A/N: This is what Abbie calls, "Dick!Fic" and I think you'll see why. (No, it's not lemon or anything like that, so get your minds outta the gutter.)
One episode, The Beast Within and the movie, Trouble in Tokyo are referenced in this one-shot. This one-shot is set after the events of the movie, but if you haven't seen it, I don't think there are any spoilers in here, because it's not talking precisely about what happens in the movie, just about certain attitudes displayed in it. The episode, however, is referenced a little more directly.
I personally think although The Beast Within obviously deals with Beast Boy and Raven's interaction, I find I can't help but believe that it is one of the more obvious Robin/Raven shipper moments in the show. But maybe that's just me.
Anyway...hope you enjoy.
Thanks: First of all, a great big WHOPPING thank you to Absentiafor providing the title to this fic. Secondly, you can thank Absentia and Kysra andGuyute24 for this fic, period. Kysra has encouraged me to write this one since it was just a vague notion as a response to the events in the movie and all three of these wonderfully talented and lovely ladies have been around, encouraging this since it was just a little infant one-shot and I didn't know exactly where it was going. They've also served as plot and grammar betas for this one, so, they've been incredibly important to this one. I swear, I thank the fic-gods and goddesses every day that they put these three ladies in my path. So...go check out their stuff and encourage them to write more, will you? They don't listen to me.
Disclaimer: Gawd, are we on this again? Okay. ::clears throat, puts on Lawyer-Suit:: I disclaim all ownership to the characters and creative world in which they live. I avow that I make no profit, monetary or otherwise, out of this writing. I also avow that to my knowledge, these stories are not being sold.
Warning: Dark, angst, some language, adult themes.
This Most Exquisite Torture
"He who seeks revenge should remember to dig two graves."
- Chinese Proverb
"You take the breath right out of me/ You left a hole where my heart should be/ We've got to fight just to make it through/ 'Cause I will be the death of you."
- Breaking Benjamin, Breath
She whirled on him. "Is that what this is?" He raised a calm eyebrow, and she grit her teeth. "Revenge?"
He smirked, and she hated him for it. "What have you done that I might want to get revenge for, Raven?" he asked, his tone light and casually inquisitive.
She knew the best thing she could do would be to walk away. She knew that whether she denied that there was anything or if she admitted that there was something he might want revenge for, she couldn't win. She knew she couldn't win even if she walked away, but at least that would allow her to salvage some pride and keep him from getting any active sort of pleasure out of the situation.
She answered him anyway.
"I haven't done anything that would justify revenge, but you might not see it that way."
"And why would you think my dating Starfire is revenge of any sort?" he questioned innocently. "I am assuming that is the 'this' to which you were referring to earlier?"
Internally, she damned him. She damned him for being right, and she damned him for making her feel selfish and childish--for making her feel at all. She damned him for making her wrong. But she hated him for making her admit it.
She should walk away – but she just couldn't.
Some masochistic need kept her there. Some irresistible impulse drove her forward in this collision course she had tried so hard to avoid at all costs.
"Raven?" he prodded. "If you're done, there is someone waiting for me."
Raven turned away before he could see her reaction to his words. She clenched her teeth and fisted her hand at her side, feeling the anger rise like a dark wave from the depths of the box she kept it in. She relished in the anger, anything was better than the pain and the jealousy. The guilt. "Go to her, then," she spoke, her voice strangled by the bitterness lodged in her throat.
She hadn't done anything wrong, not really. She wasn't the one who lied, who promised her things he had no intention of keeping for her. She had done what was best, the only choice she had.
How dare he? How dare he offer her something so tender, so soft, so precious then snatch it away and give it to someone else like it meant nothing?
She must have said something, must have whispered it, for it never reached her own ears above the roar of anger, but he heard it.
He turned back to face her, five steps away from the door. "What was that, Raven?" he asked, his tone never letting on that he had seen the change in her.
"How dare you?" she asked, soft still, but she knew she said it aloud this time.
There was the first flash of anger, a moment of true emotion darkening the cold blue of his eyes, and then it was gone, under the stern hand of his control, and his expression was once again pleasantly blank. She'd never known how good his control was until then. He'd never been this way with her, despite the fact that she had been this way with him.
"How dare I what?" he asked, his tone slightly sharper than the relaxed look to his face might suggest. "I'm only doing what you told me to do, after all."
"Stop it," she said, unable to meet his gaze, turning back to face the city. She didn't need him to remind her what she'd done. It had been the right thing to do.
"Or did I misunderstand?" he pressed, walking back to her, his steps echoing on the blacktop.
Her anger receded against the force of his emotions, giving way to guilt and remorse, leaving her weak and tired. It was still there, but the reminder of her own part, of what she had done and why made her tired and unwilling to fight.
That day when she'd told him she couldn't love him had been so draining. She knew she was lying, but it was the right thing to do. She might be able to love him (she might have already loved him, even then) but she couldn't...shouldn't. That day, he hadn't fought it, hadn't asked her why, hadn't said a word.
And then they'd gone to Tokyo...
He had been so angry at her then. He hadn't said a word to her, never spoke to her directly since that day. He hadn't the need to: She could feel it. The others could feel it too. It was probably why no one questioned her when she went off alone. But when he was in trouble, she'd wanted so much to help him, to run to him the way she would have once...but she couldn't.
Not even as a friend.
Not even as what she used to be.
Starfire went to him, then.
And she? She was left...missing him.
She never knew how much she depended on him until he was gone.
Raven had come to find him that afternoon to try and settle things between them. Yet, somehow the conversation had gotten all turned around. She couldn't trace back the threads of the conversation, how they had gone from her opening of 'We need to talk' to this, but it seemed it didn't matter.
It was broken, and there was no fixing it.
No way of fixing them. She had lost him, even as she tried to protect him. Sacrifice had never hurt this much.
"Just go away, Robin," she said, more pleading in her voice than she would have liked.
She was met with silence, only the sound of the waves lapping at the rocks at the base of the Tower and the gulls flying near the shore in the dying daylight. And while she listened for the sound of his footsteps, she was surprised by his voice. "No," he said succinctly, all pretense of casual indifference gone.
She lowered her head and sighed, starting to rise from the ground, planning on leaving herself if he wouldn't. He could keep the roof if he wanted it that badly, but she heard the quick pound of footsteps approach and before she could hurry, his hand was gripping her upper arm, somehow managing to catch it outside of the shelter of her cloak.
"Don't go now, Raven," he said, touching her for the first time since that day, his strong grip a direct contrast to what it was then. "You said we had to talk."
"And you said you had someone waiting for you," she bit out, a wounded animal striking out in self defense. "Go find her, then, and leave me alone."
"I don't think so," he replied, and eventually, because there was only so long she could hover, especially while being angry or emotional in any way, she was forced to lower herself back onto the ground. He didn't let her go, however. "You wanted to talk, and now I'm confused," he admitted. "You sound almost jealous," he pointed out, even though she refused to look at him. "But you told me to find someone else, didn't you?" he asked. "You told me that you couldn't love me, and that I should forget about you." She still wouldn't look at him, and his grip tightened. Raven winced, but her hair hid her face and he couldn't see it, even though he was obviously searching out her eyes. Finally he reached over with his free hand and grabbed hold of her chin, lifting her to face him. He smirked at the defiant glare she shot him. "Has anything changed?"
"Yes," she bit out, then, jerking out of his grip, she cursed internally and shook her head, "No," she corrected herself firmly.
"Oh, I get it," he said, not reaching for her again but not putting any distance between them so that they were still only a breath apart. "You can't love me, but you don't really want me to be with anyone else; you want me to hang around like a lapdog, waiting for a kind word and begging for a smile." All pretense of casualness had leaked from his voice, leaving it cold and angry.
She'd never heard his voice like that before.
"No," she answered, because he seemed to be expecting it.
"You can't have it both ways." He looked at her.
"I don't want any of those things," she answered.
"Then how do you want it, Raven?" he asked.
"We used to be friends, Robin," she answered, softness in her voice and something almost like pleading in her eyes. "Is that so far fetched an idea now?" She watched his face carefully, trying to read the emotion there.
For a moment it seemed as if he couldn't decide how to feel: First anger, then frustration, hope. Then, before her very eyes, she watched as he closed in on himself. No anger, no mocking grace, no casualness – just a blankness.
"What do you want from me, Raven?"
"I want things to go back the way they were," she answered sincerely, fiercely.
He laughed, and it was dark and not like Robin's laughter at all. "That can never happen," he decided. "You can't un-ring the bell." He met her eyes. "Unless you can use your powers to go back in time? Stop me from falling in love with you somehow? Or maybe stop me from realizing that I love you? I'll tell you what," he continued sarcastically, "If you just go back to the day Adonis took you from the Tower and can somehow stop me from realizing that I would happily beat Beast Boy to a pulp if he caused one, just one of your bruises, you might stop me from realizing that I love you – maybe for awhile anyway." He waited a moment and bored into her angrily.
Raven could hardly think of what to respond. She was trying to remember how long ago the fiasco with Adonis and Beast Boy had occurred. Two, three years? For some reason, she had assumed his affection for her had formed after her birthday. She had blamed herself for involving him and waking him up from the frozen time to get him involved and thought perhaps he was mistaking her obvious dependence on him during that whole episode with love.
They'd never spoken about the time they thought Beast Boy had hurt her. None of them had told her what happened in the Tower after she had been taken or while she healed herself. She knew only that they had thought Beast Boy was behind it and that Cyborg and Robin had made quite a mess of the medlab trying to keep him from her. Could he have loved her since then? She tried, but couldn't pinpoint any difference in his actions towards her.
"Leave her alone!"(1)
She remembered Robin's exclamation when he found Beast Boy apparently about to punch her in the hallway before Adonis took her. Raven looked at Robin a mix between curiosity and worry in her eyes. 'What happened between you and Beast Boy that day?' she asked silently.
"No?" Robin asked, misinterpreting her silence. "I didn't think so," he scoffed. "So, since we both know that's out of the question," he neared her, "What do you really want?" He took two steps closer to her. "From me."
"I want your friendship back," she answered.
He exhaled. "You want me to pretend like nothing's happened, you mean," he countered. "You want me to pretend like I didn't tell you I loved you. Maybe you even want to pretend like I didn't decide to let Starfire love me, like I didn't decide to try and love her back."
"I want your friendship back," she repeated.
He sighed and stepped away from her, running a hand through his hair, his fierce control crumbling at the edges.
"I can pretend, Raven," he assured. "I can pretend like nothing's wrong, I can sit down across from you at meals and pretend that nothing's changed, but it won't be the same," he shook his head and looked out over the bay. "Things have changed." He turned around and even though the dusky darkness hid the preciseness of his features, she harbored no doubts about the expression in his eyes. Even if she couldn't see them, she knew. "Will that make you happy?" he asked. There was some undercurrent to his voice that stabbed at Raven like nothing ever had, something in the empty tone that made her scared like facing down his anger never could. "Is that what you want?"
Raven didn't know what to say. She didn't want him to pretend, but she didn't want to feel this tension between them anymore. She didn't want to feel jealous of her best friend, she didn't want to be angry all the time. And above it all was the desire to not cause him pain.
"I want you to be happy."
He turned his back on her, "Then you shouldn't have asked me to be with someone else."
"I can't love you," she said.
"So you keep repeating."
"You need to remember who you're talking to," she said, cloaking herself and her voice in her cold mask of apathy. It was so much easier that way. She even managed to take a few steps toward him. "I cannot feel, I thought you had come to this conclusion already."
He whirled on her, and the anger was there again. "Bullshit, Raven!" he exclaimed heatedly. "You're just hiding behind that old line because you don't know what else to say." He took a step toward her and Raven gave ground again. "If you couldn't feel, you wouldn't be standing here having this discussion with me at all," he pointed out. "You wouldn't get the way you get when one of our friends is in danger." He shook his head, "If you couldn't feel then you wouldn't have cared if I wasn't acting the way I had been with you before." He paused for a moment. "I was angry at you," he admitted suddenly, the vehemence in his voice gone. "But the way I've been treating you, it hasn't been about revenge," he confessed.
"Then, what do you call it?" she demanded.
"A test," he said. He took another few steps toward her. She stood her ground despite her instinct to attempt to keep the distance safe between them. "I wanted to see how you would react, whether you would react at all, and you did." He was toe to toe with her, so close a deep breath, and he'd touch her. "I know you can feel, I knew it before all this, but what's more is, I think you can love me," he paused and searched out her eyes in the encroaching darkness. "I think maybe you do already," he whispered.
There were many people who might believe that she was as unfeeling as she pretended to be, but Robin never really had been one of them. Trying to pretend that she was in front of him had always been a farce between them. She knew he didn't believe her, but he let her pretend anyway. Until recently.
Ultimately, he was right. She did feel, and she perhaps already did love him. It didn't particularly change anything. Her reasons for pushing him away weeks ago when he first confessed to his 'feelings' still stood.
So she stood silent, knowing he expected her to say something and not knowing what to say. She couldn't lie to him and tell him she didn't feel, he wouldn't let her pretend about that anymore.
"These past few weeks has not been a test, Robin," she emphasized an edge of anger tingeing her voice. "Tokyo was not a test," she argued. "You were angry, plain and simple."
"Yes, you're right, I was," he admitted readily enough. "I was angry because I know you're lying to everyone and trying to lie to me, giving me that old line about not being able to feel just to not try, to not put yourself out there, even if it kills us both."
"You misunderstood," she said after a few moments.
"Bullshit," he repeated.
"I have the capability to love," she admitted. "But I cannot love, for the..."
He didn't let her finish.
When she felt his mouth steal the rest of her sentence from her lips, she didn't fight him, and when he pressed her harder against him, when he shifted the kiss, looking for entrance, acceptance from her, she tried to speak, but it came out as a wordless sound in her throat, too much like a whimper for her liking.
She couldn't fight him.
When he finally broke the kiss, he didn't pull away from her but stayed close, their foreheads almost touching, his eyes never straying from her own. "Bullshit," he insisted, breathless.
She pushed at him, but he remained immobile.
"You want to pretend, fine," he said, his lips inches from hers. "You can pretend like you didn't feel anything just now when I kissed you. Hell, you can even pretend you won't think about it after I've gone." He pulled away from her enough to look in her eyes. "If it's what you want," he nodded, coming to a decision. "I'll sit down with you at meals and pretend like I don't want you," he added. "I'll make it easier for you to pretend you don't know that when Starfire kisses me, I'm pretending it's you."
He neared her, as if he would kiss her again, but stopped and let her go with such abruptness, Raven had to fight for her balance.
"Good night, Raven," he said over his shoulder as he walked away. "Sweet dreams."
(1) Quote from episode, The Beast Within.
A/N: So, now you see why Abbie calls this "Dick!Fic"? Cause Robin's being one. I've never really written him like this before, but when I saw the movie, I just felt there was so much sort of repressed anger in the way he was treating Raven. Well, frankly, he doesn't treat Raven at all in that, does he? So I just thought, the only reason I could see why he would be so blatantly ignoring of her was if they had gotten into some sort of fight. And ta-da! This idea was born.
This was actually supposed to be an Echo. Or, it started out as such, anyway. There's a theme there called "Revenge" and when I started thinking about that theme, Raven's line at the beginning of this is what came to me. And Robin's acting so nastily too. I wrote about half of it and realized that it didn't really feel like an Echo to me, so I sent it to Kysra. She read it and went, "It's your Tokyo idea!!!" and I was like::blink, blink:: "Oh...yeah! It is!"
So, now I need another way of approaching the "Revenge" idea...
So, don't just sit there! What'd you think? I can use some feedback on this one folks. I actually kind of like it, but as you can imagine, I'm unsure of the Robin attitude in this.
P.S. I know a lot of y'all are wondering what's going on with my ongoing fics, right? Since I've only been posting these one-shots lately with varying degrees of crack and/or angst...
If you're wondering, drop by my 'emsscraps' journal where I have posted a journal talking about what's going on with the ongoing fics. 'kay? K. (emsscraps addy, remove the spaces is: emsscraps . livejournal . com )