Jump to content
Avenger Assembled

A Little Change (IC)

Recommended Posts

August 2016 

After dark

 

Riley was waiting for Robin at the usual place - the old church rooftop that was one of the highest points in the Fens (and made a convenient lookout point for most of the surrounding neighborhood). Or rather, Woodsman was waiting for Nighthawk, at the spot where the two heroes had met at least once a week since the beginning of summer had sent most of their friends their separate ways. Riley hadn't gone far, just up to North Bay, but the advanced classes that his not-mother had enrolled him in (just as Peyton had expected, telling Riley how hard these were were the best way to make him stick it out) along with what he was doing at Claremont meant he didn't have much free time. 

 

"Hey," said Riley, reaching over to squeeze Robin's hand when she joined him on the rooftop - then to lean over and kiss her on the lips. "You look good. You get everything done you wanted today?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Robin was nominally taking advantage of the school program; she wasn't about to turn down free food, after all, but had been largely spending her time in the place she considered home, the Fens. Her footfalls were quiet but still noticeable to the archer's keen hearing, the quick beats of his girlfriend's faster-than-human footsteps and then the pause as she leapt for the corner of the building. She was up and over the roof edge a moment later, landing lightly on her sneakers. Since her father's jacket had been destroyed, she'd switched her work-clothes to an open hoodie over her t-shirt and worn jeans.

 

Still, she dropped down next to Riley with the same loose-limbed grace and her smile was bright. "I never get everything done that I want to," she replied back, looking more at ease than she had last week; it had been a better week of patrols and the weather had been god. "But its been a good day. How are your classes going?"

Share this post


Link to post

"They're goin' all right. Learnin' more 'bout super-science, anyway - even if it's nothin' I can put on a bolt yet." He kept his grip on her hand, having lit up (as much as he ever did) at her approach. "Glad everything's goin' good, because I did some work today and got something for you," he said easily, reaching into his pocket and producing what turned out to be two tickets. "If you don't wanna work tonight, we stash our gear,  go there, hear some music...or we could work." As tough as Riley could be, Robin could pick up on the edge of nerves in his voice. It had been a long time since they had had a date that didn't revolve around supering in one way or another. "Up to you." 

Share this post


Link to post

A year ago, less than that maybe, that sort of request would have earned a blank look and even a slight frown. Despite her recalcitrance, there was real progress being made on Robin's ability to do things other than comb the streets in search of some sort of peace with the past. She was already giving a small nod of her head in agreement only to catch the hitch in Riley's voice at the end. "Hey, we're a team. Even if I wanted to work; I think you get at least an equal vote in what we do for the night." Robin's reassurance came with a quick squeeze of his fingers and a bump of her shoulder into the archer's. 

 

Reaching up to tuck an errant curl back behind her ear, Robin added, "Something else sounds fun... you okay?" she added, already beginning to shed the layers of 'work clothes' such as they were. In Robin's case, switching to civvies only involved swapping out t-shirts and putting the hoodie back on after wards. 

Share this post


Link to post

"Pretty fine," said Riley with a smile, stripping down himself. His own outfit was even easier to remove than Robin's - with his poncho off and wrapped around his bow, he could have passed for most slight young men on the street. He fished out one of the plaid shirts he liked and slipped it on over his shoulders, hanging it loosely without fastening it. After a moment's consideration, and a glance at Robin, he made a point of taking off his hatchet too, wrapping it up with his bow and hiding them both on the rooftop. "I gotta date with the best girl at the concert." He reached up to scratch the top of his head, where his usually shaved scalp was just beginning to grow out with a faint dusting of black hair. "I don't even know who these guys are," he admitted. "But the pictures looked cool - and we both deserved it." 

Share this post


Link to post

Robin watched his movements thoughtfully and with only a small amount of hesitation, took her backpack off of one shoulder and very carefully tucked it behind Riley's weapons. She took a small, steadying breath as if bolstering her will from reaching out to grab it. If Riley wanted a more normal night, she could do that; she could! Plus, she was pretty sure these places checked bags and Robin didn't want to have some stranger pawing through her few belongings. Blowing out the breath, she offered Riley a small smile. 

 

"Doesn't matter, it'll be something new and fun and not work, right?" Robin replied as she went to press a quick kiss to Riley's cheek before she headed for the roof's edge. Gracefully, she swung down into the shadows between the church and other buildings, and once Riley had joined her, slipped her hand into his. "If they're trash, we'll still find a way to enjoy ourselves, right?"

Share this post


Link to post

It was a long walk from the Fens to Lincoln - so after some consideration, and a quick consultation of the map, Riley and Robin wound up climbing aboard a bus. Riley actually liked buses of any kind of transportation in Freedom City; rubbing shoulders with a large crowd was nothing new for someone who'd grown up in such confined spaces, and it also meant the two of them got to ride very close together. Of course, there were disadvantages to the bus, too - especially when he was with his best girl. Riley carefully didn't make eye contact with anyone on the bus, just taking Robin's hand and squeezing it tight as they went. He could pass pretty well these days - as long as nobody looked too closely. There was a reason he favored the loose, layered clothing, even in this heat. "Hey. You're real cute, y'know?" He leaned over and kissed her. "Nobody I'd rather be out with." 

Share this post


Link to post

Robin didn't mind the bus, whether that was riding on top of it or actually paying the fare. She linked her fingers with Riley's, letting her muscular shoulder lean against his with comfortable ease. Robin was always aware of her surroundings but after a couple of years spending her days thumping Fens drug dealers and gangsters into submission, she was never too worried that they might come across a bigot or two on the bus. Still, there were other dangers she was well aware of, though as she moved into late teens entirely, there were much less side-eyes for teenagers traveling alone than there had been when she was younger. 

 

"Tch," Robin gave a shake of her head in Riley's direction, one of the slight smiles that softened her features curving her lips. "I'm glad you think so. I don't exactly fit the typical ideal of beauty." She gave a shrug of her shoulders, more comfortable in her skin than most teenagers would have been even as she acknowledged the truth. "I got good hair, I'll admit that." She teased back lightly, almost playfully before adding, her tone gentling, "No one I'd rather be out with either... we got a special occasion that we're celebrating?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Back home, I'd be on patrol tonight," said Riley quietly. "Walkin' behind the wire, tryin' to be quiet, waitin' to go back to my cot and listen t'books on tape. Here I get to go with a pretty girl to a cool party." Parties usually made Riley nervous - but talking about how good it was going to be helped bite back his ever-present nerves. "Peyton talks to me a lot about bein' happy with what I have, and how that should be 'nuff till I'm older. Easier to believe when I'm with you." He gave her his own thin smile. "So I guess the special occasion is just we're here - 'n we're alive. That's pretty good. And I love your hair. If I was gonna grow it out, I'd want it ta do that," he complained good-naturedly, running his hand over his own closely-shaven scalp. Off the bus, they stepped out into a crowd in Lincoln's park - there was still a little while before the concert itself started, but it looked like a big chunk of the neighborhood was out. 

 

"We better get drinks 'n stuff," he said, making his way towards one of the concession stands. "Always gotta be prepared!"

Share this post


Link to post

"Heh, it used to get terrible tangled until I made friends with Nan and her salon ladies," Robin admitted, reaching up to run one hand over the curls. Hair care had taken a distinct back seat to survival until she'd helped out one of the small Fens businesses and ensured a place to get her hair done despite lack of funding for such. 

 

She trailed after Riley, one hand in his as her grey eyes scanned the crowd to absently take in any potential threats or moments of interest. Robin was mentally off-duty but it wasn't a habit she could manage to fully turn off. "Big crowd, so they must be pretty decent. What didja want to get? Split a soda or something if you want?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Nah, our date's on Peyton." Riley half-smiled, embarrassed about the source of his cash but not too proud to turn it down. Riley was, as Robin knew, something of a specialist when it came to junk food - it was only his constant physical training and retraining that kept him from growing fat in this new world with its abundant food and abundant flavors. He stuck close to Robin as they hit the concession stand, leaving with a soda for both of them and a dripping chili dog in his hand that was only possible to eat without a fork thanks to some careful wrapping in wax paper. 

 

Most people were sitting on the ground but Riley was more interested in having a position with a good view - he and Robin wound up perched on the base of an abstract stone sculpture vaguely like a giant ball between two spires that had the marks of a recent degraffiting on it. They probably weren't technically supposed to sit there but no one was chasing them off yet. "Look at 'em all," commented Riley, squeezing Robin's hand as the crowd gradually grew, families with children, young people like themselves, and even tour buses arriving. "Never seen this many of 'em at a concert!" 

Share this post


Link to post

"Mmm," Robin agreed, settling in with the sort of comfort that came of familiarity with precarious perches. She leaned her shoulder against Riley's chest absently, one strong arm looped around her knee. "I forgot the city did stuff like this," she admitted, her expression softening as she took in the people and families, "My mom and dad used to take me out when... well, before and all." She cleared her throat and moved on with barely a hiccup. Shaking her head slightly, she continued on with only a minor hiccup; a testament to how well both her therapy had gotten her over the last year and, more significantly, her comfort with Riley. Her parents were no longer entirely off limits as a topic. 

 

"When I was a little kid, we used to go out to free 'night in the park' stuff in the better parts of town. It was... fun. I remember riding on my mom's shoulders a lot, actually, and watching whatever was, you know, free." She laughed a little, the sound light hearted. "Those were good nights."

Share this post


Link to post

"We never went out at night," said Riley, "not outside, and not for fun. You kin see lights and movement from outside the fences." He knew Robin didn't need an explanation of what that meant - and that she wasn't curious the way some of their friends were either. He slowly worked on his chili dog, not one to talk when there was food in hand. By now the crowd was pretty thick - it was just a few minutes till the first act was supposed to hit the stage. "But inside, we'd turn on the lights down inna bunker. People'd play instruments they made, or put on plays, when we weren't watchin' videos." Growing up in a still-functioning nuclear power plant meant that a little electricity to siphon had usually been pretty easy to come by. He was quiet for a moment, listening to and watching the growing crowd, before he said, "Like'd the little band, like 'n old-time one, with jazz stuff. Chief Hunter had a dance class for the kids, and anybody who wanted got music lessons. Said we needed to know how, 'cause it mattered that we still knew how to live. It was good. Made you feel like you were savin' the day even if you were just a kid in, uh, formal stuff." 

Share this post


Link to post

"I know what you mean," Robin agreed, her voice quiet but clear to his ears. She'd long ago mastered how to talk without letting her voice carry too far. The muscles in her back as she leaned against him were relaxed, although not quite soft. Robin somewhat lacked the requisite body fat percentage to ever feel really 'soft'. "I used to dance, sort of. I mean, not like, actual dance-dance. But back when I used to do gymnastics, we had rhythm sections. They were fun to work on but I always liked flipping and tumbling better; almost as good as flying."

 

Her smile flashed for a moment then before she leaned in to kiss his cheek. "This was a good idea." She told him.

Share this post


Link to post

Riley put his arm around her shoulders, giving Robin a big smile that spoke of nothing more complicated than a young man out with his girl. "Only 'cause I have good company," he said, kissing her back. Riley's body was mostly hard and wirey against her, the hours of physical training paying off in an upper body strength that outmatched almost every normal person in their class. "You're the best, babe." 

 

The first show was a neighborhood act, DJ Noobian, who combined a techno and ancient-Egyptian look that reminded Riley a little bit of Peyton's Sun Ra VHS collection. The crowd, some of whom were in what had to be souvenir Egyptian headdresses, was game, and soon Riley was letting himself get pulled into the crowd's enthusiastic call and response of "KINGS AND QUEENS! KINGS AND QUEENS!" as a homemade laser show lit the stage behind the impressively muscular Noobian, wearing only an Egyptian-style skirt covered in a circuit-breaker design. By the time Noobian left the stage, he had the crowd more than warmed up for the main event, an out-of-towner from Pittsburgh who was evidently tremendously popular. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post

"Do you think Huang's boyfriend knows the DJ?" Robin asked Riley, laughing a little as she applauded the end of the set. She'd only seen Set in passing but was well aware that the god-teen was quite popular on social media and it seemed unlikely that an Egyptian themed act missed his radar. She leaned into Riley's shoulder once again, adding, "I wonder if they're here tonight."

 

She didn't bother looking around though. if other kids they knew were at the event, Robin had no real desire to go catch up with their friends tonight. It was a date night, after all! As the acts switched, Robin shifted slightly against Riley and offered, in a tone awfully conversational for discussing breaking and entering, "So... I've been thinking. Do you think we could get into the records for the police precinct in the Fens?" Robin wasn't entirely sure what was all involved in that. It seemed like there would be computer records, certainly, but also perhaps paperwork and certainly evidence was kept somewhere. "Just, you know, would it even be possible?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh yeah," said Riley confidently, "I could-" He hesitated a moment, then realized that that wasn't a euphemism for something. Stay on target, Woodsman! he scolded himself. "Could get into the records room," he said. "Fens is easier 'n some stations, hardly anyone there." He'd learned that from working with Robin - but the geography of your standard Freedom City police station was something he'd learned about on his own. "Records room is gonna be downstairs tucked away somewhere, prolly with some old guy watchin' it." What were the odds that it would be a nest of Ferals - or maybe bears? Slim, he reminded himself, slim. "Fens station has 'mergency exit out to the street down there, come t'think of it..." Or they had fifteen years earlier in an alternate world, anyway. He looked at Robin and squeezed her shoulders, his way of showing he was in with whatever she was suggesting. 

 

"

Share this post


Link to post

Robin nodded slightly, her expression thoughtful and shuttered for a long moment. It wasn't a bad sort of quiet. She remained snuggled into Riley's side, her muscular legs drawn up comfortably. Riley was used to Robin's many silences by now. She worked her problems out internally, she always had. Finally, she nodded once, letting her hand fall on his thigh lightly, "Then we'll come up with some plans, do some recon - but later."

 

Robin smiled then, her teeth flashing white and even against her dark skin. "Tonight's for other things."

Share this post


Link to post

A lot of bad things could have happened that evening - so many of them that Riley felt himself going hyper-vigilant from time to time. Was a supervillain going to attack? Would there be a robbery? Would someone decide they didn't like his face, or his arm around Robin? Would the set suck? But as it happened none of those things did - the hardcore rappers from DC who took center-stage for the main event were a pair of sisters named the Go-Go-Girls, who alternated hard, aggressive beats about how they ruled the streets with fast jamming on electric guitars that reminded him of the blended musical styles he'd grown up with. He wasn't one to dislike violent music - in fact, he could feel his adrenaline pumping faster once he'd convinced himself that the many real dangers out there weren't going to happen. 

 

The act kept the crowd on their feet, singing along when they weren't rocking out, and by the time they gave their final performance, it was truly dark outside, the park lit only by its ample street lights. As the crowd's screaming applause died down, Riley decided he was in no hurry to go anywhere. "Yeah! Kick some ASS!" He cheered at the stage. He'd gotten carried away, sweating and energized, but it was more than worth it. He grinned at Robin, having obviously had the time of his life. "Wasn't that sweet?" 

Share this post


Link to post

Robin leaned in to kiss him in response, her lips warm against his skin. She'd been quieter than the teenagers around them but her grey-eyed gaze had sparkled she had happily bounced in time to the music. Robin liked to dance, even if she did so very rarely these days, and the music was fast paced and energetic. Tangling her fingers with Riley's, she laughed as she pulled back, still light on her feet even if the music had died away. "It was great!"

 

Her gaze traveled towards the stage, "It's like... one of those nights you don't want to see end." She paused, the moment awkward before asking hesitantly, "Do you, uhm, have to get back to Peyton's soon?"

Share this post


Link to post

"No," said Riley, shaking his head. "She said she's not gonna give me a curfew I'll just break - she told me to just be back by dawn. Guess she doesn't think I'm gonna get in trouble when I'm out with you." It had been slightly embarrassing to realize that Peyton had a pretty good idea of his intentions for this date - but having lived in a confined space his whole life, Peyton's good instincts hadn't been terribly threatening to his privacy. "I was thinking we could go somewhere-" That _did_ make him nervous, since Robin's feelings about his intentions were a lot more important to him than Peyton's were. His voice dropped to a whisper as he leaned forward, pressing his forehead against hers. "One of the spots. Maybe the theater roof." 

Share this post


Link to post

"Oh. Ohhhh," Robin said, as she caught on to his meaning. She flushed, ducking her head to meet Riley's, "Uhm. Sure. That sounds nice."

 

She winced a little, scrunching her nose up at her own words. Robin cleared her throat and tangled her fingers with Riley's. She was probably never going to be great at talking but Riley was used to that by now. He certainly never seemed to mind. "I do always like rooftops." She agreed, with a small self-concious grin. "An' can't ask for better privacy." 

Share this post


Link to post

They made their way there in their usual fashion, rooftop to rooftop and along the streets, two young people passing through the city of their birth like the born urban adventurers they were. Once on the theater rooftop, Riley's intentions were even more clear. He'd pitched a tent out of direct view of the ground, the better to give them shelter and privacy, and hidden a sleeping bag inside. From down below came the faint, echoing sounds of the theater inside - it was impossible to tell what was playing, but the occasional artificial vibrations helped Riley remember he was far from home. Instead, he was in the very pleasant company of the girl he liked very very much. At the unzipped door to the tent, he hesitated a moment, arms unconsciously crossing over his chest. "Do, uh, you wanna leave the lantern off...?"

Share this post


Link to post

"Hey," Robin said as she reached out for his bicep, her voice gentle. It helped as she realized that her boyfriend was nervous too. She might have been able to punch through doors but the scarred hand on his arm was gentle, her grip loose. "We don't have to, you know, do anything you're not comfortable with, y'know. If you wanna turn it off, you can but I don't mind it on."

 

Her smile softened her features. "I like you." She told Riley, before her smile kicked up at the corner lopsidedly. "An' I don't got your night vision."

Share this post


Link to post

Riley waited until they were both inside the tent to say more, feeling safer in the familiar surroundings. "My body's not right." he said quietly. "maybe it never will be. But when I'm with you, an' you see it, an' you like it, it feels...good." They kissed, with the soft, growing urgency that comes at the beginning of a long romantic encounter, before RIley pushed away for a moment. He locked eyes with Robin and bit his lip, feeling confidence with her that he'd have never felt on his own. Lights on and all, with great determination, he reached down and unbuttoned his dark plaid shirt, his dexterous fingers moving quick and sure despite his nerves, and then slid it off before pulling his dark undershirt off and over his head. 

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...