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How times have changed

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The dark was overwhelming. Bright flashes of light blinked in and out of his vision. Angry faces appear inches from his face and he tries to get away but something is restricting that. Saws and other metal instruments appear, making his heart beat anxiously. The sight of the needle coming menacingly closer is too much and Steve wakes with a gasp. Bolting upright in bed he pants and takes in his surroundings. The sweaty sheets are tangled around his legs and shafts of sunlight are illuminating the familiar sight of his room. Focusing on these surroundings, he tries to calm his breathing and push the dream out of his head.

Collapsing back on the pillows he counts each breath in and out. Staring at the ceiling, he looks for the cobwebs hanging down and promises himself to get a duster later on in the day. Contemplating the list of cleaning jobs he needs to do to keep the house decent, he is startled out of it when the sound of footsteps on the tiles downstairs reaches him. Leaping out of bed he grabs his bat from under the bed and cautiously creeps out of his room. Leaning around the door frame he scans the corridor and stairs for signs of life. Seeing nothing, he slowly edges down the stairs. Hearing footsteps coming his way he takes a deep breath and leaps around the corner, raising the bat threateningly.

A high pitched scream is emitted at this threat and he lowers the bat as he takes in the sight of his mother standing in the hallway. "Steve!" She shrieks and the heavy stomp of his father is heard. "What on earth do you think you're doing, scaring your mother like that?" He shouts, getting up in Steve's face and pulling the bat from his hands. "You could do some real damage with something like this! It's not some toy you know." His father criticises. "Aw baby what happened to your face?" His mother asks acting concerned, she grabs his chin and twists his face around to examine the bruises. Steve tries not to flinch as her acrylic nails dig into his skin. "Doesn't matter." Steve mutters pulling his face out of her grasp. "You look like someone beat the crap out of you." His father sneers, to which Steve just grunts and turns away heading back towards the stairs. "Do not walk away from me." His father shouts grabbing onto Steve's arm. "What do you care?" Steve shouts back. "What happened to my son? I used to actually be proud of you and now look at you." His father scoffs, eyeing Steve up and down disappointedly. The words are like a punch to the gut, but he swallows and then looks his father in the eyes. "I don't want you to be proud of me then, because unlike before I actually quite like myself at the moment." Steve spits back at him, pulling his arm out of his grasp and marching up the stairs trying to ignore his father swearing insults at his back.

He makes it until his door is slammed closed behind him till he collapsed against it, sinking to the floor, sobs racking his body. He pulls his knees close to his chest, trying to ground himself in something, anything. Time drags on and it feels like forever before he can suck in a breath and feel somewhat in control again. As soon as he can, he grabs the nearest clothes off his floor and dresses. Taking a deep breath he opens his door, grabs his shoes and car keys from the bowl and he's out the front door.

The rev of the engine is comforting and he turns the stereo up loud till he can't hear the thoughts yelling in his head. He drives around aimlessly and gets a few horns honked in his direction from his lack of attention. After a while the streets look familiar again and he realises with a start that he's ended up outside Robin's house. Cutting the engine leaves a deafening silence that he can't stand so he stumbles out of the car and up towards her door. He knocks on the door and realises if her mother answers the door he is in no fit state to make conversation.

The door swings open and he lets out a sob of relief when Robins sleepy face appears on the other side. "Steve?" She asks worriedly "What are you doing here? It's like six am." Suddenly coming here feels like a mistake and he takes a step back. "Fuck is it? I'm sorry, it's fine, I'll go, don't worry about it." He stutters out and starts to stumble back towards the car. "Hey dingus! That's not what I meant." She calls out to him, running down the path after him. "Are you okay?" She asks softly once she's stood in front of him. "No." Steve murmurs and suddenly feels all the morning's emotions surge up again and just sobs, falling into her open arms and clutching at her like a lifeline. "Shhh it's gonna be okay." She whispers  comfortingly.

"Okay let me grab some clothes and then we'll go out somewhere, have some fun?" She says once he's calmed down again, making him realise that she's stood out here in the street in her sleep wear. "Yea." He says with a weak laugh. "Come on then." Robin says gesturing towards the house and striding in. "What about your parents? I can wait in the car it's fine" Steve asks worriedly, eyes scanning the house for signs of them. "They'll be fast asleep, we'll be in and out before they're up." Robin says confidently, lacing her fingers in Steve's and pulling him inside. "Oh yea, like you were I suppose?" He whispers as he's pulled up the stairs towards her room. The silence drags out for a second too long. "I was already awake." She says like its not a big deal. "Nightmares?" He asks softly and she just murmurs in agreement.

They make it into her room without incident and she goes round collecting clothes out of drawers and the wardrobe, while Steve watches awkwardly. "Turn around then. God, I thought you were a gentleman." Robin grumbles lightheartedly. "Ha ha you're hilarious." Steve snarks back, but turns around anyway. He stares at the posters up on her walls (at least the ones he can see without turning around) and the little ornaments and momentos scattered around. Her room feels like a home. "Right, let's go." She says tapping him on the shoulder. "Do you need to tell your parents?" He asks and she grimaces. "Eugh, I should probably leave a note or something." She says distractly while searching around for some paper and a pen.

They make it to the downstairs hall, before they both froze at the sound of movement upstairs. When an upstairs door opens they race out of the house, giggling as they go. Clambering into the car, they make their escape and for the first time all morning they both feel okay, even if it is only temporary.