"If you are truly evil, then go ahead. Do what you must."
"Starfire, no!" Robin sat bolt upright in bed, sweat pouring off him. It was less than a second until he knew where he was, his highly trained sense of observation telling him it was just a dream. Nonetheless, he sat there, panting, trying to shake the images from his head. There was a noise outside, but he found he didn't care.
The dream, the nightmare wasn't just something made up for him though. It had happened, three days ago. His friends had forgiven him, even felt sorry for him, even asked for his forgiveness. it had only made him feel worse, and he had felt like crap to begin with.
He got up and stripped off his seat-soaked uniform. He always slept in it, minus the cape and boots usually; a habit learned from Batman when he was still living with him. There were more in the closet, there always were, so he changed, still leaving the cape and gloves off and went back to sit on his bed.
The images still haunted him. 'Damn him,' he thought, 'damn me and damn my damn memory!' Slade had made him a puppet and forced him to attack his friends. and they had forgiven him. He didn't deserve them, definitely not her.
She had stood up to him. why did it have to be her that had stood up to him? Starfire. They had squared off on top of the Wayne Enterprises building. She had been so beautiful in that moment. a symbol to the world. Floating before him, her purple-red hair flowing behind her, waving in the wind. Emerald on green eyes full of resolve and a bolt of pure righteous fury in her right hand. Breathtaking. She could have finished him with little more than a thought, he had seen what damage a starbolt could do. but she didn't. And he knew why.
She had seen him, what they, she and him, had become. He stood there, in Slade's uniform, a beam of harsh, calculated death trained at her heart. They were opposites, they always had been, but now they had become distilled versions of themselves. Avatars of good and evil, set to do battle until one was destroyed. and she had said no.
Her words were branded into his mind, and would be for the rest of his life: "Robin, you are my best friend. I cannot be in a world where we must fight. If you are truly evil, then go ahead. Do what you must."
She had given him her life, set it firmly in his hands. Had she known he couldn't attack her? No. Or had she simply given up, a form of suicide? He didn't know. The others could have stopped him there as well, he was too much in shock, not to mention self-disgust, to have been able to resist them. Perhaps they were as awed by her as he had been. It couldn't have been that they trusted him. he didn't trust himself.
He felt helpless. Batman had trained him to be independent, yet, could he live without her now? No. He would survive, but he'd never feel this alive again. Granted, he would never force anything of the girl, but still the thought of life without her felt. pointless.
And what of his other friends, he would die for any of them, but for Starfire, he'd kill. He had tried to kill Slade for hurting her. What was worse: he didn't feel bad about it.
The other thing he didn't want anyone to know, was that he didn't really expect Slade to let him live after he'd infected himself with the probes that were killing his friends. He'd expected to die with them, beside Starfire, but he'd played a good hand and they were freed.
As it was, he felt sick to his stomach and wanted to cry.
God, he loved her. and that scared him worse than anything else. ***********************************************************

It was well past midnight and Starfire couldn't sleep. Her conscience haunted her. She had doubted Robin's integrity when he most needed her. Tiny voices in her mind yelled at her accusingly every time she had nothing left to occupy it, every time she was near sleep. She'd only had a few hours worth in the last few days, and soon it would begin to show.
She stood up and dressed, she had learned that returning to one's room to change during an emergency was not always an option. "Perhaps the Earth remedy of 'warm milk' will aid me in finding sleep." She said to no one as she walked out of the room.
The tower itself was always dark at this time of night and her room was the farthest from the living room/kitchen. The trip took just under two minutes during the day if she flew slowly, but at night she was better off walking. She knew the layout of the building well enough, but during the night she might misjudge a distance or walk into someone else who was awake. Besides, to fly took joy, which could be summoned if needed, was not something she had felt much in the last few days.
Unwilling to turn on any lights, she walked in darkness, giving herself little to nothing to distract herself. 'How could you doubt him?' Her own voice accused. 'How many times do you owe him your life?' More than she cared to remember actually. He had saved her from that stamp with Mod, from the cliff during the chips incident, even. A guilty tear ran down her cheek. He had even caught her when the probes were first activated. only seconds after she had given up hope and truly thought him to be evil.
She felt herself to be a terrible person. She knew that she felt for Robin, deeply, but could not allow herself to think the word. She did not deserve to feel such things for someone like him. She felt weak, always in need of assistance, always confused and bewildered by the world she had come to inhabit. Yet, every time, Robin had been there for her. Always caring, always calm and kind, with infinite patience for her unending, piddling questions. He was the one who never once called her 'Kori' after she insisted on being called Starfire. Without him the Titans fell apart, it had happened before. He was their center, their pillar of strength. And she had doubted him.
Even when she had learned the truth, even when she and the others had gone to save him. she supported herself against a wall as she cried again at the memory:
She looked up from where she knelt on the floor, tears streamed down her face at the helplessness of it all. Robin would save her. them, but in doing so, he would damn them to a lifetime of battle. Robin was what she had always known him to be, and would stop at nothing to save them. Even if it meant selling his soul for it.
They would never be together as friends. He would never again explain the customs of this strange, yet shockingly similar planet with the infinite patience and kindness she had found in no one else. The only words he would say to her would be threats and muttered apologies. The only touch they would share would be at the end of a fist.
She had never truly hated anyone before, but she hated Slade. Even more than she hated herself for being the chain that bound Robin to him.
Then Robin had done what he always did. He stopped Slade, permanently. He, the only one without any superhuman abilities, had risen up and given Slade an ultimatum. Slade could not buy Robin's soul; it was far too pure. She should have known that.
Starfire composed herself and realized where she was. She had cried on the wall opposite Robin's door. Robin's room was closest the living room, and it was him who insisted that their rooms be spread out on the top floor as they were. It had something to do with defenses. Starfire did not understand, but Robin did, and she trusted his judgment. 'Usually' he inner voice said, calling up more tears.
Reaching out, she gently laid her fingertips against the door. Mere feet beyond the harsh steel was the person she. had feelings she shouldn't for. The door was like the barrier that she herself had laid between them. She would never be closer than this.
Slowly, gently, she kissed the door. "I am sorry, Robin." She muttered as she turned away and continued to the kitchen. Perhaps the 'warm milk' would allow her to sleep, if only to let her body recover.
The young girl poured herself a glass from the jug and put it in the microwave to warm. She pondered the jug a moment before putting it away, she realized that she had no idea where milk came from. She made a point to ask Robin in the morning.
The jug fell to the floor from her listless fingers, its contents pouring over the linoleum. She wanted to cry again, but held it back this time. Always Robin, every time she had a problem it was him who helped her. She had taken that he'd be there for her far too often.
"Starfire, no!" The cry pulled her out of her self-loathing, it was Robin. She took off for his room at a sprint, immediately tripping over a chair. There was a loud thud as she hit the ground, but quickly she had scrambled to her feet and was running again.
'I may not have the right to feel as I do for him,' She said as she closed the distance to his door, 'but nothing is going to harm him again without going through me first.' **************************************************************

Robin was about to try getting back to sleep when his door slid open. A moment later a hand darted through the threshold to his light switch, blinding him. "Robin!" He didn't need to see to know who that sweet voice belonged to. "You are undamaged?". She sounded confused.
"Starfire?" He asked, blinking to adjust to the new light.
She was looking about the room, still littered with junk, though most had been cleared out since Slade's defeat and the bed had returned to a more reasonable place. Starfire looked like someone who had just walked into the wrong public bathroom.
"You called out for me. Did you not?" She asked, wringing her hands in front of her.
He thought about it. He had. "I'm sorry, Star. It was just a bad dream."
"Oh." She looked like she'd been slapped and hung her head. "I am sorry to have disturbed you." Before he could answer she hit the door button.
'Robin, you idiot!' He screamed to himself as he grabbed one of his red boomerangs from the nightstand and threw it. With his usual accuracy the weapon wedged itself into the door, keeping it open. Sensing something there, the mechanism opened the door again. The boomerang remained in the steel door, its razor edge buried in half an inch.
The door now framed a rather startled looking Starfire looking at the protruding object. Robin jumped out of bed towards her, "Starfire, wait!" He bagged, "The dream it. it wasn't bad because of you."
"Robin." She breathed as he was suddenly beside her. She composed herself quickly and turned from him. "I am again sorry. I should leave you to your rest."
Robin, to his credit, had seen her eyes and how red they were. He stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, "Star, what's wrong."
Still looking away from him, she shook her head. "I am being, as your television would describe: A silly little girl." She tried to remove his hand, but he only held on tighter. Robin knew that Starfire was easily a dozen times stronger than him, so he was not afraid of harming her. Slowly, she turned to face him, her already red eyes having new tears in them. She felt as though that was all her eyes were good for lately. Still she put up a brave front. "Robin, it is very late. You must sleep. Why do you persist?"
Starfire could see his eyes, through the mask, soften as he looked into hers. "Star, there's nothing 'silly' about you. What is it?"
The young girl sniffled a little, "Is there somewhere we may sit?"
Only one answer: The bed. His room had only one chair and it was meant to work on. Besides, the bed meant that they were both facing the same way. Sometimes its easier to talk if you don't have to look right at the person you're talking to. His hand still on her shoulder he gently guided her to it and prompted her to sit.
He sat a foot away from her. "Now, what is it Starfire?" He wanted to be closer, to hold her and comfort her, but he knew better. Being Batman's partner for several years was better than a psychology degree.
Starfire, for her part, was staring forward. Not daring to look at him. "Robin. On that rooftop. What I did was inexcusable."
Blinking in surprise he could only say: "What you did?"
Nod. "It was there that I truly believed you were. Evil." She choked on that last word, as though it were made of bile. Robin noted that she had only said it once before, again on the rooftop, since then she had said 'like Slade' whenever it was obvious that that was what she was thinking.
"Starfire, we've been over this." He said carefully, trying not to sound patronizing, and, to his own amazement, succeeding. "You were only doing your job. And doing it well." He paused to sigh, "I was in his uniform and following his orders, there was no way you could have known."
More tears, faster now and she was angry and flustered, "How can you be so forgiving?" She cried out, shaking her head and waving her arms for emphasis. "When you needed me most I. you. I.!"
Moving faster than even she could react, he grabbed her and held her to his shoulder. She half-heartedly tried to jerk away twice, but he held her there firmly. For the first time in a long time, she felt safe. She returned his embrace and let him comfort her. It was like a pressure valve was released. She cried into him for a very long time.
They were together like that for a very long time, neither knew how long. Neither much cared either, truth be told. When finally her tears were spent Starfire realized that her shoulder was wet too.
She gasped and pulled away, Robin's face confirmed it: There were tear tracks on it. "Robin," She breathed, not believing. "You were." Somehow, it didn't mesh properly in her brain.
"It's okay, Star. Everyone has to let go sometime."
She was at a loss for words and simply pulled him back into the hug.

"Star?" He asked into her ear.
"Don't feel bad about the roof. It was the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me. It made me see how far I'd fallen." She held him tighter and he felt his shoulder dampen again.
"When you did," He continued, his brain yelling at him to stop, "you were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen." Lack of sleep and depression, especially recently dispelled depression, are a dangerous mix. Or so Robin's brain told him immediately after he let that slip.
There was a dead calm between the two, an eerie lack of activity right before disaster strikes. He didn't know how Starfire would react for a full ten seconds that stretched out from then until forever.
"Oh, Robin!" She cried out, holding him even tighter and burrowing her face into his neck.
Bones about to break, Robin couldn't bring himself to object. 'Death by compliment' his brain said sarcastically. One more and her superhumanly strong hug would crush his ribcage. He withstood it as long as he could, but finally had to end it.
"Star!" He wheezed out. "I can't breathe."
She released him instantly, but Robin didn't want to break the contact. His arms stayed loosely around her even as he gasped hard to fill his lungs. He spent the next minute or two panting. Only when it he was finished that he noticed that his forehead was resting on hers, he could feel her breath on his face.
She was smiling.
When he looked into her eyes, her face became suddenly very serious.

"I am afraid, Robin." She admitted suddenly, her voice trembling, but her eyes were heavy-lidded.
"Me too, Star." He at least kept a straight tone. "What are you afraid of?"
She swallowed. "I am afraid that if we perform the action I believe we are about to, then we will enter into a probationary period during which we judge the other's suitability for marriage." She swallowed again, "I believe the Earth term is named after a fruit."
"Dating" He said simply
She nodded slightly, causing his head to move too. "Many people whose relationships enter this stage, and the judgment is that they would not be adequate partners in marriage, cease to be friends. I do not wish to cease being your friend." She tried to gauge his reaction, but he was stoic as ever. An interesting feat considering that they were both trembling. "Is this why you are frightened?"
"No." His brow furrowed against his. "I'm afraid I'm losing control around you."
"Perhaps it is not so great a loss." She moved forward, her lips just touching his to see his reaction. When he moved into it as well she wanted to cry out in joy, but that would require her to break the kiss. Instead she ran a hand through his messy black hair and pulled him closer.
When they did break apart, they separated only slightly, still holding each other close. Both were panting from the emotions and the length of time without breathing.
"A-HEM!" A third voice said and both faces snapped to find the source.
"Raven!?" They said in unison. Indeed, Raven stood in the open doorway, looking more than a little embarrassed.
Robin recovered first, "How long have you been there?"
"Right about: 'Everyone has to let go sometime.'" The dark girl held up a hand to stop any comments from the two. "Let me guess." She started in her perfectly serious, but perpetually sarcastic sounding voice, "It's not what it looks like."
Perfectly innocently, Starfire asked, "What does it look like?"
Raven blinked, she had the hardest time getting used to Starfire's innocent bluntness. "It looks like you two finally got over whatever it was the you were having an issue with and admitted how you feel."
Starfire looked to Robin, who, still in her arms, shrugged, and turned back to her friend, "It was obvious?"
"Yeah." The dark girl said simply. She looked around sheepishly, "Listen, I'm happy for you two. Really. And if you want, I won't tell the others if you don't want me to." She tried not to look right at them and ended up looking down at where Robin's boomerang still stuck into the door. "Anyway, do whatever you want, with my blessing even so long as you use protection."
Raven cast her power on the weapon to remove it from the door and dropped it just inside the room. "Just, please, close the door next time." She hit the button and let them be.
The two looked at each other in shock for a moment before they both burst out laughing.
Starfire smiled at the boy in her arms, "Robin, may I sleep with you?" She regarded him a moment, "Is something wrong with your eyes?" They were bugging out of his head, at least until he realized what she meant. "Is the request inappropriate?" She asked shyly.
Robin shook his head, smiling at how silly it sounded, "No, its just that 'Sleeping with someone' is a euphemism."
She cocked her head, birdlike, "For what?"
"It doesn't really matter." He noted where the steel rim on her foot was biting into his leg. "Oh course you can, just no boots in bed."
The offending articles were removed and the pair slid beneath the covers, Robin pressed up against Starfire's back. He held her close, one arm around her midriff, just below the halter, the slipping under the crook of her neck to hold her shoulder. She in turn snuggled back into him and hugged one of his arms.
As Starfire began to doze off, Robin kissed her on the cheek. "I love you, Star."
She stiffened slightly, but only out of shock. "And I you, Robin. But is it not tradition on your planet for the male not to voice their feelings?"
He laughed into her hair, "I guess, but I really don't care. Goodnight, Star."
She was already asleep, and he soon joined her. *********************************************************

Raven sat in the living room trying to distract herself by playing the gamestation. She tended to get up this early, roughly 4:30, to have some alone time with the TV and game machine attached to it, usually taking a nap later to catch up on sleep. Finding Robin and Starfire together had surprised her, but in a good way.
Now was the other side of that coin. Now she was doing her best not to think about them. She had already cleaned up the milk, though she had no idea how that had happened she assumed it was Beast Boy's fault.
She could use her powers to find out exactly what the pair were up to, but Robin had always been adamant that she be allowed her privacy, so she couldn't betray that trust, could she?
She tried hard not to think about them, but that only made it harder not to. This, and a string of terrible scores on her game, continued until she realized something: Sexual energy is the most easily sensed type, aside from fear, that there is. Most normal people could sense those two, but even she hadn't. They were only about fifty feet behind her, were they to do anything, she would have felt it.
Not even when she had been right up close to them had she felt anything even remotely sexual between them. She gently reached out and felt them, curled up together, asleep and fully clothed. Raven sipped from her mug of herbal tea and smiled. This was going to be one of those storybook romances, with any luck. Today was a good day.
She returned to her game and smiled wider as she took the high score from Cyborg. The day was looking even better suddenly.
She actually laughed slightly when a final thought crossed her head: Cyborg had bet Beast Boy a month's worth of chores on how long Robin and Starfire would take to get together. Cyborg had just lost. It wasn't going to be a good day for him. She turned off the machine, took her mug and slipped away. She wanted to be in earshot when he found out about his score and bet, but she didn't want to be within tantrum range.