Number One Zero

Chapter 10

The Titans were confused at first with what they were seeing. Robin was showing them a video of Speedy jumping from building to building in Starling City. As he finally landed in a deserted alley somewhere in the depressed area of the city-- the Glades as they would call it-- they were beginning to wonder why they were even watching this. There was nothing special in watching the red-headed archer performing acrobat like flips through town. That is, until they saw him come out of the alley in civilian clothes. He was wearing a red hoody, with jeans and sneakers at his feet. His ginger hair stood out from the bleak surroundings, while the others noticed his sky blue eyes, some of them had seen for the first time.

He walked out of the alley to meet a group of men huddled beside a local bank across the street. They seemed like shady people, all wearing black jackets, black pants and sneakers. It looked like they were carrying heavy equipment, hanging from their backs. Before Speedy could approach them, one man already shouted out, “Hey Harper, what took you so long?”

“Sorry, you guys know that I have a job in Steel City, right?” he replied in an aggravated tone.

“And what the fuck are you wearing?” another man from the group asked. “Here, we saved you one.” He threw a black jacket, similar to what they were all wearing. He took off his red one and wore the one they had just given him. He zipped it up to the top, even until the hood. The others did the same, showing that their jackets had specialized holes for their eyes. The hoods served as their masks, concealing their identities for whatever they had planned for that day.

One of the men handed a gun to Speedy, which he caught with one hand. He cocked it and saw that it was loaded. They couldn’t see the expression on his face, but his body language told them that he was hesitant with what they were about to do.

“Showtime.” one of the men said, and in an instant, their whole group entered the bank. Shots were fired, screams of terror could be heard from outside. In ten minutes, the whole group came out with duffel bags filled with money. A black van pulled up in front of the bank and the whole group entered it. The van didn’t have a plate on it, making it difficult to identify it or track it down. The van drove off out of the camera’s view, leaving the Titans dumbfounded with what they saw. The screen went black shortly after that, bringing the whole common room into silence.

Beast Boy was the first one to speak up. “Did you guys just see that?”

Bumblebee had her mouth wide open, not knowing what to say about her teammate’s unspeakable behavior. “I don’t get it. Why would he rob a bank? It’s not like he needs money, right?”

“Yeah, isn’t Green Arrow loaded or something?” Beast Boy said, trying to process his shock through humor.

Cyborg had another way to deal with it though. “Whatever the reason, he helped rob a bank. He should be arrested.”

“Wait Cyborg! Don’t you think that’s a little too harsh?” Aqualad said, desperation leaking through his voice for the first time.

“He is right, Friend Cyborg. We must clear this up with Friend Speedy.” Starfire tried to appease her leader as best as she could, but she could feel that it was not working.

“Yeah, he might be doing some kind of undercover work or something.” Bee added, holding on to Cyborg’s arm to calm him down.

“Si! Si!” Mas y Menos exclaimed at the same time, as they placed their small bodies in front of the cybernetic teen’s way, blocking him from leaving the common room.

Through all of this commotion, Raven wordlessly went through the doors and was about to exit the room, when Cyborg called out to her. “Hey Raven! Where are you going? We still have to talk about this!”

She turned back and sent a glare to everyone in the room. “You can argue all you want, but I’m going ask him directly what the heck is going on.” She turned her back towards them, not one of them daring to speak after what she said.

“What took you so long?” Speedy teased, as Raven entered the med bay. She had an unreadable expression on her face as she stood beside the archer’s bed. It was then that she realized that he still didn’t have his shirt on, and that despite his body being covered in bruises, his arms were resting leisurely above his head, as if he was finding everything quite amusing.

She tried to fight back the urge to wipe off the clumsy grin off of his face.

“Why are you so calm?” she asked, irritation coloring her monotone.

“Because you’re here.” He said, gazing upon her amethyst eyes. Raven’s breath caught in her throat at his intense stare, but she was able to push t he feeling down. “Lie down properly so I can heal your wounds. You’re in deep trouble, you know that.”

Speedy finally put his arms to the side and laid stiffly on the bed, giving in to her request. She placed her hands on his chest; they began emitting blue light as she passed over his wounds and broken bones. “What do you mean?” he finally replied.

“We know.” She suddenly blurted out. “Robin showed us a video.”

Speedy’s heart froze in his chest at what she said. Was it true? Did they really know of his shameful secret, one that he was able to keep them in the dark for so long?

“Was that the reason that you always came to me with cuts and bruises?” Raven began once again, not paying attention to her hands that were healing his wounds. “Was that why you always came to me after you were hurt? So that your teammates, your friends, didn’t know that you were out robbing banks with some thugs?” Her voice raised a little as she ended, showing the anger that she was feeling toward the archer.

She felt used at this point. It all began a year ago. Speedy would call her on her communicator and ask her to teleport to his room so that she could heal him. Sometimes, he would come to her with broken bones or bullet holes in various parts of his body. Other times, they seemed like minor scratches that would heal in a week’s time. But still, he would call her up and ask for her help. These meetings brought them closer to one another, though Raven never dared to ask him where the wounds were coming from, or why they were even there in the first place, and why she had to go all the way to Steel City to heal them. She could sense that he was trying to hide something that was why she never asked questions, never pressed him to tell her what he was truly doing. Now, she was thinking that she should’ve done otherwise.

“No, Raven! It’s not what you think! I-“ before he could continue to desperately explain his side to her, the med bay doors opened to reveal Cyborg and Bumblebee.

“Harper, you’ve got some explaining to do.” Cyborg said, his voice authoritative and firm. He stood at the foot of his bed, as Bumblebee stood next to him. She had a look of concern etched on her face, as Cyborg’s eyes were alight in repressed anger. He looked like he would punch the archer any moment now, despite the fact that he was still recuperating from the wounds that Robin gave him.

Raven said nothing but continued to heal his wounds. But she spared a glance toward Speedy with a pleading look in her eyes, begging him for the truth that they were all seeking.

Speedy only gazed once to those eyes before letting out a heavy sigh. He felt like he would do anything for Raven, especially with that look that she was giving him.

“Yes, I did help the gang commit those crimes, rob the banks and what not…” he avoided Cyborg’s eyes, as if they were the intense, bright light that interrogation rooms had.

“Crimes? Banks? You mean there’s more than one?!” Cyborg’s booming voice was enraged as he heard the words tumble out of Speedy’s mouth. This time, Bumblebee had to restrain him from hurting the wounded archer.

“It’s not like I wanted to do it! I had no choice! It was either that or she could get hurt again!” he blurted out, his emotions finally coming through his cool façade.

“She?” Both Bumblebee and Cyborg stopped struggling when they heard his words, repeating in unison the one word that grabbed their attention.

He instantly regretted saying that, clamping his hand over his mouth. He knew he had said too much from the reaction that the Titans’ leaders were giving him. He wanted to keep that part of his life a secret, but with everything that was happening; he had doubts that that would still be possible.

“It doesn’t matter.” He said sullenly. “Look, the situation in the Glades is horrible. Before, the gangs stayed out of each other’s way, handling their own business, illegal or not. But then this new authority came to our streets, and pretty soon gang wars erupted, with every gang fighting for control. Each gang was trying to outsmart the other, hence all the robberies. They all wanted to become the most powerful one, to rule over the Glades and chase the newcomers out of our streets. My gang was the only one left that was standing against this powerful criminal organization. But we can barely compete against them; they’re pretty powerful for an organized crime unit. That was why we keep on stealing, breaking into gun stores and yeah, you know the rest.”

“How did you even get into this mess?” Bee asked exasperatedly, as she placed her head in her hand.

“They actually harassed me into it. They knew I was good fighting and all that jazz. They threatened me… and I had no choice but to do what they asked.” He replied unsurely, as if he was hiding something important from them. But the only one who seemed to notice was Raven. Bumblebee and Cyborg were oblivious in his actions to withhold valuable information from them.

“I still don’t get it. You can beat them up if you wanted to. Plus if you were in trouble, you could’ve easily called us for back up. You didn’t have to be harassed into doing something you didn’t want. So why’d you still do it?” Bumblebee asked once again, trying her best to understand the archer’s situation.

“Because it wasn’t my life that was in danger.” Was all he said in reply.

Bumblebee and Cyborg were still confused as to what he meant, but Raven was starting to understand his reasons for doing what he did. Despite the fact that he has probably committed countless of crimes, she knew that he was not at fault for everything that he had done. And she was determined to find a way to clear his name. She couldn’t bear to see someone close to her once again fall to the darkness. Never again.

“Organized crime?” she suddenly said, breaking through the silence that had fallen around them. She turned toward Cyborg and Bumblebee. “Do… do you think that organization has something to do with Robin?”

“What makes you say that?” Cyborg replied, unsure of what Raven was trying to say.

“Think about it. Robin has been calling himself ‘the master.’ I bet that means that he’s the master of something. And if he’s powerful enough for a dangerous villain like Deadshot to follow, then that means he must be pretty powerful.” She explained, trying to get them all to understand how treacherous Robin really was. At this point, she was the only one who had the faintest idea as to how powerful he had become. But even with that knowledge, she only scratched the surface of his true power.

“Yeah, and he did have the video on him. He definitely has some connection to the gangs in Starling City. And we have to find out what that is. We have to know Sparky, before he goes out and suddenly annihilate all of us.” Bumblebee added, knowing what Raven had in mind.

Cyborg also knew what they were saying, and his brows furrowed as he tried to take their argument into consideration. After a few moments of musing, he finally let out a defeated sigh and gave in to their request.

“Fine. We can probably use his connections for information.” He turned toward Speedy and gave him a serious look. “Listen, Roy. We know you’ve got yourself tangled with these thugs, but we’re giving you one chance to redeem yourself. We’ll let your involvement in these crimes pass, but after this mission, you’re gonna quit and we’ll figure out how to fix your mess together. So, are you in or what?”

Speedy avoided their gaze for a moment, taking his time in considering their offer. He knew that know the truth had been revealed to them, there was no easy way out of this. He was worried for her safety, but with everything that has happened, he has no choice but to do whatever they said. He knew that he had committed countless of crimes, and receiving their mercy was truly a miracle in its own right. It was finally time to let them in into his bleak reality. Unlike everyone else in the Tower, he was actually a normal guy behind the mask. And he faced the horrors that a normal person would face, especially in the Glades.

“What do I have to do?” he finally said, a burning determination in his eyes.

A week after that fateful day, Speedy found himself entering the alley behind the diner known as the Big Belly Burger. He was in his hometown, the Glades, the depressed area of Starling City. He let out a sigh, thankful that Oliver Queen found was able to bring him out of this place and gave him a better life. Unfortunately, no matter how much he tried, the Glades always found a way to catch up with him.

He met up with a bunch of guys, the same ones that he robbed the bank with. They wore oversized jackets, large caps and gold chains hung around their necks. Some of them were just wearing plain shirts underneath their giant hoodies, showing off their toned muscles underneath. It was fairly obvious that these were not the type of guys that anyone would mess with. Unless, of course, if they were the master.

“Hey, Harper. Glad that you could join us.” One of the men said, calling out to the red-headed archer. He came closer to them, trying to listen to their next plan.

“Okay, so we have to get more firepower. Word on the street is that the organization is planning to attack us soon. So we have to get ready for them when they come. We are the only gang stopping them from taking over the Glades. And we have to stop them, or die trying.” The leader of the gang announced, trying to get his members inspired with his speech.

It was then that Speedy decided to speak. “Maybe we’re taking this the wrong way. We need to find out more about this organization before we can even begin to think of defeating it.” He clearly knew that they had no chance of winning against it, especially if Robin was the leader, but he still needed to put up an act, at least until he had the information that they had. He needed to know what they knew. “Do we even know what we’re up against?”

“That’s the thing.” The leader replied, with much worry in his tone. “No one knows anything about it. They just came out of nowhere and started taking over the city. They have the best weapons, military grade guns, helicopters and airplanes, the works. And all we know is that they’re lead by this guy called the master.”

“The…master…?” Speedy repeated in disbelief.

“Yeah. No one knows where he came from, he just suddenly appeared into the scene as this all powerful dude. And now he’s conquering all the cities one by one, but we can’t let him win here. Not in the Glades.” The gang cheered their leader on, inspired by his words. After their claps and cheers subsided, their leader began to tell them about their next job. This was the opportunity Speedy decided to take, realizing that he got all the information that they could give him.

“Oh yeah by the way, I can’t uh… help you guys out anymore.” he squinted his eyes, knowing that they wouldn’t take that announcement lightly. Especially since the only reason that they had come this far was because of him. “My work in Steel City is gonna keep me there so yeah... sorry.” He knew that he wasn’t coming off as intimidating as he wanted to be, but he didn’t want to completely piss them off, especially since he knew what they were capable of.

“But Harper! You know we can’t do this without you!” the leader beseeched to him, knowing that their chances were slim without the red-headed archer. “Remember what happens when you don’t cooperate.” He added in a darker tone.

“I’m sorry guys. I really can’t help you anymore.” Was all Speedy could say.

“Fine. If you don’t want to come nicely, then I guess we’d have to force you.” As if on cue, the other members of the gang surrounded Speedy, cracking their knuckles and getting ready for a big fight. He gulped nervously, knowing that it would be hard for him to win this battle. Even with all his skills, he was still outnumbered eight to one. He wasn’t sure if he could win this fight.

Just then, a black raven rose from the ground, hovering over the archer. “Step away from this man.” Her cold, emotionless voice said.

“Oh yeah, and who are you to tell us what to do?” the leader shouted out.

“Your worst nightmare.” And with that, Raven revealed her four demonic eyes toward the hapless gang members. They instantly cowered upon the sight and ran out of the alley in fear. The last one even fell to the ground as he desperately tried to get away from the menacing darkness.

When all of the gang members had left, Speedy heard a voice coming through his hidden earpiece. “Good work, Roy.” Cyborg said.

“You got that Tin man?” he replied.

“Yup. Now we’re certain that Robin is the one trying to conquer the Glades. God, this guy is really scarier than we thought. Come back to the Tower and we’ll discuss our next options.” Cyborg ordered, finally beginning to realize what they were up against.

“Yeah we’ll come in once we’re done here.” Speedy replied, cutting off the feed from his earpiece.

At that moment, Raven landed quietly behind him. She simply stood there until he broke the silence.

“Your entrances always scare the crap out of me.” Speedy muttered once his “friends” were gone.

“I’m supposed to look intimidating. That’s why I’m the one they asked to go with you in this mission.” She replied with an amused smirk on her lips.

“Oh, really? I thought it was just because you wanted to spend more time with me.” He teased, raising his eyebrows playfully at her.

Raven simply stared at him with a blank expression on her face. Though she knew he deserved more than a deadpan reaction from her, she didn’t want to get him into more trouble, especially with what Robin had done to him. And she knew she could ensure his safety by giving him the cold shoulder, even if she didn’t want to.

The archer could sense her uneasiness, and no matter how much he despised it, he completely understood where Raven was coming from. Even he didn’t want to go through that again. Plus, he knew that he still had some business to take care of, something too personal that he hasn’t been able to share with anyone in the Titans. Something that he knew he had to take care on his own.

“Anyway Raven, I have…some… other things to do before we go back to the Tower. I’ll just call you on your communicator if I’m ready to go. Is that alright?” he said, once again breaking the silence.

“Where are you going?” she asked, worry clear in her monotone.

“Somewhere personal.” He wished he could tell her more, especially with all the help that Raven has been giving him. But he knew that there just some things he couldn’t share with her. Not yet, at least.

She knew better than to press the subject, so she simply gave him a small nod. He replied with a beaming smile, one that was eternally grateful that she respected his privacy that much, to allow him to go into the city alone, even after everything that has been happening these past few days.

Raven watched him run out of the alley, as if he was very excited for something. She couldn’t help but smile on the inside at the archer’s innocent ways. Even though he always left her in the dark, she respected him enough not to pry into his business. Though she lost count of the times that he came in her room, asking her to heal him of wounds that she was sure he didn’t get from saving the city. It was, she believed, their own secret, their own connection. Which eventually brought all of the complications when Robin came into the picture.

Suddenly, two strong arms snaked around her waist as a voice whispered in her ear, “Boo.”

Speak of the devil.’ She muttered to herself. She pried herself from his grasp, instantly recognizing his voice. “You have a lot of nerve showing your face to me.” She spat out.

“Whoa. Why are you extra grumpy today?” Robin said in a surprise, his arms raised up in his defense.

Raven took this time to notice that he wasn’t in his usual black suit and belt. He was wearing a grey hoody with jeans and red sneakers on his feet. His cerulean eyes were looking into her own orbs, and she was shocked to say the least to be seeing him without his mask. But her shock was instantly replaced by the anger that she felt just moments ago.

“You punched me in the gut! I was out till the next day! You do know how dangerous that attack was, right? I could’ve been seriously injured!”

“That was for your protection, Rae! If I didn’t do that, the Titans would’ve thought that you were my accomplice or something.”

“Oh yeah, it’s as if they don’t have enough reason to hate me already.”

“Huh, they already hate you?” And I haven’t even revealed my plans to them yet. He thought with a smirk.

“Not outwardly. But I’m an empath, I know how they really feel.”

“See? This is exactly why you should come with me. I’ll take care of you, Raven. I promise I’ll never let anyone hurt you.” He started drawing closer to her.

“Oh I don’t know, except maybe you? Get away from me!” she shouted out, stepping away from him.

He let out a defeated sigh before pleading desperately to her. “Look, I’m terribly sorry for what I did; I know I shouldn’t have been that harsh to you. But I promise I only did it to protect you.” He started approaching her again, this time more careful than before. “Can I at least try to make it up to you?”

“How?” she asked, still in a cold, steely voice, but Robin could hear it finally softening up to him.

In a blink of an eye, he was right beside Raven, his body pressed closely to her own. He snaked her arm behind her back and before she knew it, she was standing on a rooftop of the depressed area of the city.

“Richard, where are we?” she asked harshly as she pushed him away from her.

“We’re in the Glades.” He replied trying to be as gentle as he could with his voice.

"What are we doing here?" her patience was wearing thin. Dark magic was starting to encircle her hands. If Robin didn't talk fast, she would send him to another dimension. She was still infuriated with what he did to her and she didn't appreciate being kidnapped to be brought to a random rooftop.

"Look closely." he said, pointing out to a small house right next to the building they were standing on.

She did and her eyes widened at the scene before her. She saw a very familiar redhead, wearing his signature red hoody, hunched over a beautiful little girl with blonde hair. The girl didn’t seem any older than four years old, and her bright blue eyes were so full of innocence and joy at the man in front of her. Behind them stood an aged woman, about fifty years old, with dirty blonde hair; her face was weary and tired, but it lit up with the people around her.

“Lian...” Raven trailed off, her voice showing her disbelief.

“You know her?” It was Robin’s turn to ask her in shock.

“I-I healed her once.” She said unsurely, as memories began flooding through her eyes. “It was just last year. Speedy called me on my communicator asking for help. I teleported here right away, without even knowing why he needed me. And that was when I saw her.”

She swallowed unconsciously, her eyes expressing the horror she felt as she recalled the last time she saw the innocent little girl. “He was cradling her in his big arms. She was so… weak, bloody, bruised, bleeding. Roy was begging me to do something. To heal her before it was too late. I was too shocked to say anything but I did what he asked me to. I stayed there overnight, making sure that she would live. And by morning, her eyes opened as if nothing happened. She just gave Roy a big hug, saying that she missed him.”

“How did it happen?” Robin asked with genuine worry in his tone, as he placed his arm around her shoulder. He couldn’t bear to see his beautiful Raven hurt in that way. He pulled her closer to his warm chest, thankful that she hasn’t pushed him away yet.

“Bombing in their home. She was alone when it happened. I think his gang started harassing him when he didn’t want to participate in their gang wars. But they couldn’t do anything to him because he was in Steel City. So they attacked his family. Maybe that’s why Speedy started working for the gangs here. He did it so that he could protect his daughter, so that they’d leave her alone even when he was doing his Titan duties.”

They shared a comfortable silence as they watched Lian excitedly drag her father into their house. The older woman followed soon after, closing the door as she entered. They could hear peals of laughter coming from the small house, and they both knew that Roy Harper was finally home.

And just like that, the comfort that they shared instantly disappeared. Raven was suddenly aware of what was happening, of how she was in the arms of Robin---again. She heaved a sigh, wondering why she even allowed herself to be in this situation. But the horror of the truth only left her wide-eyed, her heart racing in her chest. Only then did she realize that she was slowly falling into his charms, and it would only be a matter of time before she would finally be his.

“W-why are you showing me this?” she managed to blurt out, as she pried his shoulder off of her.

“To show you the realities that ordinary people like me and Speedy have to face. We get harassed by people like them, forced to do things we don’t want to. Just to keep our loved ones safe. Just to survive. But I found a way to overcome this. I couldn’t allow myself to just be helpless anymore and let the wicked ways of the world control me. Not when I had the choice to fight. Not when... they could hurt the people closest to me.” He was facing her now, his crystal blue eyes boring into her amethyst ones.

“I still don’t understand-” she cut herself before she could even finish that thought. She realized now what he was saying. “Are you telling me that the reason you arranged this whole ‘master’ business was in self-defense? It was so you could protect me?” her voice raised a few notches, plainly showing her irritation.

“I was Slade’s apprentice, Raven.” he spat out. “I had only two choices in that life: it was either kill or be killed. I was faced with the kind of darkness that you had never seen. There was no way out. There was no room for a hero there, only men who would do anything to survive. So I had to let go of the Robin persona that I held on to for so long. I had to be the man that I needed to be. I had to be Dick Grayson. And the only thing he--- I could do to survive, to truly get out of that situation, was to control the darkness. Instead of being sucked in, I became stronger; I used the darkness to my advantage. And pretty soon, I was the one in control. I found a way to gain power, and before long, I had overcome the darkness. I was ruling it.” His voice was filled with a deep-rooted pride that Raven had to take a step back, feeling overwhelmed by the sudden upsurge in his emotions.

“I had to do it.” he began once again, in a softer tone now, “to become stronger than I already was. You know more than anyone how important that is to me, right? So that I can protect you better. And by controlling the darkness that surrounds us, I can be the strongest there is and ensure your safety. Nothing is darker than the heart of man, Raven.”

For once, she had no idea what to say. She didn’t know what to make of Robin’s strange confession. With all honesty, she felt a bit guilty for being part of the reason as to how he ended up as the “master.” When he talked about controlling the darkness, she wondered just how powerful he really was. It frightened her, but at the same time intrigued her. She was, after all, part demon. She could see it in his dark blue eyes, the blackness of his heart, and the darkness of his soul.

“I’m only doing what Speedy is doing. Risking everything just to protect the people that he loves.” He placed his warm arms around Raven, bringing her petite frame into his embrace. “You wouldn’t fault me for doing that, would you?”

“So you’re just telling me this to get on my good side?” she managed to blurt out. She tried to squirm in his grasp, trying to break free, but to no avail.

“I’m trying to make you understand, Raven.” he replied with a sigh. “Out of all of the Titans, you would know best about the existence of gray areas, of controlling the darkness that lives inside all of us.”

“I don’t embrace my darkness, Richard. I repress it. There is a difference. If I didn’t do that, then the whole world would just be fire and brimstone.” She broke free of his grasp to stare right into his blue eyes.

“But there is a better way than just repressing it. You have to overcome your darkness, control it instead of letting it control you. Dictate your wishes instead of allowing it to dictate your life. We will never win if we just keep on fighting the darkness that is very much a part of our souls. We have to conquer it, make it work for us, so that we will reap the best reward.”

“Which is...?”

“Power, beyond your wildest dreams. And a life with each other.”

“Wha...?” she tried to ask, but she was stopped by Robin’s finger over her mouth.

“Raven, I am giving you a choice. Come with me, and I will lead you into a life of power and wealth; you will be a Queen in your own right. You will be my Queen. And you won’t ever have to worry about your demonic side letting lose ever again. But if you stay with the Titans, you will be faced with defeat, and well, you’ll just be like Speedy, a victim in this dark and treacherous world.”

She looked down to the ground, not even wanting to look at the man before her, a man she could barely recognize. She couldn’t understand what he was doing, or why he was doing it. Why was he telling her everything? Why was he giving away the secrets of his soul? Was this his way of controlling her?

“Don’t think that just because you showed me Speedy’s secret that I’ve forgiven you.” She suddenly said, still keeping her eyes glued to the ground. “Just because you shared your secrets to me doesn’t mean I’ll suddenly follow you to the ends of the Earth. I’m still a Titan, Richard. And you’re asking me to forget the ideals and the morals that I’ve fought so hard to uphold for the past five years. Morals and ideas that you taught me yourself.” Her eyes were suddenly alight with a burning rage, igniting the dying embers of her own anger. “Forgive me if I can’t come running into the arms of a murderer and a master.”

“Raven,” his tone was low, unlike his usual voice, somehow masking the desperation that was leaking into it, “if you even care for me even just a fraction of how much I care for you---“

“A fraction? Oh please!” she suddenly exclaimed, cutting him off from his speech. Her tone was acidic, clearly speaking of her frustration which was strangely directed at herself. “I shouldn’t even be considering your crazy proposition! And yet here I am, letting my heart make decisions for my mind. If you don’t call that love, I don’t know what is.”

His eyes widened at her emotional admittance (well, emotional for Raven’s standards). Did she just admit that she did have feelings for him? Despite of everything that he did before her eyes, despite his admission of the darkness and how it surrounded his heart, she still loved him. He wasn’t sure how it happened, but frankly he didn’t care. All he knew was that she loved him enough to consider his proposition, even if he was eons away from who he was before. He vowed to do everything in his power to win her over and finally make her his. No matter what the cost.

“Well I’m not as bad as you think, once you get to know me.” He suddenly teased, his tantalizing blue eyes glistening in mischief. “In fact, didn’t you say you were still mad at me for punching you? Why don’t I make it up to you, then?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, knowing that he was planning something else behind this sudden idea. She couldn’t help but be on guard whenever she was with him, but allowing her curiosity to get the best of her, she replied, “What are you thinking, Richard?”

“How about I get rid of this gang threat in Roy’s area? So that he doesn’t have to do dirty gang work during his off-hours as a Titan, and of course, so that little Lian will be safe.” His lips curved into a mischievous smile as he took out a cell phone and started keying a number on it.

Raven had to admit, she liked the idea that Robin was giving her. After healing Roy and his family countless of times, she wanted nothing more for the archer than peace and safety for his family. And if it was going to take trusting a crazed master of evil to do it, then it was probably worth the price.

“Just don’t kill them.” She pleaded, just above a whisper, finally conceding to his idea.

Robin let out a sigh as he placed the phone near his ear. “Fine.” He spat out, obviously inconvenienced at her request. “You’re lucky I love you.” He muttered under his breath as he started talking to someone on the phone. Despite herself, she couldn’t help but smile at what he said, finding him just a little cute when he blurted those words out.

“Yes hello, recruit this gang in Sector 3 of the Glades, Starling City.- Yes, I’m serious.- No you can’t kill them.- Just make sure they stay as far away from the Glades as possible.- I know, I know it’d be easier if we could kill them but- Yeah, yeah just do it.” And with that, he ended his phone call, with a slightly irritated expression on his face as he turned toward Raven.

“There. Now little Lian and her grandmother are safe. You’re welcome, by the way. Can I get a little kiss for my heroic efforts?” he teased once again, his eyebrows rising suggestively.

Raven just shook her head, a playful smile dancing on her lips before she said, “Your efforts consisted of a single phone call. I wouldn’t call that heroic at all.” Before she knew it, she was teasing him back. And she mentally berated herself for that.

“Fine, fine. That’s what I get for arguing with a superhero on the definition of heroic efforts.” He chuckled and they both felt comfortable around each other, for the first time since his sudden return. But this comfort was quickly shattered when he added, “Though if it isn’t too much to ask, I was hoping if you could… not flirt with Speedy first..?”

“I do not flirt with Roy!” she spat out defensively. “I saved his butt a couple of times, even his daughter. Of course we’d become close.”

Robin simply shook his head. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. He has feelings for you, Raven! Why do you think I had to beat him up like that? It was to tell him to stay away from you. Unfortunately, I don’t think he can take a hint.”

“You are overreacting. We are just friends. That’s all there is to it. Nothing more, nothing less.” she said, pointing a finger at his chest.

“He touches himself while thinking of you! I’ve seen it so many times already!”

“He what?” Raven said, exasperated at the sudden turn of their conversation. Suddenly, his face turned into a shade of bright pink, realizing what he had just said to the empath.

“Uhh.. I mean… he does that thing…that M-thing… while thinking of you.” He replied unsurely, realizing how awkward the situation was, even though they were both adults at this point.

“Meditation? Yeah, I taught him that to calm his nerves down and to give him a better perspective in his life. Of course he’d think of me while doing that.” She replied, oblivious to what Robin was trying to tell her.

“No!” he exclaimed, surprised at her naiveté. He then sighed and just gave up on the explanation; he forgot that she was raised by monks, after all. “You know, that thing that guys do… uh forget it. Just…just stay away from him, okay?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, wondering why he was acting oddly. She then gave a half-hearted shrug before saying “You know, for an evil master, you make the least sense.”

“Yeah, yeah whatever.” I’m going to give you a proper education, Raven. Once you become mine. He thought to himself in a strange mixture of mischief and resignation.

Just then, Raven’s communicator rang, disrupting the silence that came upon them. She took it out and flipped the lid, saying a quick “Yeah, I’m on my way.” to Speedy’s face on the screen before she shut the small device, not even giving the archer a chance to speak.

“Well Richard, it seems I have to…” just when she looked up from her communicator, she realized that she was all alone in the rooftop, without a sign of Robin anywhere.

She heaved a sigh, slightly irritated by his disappearing act before she finally teleported to Speedy’s side to take them both back to the Tower.

Unbeknownst to her, Robin was watching her from a nearby rooftop. She had no idea how much her admission meant to him. It only ignited his burning desire to have her, to claim her as his own. Now, he was desperate to have her by his side, which meant that he was ready to unleash his devious plan upon the Titans. And he was sure, that they wouldn’t be the same when he was finally done with them.

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