In the middle of the night Robin stirred awake to find the space next to him empty, he tried to sit up through the disorientation of waking up, "Alex?" he asked sleepily.
"Go back to sleep Richard," Red-X said softly as he picked up his mask from the floor, "I'll drop in to see you soon," he gave Robin's forehead a gentle kiss before fitting the mask securely over his face.
Red-X was just about to teleport away when Robin's voice said quietly, "I love you too."
"I know kid," Red-X murmured and pressed his belt.
When Robin awoke again he sat up slowly, without even realising it his relationship with Red-X had progressed further than he thought either of them expected it to. It wasn't that he was complaining, but it was strange to think that he could be so open with another human being. Especially one who was meant to be his nemesis.
Robin jumped when his alarm clock went off. He clicked it off quickly, but accidentally knocked a piece of paper to the floor in the process. He reached down for it and saw that it was another note, trying to stifle down the sense of anticipation he felt against his will, Robin opened it.
I'm guessing you'll keep this note as well (yes, I noticed) so I won't say your real name on here.
I'm going to be out of town on business for the next few days (yes, that kind of business and no, you're not going to be able to stop me) so the next time I'll see you will probably be this weekend.
Don't get into too much trouble without me.
I promise I'll bring you back something pretty.
p.s. you snore.
"I do not you bastard," Robin sniggered as he got out of bed. He propped it up next to the other note, before deciding against it and taking them both down. He opened his bedside drawer and fished out the Red-X folder he kept in there. He opened it to the first available plastic envelope and slid them both inside.
He slid the folder underneath his bed and then went over to his wardrobe to get dressed. As he started to mechanically put on his costume he ran over the things he needed to do. The first on the list was talk to the Titans about Starfire. He was in such a difficult situation and he wanted their advice; plus any decision made would affect them all.
He knew what decision he was probably going to have to make, but he wanted the Titans to at least to try and talk him out of it.
Robin was about to head out of the door when he realised he didn't have his mask on. Swearing softly he backtracked and found it on the floor. He picked it up and dusted the imaginary dirt off it. He was about to go into the bathroom to watch himself put it back on but decided against it, he didn't want to see Richard Grayson disappear again.
Robin headed out his bedroom door and went straight to the conference room. It was a rarely used room in the Tower that was only really useful when some of the Titans wanted to discuss something away from one of the others. He had sent Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy a message last night telling them to meet him there.
When he got to the conference room Raven was rounding the opposite corner, "I take it this is about Starfire," she said.
"Where is she?" Robin asked.
"Still in her room to my knowledge," Raven replied.
"Then yes, it is about her," Robin said shortly while entering the conference room. He took his place at the head of the table and Raven sat beside him while they waited for Cyborg and Beast Boy to show up.
Robin shifted imperceptibly in his seat, he was feeling guilty due to snapping at Raven the earlier day even though she had only wanted to help, "Look, Raven…"
"No need to apologise Robin," Raven said, "your mental squirming is enough to satisfy me."
"I know you only wanted to help, but…"
"You wanted to figure it out on your own, I get it Robin, don't worry about it," Raven said with a small, rare, smile.
"Thanks," Robin said as the door opened and Cyborg and Beast Boy walked in, both of them looking uncharacteristically serious. They sat down on the chairs on the other side of the table and Robin let out a sigh, "I'm sure you all know why we're here…"
"You've finally come to your senses and you're gonna kick her off the team?" Beast Boy asked, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed angrily.
Robin grimaced, "I know that I should be taking that course of action, but I wanted to see what you all thought first."
"Robin, it seems like you're asking for our permission and if you need it then you wholeheartedly have mine," Cyborg said, "but you should be able to make this call by yourself, especially when it directly affects you."
"I don't want to make your lives more difficult just because of her problem with me," Robin said.
"Dude, you know that if she was racist then you would kick her straight off this team," Cyborg argued back, "if she had ever made one slur about my skin then you would have been furious and she wouldn't have had time to breathe before she was out of the Tower, how is it any different when she is homophobic?"
"Because…" Robin was at a loss for words.
"Why Robin?" Cyborg said.
"Yeah, why?" Beast Boy asked, "if she had some weird aversion to mutants and deliberately put me in danger then she would be gone."
"If she was disgusted by my half demon heritage then she wouldn't be here, how is it different Robin?" Raven said quietly.
"Because it's me!" Robin said heatedly, "I should be able to take it! It doesn't matter if it's me!" He breathed heavily as the other Titans looked at each other, "I know that it doesn't make sense to you guys, but I've overcome worse things than this and I can overcome this too if I have to."
"Yes but Robin, you don't have to, we are more than willing for Starfire to be kicked off the team!" Cyborg argued, "in fact, we can't see ever being friends with her again now that we've seen how she treated you."
"It's not her fault…" Robin offered half-heartedly, "her planet…"
"…Has nothing to do with her actions on this earth," Raven interrupted, "Robin you have no excuse to hide behind, you need to fire her."
Robin looked at the three Titans; he knew they were right and so did they. He stood up and said reluctantly, "I'll call her to the main room."
When Starfire flew into the main room she saw the other four Titans standing next to the window and was immediately suspicious, "what are you doing?" she asked.
"Starfire…" Robin started weakly, but strengthened his resolve, "I'm going to ask you a simple question and I need you to answer it as honestly as you can."
Starfire gave a sharp nod and floated there with her arms crossed.
"Can you ever envision working with me properly; and that includes fighting with me side-by-side, being able to tell when I am in danger and being able to then rescue me from that danger?" Robin asked, his voice showing doomed hope.
"Never." Starfire's answer was instantaneous; "I could never save you from danger when all I wish is for your kind to be exterminated so that the rest of your race can live on in peace."
Robin sighed, "in that case, Starfire I have no choice but to remove you from the team. You are no longer a Teen Titan. You are now banned from the Tower unless you are specifically invited in by one of the rest of us. We require you to hand in your communicator and all Teen Titan technology." Robin paused and said with a voice filled with emotion, "I'm sorry Starfire."
Starfire narrowed her eyes, took out her communicator, dropped it on the floor and then stamped on it repeatedly. Robin winced with each hit the communicator took. Her eyes glowed a brilliant green and she threw a bolt at the window. It shattered and the pieces of glass fell to the ground below as she flew out of the pane-less window. She turned around in mid-air and spat at Robin before flying off into the distance.
Robin wiped the spittle off his cheek, trying to ignore the way his hand shook.
Cyborg put a consolatory hand on Robin's shoulder for a brief second before walking to the window and starting to pick up the broken glass. Raven flew out the window and down to the ground in order to find all the glass down at the bottom while Beast Boy went off to find a store that would sell glass panes as big as the window in the main room.
The rest of the day the Titans worked in silence to fix the window. When lunchtime came Beast Boy ordered in pizza, just a normal cheese and tomato to share between them. Robin had planned to work through lunch but Raven forced a slice into his hand and they sat down and watched a crappy soap show together, enjoying the occasional breeze that blew in every once in a while.
By the time the window was finished it was just beginning to get dark and Robin was exhausted.
He dragged himself to his room and collapsed on his bed, not even bothering to change out of his costume.
He fumbled under his bed blindly and took out Red-X's last note. He ran a thumb over his signature and curled up with the note held in his hand lovingly. He dropped the folder over the side of the bed carefully and commanded the lights to turn off.
"G'night Alex…" Robin whispered softly.
Robin started awake when the lights to his room were switched on suddenly. He sat upright immediately, ready for danger, but faltered when he saw Batman.
"Batman?" He said in a confused tone, while consciously tucking the note he still held in his hand underneath the covers.
"Robin…" Batman's voice faltered slightly before he produced a newspaper and laid it on the bed.
Robin looked down at it in confusion, but he quickly started to feel complete terror. The headline read Can it be true? Robin, the Boy Wonder, is gay?
He quickly scanned down the article that took up most of the front page and then the subsequent five pages. Starfire had gone to the press and told them everything she knew about Robin's homosexuality. She had deliberately gone to the least liberal and most trashy newspaper she knew of in order to tell the story in the worst light possible. Robin read the first paragraph in abject horror.
As revealed by our exclusive source, Starfire a now ex-Teen Titan, we can confirm that Robin, the Boy Wonder and alleged apprentice to the elusive Batman that roams the streets of Gotham, is gay! This astounding piece of information was revealed to Starfire when she walked in on Robin having wild and passionate sex with another man. Robin threatened her with kicking her off the team unless she kept quiet about his affair. But Starfire, concerned for her teammate and worried about what he was doing on team hours told the rest of the Titans, who are said to be disgusted. Robin, in his anger, cast her off of the team and out of the Tower.
"Oh my god…" Robin whispered. He let the newspaper drop out of his hands and he looked up at Batman, "why…" he rested his head in his hands and rocked himself from side to side, "why would she do that?"
Robin felt a hand descend on his shoulder but he continued to panic, "how can I ever go out on the streets again, I'll be a laughing stock!" The walls seemed to get closer as Robin started to shake, "Oh god, Batman, what do I do?"
Batman knelt down to Robin's height and took his hands away from his face firmly, "Robin, you need to stop panicking, Brucie wasn't able influence the newspapers before they hit the press here but he was back home. The story is told in a much better light there."
"But this is my home, this is where I live," Robin moaned with a small hitch of his breath at the end, while his heart started to beat faster.
"Robin, we're going to sort this out," Batman shook Robin's hands slightly, "it is going to be alright, you are going to be fine."
"No, no, no," Robin shook his head, with his eyes shut tightly, "how will anyone ever respect me now, all they'll see when they look at me is a fucking poof," Robin spat.
"Robin!" Batman's voice cut sharply through Robin's panic, "you need to calm down."
Robin opened his eyes slowly and saw Batman's intense gaze instantly, "everybody's going to hate me," he said in a small voice.
"Robin," Batman said quietly, before shaking Robin slightly, "do you not realise what a good opportunity you have here?"
"What?" Robin said, confused.
"Gay rights activists have been struggling to get equality laws passed through government for years now, how much help do you think it will give them for an incredibly gifted superhero to be out of the closet?" Batman said intensely, "Yes, there will be people who will hate you and hurl homophobic abuse at you, but you know that you can handle that. You are a strong young man Robin and you don't need other people's approval, especially when you're the one saving their ungrateful asses day after day."
Robin nodded his head slowly, not trusting himself to speak.
"Are you calm now?" Batman said as softly as his gruff voice would allow him.
"Yes," Robin murmured.
"Good," Batman said before standing up, "I think it's time we start planning damage control."
"Damage control?" Robin wondered out loud.
"Yes," Batman said, "we need to start planning how exactly we're going to calm the news frenzy."
Robin felt his heart beat wildly again at Batman's statement, but he made himself calm down, "how could we do that?"
Batman gave him a look, "come on Robin, how else do we detract from situations?" When Robin offered no answer Batman rolled his eyes and continued, "with lots of money and Brucie's stupid actions."
"What could Brucie do that could possibly…" Robin began in confusion before he caught on, "Oh, you can't do that!"
Batman looked at him with some amusement, "why not, it's not like Brucie cares what people think of him and it would distract the Gotham press at the very least."
"You can't pretend to be gay Bruce," Robin whispered, "you don't have to do that for me."
Batman looked pointedly at him for his slip of the tongue with his name, "we both know that I'm not obliged to do this, but I want to."
"But you're not gay…" Robin said.
"No, I'm not, but you are and I plan to look after you no matter what it takes," Batman said in a serious monotone.
Robin shifted and looked down at his hands, "thank you."
"There is nothing to thank me for," Batman said swiftly before opening Robin's bedroom door, "come on, I arranged for us to meet with Raven in a conference room."
Robin got out of bed slowly and dragged his hand through his hair. He followed Batman through the corridors and into the same room the Titans had used to discuss Starfire yesterday. Raven was already sitting in her customary seat and Batman walked over to the head of the table and sat down. Robin sat at the other end that was usually reserved for Cyborg.
"How come Beast Boy and Cyborg aren't invited?" Robin asked.
Batman gave him a cool gaze; "Raven is the only one out of the Titans who knows about your secret identity, so she is the only one who can be trusted with the information we will be discussing."
Raven nodded her head in acknowledgement of Batman's statement. Robin opened his mouth to argue that Beast Boy and Cyborg could both be trusted but was cut off by Batman.
"By Brucie 'coming out', as it were," Batman said, "it will give him the perfect opportunity to prove himself an ally to Robin by buying up any newspapers that paint him in a bad light."
Robin winced, "isn't that a little close to home?"
Batman shrugged, "perhaps, but Brucie is eccentric and stupid enough for that to not really matter; Robin is a part of Gotham and Brucie does love Gotham."
Robin sat silently, it was almost too much to take in and he wasn't quite sure what he felt. Everything had happened so quickly; Red-X kissing him, Starfire leaving, getting back in touch with Bruce, and now this. Not much scared Robin, but this terrified him.
"Are you okay Robin?" Raven asked.
Robin nodded, "I'm just tired I guess." There was a few moments of silence before Robin stood up, "I'm going to go down to the gym."
Batman nodded silently before Robin walked out of the room stiffly.
Two hours later Robin had just finished his gruelling session at the gym. He had spent most of the time running on the treadmill at a punishing speed before finishing off with his various martial arts exercises to cool down. He was going to take a break before coming down after lunch to go through the more difficult moves in detail.
He entered the main room, nodding to Raven who was reading on the couch and smiling at Cyborg and Beast Boy who were playing a violent video game, and ambled into the kitchen slowly, his mind was a lot clearer than it was before and he was grateful. Physical activity always helped Robin stop the confusing and upsetting thoughts that often plagued his mind.
Robin opened the fridge and took out one of the bottles of water he kept there; he opened it and took long gulps from it until it was half empty. He was just leaning against the counter when the door slammed open and Batman strode in angrily.
Robin turned towards him, puzzled, but froze when he saw what Batman held in his claws. Two scraps of papers that were crumpled carelessly.
"Batman, I can…"
"Explain?" Batman asked dangerously, "you can explain why you have two love notes from Red-X, the same thief who stole the suit you made in a very stupid decision?"
Robin opened his mouth to reply but found that no sound would come out. The three Titans on the couch turned to watch mentor and student, Cyborg silencing the video game with a click of a button.
"I am so very disappointed in you Robin," Batman said with barely contained anger, before he shouted, "how could you be so stupid as to tell him your real name?"
"I didn't tell him…" Robin said quietly, "he guessed by himself…"
"That is little excuse," Batman roared, "you should have been more careful, God, Robin, could you not control your teenage hormones for one second?"
"Now wait a minute," Robin started.
"No, you wait a minute, I've been patient and waited for you to catch him on your own, but now I see why you've had such trouble capturing him. We're going to have to take the thief in and lock him away in the Justice League prison to make sure he doesn't talk."
"You'll do no such thing!" Robin said in shock. Batman sent him a glare clearly meant to get him to shut up, but Robin growled, "that doesn't scare me Batman, you forget that you trained me under that glare."
"You would do well to be scared of it Robin, this is a man who has now been put in a stupid and inane situation by his stupid and inane protégé," Batman snarled, "Red-X will be locked away and you can get over this infatuation."
"Batman, it isn't a simple…" Raven started, but was cut off by Batman's growl.
"Thanks for the support Raven, but I can fight this myself," Robin said in a low tone, "Batman, if you lock Red-X away I will break in and get him out myself."
There was a deep and penetrating silence that reigned for many moments.
"That is a ridiculous thing to say," Batman said quietly.
"Perhaps," Robin looked away briefly and then looked up again to lock Batman's gaze, "but it is a promise… and you know I don't back out of promises."
"It is a foolish promise."
"It is my promise, to you."
Batman took a deep breath and steeled himself, planting each foot wide apart and crossing his arms disapprovingly, "why shouldn't I throw him in jail?"
"Because he only steals from the rich…"
"What, and gives to the poor?" Batman snorted, "pull the other one Robin."
"I wasn't going to say that," Robin glared, "he only steals from the rich, he doesn't murder or commit rape, he only steals useless trinkets."
"And that makes it any less of a crime?" Batman scowled, "that's a very dangerous topic you're treading on Robin."
"I know that it's a crime and he knows that I hate it…" Robin said.
"But he still does it?" Batman asked.
"He has his reasons," Robin said cagily, "and I can't force him to stop, it would be like caging an eagle; it would be cruel."
"But letting him steal the priceless artefacts from the owners isn't cruel?" Batman asked.
"I love him okay, Batman, I love him," Robin burst out suddenly, "I know that emotion is a little alien to you, but I really, truly, absolutely, love him."
There was another silence while the Titans looked at Robin, stunned. Batman narrowed his eyes and said very slowly, "you are such a child."
"Oh don't give me that bull-crap!" Robin shouted.
"Shut up you bastard!" Robin said angrily, "You have trained me since I was ten years old, I know how to fight and resist love and live my entire life being in fear of someone finding out my secret, I learned it all from you! But now I'm trying to build something outside of being a superhero and of course that's immoral and wrong!"
"Yes it is," Batman hissed, "you're a hero, you have responsibilities, you can't afford to have a boyfriend."
"You've changed your tune quite a bit haven't you?" Robin cried in exasperation, "you were only telling me a few days ago that my sexuality was repressed and that I needed to experiment more and now you're trying to re-repress it?"
"I said nothing about experimenting Robin, I was simply concerned about the effect that repression would have on your mind and your fighting."
"My fighting…" Robin laughed without humour, "that's what it all comes down to isn't it? I bet that's the only reason why you're trying to prevent any emotional damage from happening; you don't want to be a hero down in fighting for a hopeless war against evil."
"Robin that's not…"
"No, don't even try to deny it," Robin shouted, "when you saw my parents fall to their death you didn't see a tragedy, you saw a fucking opportunity!"
The room was silent as a dam burst within Robin.
"Without you I would have had a normal childhood, sure I wouldn't have had a 'parental figure', but I also wouldn't have gone out every night risking my life for people I didn't even know! I could have realised my sexuality sooner and spent my teenage years being promiscuous and horny without any consequence greater than an STI. I could have travelled the world without any responsibilities and met Red-X in a different way, a better way… I could have been happy." Robin finished and breathed heavily, trembling with anger and the beginnings of a deep emotional exhaustion.
Batman took a deep breath and said quietly, "are you quite done?"
Robin quite literally saw red and he launched himself at Batman with a primal shriek that echoed around the walls of the main room. He punched and kicked Batman, laughing wildly with a dark satisfaction whenever he got a hit in. But all too quickly it was over, with Batman holding Robin's arm behind his back and kneeling on top of him to stop him moving.
"Let me go you fucking bastard!" Robin shouted.
"Not until you apologise," Batman said coolly.
"No fucking way, what do I have to apologise for, you fucker."
"Well, your language is a start," Batman said, "and then maybe the mistake that is your relationship with Red-X."
"You're such a fucking hypocrite," Robin said, his breathing shallow from the weight of Batman, "You fucked Catwoman for ages while she was stealing from the rich of Gotham."
Batman twisted Robin's arm further around his back, "you will not refer to my relationship with her that way Robin, now apologise."
"Apologise." Batman twisted Robin's arm further.
"No." Robin said through gritted teeth.
"Apologise." Batman brought the arm back further until it was about to pop out the socket.
"Hey dude, he only just dislocated that arm, be careful with it," Cyborg said in worry.
"Apologise Robin," Batman hissed and made to jerk Robin's arm.
"I'm sorry!" Robin cried out in pain.
Batman rolled off Robin and got to his feet swiftly, "that's better."
Robin got up slowly and avoided Batman's cold gaze and the Titan's worried stares. He held his arm stiffly by his side and walked out of the main room in silence.
When Robin got back to his room he closed the door behind him carefully and leant against it breathing deeply. Suddenly something inside him snapped and he gave a cry of rage while overturning his desk. He kicked his bathroom door, causing it to splinter and break, and punched through the wardrobe. He pushed over his huge bookcase, snarling with satisfaction at the crash it made when it met the floor.
He looked around his room slowly. It was a scene of utter destruction; books had spilled everywhere and the covers were bent, the wardrobe had a fairy sizeable hole and his desk was lying woefully on the ground. Robin gave a cry when he saw that the photo frame holding the picture of his parents was cracked. He fell to his knees and picked it up carefully, giving a soft gasp when a part of the glass pane fell out.
He held the frame close to his heart and closed his eyes, "I'm sorry…"
Robin didn't do anything else that day; he just laid down on his bed. After about an hour he heard the Batplane start up and fly away but he didn't react.
Eventually, after about three hours of staring at the ceiling Robin's eyes drifted closed and he slept.
Robin woke up gradually the next morning, turning from side to side to try and reclaim the vestiges of sleep. He just didn't want to get out of bed and face the day. He would have to talk to the Titans for the first time since his embarrassing display of emotion yesterday and it wasn't something he was looking forward to. Not to mention the fact that the villains were probably going to take advantage of the news of Robin's homosexuality at some point in the next week. Together these two reasons just made Robin pull the covers over his head again.
As Robin seriously contemplated pretending he had the flu there was a knock at the door and Raven's voice said softly, "Robin, when you're ready I think you should come down to the main room."
Robin listened to her footsteps fade away for a few seconds before sitting up with a sigh; it wasn't like they would have believed that he would ever voluntarily take a day off anyway.
He threw back his covers reluctantly and went through his morning ritual methodically. After he had pulled his boots on Robin trudged his way down to the main room and paused outside of the doors for a moment. He didn't really want to speak to anyone, but he couldn't exactly ignore Raven's request.
Robin opened the door slowly and stepped into the room. He tried to conceal his gasp of surprise when he saw Bruce Wayne standing in the living room, his arms crossed and with Beast Boy and Cyborg both staring at him in half confusion and half awe.
"Mr Wayne? What brings you here?" Robin forced himself to say after he had gotten over the initial shock.
"Robin…" Bruce took a deep breath, "I know the only reason you never told your friends your true identity was to protect me." Cyborg gave an almost inaudible gasp in the background before Raven shot him a dirty look. "But I want that to end. Our identities are unfair burdens for both of us, but I pushed yours on you when you were young and didn't know better. I'm sorry for that, you are a brave and intelligent man who could have been anything, but you are a very good superhero. You have spent too long underneath your mask; you need friends who know Richard Wayne, not just Robin. If you spend too long under the mask you start to lose lucidity; that you've managed to keep a firm hold on your sanity so far is a true testament to your strength. Take your mask off Richard."
Robin reached up and undid his mask numbly. As he lifted it away his hands shook too much and it fell to the floor.
"I always thought you'd have brown eyes for some reason," Cyborg said quietly, with a smile at Robin.
"You look cool dude," Beast Boy added with a grin.
Robin barely acknowledged them as he turned to Bruce, "I thought you were angry…"
"I was," Bruce said softly, "but you didn't deserve my anger and you certainly did not deserve the humiliation of yesterday, I am sorry for that."
"You told me not to accept apologies if the person isn't forgiven," Robin mumbled.
"True," Bruce said with a wry smile, "you have plenty of reasons not to forgive me; I have been a terrible father to you, putting you in danger, pushing away any kind of emotional contact, trying to mould you into an even more paranoid version of me… I am glad you have the backbone to fight me on these things."
"Me too." Robin said quietly.
Bruce sighed, "Richard, I can't condone your relationship with Red-X, but I will always support you in whatever you do." Bruce stepped forwards until he was a metre away from Robin and held out his hand. "I know I don't deserve the title of 'father', but I will always love you like a son."
Robin stepped forward and grasped Bruce's outstretched hand in his own, "you have always been a father to me Bruce, we have had a difficult relationship but that doesn't take away from the fact that you took me in when I had no one else, gave me a reason and desire to live and then trained me to fulfil that desire. Without you I would probably be dead or worse, a criminal. So thank you, father."
The two men looked at each other intensely for a few seconds before they let go of the others hand at the same time. Bruce adjusted his expensive tie and said briskly, "I have to get back to Gotham, I've spent too long here as it is."
"Thanks for coming," Robin said, picking up his mask and fastening it securely.
"You should come home and see Alfred soon," Bruce said.
"I'll try and visit, but this is my home now." Robin replied.
Bruce nodded and turned to the other three Titans, "thank you for your hospitality, I won't intrude on you any longer."
"Do you want me to walk you out?" Robin asked.
"No, I'm sure I can find the exit by myself." Bruce said.
"What will you say if the newspapers ask why you were here?" Robin asked.
"Well I think it would be the perfect time to 'out' myself, don't you?" Bruce chuckled.
Robin smiled despite himself, "have a good journey home."
"Thanks." Bruce walked out of the room and the Titans watched the door swing closed slowly.
"Man, that was intense," Beast Boy said loudly.
"Are all your conversations with him like that Robin?" Cyborg asked, half bemused.
Robin shrugged, "pretty much."
"They're good entertainment," Raven said softly with a half smirk.
Robin rolled his eyes good-naturedly and sat next to her, "well we do aim to please," he picked up the remote control and turned on the TV, "so what's usually on at this time?"
"You're a freaking pansy, a fucking pillow biter!" Rancid laughed as he and Robin circled each other.
"Well what does that make you then Rancid?" Robin snarled, "to have your ass kicked time and time again by a 'pillow biter'?"
Rancid shook his head, "you're just a fag now, there's no way you could beat me!"
Robin launched himself at Rancid. The following fight was short and very sweet; especially when Robin felt Rancid's nose break underneath his fist. "Better a 'fag' than a coward," Robin growled as he handcuffed Rancid to a lamppost to await the police.
"I'm sorry but we reserve the right to refuse service to any customer," the pizza restaurant owner said stiffly.
"But why?" Robin asked, completely confused, "we've come here for the last three years now and we've never caused any trouble."
"I just do not want you here," the owner said, trying to shut the door on the Titans.
"What the hell man," Cyborg said angrily, "why can't we eat here? You've never had a problem with us before!"
"Well I didn't know about his… tendencies before." The owner said uncomfortably, gesturing at Robin.
Robin had the urge to laugh, but restrained himself, "well never mind then, you don't have to worry about me anymore," he said bitterly as he turned around and walked away.
"That man keeps looking at me," Robin muttered to Raven, "do you think he's another 'hater'?"
"Not everyone is out to get you," she replied calmly as they sat together on the park bench, "maybe he just admires you."
"Nobody admires me at the moment," Robin said darkly.
At that moment the man in question ambled over nervously, "Uh, Mr Robin sir?"
"It's just Robin," Robin said with a forced smile.
"I, uh, well what I want to say is…" The man played nervously with the edge of his shirt, "I would just like to, um…"
"Yes?" Robin said, his voice bordering on impatient, "if you're going to curse at me could you get on with it, I want to at least try to enjoy the rest of the afternoon."
The man looked horrified, "oh, no, I wasn't going to curse at you, I wanted to thank you!"
"Thank me?" Robin asked in surprise.
"Yes, thanks to you, I had the courage to come out to my friends and family, I don't know how long it would have been if you hadn't inspired me to take a risk and tell them!" The man said, wringing his hands, "I'm just very grateful to you!"
"Oh, well, you're welcome I suppose," Robin said, feeling speechless.
Robin sat on the edge of his bed with a groan. It had been a hard week. While there had been some positive moments; an entire gay club had applauded him after he'd tied up the thief who had stolen some expensive equipment from them, there had been at least ten horrible moments to overcast them. A policeman who had once looked at him with admiration now talked to him in quiet clipped tones, after saving a mother's baby she had walked away without a word of thanks, school kids now looked at him with expressions of fear and disgust. The worst experience by far had been when a group of teenagers threw some balloons filled with pink paint at him. He had been chasing someone through a busy street when it had happened and it had caused him to trip, fall over and skid along the pavement for six metres. The paint had stung his eyes too badly for him to be able to open them, so he'd had to find a quiet spot and call Raven for her to pick him up. When tears had fallen from his eyes he claimed his eyes were trying to dilute the paint. Raven had just nodded sympathetically.
Robin laid back on his bed and undid his mask with one hand. He had gotten in the habit of taking it off every night now. He felt freer in some way without its responsibilities weighing him down and it definitely helped him sleep better.
Just then there was a crash from within his room. Robin shot up and saw Red-X sitting sheepishly on his overturned chair, "I must not have been concentrating," he said with an embarrassed laugh.
"Alex…" Robin whispered, more to himself than Red-X.
Red-X got up and took his mask off straight away; there was no smaller one underneath, "I'm sorry I wasn't here at the start of the week," he drew Robin into a tight embrace, "I was in a non-english speaking country and only found out about this entire shit heap of a situation when I got back home, are you okay?" Red-X's tone was filled with emotion and Robin couldn't help a small smile as he buried his nose in Red-X's hair. It smelled of the late night air.
"I'm okay," Robin said slowly, "it's been a definite bitch of a week though."
"I can imagine," Red-X murmured, still holding Robin close, "I can't see daddy Bats taking it well."
"He came around…" Robin muttered, feeling the exhaustion of the week set in. He withdrew reluctantly from Red-X's embrace and led them both to his bed.
"Only been in a room one minute and already somebody wants to have sex with me," Red-X smirked, "personal record."
Robin laughed, "I'm sure." He took off his costume, stripping down to his boxers, and then did the same to Red-X. Red-X stood silently throughout it, just lifting his feet when Robin told him to. When they were both standing in their boxers Robin brought his hands up slowly and rested them on Red-X's shoulders, "I love you."
"I love you too," Red-X whispered, kissing Robin once on the forehead, once on his nose and then finally on his mouth.
Robin drew away and took Red-X's hand. He guided him gently onto his bed and they shed the last of their clothing together. Then they made love. It wasn't at all like the rough, animalistic sex Robin had been expecting. The loud groans and harsh words could come later, but for now all they needed was the closeness and the intimacy of feeling another body moving in a perfect rhythm with yours. When they finished Red-X held Robin close in his arms and they fell asleep together.
Robin opened his eyes slowly to see two pairs of intense brown eyes staring back at him. "Good morning?" he said amusedly, "what are you looking at?"
"Something very sexy," Red-X replied with a smirk.
"Well, true as that may be, does that really warrant staring at me for fifteen minutes?" Robin raised an eyebrow with a smile.
"You knew?" Red-X said, a very faint blush developing across his cheeks.
"Of course I didn't," Robin laughed, "I only just woke up, but thanks for confirming my suspicions."
Red-X groaned, "I forgot that the same sexy person I'm sharing a bed with is also an unashamedly good hero, I'll need to watch out for that."
"Just as I should probably watch out for my computer collection when you're around," Robin smirked.
Red-X looked insulted for all of a second before he laughed, "ah, you're gonna be good for me kid, I've needed someone to fight with."
"Is that what the kids are calling sex these days?" Robin asked dryly.
Red-X rolled himself on top of Robin with a chuckle, "okay smart ass…"
"Sweet ass you mean," Robin corrected.
"Fine," Red-X rolled his eyes laughing, "sweet ass, lets see how clever your retorts are after I've kissed all the sense out of you."
"With your morning breath?" Robin asked, wrinkling his nose with a smile, "I think I'd have passed out from the fumes before becoming senseless putty in your hands."
"I can make you into putty?" Red-X asked with a grin.
"Trust you to always find the compliment in an insult," Robin muttered.
"It's a gift," Red-X grinned before rolling off of Robin, "actually, speaking of gifts, I have one for you."
"Is it mints?" Robin asked, "'cause if so, I reckon you should save one for yourself."
"Very funny," Red-X said sarcastically while leaning over the side of the bed and rooting through his belt, "but it's a little more expensive than that…"
"Well, I am worth it I suppose," Robin joked while leaning on his side.
"Oh definitely," Red-X paused in his search to give Robin a gaudy wink, "ah, here it is." Red-X rolled over and gave Robin a small box wrapped in green wrapping paper with a robin pattern.
Robin snorted, "you wrapped it in Christmas paper?"
"Well I thought it was appropriate…" Red-X said unashamedly, "y'know, with all the robins."
Robin shook his head with restrained laughter and unwrapped it delicately. He unravelled the last of the paper and saw that the box underneath was black and tasteful, "did the shop assistant pick out the box?" he asked innocently.
"Yeah she did, how come?" Red-X asked.
"No reason," Robin smirked before opening the box. He gave a small gasp and picked up the item inside in wonder, "how did you find them?"
"It took me quite a while," Red-X admitted, "but it was worth it for you."
Inside the box were two scuffed and bent wedding rings. Both were made of a low carat gold and were clear of any jewels. On the inside of each ring the words "forever yours" were engraved.
"My parent's wedding rings…" Robin breathed, "I never thought I'd see them again…"
"I've been looking for them for quite a while, I thought that it was strange you had nothing of your parents other than that picture so I looked into it; it was terrible that their possessions were withheld as evidence before being 'lost'."
Robin nodded, "I knew that the policeman must have stolen them, but I didn't say anything to Bruce because he had done so much for me already."
"I followed an almost non-existent trail which finally lead me to Austria, so I left as early as I could to find the dodgy shopkeeper that was selling them." Red-X said, putting his arm around Robin casually.
Robin ran his finger carefully over each ring before turning to Red-X, "thank you," he said, with as much emotion poured into those two words as he could possibly give, "this means more to me than you could possibly know."
"You're welcome," Red-X smiled gently and kissed Robin on the lips.
Robin put the hand that wasn't holding the rings on the back of Red-X's neck and drew him closer. He didn't know whether this relationship with Alex would work, he didn't know whether they would ever be able to ignore the fact that one of them was a thief and the other one caught thieves for a living, he didn't know whether the spark between them would just simply fizzle out in a few weeks. But Richard knew one thing; he wanted to find out.