MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
The Annual Fluff-Fest Christmas Holiday Fic is here!
A/N: So, I suppose y'all might have been waiting for IOTaM. Sorry, that's not back from the betas yet, and although I had intended to go ahead and post it on my emsscraps with whatever edits I could make to it before the year was through, I didn't have time. So…you get this instead. My annual, fluffy-fluff-fest-of-doom Christmas fic!
This has not been betad by anyone and I am not altogether HERE as I write this, so who knows if it even makes sense. (I'm tired, not drunk or otherwise inebriated, so get your minds clean, folks!) But, I leave for Canada tomorrow for a week, so I won't get to post this before the end of the year unless I do so tonight. So…there you go.
AND…well, that's all I gotta say. Other than to warn you – BEWARE THE FLUFF!
Thanks: This fic is dedicated to all of my wonderful and loyal readers and reviewers – you know who you are: you guys read and review everything I write, no matter how lame or angsty. So, to all of you, merry Christmas! I have you enjoy your present!
It occurred to Raven, as she stood under the awning of the Grand Ballroom, that the soundproofing for the Georges Cinq Hotel: Gotham was top notch. There was no other way that she could have been so completely unaware of the sheer volume of people while approaching the doors and be completely engulfed in the noise of their laughter, talking, and general schmoozing while at the door.
That the thought was inane and pointless considering who it was thinking it goes without saying.
Even someone of Raven's usually flawless mental acuity could be forgiven for temporary lapses when faced with a sight so altogether alien to her day-to-day experiences. After all, Raven had never been much for parties as a whole, let alone high-end, elegant, stylish society Balls where women dressed in gowns that cost more than it would take to maintain a small country glided around like they were born with silver spoons in their mouths and where 9/10ths of the people there had net worths higher than the national debt.
She wondered, not for the first time, the hows and whys of her presence there. Oh, she had been conscious and aware as the invitation was received and discussed, she even distinctly remembered stating her intention not to attend.
Yet, somehow, there she was. Standing at the door, watching as the other Titans flooded into the room to "mingle" and "schmooze"...wearing a full-length, strapless, liquid red satin vintage Julian Rose ball gown.
She had no proof, but thought the only explanation had to be that she had been drugged (perhaps the potent potion had been in the Pudding of Weekly Celebration Starfire had guilted her into tasting), hypnotized, mesmerized or otherwise enthralled. Raven was aware she was not an easy mark to neither drug nor hypnotize, but also knew it was the only viable possibility.
She certainly would not have come willingly.
Even for the chance to see Rich--them all in evening wear.
'Speak of the devil,' she thought as her eyes fell on his unmistakable form several feet away in the middle of a gaggle of debutantes with shining jewels and brilliant smiles. It was disgusting the way they fawned over him. 'One would think they've never seen a young man in a tuxedo before,' Raven mused.
Not that he didn't look handsome in his so-called penguin suit. The crisp black and bright white of the dress shirt brought out the clear blue of his eyes. He'd had a haircut since leaving the Tower the day before, and she wondered whether Alfred had done it for old time's sake, or if he'd gone to an honest to goodness barber to have it done. She made a mental note to ask him as whatever the result, it would serve as useful teasing material.
And then he noticed her and the jolt of recognition flashed through her as their eyes met, even from a few feet away. He smiled, and if it would have been anything but the warm, welcoming, convivial smile, she would have been able to resist smiling back. As it was, it took all her reserve to keep the twist in her lips from taking over her face.
When he started walking toward her, politely excusing himself from the gaping gaggle as he made his way to her, she hadn't had nearly enough time to prepare herself.
She watched as his eyes took her in, and wondered if he'd comment, as their friends did, on the out-of-character nature of the strapless gown she had chosen, or if he'd try to trace the intricate patters of the dramatic soutache design woven into the boned bodice or marvel at the beadwork that glinted in the lights when she moved, also as the others had.
"You made it," he greeted.
"I don't think I had a choice," she admitted. "One moment, I was in my room, and the next I was standing here."
"Oh, is that the excuse you're going with?" he asked, quirking his lips in obvious amusement. "Lost time?"
She frowned at him. "Look at me, Richard," she said, forgetting in the promise of a good verbal spar that she had been worried about just that a moment before.
He shifted his weight onto his back leg to oblige, those sometimes unfathomable eyes of his taking her in from the tips of her red satin slippered feet to the diamond barrettes in her professionally styled and completely trussed hair. "I haven't been able to take my eyes off you."
She felt herself flush, but held onto the promise of a verbal match. "I'm wearing a gown," she said succinctly.
"And what a gown," he agreed.
"My hair is..." she trailed off, unable to even describe it.
"Different," he conceded. "But still amazing."
Raven stopped and stared at him as if he'd grown another head. "Richard…are you drunk?"
He laughed and shook his head. "Not even close," he admitted. She raised a brow, which he correctly interpreted to mean that he should explain himself. "I'm just responding honestly to your statements." When her other brow rose to join the first, he couldn't help but laugh again. "Honest." When she cocked her hip, he couldn't keep up the pretense. "Okay, so maybe I'm trying to hurry your venting along so that we can move on."
She frowned in confusion, momentarily ignoring that he said she was venting, which everyone knew she never did. "Move on to what, exactly?"
"Well, to me pointing out what it is you happen to be standing under, that's all," he said casually, his lips twitching in an attempt not to smile.
Raven looked skeptical, but looked up over their heads, narrowing her eyes at the plant with the red berries hanging almost directly above her. "Oh, you've gotta be kidding me," Raven breathed.
"Nope – not kidding, sorry."
But he didn't look sorry at all.
She straightened, still narrow-eyed, to consider him. "Richard."
"Rachel," he countered, obviously amused.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll offer my greetings to our host," she decided, trying to walk past him.
He shifted and she was suddenly completely aware of his broad shoulders and utter strength of his presence as he blocked her escape. "Bruce can wait." She started to speak but he smirked. "It's mistletoe, Rachel – it's tradition."
"Not my tradition."
Robin shifted a little to let a newly arriving couple pass, nodding an acknowledgment to their greeting as they walked into the ballroom. Both he and Raven ignored the curious looks she got as they walked by. "You might as well give in – it's useless to fight fate," Robin pointed out.
"Fate?" she asked, her tone of voice suggesting she was mildly disappointed that he would even try that tact with her.
He, however, was not dissuaded from his argument. "Sure," he insisted. "I mean, when I noticed the mistletoe before you got here, I promised myself that I wouldn't try to trick you into stopping under it, but yet, you stopped there all on your own." He laughed as he thought of something. "Hell, you didn't even just pause—no, you actually stopped long enough that I saw you and could walk up to you." He grinned that knowing grin that would drive a lesser girl nuts and spread his hands in the universal, 'therefore' gesture. "What can it be but fate? Destiny, even."
"Destiny?" she echoed, even more disbelieving than before. "You are seriously proposing that it's destiny that I stopped under the doorway where you put the mistletoe – a doorway, I might add, where people tend to stop on their way into the room?"
His grin didn't falter. "I didn't put it..."
She didn't let him finish. "Fine, the decorators put it," she shook off that weak excuse. "The point is, someone put it up. It didn't just happen to grow there." She paused to see if she was getting to him, but the continued presence of his grin urged her to carry on. "There was no destiny involved. Anybody could stop here."
He shrugged off her oh-so-logical argument. "But not just anybody did," he observed. He nodded and smiled at another group of people passing by them into the ballroom and continued smiling when he turned back to her. "As a matter of fact, several people have passed through the doors without stopping and yet," he shrugged, "you did."
"Other people have stopped," she argued.
It was his turn to cock a disbelieving brow. "Really?" He made a show of looking around as if for evidence of her statement.
"Perhaps not at present," she said.
"Ah," he nodded.
"Before you noticed me standing here," she continued.
"I noticed you from the moment you walked in the door, Rachel," he confided. "It's hard to miss you when you look so stunning in that dress."
She flushed, but hid her face from him so he wouldn't notice it. He took advantage of his opportunity and continued speaking before she could find a counter argument. "I noticed that Starfire didn't stop here, for instance."
She looked up at him and almost scoffed. "Starfire hasn't stopped anywhere," she pointed out. "She's much too excited to stop moving at all, I think," she observed, looking around for signs of her red-haired friend.
Robin shook his head, smirking at her insistence on obliviousness. "The point is, no one I've seen has stopped, Starfire didn't stop – and you did."
Raven lifted a brow. "Easily remedied," she said. "I could call her." She turned her head a little as she looked at him and her gaze spoke volumes. "As a matter of fact, I'm certain any number of ladies could be persuaded to stand under the mistletoe and indulge in your tradition if you want."
Robin's eyes warmed, even though the lift of the corners of his mouth still conveyed his obvious amusement. "I don't want."
Raven didn't realize he had leaned in closer to her or that his voice had lowered into a very intimate tone until meeting his eyes almost took her breath away. She frowned a little, some part of her finally realizing that he was (possibly had been) trying to drop hints for her to pick up and analyze, searching his face for clues as to what it might be. "Then, what do you want?"
Robin smiled, and it wasn't a smirk, or a grin, or a knowing smile – it was good humor and affection, plain and simple. "I want to kiss you."
So amazed was she by the combination of the realization of the look in his eye, the nearness of him, and the affection she read in every line of his very expressive face, that it took her a few moments to realize he had spoken and what those words had been. Which, of course, took her so thoroughly by surprise that she gaped for a few ungraceful moments, her own face open and expressive and altogether too revealing for almost a full minute. Eventually deciding that she could not possibly be expected to thoroughly analyze his words and what they might mean, let alone what she might feel about them while standing in a doorway to a grand ballroom in all her Christmas Party grandeur, she gathered her wholly scattered wits and almost physically shook herself out of her surprise, telling herself she would think about it later. Robin's obvious expectation reminded her that he was probably waiting for some sort of response from her, and thanks to years of practice in the art of compartmentalizing her emotions, it couldn't have been more than three minutes before her expression closed in on itself so that she faced Robin with a very practiced, somewhat bored, slightly martyred, resigned look before answering. "Fine," she allowed, every muscle in her body tensing in preparation, not unlike when she waited for the bad guys to attack in a fight, and if there was even a twinge of anticipation anywhere in her entire body, she would not admit to it.
Robin, for his part, watched as she struggled with coming to terms with his words, and although he felt the sting of disappointment when he saw her emotionally close in on herself, he couldn't help but be charmed by the way she tensed for his kiss. "Are you ready?" he asked, not altogether sure he managed to keep the entirety of the amusement from his voice, but Raven was far too gone into her mental preparation state to notice and she nodded, twice, in quick, brisk movements.
Robin took a step closer to her so that the distance between them was nearly imperceptible, one hand reaching very slowly for her face. As soon as the pads of his fingers touched her cheek, her eyes fluttered closed. When his fingers lightly moved to her chin, he watched as her eyelids pressed even tighter together, could feel the thrum of tension coursing through her body as he used the lightest of pressures on her chin to lift her head just slightly, watching very carefully as her nostrils flared as he neared her, practically reading the confusion as she processed his scent.
Raven felt even her heart still when she felt the brush of his clothes against her chest, the light press of him as he neared her, the lemon-verbena of his aftershave and clean crisp evergreen of his Irish Spring soap and she knew he had to be hovering just over her lips now, his own so very close. She felt his soft exhale against her lips and her hands fisted at her sides in an attempt to still the sudden, inexplicable urge to grab on to his shoulders, as if she were afraid she'd slip away if she didn't grab on to something. And then she felt the soft press of his lips…on her forehead.
It was more than a mere peck of the kind she'd seen mother's give their children, for his lips lingered for a moment, sharing their warmth with her exposed forehead, but soon enough, they were gone and Raven blinked open in blatant confusion, the amused and tender expression that met her eyes confusing her even more. She frowned and Robin's thumb briefly caressed her cheek before he released her entirely and stepped back. It took Raven a moment to find her center of gravity apart from him and that realization surprised her even more than anything else that had happened yet that night.
"Merry Christmas, Raven," Robin said. "Bruce is that way, if you still want to say hi," Robin pointed to the right. "And our table is that way, when you're ready," he informed her, pointing to the left.
Raven watched him go, wondering why she was feeling slightly disappointed and warm all at the same time. Unable to form a viable hypothesis, Raven sighed and decided she had best go greet their host before finding their table – it would be the polite thing to do. And the fact that it would give her a good twenty minutes to process before facing Robin again was no factor whatsoever in her determination.
Still, Raven was apparently too shocked by recent events to consider moving until she glanced to the right and noted Beast Boy coming toward her with a determined air. Raven glanced back up at the offending plant and walked quickly to the left. Just because it was Christmas was no reason to take any more chances, was it?
A/N: Y'all know what to do! I'd love to have a gazillion reviews saying how fluffy this was when I get back next week!
Also, just so you know, I'd considered doing a one-shot continuance to this for New Years cause – yeah…there's another kissing tradition for the new year, isn't there? But yeah, no time. So, if I get inspired to write it while I'm out and about, I'll post it when I get back.
Oh, and one more thing: Raven's dress is an actual dress. I suck at mental designs of clothes, so I went searching. It actually is a vintage dress you can find on . It costs $875 on there, which is really not much, considering what some of the others I looked at on there cost. I'll post a picture soon on emsscraps.