A/N: Random Teen Titans one-shot inspired by the new episode "X"--which I hail as yet another 5 star episode by the creators. If it wasn't for Teen Titans, my life would have less meaning, and my lunch table would have nothing to talk about! I thank you, Cartoon Network. Anyway, enjoy!
Disclaimer:I do not own Teen Titans--if I did, it would be on every day. For my own personal enjoyment as I sat back in my Jacuzzi, sipping Capri Sun from a champagne glass!
What Robin Doesn't Know
It's supposed to be simple, the line between good and evil...
Starfire flicked on the light switch as she walked into the bathroom at Titans Tower. The bathroom on the first floor--the one that was still in tact considering the one upstairs was still under repair from the giant laser that blasted through it.
She sighed as she closed the door of the medicine cabinet and faced the mirror with harsh finality. There would be no half-way here. She would be completely honest with herself. Tearing her emerald-on-green eyes away from the empty sink, she looked up, and saw a pair of green eyes looking back at her.
Her breath caught slightly as she examined herself. Her hair! Her lovely, long red hair that was once considered to be her only beauty back on her home planet was now singed up to her shoulders. The ends were jagged and blackened because of the high powered ray that ate away at the soft tendrils. Starfire let out a heavy sigh as she brushed her fingers over her hair. What would her parents say if they saw her this way?
"It is just as well," she commented idly, frowning. She walked to the door and made sure it was locked. It would not due for any of the others to walk in on her.
Then, Starfire stepped out of her uniform and into the shower stall. The hot water did wonders to work the tension out of her muscles and lessen the aches in her joints. So many similar showers she had taken in the stall, after so many battles like the one she had fought earlier that day, against so many similar criminals.
Starfire rested her forehead against the cold tile of the shower stall, letting the water bead off her skin and help begin healing her. Truly, she did not mind the scars, the aches, or the pains that her moral body endured. It was the emotional pains that hurt the worst. It was the fear, the worry, and the doubt that ate at her when no one was around, when she was alone in the dark. A hot shower could never heal that.
Finally, the water left her body feeling numb and clean, so Starfire stepped out of the shower and toweled herself dry. She wrapped herself in a large fluffy white towel, preparing to leave though her hair was slicked back, sticking to her neck. The ends were still blackened, giving an unattractive look.
She didn't hesitate, once she opened the door and stepped out into the hall, to rummage through the kitchen drawer and pull out a large pair of scissors.
Robin had once explained to her that the small shears were meant for cutting all kinds of things, like paper and cloth. She had also seen them used for cutting hair on the television. Starfire had never had her hair cut, at least not by Earth standards. Granted, her hair grew much faster than a human's and would be back to her normal length in about a week, but still…it looked frightful at the moment. She guessed at what she should do, and decided not to bother any of her friends for assistance.
Each of them were dealing with something currently, away from the others. Normally, Starfire was the "clingy" member of the team, the one who always wanted to be around another of her friends. She didn't mind this assumption being made. It was partially true.
She could freely admit to herself that she was particularly possessive of her friends, always protective. But that was just a Tameranian thing. On her planet, people were openly affectionate. Family was an important way of life for all the classes of Tameran. From the royal family to the lowliest of servant, all Tameranians knew the importance of life, and love, and friendship.
Starfire would never admit to her friends why she had come to Earth in the first place, sometimes she could barely admit it to herself. The fact was she never felt good enough on Tameran. She was always awkward in her ways. Her sister took the center stage in all their games and activities. Her little brother was always smarter than her in everything they learned. Starfire never thought she could contest with them. She was a middle child and was, the majority of the time, overlooked.
Starfire made a lot of mistakes, she knew that. She always wanted to help but seemed to make a mess of things most of the time. Still, she persisted and never gave up. It was her greatest strength, her eternal optimism. Some found it stifling, that one could always be so cheerful, but that was just her way. If she was happy, no one would worry about her and she couldn't cause trouble.
There was no one in the halls as she walked toward the bathroom again, scissors in hand. She made sure to lock the door again as she walked back toward the kitchen sink. The mirror was still slightly fogged from the steam of her shower, but she wiped it off with her hand.
She ran a hand through her hair, gripping a small piece in front of her as she brought the scissors up. Maybe it was because she expected some kind of pain, but Starfire closed her eyes as she snipped the blackened end of her hair. There was no pain, there was nothing really, except a small sound and a black wad of wet hair that landed in the sink.
Starfire opened her eyes and grabbed another piece. She did the same thing again, snipping away, piece by piece, all the blackened hair on her head. When she was done, she put the scissors down and washed the hair in the sink down the drain. Then she inspected herself again.
Her hair was even now, a short crop of red hair hung freely around her shoulders, except for two long strands that were left unburned and framed her face. She looked the same, mostly. But she also looked different, and that made her smile. Different was something she had come to embrace while living on Earth. On Tameran, tradition and routine were everything. Earth was a planet of spontaneity and expecting the unexpected.
Starfire left the bathroom then, returning to her room to change. Then she collapsed on to her bed and a flurry of thoughts assaulted her mind, most of them surrounded the events that had come to pass this day. Events surrounding a thief in a costume marked by an X.
"He must have been highly trained," she mused allowed, thinking of the one who had stolen the suit. He had been able to sneak into their home and steal the suit that had been tightly locked away without anyone noticing it was gone. He had been able to fight with all of them, and defeat them.
Suddenly, Starfire began to blush, as the memory of her first encounter with this new Red X resurfaced in her mind. She had been pinned to a wall by one of his 'gadgets'. He had come to her, softly lifting her face with a single finger beneath her chin. "You know, Cutie," he said in a choppy mechanical voice that was vaguely like Robin's. "The only crime here is that you and I haven't' gone out on a--"
She hadn't given him time to finish because she shot him away with her eye blasts. Never would she admit it to her friends, or herself for that matter, but she had batted him from her not out of anger. She had done it out of fear. She didn't want to hear that last word because she had known what it would be.
Starfire hugged herself, curling into a ball on her bed and frowning. She should not be thinking of a criminal in such a way. In fact, she should not be giving him a second thought at all, unless it was in regards to his capture. But now her mind was filled with thoughts, and it only caused more heat to rush to her face.
Perhaps it was only because he seemed to give her more attention than other villains had, that made him stick out in her mind. Maybe it was because he seemed to give her more attention that he had to any of the other Titans. It had always been a secret desire of hers to be noticed and appreciated. It was the dream of most middle children.
Now that she got that attention, she felt both happy and terrified. Happy for the realization of a dream, scared of the change, and terrified because she had been noticed by a thief! A shiver ran up and down her spine. Starfire was disturbed to realize that it wasn't fear she was feeling, but excitement. All of these feelings coming to her because of a brief encounter with a thief.
"Oh, I am a shameful girl," she whispered to her empty room. The sound was muffled to her own ears. It felt like a betrayal, like she was the worst kind of sinner. These feelings inside of her, the ones brining heat to her face and shivers to her spine, made her feel as if she was letting down her family and her friends.
Mostly, there is no simplicity to it. There is always gray, a place where the lines twist and bend…
Starfire remained in her room for a while, but soon darkness had descended on to the land, and her favorite part of the day was over. Nighttime was upon her.
She left her room quietly, like she was escaping from her room. Shame slowed her steps, making her feel like a stranger in her own home. Like if any of her friends saw her, they would surely know what she had been thinking and reject her for feeling such things in her heart. Starfire didn't want anyone to see her, so she avoided the hallway toward the lower level.
From her vantage point on the staircase, she could hear the echoing sounds of a video game being played in the living room. It could mean either Beastboy or Cyborg was there, and perhaps both. Raven made no sound, so Starfire kept a keen lookout for her.
Finally she reached her destination, the access to the roof. Here she could find a quiet moment to gaze at the stars and ask their guidance. The stars did not judge for mistakes or for feelings over which one had no control. The stars only offered acceptance and knowledge. Mostly, the offered comfort, which was what the Tameranian girl wanted most right then.
Of course, the "access" she had taken was to float casually through the gaping hole in the roof of Titans Tower. A hole that was homage to their latest battle. Yet another scar attributed to the job that the Titans did for this city. Only, this was a scar that could be mended. Some of the others would never heal.
Like the one in Robin.
Starfire glided over to the edge of the Tower, and sat herself down, legs swinging over the edge. She looked to her left. She looked to her right. She knew that Robin had been up hear earlier, but she did not see him now. That was good, considering she did not want him to see her now. Starfire would never want him to see her as she was, her beauty tarnished once again and still flushed with the heat brought on by thoughts of a thief.
What shame! What wanton behavior!
Without meaning to, a tear trickled down the side of her face. The small intake of breath that was nearly a sob was caught on the breeze and carried from her. It hid her shame. The night and the sky and the wind hid many things that Starfire would want no one to ever see or hear or know.
"I am shaming them," Starfire said to the night, looking at the stars. Instinctively, her eyes strayed to her home planet of Tameran, a small pale dot in the east.
Are you really? a voice on the wind whispered back in her ears, ruffling her short hair. Starfire looked around, searching for a source, a face to place this voice to. There was none. She was alone on the rooftop. Are you really shaming them? the whisper came again.
"Yes," Starfire replied. She looked to the lights of the city, bright in their distance. A call could come for the Titans at any time, a signal that their help was needed. But for the moment, everything was quiet. "I should not feel as I do."
Why? The voice was soft and coaxing. It was not looking for sin or salvation. It was not looking for explanation. It was seeking truth. It was asking her to look within herself for the true answer.
"Because it is wrong," Starfire said stubbornly. "I am a 'good girl' and good girls do not feel warm because of a thief! Good girls do not think about thieves!"
Why? the wind asked again. It's breeze slowed to a soft caress that passed over her face like a gentle hand. Like a gentle finger lifting her face toward another. Pale, masked eyes were in her mind's eye and Starfire closed her eyes to shake her head free of such imaginings.
"That is what I have been told. That is what Robin told me when I came to Earth, when he explained about good and bad…heroes and villains." She opened her eyes to look at her hands, clenched in her lap. "That is the way that things are. The 'big ball of wax'."
The wind seemed to laugh then. A small chuckle as it blew around her, delighting her with it's feeling and asking her to fly with it. She did not though. She had too much to think about. Starfire might not strike many as a thinker, but she gave many things a great deal of thought. There was much she did not understand, and she made a lot of mistakes, but she always did her best. That was the way she was.
"I can not make him leave my head," she said to the stars. "Why does he not leave?"
Love? the wind asked now. The gentle voice was laced with real question.
Starfire shivered, hugging her arms around herself. "It cannot be," she whispered so low she doubted that the wind would hear. She could not be in love with him, with a thief! With an enemy! That would be the worst kind of betrayal she could do, the worst pain that could be inflicted upon her.
To love a thief is unforgivable.
Starfire shivered, her shoulders shaking as she covered her face with her hands and tried to hold back the sobs that racked her body. Oh, when did fighting a villain become hard? Why couldn't she simply think of him as just another villain to be taken down and arrested? Why couldn't she forget him and go back to the way things were?
That was when she felt something warm slide over her shoulders.
She looked down to see herself suddenly wrapped in warm, black material. Robin's cape.
"You looked cold," said Boy Wonder commented from where he stood beside her.
Starfire looked up at him with teary eyes, but he was looking out over the very cityscape she herself had admired just moments before. He was allowing her a moment to collect herself before continuing with any kind of conversation.
"I am…sorry," she said quietly. "I thought no one was here."
"I was on the other side," he responded. "I was on my way inside when I saw you."
"I do not mean to deter you," she insisted, removing the cape from her shoulders and handing it toward him. "Please, return to your intentions."
Robin shook his hands and motioned for her to take it back. "It's alright. It's a little cold, but it's a nice night. I can stay here a few more minutes, if you don't mind."
"I do not," Starfire responded. Truthfully, she did not want to be alone with her thoughts right now.
They were silent for a while, looking out at the city and the stars, and simply enjoying a moment in one another's company. Starfire replaced the cape on her shoulders once more. It was still warm from being around Robin's body and she delighted in how it seeped into her. It seemed to warm all the parts that had been cold, inside and out.
"I'm sorry," Robin said suddenly, breaking their silence.
"What?" Starfire asked, looking up.
"About what happened to your hair," Robin commented, studying her. "You could have been hurt when the ray fired."
"But I was not," Starfire reminded him. "It is merely a 'back-set'?"
Robin smiled slightly. "Setback," he corrected.
"Yes," she agreed. "It will grow back, and I am otherwise unharmed."
He only nodded and looked away again. Starfire watched him for a few minutes with a guarded expression, admiring his profile in the darkish glow of the night. He looked tense, as if ready of another battle that was not coming. She could also tell that his mind was far away from their rooftop. Like her own mind, it was somewhere with a thief. Though their thoughts of him were very different.
Sometimes, in these silent moments together, Starfire could almost swear she knew Robin's thoughts as well as her own. That was why he was her best friend. He always took the time to answer her questions and reassure her if things went bad. Robin was the one she looked to when things were the worst, the one she trusted more than any other.
If he were to find out her thoughts, he would surely turn away from her.
Tears welled once more in her emerald-on-green eyes. Starfire choked back her tears and looked away. Oh why were things this hard? What did she due to invite such pain and torment upon herself? That did that thief see in her that he didn't see in the others? Why had he looked at her that way? Most importantly, why did she care?
Because no one else ever has, the wind answered. Starfire jumped, not expecting that answer to a question she had not voiced.
Quickly, she looked up to Robin, to see if he had heard the voice as well. If he did, he gave no indication of it. She watched him again, studying his profile for any indication of uncertainty. She found none, and Starfire was once more disheartened.
"Robin?" she whispered loud enough for him to hear her.
"Yeah Star?" he responded.
"Do you…think that the Red X will return?" Her voice was tentative, broaching a subject that was sure to wound him, but wanting to ask his council. She trusted Robin's word over anyone else in the world, and if she could not trust him with something like this, she could not trust the feeling itself.
"Probably," Robin replied to her question, hanging his head in defeat. "He'll be back, and when he is, we'll be ready."
Starfire flinched. No, she would not be ready if the Red X were to return. If he came back, he might say those things to her again! He might finish that sentence, and that she could not stand! She could not stand for someone to ask her that question!
Why? the wind asked it's age-old inquiry for a third time. Why can't you hear the question?
"Because it is not from who I want it from!" Starfire cried out, answering the wind loud enough to drowned out its laughter again. It was also loud enough to startle Robin enough where he almost lost his balance. Starfire's hand shot out and steadied him before he could fall over. "Forgive me," she said quickly, blushing again. "I did not mean to shout."
"Who were you talking to?" the masked boy asked with confusion.
Starfire's shame increased as she hung her head wearily. "You will think me foolish," she replied while her face burned unmercifully.
"Try me," was Robin's scathing reply.
Starfire got to her feet, still clutching the cape that belonged to the boy beside her tightly around her shoulders. She looked to the sky, feeling the soft wind around her again, blowing through her hair and tousling the cape. "The wind," she told him. "It taunts me this night."
"The wind?" Robin asked cautiously. He narrowed his eyes in question. "What does it say?"
Starfire met his eyes for the first time. "It has been questioning me."
"About…what?" he asked, interested in spite of himself.
"My feelings," Starfire reflected. "And my thoughts of the Red X." It was then that Starfire began to understand. Why her thoughts hurt so much, why she cared so much, why she could not help but think of the Red X.
Because…he was not Robin.
The question left unasked, the way that the thief had looked at her and even the way he had touched her. All of her thoughts and fear and reactions complied on one another were just a way of telling her the truth about her feelings. The wind had made her think and had made her understand.
She was not in love with the Red X thief. He had looked at her and spoken to her in the way that she wished to be spoken to and looked at, but she did not love him. She did not because it was not from him that she wanted to hear those words and see those looks. He was merely a man who had noticed her beauty, however slight she might think that it was.
She wanted the words and the looks from Robin. She wanted that because she loved him. Not the Red X. Starfire loved Robin.
The realization was staggering, and at the same time, she had known it all along. She had always been in love with him. Her best friend and her leader. Her faith in him, her possessiveness of him, and even her jealousy over him were all just signs leading up to the one conclusion. She was in love with him, and probably had been since she first arrived on the planet.
Robin meant to world to her. That was why it hurt so much that this thief, the one in Robin's old suit with a voice that vaguely resembled the boy of her affections, had looked and spoken to her in a way that he never had. It was only then that she realized how much she wanted him to.
But that was something she would wait to tell him another night. Too many revelations in one night, and too many thoughts already filling her head. And at the same time, she felt an immense relief. Her thoughts of the thief known as Red X drifted away as if on a tide going out to see. He meant nothing. He was just another criminal that would eventually be caught.
In his place, Robin returned to her mind's eye once more. Starfire grinned and looked to the real Robin, who had been watching the play of emotions run over her face through her entire epiphany. He simply kept his silence and watched her and waited for when she would speak again.
"But I am better now," she told him with a happy smile, nodding her head. "I am better now."
"I'm glad," he responded. "You shouldn't have to worry about Red X."
"I do not worry," Starfire told him. "Because we will find him and we will catch him."
Robin smiled at her and nodded. Starfire did something impulsive then. She released her hold on the borrowed cape, letting it slide down her shoulders as she suddenly flung her arms around the lithe form of her best friend. This was not one of her patented bone-crushing hugs. This was one of her rare hugs that bestowed no greeting or welcome, but honest affection.
Robin was surprised at first, not sure what to make of this sudden assault of affection made upon him. "Uh, Star?" he asked, slightly awkward as a tinge of heat rose in his face.
"I am sorry," she said, backing up with a blush of her own. "I felt you needed comfort." She turned and retrieved his cape, handing it to him. "And I needed comfort as well."
"Thanks," he said, taking back his cape and putting it back around his shoulders. Then he looked back up at her, and there was a look of affection that Starfire had never seen before. A look that mirrored that bestowed upon her by the thief known as Red X. "Thanks for everything, Starfire."
Starfire smiled, her heart feeling light. The wind blew around them from all directions, the stars shining brightly overhead. "I welcome you."
In a world of black and white, in a world of good and evil, there will always be those who walk the line…
Raven sat by the open window of her room. Her eyes were cast to the Heavens and there was the smallest of smiles on her lips.
Perhaps it had been wrong of her to meddle, but when she saw Starfire walking through the halls in such pain and disillusionment, how could she not? For all her brooding and attitude, Raven cared deeply for the Tameranian girl, despite her borderline-annoyingness.
Maybe she didn't show it very often, but Raven would do anything to help her friends, even if that meant meddling. A soft voice in the wind that spoke to an alien's heart was just one of the more subtle ways she enforced.
One of these days she'd get around to Robin, but for tonight, her work was done.
Now all she had to do was find the Book of Azar again…
In this world, there really is no good or evil, no black or white. We live in a world of gray, where the lines are blurry and the rules can be bent or even broken. There are good guys and there are bad guys, but sometimes good people can do bad things. Sometimes bad people can do good things. It's the choices we make, that make us who we are. The chioces we make every day, as to whether we remain true to one side or the other. Mostly, we just have to live our lives the best way we know how...
A/N:Thanks to anyone who's reading this one-shot. When I finish with a current X-Men story I'm working on, I plan on writing another Teen Titans story--Portrait of a Hero--in which each of the Titans can tell their own story, their own way. I hope you'll all give that a read when it comes out. Anyway--please remember to review. Thanks!