This was written for Haven_Corrider's Hearts and Arrows contest.
Discaimer: The characters are not mine.
Cecilia King-Jones tensely stopped at the entrance of the Justice Cave, headquarters of her former teammates. Noticing the eerie silence, she stepped in fully, positive that if the rest of the gang were there, there'd be noise, and a lot of it.
She carefully juggled her CDs, videotapes and stereo as she walked towards the gym. As she passed through the conference room, she felt guilty for sneaking back in only months after having left the team, but she decided that this was the only way to do it, in total secrecy.
With a short scream, she dropped to the floor and flung a CD case in the direction of the sound. Wait, she recognized the voice. Oops, too late!
"What--Hey!" A gauntleted hand caught the CD an inch before it hit the speaker's nose.
Cissie scrambled to her feet. "Rob?!"
"Uh, yeah? H-Hi Ciss." He cleared his throat and tried to sound casual. "Nice throw. Been taking lessons from Arsenal?" Geez, if she actually *had* Arsenal's upper body strength and speed, if she'd taken the CD out of its case, if he hadn't been looking, if he hadn't been wearing his mask and hadn't caught it... gulp. He quickly put the plastic box on the table before his hand could start shaking.
"Omigosh! Rob! Are you okay? I'm so sorry, I didn't mean--I almost--I'm so sorry!"
"Don't worry, Ciss, I'm fine. C'mon, let me help you clean this up." He hoped that getting her to focus on a different task would calm her down. And steady his own nerves as well. "So," he moved towards her and bent down, "what're you doing here?"
"Oh, I'm, uh, trying to, um..." Too embarrassed to speak, she quickly snatched the videotapes, leaving him to pick up the CDs. "D-Do you know how to dance?" she asked weakly.
Dance? Him? He used to think so, but Callie and Ives thought otherwise. Then again, he didn't have much of a social life anymore. "Um... Why do you want to know?" he asked carefully.
"Cuz, well, here." Before she could chicken out, she handed him a videotape and tried to hide her reddened face behind a curtain of long blond hair.
Robin glanced at the cover and did a double-take. Oh, *that* kind of dance. He looked down at the CDs scattered on the floor. "Cissie, why do you want to learn ballroom dancing?"
"Well, see," she finally faced him and took a deep breath. "My mom signed me up for a debutante ball, andIdon'tknowhowtodance." Bart would've been impressed.
"Debutante? But you're not going to be fifteen for another--"
"I know! And I told her that, but y'know how she likes to just do whatever *she* wants with my life without asking me."
Having picked up the mess, both of them stood up and unloaded their arms at the conference table. "If you're so against it, why do you want to learn how to dance?"
She heaved a sigh. "Well, cuz, I was kinda thinking, well, it sounded kinda cool, y'know? Like, like a big ol' birthday party, only 'Sweet Fifteen,' instead of sixteen."
Tim dimly recalled that his mother used to be involved in setting these kinds of parties up, that is, when she and his father weren't travelling around the world. Without him.
"But, Cissie, they don't do that kind of dancing anymore. It's more like a prom or something."
She groaned. "Don't I wish! No, this kind is real traditional, real high society. That's why she signed up so early, so she wouldn't wind up on some sort of waiting list."
"I'm sorry for asking, but if it's such high society, how did they let her even try in the first place? I mean, I've never heard of any King-Jones before--" He stopped abruptly before giving anymore of his own social background away.
Luckily, she didn't notice. "Mom said something about me being related to a Queen family, real old money and all that." She shrugged. "I kinda doubt it, though. I mean, she'd say practically anything to get her way."
Thoughts flashed through Robin's mind. Queen? Oliver Queen, the old Green Arrow? And Cissie's mom, the former Miss Arrowette? They're all archers. Conner Hawke, the current Green Arrow, was Queen's son, so it's possible that he could have another child no one else knew about...
"So, uh, Rob? Why're you here so late?" She motioned that the books and papers spread out over the table.
He mentally filed his musings for later. "Hm? Oh, just working on some theoretical aerodynamics," he mumbled abstractly. He looked longingly at his Christmas wish list. He *really* wanted a Batwing this year.
"Oh." That was what she admired about him, his dedication to the team. While everyone else was out having fun or goofing off, he usually stayed behind to work on making the team better. Still, there were times when he worked too much. "Uh, so, do you know how to dance?"
He had a brief flashback to the lessons he was forced to take. Young 'gentlemen' were expected to know how to dance, his parents had told him, although he was pretty sure his father had never learned. He blushed a bit. "Well, kinda, I mean, it's been a while, and I probably forgot some stuff--"
"Could you teach me?"
"Uh, well..." It was hard to say 'no' to her when there was so much hope shining in her eyes. "I'm kinda rusty, but maybe if I watch the tapes..."
She squealed and caught him in a bear hug. "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! You, like, so rock, Rob!"
He just stood there and patted her back awkwardly. "Uh, no prob. Why don't you go set up? I'll be there in a bit."
"Kewl!" She hurriedly picked up her things and ran to the gym.
As Robin packed up his homework, he grinned at her exuberance. It was good seeing her again, especially so happy. He hurried to meet his partner in the gym.
"Okay, Ciss. It's been a while since I've done this. I'm no Fred Astaire, but I'll give it a shot."
"Great! Thanks, Rob. Um, who's Fred Astaire?"
He looked surprised at that. "Oh, uh, he was a guy who could dance real well. A long time ago." What a lame answer, he thought to himself. "So, let's get started."
"How 'bout we call it a night?" Robin asked as the music ended.
"Sounds good to me! Uh, sorry about your feet, Rob."
"Oh no, don't worry about that. I should've thought about taking off our shoes earlier." Trying to preserve his dignity, he resisted the urge to limp to the bench.
"Well, thanks again, Rob. So, when should the next lesson be?"
"What? Next lesson? Oh, uh, sure, how 'bout Friday? I guess the same time then?"
"Sounds good to me! Bye!" With that, Cissie skipped out of the room. Robin admired her boundless energy.
He stood in the middle of the gym and began silently counting to one hundred to be certain she wouldn't come back, but he quit after reaching fifty. Slowly easing himself to the floor, he rubbed his sore feet. For someone so slim, she was a heavy girl. And he'd be doing it again. He heaved a sigh. He decided that the long ride back to Gotham wouldn't be so bad after all; at least he'd be sitting.
Robin silently landed behind the cloaked figure. Oh, this was just too easy. He couldn't resist.
The purple cloak immediately jumped and emitted a shrill scream. He ducked as a booted leg kicked out where his head would've been. He could've easily grabbed the foot and flipped her over, but he was too busy laughing.
"Robin!!" Spoiler yelled. "For heaven's sake, stop doing that!"
"S-sorry, Steph," he chortled. This time, he didn't avoid her when she lightly cuffed his head. "Y-you scream like a-a girl!" He sat down on the rooftop and continued laughing. Okay, so he was being mean, but it was all so funny.
Stephanie Brown pulled off her mask and smiled at him. It wasn't often that he let himself go like this, and she enjoyed watching him. Actually, she enjoyed watching him do *anything*, but him laughing like a hyena was a definite rarity.
When he finally calmed down enough to catch his breath, he got up to join her at the ledge of the roof and looked out at the city.
"It's always so beautiful from up here, isn't it?" Stephanie said wistfully. "Too bad it can't be as beautiful down there."
"Or as peaceful," Tim agreed. He threw back part of his cape as a warm wind breeze passed over them. It was going to be hot tomorrow.
The sudden flash of his brightly-colored tunic caught Stephanie's eye, and she turned to face him. Together at last. She heaved a contented sigh when she noticed something. She reached out to the "R" shuriken at his chest.
"Wha-?" Startled at her movement, Tim backed up a step.
"Stand still, there's something here." He obeyed while she plucked something that was attached to the piece of metal. She held up a strand of blond hair. It wasn't hers. She looked at him, waiting for an explanation.
"Uh, it's a strand of hair."
"Well, duh, I can see that, Sherlock. The point is, whose?"
"Um, yours?" Geesh, was there a point to all this?
"Guess again." She crossed her arms. Definitely not a good sign.
Oh yeah. Earlier with Cissie. He was surprised that it hadn't been blown off while he was traveling the Rooftop Express. "Oh that. Well, y'see, I was..." Wait a minute, why did he need to explain to her? "...doing something with somebody."
She noticed his hesitation. "Doing what? And with who?"
He looked closely at her. "Why do you want to know?"
"Why do I want to know? Why do *I* want to *know*?! You *know* why I want to know!" What was with this blockhead?! Couldn't he see that they were an item now, she was his girlfriend, and she had a right to know? They had done everything together, from flying to fighting. Didn't that mean anything to him?
"Listen, Steph, I do *not* know why I should know why you want to know." What was with her tonight? "Look, this is ridiculous. It's just a hair! It's nothing!" He was certainly not going to tell her that he had spent the evening ballroom dancing with a former teammate and getting his feet stomped on. Somehow, it just didn't sound very... manly.
"Nothing?! How can you say that?" A thought formed in her head. She didn't know who he really was and what he did outside of the Robin suit. Wait! Was he seeing someone else? She gasped. "A girlfriend! How could you!"
"What? Girlfriend?" How did she find out about Arianna? They had broken up a while ago, but he didn't recall ever mentioning her. He avoided any talk about his private life. How could she know?
Ah ha! She had caught him off guard and seeing his surprised look, she pressed on. "So that's it, isn't it? Who is this bimbo? I bet she bleaches her hair!"
But Ari had dark hair. "What are you talking about?" It was time to end this. "You wanna know? Fine, I was teaching Arrowette how to da--do some training exercises! Are ya happy now?" He couldn't believe he was actually having this conversation.
"Ah ha! So it's Arrowette, is it? I knew it! You men are all scum!"
This was getting way out of hand. He needed to take control of this. "Okay, look, let's both calm down and talk about this reasonably. Stephanie--"
"Don't call me that! I can't believe that you would go behind my back, and, and just *do* that! How could you?!"
"Do what? For crying out loud, Steph--" A soft chime sounded in his ear. He groaned. "Not now!"
"You're right! Not now, not ever!" She jumped off the roof and swung away.
"Argh! Life sucks!"
"It will if you don't get over here, Robin. NOW," Batman growled in his earpiece.
"All right, I'm on my way." He needed to put this on hold. Duty called.
Robin sat at the Justice Cave conference table, in pretty much the same position as he had the last time. This time, however, he was expecting company. As he waited, he mulled over the previous few days.
Spoiler hadn't returned his calls and had locked her bedroom window. Although he could've easily opened it, he decided that discretion was the better part of valor and had left it up to her to choose the time to talk.
Then he had asked Nightwing for advice. Unfortunately, his "older brother" had been no help at all.
"...and then she jumped off the roof. So now, like, she's totally cheesed at me, and I have no friggin' idea why! Why can't she just straight out say what she wants? I'll never understand girls!"
Dick merely wrapped a brotherly arm around his shoulders and replied, "Timothy, today you are truly a man."
At a sudden noise, he snapped out of his thoughts and listened closely. Sounds of shuffling, a stack of something hard falling, a muttered curse. Superboy. He didn't need this now. Cissie was going to arrive soon, and then they'd have to think of some credible explanation for her return, especially since Robin was obviously waiting for her. Oh, the rumors Kon-El would spread! Better get rid of him.
He silently entered the rec room, coming up behind Kon, who was digging through a pile of tapes.
"Nerts!" The Boy of Steel promptly flew up off the ground and hit his head on the 'Cave ceiling. Seeing no danger, he floated back to the floor. "Dude! Make some noise, willya? Cough, burp, crack knuckles, fart, something! Geeze!"
"Sorry I scared you, Kid," Robin smirked insincerely. "Why're you here?"
Kon held up a tape. "Gotta set the timer for 'Wendy', man. Promo said she n' Cherub are gonna get it on in this one."
"Gimme the tape. I'll do it for you."
"Kewlness! Thanks, Rob. Hey, waitaminute! Why're you being so nice t'me alla sudden? An' why're you here so late?" Kon's instincts told him there was something going on with Birdboy.
"I'm trying to catch up on some reading. Y'know, world history, physics, applied mathematics..." Robin knew he was safe when he saw Kon's eyes glaze over. "But, hey, if you wanna set the timer by yourself, go for it. The manual's around here," he looked vaguely around, "somewhere. Knock yourself out." He turned to leave.
"Wait, hold on, man! I was just wond'rin', is all. An' thanks, Rob, 'preciate it. I owe ya." His instincts were now telling him that he'd better not look a gift horse in the mouth, or in any other bodily cavity for that matter.
"No problem, Kon." Before he could add anything else, the Kid had already flown out as quickly as he had come in. Tim quickly set the timer and decided to set up the music. Still mindful of his encounter with Stephanie, he removed any items that might catch onto Cissie's hair.
During his preparations, he made sure to make a little more noise than usual. Surprising Kon and Steph were fun, but surprising Cissie could be potentially hazardous to one's health.
Even over the music, he could sense her approach. "Hi, Ciss!" He really needed to work on the team's stealth skills.
"Hey, Rob! I've been practicing on my own." Thankfully, she remembered to remove her shoes before she walked out onto the floor.
"Good. Let's get started."
"Ciss, I gotta say, I'm impressed. You did great!" And she had; no one had stepped on anybody. He was actually having fun.
"Thanks, Rob," she blushed with pride, "I've been studying the tapes. Maybe we can do something more complicated next time?"
"Well, at the rate you're going, you'll probably wind up teaching *me* instead."
"Kewl! We can learn together then! Um, I mean, if you have the time." Dancing with him was great, but she was worried she was imposing on him. After all, he *was* Robin.
"I can make the time. Weekends're good. How 'bout you?"
"Okay, but what about the others?" He understood why she didn't want to have to face the rest of the team yet. They might try to persuade her to rejoin, and she wasn't ready yet.
"Don't worry, leave them to me," he said with more confidence than he felt.
During a rare dinner together, Bruce noticed that Tim seemed a bit distracted. Although Alfred's cooking was good enough to distract *anyone*, the boy wasn't making as many comebacks to Dick's quips. Hm. Alfred had mentioned he should try to "bond" more with Tim. Perhaps now was an opportune time. Perhaps Richard would be supportive of Bruce's attempt. And perhaps cows would start squirting out Cheez Whiz.
"So, Tim," Bruce began carefully; he didn't want to scare his prey, "how are you doing?"
"Hm? Oh. 'Kay, I guess." Tim was concentrating on smashing his baby carrots into an orange pulp.
"Anything interesting happening at school?"
"Uh, naw, not much." He added a bit of potato into the mass, streaking the orange with white.
"How's working with Young Justice coming along?"
"It's kewl." He flaked bits of salmon and stirred it in, the flecks of pink giving the mush a cheerful appearance.
Across the table, Dick sat back and watched. He smirked at Bruce. 'Now you now what talking to you feels like.'
Bruce glared back. 'You're not helping.'
As the silent communication flew over the oblivious boy's head, peas were added into the mix. Tim didn't squish those because that would've been just gross. He considered the pearl onions, but decided they were too big. He looked at his masterpiece appraisingly. Satisfied that he had enough color, he took a forkful and shoved it in his mouth.
"Oh my God! I can't believe you just did that!" Dick gagged into his linen napkin.
Bruce had tried to avert his gaze, but caught it in his peripheral vision. "Darned photographic memory," he mumbled. Great, now he'd be replaying the scene everytime Alfred served carrots.
Tim swallowed. "What? It tastes better that way."
Bruce placed his napkin on the table and straightened in his seat. Confrontation time. "Timothy," he said, squaring his shoulders, "is there something bothering you? You seem very quiet today."
Dick brightened. "Oh yeah! You still thinkin' 'bout--Hey!" He caught the flying breadstick before it could hit him. He shook the offensive baked good at the boy. "You coulda poked an eye out!" He bit the end with a loud crunch.
Ah, now this was more like it. Bruce relaxed into his chair. "Well, Tim?"
"Um, well," he stared back at his plate and retold his problem to Bruce. "...So I went to Dick, and he wasn't any help at all."
At this, Bruce had to laugh. The boys could only stare at him in shock. Was Bruce actually having... fun?
Finally, Bruce calmed down enough to breathe normally. "I cannot believe you actually went to *Dick* with a problem about girls. Heh."
Tim snorted. "Yeah, I see your point." He blocked the carrot that was catapulted from Dick's spoon and popped it in his mouth. "So, like, now what?"
Bruce sighed. Would his boys ever learn? "She's jealous, Tim."
"Really? But I've only known her for a couple weeks." She couldn't be jealous, could she? They weren't a couple, at least as far as he knew, although it was fun being around her. Well, not counting the times they were being shot at, beaten up or basically targeted for nefarious reasons.
"Yeah..." Dick drawled thoughtfully. "Makes sense. Sounds kinda like the time when Babs hit me with a--" At the interested gazes turned his way, he coughed. "Uh, so, hm, Tim, Spoiler's jealous, huh? Whoa, like, bummer, man." His brain processed the implications. If Babs was jealous, then that meant she liked him, right? If she really felt that way, then maybe he had a shot at her? "Y'know what, guys? I gotta go into town and, uh, get something" Flowers? Maybe she hadn't eaten yet. Get her some Chinese? "before the stores close. And, wow," he mock-yawned, "I better get some rest before patrol. Y'know, busy, busy. Bye, guys!" He said a quick farewell to Alfred and hurried out.
Tim looked at Bruce. "Captain Obvious has left the building. Should I warn Babs?"
"No, don't. This'll be a nice surprise for her. She could use a break anyway."
"So, uh, what do I do about Steph?"
Bruce really wanted to tell him to stay away from her, or at the very least, get her to stop being the Spoiler, but he knew it wasn't going to happen. "Apologize."
"Anything. Everything." Bruce knew enough about women to tell Tim that. "Tell her she's right. Get her something nice. No jewelry, though. Jewelry's for, um, later." The boy already knew about the birds and bees, right?
"What do girls want? I mean, after the thing with Ari, well," he shuddered, "I don't wanna screw things up. Even if we're just friends."
Here, Bruce was at a loss. "I never dated when I was your age. You'd best ask someone more qualified."
"You know, you're right." He looked at his watch. "I'd better go now. See you later, Bruce. And, thanks a lot." Tim left with a grateful smile.
Bruce let out a relieved sigh as Alfred stepped into the dining room and nodded his approval. "Excellent job, Sir. Both seemed in good spirits when they left."
"Thanks, Alfred. It was easier than I'd expected. I'm better at this than I thought I would be."
"Easy, young sir," Alfred admonished, "a swelled head wouldn't fit the cowl."
Robin taped a note and a flower to Stephanie's windowsill. When she opened her window and read the note, she squealed and dressed into her costume. The note had two simple words: "I'm sorry."
As the couple twirled about on the floor, they were able to split their concentration between moving and talking.
"Thanks for the advice, Ciss."
"No prob, Rob. I mean, I sorta caused the whole thing in the first place. Anyways, you've been helping me so much, it's the least I can do."
"Don't blame yourself. It's my fault I didn't get it sooner." The talking stopped for a moment when Robin dipped Cissie. "She understands now, and she's kewl with it. I mean, as long as I teach her, too."
"Thanks for telling me about her, Rob." It had meant a lot to Cissie when he had confided in her. "I know something they don't know," she sung playfully.
Robin looked seriously at her. "You know a lot of things they don't. Don't ever doubt that. In or out of the suit, Cecelia King-Jones is an intelligent, strong, caring person. No matter what people tell you, or what happens in your life, you're still you. Got it?" He never wanted her to doubt herself again as she had when she left the team.
She watched their feet, unable to meet his eyes without tearing up. "Thanks, Rob," she whispered. The song ended, and she curtsied to his bow.
"Remember, Cissie," he smiled at her. "Don't be a stranger."
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