Dick released a painful groan as his body hit his bed. He’d just gone toe-to-toe with thirteen bank robbers. He won, and the bruises on his body were proof of that. “Would it kill you to ask for help every now and then?” a monotone voice asked from his door. He hadn’t even heard his door open and close. Someone must have phased through the door. “Hey, Raven,” he groaned into his pillow without looking up.
“You do know I was your backup tonight, right?” she approached his bed.
“I got them,” was her leader’s reply.
“Them who?” she was standing next to him.
“Thirteen armed robbers” Dick sat up.
“Richard!” Raven exclaimed.
“I didn’t get shot or stabbed,” he said as he slowly, painfully, sat up.
“You still like doing things on your own,” Raven tsked.
“I thought you were on a date,” Dick mentioned in annoyance.
“It wasn’t a date,” Raven folded her arms as she looked away.
“It wasn’t a date, and you’re dressed like that?” Dick motioned to her body. She looked down at herself. She was wearing a dark purple sweater dress that came to mid-thigh. Black leggings and black boots. “What do you mean?” she asked. Dick stared at her incredulously. Did she not see it? She looked incredible. “Did you wear your hair down?” he asked.
“No. It was in a messy bun. Why?”
“You’re dressed for a date.”
“It wasn’t a date,” she sat next to him on the bed and began peeling his uniform.
“What are you doing!” Dick jumped back in shock.
“You’re injured. I was just going to heal you.”
“Oh,” Dick relaxed, sitting back down. “It’s not necessary.”
“Come on, Richard,” Raven said, “do not make me make you take your clothes off.” Dick swallowed hard as he imagined what that scene would look like if it played out. “Fine,” Dick said as he gently pulled off the upper half of his uniform. Raven stared at his torso as he disrobed. His abs and chest were amazing, sculpted, works of art. The long, bloody slice going across his torso plus the multiple stab wounds and bruises were worrisome. “I thought you didn’t get stabbed,” Raven said as Dick sat back down. He looked down at himself. “And I thought you upgraded your suit to prevent stab wounds from happening.”
“I did,” Dick said. “The attack happened before I could put my uniform on.”
“The robbery was just beginning. I had a few smoke bombs in my pocket. These are just lucky shots.” Raven placed a gentle hand on his stomach, fighting the urge to caress his smooth skin. “You need to be more careful,” she whispered. Dick only sighed, trying to keep his breathing and thoughts under control. “So,” he said, “if it wasn’t a date, what was it?”
“A business meeting.”
“I can’t tell you that,” Raven said.
“So, it was a date.”
“It wasn’t a date. The guy has to be 50 years older than me.”
“If it wasn’t a date, then tell me who it was.”
“You know, you didn’t give Kori this much crap when she started dating again.”
“Exactly my point,” Raven said. Dick cracked his neck as he felt his wounds slowly close. “Why are you keeping his identity a secret?” Dick questioned.
“I’m done,” Raven said as she stood to her feet. Dick looked down at his torso. All the wounds were healed. Not a scar in sight. “Raven, wait,” he called out. She turned to face him. Her violet eyes shining in the darkened room. “I just want to make sure you’re being safe.”
“I am, Richard. You can trust me,” she answered softly.
“I do trust you, Raven,” Dick replied, “it’s the males out there that I don’t trust.” Raven bit back a laugh. “It’s not funny,” Dick said.
“No,” Raven agreed with a smile, “I find the big brother act rather cute.” A sharp pain shot through Dick’s chest when she said that. “Have a good night,” Raven said before leaving his room. Dick laid on his back, staring up at the ceiling. Brother? She saw him as a brothe? Dick rolled to his side. Tonight, just was not his night.
A banging sound woke him up. Dick groaned. It was way too early for this. “What?” he yelled out.
“Dude,” he heard Beast Boy say, “you’ve got a delivery!”
“Just set it by the door,” Dick replied.
“What do you mean you – fine. I’ll be out shortly.” A faux cry left Dick’s lips. He just wanted to sleep in. What was Beast Boy even doing waking up at…? Dick turned to his clock. 11:15 a.m. Okay. He must have been exhausted. He never overslept. Never.
Dick walked groggily to the common room dressed only in pajama pants. He couldn’t for the life of him figure out why he was so tired. All conversation ceased when the doors slid open. “What is it?” he asked.
“You have an admirer,” Cyborg stated kindly as he handed him something. “This card came with it.” Dick took it before looking at the foil wrapped trays of…something. “Who delivered it?” he asked.
“Did a thorough background check,” Cyborg answered. “The deliverer works for one of those delivery companies. They usually deliver baked goods.” Dick nodded as she tore open the envelope. Inside was a slip of paper that read On the 12th Day of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me… Dick cocked an eyebrow before gently pulling back the foil of the one of the trays. “What the…!”
“What are those?” Starfire asked.
“Candy apples!” Beast Boy exclaimed.
“Candy apples?” Starfire repeated.
“What does the note say?” Cyborg asked. Dick handed it to him as he continued to unwrap the delicious treats. “What is a candy apple?” Kori asked.
“It’s just an apple covered in some type of sugary coating,” Raven answered her. Dick nearly jumped at the sound of her voice. Sometimes, Raven was so quiet, you just forgot she was in the room.
Once the trays were uncovered, Dick marveled at the 12 brightly covered candy apples. “Twelve candy apples,” Cyborg said. “That’s…different.”
“What do you mean?” Raven asked. “What does the note say?”
“On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me,” Cyborg answered. “Twelve candy apples.”
“That is different,” Raven agreed.
“I do not understand,” Starfire said as Beast Boy began arguing with their leader about whether the treats should be eaten.
“It’s a Christmas song,” Raven answered. “They lyrics are On the 12th day of Christmas my true love gave to me, 12 drummers drumming.”
“I think I understand?” Starfire said unsure of herself.
“Just, ask Speedy when you see him again,” Raven said. Starfire nodded with a smile. “Cool!” Beast Boy exclaimed holding an apple out to Raven. “Robin said we can eat them.”
“I’m not eating those,” Raven pushed the apple away. “And you shouldn’t either.”
“Just like you and Robin to suck the fun out of everything,” Beast Boy grumbled. “Fine. I’ll eat it.”
“Yes,” Raven said as he bit into the apple. “If you are still alive in 48 hours, we will know that the apples have not been poisoned; and they are safe for us to eat.” Cyborg and Starfire burst into laughter as Raven left the room. Robin only studied the note and apples before he too, retreated to his room.
Later that night, Dick sat in the common room in front of the huge windows. It was a little after midnight, and he’d just finished half of a candy apple. He couldn’t help it. The sugary fruits brought back so many memories. They even tasted the same. He was so deep in thought, he didn’t even notice when Raven entered the common room, nor did he notice when she sat across from him. “Hey,” Dick started at the sound of her voice. “Sorry,” Raven apologized.
“It’s fine,” Dick said, “I was just…thinking.”
“About?” she cocked her head to the side, studying him.
“Ah,” she smiled, “your secret admirer.”
“Shut up,” Dick nudged her gently.
“You ate it,” Raven pointed to the half-eaten apple on the plate.
“Yeah,” Dick smiled. “I gave in.”
“But you don’t like sugar,” Raven smiled slightly.
“I don’t,” he admitted. “But I haven’t had candied apples since my circus days.”
“Really?” Raven asked. “So…whoever sent these apples must know you as both Robin and Richard.” Dick blinked once before saying, “I was so lost in my memory, I didn’t even consider that. What if it’s a villain?”
“Can you think of a villain who may know your secret identity?” raven asked. Dick thought hard. Only one came to mind, but he was in Metropolis. “I can’t,” he relented. “It’s probably Roy playing a stupid prank,” he laughed half-heartedly. Raven continued studying him intensely. “Richard,” she said her friend’s name softly. Dick looked at her questioningly. “Are you sure you’re okay with…this?” she motioned to the candy apples. “This doesn’t bring back any…bad memories?”
“I’m good, Rae,” he comforted her, amused by the look on her face when he said ‘Rae’. “Remind me to tell you about the time I got a candy apple stuck in my hair.” Raven’s eyes widened enough to let Dick know she was eager to hear the story. “You should try it,” Dick picked up the apple by the stick and held it out to her. Raven tentatively reached for it. “Are you sure it’s safe?” she asked.
“Yes,” Dick answered. “I am confident these are safe.” Raven sighed as she bit into the treat. Dick watched as her tongue licked the sticky sweetness from her soft lips. He was so entranced with her. “It is good,” she smiled.
“Yeah, there’s 5 left.”
“You and I are sharing one. Cyborg had one. Starfire had one. Beast Boy ate four.”
“He’s going to have a stomachache.’
“I think he already had one,” Dick smiled. His heart skipped a beat when she responded with a smile of her own. The two then spent the next three hours talking and joking with each other.