A/N: This was going to be a It Only Takes A Moment chapter. I wrote this way back almost when I first started writing Moments. I have since re-organized Moments and figured out that this tidbit doesn't fit the mentality of the birds as it stands after Wishes, I. Well, this one and four others that I had planned for IOTaM-verse. So expect all of those being put up as soon as I can re-read and edit them. This is the first to go up because GuardianKysra (IOTaM's Godmother, so to speak) appears to like it more than the others.
Thanks: Just a general thank you to everyone who reviews every bloody thing I write. Hearing from you guys, I swear, is like hearing from an old friend. ::hugs::
Disclaimer: You know the drill by now, legal-type-folks-who-might-be-reading-this. I don't think I own these characters anymore than anyone else on this site does.
"I'll note you in my book of memory."
- William Shakespeare
The door had been open. If it hadn't been open, there was no way she would have even considered intruding. She was not, after all, a nosy person by nature. Once inside, however, she found it next to impossible to enter, leave her offering and exit again without taking at least a glance at her surroundings.
She wouldn't touch – that, at least she would vow.
Robin's room was a mess. Granted, not a mess the way Beast Boy's was a mess, but it was certainly not what anyone would call neat. There were papers and tools everywhere, haphazardly piled wires and bolts, weapons in random locations around the desk in various stages of disrepair. And yet, they were all confined to one corner of the room. The corner she could only imagine was his 'work area'.
There were, unlike in Beast Boy's room (or, in certain circumstances their common area) no old, empty food boxes lying anywhere or any disgusting unwashed clothes or moldy utensils or food littering the floor or surfaces even if the the trashcan was overflowing with crumpled paper. Nothing stank and the effect was a good deal more lived-in than Beast Boy's pure chaos.
In fact, Raven sniffed at the air delicately and was amused to realize that instead of smelling moldy or rank or even sweaty, the room had nothing more than a distinct Robin-Smell: a mixture of his fabric softener, and the faint whiff of his soap. It smelled the way he smelled when he was fresh from the shower.
Her room, she knew, smelled of incense and candle wax and underlying it all was the distinct smell of books. Sometimes, the smell surprised her and she took a moment to relish in it, but standing in the center of Robin's room, she was transported back to the days when she was a youngling in the Temple spending afternoons enmeshed comfortably in the Priests' library. The Priests' library had never smelled the way mortal libraries smelled of old books and an undercurrent of dust. No, the Priests' libraries had smelled of cleanness and full of the warmth of being in a place that was lived in and comfortable.
Raven had the distinct feeling that despite the fact that her room was a sanctuary the way none of the other rooms were, she could find comfort in this room the way she had found it in the libraries on Azarath. It was a strange feeling, the instinct to take comfort in such a strange place as one of her teammate's room.
That was the strangest part about the whole thing. That she felt utterly comfortable. She did feel somewhat as if she were doing something wrong but his door had been open and she was just looking around. It wasn't like she was poking her head anywhere it didn't belong.
She had only ever been in Robin's room two times, so she indulged in a cursory glance at her surroundings. It was much changed from the first time she had been there and she briefly thought how such a simple thing like the decoration of his room could so aptly mirror the growth of the Boy Wonder himself.
The first time she had entered his room had been after he had taken on the Red-X persona. Back then, his room had been barren and minimalist; only the sparsest furniture absolutely necessary- a smallish bed without headboard or decoration, a plain metal desk and a nondescript chair.
The bed, neatly made, was almost military in its austerity. The only light had been from the lamp on the desk and the only other decoration had been the random objects littering the work area of the desk. Back then, he hadn't even had a bedside table. In those days, the most individualistic element of his room had been what they had taken to calling "The Wall."
Every single triumph or failure of the Titans was recorded on the wall covered almost entirely with newspaper clippings and scraps of police reports. Articles talking about the escapes of some of their more notorious villains were on there too, even though they had nothing to do with those except that it was their job to capture them again if they could. Contrary to popular belief, Slade took up only one portion of "The Wall," even if it did tend to be the portion Robin stood in front of with the most frequency.
When he had gone on his quest and she had visited his room for the second time, it jarred her how different it was. Without telling anyone, on his own, he had redecorated. She had vaguely wondered whether he had made the change all at once or little by little.
She would've liked to think that someone would've noticed if he did some major decoration all at once, but truth was, they probably wouldn't have.
That it was different from the way it had been before, no one could deny. But although this difference had shocked her when she walked into the room to find Starfire, Beast Boy and Cyborg inside playing dress-up, it hadn't occurred to her until later how very different it actually was. And his having removed (or, she would find out later, relocated) The Wall was only one of the changes.
It was still relatively sparse, the shelving along one wall sitting empty and bare without a television the way Beast Boy's had or knick knacks like Starfire's or even books like hers. His bed wasn't as spartan as it had been, and although there were still no decorations on the walls or elsewhere, the bed had a blue comforter and a yellow headboard and even those minor changes made it look warmer and not as empty. (Certainly not the colors she would have chosen, but something was something and although Raven would never admit that to Robin himself, she would admit it to herself at least.)
And where "The Wall" had been there was a mirror instead. She had valiantly resisted making the obvious psychological observations about that, but only aloud.
She would wonder for months what he had done with "The Wall." Finally figuring that mystery out had been a shining moment of clarity and observation that she had been most proud of and which had impressed even the Boy Wonder himself.
She narrowed her eyes as a splash of color caught her attention. She frowned and stepped closer to his desk. There was plenty of color in the form of his weapons and spare gloves and what not but none of it was what had called her attention. Her eyes scanned the surface of the desk, looking for something out of place that might have caught her eye. Finally, she found it, hanging partly out of a half opened drawer. In all that color, she approached the one scrap of muted color that seemed out of place. Before she had even realized it, she was looking at the material laying soft and pliant against her fingers. It looked and even felt familiar, but she couldn't immediate place it. She stared at it for moment upon moment, certain it couldn't be what she thought it was, but despite however much she stared at it, it didn't change.
It could, of course, be from just about any piece of dark purple fabric. What was more, it probably was from something else. After all, she didn't remember missing any bits of fabric and the last time her cape had ripped was…her birthday when Slade appeared with his message.
Well…back then it hadn't so much ripped as become tatters. No, it couldn't be from her cape.
But what other thing anywhere around them had purple fabric?
She searched her mind, replaying their home and her teammates' belongings as best as she could recall, searching out for any pieces of purple.
Starfire's outfit was purple, wasn't it? She brought her hand up to eye level in order to closer inspect the material. It was, she decided, but not this purple. Starfire's outfit was closer to a lavender color – after all, hadn't Starfire at one point herself noted that her uniform was a shade or two brighter than Raven's eyes?
'And this,' Raven fingered the fabric, 'is not the same shade.'
So, if not Starfire's, she reasoned, whose? The only other option she could think of was Beast Boy, whose uniform also included swaths of purple – and the purple in his was certainly darker than Starfire's. There were, however, two problems with that possibility: one, what would Robin be doing with a scrap of Beast Boy's uniform? He cold always, she figured, mean to study the material or think to duplicate some aspect, but Beast Boy's material, although specially developed for his use, was not made of a composition that Robin already didn't have access to. So, that was out.
Then there was problem two: Beast Boy's uniform didn't rip. It was specifically created to stretch and re-form to its original shape. It even had a way of disappearing when he shifted. Oh, she knew there was some scientific reason why it did what it did, but he'd never known how to explain it to her and it was enough for her to know that it worked. Even when he had turned into that huge Beast, his uniform hadn't…had it?
Raven's thoughts trailed off and she gripped at the palm sized scrap of deep purple fabric as the memory was suddenly clear to her. That night so many months ago, after Adonis as the Beast had taken her out of the Tower and Beast Boy had turned into a Beast himself to protect her, when she had found the cape her friends, in their haste, had discarded in order to hook her up to machines they hoped could tell them how to help her, she had noticed that the cape itself had been torn and a fair number of places had ragged gaps where fabric used to be.
It had only just occurred to her to compare it against the cape she was currently wearing when she froze like a deer caught in oncoming headlights.
"I found it on a fence spike when I was following your trail the night Adonis took you."
Raven whirled around to find Robin standing under his bedroom's threshold. She was certain she flushed immediately no matter how much she tried to control the emotion. There was no denying it. She was, as Beast Boy himself would say, so busted.
She fought to keep the shock and embarrassment from her face, but she had been caught so badly, with her hand so far in the proverbial cookie jar, that she just didn't know what to think or say except a flushed, "Your door was open."
She winced internally as soon as the words were out of her mouth, but at least she managed to keep her voice steady. Not quite as unemotional as she would have hoped, but steady. Steady was good.
He shrugged and pushed away from the wall. "I figure what do I have to hide you guys after all we've been through?"
She had been feeling contrite when she walked into his room, and embarrassed when he found her there, but after his comment, she had to try everything she could not to disappear from his room and hide inside her impenetrable room behind her meditation and pretend this never happened.
She wanted nothing more than to put the scrap down and flee, but then she thought that if he was being so casual she might as well be casual and maybe save some face by managing to hand the scrap back to him.
So at odds was she with what she should or should not do with combination of fabric and herself that she didn't even realize that she was actually fidgeting.
"Yes, well…" she hedged, looking anywhere but at him, "I actually just came to give you something…" she realized she was offering way more information than she normally would and shut up immediately.
When he didn't say anything she turned to look at him before realizing what a mistake that might be.
He was smiling that smile that said he had caught her doing something un-like her and that she knew he had caught her and that he definitely knew she knew he knew. Raven just barely resisted frowning at the smugness in it, but didn't quite manage to stop from clenching at the fabric and drawing his attention to it.
"Well, it can't be the piece of fabric in your hand," he reasoned, the smile still in his voice, "Because I already had that."
She looked down at it, fingering it absently and his initial words came back to her. "You found it where?" she asked, looking up at him, her curiosity pushing the embarrassment back enough for the blush to finally fade from her cheeks.
"On a fence spike on the east side of town…when I was out searching for you the night Adonis took you from the Tower."
She looked down at it again as if doing so would reveal the events leading to it being stuck on the spike in the first place, but she didn't remember anything about that night except confronting a transformed Adonis, a transformed Beast Boy trying to help and her being knocked out only to wake up later in the med lab.
"I don't remember any of it," she confessed.
He exhaled, "One of the worst nights in my life," he admitted.
She was shocked by his admission. "Then I'm surprised you've kept it," she vocalized before she realized it.
He shrugged and gently took the scrap of fabric from her hand. He fingered it pensively, "It's not a memento of the bad."
Normally, she might have let it go at that. Nothing, however, was going the way it normally would that night anyway, so why should she keep from asking something she very badly wanted to know? She could think of absolutely no reason. "Then of what?"
"Of…" he took a moment to think of how to put his thoughts into words. Apparently unable to find something adequate enough to speak, he shrugged, "Of friendship," he decided.
She could have pressed – what was more, she wanted to press, but stopped herself at the look on his face.
"So," he spoke into the silence, "What brings you to my humble abode?" he asked, smiling as if they were just starting the whole encounter over from scratch. "You said you came to bring me something?" he prompted.
She nodded and unfolded her arms slowly, pausing a moment before reaching into the receded pocket of her cloak and extending her right hand out to him, palm up.
It took him a moment to realize she was handing him something on her palm and when he finally looked down, it was to find a folded piece of newspaper resting there innocuously.
"For your collection," she spoke.
Raven was the only person to know that he still collected newspaper clippings of their successes and of their failures even if he no longer had them taped on his wall.
He took the scrap from her hand, his eyes still on her.
No one had ever asked him what happened to what they had taken to calling "The Wall" when he remodeled his room, but one day, Raven had appeared with a newspaper clipping in her hand.
"For The Scrapbook," she had offered as her only explanation. He hadn't asked her how she had figured out that "The Wall" had become "The Scrapbook" but he had been mighty impressed. Ever since then, she brought him clippings of things she found in the newspaper she read that he didn't. It had become a kind of habit now.
Robin carefully unfolded the newspaper in his hands and looked down at his own face in black and white, smiling down at three kids in homemade Robin uniforms all showing him different homemade toys meant to resemble his weapons.
Boy Wonder Takes Moment to Play, read the headline above the picture.
He grinned immediately at the picture and the headline, remembering what a great afternoon they'd all had at the Juvenile Cancer ward of their local hospital.
Raven, he remembered, had been rather uncomfortable at the sight of the gaggle of little girls who had dressed like her for the hospital's 'Dress like your favorite superhero day' but it had all evaporated at the looks of joyous surprise on the kids' faces when the Teen Titans themselves showed up.
He looked up at her, the joy of the memory still riding his features. "Thank you."
Her lips twitched into a quick grin before turning in a flutter of cape to walk out of his room.
"Raven," he called her back.
She stopped at the door and turned her upper body to look at him.
"The paper didn't publish the picture of the girls and you?" he asked.
Raven paused as if to think about it but in the end, shook her head, all too solemnly.
He frowned. "Too bad," he mused, "I would've paid good money to get the cut out of your face as the Raven Fan Club tried to meditate with you."
She shrugged. "I suppose a picture of me isn't as publish worthy as a picture full of Robins," she replied casually. "Although if you ask me, one Robin is more than enough…" she started back for the door. "A room full of them is frightening," she tossed over her shoulder as she exited the room.
Robin watched her go with a grin on his lips. He knew the newspaper photographer had taken the picture of Raven with the girls, he had seen him do it with his own eyes. Now, as to whether or not they had found it publish worthy…he wasn't sure he could take Raven's word for that.
As he walked to his bedside table in order to take out the leather bound scrap book he kept there, he made a mental note to call the newspaper. If they didn't publish the picture, they could at the very least send him a copy of it.
A/N: I think everyone knows the episode I'm talking about here, but basically, the time Raven was taken by Adonis is a reference to the episode "The Beast Within".