Why the hell was he here?
He thought as he looked at the same photos that he did first the last week and a half. The two week exhibition of a German photographer that he barely knew anything about outside of the wikipedia page. He should be out doing patrol, maybe grabbing a bite to eat with his team, and yet here he was in New York, staring at photos that he didn’t really understand.
It had been a case that he and Zatanna had been working on for months. They’ve gone to numerous magic users and yet they still couldn’t understand the symbols. Kori was the one that gave him the idea as she tried to read the text, not even an alien who knew who knows how many languages understood the pages.
“If only Raven was here.” The Alien sighed as her green eyes closed sadly. “She would have been able to understand the symbols or at least identify what the language is.”
So, maybe he stole Dick’s files on his former teammate, it wasn’t like he was using them anyways. The last bits of information since she apparently vanished was a few texts over a year ago. The texts consisted of updates of where she was and what she was up to. The last time was when they had quite a long chain, just talking about their days, about what they were up to. She had taken a cooking class in the South of Italy, saying her cooking wasn’t as awful as they once were. And he could almost see his older brother’s smile as he read the text, the softness in the way they interacted. The way he teased her through the text message, he wondered how many of these that ended so abruptly turned into late night phone calls.
He circled key things, noting the places she went to, random to most, but he saw the pattern. She was going through time, not literally of course, but he wondered if she could do that. She started in Kenya, staying there for a week. Probably learning about the first woman, and moved onwards to parts of Asia, then to Europe. She also jumped to South America to visit Peru. She was going through history. Staring at the world map he created, mapping out the cities and countries that she had been to, small notes here and there on the duration of time she spent in each city.
Tim wouldn’t lie, he felt a bit like a stalker, but he was also desperate to close this case. Maybe that was why he was so uncomfortable standing here in this gallery, staring at pictures of were mistakes in the dark room.
“This was stupid.” He said under his breath. What if she never showed up? What if he assumed incorrectly? Who knew if she still liked this photographer, he sure as hell didn’t like the art. He just saw the mistakes and called it art, if anything this Wolfgang was a fraud, a pseudo—
“Timothy?” A soft voice called and he whipped around quickly, staring the woman before him. Her hair was longer than the last time he saw her, which was probably the last time she was a hero. She had it in a low ponytail, and while he half expected her to be wearing black or some other literation of dark shades, instead she wore a pair of brown slacks and light blue blouse. She was also wearing glasses. He wondered if they were prescribed or not. In her arms was a book, probably the artist’s. She looked so different yet so familiar at the same time. “What are you doing here?” A quirk of her brow as she looked at him, head tilted in almost a cute manner. Did he just say cute?
“Hey Raven!” He said with a bright smile, so all of this was not all for vain. He did end up finding her. But that’s when he noted the way she lifted a finger to her lips, as if to say quiet.
“It’s Rachel now.”
“Oh. Sorry. Rachel.” He said with a sheepish smile before he took a step towards her while rubbing the back of his neck. “I didn’t know you liked this art—“
“You knew. Let’s not play stupid now. I may not be in your world anymore, but I’m still an empath. I also remember saying it once or twice when we had our little small talks.”
“Am I that terrible of a liar?” He asked almost incredulous at the way she shut him down, this was not good for him. If he was going to be taken seriously, he would have to learn how to lie better. Shit.
“Just a little.” She said with a soft smile, and he swore his heart jumped at the sight. She was pretty when she smiled. A thought he saved in the back of his head.
Taking a step towards him, she motioned for him to follow her. “You can tell me why you are here while I look around.” And he followed behind her, knowing each photo by heart at this point.. But he still followed along and when she began talking about each piece, about how the artist used the light, the mistakes, to create something beautiful, he saw it too. He didn’t understand it for a week despite overhearing art critics and other art lovers talk about it. But when she spoke, with that soft voice, talking about how it was more about seeing the world through a different lens, a different perspective, creating a fragility within an art world that demanded perfection. He finally began enjoying the artwork before him.
Why the hell was he here?
He thought as he looked at her sitting beside him in the library, a mountain of books around them as she interpreted the pages before them. He was no help at all and yet he stayed. He could have asked her to translate and go back to do whatever he wanted. Whether that be hero work, or whether that be—just anything but instead here he was staring at her work. He stared at her as she sat in the middle of it all, a black glow surrounding another book before it flipped to the page she needed.
She was wearing the glasses again, so they were probably prescribed. He mentally noted as he stared at her, chin in his hand as he stared—at her with a softness in his eyes. Did she know she crinkled her nose when she read something in—whatever this language was? Did she know that when she learned the correct symbol for a certain spell, she would have a small quirk in the left corner of her lip.
“You’re staring again, Timothy.” She didn’t even look up, she had her head down reading a book, making notes quickly on the notebook in front of her.
“There’s not much else I can do. Unless you can teach me ancient—what was this again? Sumerian?”
“Similar but not quite. It’s like a more, informal version. You could say that it was what the common people used. ” She twirled the pen between her fingers before she flipped to the next page and then back at the photos of the things he asked her to read. “It’s actually quite interesting. You see the symbol here, means bringer of death.”
“That’s not good.” He noted with his brows furrowing as he looked over the table.
“Yeah, exactly. But in this sentence structure, it also could mean return from death.” Her eyes lifting to meet his and he felt his heart jump to the back of his throat. Did she know that there was no real way to describe the color of her eyes. Yes, they were blue, but not really blue like Dick’s eyes. They also weren’t black or purple, they were far more—“Tim?”
Shaking his head, he blinked a few times before looked back down at the picture than back at her. “Sorry about that. Late night.” A small sound of acceptance left her pink lips that looked really soft. What? Wait What? “But yeah, return from death. Also doesn’t sound good.”
“Yeah but it’s almost like a story. It’s not really a spell. I mean it is, but it’s like—“She leaned into him a bit more, and he swore that it got harder to breathe. Coughing a couple of times, he put his arm on the back of chair as she leaned in and began telling him the story behind the spell.
“So, there was this woman who loved a man. I know, very typical witch-y stuff.” The way she made a lighthearted joke, the way she smiled at him with that playful grin, brought a smile to his lips. “But it wasn’t even like out of distain that she created this spell. It was more along the lines of deep unconditional love. A love that broke her. A love that made her want to break her immortality.” Pointing at a symbol that looked like a bunch of circles. “The one she loved was not hers to love, according to this—He was to be with another woman. But this other woman was dying. And of course the man thought that this would be the chance for him and our spell creator to be together. And it should be a happy ending, but rather than do that. She saw that this dying woman would be the one that could provide him children, a life, a future that she couldn’t. So, she gave up her life, to save another woman. A woman that could love her lover better than she could. It’s almost,” A sigh as she lowered her pen. “Poetic. Truly unconditional, selfless love. Putting the needs of others before her own emotions.”
“It’s still a tragedy. He didn’t love the other woman.” Tim whispered quietly. “Imagine losing someone you loved like that. For her to sacrifice their happiness for what she believed to be right? She chose his future for him instead of letting it play out. Who knows maybe—“
“She chose to give him a life. A life, a future. It is tragic.” She said gently before she looked at him and he felt his heart almost break at the way her eyes looked. They were not bright with interest in the reading like it was before, no, it was sympathetic to the spell creator. It was a knowing look as if she knew what it must have felt like to give up on someone you loved in order to give them the best future. “But you can’t say it wasn’t the right choice. People do crazy things for love, after all. ”
Why the hell was he here?
He thought as he waited outside the lecture hall. He could have waited in the car. Hell he could have asked her to meet him at the library or something. Everything would have been better than waiting like an idiot in the rain outside. He stood out there waiting for her and he was sure her class had ended, whispers from passing students. Isn’t that Tim Drake? Bruce Wayne’s son right? Do you think he could get me his brother’s number. Bringing the umbrella more down to cover his face, he felt himself groan. He would never have thought that anyone would willingly go to school, but then again, Rachel was always full of surprises. A normal life, with normal friends, at a normal school. She had decided to enroll for a few classes at Columbia.
The pit pat of the rain against the umbrella was soothing as he stood out there, waiting for his new companion. New York wasn’t too far from Gotham. And being a super and having friends with transporting abilities, well, moving across the country wasn’t difficult so nether would a few cities out. This wasn’t going out of his way. Nope. Not at all. And he will continue to say this.
“Sorry to keep you waiting!” She said as she ducked under his umbrella as she shook some of the drops of water out of her dark hair. It was past her shoulders now, today she had pinned it up into a bun before she looked up at him. “You said you found more pages of the book?”
“Yeah, but first let’s get something to eat. I’m starving.”
“Oh, okay.” She said a bit sheepish before as she looked around. “I think the food hall is closed but I’m sure that there’s a cafe around here. I’ll treat you since I kept you waiting.”
“You think I waited for cafe food?” A small smirk appearing on his lips as he put an arm over her shoulder and headed to where his car was parked. “Nah, we’re going to this really nice Indian place I know of and then we are going to get to work.”
“Yeah. What you expected me to say spaghetti or something?”
“No. Just, i was craving something spicy.”
“Good.”He whispered head turning to look at her before he realized how close he was, her lips being so close, her beautiful eyes staring up at him, wide with surprise. Then he jumped back realizing and she got stuck in the rain.
“Hey!” She said before her hand waved and his umbrella flew out of his hand into hers. She glared at him and he got soaked. Blinking like a fish he realized he was getting wet and felt a grin stretch across his lips. Wet hair sticking to both their faces, he quickly ran after her as she ran away with the umbrella in hand.
“Give that back!” He said with a laugh as he chased her, and then he heard the most beautiful thing in the world. Her laugh. It was so bright and light that he almost couldn’t believe it left the lips of the mistress of darkness. He didn’t know that she could be so playful, and yet he was glad he got to see this side of her. Catching her hand, he grabbed it and pulled her close, and with that she dropped the umbrella.
Both of their chests heaving as they tried to catch their breath, the rain falling against their skin as they stared into each other’s eyes. His blue eyes that looked more grey than the bright blue that Dick sported stared into the pair of magnificent eyes that was Rachel’s. He looked at her before he moved a piece of her hair away from her cheek, slowly as he stared at her with wonder and amazement. They stared at each other and it felt like time stopped and he just felt the smile on his lips lift and never leave.
It had now been a few weeks since he first met her at the gallery. Every moment he could, he came to see her here in this city, watching her work the case, watching her brilliant mind work. He saw her compassion as she quietly healed children who had hurt themselves. He had seen her stop small crimes from happening to her neighbors. Like a quiet angel in the city, she guarded over them without any desire to be known.
And as he looked down at her, his hand around her waist, one hand on her cheek, he wanted to kiss her. He wanted to know what those soft pink lips felt like. For how long? He didn’t know, maybe since he started noticing it when she spoke to him. Or the way she’d bite it when she got frustrated over a particular translation. Or maybe when she licked it, catching the little bit of ice cream she was enjoying over their last meeting.
He wondered how soft they’d feel. How sweet they’d taste. And then just as he was centimeters away, there was a growl.
And then the magical sound that was her laugh bubbled out of her again. This time softer, before she pulled away, used her magic to bring the umbrella back over them. And he didn’t know how she did it, but with a sweep of her hand, they were dry, as if they weren’t just playing in the rain a moment ago. “So Indian?” She asked while holding the umbrella, a soft smile on those pink lips.
Why the hell was he here?
He thought as he watched her walk through this country club and towards a couple. She had asked him to give her ride to the Hamptons. No questions asked. She called it payment for all the free translating she had been providing. He had obliged with a smile and when he picked her up from her apartment in Brooklyn, in a sundress none the less. He said nothing. Noted that she looked nice, and she gave him a soft smile. Telling him that she felt awkward. He said she looked like a good girl going to church and that earned him a playful shove.
Arms crossed as he watched from behind, walking slowly behind her as if this was a mission. As if this wasn’t some nice rich people party in the Hamptons.
She looked so scared as she walked to the couple that was clearly being honored.
“Hmn?” The woman turned around to face a girl that looked eerily familiar to the daughter that she had forced herself to forget. The child that had run away and broke her heart. The one she had forced herself to forget, to say that she had died in a tragic car accident rather than a runaway black sheep. Dropping the glass of champagne, the crash brought attention to her husband who now turned and had the same shocked expression. “Ang—“
“My name is Rachel.” She sounded so small, but judging from the hair color alone the woman once had a hair color similar to the indigo mixed with black that Rachel had. They must be her grandparents. They had spoken in between the dinners and the translations of what she was doing in New York to begin with. She had said that her grandparents had long moved from Gotham to New York, to settle into a life that was more accustomed to their tastes. And after her mother left, they had wanted to get away from a place that reminded them all too much of the daughter that had left them. “My mother was Angela Roth and—“
“We know no one of that name.” The older man boomed with anger as he looked at the young girl. “And you dare come here? To our wedding anniversary to what, claim you are our long lost grandchild?”
“Bill, look at her.”
“I will not! She is nothing but a con artist! She probably is just here to get some money out of us.” He hissed cruelly and Tim couldn’t help but clench his hands into fists. How could someone say that to Rachel? To someone that came with such good intentions, that wanted nothing more than to greet her grandparents. He knew that she could feel everything they were, and he didn’t need to be an empath to know. They hated her before they even had a chance to know her.
She had her head down, looking hopeless. She had said how she wanted to learn more about her mother, about her more human side. And that started with knowing about these people who wanted nothing to deal with her. She just wanted to find a family she could call her own. She deserved better than this. He thought as he began walking towards her.
“Please. I just want to tell you about your daughter. My mother, she wanted to apologize. I want to apologize. She never wanted to hurt you.” She tried again, her eyes lifting to look at them, begging for them to listen. She could use her powers, get into their heads, take away this feeling of doubt and anger that they were feeling towards her. But that wouldn’t be what her mother wanted. “Angela, she—“
“Don’t you dare say her name!”
And that’s when the man lifted his hand, ready to slap the girl for saying his daughter’s name and when Tim rushed forward to grab it, glaring up at him. His grip tightening as he pulled Rachel behind him. “I thought all rich people cared about was manners. It’s not very polite to hit people especially women.” Tim hissed through his teeth.
“Tim.” Raven’s eyes widened as she felt his other hand grip her hands tightly and hold her behind him.
“What’s going on here?” A man who walked towards the commotion and stared at the man that gripped his father’s wrist tightly, a snarl on his lips while protecting a girl that looked eerily like the little sister that he lost. “Let go of my father! Who the fuck are you?”
Tim swinging the older man’s hand away, he still stood in front of Rachel, protectively and ready to pull her away and get away from this place that pretended to be all beautiful but was really just ugly. All of it was so ugly. So fake, so artificial. It didn't suit Rachel. It didn't deserve her.
“Isn’t that Tim Drake? Heir to the Drake fortune? Adopted son of Bruce Wayne?” He heard the whispers and the saw the man that was ready to hit Rachel’s expression change.
“We didn’t know we’d have such an honored guest. If I had known,” The man who he guessed was Rachel’s uncle came and with that ugly smile. A smile of taking advantage of the situation at hand. And that was enough to have Tim swing at him and punch him squarely in the face.
“Your dad was going to hit my girlfriend. You really have no excuse there.”Tim said with forced smile. “Especially when all she wanted was to wish her grandparents a happy anniversary. But I see we were incorrect in thinking you were good people.” He knew he shouldn’t speak on her behalf, but he hated the way she shrank away. He could practically see the half moon marks her nails made into the palm of her skin. They didn’t deserve her. They didn’t deserve her at all. They didn’t deserve her smile, her sympathy, her heart. They didn’t deserve any of it. They can rot in hell for all he cared about. Tightening his grip of her hand, he pulled her away, feeling the way she lightly hit his arm, asking him let her go. But that only made him grip harder, he wasn’t going to let them use her. He could already see the greedy thoughts filtering through their heads. How can we take advantage of this situation? Should we accept this stranger who came with her heart in her hands just to use her for own personal gain? They were selfish, disgusting, and undeserving of her.
“Tim, let me go. I came here to— I have to go apologize, Tim!”
“For what? What the hell do you have to apologize for?! You deserve better!” He snapped and turned to face her. “You deserve better than to having to apologize for what? For being born? Cause I’m not. I’m glad you’re here. You deserve better than a family that doesn’t care. That only wants to keep up with an image. They don’t care about you but I do.” He said putting both of his hands on her shoulders. “You deserve better than giving your heart to a family that doesn’t care. Your mother deserves better than them.”Eyes searching for her, wanting her to look at him.
And when she did, he wanted to punch that old man in the face. He didn’t care anymore. Because he didn’t deserve her tears, she shouldn’t be shedding any tears for that piece of shit. He thought quietly before as he looked down to see the cloud of blues and purples in her eyes, tears at the rim of her eyes, falling slowly as she looked at him.
“I don’t know what I was thinking. That maybe if I wore this dress, maybe if I looked the part. That if I came here, they’d accept me? Tell me that I am welcomed into their family. That I’d finally have a family that I can be proud of. But how could anyone want to be my family?” Her choked sobs made his heart break. “No one ever wants me. I mean, no matter how much I try, I’ll still be a bastard. I’ll still be a half demon. I’ll still be—” He took a step towards her being he cupped her face with his hands and looked down at her, a soft expression on his face.
“You’ll still be Rachel.” He whispered softly as he looked down at her, she was only a couple of inches shorter than him in those heels. “Brilliant, stunning, and absolutely breath taking. You’ll still be the woman who has such a beautiful heart that I can’t help but wonder if you’re really not half angel.” A choked laugh as she punched his chest lightly, shoving him a bit before he just gave her a soft sad smile. “If they don’t want you, fuck them. They don’t deserve you. They haven’t earned you. No one could possibly be good enough for someone as amazing as you.” He whispered, thumbs drawing circles and wiping away the tears staining her cheeks.
“Not even me. How could anyone deserve that beautiful smile of yours? That wonderful laugh? The cute way you read a book? How can anyone possibly be able to say that they deserve a genius like you? A beautiful genius. ” He confessed before he leaned in and finally kissed her. And damn, her lips were softer than he could imagine. They were soft, and she tasted sweet but he could taste the salt from the tears that must have fallen. Pulling away, he pressed his forehead against hers and gave her the softest expression that made her heart clench and made the tears fall again. But this time for a completely different reason, because he had taken it and she didn’t mind that he did. “But I’m going to try. I’m going to fucking try my hardest To deserve you, to earn your love, to be able to call you mine. I want you. I want you so badly and I know this will take time, but I don’t mind waiting. You’re worth it.”
And with that he felt her get up to her toes and kiss his lips again.
Why the hell was he here?
He thought as he snuck in through her window. Honestly he should get that looked into, it was far too easy to get into her apartment. New York may not be as dangerous as Gotham, but he’d rather be safe than sorry. It was past two in the morning, she was probably sleeping. She had texted him saying she just finished last papers for the semester and now he was here still in his full tactical gear.
“I should leave.” He whispered but then he saw her, sleeping on her stomach hair sprayed out. A small smile appearing on his lips, he quickly slipped out of his boots, cause at least that way he wouldn’t make too much noise. He sat at the edge of her bed, moving the paper that had an almost finished crossword to the nightstand. “Five down, Hermann Hesse.” he whispered before he turned his attention back to Rachel. He slowly let his gloved fingers move a piece of her hair that was in her face.
She looked so cute when she slept. And he swore that was a little bit of drool on the pillow. She must be so exhausted. He thought, noting the dark circles and making a memo to make sure that she took care of herself better. He could watch her sleep all day.
“You know, your emotions are really loud.” She whispered into the pillow, groaning as she slowly stirred awake. And he felt a low chuckle leave him as she slowly got up from the bed, rubbing her eyes like a child as she pouted at him for waking her up.
“You should lock your windows.” He reprimanded as he took hold of her other hand and interlaced their fingers together.
“I knew you were gonna come in so I may have unlocked them so that I wouldn’t have to deal with this and get some more sleep but your emotions are just so loud.” Her voice was husky from just waking up, she was still half asleep. “You didn’t get hurt, did you? Do you have anything I need to heal?”
“Nothing at all. Came her with only a couple of scratches and maybe a bruise or two but that’s just life as a hero.” He had a boyish grin on his lips and had to bite the inside of his cheek as he saw the way she glared up at him. She’s so cute.
“Mmhmnn.” She growled, he knew that she would in the morning check his body for any major injuries, and maybe even heal the minor ones. Not that he minded, it just meant that he’d also get a chance to inspect her body. “Get your mind out of the gutter, Timothy.” Was she blushing? Oh, yes she was, he thought with bemusement as he saw the light pink hue that graced her cheeks.
“What can I say, I really missed you, Rach.” He whispered quietly before he stole a kiss which earned him a soft shove. “Hey, that hurt. I think you might have to inspect me a bit earlier.” He said with a big smile before he pushed her down on the bed and looked down at her, the blush now deepening on her cheeks, the grin on his lips growing.
“You are dirty. You just travelled I don’t know how many cities. You should also be getting some rest.” She said softly, but that wasn’t deterring her from touching his cheek softly, looking at him with those beautiful eyes of hers.
“Well you’re worth it. I’d make Bart get me here half way across the world if it meant I can give you a kiss before the sun rises.” A soft groan that left her lips before she pressed them against his and she let her magic free from his uniform, neatly folded on top of the couch. He was now clad only in his boxers hovering over his very sleepy but very adorable girlfriend. He looked down at her with a raised brow and a smirk. "Oh? I am very glad I came here now."
“Shut up. I just don’t want to be cuddling with Red Robin. I’d rather be have some skin to skin contact.” She said while looking away, suddenly thinking the wall was the most interesting thing in the world.
“Whatever helps you sleep at night, Rach.”Tim said before he turned her head with his fingers and leaned down to kiss her lips. “Or not.” And that earned him a laugh and shove before she rolled on top of him, looking down at him, hair falling and framing her face. “I just came here for an innocent kiss, Rach, I swear.”
“You are a terrible liar, Tim.”
“Shit really? That bad?” He didn’t really care, all he cared about was keeping that smile on her lips, that beautiful smile that made his heart jump. She was still so pretty when she smiled.
“Just a little.”And with that she sealed his lips for another kiss.
Why the hell was here here?
Oh, that’s right. Because of her. And there was no where he’d rather be.