A/N: So…for those of you who don't know, this is a part 2 of sorts to a one-shot I did for my series of one-shots based on the 'memories' themes. Actually, it is a part 2 to the first one I did, Echoes 01: Ten Years Ago (story id: 2977697). This would not have come to be, however, if it were not for the wonderful, brilliant, super-artistic Kysra. What did Kysra do this time that was more than any of the other times she's supportive and caring and read and re-reads my stuff no matter how many times I send it over to her because I've added or subtracted something that I wasn't sure I needed? She inspired the whole piece, that was all. How did she do that, you might ask?
For those of you who have read Echoes 01: Ten Years Ago, you might remember how I left it off? Well, she drew a panel in comic format that continued it a little teensy bit more. ( http / kysra . deviantart . com / art / Echoes-Ten-Years-Ago - 35960244 ) (remove the spaces) And the other day, I was looking at her gallery and I came across this one again, and the first bit of it just came to me. So, eventually, I got around to finishing it.
So, all of you who enjoy this, go and thank Kysra properly by commenting on her stuff, yeah?
Thanks: To Kysra. And to everyone who loved the Ten Years Ago Echoes and loved the Echoes in general.
Dedication: To KYSRA. (Are we starting to see a pattern here?)
Ten Years Ago, Continued.
"So...do I get a hug?"
She smiled at him, feeling her nervousness melt away in the face of the welcome in his eyes. "That can be arranged."
Before she knew it, he embraced her and she had to stand on the tips of her toes, even in her heels, to wrap her arms around his neck and hug him to her, despite him having leaned down some too.
"Missed you," he whispered against her shoulder, his breath tickling the side of her neck.
For a moment, she tightened her arms around him, relishing in the way it felt to hold onto him so tightly, some of her fingers absently playing with his hair, a tightness in her stomach she hadn't realized she had easing as she closed her eyes, and took deep breaths of the fresh verbena scent of him. After a few moments, she released the strength of the hug, letting her hands slide down his back and slip from around him. "Me too," she replied on a whisper as they parted reluctantly. She looked up at him as he stepped back a little. He was smiling and something about it made her smile in response. She had missed his smile the most. That smile, the one that was cocky and wry at the same time. "So..." she started, cocking her head to the side. "You got me here...what now?"
He laughed aloud, a surprised chortle that revealed his nervousness only to her. He raised his hand to the back of his neck in an achingly familiar gesture. "I don't know," he admitted, smirking. "But I suppose we might be inclined to move from the entry hall eventually."
Raven couldn't help but smile softly. "I was getting rather comfortable here," she replied.
Alfred, ever their saving grace, came to the rescue, clearing his throat from the mouth of the doorway leading to the kitchens. "Might I suggest lunch?" Alfred asked when both their attentions turned to him.
"Wonderful idea, Alfred!" Richard exclaimed. "How about it, Rae, hungry?" he asked.
"Starved, actually," Raven answered. And she was. She hadn't eaten since she woke up that morning.
"Great," Richard said, clapping his hands together. "Then lunch it is!" He motioned toward a door to their left. "You remember the way to the dining room, I suppose?"
Raven quirked a brow at him and he laughed.
Alfred's discreet clearing of the throat broke their momentum, however.
"Yes, Alfred, something else to suggest?" Richard asked, highly amused.
"I took the liberty of having the table in the garden set, Master Dick," Alfred said.
Raven looked at Alfred and smiled the way it took her years to remember how to. "You remembered," she breathed.
Alfred inclined his head in a formal half-bow and then met her eyes and smiled. "Of course, Miss Raven."
"You always did hate the dining room, that's right," Richard laughed. "So, shall we adjourn to the garden?"
Raven started in the direction of the doors leading to the gardens and Richard followed close behind, silently.
It wasn't until they were seated in comfortable wrought iron chairs across from each other at a table laden with the makings for a brunch the Four Seasons staff would be jealous of and Alfred had left them with a slight bow that Raven thought to break the silence.
Richard shrugged. "Training his new protégé, I gather."
Raven sensed the slight tightness in his voice, but was happy to note it was nowhere near as bad as she had heard it was. "What did he say when he saw you?" Raven pressed, laying a linen napkin on her lap while Richard placed a plate with decadent looking crepes before her. He never asked what she wanted, just went about serving her, scooping strawberries all over the crepes with all the certainty born of years of custom.
"He hasn't seen me…yet," Richard answered. "I got into town last night, but he was already gone. Alfred won't tell me much about where he is, but I am guessing if he's anywhere where Alfred can get in touch with him, he already knows I'm here." Richard looked at her as he sat down with his own plates of blueberry crepes and shrugged, "I told him about this promise of ours when we made it." He smiled at her. "And you know Bruce never forgets anything."
"I wonder how he does it?" Raven mused, raising a forkful of strawberries and airy crepe to her lips.
"I swear it's gotta be some new drug Wayne Enterprises has invented," Richard joked.
"You think he'd smuggle me some?" Raven asked, the joking note in her voice nearly imperceptible…to most.
She was looking down at her crepes, attempting to gather up equal amounts strawberry and crepe onto her fork for optimal taste, when she realized Richard was staring at her. She paused to meet his stare. "What?" she asked.
"You look beautiful," he said, as if coming to a decision. "You wouldn't need it."
Raven stared at him and her expression was so unreadable, it prompted him to wonder what he'd said.
"What?" it was his turn to ask. "Was it something I said?"
"I…" she trailed off for a moment, as if she had spoken before thinking it through and needed another moment to collect her words. "Thank you."
He was too busy looking at her to realize that the whip cream he had put on his blueberries and crepes was wilting in the late afternoon heat, even in the relatively cool Wayne Mansion's courtyard garden. "I'm glad you came."
Her eyes never wavered. "So am I." She blinked and he saw the smile crinkle the corners of her eyes, lift upper left hand corner of her lip, for just a brief moment before she lowered her gaze back to her brunch and continued chasing a strawberry around her plate with a forkful of crepe. Giving up, she reached up and held the strawberry in place with the tip of her left index finger. "The hair suits you," she said, almost as an afterthought, before filling her mouth with crepe.
Richard paused with the juice goblet at his lips for a moment, and although he smiled, he hid it with the glass and managed to drink nonchalantly. "Roy calls me Fabio," he answered after he swallowed.
Raven coughed and took a hurried sip of juice, smothering the laugh that had suddenly overcome her at the comment. "He would," she finally managed, only having to clear her throat once.
They shared a smile and ate in companionable silence for a few moments, before Robin raised his gaze just enough to glance at her through his lashes. "So, how's Nicki?" he asked casually.
Raven's hand stilled in the middle of spearing another strawberry. She glanced at him to find that he had finally found something interesting in his own plate and was studiously not looking at her. "You mean Micky."
"Oh, was that his name?" Richard glanced at her and smiled, apologetic. "Sorry. I'm horrible with names."
Raven raised a brow, but obviously decided to offer no further comment. "I imagine Micky's fine."
Richard looked up at her and raised a brow of his own. "You imagine?" He leaned forward, elbows on either side of his plate, all pretense of eating forgotten.
Raven sighed. "Someone must have told you, Richard."
"I know you two were recently engaged," he admitted.
She put down her fork and wiped her hands, everything about her posture and bearing screaming out that she was about to do something she didn't look forward to in the slightest. "Were being the operative word," she said blandly. She met his eyes and there was nothing in her expression, which told him much more than if there had been a book scrolling behind her eyes. "We had a heretofore undiscovered and yet insurmountable difference of opinion."
"You're through then?" he asked.
She nodded, and picked up her fork again, obviously intended to say no more on the matter.
Which was alright with him. He didn't need to know any further. Her expression had told him all he needed to know. She was angry, not hurt, which meant she had broken it off with him. He picked up his fork as well and took his first bite of crepe. "I'm glad."
There were many different responses she could have offered to that remark. Four years ago, she might have made some sarcastic comment in her version of a joke. Six years ago, she might have taken offense and wondered why he thought it was any of his business. Ten years ago, she wouldn't have said a word.
That day, however, sitting in the rare summer breeze that tasted just slightly of rain, in the courtyard garden where they had first met all those years ago, she nodded once, curtly, and brought the fork to her lips again. "Hm," she agreed.
After all, ten years was a long time.
Time enough for everyone to grow up some, and even Raven couldn't stay oblivious forever.
Closing A/N: So, I've got nothing more to say except go and comment on Kysra's stuff. G'on. Shoo.
Wait…review my stuff first, then go and comment on her stuff.