eyes seemed to sink into their sockets. The skull look was more pronounced than the last time she had seen him, and tight anxiety gripped her belly, the resultant anger whitening her lips and flaring her nostrils.
Roy, smiling almost dreamily, eyed her up and down, his gaze lingering at the filmy white chemise peeking out from the lapels of her robe. Reaching out a hand, he stroked the line of her throat carefully and grinned with a shadow of his old charm. "You look pretty, Rae. Always so fuckin' hot."
His fingertips trailed down her sternum towards the collar of the chemise, but Raven's fingers snatched his hand quickly away. "Don't start that again, Roy. I am getting really sick of you coming here high and horny. You know you're not getting any, so why the hell do you keep coming?" Her words were clipped and angry, disguising the desperate, sad concern bleeding into her eyes.
The man formerly known as Speedy, formerly a Titan, formerly a worthwhile human being, shrugged and sat up on the couch, slouching against the cushions and running his hand over his stubbled jaw in mild, distracted fascination. "You always answer the door."
Raven turned away so he wouldn't see her face pinch in a quick attempt not to cry. "Maybe I won't answer it anymore, Speedy." Her hand flew up to her mouth in alarm the moment she said the name, and she was almost afraid to turn and face the quiet storm she felt building behind her.
"That is not my name," Roy enunciated carefully, his words hot and low and dark. "You call me Roy or you call me Arsenal, if you gotta call me a fuckin' mask, but Speedy's a dead boy's name."
Raven's jaw clenched tight. It was horrible enough that Robin, now Nightwing, had turned bitter and hard-edged, and refused to answer to Robin—when he ever answered to Raven anymore at all—but Roy's violent hatred of his youth and headlong rush into a drug-hazed future was becoming unbearable, as it landed so frequently and inescapably on her couch in the small hours of morning. "Roy, Arsenal, or Speedy," she turned to him with eyes she thought were hot from glaring, until the tears slipped down her cheeks, "I mourn you every time I see you just the same."
Seeing her crying, Roy's own dark anger receded somewhere, and his face went panicky and scared. "Rae, Rae, don't cry, no, I'm sorry." He grabbed at her wrists and hands, wrapping his long fingers around her small thin ones. "I'm sorry, don't be mad." He shook his head, back and forth, back and forth, and the panic ceded to the fear and a sadness that almost gave her hope. "Don't be mad, Raven, don't be mad. Please. Please, sometimes you're all I got left."
Raven swallowed around the lump in her throat and let him drag her to him, tugging on her hands till she was sitting in his lap, and he clutched at her like a cradle toy. Refusing to let spill any more grief, she breathed careful measures through her nose until she had mastered herself. "You're sorry?" she repeated quietly. She felt his chin brush the top of her head as he nodded, and she took his left arm in both hands, turning it over and stretching it out across her lap. Stroking her fingertips along the pale skin, she traced the blue, bloated vein at his elbow, her fingernail tracing around the tiny prick the needle had left behind. "I don't believe you anymore, Roy." Her voice had gone weary and small. "You promise, you promise that you're done, every time. But then there's the next three a.m. and you at my door, a little more dead than last time."
Roy's breath rasped faster in her ear and a hot, salty drop landed on her arm. She concentrated on the feeling of the wetness slicking a trail down her skin, prickling across the tiny hairs as his voice quavered over her head and rumbled against her shoulder in his chest. "I know. I know, Rae. I'm sorry. But it hurts and hurts and the drugs make it so much better, even if it's just for a little while. Even though I hate it. I know you hate it. I know you hate me." His tone turned miserable and despondent, his arms tightening around her as if afraid she would disappear.
"I don't hate you," Raven sighed. Squirming in his hold, she pushed at his arms until he let her sit back enough to look him in the face. Stroking the hair away from his temple, she looked tiredly into his black eyes, despairing of his despair. "I don't hate you, Roy. I hate the drugs you're screwing yourself up on, and I hate that every time you come over, I feel used because you just want a place to crash and a little insurance against the worst of your self-inflicted damage. But I don't hate you."
Roy stared into her face for a long, quiet moment, and she prayed to long-silent gods that he was really seeing her, but the hope was ruined when he leaned forward and kissed her. It was not a rough kiss, neither aggressive nor demanding, but hesitant and almost pleading. But for all his gentleness, Raven would not kiss him back. When he gave up and rested his forehead against hers, he murmured, "I love you."
Pushing against his chest, she slid from his lap and stood, her face closing down to a cold façade. "I don't believe you anymore, Roy," she repeated, barely restraining herself from snatching her hand back when he grasped it like a lifeline. "You only love me when you're high. The drugs don't love you, and they don't love me, and if you loved anything in your life, you wouldn't need to be high." He opened his mouth to protest, but she freed her hand from his and snapped it across his face before he could speak. When her hands went back to her sides, they were trembling with anger. "Don't tell me it isn't that easy. Nothing is easy, Roy. Nothing is ever easy. You of all people should know that good things have to be fought for."
"Raven, please…" There were tears standing in his eyes, and the faintest glimmering ring of green showed around the black. Her handprint was red and violent on his cheek and her palm still stung. "Please," he repeated.
Raven laughed sadly. "Please, what? Isn't that my line?" She stepped forward again and took his face between her hands, gently, her quick anger already gone. "Please, Roy. Please fight. For me or for you or anything, if anything is worth anything to you anymore. Just… please."
Roy stared at her, his eyes growing greener as her hands on his face glowed blue, washing away a little of the stain of the poisons he fed himself. When there was almost as much green as black in his gaze, he nodded, his head still caged in her hands, licked his lips, and said, "Okay."
Her heart skipping a painful beat, Raven hesitated. "Okay?" Her voice quavered unsteadily. Oh, she so wanted to believe him. "Okay?"
He nodded again, pulled one of her hands away from his face and gently kissed the palm, his eyes never breaking from hers. "Okay," he breathed against her skin. "Okay."
Raven smiled, thin and watery and trembling around the edges, and stroked his jaw. "Sure." Leaning forward, she kissed his forehead, her lips lingering like a prayer, then she eased him down to lie back on the couch, still smiling for him. "Get some sleep now. I'll see you in the morning."
He nodded again, watching her as she retreated backward towards the hallway. "Night, Raven. See you in the morning."
"Night, Roy," she whispered, knowing he would be gone before she woke.
She watched him click off the lamp, then turned into the shadows of the hall and walked with slow, heavy steps towards the bedroom, bone- and soul-tired and heartsore.
After she hung her robe on the closet door, and slipped between her sheets, Raven curled into a tight little ball and let the tears come, crying for the next time the broken man in the living room broke her heart.
— — — — — — — — — — —
AN: I blame Emania and Aileene both for making me such a Speedy whore. I just really like the carrot-top. He's a blast to write. My growing fascination with the darker period of his life is also Aileene's fault, so you can partially blame Drugs on her, and partially on "Drugs or Me" by Jimmy Eat World, which I had on repeat for that Word.
Just a possibility warning, but you may see Speed again in another format, as Em expressed interest in doing something with it ages ago before I decided to go ahead and throw it in the Three Little Words Potluck. If she does, awesome, if not, ah, well. It works as a start point and a stand alone, to me.
I don't know yet what you guys think of it, but I got such a kick out of writing Serenade, and I hope it didn't come off as too corny or silly or hokey to you. You should totally give "Whistle for the Choir" a listen, either way. It's a great song, and The Fratellis kick ass.
Hope the angst of the last Word didn't throw you guys off too bad, but I just really wanted to write it, to show a not-happy-go-lucky-fluff-and-fun version of the Speedy/Rae relationship, I suppose. Besides, I did warn you all that the genres would run the gamut. This is just the first real taste.
Hope you guys stick with me!
PS: Good news for Awkward Entanglements readers! Chapter 3 is 50-75 done, and Chapter 4 is already in the sketch-and-plan stages. Keep your eyes pealed!
SPOILER: Next 3 Words batch will be RedX/Raven. ;p See you there.