Robin gave it four days, before he just couldn't take it anymore.
He needed an answer; he needed to know if Beastboy was going to give him an answer, and what that answer was going to be. The green teen was walking around as if Robin wasn't slowly torturing himself with this, and the Boy Wonder was starting to despair. So maybe he hadn't actually said the words, but he had sort of asked Beastboy out, hadn't he? And his teammate had said he would think of something for them to do together, somewhere for them to go, hadn't he?
So what was the freaking hold up already?
At least Robin couldn't say that Beastboy was totally blind to his feelings. The little elf had been pretty awkward around him ever since he had given him that peck on the forehead, but then, that had been a sleepless night for both of them. Now Beastboy blushed and squeaked and stammered whenever Robin spoke to him, which kind of made the Titan leader want to stop doing it. He would watch as Beastboy giggled and chatted with the others, but as soon as Robin approached him, the boy froze up. Robin was starting to think maybe he had made a big mistake by doing what he did.
Which was why he needed an answer. He would back off if he needed to – he could get over this – but he needed to know for sure that Beastboy didn't feel anything for him, that he didn't share Robin's feelings of wanting to be... closer.
Robin was going over all of this in his head for the umpteenth time, sitting slouched in his armchair, watching as Beastboy and Starfire co-operated in the kitchen. They were making something that only the two of them would possibly eat, an unholy mixture of Beastboy's vegetarian collection and Starfire's alien repertoire. The boy was so excited and carefree as he judged Starfire's strange spotty gourd to be close enough to an eggplant to be allowed in their concoction, while Starfire effused over how much the green teen's Bean Surprise resembled a delicacy served on the moon of someplace.
Robin watched, his nerves tight like piano-wire with jealousy, one knee bouncing nervously and one finger scratching subconsciously at the armrest. It just wasn't fair. What had he done wrong? He hadn't done anything. He hadn't pushed the boy down or forced a kiss on him, which he could have, so why was he being ignored and everyone else favoured? Starfire didn't care about Beastboy the way Robin did. She didn't think he was almost impossibly cute, to the point that she couldn't take her eyes off him. Her heart didn't beat any faster and her skin didn't tingle because of the little elf. She hadn't gone to his room at night and sat on his bed and listened to him mumble shyly into his knees. She hadn't made him blush, or seen his face turned upwards for a kiss. She didn't have those moments, Robin did, so why was Beastboy being so friendly?
"Oh! We must include a Trifilian corbara!" Starfire cried, inspired. "I shall fetch it from my quarters!" She flew quickly from the room.
Robin leapt up, seizing the opportunity. He just couldn't take it anymore. If Beastboy wanted to reject him, he was going to have to say the words to Robin's face.
"Beastboy!" Robin said as he marched across the room. The green teen flinched and his pointy ears flattened protectively against his head. He didn't turn around, just kept stirring whatever was in that pot, though with noticeably less enthusiasm.
Not exactly the reaction Robin wanted, but not wholly unexpected at this point. He made a conscious effort to modify his voice, make it calmer and softer, more approachable. He came up behind his teammate and put his hand on the counter beside him, keeping his voice low as this was going to be a private conversation.
"Have you thought about what I said?" he murmured quietly, flinching at the authoritarian tone. He couldn't help it; he was a leader, it came out when he was nervous, but he knew that in this situation it wouldn't help him.
"A-About what?" Beastboy squeaked in reply, still staring determinedly into the pot.
"About where we might go?" The Boy Wonder dropped to a whisper. "Look, if you don't want to, just tell me, because this waiting is killing me. I won't be mad."
Cyborg broke in. "The carnival is in town. We could all go," he said. His voice was flat and conversational, as if he was merely thinking out loud about a topic that accidentally matched that of Robin and Beastboy's discussion. Robin looked at him for any sign the oldest Titan knew what was going on between his teammates; but Cyborg kept his focus on his video game. Robin wasn't fooled though – he didn't believe in that much of a coincidence.
"Carnival?" asked Starfire, joining in as she returned with something in her arms that looked alive if not sentient. "What a wondrous idea! We are having much fun this summer! I like it!"
"Beastboy? Robin?" Cyborg asked, still not looking over his shoulder.
Robin was annoyed at having his moment hijacked and at being shanghaied into someone else's idea; the entire point after all was for Beastboy to pick the place to make up for the debacle at the zoo. But if that was where the green boy wanted to go, Robin would go too. "Beastboy?" he asked.
For the first time, Beastboy glanced at Robin's face, making eye-contact for the briefest of instants before shuffling away. "Er, yeah, the carnival. Good idea. Sounds nice. Starfire, why don't you take over here for a second, I have to, er, I have to... yeah." And with that he made a break for the doors and disappeared, leaving Robin feeling like he hadn't resolved a thing.
As he fled to his room, Beastboy was muttering to himself. "Stupid, stupid! Why can't I just act normal?"
He knew why, actually. It was because whenever the Titan leader got close to him, and his scent flavoured the air Beastboy was breathing, and he looked at him, and talked to him... Beastboy just went all to pieces. He couldn't help but remember the fleeting press of the older boy's lips on his forehead, the gentle tug on the back of his neck as gloved fingers brought him closer, the tickle of his cape falling onto his thigh... Beastboy felt his face heat up just thinking about it. And how could he be expected to hold a conversation when he was thinking those things? He couldn't. Not when he was too fascinated by the movement of Robin's lips as he talked to pay attention to the actual words they were saying.
And when all this was in his head, the idea of going on a, a date with Robin was just impossible! He couldn't do it! Unless getting drooled on was the Boy Wonder's idea of a good time, it would be a complete disaster! Beastboy wouldn't be able to talk or be even marginally charming in any kind of way; hell, it would be a miracle if he even managed to control his body, which seemed to have developed a mind of its own. Beastboy wouldn't put it past his hands to find their way onto the Titan leader somehow in a moment of distraction. It would be a complete and utter, humiliating failure!
Beastboy reached his room and trudged inside as the door slid out of his way. He flopped onto his bed and reached for Mr Monkey, thoroughly depressed. Why did he have to be such a failure? Other people managed dating alright. Normal people pulled it off without becoming abnormally obsessed with every little thing about the other person, so why couldn't he?
The little elf buried his face in Mr Monkey's rather coarse belly and whined in sad frustration. And now they were going to the carnival. The same carnival they had gone to last year, the year when Robin and Starfire had gone off all alone on the Ferris wheel together. Blackfire and those alien drones had broken that little party up, but that wasn't the point. Beastboy wasn't a beautiful girl, he was a gangly, awkward, green, animal boy with pointy teeth and matching ears. The idea of him and Robin sharing a romantic Ferris wheel ride together was just... ridiculous. It was like a joke or something, and one Beastboy didn't find funny.
Beastboy whined again into his cuddly friend. This was going to be the last date Robin ever asked him on, he was sure. As soon as the Boy Wonder got to compare Beastboy with the hot alien he had spent last year's carnival with, he would be disgusted and wonder what he had ever seen in the youngest Titan. Then everything would go back to how it had been before. That was probably best for the team, even if it would hurt for a while.
The clanging sounds and flashing lights of the carnival assaulted them as the Titans entered its gates. Starfire flew gleefully ahead, doing little loops and twirls in the air. Cyborg was second, cracking his knuckles in anticipation of every test of strength he could find. Raven drifted after, predictably unimpressed by the whole thing. Finally, deliberately bringing up the rear, Robin and Beastboy walked awkwardly side by side.
Robin was glad of a new opportunity to try to understand what was going on with his teammate, but he had yet to say anything as he could tell something was bothering Beastboy. The green teen had grown more and more depressed since they had left the Tower, which was weird because Beastboy normally loved carnivals, or anything with loud noises, flashing lights, and games. The Boy Wonder could only assume Beastboy's depression was because the young Titan didn't want to be there with him, and that thought made Robin equally depressed.
Cyborg quickly found what he was looking for and disappeared, while Raven was hauled off to be Starfire's companion as the Tamaranian spotted a candyfloss stand. This left the boys alone.
Robin decided to speak before an awkward silence could set in, and he really didn't feel like torturing himself by pretending not to have noticed Beastboy's mood and forcing himself to act cheery.
"Beastboy, what's wrong? You normally like carnivals," Robin asked, a hint of begging in his voice.
The green teen looked up in alarm. "Oh, uh, yeah, I do. I love them," he replied hastily.
"You're not acting like it. You haven't said a word since we left the Tower," Robin argued.
"I'm not... feeling well," Beastboy lied.
Robin looked at him sceptically. He wanted to get to the bottom of this. "You look fine to me. What's really bothering you? Please just tell me." Beastboy looked like he was trying to think of another lie, so Robin sighed and pulled them into a secluded hollow between two stalls. "If... If it's what I said the other night, the way I acted, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, I just- Look, forget I did anything, okay? If you don't... feel that way... about me, then I understand. We'll just be friends."
Beastboy looked up in alarm. "Are you dumping me?" he blurted out. A shocked silence erupted between them for a heartbeat, before Beastboy realised what he'd said. Then the green teen's face, already a disco of funky colours as the bulbs around them flashed, darkened dramatically as he blushed like crazy. "I mean- I didn't mean- Oh man, I should just-"
The elf was about to bolt, so Robin quickly grabbed him and held him in place. "Beastboy..." He racked his brain for something to say, but not for the first time his teammate had rendered him speechless. "Why did you say that?"
"I - I dunno, I – Er..." Beastboy stammered and tried to pull away but Robin wouldn't let him go, not when he felt that he was finally close to getting his answer.
"Do you like me?" The Boy Wonder put his hand against his teammate's cheek and pulled his green gaze up to look through his mask, but Beastboy resisted. "Look, you might as well just tell me," Robin pressed. "I can take it, good or bad, but I need to know. I've been killing myself with this and I can't take it anymore. If you'd rather I just left you alone, tell me and I will. I won't hold it against you. But if you... like me... the way I like you..." Robin trailed off, running out of words as stared down at Beastboy's sad green eyes. He couldn't think how or why everything he did seem to make the younger boy so depressed. Beastboy must really not like him, he thought to himself, and with all these confessions, Robin concluded he was just embarrassing himself as he chased his friend away.
Beastboy blinked, and pulled his face out of Robin's grasp, dropping his eyes again. His ears flopped sadly, twitching every now and then. Robin forced his hand back to his side, curling it into a fist to make sure it stayed there, and pressed his lips together to give his teammate a chance to speak.
"Why do you like me?" the green teen mumbled eventually, so quietly Robin almost didn't catch it over the jangling din of the surrounding games. "Why do you want to hang out with me? I mean, I'm not cool, I'm not... good-looking, or charming, or anything. I don't know how to... do... stuff... I only ever had one girlfriend and looked how that turned out! I'm a total failure, Robin, I'm nothing like you."
Robin's hands jumped to grab Beastboy's shoulders and maybe pull him into a hug, but he stopped them in mid-air. As much as he longed to comfort the boy and kiss him for however long it took until those ideas were gone and he believed what Robin was saying, he knew he shouldn't. He should give Beastboy space, listen to him, and engage with the emotions he was working through.
But he couldn't stop himself entirely. "Do you know how much I want to kiss you right now?" he said seriously. "I wouldn't call that a total failure." Beastboy looked up at him in surprise. Robin made a conscious effort to meet Beastboy's eyes so that what he said next wouldn't be doubted. "I like you because you're funny, and really sweet, and very cute. You make me laugh, and want to make you laugh. You make me think I'm going crazy, and do things I normally wouldn't do. Other than that," Robin shrugged. "I don't know, I just like you."
For a long time, Beastboy just stared at him, his expression unchanging. Robin started to wonder if he'd gone too far – what boy likes to be called cute, after all? - and his heart sped up and he began to sweat as a result. He really wished Beastboy would just say something.
Then, finally, relief. "You think I'm funny?" Beastboy squeaked hopefully.
The breath Robin had been holding blew out of him in a laugh. "When you're not trying to be," he qualified. "You still haven't given me your answer, though," he pressed. "About how you feel about me?"
Robin's expression was suddenly serious and, to be honest, a little needy. Beastboy swallowed and shuffled his feet a little bit. He was no good at this heavy stuff, he was much more comfortable just joking around. But Robin had been honest with him, a little scarily so in fact, so being honest in return was the least he could do to pay him back.
He cleared his throat, looking at his feet. "Actually, I'm, er... kind of... a little... obsessed," he managed to get out, glancing out from under his lashes at Robin who let a crooked grin split his expression in response.
"Well, it's a start," he teased. Smiling then for real, he reached for Beastboy's hand. "C'mon, let's go have some fun. Unless you'd rather stay here?"
Beastboy flushed dark green at the possibilities that flooded his imagination, and shook his head, allowing himself to be led out from between the stalls. He was unnaturally aware of the press of Robin's fingers against his own, even through two layers of gloves.
The rest of the evening, Beastboy wasn't quite able to relax completely, but he was able to function almost like normal. They each had several goes at their favourite games, winning some and losing others. When Beastboy had trouble with his aim, Robin stepped close behind him to give pointers, which did and didn't help, really. Then, when Robin's candyfloss blew into his hair, Beastboy laughed and bought him another one. They ran into the others several times, and it looked like everyone was having fun, but they didn't stay together - they were having too much fun just the two of them.
Beastboy wanted to go and see the show in the circus tent, but Robin held back. When he really couldn't convince the older boy, Beastboy looked at him and said, amazed, "Are you afraid of clowns?"
Robin looked awkward. "Er... Yeah, hate them. Can't stand 'em," he said, not totally convincingly. "You got me."
But Beastboy bought it. "Oh, come on, they're not so bad! I'll protect you," he said, indicating a flexed bicep.
Robin didn't laugh. "No, really, Beastboy, I can't."
Beastboy looked at his leader's face and saw that it was serious. He stopped trying to draw them towards the big tent. "Okay, no problem," he said, wondering at Robin's reaction. He moved to stand next to the older boy, the flow of their evening broken somewhat. To recover it, the Boy Wonder indicated in the opposite direction.
"How about a ride on the Ferris wheel?" he suggested with a smile he had to force a little to shake off his memories.
Beastboy gulped as he looked at the huge machine down the row of stalls, his earlier insecurities about it flooding back. But they were having a good time, and after everything that had been said in that dark little nook, how could he say no? Maybe it would be alright.
"Sure," he agreed, though he couldn't match his leader's enthusiasm.
The metal seat still carried a little warmth from the couple before, and its slippery surface made Beastboy feel a little unsafe as Robin fixed the safety bar in place over their laps. It made the green teen feel like he and Robin were sitting closer than they actually were. As they began to rotate backwards, Beastboy looked over the edge at everything growing smaller to distract himself. Robin was watching him when he sat back, unnerved by their increasing height.
"Alright?" the black-haired boy asked.
"Yeah, it's nice up here," Beastboy conceded. The lights of the carnival lay all around them, the music had quietened, and the night had managed to hold onto a little of the day's warmth to blow their way now. Despite the other riders that Beastboy knew must have been there, he felt like he and Robin were alone, or invisible.
"Yeah, I like it too," Robin agreed, his voice soft as he relaxed, looking out at the fairground.
As Beastboy looked at his leader, the breeze stirring the tips of his dark hair, he felt really good. Then he started to feel bad.
"Robin, what are we doing here?" he asked, concerned.
The Titan leader looked at him. "What do you mean?"
"I mean... What about the others? The team?... The press?"
Robin sighed. "I've been thinking about that. Haven't come up with anything yet. I don't think the others will care too much but..."
"If it goes bad, it'll go bad for everyone," Beastboy concluded, encouraged by the knowledge that Robin had been having the same worries.
"Yeah..." Robin agreed. He couldn't look at Beastboy as he asked his next question. "Would you rather... not? You know, just stay friends?"
"No," the youngest titan was able to reply quickly.
Robin smiled a true, honest smile and looked at his teammate. He lay his green-gloved hand over Beastboy's where it rested on the seat between them, and gave it a brief squeeze, conscious that other people would be able to see them if they looked. Their little private Ferris wheel ride was conspicuous enough without holding hands. That didn't stop his cheeks from warming though.
"We should still keep quiet though," Robin suggested. "At least for now, until we're... sure about this."
Beastboy nodded his agreement. He wanted to be careful too. He didn't know exactly what he wanted, nor did he know what his leader wanted. Nothing too serious had been said out loud yet, and they hadn't... done anything, so... Beastboy didn't want to hurt the team, and he didn't want them to change the way they thought about him. He didn't know if he could have explained even if he wanted to.
Robin had squeezed his hand though, and he couldn't deny the warmth and shivers it had given him. What would happen now? Would they make a couple? Would they kiss? He blushed hard and stared at his feet as he waited for it to pass, hoping it wasn't too visible in the dark, or could be blamed on the cold somehow.
As they came to the end of the ride, Beastboy was kind of glad to see the ground again, but he couldn't help but wonder if he should have done something more. The Ferris wheel ride had been more than a little romantic, and he suspected he should have taken more advantage of it. But what could he have done when the whole fairground could have seen them?
As he and Robin removed themselves from the crowd surrounding the big wheel, Starfire flew up to them. Beastboy jumped, wondering if she had seen them on the ride together. She glanced between them, but she didn't seem to notice anything.
"It may be time to return home, friends," she said. "Raven is complaining of the headache, and Cyborg has no more strength challenges left," she explained, and Beastboy noted her lips were stained by what must have been a crazy amount of candyfloss.
"Alright, Star. You ready to go, Beastboy?" Robin acceded.
"Yeah, guess so," the youngest Titan said, unable to think of anything else he wanted to do.
It was late when they got back to the Tower – everyone just wanted to go to bed. As if by some instinct, however, the two boys let everyone get out of sight before progressing to Beastboy's room, and the green teen said nothing when Robin stayed with him instead of turning off to his own room.
The door slid open when Beastboy reached it, but he didn't go right in. Instead, he turned to Robin.
"I had fun tonight," he said awkwardly.
"Me too. I'm glad we got to... talk," Robin replied.
"Yeah, about that..." Beastboy was nervous, terrified actually, but today was supposed to change something, wasn't it? He never would have dared this before, but he felt like he was taking less of a chance now than he would have been a week ago, or even that morning. He took a quick step closer, reached up for an instant, and pecked Robin on the cheek. "G'night," he managed, then spun and vanished into his room without looking back.
Suddenly alone in the hall, and a little stunned, looking at a black door where his green teammate had previously stood, Robin slowly allowed himself a smile, and since no one was around, he touched the spot where Beastboy's lips had grazed him.
Author's Note: Hi, sorry for the wait, as usual, and thank you all for your continued support. I hope this chapter meets your expectations. It actually underwent a bit of a rewrite from I had originally, as I messed up Robin's characterisation as it has been in this story. I made him too forceful, a bit too passionate. There wasn't any of the bumbling awkward cuteness. To be honest, it's kind of a shame I had to take it out. Guess even I'm being teased by how slow the boys are moving. Robin's quite a little Lothario in my head, lol. Maybe one day, eh, folks?
Anyway, I've actually deviated from my plan here, I couldn't see a way around it, but now I have a bit of a problem. It seems like the boys have an established relationship here, but that doesn't chime with any of the other chapters I had planned. I suppose I could make it work somehow, but does anyone have any more ideas for activities for them? Anything to do with villains, injuries, or fights is too complicated, and I feel this story has a light-hearted tone without action. It's meant to be about games and sweetness.
But yeah, I'll try to update soon, maybe in a week? Let me know what you thought of it all.