It's true, as some pointed out, that I could very well have ended with the last chapter. Fortunately for you all, that's not how my mind works. It took several tries to word everything just right, and I thank you for all your patience. Honestly, it was all I could do not to gag at certain points—this is definitely one of the fluffiest things I've written in a while, as you will shortly see. But, as I always say, it's not a true Robin/Starfire fic without Robin's corny-ness.
I thank everybody for your wonderful reviews, IMs, and e-mails of encouragement. It won't get me to give in to anymore fanservice than planned—and it certainly won't have me typing up chapters or sequels to stories that have none hint hint--but the compliments are all well appreciated!
Just to warn you all right now, the first scene is written in songfic format. Apologies to those of you who don't like them, but once you read the lyrics, you'll see why I would've been crazy not to include this song in here. Personally, I consider it the unofficial R/S anthem…but that's just me.
"There's just one thing that still bothers me," Robin began as the student body president stood on her toes to place the aluminum crown (spray painted gold, of course) on his head, "How can we be the King and Queen of your prom when we don't even go to this school?"
From behind his booth, the DJ shrugged nonchalantly. "What can I say, kid? Democracy at its finest."
"…and I sure didn't stuff the ballot box, if that's what you're thinking. No, sir!" A rich tenor called out from behind, such a tone as Robin wasn't quite sure it he was serious or joking. Simultaneously, he and Starfire spun around to see a red-haired young man walk towards them. He wore a grin on his face and winked at the Tameranian girl as he held out the silver tiara for her own crowning.
"Roy!" Her smile widened upon recognizing him.
"Who?" Robin blinked, then took a good look at the boy. "Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"
"Eh, who's to say?" Roy commented a little too quickly. "It's a big city, you know. And what, with you guys always running around saving the day and all…" he trailed off, shrugging his shoulders. Quick to change the subject, he stepped forward and placed the tiara on Starfire's head. "Congratulations, princess." He whispered in her ear, giving the Tameranian girl a friendly kiss on the cheek.
Robin's smile suddenly looked a bit more forced.
The lights above dimmed low as Roy stepped back to join the rest of the kids in a round of applause. A few spotlights shone from the ceiling. "And now," the speakers crackled to life once more, "your King and Queen will lead off in a traditional spotlight dance."
Soft music permeated the air in a melody of piano and percussion. Robin turned to the girl beside him with one hand extended, "You heard the man…" But his smile quickly melted into a faint look of concern when he noticed Starfire's uncharacteristically distant expression. "Something wrong?"
"Hmm?" His voice seemed to snap her back to reality. Shaking her head, she plastered a grin on her face and replied, "Nothing is wrong. Everything is…wonderful…"
He raised an amused eyebrow. "Where have I heard that one before?"
In spite of herself, Starfire couldn't help a genuine smile from appearing on her face at the memory, allowing the boy to gently leader her out onto the wooden dance floor.
What if I never knew?
What if I never found you?
I'd never have this feeling in my heart
Robin noticed out of the corner of his eye the Tameranian dart her sight around the room, as if noticing for the first time the increasing number of people that had begun to form around them. One hand went to her lips in apparent nervousness, subconsciously pulling herself closer to him. Shaking his head with a smile, he chalked it up to her (at times) childlike nature.
How did this come to be?
I don't know how you found me
But from the moment I saw you, deep inside my heart I knew…
"Just ignore them, okay?" He whispered so only she could hear. "Pretend it's just the two of us."
Starfire hesitated for a moment before nodding, though she didn't seem to be at any greater ease than before. Placing her hands loosely on his shoulders, she quickly melted into his embrace.
As members of the Teen Titans, every last pair of eyes would be on them. Maintaining appearances for the moment was most important, if nothing else but for Robin's sake, and she knew that fact well. The mere fact that Robin was with her helped some; the warmth from his touch provided a welcome sense of comfort.
Baby, you're my destiny
You and I were meant to be
With all my heart and soul
I give my love to have and hold
And as far as I can see
You were always meant to be
Only half-listening to the music, the two gently swayed back and forth to the beat. Robin noticed the Tameranian grow more and more distant with every passing moment. He knew her well enough to know the smile on her face was completely fake. It wasn't the crowd that bothered her, he quickly realized. Something else was on her mind.
I wanted someone like you
Someone that I could hold onto
And give my love until the end of time
But forever was just a word (Just a word)
Twenty years into the future, Starfire returned after disappearing for two decades. Cyborg had been holed up in the Tower in complete disrepair. Beast Boy had locked himself in a cage to perform for ungrateful brats who threw things at him. Raven had lost all traces of her sanity and locked herself in a psychiatric ward. And Robin…
Something I'd only heard about
Memories of Nightwing seeped into her train of thought as Starfire related to the song's lyrics, and she lightly shook her head in a desperate attempt to rid herself of them. They had already changed the future with her retrieval of the Clock of Eternity. She wasn't missing from the time stream. The future would not turn out as depressing as she had seen.
After all…Robin had promised her.
But now you're always there for me
When you say forever, I'll believe
No longer in the spotlight, the two found themselves suddenly lost in a sea of couples as several other teenagers made their way to the dance floor. Robin could easily see, in spite of the darkness, that the normally bright and cheerful girl before him had given up all attempts at trying to appear happy now that she was certain nobody was looking anymore.
"Hey, Star," he whispered softly. "You okay?"
Fully expecting her to attempt to deny it further, Robin was slightly caught off-guard when she shook her head sadly before burying it into his shoulder, arms wrapped tightly around his neck. The Boy Wonder found himself at a complete loss for words, opting to remain silent and hold the girl tightly.
Maybe all we need is just a little faith
'Cause baby, I believe that love will find a way
They remained in that position until the last notes faded into the night air.
Baby, you're my destiny
You and I were meant to be
With all my heart and soul
I give my love to have and hold
And as far as I can see
(From now until eternity)
You were always meant to be
~1 Year Ago~
The rain sprinkled over Titan Tower in a pleasant summer shower, a welcome gift from Mother Nature after the blistering heat of day with temperatures passing 90 degrees by noon. Droplets of water trailed down the Tameranian's face as she stood silently on the rooftop, eyes unblinkingly turned towards the heavens. SO lost in her thoughts, she barely noticed the stairway door open behind her. In fact, it wasn't until she found herself suddenly shielded from the downpour that Koriand'r even realized Robin was standing next to her, holding an umbrella over them both.
Yet still, her focused remained upwards at the starless sky.
"Something on your mind?" He asked, voice just barely carrying over the gentle pitter-patter of rain against the plastic material. When she hardly even acknowledged his presence, he tried again: "Kori?"
"Robin, why can I not see the stars?"
Her sudden question caught him off-guard. "What?"
"The stars. Why are they not visible?" For the first time, she turned to face him. "It is dark outside, and the sun has long since sunk beneath the horizon, and yet I am unable to view them. Where did they go?" Were it not for the faint quiver in her voice, Robin would never have thought to look more closely. But sure enough, he was quick to notice the tears trailing down her cheeks, almost invisible in the rainwater.
"I-it's okay," He insisted, not entirely sure how to deal with crying girls. Especially ones who could blast him all the way back to Gotham City if he wasn't careful. "They're just hidden behind the clouds, is all." A hand rubbed at the back of his neck sheepishly, awkward at both her approach to such a seemingly trivial thing and his own lame explanation.
"I do not like these 'clouds.' Make them vanish, please."
Koriand'r was beginning to shiver; whether from nostalgia or her damp clothing, Robin wasn't sure. Balancing the umbrella in one hand, he shrugged off the cape around his shoulders and lightly placed it on hers. She accepted the gift with a weak smile, pulling the fabric close as she continued to stare upwards.
Neither of them had mentioned it since, but her "absorption" of the English language (a memory that stil brought a rush of blood to Boy Wonder's cheeks) had not gone as well as she had hoped. It had been explained roughly afterwards that there were several possibilities why: she was still young in Tameranian years…it had been her first time attempting such a transaction…
Yet no matter how much she insisted otherwise, Robin could tell that it still bothered her. Koriand'r had gained a fair knowledge of the language; that was true. She even spoke with more proper grammar than Miss Manners. The difficulty came in the interpretation of what she or someone around her was saying. Many popular sayings and slag phrases went right over her head if not implied in their most literal form.
Those past few days had been even more difficult for her than her time as a voluntary mute.
After a time, Robin put the umbrella down and stepped forward. "Listen, Ko—"
"I am sorry," she spoke suddenly, interrupting him mid-sentence.
"Sorry?" He paused to blink. "For what?"
Koriand'r turned to face him with a sad smile, face and hair thoroughly soaked from the rainwater. "I am sorry for causing you so much misfortune. You have been wonderful in assisting me, and I have taken up so much of your valued time." She pulled the cape tighter around her shoulders; subconsciously, Robin rubbed her forearms in an effort to help warm her up. "If you with to return to your previous duties, I…promise to no longer be such a burden upon you."
"Nonsense." He smiled before realizing what he was doing and pulled back with a light blush. "You've never been a burden."
"Do not lie to me, Robin." A mixture of frustration and anger splashed across her face. "I may be unfamiliar with much of your ways, but I am not blind. DO you not think I see the looks people give me on the street? How uncomfortable the other feel in being in the same room with me? That nobody but yourself will even attempt to speak to me?" Overwhelmed by emotions, she stepped forward and buried her head in his shoulders.
Not sure of what else to do, Robin gently wrapped his arms around the sobbing girl. "Koriand'r, I…"
"Even my name has caused nothing but trouble," she murmured into his shirt, "No one else can so much as pronounce it properly."
They remained like that for several moments, silence save for the girl's quiet sobbing. In that time, the rainfall slowed to a light mist and the clouds began migrating south. Though thoroughly soaked at that point, neither moved to head inside the Tower. It wasn't even until the first stars reappeared in the night sky that Robin made the first move, pulling her away to meet her gaze.
"Tell you what," he began with a trademark smirk, "Why don't we come up with a team name for you? Something that everybody'll remember."
She game him a curious look. "What do you mean?"
"Well…Cyborg and Beast Boy have other names they were given at birth, even though we call them by codenames. As far as we know, Raven is…well…Raven." He shrugged. "She never told us otherwise."
"And what about you?" He hesitated, as if reluctant to tell her such vital information. Not even the others knew his birth name. But the hopeful look in her eyes won him over almost immediately. Leaning forward, he whispered something in her ear. She smiled softly. "I like it."
"You're an important part of this team now, and don't you forget it." Robin insisted. "Someone with a true sense of morality and justice, the courage to fight for what you believe it, yet a smile and love of life that outshines the fire of the stars themselves."
"Fire of the stars…" She repeated absently, before looking upwards with a grin. "Star…fire…"
"…you guys can stop laughing now."
Robin's statement might have made more of an impact if he hadn't still been wearing the gold-painted tin crown on his head, which tiled to one side in an attempt to fit over his spiky hair. His face was twisted into a combination of frustration and embarrassment, cheeks burning red as he tried to look as menacing as possible. Arms folded and glaring behind the mask, he tapped his foot in hopes of getting Cyborg and Beast Boy to stop laughing. Or at least get up off the floor.
Minutes later, they were still rolling around in a fit of hysterics.
Heaving a sigh of defeat, Robin shot a helpless glance towards Raven. Aside from what could easily be interpreted as her attempting to hold back laughter, her eyes showed a slight amount of sympathy. Well, she was no help. He glanced around the room, suddenly noticing the lack of their fifth team member.
"Hey, anybody seen Starfire?" He called out to no one in particular.
Beast Boy, who had graduated to a sitting position by then, stood up straight if only to give a mocking bow. "Thy Lady hath ventured yonder," he managed through his snickering, "to thy peak of thy castle tower, Your Royal Highness." This was quickly followed by another bout of laughter from both him and Cyborg.
"She's on the roof." Raven translated, closing her book and chucking it at the changeling in frustration. It flew through the air before making contact with his skull.
"YEOW!" The boy cried out, holding his head where a large bump was already forming nicely. He sat up and glared at his attacker. "Raven, that thing was a hardcover!"
"Well, then, I guess that would explain the echoing thud we just heard, wouldn't it?"
Resisting the urge to laugh, Robin shook his head at the two as he slipped out of the room, leaving them to their bickering. The arguments never lasted long, since Raven still deemed such confrontation far too childish for her liking, but Beast Boy's influence on her was becoming clearer and clearer with each passing argument. Especially when she had started cracking jokes.
A quick stop at his room to chuck the crown inside, and Robin headed up the stairway that led to the Titans Tower roof. Truth be told, he wasn't the least bit surprised at Starfire's choice of location. If anything, he was concerned; experience taught him that it was a place of solitude for her to retreat to when something troubled her. The last time he found her up there, she had been mulling over his brief entrapment by Slade, forced to fight in opposition to his team. To that very day, he couldn't shake the image of her hovering inches before him, eyes lowered and voice softly telling him that she would sooner have him kill her than face him in battle. The thought alone sent a bone-chilling shiver down his spine; he could only imagine what it did to her.
The door creaked open to reveal Starfire in her usual sunset-viewing position, seated upon of the raised edges of the roof as her eyes searched the heavens. From where the Boy Wonder stood, her expression was unreadable…though he could see the glimmer of silver in her lap she clutched with both hands. She still had on her sparkling maroon dress.
It was silly, Starfire told herself, to be untroubled by such an innocent compliment. She knew that Roy had no previous knowledge of her life on Tameran, let alone her royal heritage. She also knew that "princess" was a common nickname to give friends of the female persuasion, and a flattering one at that. Yet the sound of somebody referring to her in such a way still brought back memories she wasn't quite ready to face. Only recently had she even been able to confide in Robin of the horrors of her past.
"Starfire?" She vaguely heard Robin come up the stairs and call her name. "Star?" Walking forward until he was nearly beside her, he tried once more, gentler than before: "…Kori?"
Robin could have sworn, in that moment, there was a faint twinkle in the Tameranian's eyes at the sound of her true name; it had been so long since anybody had called her by it.
"Robin," she whispered softly, almost child-like "Show me again where Tameran is. Please." Not once did she turn to look at him, her eyes busy observing the stars.
He nodded wordlessly and came up from behind her. Leaning forward, he matched his line of sight as closely as possible with hers, chin practically resting upon her shoulder. "Look for the three stars I pointed out to you last time…see them?" One finger extended forward to draw a series of invisible lines in the air. Starfire nodded wordlessly, urging him to continue. "That's what is known as the Summer Triangle. The two bottom stars are called Deneb and Altair. Now, look above them towards a bright, blue-tinted star…"
"Vega," she murmured, recognizing her planet's sun.
Robin glanced at her out of the corner of his mask before standing upright. "Feeling homesick?"
"Lately, I have been wondering what 'home' really is," was her reply. "Is it the place where one is born? The place they grew up? Live?"
He remained silent throughout the girl's musings. In spite of her naivety about many things, it was moments like these that reminded him of just how clever and insightful the alien girl really was. She had, after all, figured him out long before any of the others. Knew him better than anyone…at times, even he.
"So, what do you consider home?" He finally asked. "Where's your place?"
Starfire closed her eyes for a moment, lowering her head. When she finally opened them, a serene smile tugged at her lips as she finally turned to look at him. "My place…is with you."
Desperately trying to keep the blood from flushing to his cheeks, Robin gave her a warm smile and extended a gentlemanly hand, helping her down even though she didn't really need the assistance. The couple wordlessly headed towards the entrance to the stairway, when Starfire suddenly paused in her steps. Robin turned back to see her absently glancing around with a look of remembrance.
He smiled, knowing what was on her mind. "It's been almost a year, hasn't it?"
"It has," she agreed before lifting her eyes. "I realize now that I have never properly thanked you, Robin."
"For everything," he felt her hand grip his tighter, shaking in the slightest, "I have apologized far more times than can be remembered, but not once have I expressed words of gratitude."
"You don't need to, Kori," he insisted, once more using her birth name. "If anything, I should be the one thanking you. You've been there for me this past year through everything. Trusted me even when I didn't return the favor…" he trailed off
"You know," he interrupted. She could almost swear his voice cracked, "Coming face to face with you that night, weapons raised…that was one of the hardest things I've ever had to handle. It kills me that Slade was able to turn us against each other like that."
Starfire reached out with her free hand, pushing back locks of hair that had strewn across his forehead. "He did not entirely, remember? I could never truly fire upon you, Robin, and you would never fire upon me." She smiled. "Such misfortunes only strengthen the bond of friendship, as we believe on Tameran. And I thank X'Hal for ours every day."
Leaning slightly downward (it never ceased to amuse her that she stood an inch or so taller than he), she gave him a soft kiss on the cheek. Robin could no longer fight the inevitable blush from rising to his entire face as she pulled back. Neither seemed to be able to move from that spot as their eyes met, somewhere between comfort and nervousness. Then, much slower than before, she leaned in again. This time, he met her halfway as their lips gently brushed against one another. Placing his hands on her hips, Robin pulled her closer to him as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
The kiss slowly grew in both depth and passion, all previous thoughts forgotten as they finally gave into the sensation both had unknowingly been denied for so long.
A couple floors down, Raven was meditating in her room inches above her bedspread. Beast Boy's attention had quickly switched from their own argument to one with Cyborg over something about what constituted a proper dessert, neither choices of which had appealed much to her anyway. Desperate for some peace and quiet, their incessant arguing had finally driven the Goth into retreating back into her quarters.
It was about five or ten minutes later that she first began to sense it: a subtle chill that ran up and down her spine, and rapidly grew in intensity. Without a word, she merely peeked one eye open and glanced upward, as if expecting the ceiling to offer an explanation. A rare smile tugged at her lips before returning to her meditation as if nothing happened, her only acknowledgement in the form of three simple words:
"It's about time."