Of course Robin had wanted a city-wide search of blah blah blah and Star had tried to calm him and Gar and Cy exacerbated the issue by talking about civil rights and letting the guy be and enough. Raven could not handle it.
"Hey, what's your name?" She asked, slipping into the interrogation room, away from the barrage of her friends' anger and annoyance and frustration.
"Henry Taylor. But miss, I'm really really tired, and I don't wanna talk no more. Can I go home now?" His eyes were half-lidded, and Raven realized the kid must have been exhausted. According to him, he had just been trying to give the necklace back to the jewlery store. For all his hero worship, the child did not want a part in the theif's illegal activities. She had the mind to believe him. Her eyes softened and she held her hand out to him.
"Of course, Henry. I'll take you."
And because Raven really needed a walk (soft summer breezes and the sound of her foot-steps as city life—beeping cars, sirens, children laughing, pigeons cooing—played its symphony around her was conducive to sorting out conflicting emotions), she let the boy lead her to his home.
If ever a place needed a Robin Hood, it was Port's End. This part of town was known for drugs, human trafficking, and a whole slew of human waste, to use Robin's words. Of course he did not mean it like that but they never took any calls from this area, and it was for this reason Raven thought the cops had a cause for calling them glory seekers.
The truth was, however, that if they were going to try and stop every crime, they would never sleep. It was best to keep their skills to super villains, which made Robin's obsession with Red-X even more ridiculous. If they could go after him, why not stop human traffickers? He had said there was a difference, that Red-X was much more of a menace, but no one had believed it.
Not even Robin.
Henry's skipping pulled Raven out of her reverie.
Somewhere between noting the brothels and the community centers and the sex worker on the street corner who couldnt have been older than twelve, something snapped.
Raven had an idea.
It was devious, and silly, and a far shot, but so what?
"Henry, do you mind if I ask you for a favor?"
"Sure, miss! This is home, actually. I'll ask momma if you can come in. We have ice cream!" He stood on his toes and knocked thrice, concentration in his clear brown eyes.
"Oh, thank you, but I really can't have ice cream."
His face fell and Raven damned the sinking feeling in her heart. "But if you have tea, I'd be grateful for a mug."
The door swung open and Henry was lifted into the arms of a woman with blonde curls, clutching him close as she admonished him for running off.
"Momma, this is Raven, and I told her we'd give her some tea." Raven's smile was apologetic.
"Oh. Well, sure, come on in." She put Henry down and he rushed into the kitchen. There was the sound of cutlery clanging and the sink turning on, and finally, a microwave. Not the way she usually took her tea, but she wouldn't refuse it.
Raven stepped through the door and schooled her features. It was a home, however dilapidated it might have been. Child-made drawings covered the walls with elementary school diplomas. Toys did not litter the floors, and Raven wasn't sure if it was because Henry didn't have that many toys, or because his mother had already put most of them away.
"Ms. Taylor, I would like to leave a message for the local hero," Raven said.
The woman's arms crossed her chest, the palpable unease turning to pregnant hostility. "Yeah?"
"Yes. May I borrow a piece of paper?"
Henry popped in. "We gots peppermint. Izzat okay, miss?"
"It's perfect, thank you." He beamed and rushed back into the kitchen.
The two women stared at each other, one impassive, the other aggressive.
"He's a good person. He doesn't do things like you guys, but he does things for us you won't get your hands dirty with."
"I'm not questioning that. Nor am I threatening him."
"So what's this letter of yours going to say?"
Raven vaguely noted the sharp beep in the background and the sound of a microwave opening.
"I want to come to an understanding with him."
"Here miss!" Henry popped in. "I brought the tea and I made it just the way I like it. I hope you like it, too, because… you're nice." He beamed.
"Thank you, Henry, I'm sure it will be lovely."
It was all she could do to not choke. The child had turned it into a syrup; she felt she was drinking liquid cavities.
She swallowed it all in one go.
"Very good," she assured him, before turning back to the mother, who must have known exactly how Henry liked his tea because there was mischief in her eyes and she looked much younger. She offered a smile, and the tension eased.
"Mom, can I have ice cream?"
"Sure. Henry, grab me some paper and a pencil."
He screwed his eyes shut, whispered "Yes!" and brought his fists down in victory. Ice cream was a big deal. He rushed over with paper and a pencil that was well loved, if the bite marks were any indication, depositing them on his mother's side of the table before he ran into the kitchen.
"This isn't a trick."
"Yeah. Whatever. Just write it."
She didn't know if he would show, one week later. She sat in a café, wearing street clothes and a pink plaid scarf she secretly loved. It was how she'd told him to identify her, and thinking back, it seemed a bit ridiculous. But then, these clandestine meetings often were.
So when a not so young man with tanned olive skin and brilliant green eyes sat beside her thirty minutes later, holding his own identifier, Nicholas Nickleby, she was more than a little confused.