Sometime Around Midnight
A/N: So, wow. This one-shot has been a LONG while in coming. It started what seems like years ago now, when Absentia recommended that I listen to this song...Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event. I always agreed that I saw a Rob/Rae fic with it, but I just wasn't sure what all I saw. It had a Rob/Rae tragic type feel to it.
Fastfoward to a few months ago. I listen to the song again, it just randomly comes on at some point, and I get the scene in my head. The rest, as they say, is history. (Even though it took me several months to actually write it out...)
Special Note: The words in the text that are italicized, and not just a random word or whatever - if it's an actual sentence or line that is italicized - then that's from the song. Most of the fic is from the song - I used it as a kind of outline - so you'll see some similarities, but the lines that are italicized are directly quoted.
Disclaimer: The song is Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event. The characters of Teen Titans belong to D.C. Comics. I make no money from the writing of this, and expect no compensation.
"And it starts sometime around midnight..."
I suppose it was sometime around midnight when it all started.
"Don't look now, Rache," Nat said, pulling me a little away from the group. "There's this really hot guy staring at you across the way."
I laughed, because this was a familiar ploy and I'd had one and a half gin and tonics and didn't mind laughing aloud. "Really?" I asked.
"Yeah," she assured, awed. "And I don't mean just hot, I mean, like really hot...like Brad Pitt has nothing on this guy hot."
I gave her one of my disbelieving looks. "Now, Nat," I said in my best mother voice. "I know you don't like Jake--"
"Me not like Jake?" she asked innocently. "But he's an accountant with the social skills of a pigeon and a scope of understanding that's positively astounding! What's not to love?" she asked with mock enthusiasm, cocking a leather clad hip.
I raised a brow. "-- but you don't have to point out every guy in the place that glances at me like he's ready to tear my clothes off and give me a night of passion," I continued as if she hadn't interrupted me.
Nat laughed. "Actually, that's a really good way of describing the look sexy stud over there was giving you," she agreed. "He's not looking now, you can check him out for yourself," she said, motioning to a point somewhere behind me.
"What?" she asked defensively. After three years, she knew my tones almost as well as anyone. She laughed. "God, look, I don't dislike Jake..." I raised a brow and she laughed. "I don't!" she insisted. "And anyway, this doesn't have anything to do with him," she insisted. "He's a really really hot guy, Rache."
"I came here with Jake," I said to positively no avail as the blond Jessica joined our conference. "I don't care how hot some other guy is."
"Are we talking about the really hot guy on the other side of the bar that was staring at Rache as if she were a particularly tasty bit of taffy?" Jessica asked.
Nat laughed hard enough that she had to put down her drink. "Yes, precisely," she confirmed when she was done. "Am I lying, Jess?"
I rolled my eyes.
Jessica exhaled poignantly. "Are you kidding?" she asked. "I would love to just spread him on a cracker and eat him up," she informed them.
Even I couldn't keep from smirking at that one.
"I would definitely have some of that," Nat agreed.
Jessica looked at me and noted my continuing look of disbelief. "Seriously, Rache, you've gotta check this guy out," she insisted. "He's like, hotter than Mr. November on the Fireman's Calendar hot," Jessica expounded.
Nat nodded. "I was saying he's hotter than a movie star hot, but I think I like yours better," she admitted.
Jessica smirked for a moment, glancing casually at the spot where I could only assume the hottest guy in the world stood, poking me in the ribs with her elbow to try and get me to join in her speculation. When it was obvious I wouldn't she tried to explain further. "Rache," she said seriously, taking my hand in hers and meeting my eyes somberly. "We're talking prime eye candy that you're missing," she said. "I know you came with Jake and we're not asking you to go hump the guy or anything, but I am completely not exaggerating when I say that he's like rock star hot." She looked at Nat for confirmation, who was only too ready to provide it.
"Yes!" Nat agreed instantly and quite enthusiastically. "But like Chris Cornell rock star, not like Bon Jovi rock star."
"Oh god yes," Jessica agreed. "What with those tight jeans and that really sexy black hair."
I rolled my eyes again, but didn't comment because I knew they didn't really need my input at this juncture.
"His eyes looked blue to me," Nat said. "Did they look blue to you?"
"Yes!" Jessica agreed enthusiastically. "But not just blue," she added. "Blue like..." she trailed off, thinking.
"Like ice blue," Nat offered.
"Like the ocean that one time we went to Grand Cayman, remember?" Jessica asked me.
I stopped, drink at my lips, without swallowing. I remembered.
"You've gotta see him, Rache," Jessica insisted. "This is the kind of beautiful man that you see once, maybe twice in a lifetime."
"Seriously," Nat agreed. "You don't have to sleep with him or anything," she assured me. "Just take a gander."
Jessica linked her arm through mine, casually turning me to face the opposite end of the bar. "He's over by the pool table," she said. "He's the one in the dark blue dress shirt rolled up to his elbows, and the longish dark hair."
I looked only to get them to stop, but perhaps some part of my subconscious was wondering -- perhaps some part had put together pieces of description and was already half afraid it was right.
Once I saw him, I didn't need more than a glance, even if I didn't see his profile, and I was so surprised, I couldn't even look away. Five years between then and now, and it didn't seem to matter. I knew him.
Somehow, I felt it the moment his eyes found me in the mirror on the other side of the pool table. He spun around to pierce me with his gaze, and even across the seemingly vast distance between us heavily populated by people who continued to move, continued to talk and laugh, drink...yes, even breathe, it was like we were standing directly in front of each other in an empty room.
Gods, it had been a long time since someone's mere gaze had struck me so thoroughly.
My breath caught in my throat and I think I might have swayed, just a little. I grasped the glass tumbler in my hand as if it could keep me from loosing my sense of reality.
And it must've been sometime around midnight, because the last time I'd looked at my watch it had been quarter-till and that hadn't been that long before Richard Grayson was suddenly in my life again.
"...and that white dress she's wearing / you haven't seen her in for awhile..."
It was that white dress she was wearing that did it. She'd had a dress like that once upon a time. Too long ago now for her to still wear it, of course. So, it couldn't be her.
And as long as I thought there was a chance that it wasn't her, I could function. I had stared at her until I was sure that the girl I used to know would have turned and met my gaze long before I turned away at the urging of Bernie, Matt and Scott calling for me to take my shot.
She hadn't looked, though, so it was alright. I could laugh and joke. I could pretend a part of my life I thought I'd buried hadn't washed over me like a sudden wave, ebbing memories in its wake.
But then I glanced in the mirror as Matt dunked a few striped balls in one go and our eyes met like I had somehow known where to look. I hadn't.
I turned and somehow managed to keep her eyes. The noises and life in the bar faded away into the background.
Her hair was different, and someone next to her drew her attention and she looked away. It must have been sometime around midnight, but as I watched her laughing, turning so I could barely see her profile, I knew I'd lost the ability to measure how much time had passed, because I was too busy measuring her laughter, reading her body language. She held a gin and tonic in her hands, but she wasn't drinking, and her laughter didn't reach her eyes.
Did the people with her notice it?
She had to know I was still looking at her now. Even if I couldn't see her eyes, I could feel her awareness of me and it held me still, despite the laughter I recognized came from my friends at the green felt table behind me.
And then, before I could contemplate what she was doing, she was walking in my direction and before I could catch my breath she was standing in front of me.
"Hello," she said, and the music was sufficiently muffled in the back of the bar that I could hear her, but still loud enough that she had to stand closer, lean a little further in.
And I don't know what to say, but she speaks again.
"How are you?"
Simple pleasantries, but she leaned closer the second time, perhaps wondering if she'd been too far for me to hear her the first time, never guessing that I was having enough trouble thinking beyond the whiff of the magnolia and tangerine of the Gucci perfume that I'd always associate with her (I bought her a bottle once), but then she's close enough so the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke falls away, and her perfume is all I smell, and I could see her lying naked in my arms -- I can taste her skin, the feel of her hair. The room spins and I close my eyes, but she pulls away and it was over too soon and I know I have to say something.
Still, I don't. I can't. I don't know what to say.
Her expression saddens for a moment, and then she nods, as if I had said something. "I'm sorry," she says, or I think she does because she doesn't near me again to say it and I only saw the shape of her lips forming the words before she turned and walked away.
"...and so there's a change, in your emotions..."
It had been stupid of me to approach him, but he'd just been staring at me -- I could feel him, his gaze cut through the dozens of auras crushing around me and I'd been drawn to him, all the while telling myself that it was the mature thing to do.
I hadn't thought he'd hug me or smile at me -- I hadn't thought we'd be friends, but the least he could have done would've been to say hello.
I felt stupid and lost the way I hadn't in years, and even though I had walked all the way back to our table, even though I must've answered something to the queries surrounding my approach of the good looking stranger, it was harder to get the images out of my head -- the memories of the curl of our bodies entwined, the feel of his hand on my hip, the way he filled me from the inside out and made me break apart at the seams, even as he cradled me in his arms.
He hadn't said a word and I cursed myself for hoping he would.
Jake was at my side as I started to walk away, and I didn't remember him walking back from the bar at all, but he took my elbow in his hand, looking worriedly at me and reaching for his keys.
"I'll be fine," I neared him to speak over the pulsing beat of the jukebox. "I'll take a taxi, stay and enjoy your friends," I insisted.
"We'll take her home," Jessica offered.
"No," Jake shook his head, adamant. "I want to make sure you get home alright."
"Well, gee, Jake, thanks for the vote of confidence," Nat drawled.
I smiled a little at her and squeezed her arm, letting Jess kiss my cheek goodbye as Jake led me out the door.
I don't necessarily remember walking from our table near the back to the front door, but I remember stopping at the threshold and looking back.
He was looking at me, and for a moment, I froze.
For some reason, I heard the singer's voice over the speakers as he sang some song about forgetting yourself for a while, and I smiled, or at least I think I did.
And when I saw the recognition dawn in the depths of his eyes -- when I knew he had realized that I was leaving and that I'd never try to talk to him again -- I bolted.
"...and you feel hopeless and homeless..."
I lost myself there, for a moment or two...under the bar lights, men I called friends talking and joking and going on as if I weren't bleeding out on the sticky barroom floor.
Had she really been there, or had I imagined her? I couldn't tell, not at first, but then I remembered the dress, remembered piano playing like a melancholy soundtrack to her smile. I inhaled, and I could still smell her perfume, lingering in my nose, her voice running circles in my head.
"Man, what is it?" Bernie asked, finally noticing that I hadn't responded.
"Dude, you look like you've seen a ghost," Matt adds.
"Are you alright?" Scott presses.
"Did you have a bad batch of beer or something?" Matt laughs.
I don't answer any of them, but the next thing I know, I'm walking through the crowd, I'm out the door, I'm on the street in front of the club, looking through the crowd, searching for her.
It's freezing outside, but I don't notice. Everyone's staring, but I don't care what I look like, not when I'm too busy searching for her jacket (had it been black?), her hair (she'd dyed it).
I curse the moments I'd lost frozen, curse the ringing in my ears like a vacuum for loud noise from inside the club, and bless the pedestrian street the bar was on.
Because suddenly I see her...I know it's her and I dash off, under the quaint streetlamps, the beers I'd had making me too damn sluggish and vowing to any god that would listen that I'd swear off drinking if only it would let me get to her.
I gain on them, and I see a flash of pale leg under the hem of a white dress as she walks, a pale cheek, the bounce of her hair on the gust of wind.
I'm still ten feet away when they reach the parking area, seven feet away when they reach their car, five feet away when the stranger she's with opens the passenger door for her and she starts to get in.
I'm going to lose her, and I know I can't -- I know I'd be lost if I did -- know it with a certainty I haven't felt for anything since the last time I held her against my skin.
So, I do the only thing I can think of.
Four feet away and I can't run anymore. She pauses and looks at me and when her eyes meet mine, the world is falling around me.
Some part of me recognizes that everyone around us has stopped at my outburst, but I don't care. Raven's eyes on mine tell me she doesn't either.
The man with her is talking to her, but she's not listening. She's watching me.
"Raven," I say again, but I'm not yelling this time. I don't think she needs me to be.
She takes a step and she's standing away from the car's open door. Her hair is fluttering in the wind, she's holding her coat closed and suddenly, I don't know what to say.
I didn't plan to, but I'm walking toward her. She doesn't walk away. "I just had to see you," I say once I'm close enough. I don't know if this makes sense to her, but it's the best I can do.
My blood is boiling, my stomach is in ropes, our eyes are locked...
...and I wait.
A/N: I should say that after I wrote it and re-read it for editing purposes, I realized that it's so far in a future for Robin and Raven that it's possible they're not very recognizable as themselves. Hm. In my head, it's definitely them, but I know (even if its in vague terms) what their lives have been like from when they were with the Titans to this moment. Imagine them in the early twenties here. Rae's about 23. And not a superheroine. She's left that life behind. So...are they totally unrecognizable as themselves? I didn't want to give this fic too much background info. I left it vague on purpose, so maybe it's not very much like a Raven and Robin that could be recognized.
Oh, well. Hope you enjoyed it anyway!
Sometime Around Midnight, The Airborne Toxic Event
And it starts, sometime around midnight.
Or at least that's when you lose yourself
for a minute or two.
As you stand, under the bar lights.
And the band plays some song
about forgetting yourself for a while.
And the piano's this melancholy soundtrack to her smile.
And that white dress she's wearing
you haven't seen her for a while.
But you know, that she's watching.
She's laughing, she's turning.
She's holding her tonic like a cross.
The room's suddenly spinning.
She walks up and asks how you are.
So you can smell her perfume.
You can see her lying naked in your arms.
And so there's a change, in your emotions.
And all these memories come rushing
like feral waves to your mind.
Of the curl of your bodies,
like two perfect circles entwined.
And you feel hopeless and homeless
and lost in the haze of the wine.
Then she leaves, with someone you don't know.
But she makes sure you saw her.
She looks right at you and bolts.
As she walks out the door,
your blood boiling
your stomach in ropes.
Oh and when your friends say,
"What is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."
Then you walk, under the streetlights.
And you're too drunk to notice,
that everyone is staring at you.
You just don't care what you look like,
the world is falling around you.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You just have to see her.
You know that she'll break you in two.