Author's Notes: A thousand apologies wouldn't be enough to make up for almost a year without updates. I am so sorry. My only defense is that you can't write without inspiration. And although all of your reviews and encouragements have been wonderful, the spark that inspired this chapter didn't hit me until today. I am very sorry. But the next chapter is already underway, so I will go ahead and promise that another year will not slip by before I update again! Thank you for sticking with me. I very much hope you find it worth your time:)
by Kristen Elizabeth
Robin pushed the T-wing hard, certainly harder than Cyborg would have approved. He could almost hear his mechanical friend screaming "lay off the metal, man!" every time he upped the acceleration. But he couldn't stop. Each second that passed was one second closer to losing Starfire forever.
The mere thought had him pushing the spacecraft even harder.
It seemed as though it took forever, but eventually Tamaran appeared in the distance, a brightly colored spot in the emptiness of space. An invisible fist squeezed his heart.
"Please…" he heard himself whisper out loud. "Please don't let me be too late."
A static-laced voice over the T-wings communicator eventually jarred him out of his prayer. He blinked as he realized how far he'd traveled. Tamaran now lay in front of him, as beautiful as its princess.
"Unidentified space ship," the voice addressed him. "You have entered Tamaranian space. Please identify yourself, state your business and stand-by for further instructions."
Robin cleared his throat. "I'm Robin of the Teen Titans of Earth." He paused. "I'm here to see Princess Starfire."
Several long minutes passed before the voice replied, "Robin of the Teen Titans of Earth…turn your ship around. You are not welcome on Tamaran."
His heart sank down around his knees. Robin sat back in the pilot's seat and wiped cold sweat off his forehead. "I can't do that," he told the voice. "I need to see her."
"Robin of the Teen Titans of Earth, if you do not leave Tamaranian space, we shall be forced to take actions to remove you. This is your two minute warning."
The echo of Starfire's laughter came to him just then. Closing his eyes, he could see her smile, the last one she'd given him in his bed at Wayne Manor. Robin gripped the ship's controls, his knuckles white.
If he had to fight her own people for her, he would. He just hoped she could forgive him this one more thing.
Veils weren't a traditional part of her people's bridal ensemble, but Starfire had come to love them on Earth. She could still remember the first time she'd seen one, in a daytime opera of soap when she was first learning about the strange planet on which she'd decided to make her new home. She'd instantly adored the soft lace covering the TV bride's face, and the way in which her intended had lifted it to reveal her teary eyes. It had almost been too much romantic stimulation for her inexperienced heart.
She'd wanted one on her wedding day. And she'd wanted Robin to lift it and see her eyes overflowing.
But the veil now separated her from Captain Tal. And her eyes were dry.
Galfore was speaking the words of the marriage ceremony, as Grand Ruler. She wanted to be as happy as he was about the union. It would be very easy to love her betrothed. Unlike the green glob of goo to whom Blackfire had tried to have her married once upon a time, Tal was an ideal match. What Raven would have called a "hottie."
Through the lace, she could see that he was smiling, too. In fact, she seemed to be the only person in Great Hall who wasn't overjoyed on her wedding day.
"Princess," Galfore addressed her. "Do you take this young Captain to be your husband, from now until the Great Ones call you home?"
She opened her mouth, but no sounds would come out.
Her was the last head to turn to the back of the hall. She didn't have to look to see who it was interrupting her wedding. But she did have to pinch her arm to make sure she hadn't slipped into a daydream.
The lacy web of her veil couldn't hide the fact that his uniform was ripped and scorched and blood dripped down his face from a cut above his eye. He looked as though he had just fought for his life. He bent over slightly, resting his hands on his knees, as he called her name again.
He was there. He'd come for her.
Before Starfire could make herself speak, Robin was surrounded by palace guards, all with their weapons drawn, prepared to take down the intruder.
Robin stood in the middle of the dangerous circle, his chest heaving with spent effort. He drew himself upright and her heart skipped a beat. He was brave as always. Even in the face of such odds.
Behind her, Galfore roared in protest, "Remove him at once! This Earthling dares to interfere with our Princess's marriage! He shall pay with his…"
Starfire's scream startled herself most of all. The flowers she'd been holding landed on the steps; she gathered her long, white skirt in one hand and ran down the aisle towards the circle of guards.
"Lower your weapons!" she commanded.
Her word was still to be obeyed; the weapons were lowered and one guard stepped aside to let her in.
Starfire's hands shook as she ripped the veil away. "Robin, are you in pain?"
"No." He smiled through the blood. "Not anymore."
"I am glad." A second passed before Starfire slapped him across the face. Robin stared at her, one hand against his stinging cheek. "Forgive me for that," she said. "But I have been in pain for a very long time. And it is only right that you feel it, too."
He swallowed. "Star…you have no idea." She couldn't see his eyes behind his mask, couldn't tell what emotion lay in them. "I hurt both of us."
She laid out the question that he'd struggled so long to answer. "Why?"
"I didn't want to lose you." Robin sighed. "But that sure blew up in my face, didn't it? I ended up being the reason you left."
"I left because I believed you did want me around," Starfire said softly. "Yet you would not have come here if that were true, yes?"
"Yeah. I mean, Star...I love you."
She moved forward until they were close enough to feel the heat from each other's bodies. Starfire reached up and delicately peeled his mask away, revealing his blue eyes, wet with unshed tears.
His veil had been lifted and for the first time, Starfire saw all of him, all the sides he'd struggled with for so long. Dick Grayson, the boy whose childhood had been brutally murdered, but bandaged by a caped crusader. Robin, the teenager she'd fallen in love with upon first sight, who gave up everything to protect the world. And Nightwing, the man who now stood before her, asking for another chance. The man at whose side she wanted to be by until the Great Ones called her home.
"I love you, too."
The taste of blood was in their kiss, and the hall was stunned into silence as their Princess, who had only moments before been engaged to Captain Tal, was swept into another man's arms, a dark-haired Earth hero who always seemed to be interrupting her marriage ceremonies. But there was something in the way they embraced that told a story of deep, abiding devotion that would survive anything.
Even the Grand Ruler who thundered towards them.
"Princess," he roared. "You would take back this alien creature who has stolen your innocence, broken your heart and now has the nerve to ask for your forgiveness on your wedding day to worthy man of your own people?"
Starfire's eyes glowed green. She lifted off the floor and hovered several feet in the air, putting herself at eye level with her former nanny. "I would!" she shot back, hotly. "And I shall fight any who threaten him!"
"And what of your betrothed?" Galfore asked. "Would you break your Skarlblatt vows to him?"
"Yes." She looked past Galfore's bulk at the man she'd nearly married. He'd been silent all this time, shocked, no doubt, by the sudden turn of events. "I am sorry, Captain Tal," Starfire said. "But you could not have been happy as my husband. Because I gave my heart away a long time ago." She looked back at Robin. "To a Human."
"Princess…" Galfore's voice rumbled dangerously, but Starfire held her ground. Finally, when it seemed like neither one of them would break, Galfore's face relaxed. "My greatest wish has been to see my littlest one happy. If he…" He glared at Robin. "…can make you happy, I will not enforce your vow to Captain Tal. However, if he ever again gives your heart a moment's worth of pain, I shall blast him into the stars."
Starfire threw her arms around the Grand Ruler's huge neck. "Thank you," she whispered. "For everything."
She flew to Robin's side. "I do love you, Robin. But I do not know if my heart could survive another break. Can you promise me that it will never have to?"
He lowered his head for a moment. "I'm going to try, Star." He looked back up at her. "I promise you that."
Starfire searched the blue depths of his eyes and found what she'd always wanted to see there. True love, unclouded by doubt or worry. "I wish to go home now," she told him.
Robin reached for her hand. "So do I."
To Be Continued