Pre-A/N: Hi, guys…if you're still here lol. I'm so sorry it's taken me so long to upload the final chapter. I totally scrapped the original way I wanted to end the story, so I had no idea what to write. Then, when I just started typing this, I wasn't really satisfied with it. But I'm never satisfied so here you go. Also, let's just add that I hate grad school.
Because I did change the ending, I might've lied about something I said earlier lol. You'll figure it out by the time you finish. This chapter is the longest I've ever written which may or not be a good thing. I thought about breaking it up but everything seemed to just flow together. Hopefully the length makes up for the amount of time it took me to upload this. A final author's note is at the end of the chapter :) Thanks!
15. One Last Time
"I was a liar. I gave into the fire. I know I should've fought it. At least I'm being honest. Feel like a failure 'cause I know that I failed you. I should've done you better 'cause you don't want a liar…So one last time, I need to be the one who takes you home. One more time. I promise after that, I'll let you go." -Ariana Grande
'Never realized how much junk I have,' Raven thought as she struggled to carry a large brown box two times her size into the master bedroom of her new apartment. Light from the newly shining spring sun filled the large room with warmth and ambiance and the view of the still, blue bay increased the calmness in her spirit. It had been two and a half long months since the whole Speedy shooting Robin fiasco went down which meant it'd also been two and a half months since she'd discovered that Robin had been the highly sought-after Red X all along. And still after all this time, she was trying her best to move past it all.
In an ironic turn of events, after storming from the hospital back into the pouring rain on that momentous day, X had been pacing outside the double doors of the entrance. Despite what'd happened the last time they were together, Raven wasted no time running towards him and pulling him into a needy hug. Understandably, X was taken aback and at first avoided even touching her, but sooner or later he could tell she just needed comforting and a friend, so he slowly hugged her back.
"What's wrong, Doll?" X pulled back from the sobbing girl and finally asked after two minutes of looking dazed and confused in front of all the pedestrians walking by.
Raven was glad her tears were blending with the stormy weather even though she knew any fool could tell she was bawling hardcore behind the falling drops. "It's him. He's Red X," she eventually choked to her original suspect.
X raised an eyebrow and placed his cold, wrinkling fingers into the deep pockets of his thick, black coat. "Who? I thought you were sure I was Red X."
Raven looked up at the cloudy, gray sky as the clear droplets continued to roll off her chin. "The guy I cheated on my fiancé with. He lied to me and tricked me into thinking he was serious about solving the case of Red X," she paused and looked into the stern, sympathetic face of the taller boy in front of her. "But it was him all along. It was all just this big plot to get me to fall for him again like I did in high school."
"Wow," X said after a minute of only staring at her, not knowing what to say. "If only there was a book of your life in the bookstore, then I'd enjoy my job much more."
"Seriously, X?" Raven scowled after a minute. That's what she got for thinking he could ever be serious and a good person to confide in. She turned to walk away once again. She didn't know where she was going or who she could trust, but she was willing to be all alone if that's what it was going to take.
"No, but seriously, Raven," X called before she could get too far away. He caught up behind her and continued, "That's really messed up. Guy sounds like a psycho. You're a really good person, and I don't understand why anyone would want to hurt you."
Raven stopped in her tracks near the emergency room entrance and kicked a random rock on the sidewalk. She folded her arms over her shivering chest and turned back to face X even though she didn't have the courage to look him in his face. "Thanks, but I'm not a good person. And I never will be."
"I beg to differ," he hunched his shoulders and crossed his own arms. "I've watched you around the store. You don't say or do much, but you have a strong, interesting presence. I can tell you're a pretty passionate woman who cares a lot about a lot of people. You just don't know how to show it because you've been scared of showing it for so long."
Raven slowly glanced up at him with large, baby-like eyes. "How'd you know that?"
X smirked and moved a large, wet piece of violet hair that was sticking to her forehead. "Did I ever tell you I was an empath in a past life?"
Raven rolled her eyes and focused her attention back on the growing puddles on the ground under them. "What are you doing here anyway? I thought you'd be pissed that I accused you."
"I am," he responded instantly, causing her to look up at him almost as quickly, "well, I was, but I was worried. Just wanted to make sure you didn't get hit by a car or anything. You did storm off like a crazy woman."
Despite the burning pain brewing in her vital organs, Raven found herself wanting to smirk at his confession. "Aww, Mr. Coldhearted cares."
"Eh," he started with the wave of his hand, "you're the only friend I have in Steel. Figured I could forgive you."
Raven nodded in content. He would never be her first choice if she had to choose a random person to confide in, but he wasn't exactly the worst choice.
"Thank you," she uttered with a small, forced smile.
X grinned, removing the maroon scarf around his neck and wrapping it around hers. "You don't have to fake a smile for me. I can tell you're hurting," he admitted, much to her shame. "Come on let's get you home."
"I can't go back there," she rushed and tightened her arms around her waist. "Not now at least."
X glanced at her, concerned and thinking. "Um, okay. How about my place?"
Raven looked away shyly and hunched one shoulder. "Uh, I don't know."
"Strictly platonic," he assured her. "I have a guest room and some warm clothes. I promise I won't try anything. Just want to be a decent friend at least."
"Seriously?" Raven asked with a little doubt in her voice. Since when did X have boundaries? He flirted with her even after knowing she was in a relationship.
"I think we all know you have enough boy trouble right now," he teased, but immediately regretted it when he saw the pain that washed over her already moist violet eyes. "Look, Raven, I know I've been a pretty big asshole. But I'm only an asshole to people I care about. I never really had friends coming up, and I'd like to change that with you. So, please let me help you. I don't want to see you going on some unstoppable downward spiral."
And two and a half months later, Raven was more than glad that she had taken him up on his offer. It'd been nice to have a kind, strong shoulder to cry on, someone to bring her food when she was too depressed to get out of bed, someone to scorn her when she talked negatively and wanted to give up on life, someone to put at least a half smile on her face, and just someone who wouldn't judge her for her own self-hurting mistakes.
She knew she had Terra and Jinx and even Kori, but she was so embarrassed to talk about the fact that she brought it all on herself. All three of them had been rooting for her and Speedy and she let them all down. Plus, they all looked at her as the sensible, loyal one with a good head on her shoulders. How could she mess up and be unfaithful to someone she appeared to care so much about? None of them could understand that, but she was still their friend. It'd taken a couple weeks for them all to be able to even look her in her face, but eventually everything was as normal as it could be.
"No way," Raven heard X laughing in disbelief as she made her way back into the box-filled living room her friends were chatting and unpacking in.
After over sixty days of crashing with X, Raven was finally moving into her own place. Directly across the hall from his apartment. She wasn't exactly quite ready to be alone yet, but she had been more than tired of being a third wheel with him and his frequent one night stands. She'd left her old apartment to Speedy and Lian since she couldn't stand to be in its thick, glum atmosphere anymore. Besides, they needed it more than her, and it wasn't like she was going to force him and her out on the street. It was the least she could do after all the tears she'd caused.
"Yes way," Terra chuckled as she used a box cutter to open one of the overly-taped parcels. Her, Beast Boy, Jinx, and Cyborg had joined in on the "fun" of helping Raven move and unpack all of her millions of—as Beast Boy called them—creepy things.
"Tell him, Rae," Jinx snickered as her and her buff boyfriend pushed the brand new, Victorian-style, blue sofa into the center of the small, cozy room.
"Tell him what?" Raven questioned and eyed Beast Boy funnily as he struggled to get silver duct-tape that was somehow wrapped around him off his lean body.
"Tell him how my little sister won the hearts of everyone at prom and was voted prom queen," Cyborg replied happily and admired his surprisingly admirable interior decorating skills.
Raven rolled her eyes and brushed past the unbelieving X. "Oh, that. That's something I'd rather forget."
A sly smirk quickly found X's face as he teased, "Dry, coldhearted, sarcastic, evil Raven Roth was well-liked enough to be Prom Queen? God, I'd like to see those pictures. I bet you didn't even smile."
"I wasn't there when they announced the winners." Raven shrugged and plopped onto the couch while her friends continued to do all the hard labor. Suddenly, she wasn't in the mood for decorating and arranging.
"Yeah, I heard you and Speedy were somewhere getting it in," Beast Boy snickered, but everybody immediately shooting him death glares for mentioning Speedy's name ceased his amusement.
"We kinda sorta were," Raven admitted much to everyone's surprise. "But they did call me and Robin to take our picture before they printed out the yearbooks."
Everyone stopped what they were doing and glanced at each other in shocked silence. They'd all learned weeks ago that saying Robin and Speedy's names were off limits because of the soreness and tears they caused the girl. But here she was perfectly fine after hearing Speedy's name and saying Robin's as if he never broke her heart. Maybe she finally was breaking free, letting go, and moving on with her life.
X looked back at the girl sitting casually on the antique-style couch with her hands sitting perfectly in her lap and cautiously asked, "Mind if I see it? I can't help but wonder how you look in a cheesy prom dress and a cheaply made crown."
"Uh, yeah," Raven stood up with a small smile, causing her friends to let out a breath of relief. "Let me go get my yearbook."
Moments later, Raven came back out into the crowd empty-handed. After going through her box of old keepsakes and pictures from her younger years, she finally remembered exactly where'd she placed the old, dusty book full of memories: in Speedy's wardrobe closet right under his copy. Wally and Artemis had kindly packed all of her things and brought them from Speedy's place so the two exes didn't have to face each other, and she was almost positive that they hadn't thought to look inside Speedy's dresser for any of her belongings.
And even though she wasn't exactly the biggest fan of high school, she actually cherished the book for the fond memories it held. There was that one picture of Robin holding her with his arms around her red dress-covered waist and stealthy, golden crowns on their heads, an off-guard picture of her, Robin, and Speedy talking at the powderpuff game right before Robin decided to whack Speedy in the jaw out of what she knew now was jealousy, and another off-guard of her and Speedy as they strolled arm-in-arm into the enchantment that was their senior prom. Best of all, there were all the loving signatures and notes all of her friends had left her in the back of the book. When Robin first went away to London, she took it upon herself to read the affectionate, sincere, page-long letter he'd written to her whenever she even so much as slightly missed him. Eventually, she got over it and the book hardly left Speedy's wardrobe.
"I think I left it at Speedy's place," she finally spoke up, causing them all to look at her yet again.
X hunched his shoulders and continued to hook up the complicated wires of her new television. "It's fine. It would've been a nice laugh, but it's not that serious."
"Actually, I think I'm going to go get it," rolled off her tongue quickly. They all looked at her with concerned and disapproving faces. After the depression she'd just made it out of, they weren't exactly sure if she was ready to face the redhead just yet.
"You sure, Raven?" Jinx questioned like a concerned big sister.
Raven nodded twice. "Yeah, I'm sure."
"Want me to come?" Terra asked with worried, furrowed, blonde eyebrows.
"Or me?" X added. "You know, just in case he tries to shoot you."
"Guys, he's not going to shoot me," Raven deadpanned as she grabbed her keys off the sparkling clean, coffee table. "It's not that serious. You know he's not that kind of person."
"I'm just scared you'll come home crying about everything again," Jinx voiced bluntly, but it was exactly what the others were thinking.
Raven sighed and eased her way towards the door. "I'll be fine…and I'll be back soon. Don't worry."
And with that, she was out the door. She took a deep breath as she eased her way down the hall. She didn't really know exactly what she was doing herself, but for some reason that whole yearbook thing had just given her an extreme dose of courage and adrenaline.
Thinking about prom had taken her back to the moment when Speedy admitted his feelings for her. That had been such a lengthy, trying night. First, she had gone through the whole day scared that he wouldn't show up at her door due to his unnerving usage of heroin. Then, when they'd gotten to prom, she ran into Robin who decided to tell her that Starfire was more beautiful than her. After that, Speedy came to comfort her and she agreed to bail out on the corny dance with him. Next, they got all hot and steamy in the backseat of their limo and she freaked out on him. They walked out onto the rocks above the bay and she admitted to him that she wasn't ready for the sexual things he was used to doing. Then, much to her shock, he proceeded to admit that he was falling in love with her. And for some reason, she froze up.
Well, who was she kidding? She knew why she'd frozen up. She was still in love with Robin at the time, but her feelings for Speedy had been rapidly developing. She was confused, lost, and didn't know how to express what she was experiencing. Plus, she didn't want to give the boy false hope if she'd never feel the same. And she didn't know what changed in her, but eventually she did feel the same, and after a while, she was sure she was right in her decision in choosing him.
But what if she had gone with her first decision. What if she'd just continued to lie to Speedy and tell him that she felt nothing for him? What if she'd just broken his heart three years ago and continued to pursue Robin? What if that night in the hospital she'd kissed Robin and told him that she was happy he finally felt the same instead of letting him think he was too late? Well, maybe her hands wouldn't be shaking uncontrollably as she turned into the parking lot of her former home. Maybe she'd be somewhere in a flat in London with another, amethyst engagement ring on her finger, but it'd be from Robin instead. Maybe the dark-haired man wouldn't be somewhere eating barely cooked slop and sharing cold water with other untrustworthy men.
But then again, maybe Speedy wouldn't even be here in the flesh anymore. She was the one who'd helped him through his deadly addiction and rehab. There's no telling where he'd be without her support and motivation. And as unmotherly as she was, she was still very aware of the basics of raising a child, especially a girl since she was one herself, and without her insight, Speedy wouldn't have the slightest clue about raising a baby.
For the first time in her twenty-one years, Raven was beginning to realize that everything that happened in life was meant to happen. Every little thing from the drop of a pen to the time you choose to walk into a store to the betrayal of a friend happened for a reason. There was always going to be what ifs and if onlys but the past was unchangeable. Every tough, stressful, heartbreaking situation she'd suffered through would one day be her source of strength in the next trying situation. The more she went through, the stronger she grew, and she didn't regret one bit of it.
And she told herself this over and over again as she rode the quiet elevator all the way to the top of her old, luxurious complex. Her new place was much more hidden, less gaudy, and dare she say—cozier, and a lot less busy. Yet, not one person stopped the machine to get on as she rode which caused her great inner strife. She wanted to prolong her unplanned arrival as long as possible.
When the machine finally stopped, she realized there was no point of delaying the matter. She'd have to face the man she once loved one day. They shared the exact same group of friends and went to the same school for Pete's sake. It was inevitable. Not to mention, she was extremely curious about his and Lian's wellbeing and actually truly wanted her book.
Knock, knock. Raven surprised herself with how quickly she knocked on the door. She expected herself to hesitate a couple times before actually letting her fist make contact with the hard wood. But the moment she came face to face with her old entrance, confidence swallowed her whole.
Suddenly, the door opened and, with no surprise, it was Roy. But for some reason, he didn't look at her after opening it, instead he left it ajar and walked back into the living room as if he was inviting her in. Raven stood in the doorway awkwardly with her feet trying to decide whether or not they actually wanted to move. It all just seemed a little odd. It's not like he had a peephole to see it was her.
"Wow, Wally, I think that's the longest you've ever been quiet," he finally called as he fell back onto their old, red couch and observed the bright, cloudy sky through the ceiling-high window.
'Now it makes sense,' she thought, then stuttered out loud, her voice shakier than her hands, and her skin redder than the deep red lipstick she was modeling on her full lips, "Th-that's because I-I'm not Wally."
Speedy's head snapped quicker than a hot knife through butter towards her raspy voice. An expression of panic and astonishment swam over his face that Raven would've missed if she hadn't been staring right at him. It was almost as if this time she was the one standing there facing him with a pistol in her hands. But just as quickly, he was back to a state of composure as he stood up and slowly walked over to her.
"Raven," he breathed and stepped closer, his manly hand reaching out to touch her bony shoulder. The girl wasn't thinking as she swallowed and inched backwards in fear. The murderous, monstrous look on his face when he pulled that trigger was still haunting her sleep after two months of trying to push it out her brain. But despite her remaining fear, she was ready to let it go. She was ready to move past it and see him in a good light again; the ruthless image had been hovering over her way too long.
"Hi, Roy," she finally uttered and held her crossbody purse strap closer to her chest.
"Come in," he motioned with a small smirk, "I only bite if you want me to."
Raven smirked back and stepped into the cool, air-conditioned place, closing the door softly behind her. For a minute, they just stood there, staring on and off at each other and the clean, carpeted floor. Neither really knew what to say or wanted to be the one who spoke first. Unbeknownst to the other, they were both equally intimidated by the other's presence.
But Roy decided to be the braver one. "So…what brings you here?"
"Um," Raven started but soon realized that she'd forgotten exactly what made her come. "Oh, yeah, is my yearbook here?"
"Uh, yeah," he started and pointed to the back with his thumb, "I think it's still in my closet. I'll go get it for you."
In just seconds, she was alone again, standing there wondering what the hell she was doing. Why in God's name was she at Speedy's place? Didn't she learn anything from her previous mishaps? Never approach your ex. Especially in your old home. It'll just cause you to think of the past and relive old feelings and memories. But Raven was determined to not let that happen to her. She was just here to make amends to their friendship and get her yearbook so that X could laugh at the picture and tease her for wearing that tacky, preppy crown for a week.
"Here you go," his deep voice almost startled her out of her panties. She glanced up and unintentionally snatched the book with haste. She was about to throw out a thank you and bolt out of there as fast as she could, but something made her stop. No, she wasn't a wuss. She was going to have self-control and make this work.
"Thank you," she choked out and looked up into his foggy, rare-colored eyes. Gosh, they were always so hard to read whenever he was watching her. And she was usually good at reading people which just made that burn her soul even more.
"Yeah," he mumbled and bit his bottom lip. The situation was slowly growing awkward and his confusion was starting to become more and more obvious.
"So," she chirped in an unusually chipper tone, "I heard you're a model or something now."
Speedy let out a short, soft chuckle and scratched the back of his neck in modesty. "Yeah, remember that mugshot guy that blew up a few years ago and had all those modeling agencies dying to sign him?" Raven nodded with an unimpressed look in her eyes. "Well, I'm the new hot mugshot guy. Somehow my picture got out and I just randomly started getting all these calls from agencies wanting to sign me."
Raven rolled her eyes, crossing her thin arms across her ample chest. "Why am I not shocked that even your mugshot somehow makes girls' panties wet?"
"I'm the handsome, debonair, and, most of all, sexy Roy Harper," he shrugged, "of course my mugshot makes girls want to take their clothes off. I guess the anger on my face that night translated as fierceness."
"Cocky as usual," the violet-haired woman droned. "Just don't give up on your dream of being an addiction counselor."
"Groupies are all over me like they were back in high school," he said playfully, taking out a comb seemingly out of nowhere and neatening up his hair. "And they came at just the right time."
Raven raised an eyebrow and thought about the three years of him being celibate. She still couldn't believe he'd succeeded in keeping his junk out of any vaginas or anuses.
"Have you done it yet?" she asked out of true curiosity. He did seem to be in an abnormally happy mood and that usually only meant one thing for Speedy: he had somehow gotten off.
"Done it?" he questioned with the raise of his hand.
Raven hunched a knowing shoulder and glanced away with an ashamed blush, "You know…it."
"Oh, yeah, a couple times," Speedy waved her off matter-of-factly and walked over to face the long window. "Little Roy was shrinking from inactivity."
"Well—" Raven was about to say something smart alecky in defense, but he interrupted before she could.
"But, honestly," he started then turned to meet his bright, amber eyes with her cloudy, violet ones, "they didn't do anything for me. Especially after waiting to become one with you for so long. Just didn't feel right."
Raven sighed as quietly as she could and removed her gaze from his heart-stabbing one, "Look, Roy, I know what I did was a hundred times worse than horrible. I still can't believe I was able to lose control and break your heart like that. And I understand if you never forgive me. But…" she paused, and found the courage to take baby steps towards his more masculine stature, "I would really love it if we could be friends. We can start off gradually, but I really hope that one day things won't be awkward with us."
Speedy raised a blank, furry eyebrow. "You seriously think I can forgive you?" Raven just gazed back in discomfort and embarrassment. Then, his blank stare slowly morphed into a teasing smile. "Aww, I'm just messing with you. Of course we can be friends, Gem. After all I've been through these last few months, I'm in a place in my life where I can forgive you now."
Raven felt scared-turned-joyous tears brimming at the edge of her eyelids but she refused to give him that satisfaction. "Thank you, Sunny D. That really means so much."
"Besides," the boy angled his face in the light of the sun, highlighting the true wonder of his eyes, "I might need someone to babysit Lian while I'm traveling the world for my modeling career."
Raven once again rolled her eyes at the tall, well-toned boy repeatedly attempting to strike a pose, smize, and purse his pink lips in what he thought was a sexy expression.
As Raven pondered more and more, it was starting to seem like he truly had won in this situation. It should be noted that after a month in jail, he took an amazing plea deal in which he would only have to do five years of community service and wear a house arrest bracelet for six months. It wasn't the best situation but it sure beat rotting away in prison for a minimum of ten years. Wally really had hired the best lawyer he could find, despite the cost, and in Lian and Speedy's case, it had paid off. Now the little girl didn't have to grow up without both parents. Not to mention, this modeling gig would give Speedy much needed income, and who knew, maybe it'd one day make him a millionaire.
On the contrary, the man Raven was truly in love with was somewhere wasting his life away in a prison cot. He had effed up. Tremendously. After his stint in the hospital, he had gone to the police station and turned himself and the stolen objects in. He ended up pleading guilty to three counts of burglary, three counts of grand larceny, and one count of vandalism.
Due to his father being Bruce Wayne, he had technically lucked out as well. He had only gotten six months in prison, one year of probation, and had to pay over $500,000 in fines. But prison wasn't the worst consequence. He'd lost an amiable relationship with his brother, respect from his father and most of the city, pretty much all of his friends, and worst of all, the love of his life, Raven Roth. And it was all because he wanted her to himself and to prove his worth to Bruce. There were so many other ways he could've done that if it was truly what he wanted, but somehow his dark, twisted, lonely mind came up with the plan to be the most wanted criminal in the state.
"How's Grayson?" Speedy's voice came as if he had read her mind. He knew her so well. "I heard he turned out to be that Red X guy and is doing a stretch in prison now."
"Ahem," she cleared the reignited nervousness in her throat, "um, I don't know. I haven't talked to him since I found out."
"Really? Why not?" Speedy asked, taken aback by her admission. He knew how much she truly loved the ebony-haired, blue-eyed boy and knew there was no way she could truthfully be content without him in her life. The boy might've been the bane of his existence but he was the light in Raven's.
"I hate him," Raven's hoarse voice shocked herself as she forced her gaze away from the window. She couldn't stand the bright, cheeriness of the outside world around them. It made the darkness inside her heart deeper, blacker, and emptier.
Speedy gently placed a supportive hand on her shoulder and assured her, "No, you don't, Raven."
The upset woman let out a very audible breath of air, "But I want to." Then, she looked up into Speedy's surprisingly sympathetic, attention-grabbing irises. "Why can't I hate him?"
Speedy breathed his own sigh and dropped his hand and eyes, "He might've betrayed you and stabbed you in the back, but you love him more than anything and anyone in this world. There's no other person you can see yourself with, and you always see the good in everything he does." Then, he turned back to face the ground outside below them. He couldn't count the hundreds of times over the last few weeks he'd thought about taking that plunge. "Betrayal always hurts more when it's done by the person you love and care for with all you have. You feel stupid, hopeless, and, worst of all, unworthy. Like you did something wrong."
Raven gawked at the back of his head, suddenly realizing that he was pulling from his own experience with her. "Roy, I'm so sorry."
"But," he continued without acknowledging her apology, "you love them so much you're willing to forgive and forget. You're willing to let go of all the agony and tears they caused you, because in the end…you just want to see them happy."
With that last word, he moved his body so that they were face-to-face, chest-to-chest, and toe-to-toe. He ogled her with so much emotion, Raven almost thought she'd cower under his passionate stare. "Roy—"
"Even if it's from afar," he breathed and carefully pushed a thick lock of violet hair behind her small diamond-studded ear.
Raven squirmed in her skin and whispered, "What do you mean by that?"
"I mean you should go see him, Raven," he forced but not impatiently. "Even with all he did, you love him and he without a doubt loves you more than he loves himself."
Raven sniffled despite the fact that not a tear was falling from her eyes. "It's funny. I'm almost flattered that he'd do that just to get me back. Something within my dark, creepy mind is actually turned on by that."
"He's a dick, no name pun intended, but he has balls I'll give him that," Speedy smirked and eyed the now clear blue sky once again.
Raven snickered softly then looked up at the man she once loved. "You really think I should forgive him?" She was actually amazed that Speedy of all people was encouraging her to go talk to Robin. All of her friends, including X and her mother, were totally against her even thinking about him, let alone still being in love with and forgiving him. But after living with her and her wild emotions for three years, it was safe to say Speedy knew her better than all of them.
"Yeah, Gem." He nodded, then let a tiny leer grace his face. "Go get your man."
Suddenly, "Ravie!" Lian's girly voice and foot scatters filled the room. She was still dressed in her frivolous, pink, Cinderella pajamas and was somehow holding Alice and two of the Barbies Raven had gotten her for Christmas in her small hands.
"Hey, Lian," Raven chuckled as the little redhead practically flew into her scrawny arms. "I see you're still the happiest person I know."
Lian's rosy-cheeked face lit up as she rushed, "Yesterday Daddy took me to Chuck E. Cheese's and I ate one whole pizza by myself!"
"Really?" Raven squinted at her joyful grey eyes and glanced at the girl's father. He just hunched a carefree shoulder and continued grinning like a possum at their interaction. "Wow, you're getting to be such a big girl."
Then, on a more serious note, the girl added, "Are you moving back with us?"
Raven once again looked at Speedy but this time for help. Once again, he hunched a now unknowing shoulder. "Um," Raven started, "I'm sorry, Honey, but your dad and I are just friends now. But whenever you want to see me, tell your daddy to call me, and you can come to my place and we can play with dolls, drink tea, and watch Alice in Wonderland all night."
Lian's face was suddenly bright and sunny again as she beamed. "Yay! I'd like that!"
"Okay, good," Raven smiled a small smile back and set her on the ground. The child wasted no time taking back off towards her room.
"She still loves you as you can see," Speedy replicated her grin.
"Yeah, I miss the little tater tot."
"Hey," he called suddenly, "I think Saturdays are visitation day at the prison. You should go see Robin after you leave here."
Raven eyed him funnily, but then shook her head in agreement. Might as well get all of the forgiving and apologies out in one day. "I think I will. Thank you so much, Roy. You'll always have a special place in my life, you know."
"Same here, Gem," he replied and pulled her into a short but loving embrace. "And you still look amazing in red."
"Got the beer, chips, and salsa!" A loud voice suddenly came from the front door. Turns out it was Kid Flash. He almost crapped bricks when he realized Raven was standing there "All we need now are the strip—Raven?"
Raven smirked with a raised eyebrow. "Wallace," she greeted in return.
Kid Flash dropped the six pack of beer and grocery bag he was holding and scratched the back of his neck nervously. "Hehe, what are you doing here?"
Raven held up the thick book full of high school memories. "Just came to get my yearbook." Then, she gave an all-knowing smile to Speedy before brushing past a still in shock Wally out the door. "Oh, and I don't think Artemis would approve of strippers, but, hey, that's just me."
And with that, she was gone. She didn't know if she should be surprised that it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She also wasn't quite sure if she should even be happy about it, because yet and still, there was a huge boulder sitting on her chest from the Robin situation.
Despite Speedy's blessings, she still felt hesitant. Robin had made her the biggest fool in all of Steel City. After months of contemplating and going over everything in her head a million times, she realized it'd been obvious all along. For starters, the boy had said it himself, "I'm the ward of Bruce Wayne. No one's going to suspect me." And no one did. Not to mention, that was the exact same reason he had made X a suspect.
Matter fact, almost every reason he had for X and Jason being the criminal could be said about him, too. He could've easily walked into one of those scarce stores that still sold Flakies and grabbed a bar or he could've easily stolen one from Bruce's stash when he first arrived back in the country. Additionally, he also had enough trust fund and prestige to either buy Xenothium or bribe someone for one of the suits. Plus, he claimed to have learned those breaking and entering techniques from Jason, but he could've easily googled them.
In fact, Raven should've known if he was willing to break into the museum and jewelry store to solve the crimes, that he was actually capable of committing the crimes. She had fallen right into his trap of naivety and trickery, and that just wasn't sitting right on her stomach. I mean wasn't it ironic that right after Speedy proposed to her, Red X ransacked the jewelry store he'd purchased the ring from? And after that, Robin proceeded to do her right there on the counter, almost as if he was trying to make his own mark with her there.
And the memories that stood out the most to her were that day she had followed him to his room and the night they picked Jason up from the precinct. He had claimed he just needed to straighten up a little bit, but when she ventured into the room without him knowing, the look across his face when he realized she was there was a mixture of anger and extreme fear. Like he really didn't want her to know what he was hiding. She had seen the same look on his face that day he was scorning the rebellious teenager for "stealing" the amethyst jewel. Jason had even said it was all the boy's fault. Hmph. At least now she knew why so much of Red X's stolen goods were somehow dealing with amethysts.
But still…like Speedy said: she was in love with him. It was crazy and even a little psychotic and obsessive, but he had done it because he needed her that badly. He was willing to become a bad boy just to prove how much of a good choice he was. Plus, he wasn't the only one who had made mistakes. Granted his were much worse, but nevertheless, she refused to let him succumb to his regrets.
"All visitors remember: keep your nametags visible at all times and no touching the inmates," moments later a guard inside the visiting area of the men's prison instructed. In just a few seconds, the jailbirds would be released into the room and Raven would come face to face with Robin for the first time in months.
The nervous woman bit her lip as she watched prisoners flock into the room in a single file line. It seemed like fifty men of all different shapes and sizes had walked in before she noticed a sluggish, rugged Robin dragging at the end of the line. His beautiful, cerulean blue eyes were clean and bright, but under them were severe bags that showed his exhaustion. He had grown a five o'clock shadow beard and let the length of his thick, jet black hair touch his shoulders which added to the darker persona he had adopted over the last few months. His face showed no irritation or blemishes aside from a long, red, jagged scar going across his left cheek. The beige shade of his prison jumpsuit made his skin appear almost as pale as hers in the dim, prison light.
Raven sighed as she noticed all those things about him. Obviously prison wasn't going very well for the boy. When he finally noticed her sitting in the furthest corner she could secure, his fatigued eyes lit up with joy and amazement. He rushed over as fast as he could in his cuffs and wasted no time plopping in his seat, making Raven roll her eyes.
For a minute, all he did was stare at the striking, almost angelic-like girl in front of him. He wasn't the only one who looked different. Her hair had grown a little past her shoulders as well. It wasn't too long or too short but just right for her life at the moment, and she had even decided to use her curling iron and rollers to create a retro curly do the night before. After staying inside almost every day for two months and binge watching makeup gurus on YouTube, she began playing and experiencing with makeup more. The bold, cat liner, flawless complexion, and deep, red, matte lipstick she was sporting gave her already pretty face an extra timeless, classy look. The most noticeable thing though was the natural glow she seemed to have about her. Like she was finally at peace.
Raven couldn't blame him for staring because it was all she could do as well. She knew her first time seeing him after his confession would be difficult, but she didn't realize she'd feel this emotional. So many feelings rushed through her body the moment she picked up on his scent and looked into his fearful but hopeful, blue eyes. Honestly, she was beyond speechless. She had no idea where to start. Yet she did know Speedy was right. She had no choice but to forgive him, because she didn't want to live her life without him and she couldn't stay angry forever.
Robin coughed nervously and stammered, "Ra-Raven. I can't believe you actually came to see me."
Raven found her signature sarcasm brewing up inside her as she mocked, "I can't believe either."
Robin frowned and cleared his throat. "I, uh, I write you every week and call every chance I get, but you never answer or write back."
Raven shook her head up and down with squinted eyes "I'm fully aware of that, Robin."
Robin glanced down at the table separating them and then back up into her seemingly blank eyes, "May I ask why?"
"Why what?" she spat, much to her surprise. She wasn't really trying to be mean or show that she was upset, but it was unavoidable. Memories of that evening in the hospital just kept fondling with her heart and making her wonder why she didn't loathe him.
Robin looked down towards the hard surface of the table again and mumbled, "Why didn't you reply?"
Raven felt her face heating up at his foolishness. "Do you realize how badly you hurt me, Robin?" she forced and tried to swallow the deadliness in her voice. "I couldn't go outside for months. I was already ashamed that everybody would find out I cheated on Speedy, but it was even more embarrassing for everyone to know that the man I betrayed him with betrayed me as well."
"Raven—" he called.
But was interrupted by her grunt, "Ugh, I feel so stupid." Her fists hit the table hard, causing the watching guards to eye the couple.
"I want to hate you so bad," she hissed softly as she clenched and unclenched her fists, trying her hardest not to break out in self-pitiful tears.
The pang that hit Robin's heart from her admission caused him to let out a deep sigh. He didn't know if there was any way he could fix this but he was going to try his best.
"Raven, I," he started desperately but paused out of nervousness, "I don't think there's anything I can say that'll be worthy of the apology you deserve…But I want you to know that I would never intentionally hurt you. I never had one malicious thought throughout the whole ordeal. I just wanted us to be together…"
"But did you really have to go to that extreme," Raven deadpanned and began tapping her slender fingers furiously on the surface between them.
Robin thought long and hard about what he wanted to say next. He didn't want her to think he was some sort of sociopath or something similar but it might help her understand where he was coming from. "Being basically all alone for three years in London really did something to my mind…made it darker. More sinister even and coming here to see you still in the arms of another man made me…snap. I lost all inhibitions and didn't care how or why but I was going to at least rebuild my friendship with you. I wanted to be a part of your life again and I would come up with any way to do it as long as it didn't involve physically hurting someone."
"I had already been thinking of ways to get Bruce to have faith in my detective career," he continued. "And that night I showed up at your door unannounced, the idea just hit me. I was going to be the criminal and frame someone else. I originally didn't plan on framing Jason…but after a while he just seemed like a better suspect than Sinclair."
"By the way, Sinclair was my coworker at the time," Raven said nonchalantly. Robin's eyes grew in surprise. "But I just had a sinking feeling that he wasn't a criminal. Annoying and arrogant maybe, but not a criminal. In fact, he's been my biggest supporter since everything happened. I was even living with him for a time."
Robin swallowed the sudden hint of pain in his throat. "You-you lived with another man?"
Raven cut her eyes at his puppy dog face. "We're just friends. I had to blast my T.V. some nights just so I wouldn't hear the loud moans of other women."
Robin adjusted in the chair and looked up into the face of the obviously upset woman. "Good to know," he whispered. Then, made sure the guards weren't looking before he touched the tips of his fingers to her shaky ones. Her head shot up, making her eyes lock with his. Something fluttered in her heart that she could describe as nothing other than true love and adoration.
"Raven," he began again, "you've seen me at my brightest and now you've definitely seen me at my darkest. I know at times I act as if I know everything, even though I truly don't. But one thing I am sure of is how much I truly love and care for you. The last three and one third years of my life have by far been the hardest since my parents' deaths because I'm lost without you. You're my best friend. My soulmate. My…my everything…"
"No touching," an officer commanded out of nowhere causing them to quickly separate.
Raven smiled a timid smile at the ground and said, "You know Speedy convinced me to visit you?"
Robin raised a shocked eyebrow, "Really? Should I be scared?"
Raven nodded softly, "Yeah and no, he thinks I should forgive you." Robin gulped once again, but this time loud enough for her to hear. "And I agree…"
Robin only blinked, not really knowing what to say. He was terrified of messing this up yet again. So, Raven continued, "Robin, I love you, okay? I always have, I always will. You hurt me to the core, but now I've come to terms with it. And it's not like I'm a saint either. I understand why you did what you did. I think it was batshit crazy, but I understand nonetheless."
The boy couldn't help but chuckle at her terminology, especially since it was true. She herself smirked and continued, "So, even though most of our friends are going to be mad at me for saying this: I forgive you, Richard John Grayson. If Speedy can forgive us both, then I definitely can forgive you, too."
Raven gasped to herself when she noticed a single tear rolling down Robin's scarred cheek. Despite his circumstances, she could see the pure happiness in his expressions. It was almost as if forgiveness was the greatest gift she could ever give him and he truly appreciated it.
Suddenly, he laughed as more tears fell. "Wow, I never thought I'd hear those words coming so freely from your mouth. Thank you so much, Raven. Maybe now my time here won't be as punishing."
"Yeah, maybe so," Raven agreed softy. But then her face lit up with a devious smirk. "Even though, you're not really serving all the time you deserve. Spoiled, rich kid."
Robin smirked a boyish leer back and gazed into the suffocating pools of violet in her eyes, "You should be happy. The longer I'm in here, the longer I'm away from you."
"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled sarcastically. "How'd you get that scar?"
"Yard fight," he replied with a hunch of his shoulders.
"Surprised you don't have more scars."
"Well," he began and looked away, ashamed, "the winner tends to have less bruising."
Raven's eyes grew large. "You won?"
"Yeah," he answered matter-of-factly. "You have to be tough in here or they'll break you down. You have to show them just how dangerous you are. All those Kung Fu and fighting lessons in high school really paid off."
"Wow, the love of my life is some prison thug," Raven deadpanned with the roll of her eyes.
"I know it's bad. But it's called survival in here, Raven," he breathed, then facepalmed himself. "God, now I'll never get a job as a police officer, and I'll definitely never be a detective."
"Why not?" Raven asked out of ignorance.
Robin grimaced and uttered, "Not with my rap sheet. I'm on the other side of the law now."
Raven frowned in return. She knew it was his fault, but she also knew becoming a detective was one of his biggest goals in life. "I'm sorry your dreams are ruined, Robin. But—"
"But at least I have you," he said with a small smile and another soft touch of her hand.
Raven ignored his fluffiness and continued to ponder ways he could somehow live out his dreams. "Hey, you can still solve crimes though."
"How?" he raised an eyebrow. With all the time he had, he'd thought of every possibility, but there was just no way around it.
"With me," she beamed, "just like we did with Red X, except this time we won't break into any buildings. Everything has to be legal, but that'll just make it more challenging and more fun."
"I like the sound of that," Robin expressed gleefully. He loved how much she cared about his happiness. He cared just as much about hers.
"Maybe we could even get Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Terra, and the others to help us, too. It could be like this game for us all and we can be on teams."
"See who wins first," he rushed excitedly. "And we can call ourselves the Titans like our high school mascot."
Raven snickered quietly at his enthusiasm, "Yeah, maybe so, Boy Blunder."
"Good idea, Raven. Really."
"Thank you," she smiled in content, placing her chin in her hand so she could stare at him more comfortably.
Robin glanced around the room and noticed the time on the clock. He exhaled a sad breath. There was no telling when she'd visit him next, but he was definitely grateful for the time they'd just shared.
"Well, visitation's almost over, but there's one last thing I have to ask."
Raven narrowed her eyebrows. What else could he possibly want to know. "What is it?"
"You seem to have this natural glow about you," he began, then let a sly smirk grace his rugged but handsome face. "You wouldn't happen to be pregnant, would you?"
Raven almost choked on her own breath and saliva. She coughed and cleared her throat before replying, "What? No. Of course not."
"You sure?" he asked, a little playful sadness on his tongue.
"I'm very sure," she rushed, twirling a strand of her hair uneasily, "I took ten tests over the course of two months because I was so scared that I was knocked up with your baby, but they all said negative. I even went to the doctor once, because I didn't trust the home pregnancy tests."
Robin nodded his head to show that he believed her. "Well, in that case, you might want to get your fertility checked."
Raven glared at his remark. "Watch it, Boy Blunder," she commanded.
Then, for the umpteenth time that day, a mischievous smirk found its way to Robin's soft, thin lips. "You know what that means, right?"
"What?" Raven asked cautiously. Whatever he was about to say couldn't be something she wanted to hear.
"We'll just have to try again when I get out."
Post-A/N: I hope that ending was good enough lol. The thing I lied about is the fact that Raven would end up alone. In my head, I imagine that her and Robin wouldn't just jump into a relationship but gradually rebuild the one they already have. I'm actually working on a horror-esque story for Halloween called Slasher that I'll probably upload tomorrow or Friday. I don't know if anyone likes those type of stories, but I was watching Scream the other day and had a few ideas haha. It won't be pure fluff, , lol but there won't be any drama between Raven and Robin. And it's mostly going to be RobRae, no triangles this time. However, I wouldn't mind writing a pure fluff. I just have to brew up some ideas or even if you guys have any suggestions, that's cool too. Once again, thanks to everyone for reading and putting up with all my long author's notes and all of the lovely, helpful reviews y'all left every chapter. They really encouraged me to continue and put smiles on my face. Thank you! Xoxo :)
Replies to Reviews
Mee: I know right. That's probably the reaction I would've had as well lol. Thank you so much for being a loyal reader. I always looked forward to hearing your thoughts. I hope you were at least satisfied with the end :)
: I read your reviews so many times lol. They were part of the reason I decided not to make everyone miserable. Every story doesn't have to have a happy ending, but they also don't have to be totally depressing. I figured you would've at least had some clue that Robin was Red X, so I'm not shocked you were right. Oh, btw, the click Raven heard was supposed to be him pulling the trigger, but I probably described it horribly haha. And CyJinx are cute and sweet, so I thought I'd add them. It'd be unrealistic to have all the couples from high school still together. I actually surprisingly love Go, even though it took me three years to even watch it. And it's definitely a satire lol. Anyway, thank you so much for reading and sticking with me. I'm truly appreciative. And I adore your reviews or "dissertations". They helped me make a lot of decisions :)
Argent82: First off, it's so funny how you reviewed right before I uploaded lol. I'm glad you were still rooting for them! Hope you're pleased! Thank you for all your reviews :)