Disclaimers and Notes: I don't own Teen Titans. This fiction is inspired by the song "My Heart Can't Tell You No" by Rod Stewart. I'm not sure as to what possessed me into writing this story, but I know there's a big plot hole and it seems a little rush in the end, but I'm posting it anyway. All kinds of comment are welcome in all aspects of this story.
My Heart Can't Tell You No
No matter how I try to convince myself
This time I won't lose control
One look in your blue eyes
And suddenly my heart can't tell you no
- "My Heart Can't Tell You No" as performed by Rod Stewart
Searching her purse for the key to her apartment wouldn't normally be a difficult task for Raven, but now that she was holding grocery bags in both arms, the task could be quite inconvenient. Although she could always skip the task and simply phase through the door just to get it over with, having rented that place under an alias Rachel Roth forced her to think twice.
Your Titans days are over. She reminded herself. You're no longer a superhero. You're just Rachel Roth, an ordinary woman, living alone in a big crazy city. You can't be seen phasing through a wall.
It took her a minute to find the right key and unlock her door. She couldn't help thinking back to her time as a Titan. At that time, she was able to be her true self. She didn't have to hide her power, her origin or her appearance. Everyone seemed to be able to accept her, but now… Now she looked too weird to blend in. She had to wear color contact lenses, dyed her hair and her skin, so the only time she could truly be herself was when she was at home.
Oh, who cares! She yelled at herself inwardly. Whining is pointless.
She entered her apartment. Once she was in the sanctuary of her own home, she used her power to put all groceries in their places before she hovered to her bedroom.
When she put her coat and scarf back into her closet, she noticed it started to rain. She then moved to her bathroom to remove the blue contact lenses then took a long shower and washed her hair.
Once she finished getting rid of Rachel Roth persona, Raven walked out of her bathroom, wearing only a bathrobe. She dried her now lavender hair with a small towel and walked to the kitchen to make herself a cup of tea. It was then that she felt cold breeze past her skin. She frowned.
Alright…I didn't leave any window open, so where does that wind come from?
Her mauve eyes went narrow and dark energy formed around her hands as she turned her gaze to the direction of the window. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw a prone figure on her couch in the dark corner of her apartment. Her empathy kicked in and she realized just who the person was.
"Robin…" a name escaped her lips before she shook the thought out of her head. No, that's not right. Robin's gone, disappeared into dusk. He's someone else now. He is… "Nightwing," she voiced her thought in a soft mumble.
She shook her head tiredly and let her guard down as she realized he wasn't a threat and tried her best to ignore his presence. Although she knew she wouldn't be able to ignore him for the rest of the night, she felt the urge to do so even for a few minutes. After all, she wanted to see who would be the first to break that silence when the man she had known from adolescence didn't have that much patient either.
However, he didn't make a slight move, so Raven sighed softly.
"We've gotta stop meeting like this," she commented monotonously as she set a kettle on the stove. "And what did I tell you about coming in through my window?"
Nightwing shifted his position slightly before he noted, "You've changed that stupid lock."
Raven's eyes narrowed dangerously, but since she told herself she wasn't in a mood to either fight or banter with him, she decided to give it a miss.
"What are you doing here, and in that Nightwing costume of yours?"
"I can't fit into Robin costume, and someone else is currently using that identity," he explained although he knew that it wasn't what her question was intended for.
Raven sighed. Instead of joining him, she chose to linger in the kitchen and waited for the water to boil as if she wasn't sure how she should deal with him just yet. They had been friends for a long time, but at that moment, she couldn't decide whether or not she wanted him there.
As if he could read her mind, Nightwing sighed and sat up. He didn't move to join her at the kitchen when he asked softly, breaking the awkward silence that had never occurred between them when they were much younger, "Are you with someone?"
Raven paused for a second before she picked a cup out of the cupboard. She could tell that it wasn't what he intended to ask, so just to avoid having to answer many irrelevant questions, she simply noted, "Wallace's coming over tonight."
Nightwing nodded before he stood up.
"He won't be here until eight, though," Raven continued without turning to the masked man's direction.
The man lifted an eyebrow before he sat back down on the couch and waited. It took five more minutes for Raven to finally approach to the couch, holding a hot cup of tea in her hand. Nightwing noticed how she didn't offer him any drink, but he chose to ignore it when she sat gracefully down next to him.
"If you want to hear a pep talk before you go out to patrol your city, you've come to the wrong place," she noted, sipping her tea.
"I'm not here for a pep talk," he said wearily.
"Then I suppose you're just here to hide from the rain and dry yourself," she said sarcastically after noting how his long ebony hair was dripping wet from the rain.
Nightwing's response was to reach for the towel that was still hung around Raven's shoulders after she used it to dry her hair. He then used it to dry his own, making the empath frown at his action.
Without saying a word, Raven set her teacup on the coffee table. She would have risen from her seat to find a new towel for her unexpected guest had it not been because he had laid his gloved hand on her thigh to stop her.
Relaxing a little, Raven picked the cup up once again before she asked, "Why are you here then?"
Nightwing lifted his hand off Raven's thigh. He didn't say anything right away as he knew she wouldn't walk away at that moment. He simply removed his mask and placed it on the coffee table so he could dry his face before he turned to look at her and noted in a weary tone, "I'm tired, Rae."
Raven turned to study Nightwing's face with concern.
"Take a break then," she suggested. "Blüdhaven could do without Nightwing for one night."
"I know," he replied. "But I have no place to go."
The empath wanted so bad to chuckle in disbelief, but she stopped herself once she noted how serious he sounded.
"Come on, you're Bruce Wayne's prodigal ward. You can afford to stay anywhere you want for one night."
He snickered dryly. "I can't stay here tonight now, can I?"
With that, he handed her back the towel, which Raven simply discarded on the coffee table. She said nothing in reply.
The former Robin sighed deeply before he lay back and rested his neck on the couch, looking at Raven's ceiling.
"Why did we fall apart?" he wondered.
Raven had to turn to look at the man who was sitting beside her so she could figure out exactly what 'we' he was talking about. As if he knew what she was trying to do, he turned to meet her eyes. However, even now that she was looking straight into his blue eyes, she didn't quite know how to read him, and she blamed it for the time and the distance they had been a part.
He turned his focus back to the ceiling when replied, "Us – you and I."
Raven took a considerate look at the man who was once her leader, and she knew a simple 'but we're still friends' wasn't the reply he was looking for. He would expect her to know better.
"We didn't fall apart," said Raven. "If we did, you wouldn't be here having this conversation right now."
Her voice hadn't changed its tone when she spoke, yet Nightwing sensed something from the lady who was sitting next to him. Still, he kept his gaze on the ceiling as though it was the most wonderful thing he had ever laid eyes on.
"Then why aren't I welcome here?"
"Like I said, Wallace's coming over tonight," said the empath.
"I don't know if you've heard this, but Wally's baby is due next week, so I don't think he can make it here tonight," Nightwing said flatly.
"Wally West isn't the only Wallace in town," Raven countered with a straight face.
"You'd never mention your date's name unless you expected me to know him," the hero pointed. "Now I just have to wonder if you really don't know Wally's married or you do but you want me gone that much."
"I don't think it matters either way," Raven remarked. "I still can't get rid of you, can I?"
"Does this mean you can give me an answer now?"
Raven's amethyst eyes were narrowed as she carefully chose her words.
"Falling apart is a term to use for your relationships with the women you proposed to," the former heroine observed. "Growing apart would be a better term for our relationship, assuming that we ever have one."
Nightwing nodded as he understood every word his hostess had said.
"Why do we grow apart then?" he rephrased.
"It's too late for that conversation now, don't you think?"
Her voice was in its perfect monotone when she said her line, but Nightwing's detective ears still caught something that kept him from agreeing with her remark.
"If I thought so, I wouldn't ask," he countered. "So tell me."
Raven clenched her hands around her teacup as her eyes went a few shades darker. He just has to ask now. After all these years and he still has to ask. And what exactly does he want to hear when he should be the one with all the answers?
Taking a deep breath, Raven replied, "It's hard not to grow apart, especially when the only time we would see each other is when you can't bear the load on your shoulders and feel like talking to someone."
Hearing that comment, Nightwing could no longer sit and watch the ceiling. He sat up almost immediately and turned sharply to look at Raven who was staring intensely at the cup of coffee in her hands.
"I'm not visiting you just because I'm in trouble," he stated firmly.
"I'm sure you're not," Raven said sarcastically, rolling her eyes. "Trouble just happens to come knocking at your door whenever you decide to show up."
Nightwing bit his lips as he felt a pang in his heart even though he knew Raven didn't intend to use her words to hurt him.
"Trust me, Raven, I want to be around more often, but I…" he sighed and closed his eyes. "In these last couple of years, you made me feel like you didn't want me around; like I needed a good enough reason to see you. I figured you wanted to be left alone, so I'd give you all the spaces you needed because I was afraid if I bugged you, I'd lose you for good. Ironically, the only time I seem to find a good enough reason was the time I was in some kind of trouble."
Raven took a long look at the man who was sitting right beside her, and when she saw that soft gaze from his piercing blue eyes, she had to struggle to remind herself why she didn't want to welcome him at the first place.
The half demon looked away.
"I miss you, Rae," he continued softly yet firmly. "And I need you."
Raven pursed her lips tight and clenched her hands around her cup when she closed her eyes. A part of her wanted to believe that the man had left the city he had sworn to protect and gone through the rain just because he really wanted to see her while another part was yelling that he was having some ulterior motives.
"I want to believe you, I really do," Raven spoke softly, "but I know what the outcome would be if I did, and I don't think it would change anything."
Nightwing gave Raven a weird look and asked, "Why don't you just throw me out of the window? I know you can do that."
Raven thought carefully for her answer. She could have been honest and told him everything or she could simply give him some witty reply so he would have no clue about her feelings, but at that moment, she felt like neither. So she decided to give him a little bit of both.
"I might just be lonely and you happen to be one heck of a lover," she claimed. "Besides, I always have a soft spot for your blue eyes."
Nightwing flinched at the answer.
"You know I love you, right?" he asked softly.
Raven closed her eyes before she nodded.
"I know," she replied. "Just like you love Kory, Babs and all other girls in your life. Am I supposed to feel special?"
Nightwing blinked. He couldn't help feeling that Raven's words had cut through him like a sharp knife. She had always known him better than anyone, maybe even himself, but it had just occurred to him how very little he did know her. And now that he thought he knew her a little better, he sensed that he was about to lose her.
"But you are, Raven," he countered desperately. "You know me better than anyone, and you're the only woman I ever trust with my life, my past, my feelings and my secret identity. God, I even trust you with my…"
Nightwing paused as Raven raised her hand, gesturing him to stop.
"I know what you're trying to do, Richard, and I appreciate it," Raven stated in a serious tone of voice. "But don't you dare performing a Dick Grayson act on me because I won't be able to say no and I'd end up hating both myself and you for the rest of my life."
At first, Nightwing intended to ask her what the 'Dick Grayson act' was, but then it dawned to him. He knew she was talking about the desperate way he tried to keep a woman in his life by proposing to her, and suddenly he found all the answers he was looking for as to why she didn't want him to come around.
His expression changed and suddenly he seemed sad and guilty.
"I'm sorry, Raven," he said. "I shouldn't have come. I'd better leave."
Raven didn't even try to protest when Nightwing stood up. She simply put her already cold teacup on the coffee table and reached for the mask he had left to dry on the table before she, too, stood up.
They stood still in silence, staring at each other with strange feeling in their guts. Finally, Raven broke the gaze to look at the piece of cloth in her hand, before she brought it back over its owner's naked eyes. Yet, even after she realized the cloth had stuck to his face, she still let her hands linger at the sides of his face.
Slowly, she pulled him down for one long ardent kiss, so Nightwing wrapped his arms loosely around her petite waist and responded with the same passion. The kiss tasted like goodbye.
After a whole minute had passed, they broke the kiss and Nightwing's hands reluctantly left Raven's waist.
"Goodbye, Richard," Raven said in a whisper before she stepped back and folded her arms above her chest.
With that, Nightwing left, using the same passage he had entered, the load in his heart even heavier now than the moment he had first walked in.
Raven stood still until she was certain that he had gone before she turned to look at the couch they had just sat together a moment earlier with a longing look in her eyes. She knew that he would continue haunting her dreams and her life even when he was gone and that she would wake up missing him more than she had ever missed anyone in her life.