"Now we can concentrate on saving Terra!"
The moment occurred in half an instant. He had been unaware of the glinting rock behind him, and how fast it had been traveling towards the two. Everything flew by too quickly for his mind to register. He heard a high pitched grunt, or was it a cry of pain? He was forcefully thrust aside as a loud explosion erupted from where he formally stood. He collapsed to the ground with a thud, skidding across the dirt before finally halting courtesy of a large boulder. His blurred gaze lifted wearily, and a second passed before he recognized what had just occurred. His wide, fearful eyes watched in horror as her unconscious body sailed away from him at fantastic speed. He caught a glimpse of her blazing red hair, like a burning flame, before it flickered out and disappeared behind the summit of the mountain.
He scrambled to his feet and rushed to the edge, dropping to his stomach once he reached it. Futilely his arm shot out to grab her, but she continued to spiral downward towards the crashing waves who seemed uncaring towards the situation. Already he could feel his sanity drop away piece by piece, as if he were witnessing his entire world fold in on itself. A chilling shiver caressed his spine and bolted up to his neck, provoking his tiny hairs to stand on end. He could feel himself trembling; whether it was from the bone-rattling cold or his complete and utter fear he did not know. He gasped deeply to fill his empty lungs and heard a terrified yet familiar scream. Only later did he realize that it was his own.
That was hours ago, almost an entire day. Starfire had emerged alive, along with the rest of the team. They had unified and together engaged in a brilliant battle against Terra and Slade. Terra went to prove that she was not evil, and broke free from the binds Slade had wrapped around her, but it came with a price. Just as she realized the error of her ways, her powers staggered to dizzying heights and inadvertently opened a volcano. The only way to stop it was if she sacrificed herself. The city was saved, and Terra was encased in stone.
The Titans gave her a small tribute and retreated to the tower, physically and mentally exhausted. Beast Boy mournfully retired to his room, stifling a few sobs. Cyborg milled about the living room for a moment or two before wandering to the garage, muttering words of disbelief. Raven entered their home, intent on meditating her excess emotions away, but was too overwhelmed to get even past the couch and collapsed onto it, falling asleep even before impact.
Robin had been weighted down with an extreme abundance of guilt ever since they returned. He had been aimlessly exploring the tower, entering each room and lingering momentarily before leaving and repeating the process. His mind was a torrent of thoughts and he too absorbed in them to realize what he was doing. His feet had minds of their own and had gained control of his entire body. They zigzagged back and forth down the deserted hallway, slowly moving in a practiced but unknown pattern.
"Cyborg! Raven! Beast Boy! Starfire!" The last name had caused his voice to rise in volume, quivering with something he did not recognize. He was stunned by the event. Up until that point, he had remained fairly calm, given the circumstances. Immediately upon regaining consciousness from Terra's attack, he began scouring the catacombs and hidden tunnels beneath the city. He needed to find his team, to know that they were all ok. Only then would he be able to fight.
He had been searching for hours with stalwartness about him. He was the leader, he had to be strong. He had to keep himself emotionless, a blank slate besides the incredible rage and unmatched intensity that nuzzled in his chest. But for some reason, whenever the alien girl's name passed his lips, he couldn't hide the sudden fear that rushed through his veins. He couldn't hide it any longer. He was scared.
An unknown apparition spawned the idea that he was the only one left, that he was alone and he would never see his friends again. He involuntarily shuddered at the thought. No. That couldn't be true. Not his team. Not her...
He thrust away another boulder and called out her name again. He was only greeted by the resonating sound of his own voice. He panted heavily, squeezing his eyes shut and drumming his fingers along his forehead.
"Please." he prayed. "Let her be ok. Don't let her die, not for me. Let her be safe."
It was like God immediately heard his plea and answered it. Beside him there was a soft mew, a small, pained whimper that evolved into a voice.
"R-Robin..." it murmured, low and throaty, raspy like a smoker's. He spun to the source and a wave of relief flooded over him. His hidden eyes fell upon the frail form of a young girl, marred by dust and debris. She lay motionless beside a large rock and her radiant green eyes slowly flickered open. It appeared that she had just been sleeping peacefully and he had awakened her from her dreamless, sound slumber. She jadedly lifted her head, but it proved to be too heavy and dropped back to the dirt, evoking a small cloud to billow outward as she did so. Robin felt his throat constrict as his heart beat furiously in his chest, almost like it was about to explode.
She was alive.
"Oh God, STARFIRE!" Before he could control his actions he speed to her and dropped to his knees. Impulsively he flung his arms around her neck, pulling her into a tight embrace. He heard her gasp from the shock, but weakly returned the hug, resting her tired head on his shoulder.
"I thought...I lost you..." he whispered, reflexively tightening his hold on her. She mewed again, soft and sweet, and he felt the vibrations she emitted travel into his chest. It was soothing, consoling, and it made him believe everything would be alright.
His leader instinct kicked in, raising the red flag. He had let his emotions cloud his focus on the task at hand. With a hidden reluctance, he hastily released her and held her out at arms length. Her glowing emerald gems briefly looked hurt.
"We need to find the others." he commanded, and she feebly nodded. He stood and she followed suit, but her weak legs could not support her weight and she stumbled. His arm swiftly looped around her slim waist, helping her regain her balance. He felt an unfamiliar heat rise to his cheeks as he performed this seemingly friendly action, but abruptly brushed it off. When she assured him that she was alright, he led her down the never-ending rock corridor. Not once did his hand unlock from hers.
Robin recalled the memory with a tremble, and glanced up to cast the remaining thoughts away. His nose wrinkled as light bathed his face; it seemed his feet had subconsciously brought him to the roof. It was dusk, and the pastel colors were smeared messily across the sky. He marveled at the setting sun as it cast out its last rays of life. Oranges, pinks, reds, and yellows all entwined to create a spectacle of astounding light. Lazily, his eyes wandered around until they rested on a figure. It was female, and her long shapely legs dangled over the edge. She reclined back, relaxed, and used her arms to keep her balanced. The faint breeze brushed her crimson hair back and forth over her neck, making it rise and fall pleasingly along her back. Her uniform was still torn in select places and smudges of dirt and mud still tarnished her face.
"So that's what I was doing." He mused. "Looking for her."
She was gazing dreamily outward, her head tilted in the slightest to one side. She looked peaceful and he did not want to disturb her, but he could no longer bare the silence that hung between them. He took a step in and coughed to gain her attention. She gasped, startled by the intrusion, and looked back. Robin felt that annoying fluttering feeling in his stomach again when her eyes locked with his. A smile grazed her full lips, but it was not the immense grin she had become famous for. It was small and sad, and it just barely pulled up a corner of her mouth.
"Hello, Robin" she muttered mellifluously, and he waved in return.
"Hey." he replied, eying the empty spot next to her. "Mind if I join you?"
She made a sweeping, welcoming gesture to the unoccupied space. He sat beside her and her eyes went upward, admiring the marvel above her. He let himself explore her a moment longer. At that moment, she was swimming in dying sunshine, making her skin shimmer and almost glow. By the way the light hit her, it appeared that she had unfurled long, elegant wings of radiant light.
"You're sad." he though, and after a second realized he actually spoke it. She hummed, amused, but did not tear away her gaze.
"Why do you say that?" She responded, unblinking.
"Because you always come up here when you're sad."
She perked up at the comment and glanced at him sideways, stunned by his knowledge of her. To be honest, he was equally shocked by his own words. The sad smile abraded her lips again.
"You are correct, friend." she replied weakly, drawing her legs up to her chin. "This day has been most tiring and extremely disheartening. In less than ten hours, I have seen a friend betray, fight, and defeat us, and become good once again only to-"There was a considerable pause and she swallowed as she searched for the correct word to use. "-perish." She whispered a distinct sadness in her tone. "Needless to say, I am a bit unnerved by the entire ordeal. He watched her with soft caring eyes and unconsciously inched towards her.
"You forgot something." He murmured, and recoiled at his use of involuntary words. He mentally kicked himself; now he had to continue.
"You know," he went on, his voice calm and gentle. "Not everything today was bad." Her forehead wrinkled in confusion, and he offered her a slight smile. "We all have each other. We worked together and pulled through as a team."
She nodded, feigning comfort, and turned back to the sky. The colors had begun to unbraid themselves from each other and the hint of the first stars began to show. He studied her form, bronzed and toned, and felt something stir within him. The event from last night was still rolling around in his mind, replaying over and over like someone was hitting a rewind button.
He felt her push.
He heard her scream.
He watched her fall.
Her name echoed in his head, and he felt insanely guilty. Now, sitting beside her, the image was stronger than ever, and he quelled the need to embrace her again. There was another thing, mingling with the shame, but he had no idea what it was.
"Star?" he questioned, almost silently. She glanced over to acknowledge that she had heard him. He cleared his throat; the secondary feeling was increasing.
"I-I never got to...to thank you. For before." She blinked and knitted her brow.
"For what are you thanking me for?"
He nervously rubbed the back of his neck. "For what you did back there. You saved my life. Without you...I might not be here." She lowered her gaze to the ground as if she had done something shameful.
"Oh." She muttered, and tightened her hold on her legs. The Boy Wonder was confused by her actions but pressed on.
"You...you are amazing, Star. You could have died saving me." His last sentence was one of great shock for him, and the surprising impact of it almost caused him to tumble off the roof.
'She could have died.' he disbelievingly thought. 'Saving me.'
"Star?" Her gaze lifted reluctantly, and he was compelled to hold it forever. "...Why did you do it?"
She gasped as if slapped and the jade jewels widened. She shifted them downwards and began to twist the tips of her hair, a nervous habit she used when she felt uncomfortable.
"I-I was merely fulfilling my duties as a Titan." She mumbled, the words frightening and untrue as they fell from her mouth. Robin shook his head as his patented determination set in. He would not relent until he received an answer.
"No. That's a lie. Tell me the truth." Starfire shot him a look, anger and fear fused in her bright eyes.
"We have saved each other a number of times, why do you choose now to question it?" He was appalled by her lack of concern for the situation and his frustration began to show.
"Starfire, this isn't something trivial like catching each other from a fall of a few feet or helping each other evade a laser shot. You fell off a cliff! You pushed me away from a boulder and took to yourself! That alone could have killed you, but to top it off, you plummeted into the ocean hundreds of feet below! Don't you get it?! You could have died!"
He hated the way the word affected him when it was applied to her. His stomach dropped and his breathing became irregular, and his throat tautened drastically as if he were about to sob. Starfire's eyes were closed as if she were straining to hold in her feelings.
"Robin, I do not wish to discuss this." She warned, but he did not obey.
"I just want a reason why you would put your own life at risk to save mine." She inhaled curtly, her eyes remaining shut.
"I think you should leave."
"I think differently." His voice was gradually getting louder, but hers never rose above a whisper.
"That was not a suggestion Robin. It was a command. Leave. Now."
He shook his head again, his silky ebony hair tossing with him.
"Not until I get an answer. Tell me why, Starfire! Why were you willing to die to save me? Just say why! Why?!"
"Because you would have died if I had not!" Her eyes shot open with fury and her voice boomed out of her form. Robin backed away as she advanced.
"You claim it is I who does not understand, but it is clearly you who does not! I was fully aware of the consequences of my actions, Robin, and I did not care! Do you not see?!" Her voice was rich with pent up rage, but it possessed a tender undertone that Robin could not decipher.
"Robin, if Terra's flying rock had struck you, you would have perished just as she had!! I could not envision being able to live without you for a millisecond, I could not let you die when I could have prevented it! So I did that only logical thing that came to my mind, I pushed you away! It was irrational, yes, but it worked, did it not?! True, it is possible I would have been the one to have done the dying, but it would not have mattered because you would live and prosper and be happy!"
Suddenly her face lost its infuriated expression and one of great sorrow took its place. Her voice began to weaken and crack with her words, but she did not miss a beat as she ranted to the boy.
"In many ways you are stronger than I, Robin. You have the ability to control your emotions. I have been trained my entire life to keep my positive emotions in great abundance, and their force can be dizzying. If you were to die, the negative emotions would overthrow all of the good ones, and I would be powerless. That would not happen to you, Robin. You could go on and forget me and still be as strong as you needed to be. My source of power is joy, how could I possibly feel joy if you are gone?!"
She was gasping for air now, having concluded her speech. Her eyes were now rimmed with sparkling tears, and his astounded form leaned in as his wide eyes returned to their normal size.
"I just wished for you to be happy. Even...even if it meant living...without me."
She buried her face in her hands as she shoulder wracked with sobs. Tiny silver streams tricked in between her fingers and glided gracefully down her hands. Robin was stricken dumb, his mouth hanging agape as he watched her cry. Everything she had just said was spinning furiously in his head. She really meant all that; she saved him because she needed him to live. She was willing to sacrifice herself for his safety.
His pulse was pounding wildly and his heart felt like it was surrounded by a warm, tinkling sensation that grew with each passing second and made it increasingly harder for him to breathe. Starfire seemed fully aware of whatever this feeling was. He really wished she'd tell him.
"Star." He caressed her named, letting it roll tenderly off his tongue. She sniveled and shifted, attempting to curl herself into a tiny ball. He knew exactly what he was doing, and a part of him told him to stop but he didn't dare. He didn't want to. Gingerly he wrapped his arms around her slender body a coaxed her cheek into his chest. Her tears soaked his shirt front as he whispered soothing sounds and stoked her brilliant scarlet hair. Tentatively she let her arms slink around him, and her whole body now jerked with her sobs.
"Star." He placed two fingers beneath her chin and lifted it so she now looked at him in the eye. "What makes you think I could ever forget you?"
Two twin tears rolled down her cheeks, and the shadow of a smile appeared on her face. She half laughed, half sobbed and fell into him, and he was in awe about how warm she felt. Gently he began to rock her back and forth, and softly, like a summer's breeze, whispered into her ear.
Both were young and naïve to the intricate ways of the heart. It would take them both years to realize how deeply they cared for each other. Love was a foreign word to teenagers, used only in regards to relatives or celebrities. At 16 you're not supposed to know what love is, you're just supposed to feel. You feel confused and dismayed and you wish it would all just end, but eventually you seem to understand that whatever you feel is good and it makes you happy.
They were in love, and they had no idea.
Until the day comes, far from now, when they were able to comprehend the power of their feelings, they would remain blind to it, and sit peacefully wrapped in each other's arms, watching the glittering stars above.
This story is the result of 4 hours on an airplane and it saved me from having a panic attack from being in the air too long. The idea sprang in my head right as we got in the terminal and didn't go away until I wrote it all down in my trusty notebook. Throughout the course of my vacation, I also completed the first half of chapter 9 of Forbidden, AND was inspired to write a good chunk of "Take a Sad Song", which is the new title of 'Hey Jude' (see profile for details) So yeah Honestly, this fic could have been done 3 –holds up 2 fingers- 3! days ago, but I was cranky and still on California time, so I continued to put it off. So now, once I actually finish it, decides to do their stupid we're-fixing-the-site-so-you-can't-log-in-nyah-nyah-nyah thing and I have to wait even LONGER! –grumbles- Which, I as I was informed, was SUPPOSED to be done a week ago!! Argh...So anyway. I missed writing straight up Robin/Starfire fluff, and this was my antidote. I hope you like it! Please review! Lat-ah!