Down the Rabbit Hole
Raven was a riddle. Wally had never liked riddles, didn't care for them and certainly got headaches from them. But Raven was the one riddle that Wally wanted to solve. Each bit of information he recovered on her made him need to know more and more.
She liked to count to calm herself down, rather than meditate. She liked white roses. She held a part time job being a card dealer at a famous Jump City casino!
It didn't match with the profile everyone had set on the mysterious Titan. No, Raven's profile was dark and morbid. She meditated on the roof often. She didn't like games, she liked to read. She was supposed to prefer dark colors.
Not that Wally was paying any special attention or stalking her or anything. Just that he was curious about the most enigmatic Teen Titan.
Jinx said not to bother. That although Jinx respected and admired Raven a little, the gothic styled Titan was untouchable and at worse fueled by bloodlust. Wally would be easily dismissed by Raven.
But Wally knew he had always been stubborn, and this time was no exception. Just in case, he left his will on his dresser.
Holding a plate with two chocolate parfaits and a cup of herbal tea in the other, he barge into Raven's room, consequently forgetting to knock. Damn him and his brashness.
Luckily Raven didn't seem to notice. In fact, she seemed to be sleeping peacefully in a small, glossy purple…nightgown. Wally faltered, almost dropping everything. He had barely acknowledged that it was nighttime.
Her face seemed so soft and her eyes were gentle in her sleep. Her body was positioned so delicately, just as her shoulder length hair fanned out on the pillow. It looked so silky and shiny…
Wally couldn't help himself as he daringly petted her hair once. It wasn't his fault he was easily distracted by shiny and pretty things. Bonus if it was soft. Hey! At least he aimed for her hair and not the nightgown.
But the whole thing seemed un-Raven like. Though if those angry violet eyes said anything, Wally was sure he wouldn't live to see another day. Wait…what?
Oh for the love of food!
Wally let out a small scream before thrusting out the tea and parfaits, smiling pitifully.
"Truce?" he squeaked out.
The plate and cup glowed black and Wally raced out of there, just as his gift offerings smashed into the wall behind him.
He did mention how stubborn he was, right? Well, take that into account and you could almost understand his next suicidal attempt.
This time, at her job.
"Hiya Raven! Nice shindig. Do you have food on ya?" Wally grinned at her.
Her stoic face was set in a scowl as she saw him, her eyes glaring daggers.
"West. What do you want?" Her monotone voice interrogated him.
"A minute of your time," he kept on grinning.
Raven rolled her eyes, "Plenty of caffeine, Mr. Speed Freak?"
Wally laughed, speeding to her side. "But of course. So, you're gonna teach me how to put on a poker face and make people lose their money?"
Raven ignored him, shuffling a deck of cards and doing elaborate bridges and throws. "Stick to playing Uno, West. You'll be less of a hazard to yourself and others."
"Ahh, but I wanna learn!"
Raven shoved Wally away, her scowl deepening. He could hear her counting under her breath. He knew it! Ah, he knew things that even Robin didn't know…
Unless he did know and was keeping it to himself.
Wally's widened grin lessened for a fraction of a second. But it became full blast after Raven began talking to him again.
"Look, you can mix and shuffle cards. Teach yourself how to play people."
"I don't know the rules or how to trick people."
"I don't care," Raven pointed out.
Wally swear he was about to start pouting. At least he was still alive even after five minutes of being with her…and annoying her.
Laying the deck of cards unto the table, Raven pinched the bridge of her nose. Sighing, she looked up and straight into his face. He had forgotten how captivating her looks could be. And how deep her eyes seemed.
'You're an idiot and you're going to get yourself killed at this rate, bozo.' A remarkably Jinx sounding voice entered his head.
Wally agreed. He was doomed.
"Alright, I'll teach you something else. Maybe it'll teach you some patience. How about I teach you chess later on tonight? You're crowding my table, West. Customers are getting annoyed."
Looking around at the P.O. ed and scowling faces, Wally could bet, for once, that she was right.
"'Kay, Rae! It's a date! See ya tonight at seven!" Wally flashed her one last grin before speeding out.
That was a risk, that was. Using her friends' pet name for her. After all, Raven only had the original Titans as friends –not including those kids she picked up from somewhere or other. And saying date.
'You're going to speed your way into a crash and burn situation, West.'
Dammit, Jinx! Some friend!
Wally's taken up counting as well. You see, he was sitting nervously at the original Titan's Tower living room with scary original Titans staring stoically at him. The whole situation reminded him of the talk he had with Jinx.
Not the one in his head.
"Wally, you're going to die." Jinx said matter of factly.
Wally gaped at her. Just like that! Though, it was eerily similar to Jinx-In-His-Head.
"Painfully too," she continued. Seeing his disbelieving face, she sighed. "You know I'm being sincere when I'm using your first name. I call you names, but I rarely call you by your first name or even your last name."
"Raven calls me by my last name…" Wally said, distractedly.
The pink haired witch rolled her eyes. "Get a grip, doltage. Like I said, Raven's the kind of girl that needs dark brooders like Robin. Hell, I'll bet she'd rather get together with Batman than you."
Wally's face fell.
"You don't mean that…" he protested weakly.
She looked at him sadly and shook her head. "Face it; the two of you are as mismatched as Raven and Slade. At least he's dark and brooding."
"I hate that rumor…" Wally muttered, starting to grit his teeth at the truth.
"That's just it, Wally! Raven's been paired up with virtually every guy suited to her probable likes! Every guy except happy-go-lucky preppy boys like you."
Wally was silent. He went over everything in his head and then he made up his mind.
"Raven and me…it's impossible. Yeah, yeah. I get it. I get that's what everyone thinks. But I'm not you and I'm not them. I'm Wally West and I –" Wally swallows thickly, finally admitting what this whole obsession has been about, "and I think I love her. A person I've never been properly introduced to, different from as light from day, not close to or know anything else about her other than from what I've gleaned from…my stalking."
Jinx looked sadly at him. "You're really pathetic, you know that. A real piece of work." She sighs, "You're my friend, Flash. But I just don't see it. I don't think anyone else can see you two together. The fact of the matter is…I don't think Raven will see it. And I don't want to see you get hurt, but you're just not her type."
Wally kept quiet this time.
"I'm with you…maybe not 100 percent, but I'll always be here for you. But I've been trying to become Raven's friend too, and I don't know if what you see from your 'stalking' is real…or if it's all in your head."
"I get it."
Jinx blinked in confusion. "Huh? Get what?"
A mischievous grin crept onto Wally's face. "You like Raven! That's why you're trying so hard to dissuade poor, little me from pursuing Ms. 'Dark and Brooding'."
A giant blush grew onto the hex girl's face.
"Look, I gotta jet. That way I can beat you to her! See ya!"
Wally sped out of there, his grin dominating his face until he reached a park and his face dropped into a despaired look.
Now he was in front of the Titan's, ready to swallow his fear. Deep down though, his conversation with Jinx –for real and in his head –kept repeating over and over.
"Well, Wally…it really is surprising why you're here," Robin started off.
Oh man, why did it feel like he was about to be interrogated? Cyborg and Beast Boy just kept glaring at him.
"Why is it you have sought our friend to teach you the mechanisms of the royal gaming?" Starfire demanded immediately, dropping the whole 'how do you do only I'm asking 'cause I wanna know some things' act.
Wally gulped in fear.
Thankfully, he was saved by Raven's presence entering. She was wearing casual for once, and Wally smiled widely at her. Here goes…
Walking up to her, he began to brave himself for the bold words he prepared.
"Violet Queen to E8 knocks down the villainous supporters of uprooting. The Lightning King awaits her beautiful presence." Wally said, the first part referring to her earlier battling and defeating of Killer Moth with his daughter and Mad Mod. E8 referred to the intersection when the Titans fought the villains; E for Earlington Street and 8 for Eighth Avenue. Pretty clever if you asked him…
…Though the whole thing was said a lot smoother and more suave in his mind. He had rushed it a bit…
He handed her a white rose, waiting for a response. She slowly accepted it, raising an eyebrow. Okay, he wasn't dead. Things were going along fine. For the moment.
"Um, I was thinking of taking you somewhere to play chess? That is, if you're okay with it," Wally asked even more nervously than before.
She took a moment, "Get me back before midnight, Lightning, and I'll call it an okay."
Mentally cheering and doing a victory dance in his head, Wally grinned and grabbed a hold of her. He sped them both out of there.
When everything was back to focus, the French Rose Gardens met their view. Only, all of the roses were painted white. And in the middle of the maze, in front of them, was a purple and black chess set that Wally had searched everywhere for. After all, this was his one chance and it had to be perfect.
"You know, Jinx told me to be expecting something suspicious and romantic from you. That is, in between all the ranting about how she didn't like me like that and quote 'Wally West is an idiotic twit and must burn a thousand times in hell!' unquote."
Biting his lip, he turned around to face her. Surprisingly, she was smiling softly.
"Hurry up and get to that table, West, so I can whip you at chess. You beat me or gain my respect in chess, I'll teach you poker."
And giving a loud whoop, Wally sped right to the table.
"Hey, Rae, are we gonna be like Beast Boy and Cyborg with their gamestation then?"
"Azar no. I'll rip you to shreds before walking away and leaving you here alone."
Wally moved his amethyst pawn forward. Raven answered with her black pawn.
Wally understood that Raven was a riddle. But he was on his way to solving her, at least with one piece in his hand. The Almighty Dark and Brooding Titan Raven was more like a puzzle actually.
He was working towards collecting every piece until he had all of her.