Heapings of apologies for the long delay. I've been working tirelessly (when I have had the chance in my busy life) on another story that I wanted to finish before I posted this story's last chapter. Yep, you heard it right: this is the last chapter, so I hope you enjoy it, and overall enjoyed the story. It's been a long time in coming, but Darkness Eclipses the Light has reached the end.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to maybe start another RobRae or TT project sometime in the future. Thanks for all the comments, likes and those who have read this and kept up with it. I appreciate it.
Now, on to the story!
Chapter 28: Gotham Knights
The hour was later, darkness having set in as Robin watched the road that lay ahead. The engine hummed, a noise that would usually be muffled under the sounds of the daytime traffic. It was nighttime—the traffic on the road was sparse. The only noises Robin had to rely on at that hour was that humming of the engine, the occasional vehicle passing by, the light noise of music coming from the radio, and the light steady breathing rhythms from Raven sleeping in the back seat.
She had been silent in slumber for a couple hours; he had relied on his own thoughts and recollections to keep him busy as he continued driving on into the depths of night.
As he drove, he recalled their first visit with his mentor just after Raven's recovery and the rest of the team had settled in. His mentor had still at that point remained unconscious; his injuries had been severe enough where the doctors had had to induce him into a coma until the pain he was in had healed up enough to be tolerable. It was just about up until they made that visit that his mentor was well enough to be conscious.
He remembered that he and Raven had been waiting in the waiting area, standing close to one another as they wait to be shown in. While they had been waiting, she had been giving him reassurances that things were going to brighten up.
I guess I wasn't as hopeful as she was, He thought to himself as he watched the road. Maybe I should've been—
I thought I should inform you that your father is conscious. Both had moved away from each other in alarm as they collected themselves and noticed one of the nursing assistants was standing there—had been the one to speak and startle them.
He's—alert? He recalled the shock in his voice during that moment—the shock that registered on Raven's face when he had turned to face her.
Yes. The nurse assistant confirmed optimistically. He's very much alert—and he's been asking for you.
Does he want to see me now? He remembered exclaiming, and getting a firm nod in return. The nursing assistant had smiled reassuringly, given a few words and gestures to them both—and led them back into the room they had just departed not long before that.
The memory of them reaching that doorway and passing through it to reveal the fact that his mentor was in fact alert had played for him in slow motion as he was recalling it in detail; up until the moment his eyes had landed on the bruised yet expressive face of his mentor it seemed as if real-time was deliberately trying to be sluggish.
Robin recalled that as he and Raven stood there in the presence of his newly alert mentor that he'd been nervous, as the prolonged silence had set in for an unusually extended period of time.
Is it okay to speak freely in front of the girl with you, Richard? Bruce had finally addressed him. He remembered turning his attention towards that girl—Raven—before turning it back to Bruce.
Raven's trustworthy—she's a close friend, and one of my teammates, he'd assured him. Bruce seemed to loosen some of his tension at that assurance.
Can you tell me what happened—what exactly led me to being this injured in the first place? Bruce had inquired. Robin at first hadn't known where to even start explaining. Before he could bother to open his mouth to utter a reply, Raven was already explaining everything to him.
After she finished—Bruce had admitted that he didn't recall much about what had happened between the time he was abducted and when he woke up, Robin observed to himselfas he watched the quiet highway ahead of him. Pretty much all he could say was—'The only thing I really recall before everything went black was being in pain and completely shrouded in shadows'.
Robin remembered distinctly how Bruce had shown how grateful he was to Raven after he'd made note to his mentor that she had healed him up enough to save his life while Robin had been out calling for help when Bruce had been discovered in the way he was known to show it. Raven had acknowledged her efforts—but had insisted that she didn't want to make a big deal out of it.
Whether or not she wanted to be acknowledged for her efforts—I won't forget what she did for him anytime soon, Robin thought to himself as he looked back at her in the mirror—sleeping peacefully.
It'll probably be a while before you'll be fully recovered, Robin remember saying to him. Bruce apparently had been all too aware of that fact—even then.
The nurse informed me when I came to about the extent of my injuries, Bruce had noted. Robin recalled his expression being serious and otherwise mostly nondescript. I know there have been a few bone fractures that will take time to heal, torn and stretched tendons and ligaments that I'll have to go through physical therapy to retrain, and a period of reconditioning before I can be up to where I need to be in order to return to my work. That could take matter of months—I realize that.
As the night darkened highway loomed before him, Robin recalled Bruce asking him to watch over the city until he was well enough to tend to it himself. Robin had accepted the responsibility from him without question that day.
Still weary with injury, Bruce had needed some time to rest after only a short visit. As Robin presently kept an eye on the road, he remembered he and Raven leaving the room to give his mentor some peace and quiet, her asking about the Dark Knight's request, and the answer he had to give her.
It's my duty to fill in for him while he's incapacitated. Raven hadn't questioned him about it; she seemed to have gotten it then—understood it without a doubt.
She only answered with a simple reply. She had looked at him; her answer already clear in her eyes before she even spoke the words—I understand.
It was only after they had left the city and returned home did she say anything more about it.
An evergreen sign off to the side read that there was an exit only a few more miles down the road. He looked to the fuel gauge and noticed the needle was pointing towards empty.
It's probably a good time to stretch anyways, he told himself. He looked in the mirror aimed towards the backseat—noticing that the girl back there was still fast asleep.
Rae—I thought you were heading off to bed. He vividly remembered opening the door to his bedroom to see her waiting there. Is something up?
I wanted to speak with you about a couple things, Raven had told him. Insistently, she pointed inwardly into his room through the door. Can I come in?
He recalled nodding, and then showing her in. The first words that spilled from her lips he remembered distinctly—almost like he was reliving them just the same as the first time he'd witnessed hearing them—
If you're going to be going back to Gotham to fill in for Bruce—I will be going with you, she had said.
Gotham can get pretty dangerous—are you certain it wouldn't be better if you stayed here and I go? The expression on Raven's face when he'd told her that had been purely questioning—troubled.
If you have one of those possessive attacks while you're on the patrol—and I'm not there to reverse the effect—Robin, you wouldn't be doing Bruce any favors if you ended up possessed by Slade and did the polar opposite of what you were set to do in Gotham. Her eyes—he remembered Raven's eyes reflecting more concern within them than he could've recalled anytime before. She'd stood there, watching him with those concerned eyes—Plus, I wouldn't be able to relax if I have to worry about whether that might happen to you or not.
He couldn't recall why he'd been so protective of her at the time when he knew well enough she could take care of herself. As he remembered her looking at him—and himself looking back at her—he recalled his feeling of reluctance toward her going along, her possibly getting hurt. It was when her small palm had come to rest gingerly at the side of his face did those senses start to feel numbed.
Rae—he recalled pausing as he looked at her, the guilt welling within him at trying to deny her the opportunity to accompany him. Her other palm had managed to find itself on the opposite side of his face from her other palm. He had let a gasp escape—followed up with a sigh and the sense of crumbling to giving in. You're right—it might be better if you came along with me when I leave again for Gotham.
You really should be worried about yourself—and not me. Raven had gazed up at him as she spoke, eyes serious and direct. I can take care of myself—you should know that by now.
I know that you can. She had smiled contentedly when he'd spoken that.
One mile to the next exit—
That night—she hadn't just shown up to talk to me about returning to Gotham, he noted to himself as he thought about that night. Whether she'd planned it that way from the beginning or not—it wasn't that simple.
Do you think I could—stay here with you tonight? He remembered he hadn't been prepared to hear that question from her. He'd visibly jerked enough to make her react as well—pulling herself back away from him some. He had been at a loss for words for several excruciatingly long moments; the resulting tension in the air could have been sliced through with a knife.
After the tension had almost become too much to bear, he finally had given her an answer—yes. As he thought more about that evening he checked the mirror again to see her asleep—so peacefully nestled in slumber in her makeshift bed.
So beautifully peaceful—
We'll be reaching the fueling station in a little while, he noted to himselfas he continued to recall what had happened beyond that yes.
Flash—she was watching him with a contented gaze, suspended in time—
Flash—his hand had nestled itself against her jaw line—
Flash—her hands were back up to the sides of his face, while his had relocated to her waist—
Flash—he was slowly lowering his face to meet with hers—
Flash—the sensation of the contact made as the space between them had become nonexistent—
Flash—the realization that neither one of them wanted for it to remain simple, innocent—
He ran it through his memory as the illumination against the night of the signs of civilization drew near. He recalled how they'd taken to his bed, how things had developed from there. He recalled then how exhausted she'd been—how she'd almost instantly fallen asleep right beside him. He remembered still being alert while she'd fallen into slumber—how he'd watched her as she drew in each breath softly and evenly. Her hair had been splayed out on the pillow below her resting her head, the moonlight highlighting the silhouette of her face, her shoulder—
She stirred as he pulled into the drive of the gas station.
"How long have we been on the road?" Raven groggy voice spoke up from the back. As he pulled the car up to the pump, Robin looked back at her.
"Several hours," Robin replied. "Are you feeling refreshed—or still tired?"
"I think I've had enough sleep for now." Raven reclined into a sitting position. "Are we parked for the time being?"
"Yeah—we're running on empty, so I have to refuel the tank," Robin informed her. "If you need anything—food, drink, a walk—now would be the time to get it."
"Where are we exactly?" Raven asked, reaching for the latch to open the door nearest to her.
"We're just on the other side of the mountain range," Robin informed her. "So—did you need anything from the convenience store while we're here?"
"Something to keep the mind occupied, and something to tide me over until we come across something more sustainable down the way," Raven replied. "Want me to grab you something while I'm in there?"
"I'd love it if you grabbed something caffeinated for me—and whatever they have on heated up—a burger, slice of pizza—something like that. You know what I like."
"Yes, I do," Raven replied. "I'll be back in a few." She entered the near vacant convenient store while he refueled the T-Car. He watched her all the while
When she had returned to the car, she had insisted on getting behind the wheel—insisting he needed to take some time to rest.
I can take it from here. Robin couldn't protest, he knew it; when Raven had a point—he just couldn't argue it.
He decided to make the trip in the front passenger seat, not needing to take a nap in the back like she had during most of the trip. He was too awake and alert to rest up; he instead kept his eyes on the road and a conversation with her.
"Are you sure you're alert enough to drive at this hour?" Robin asked her. She had been behind the wheel only a few miles from the exit. She turned her attention partially towards him, keeping most of it focused on the road.
"I got in a good several hours of rest, Robin," Raven told him. "I should be fine."
"Do you know the direction we're heading—the roads we need to take?" Robin asked her.
"We've made this trip a few times before," Raven told him. "I've got a pretty decent memory—I should be able to remember where we need to go. Why do you need to question it?"
"No reason, I apologize for being so pushy," Robin replied. He silently watched the darkened landscape pass the by on the highway side. She kept her eyes on the road.
A few hours passed; the hour of sunrise was growing near. The horizon was starting to gain some definition of color and light in the distance. They were in the middle of a long stretch of rural highway, signs of civilization kept at a near minimum. There were only a few signs and vehicles passing them by from either side—coming or going—that spoke of life outside the type of the rural setting.
Off to the side of the highway lay an exit to a scenic overlook. Raven took him by surprise when she made a turn towards the exit at the last minute.
"Why are you pulling off here?" Robin exclaimed at her. "We don't really have time to go sightseeing."
"I'm not doing this for the sights, Robin," Raven calmly told him. "It's for something more serious." She didn't explain it past that—and he didn't take the opportunity to question it further.
He at first had suspected that she'd made the turn for some form of romantic venture, but he would soon discover that wasn't so. She parked the T-Car in a vacant spot—a parking lot that was filled with vacant spots. They were the only two souls present at that hour on that side of the road scenic overlook, which at the time they pulled in he almost took for granted. He would come to be thankful for that fact not too long after—and her efforts in parking them there for that matter.
He followed her out and away from the vehicle as she made her way towards the point of the scenic overlook. She perched herself on the rocky platform overlooking the scenery that stretched out before them. The sky in the distance was etched with the outlines of amber and rouge, as the sun's efforts to light the horizon grew stronger. He watched her hair whip around her face as she kept her eyes focused on the rising sun. Her face was out of view of his—even as he came to join her.
"Why did you bring us here?" Robin asked her. She didn't speak; she kept her focus on the horizons ahead of her. "Rae? Raven—can you answer me?"
"You'll learn why in a few moments." Raven didn't turn to him as she spoke; she kept her face turned away. He was about to question what she meant when he felt something lingering over him—darkening him from within as it attempted to access him and take control. As he felt the dread of the darkened essence trying to overtake him—she finally turned to him, tears caught in her eyes.
She grasped his hands in hers and bowed her head, leaning her forehead up against his with her eyes closed as she was caught up in a depth of concentration. All the while he felt the lingering darkness on his soul retreating, as she continued to be caught in concentration. Once the darkness was completely dispelled from his mind, body and soul, she stilled her concentration and let up her head to look up at him.
"He was going to make another attempt at controlling you, and—I couldn't have that," Raven spoke softly as she looked at him. "Especially if you were behind the wheel."
"Rae—how did you even know?" Robin exclaimed as he watched her, as the sun was rising in the distance. "How were you able to figure when Slade would make his next strike—that far in advance?"
"I just recently have found…that I can," Raven replied. "Now do you understand why I took the wheel—why I chose to pull over to this scenic outlook when I did?"
"Yeah—I do now Rae," Robin stated. "I'm thankful for you doing that for me."
"Can we take a moment—to just…take in the view while you fully recover?" Raven asked him. "I—I don't think it's quite safe to say yet that he's been pushed out completely just yet."
"I guess right now would be a good time for a break," Robin told her. "We can stand here and watch the sun rise until you feel its safe to get back on the road again."
"Thank you, Robin." She smiled softly and genuinely, lit brilliantly by the amber rays of the uprising sun. It was at that moment he really understood just how he really felt about her. He knew it wasn't just a might, or about—he knew that he fully was. As he looked at her—he knew that he completely was.
"Rae—I don't think that I might just love you—I know that I love you," Robin told her as he watched her on that silent outlook—just the two of them. He watched as the wind whipped her hear around her face—the new day's light highlighting it with shades of amber ever so slightly. She spoke not a word, showed not a shift in her expression; she just—kept watching him.
"Robin—I've known all along that you love me," Raven told him. "Even though you didn't completely come out and say it." She bowed her head for a moment as she took his hands in her grasp again. She then looked up at him again. "Remember—I can sense things other people aren't able to."
"I didn't forget—I just figure it's better to validate it vocally," Robin told her. At that hour—even with the brilliant sunrise presenting itself on the horizon before them—it wasn't that view that caught his awareness. For all he cared—it could still be the dead of night and his focus would be centered on one sight—her.
He always loved a good sunrise, but right at that moment—he was only aware of something he loved more. The girl who stood before him—whose focus was much like his, for many of the same reasons.
Ignoring the rising sun, he brought her to him, with her being the only focus of his in the world—for that sunlit moment in time, free of shadows & darkness