Dedication: To all my wonderful readers, who have stuck with me this year, no matter how long it's taken me to update anything, and who have always been there with words of encouragement and support to both my fics AND my personal life. I smile when I think of you all and feel proud to count most of you among my friends and feel warm and fuzzy myself when I think about you all during this season.
A/N: Y'all know what time it is! Time for the Holiday Fluffy Fics! You guys might remember I did one last year, Blame It On the Mistletoe which was considerably more of a pure-fluff fest than this is. This is still WAFF!Fic worthy, but it's a little more serious and less playful or simple flirtation than I normally do for these fics.
I thought the end might've been a bit too mushy, but both Kysra and Absentia have assured me it isn't.
"Silent night, holy night / all is calm, all is bright / … / sleep in heavenly peace…"
-Silent Night, Traditional
"Are you going to say how strange it is to find me in a place like this, too?"
Robin was surprised that she broke the silence that he had been so careful not to disturb even as he sat down next to her on the hard polished wood, but he was even more surprised at her words.
"No," he answered simply, his eyes only glancing momentarily at her before turning back to the displays at the head of the building.
He watched her turn to him out of the corner of his eye. He smiled, because he didn't have to be looking at her head-on to catch the look of incredulity in her expression and he didn't need her to speak to know she wanted him to explain his answer.
"It's not strange to me that you would be in a place like this at all," he explained. His tone was low, yet it was easily heard by her.
They sat in some of the last rows, far behind the main throng of people who wanted to be as close to the display of light and glory as possible so they were unlikely to disturb anyone with their conversation, but their voices could still carry in this high-domed space if they weren't careful, despite the sounds of choir singing in perfect harmony.
"You always come to this place every year for as long as I've known you," he continued, casting his eyes upward into the flying buttresses, his eyes taking in the shadows of gold-flecked frescos winking in the candlelight. He turned to her and met her eyes, the smile never leaving his. "It's not completely conflicting that you would choose to come to a place like this either." He shrugged at her look of disbelief. "At least, not to me."
She exhaled and faced forward once again. "Alright," she accepted. "So, why are you here, then?" she asked after a few moments.
He shrugged, but wasn't sure she saw it. She must have, however, because she seemed content enough to take that as an answer and wasn't about to press him for more than that.
And normally, he wouldn't have been inclined to answer any more than that, either.
It was an unspoken sort of thing between them, usually.
They did things for each other and neither pressed as to why. She froze time to stop a big wheel from crushing him; he grabbed her before she could fall down a defunct elevator shaft. When she was being antisocial and escaped to the roof, he found her; when he was obsessing over a particularly stubborn piece of a puzzle, she got him to see it in perspective. She entered his mind to save him from himself without hesitation; he entered the closest thing to hell on earth he had ever seen without having to think about it to bring her back. And they never questioned, never wondered why.
It was par for the course where they were concerned.
Still, that night…maybe it was the nature of the locale or the feeling behind the day…maybe it was that she had asked, as casual as it had been…
Whatever the reason, he found himself rethinking his initial response and much to his own surprise, being truthful.
"Because you're here."
He watched her for a reaction and caught the surprised blink, the mild slackness of her jaw that opened her lips just a fraction, but she never took her eyes off the scene at the head of the room, so he couldn't read her eyes.
"I see," she finally spoke.
It seemed to him she meant to say nothing more, so he searched her profile for a warning of some sort that he should not continue, perhaps waiting for a sign that he should, finally deciding to risk it when he thought he could read the slight shadow of confusion in the tilt of her mouth or the line of her brows. "What I don't know is why you would choose to come to a place like this at all, especially tonight." He cocked his head to the side. "You're not Catholic."
She shook her head, confirming his statement, even though she knew he hadn't been asking a question. She sighed and glanced upward, her eyes not focusing on any one particular area, but seemingly canvassing the entirety of it. "It's peaceful here," she spoke, turning back to continue her vigilance over the choir, which was just beginning a rendition of O Holy Night in wondrous harmony.
He nodded, and turned to look at the choir himself, accepting her answer and not expecting more.
"It's always peaceful in churches, cathedrals, mosques, synagogues…" she continued thoughtfully. "But on Christmas Eve, there's a kind of peace to Catholic Churches for the Midnight Mass," she looked around at the people, who enjoyed the concert with rapt attention and blissful shine. "The people are peaceful and content," she trailed off, as if she had run out of energy or words to explain any further. And yet, for some reason he couldn't fathom, she continued, "They feel hopeful, full of faith--" Her eyes seemed to focus on one particular woman, in her mid forties with her hair covered and her eyes shining with unshed tears. "Even the sadness they carry around every day, the kind that is like an old, accustomed pain, is made less, at least for a little while."
Her voice died out as the choir did, their last note hanging in the air for a few moments before they began a new song. "…all is calm / all is bright…"
"There's so much comfort to be found in belief and faith," he mused aloud.
She nodded her agreement. "It is only human nature to look to something greater than ourselves to believe in."
"Sometimes I wish I believed in something."
His statement surprised her if the flash of emotion on her face was any indication, but then again, it surprised him too.
"You do believe in something." Like all of her sentences, when she spoke, her words were a statement, not a question or a suggestion.
He was so surprised by the assurance in her tone, he chuckled low in his throat but was really only half-amused. "Do I?"
"You believe in your work," she answered, just as secure and certain. "You believe in our cause," she continued. "You believe in the Titans."
He didn't deny it; he didn't want to. "But those are all tangibles," he argued. "I believe in my work and in our cause because it is something I can see, there is physical representation of its importance and of what it means for us to do it." He half-shrugged. "And my belief in the Titans comes from trust and friendship, both are things that are earned." He sighed. "I can take comfort in those things, solace, even, but what these people feel?" he looked around at the crowd of persons and in his silence, the choir's voices washed over them."Glories stream from heaven afar…"
"I told you once you were hopeful, and you did not deny it, although you said I was more hopeful than you were," she reminded him.
"Hope is not the same as belief," he argued. "You can be hopeful that something will come to pass, but it doesn't mean you believe that some intangible essence or being or energy is going to make it happen."
"You believed in me," she glanced at him and then away again, "Even when you should not have," she shook her head softly. "When I did nothing but keep secrets from you I thought I must and there was every indication I would bring about the world's downfall. That belief could stem from nothing tangible."
He turned to look at her, determined, and she had no choice but to meet his gaze. "That belief stemmed from love."
Her eyes widened the minimalist inch, and he, being so incredibly aware of every move she made, saw her breath hitch and catch for a moment and when his hand slid over hers, he saw it release in one long exhale.
"Love is a kind of intangible, I suppose," he admitted softly, his eyes not daring to let hers go. When her hand didn't move, when her eyes didn't stray, he dared a little more. "I believe in you, because you have proven to be someone worthy to believe in, but when there was no indication that I should believe in you, I believed in you anyway because I love you, and you can't help but believe in the person you love, no matter what the evidence says to the contrary." He shrugged, as if his very world weren't hanging in the balance. Although it might seem he was being reckless by telling her all that he felt in one fell swoop, he was being so careful, reading the lines of her face and the way her hand felt in his for any indication that he should stop. "You are my faith, my hope, but since that all stems from love, does that mean I believe in love?" He didn't give her a chance to answer, but continued, "And since love is an intangible, does that mean I do believe in something like these people's God?" He raised his free hand to push back the stray strand of hair that always fell over her forehead. "The world may never know, and I don't care to question it."
They stared at each other for what seemed like aeons, but couldn't have been that long since the choir was only just reaching the final chorus of their recital of Silent Night.
"…love's pure light…"
When her hand, warm and soft under his shifted, his heart stopped in his chest so quickly, it hurt. Still, he relaxed his fingers, willing to let her pull away if that was what she wanted, but her hand did not pull away. Instead, she turned it so that they were touching palm to palm. He closed the distance almost immediately, lacing his fingers with hers, holding her so close, he could feel his own heartbeat pushing against her skin where they touched.
And as the choir finished the song, the bells of the old cathedral began to ring and a cheer rang up from the patrons, cries of "Merry Christmas" bringing in Christmas Day.
Around them, people were standing, embracing, smiling, but between them, neither dared to move.
When the last bell rang the hour and then slowly faded away, Raven leaned in close to him and gently pressed her lips to his. She pulled away before he could even register what she'd done and when he blinked at her in confusion, the corners of her lips lifted up for a brief moment, before her fingers wrapped around his hand, holding him.
"Merry Christmas, Robin," she spoke.
Robin's surprise melted into a smile, and his free hand reached around her back to pull her in against him before he had even really considered what he'd do. He stopped when their faces were inches apart and he could smell the mint of the toothpaste she'd used to brush her teeth after dinner and the lavender she used in her hair. "Merry Christmas, Raven," he replied.
She blinked, and he closed the remaining distance between them, pressing his lips against hers and insisting on a proper kiss.
When she responded, he realized that he had never really understood what she had meant about feeling peace, until that very moment.
A/N: Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, and to all of you who don't celebrate Christmas, per se, I offer you general felicitations for the end of an old year and the ringing in of a new one.