Author's Note: Hello and I'm new to this fandom. I've been writing fanfiction for years now, but I've only now ventured into Teen Titan territory. All of my posted fics are from the Rurouni Kenshin universe, and I have about a ton of Ranma ½ fanfics in my hard drive, but my new obsession with Teen Titans has prompted me to contribute to this fandom, and it's a wonderful thing.
About the fanfic (SPOILER warning for the Slade and Red-X episode. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you might want to skip this fanfic): This is set after the time of Red X and how his teammates reacted to the mysterious villain. The short story centers on Robin's growing attachment to Starfire, how his relationship with her makes him a better person and I did, of course, write this one-shot in such a way that if I chose to pursue this story, it would serve as a good enough base.
This is rated PG just because I'm going to use some strong language, but it won't be so bad. This is angst and romance.
Robin and Starfire pairing. Right now, this chapter could stand as a one shot. And if I ever continue it, it will be a while, since I haven't completed all of the Teen Titan episodes.
Just a note: I am NOT ever pairing Beast Boy with Raven. I could not find it in my heart to match them. I definitely see Beast Boy with Terra, but not Raven. I don't see Raven with anyone, except maybe Robin, but then I want Robin for Starfire, so you understand my predicament? There will be NO love triangles. Cyborg, I think, gets the short end of the stick when it comes to pairings. But the truth is I'd rather pair Cyborg and Raven before I'd pair Raven and Beast Boy. I love BB, though, so don't anyone leave a review calling me a BB-hater or I'll sic him on you. I'm a BB and Terra shipper, so there.
I don't know if it's permissible, but I couldn't let go of the impression that the Teen Titans are much older than their supposed ages. While I am quite aware that the show makes them out to be fifteen and fourteen year olds, I've gotten used to the idea that they're actually seventeen and eighteen year olds. So I'll be advancing their ages a bit. Just a year, just so it's not so weird that Robin and Starfire think like forty year olds. (I know… as if it makes a big difference.)
Standard disclaimers apply.
The darkness of the room lent a heavy sense of isolation that even Robin was not immune to. It was an odd thought, of him being immune to isolation. There was a time that isolation was anything but unnoticeable to him. He supposed that it eventually pounded so hard that the only relief he could find was the dulling of his soul, because it had been hit too many times.
He recalled the feeling of nauseating loneliness; when no one had been there for him, when he only had himself to turn to; and how that thought had terrified him, because what did he know? He was just a kid; sure he was a limber kid, but what was he supposed to do with that? Pop and breakdance on the street hoping onlookers would toss some change in the little donation cap? How the hell was he going to survive without money? Without purpose?
But then he met Batman, and his world changed. The millionaire, Bruce Wayne, was just another privileged prick as far as Richard Grayson was concerned; giving to charity, no doubt for tax cuts. So when Bruce Wayne turned out to be Batman, Richard Grayson, or "Dick", as Bruce liked to call him when he was being—well, an ass, clung to him for dear life. This man had the answers. This bat man could help him, crazy as he seemed, because let's face it, a man who dressed up as a bat to save the city had to have more bats in his head than he did in his Bat Cave.
It wasn't just the computers and the cars and the weapons, it was what Richard could do with it. Revenge was possible with such resources, and maybe; just maybe; he wanted the loneliness to go away, if only for a while. So Alfred had called him Robin (for a while Robin wished it had been something cooler, like "Nightwing", but "Robin" stuck, and turned out to be pretty cool anyway), and after much convincing, Batman had no choice but to give him the sidekick job. It turned out well, anyway. It took a crazy man to bag crazy villains; imagine what two crazy men could do.
Of course from thereon, Robin had moved on to other things. He had learned well; Bruce was a good teacher, and he was now the leader of an extraordinary group called The Titans.
Beast Boy; green, lanky, funny and could transform into any animal he chose. Of course, that meant the boy couldn't stand to eat meat to save his life, but Robin supposed that eating bacon would be downright wrong to him too if he could turn into a pig. Still, didn't all that tofu make him sick?
Raven; dark, enigmatic, lovely and perhaps the most unflinching poker-face Robin had ever seen. The closest Raven has come to being moved was being told to read somewhere else, because she was blocking the TV (Beast Boy wanted to watch "Average Joe Schmuck"). The night black hair and pale skin tended to scare away most people, but Robin supposed it would scare him more if Raven one day appeared with a smile and wearing a bright sundress. If that happened, the only possible explanation was that the world was going to end, or perhaps Raven had lost her mind. Either way, they were all screwed. Her dark powers could level the entire building if she didn't have the discipline to control it. In that sense, he was rather glad she wasn't much for self expression.
Cyborg; cool, a colossus and a mechanical whiz. Robin hadn't been too keen about Cyborg's look, in the beginning. Reminded him too much of crazy ole Dr. Victor Fries, a.k.a Mr. Freeze, but of course, Cyborg was nothing like the frigid villain. Cyborg knew how to have fun without having to freeze half the city, which was a monumental plus. Robin depended on Cyborg for a lot of the equipment's maintenance, and Cyborg was just the kind of superhero you wanted on your side.
And then there was Starfire; bright, enthusiastic, kind and couldn't understand why shouting "The roof is on fire!" didn't send everyone screaming and scrambling for their lives.
Robin laughed at the recollection of another "roof" incident with Cyborg yelling "Raise the roof!" at a party, and Starfire, eager to please, did just that; quite understandable why they weren't invited back to that house.
The beauty of it all was that Starfire wasn't stupid, just not from this planet. While that may sound weird to normal people, the Titans dealt with that fact everyday, because yeah, there was hardly anything normal about them.
At the beginning, Robin thought he would get along better with Raven. She was ponderous and level headed, an ideal right hand in the running of a crime fighting team. And while she had contributed much to the cause, it occurred to him along the way that trusting teammates with the job was easy; it was trusting your friendship to them that was difficult; that is, until he got to know Starfire. There was something infinitely open about her that just pulled everyone in. He sensed it immediately; how Starfire… Koriand'r never judged. She accepted everyone with almost divine kindness; unless of course you proved to be the bad guy, in which case she wouldn't hesitate to kick your ass.
She and he meshed because he was a pessimist and she was an optimist. He was guarded and she was trusting. He was jaded, while she saw things through eyes so clear that it bordered on naiveté if he didn't know that she had gone through so much herself. He needed her, and while perhaps she could do darn well without him or any of them, she made herself a part of them, showed them all that she wanted to care for them. While the others might have taken that for granted, he didn't. He had known the pain of being alone; not having anyone looking out for him, so he cherished the belongingness Starfire so willingly gave and he thought that he'd never feel alone again.
But now, he supposed he had been too long comfortable with the thought of having people around because the isolation was almost mind blowing.
Robin reaching for the keyboard to rewind what he had just been watching.
He had seen the images so many times he had lost count, but none of it was registering. He was too distracted by Starfire's words: "… you did not trust us."
Robin wanted to blame Slade for what he'd done, but then who was he kidding?
Slade; that man, that criminal who was so elusive, so evil, that Robin couldn't help but be obsessed about taking him down. It drove him to withdraw from the confidence of the Titans; believe that he could take on the man by himself. He disguised himself and called himself Red X, stealing computer chips all over town to get Slade to trust him into telling him his plans. Of course, that hadn't worked. Unfortunately, he only realized this when his plan was crumbling all around him.
It was Starfire who found out first. Vaguely, he had a feeling she would. She was the only one who would be concerned enough about him to be aware of what little clues he might have let slip. And yes, she wasn't stupid.
Oh, those eyes! Those large green eyes of hers when she came barging into the scene of what he thought was finally a meeting with Slade, looked so imploring. "Why?" her eyes had asked.
She was yelling for the Titans not to hurt Red X, because Red X was Robin. She had looked so betrayed, more than the others,because he had not only lied to them, but he had lied to her. She was hurt, and it dawned on him, that very moment, that he had done her wrong. She didn't deserve his deceit. Out of the entire group, it was the two of them who shared a mutual bond. Unspoken as of yet, but something he knew neither of them would be embarrassed about. He had jeopardized the integrity of that; not Slade, him; and why? Because he was so eager to be the one to put Slade's butt in jail that he had forgotten that nobody expected him to do it alone, that it was the reason they were called the Titans; because they were a team.
He'd take a kick to the nuts any day to Starfire's disappointment. The man who could look Starfire straight in the eyes after that and tell her, conscience free, that he'd do it again, had to be the coldest mother—
Robin sighed, pressing the rewind function one more time.
He watched as Slade's masked face appeared and spoke…
He hit the pause button and leaned back on his cushioned chair in frustration. The screen flickered in its paused state, distorting Slade's image slightly; the gentle hum of the air conditioner standing out in the silence of the room. Slade may as well have been talking in German. Robin couldn't absorb a single thing.
This obsession of catching Slade, if he wasn't careful, would drive all of them away. And the relationship he had grown to depend on the most; had guarded almost jealously, had just suffered its first crack. He hoped; he prayed that the crack wouldn't get any larger. He wished he could wipe it away, but knew that cracks on glass never went away.
Hang in there, Starfire. Don't give up on the ole Richard just yet.
A soft hiss traveled through the room and Robin turned in his seat. The silhouette was distinct enough. Slim, shapely and legs that went on forever… darn the hormones that plagued him. If he didn't always find Starfire so attractive, he wouldn't have to exert so much effort hiding it.
Must have been psychic, or something. Perhaps he had been thinking about her so much that he had transmitted his thoughts. It wouldn't be much of a surprise if she had some telepathic power in that pretty head of hers. He smiled wanly. "Hey."
He couldn't see it through the glare of the light, but he was sure she smiled back, more brightly, of course. It was just the sort of thing you came to expect from Starfire.
She walked through the door and closed it, shutting out the light and bringing them back into the semi-darkness.
Starfire's green eyes hovered to the frozen and bent face of Slade. She frowned momentarily and then she sighed, smiling sadly. "I had half anticipated this when I resolved to come here, but it has not made me less peeved, and worried, to see you so immersed in this obsession."
Robin punched the escape key and the image disappeared, leaving a blank teal glow on the screen. "I didn't come here to obsess about Slade… well, I did, but only because I needed a distraction. I've been feeling—" he paused and reddened in shame. Maybe he didn't want to talk about it.
His eyebrow arched in surprise. "I was going to say I've been feeling like a jerk, but yeah, that works too." He hadn't expected her to come out and say it. Close as they were, she was never one to initiate conversation about things he had obviously preferred not to talk about. For her to pull such things out of his little emotion bag seemed largely out of character.
She looked at him sympathetically. "I am to blame, I know. What I said the other day was meant to make you feel guilt. Even we Tamarans have used guilt as behavioral tools, but I have only, until my talk with you, used it for misbehaving children." She grinned at this and Robin's eyebrow arched higher.
Double ouch. "Hey, I'll be seventeen in a few months."
"And as Beast Boy says, going on forty." She chuckled. "I have only now understood how that is possible. Once one has grasped the concept of figurative language it is easier to cope with your strange expressions." She turned her gaze back to the monitor and stared. "It is this matter which has bothered me, I think. As much as my logic tells me that I had to make you feel guilty to make you listen, I felt bad about it nonetheless. You are not a child and perhaps, instead of just leaving you to feel this guilt, I should have stayed to talk about the matter more thoroughly."
Robin rolled his eyes. Oh brother. It's just like Starfire to feel guilty about making me feel guilty. "Starfire, you're a nut, you know that?"
She looked at him, blinking in astonishment. "I think so. I have heard Beast Boy call me that, in its plural form. I have not yet fully comprehended what it means in your plethora of earthly popular culture expressions."
He chuckled. He should've known better. "Starfire, you were right to make me feel guilty. What I did was stupid and I had no right to have so little trust in all of you. You don't have to feel guilty about making me feel guilty. I needed a kick in the pants."
She thought a moment before replying. "I am assuming that you do not mean 'kick in the pants' literally."
"You assumed right. I'm glad you're getting the hang of this. It would have been un-cool to have you actually kick me in the pants."
Starfire flashed him another one of her bright smiles. "I too, am glad that you have taken this kick in the pants better than I had hoped. But nevertheless, I am sorry for causing you pain. I never want to cause you pain, Robin."
The sound of his name from her lips caught him, and he blushed inexplicably. "I'm the one who needs to apologize." It was always nice to hear her say his name, and it was embarrassing that he liked it. More of his hormones, he supposed. Raven had never had that effect on him, but he figured that having one's name said so blandly, so bereft of expression would meet the same response from anyone, hormones or none. "So I'm sorry, and I'll do better from now on."
She turned, sitting at the edge of the mainframe panel so that she wouldn't accidentally sit on the keys. "You mostly do right by us. You are a wonderful leader and we all would rather have you take charge of our welfare. It is because of this we could forgive you without need of your apology."
He shook his head in slight disagreement. "I wish it were that easy, Starfire. I'm not going to pretend that I did it to keep all of you safe. I'm not going to sit here and make you think that I was driven by self-sacrifice to do it. It wasn't that I didn't trust you to take care of yourselves if it everything went haywire, it was that I didn't trust you, period. Now, don't you think that's awful of me? Because it is. It's terrible, and I feel like such a dick."
The uncertain gleam in her eyes returned. "But you are Dick, are you not?"
He groaned miserably. Bad choice of words. How was he going to explain that he didn't mean his name; he meant—
The notion that he would have to explain something so vulgar to Starfire was both embarrassing and wrong. Whose bright idea was it anyway, to turn Dick into a nickname for Richard? When one thought about it, it made absolutely no sense. The two names didn't sound remotely alike.
"Never mind, Robin; I see that my irrelevant question distresses you." She laughed. "It is just that I feel you are being too hard on yourself. You must give yourself some credit, boy of wonder. For an earthling so young, and one who relies solely on human skill; with no paranormal abilities whatsoever, you have—quite simply—done good. Do you understand that, Richard Grayson?"
He stared at her. There was nothing particularly extraordinary about what she said, but it had never occurred to him that such simple praise from her, telling him that he had "done good" could make him feel so renewed. She blinked questioningly and he quickly stammered for a response. "I-I guess."
She smiled gently. "You will make mistakes, as we all do. I realized after I spoke to you that I have looked up to you so much that I had forgotten that even you, boy of wonder, could err. I also realized that it takes a good man to learn from one's mistakes, so I am glad that I could depend on you when it came to that. I ask only that when I make mistakes that you are more patient with me than I was with you."
He was a bit too awe struck to make a coherent response, but he struggled and partially succeeded. "Of course, Starfire. You didn't even have to ask. You know I'll always be around for you."
A strange expression settled on her features and her smile, though less bright, seemed to glow with something warmer. "I am aware, and I do take comfort in the fact that the boy of wonder looks out for me, not only because I am his teammate, but because I am his friend."
"You are my best friend, Starfire."
Still with that strangely comforting smile, she put her hand on his shoulder and squeezed. His hand suddenly encased hers. She seemed mildly surprised.
"I'm lucky—" he said, keeping his gaze locked with hers "—to have such a good friend like you. I couldn't have done any of that good without you."
Her smile brightened, though it remained serene; a soothing light in the dimness. "Come, Robin. You need activity in the fresh air. It is unhealthy to be in this metallic room for hours on end, so isolated from people who care about you. You will interact, yes?"
Robin chuckled. "Yeah, I'll interact. But if you don't mind, maybe we could walk around for a while, just us two. Ease me back into normalcy before you throw me to the mercy of the others who probably feel no guilt about making me feel like a di—um, jerk."
She laughed. "Very well, boy of wonder. Walk, we will."
Starfire took his hand and rose slightly into the air, pulling him from his seat. His laughter rang out in the cold room.
"Hey, wait a sec. Let me turn this off." He flipped the switch and the screen went blank.
"Hurry, boy of wonder. You know I do not like the dark." Her tone was teasing, and he was endeared by it.
With Starfire giggling, he let her pull him outside, reveling and blushing at the fact that she was holding his hand; that he had made her happy. As he went with her, he realized that she had saved him from being swept back into isolation. He knew, from then on, that this girl would be the making of him. He would strive as best he could to meet her expectations, because her demands were pure, and good.
It was true what he said, that he was lucky to have someone like her and he knew, was almost certain, that at every darkroom he had to enter in life, she would always come to light the dimness. He vowed to be equal to that unselfishness, and if Starfire thought that he did good then it meant he was going in the right direction.
If he led the Titans, then he would let Starfire lead him, because if there was any wonder, Robin had no doubt in his heart that it was her.
Author's closing notes: There now, that was short, wasn't it? R&Rs are appreciated. If you have any helpful comments, do not hesitate to offer them. I need all the help I could get, being new to the fandom and all. Flames that have awful spelling and laughable grammar will be made fun of in my website, so if you must flame, make sure it's an INTELLIGENT flame.