Dear New Reader,

Path to Tamaran starts where Guiding Star left off, so I invite you to read Guiding Star first. It's only twenty-one chapters long… :laughs: Okay, so its length is a bit much, but hey, I love to write. What can I do? Guiding Star isn't so bad, anyway. I could promise you that much.

Yours, in humble service,


Standard disclaimers apply.


(Part II of the Guiding Star trilogy)

Chapter One – Seeing the Past

It was that strange scent again. That sanitized; sterilized tang that attempted to smell like nothing but smelled like something. It wanted to convey health; instead, it was a reminder that things had to be disinfected.

The sound of machinery was getting on Starfire's nerves. The incessant beeping and ringing threatened to torment her forever and she had dour predictions about the noise invading her dreams for weeks on end.

The sheets beneath and around her were starchy. The hospital gown she wore did not fit well at all. She squirmed, attempting to scratch at the IV needle inserted in the vein behind her hand. Everything felt like it needed to be scratched.

They had explained to her the procedure; perhaps believing that telling her what they were going to do would make her feel more comfortable about the entire thing. What she had been too polite to say was that she did not want to know that they would be sticking needles and things beneath her skin. She did not want to know that possibly, an incision would have to be made. She did not want to know that they would be poking and prodding.

Starfire, gone of her eyesight for almost half a year, thought that the exciting possibility of regaining her vision would get her through the little emotional quirks she was currently experiencing, but she was overwhelmed with unease.

"While we've simulated the procedure as best we could" said the scientist who had been tasked to explain everything to her. "It bears mentioning that this is the first time we would be performing this on a live specimen."

She had been grossly uncomfortable about being referred to as a "live specimen" as if she had been swabbed off something and wiped on a glass slide. But she had said nothing, having been overwhelmed by the scientist's previous narration of needles, incisions and suturing.

The scientist, oblivious to the turmoil he was causing within her, had continued, his voice betraying that he was extremely pleased with himself. "Suffice it to say, this entire procedure has been exhaustively tailored to you and your Tamaranian physical profile, down to the last fiber optic we'll be using. So unless you grew a second head while we weren't looking, everything should go as planned. You have nothing to worry about. As it is, even if a procedure like this normally doesn't require general anesthesia, or going under as we say in hip doc talk—" he had laughed, but she hadn't been quite as amused "—the psychiatrist who performed your psycho-analysis strongly recommended that you be unconscious the entire time. Apparently, you do not respond well to invasive procedures of any kind. I'm rather queasy about going to the dentist myself."

Starfire wanted to tell him that it wasn't the same but indeed, she didn't want to be rude to someone who meant so well.

Truly, everything they told her about the operation gave emphasis to something she had known since she left Tamaran: That she was different from everyone else.

She would let them do what they had to do; she trusted them, but until they had gassed her, she did not have to be thrilled about it.

Everyone assured her that she would have the best medical and scientific doctors attending to her welfare. She had told herself over and over that she should be reassured by that alone, for she was in no ordinary hospital; she was in a high-tech Wayne Enterprises medical facility.

"Kori" said Robin in a soft, soothing voice beside her. She felt his hand on her arm, squeezing gently. "Relax."

His touch and words, however brief, eased her a bit. She was glad he was there, at least until they wheeled her out of pre-op.

"I am relaxed." She knew she wasn't going to convince anyone, the way she said it.

"Your hands are cold."

Her hand was suddenly enveloped in the warmth of his own.

The back of his other hand rubbed gently against her cheek and his lips touched hers briefly.

By his actions, she knew they were alone.

Robin, known also as the Boy Wonder; to those closest to him as Richard John Grayson, was the leader of Jump City's team of teen superheroes, the Titans. He was demanding and tough, sometimes expecting more than any of them thought possible, but he was dependable and brilliant, fearless and competent. He leapt off cliffs and buildings; jumped chasms; fought off giant, cocoon-eating monsters and oozing, acidic mutants. And he was human. He had no super-powers, no meta-human abilities, just his skill, his strength and his dynamite will. He had nerves of steel but he had a heart softer than he'd care to admit.

For many, it was difficult to believe that there was even a tender side to him. But there was, and in their moments of privacy, he was never one to hold back.

As a lover, he was thoughtful; considerate; passionate; all-consuming. He could shape her desire with his words and his touch. He could make her feel beautiful and cherished, yet he could inspire her strength and independence.

Sometimes, Starfire wondered what she had done for him.

"Richard, you will be watching them while they are operating on me, yes? You will watch out for me?"

"I won't be in the same room, but I'll be watching through the glass. Are you worried they'll mess up?"

She could hear the grin in his tone. She wished she could tell him that she felt nauseated at the thought of being in a room full of strangers while they poked inside her head with instruments, but she didn't want to worry him with her complaints. "I—maybe." She tried to look better disposed, if only for him.

"You're in good hands, Kori. They're the best in their respective fields."

Starfire nodded.

He leaned over, so he could speak more softly. "You know, when they begin to put you to sleep, the last thought you have will be what you dream about, so you should think really nice thoughts."

She smiled mischievously, some of her fears easing off. "I will think of you then… and last night."

"Then I'd say that would be a very, very… very good dream."

A soft giggle escaped her.

Footsteps clopped from the door and she could make out that there was more than one stride.

"Good morning, Kori. It's been a while since we saw each other. Hope you still remember me." The woman's tone was mildly teasing and while the voice was powerfully familiar, it didn't register all at once. The answer, however, came quickly enough. She would certainly be ashamed of herself if she didn't remember who it was.

Robin confirmed her identity a second later. "Hi there, Dr. Meridian."

"Nice of you to join us this morning, Dick."

Starfire smiled, feeling Dr. Meridian's friendly caress on the other side of her. "Hello, Dr. Meridian."

"Kori, I'd like you to meet Dr. George Leeman. He will be your anesthesiologist for today."

From what the doctors have told her, anesthesiologists played a critical role in an operation. They could spell the difference between sleep and death, which was why they were paid lots and lots of money to do their jobs well.

Starfire politely stuck her hand out for a shake and she felt the unfamiliar grip of Dr. Leeman. His hand was warm; soft for a man's. Perhaps he moisturized.

"It's nice to meet you, Kori" said Dr. Leeman. "My, my. You look even more fabulous in person than you do in print."

It was too lavish a compliment from someone she only just met, and ordinarily, she would consider it a "pick-up" line, but strangely enough, it didn't sound that way coming from Dr. Leeman.

"And I think you know Dick Grayson" said Dr. Meridian.

Dr. Leeman sighed. "Until now, only in my dreams. How do you do, Mr. Grayson? Very well, I believe?"

Starfire thought that sounded like a pick-up line.

Robin didn't seem the least bit fazed. "Hiya, Dr. Leeman. It's been a while."

"Too long, I think. You've grown from the time you were nicking laughing gas from my lab"

"Eh, it happens. By the way, you look beautiful, today, Dr. Leeman. That hair suits you."

"Why, thank you, baby. But I think you're only saying that because I'll be drugging your girlfriend."

"Kori's… very special. You'll take care of her?"

"Don't worry, hon. Georgie's at the helm and I'll let nothing bad happen to her under my watch. But really now, be honest. Do you really like this color on me?"

"Gorgeous. Brings out your eyes."

Dr. Leeman laughed boisterously. "Ah! A scandalous flatterer! You've come a long way since you were twelve, young man. Well, now, Kori, my love! How would you like your cocktail this morning? Gotham Supreme with a twist? Or maybe I could make it a nice Superhero Daiquiri?"

Starfire was terribly perplexed. This man was flirting with her Robin and he was calling her his love. It didn't make her feel particularly uncomfortable, which was perhaps the most confusing thing of all. Besides that, she did not know what these cocktails were. Was she even supposed to be ingesting alcohol this early in the morning? And before an operation, too!

"Oh, Georgie, stop it" said Dr. Meridian in a mildly scolding tone. "You're confusing the girl."

Dr. Leeman sighed. "Oh, very well. I'll decide the mix for you. Kori, darling, trust me. You'll love the Gotham Supreme."

"I-I will?"

"Ah! It's to die for. You know those dreams you wake up from, just when you get to the good part? This gets you to the good part, pronto."

The thought actually made Starfire blush. She hoped the others wouldn't notice.

"Give me a moment."

Robin leaned over her, speaking in her ear. "I think Dr. Leeman's getting things ready. They'll be rolling you out of here in a minute so I'll just be outside—"

Before she could stop herself, she made a desperate grab for his wrist. "N-No. Stay. Please? Just—just until I'm asleep."

He said nothing for a few heartbeats. Whether it was because he was confused by her apparent fear or whether it was something else altogether, she couldn't be sure.

"Okay" he said in a soothing tone. Reassured, her grip eased. "It's okay. I'll stay right here until you're under. It's going to be alright."

"Easy does it, love," said Dr. Leeman. "I'm going to put a mask over you and you just have to breathe easy, okay?" He held a mask over her nose and mouth, the lining soft; molding to the curves and planes of her face. "Mr. Grayson?"


"Count it down for her. She's a little tense and maybe your voice would help. Start at ten."

Starfire would have to thank the good doctor later for being sensitive to her needs. Robin leaned even closer. She could almost feel his lips on her ear. His soft tone was lulling as he began to count down from ten.

She smiled sleepily; it was like his voice was a balm to her tightened nerves. She didn't know how far he got; whether he even got down to one. Perhaps even before he was halfway through, she was asleep.


The sheets were dowdy and soft on her skin; the pillow supporting her head luxuriously warm. She giggled as she felt the brush of his breath just beneath her ear, his lips nipping at the line of her jaw.

She slid her arms up his shoulders, pressing a cherishing hand to his nape. He had removed his jacket, tossing it carelessly to the side of the bed, but his sweater was still on. Depending on how the mood of the evening progressed, she didn't know how long either of them would stay clothed.

He gave a sigh, but it wasn't an unhappy one. He settled a bit to her side, nuzzling the crook of her neck and shoulder.

They were twined around each other, as if they were in danger of falling off the sides of the bed, but they were in no such peril. The Wayne Manor did not keep small beds. In fact, the Wayne Manor kept huge beds. Tangling with each other was optional, but it was an option they readily chose.

"God, you smell good," he said. His tone was relaxed; content. This was cuddle time.

She smiled, tracing her fingers through his thick black hair. She recalled the conversation at the dinner table and she chuckled. "Why are you and Bruce so mean to one another?"

"Me? Mean to Bruce? I'm the perfect angel with him."

Sometimes, she could not tell if he was joking. "You called him a self-absorbed, fortune-one-hundred snot."

"I did? Eh, must've been the wine speaking."

"You took wine?"

"Alfred said I could have a little, for the steak."

Starfire honestly did not think that Robin drank enough wine to be forgetting the things he said to Bruce Wayne, but she deferred from saying so. "The funny thing is Bruce baits you to say these things. It is like he finds amusement in having you disparage him."

"Possibly. He has to endure countless hours of butt-kissing in the office. I suppose you could say I'm a breath of fresh something when I give him attitude."

"It is difficult to understand your relationship."

"Don't look at me for an explanation; I'm just his ex-side-kick."

"Oh, but Richard, Bruce is—"

"Going to leave this conversation. Bye, bye, Bruce."

She sighed but respected his wish not to discuss it. That was the way with Robin. She had to know when to stop insisting. While she understood at a certain level that Bruce and Robin did actually like and respect each other, she couldn't understand how one or the other could keep believing it, arguing and disagreeing all the time. Her emotions were always so plain to see, and it was much easier that way. Why complicate matters?

Starfire tried a different subject matter. "I was hoping we would see Babs again. I was disappointed to learn that she would be in New Orleans until next month."

"She's always haring off to some place or another. She's busy, that way."

She felt him take her hand and she let him. He traced the lines on her palm before he threaded his fingers through hers.

"You know what? I don't want to talk about Babs, either. I just want to talk about you," he said, rising above her. The tone he had used was light but promising. Tingles skipped down her back and she smiled, biting gently on her lower lip.

He kissed her and an instant flash of heat rose in her cheeks. It was a kiss that sent her toes curling and by the time it was over, she was practically gone of her senses. She had been afraid that he had wanted to talk about her operation the next morning; that she would have to tell him how a slight panic crept up on her every time it was mentioned, but the kiss had settled her quite thoroughly. There would be no discussions about operations tonight. Tonight, Robin was going to give her the comfort she craved.

Her captured hand was pressed back against the pillows, and then his lips were on her other ear, kissing softly before he spoke. "I was watching you at desert this evening. You liked those chocolate truffles..."

His breath was hot and her skin grew more sensitive to it. Her breath already betrayed a catch. "I did…"

She could feel him stretch, as if he were reaching for something somewhere in the vicinity of his jacket, and then his warmth was beside her again.

He laughed softly. "I have a knack for knowing what you like."

She felt something silky against her lips, and when she tasted, the incredible sweetness of chocolate spread on her tongue. She smiled, taking half of the offered chocolate, but she was delighted by the feel of his lips, closing in on hers. It was the sweetest, most stimulating kiss she had ever had the pleasure of sharing with him.

When no trace of the chocolate was left, Starfire did not need another piece. If Robin wanted to be in charge that night, she had no objections. He had her and she was perfectly happy with that arrangement.

He had used chocolate, and even Tamaranians couldn't resist chocolate…


"…chocolate ice-cream, with sprinkles"

Starfire smiled wanly, touched by Beast Boy's attempts to cheer her up. Her shift on the Blackfire Watch was coming to an end and he was next. In the last five minutes, he had been trying everything in his power to make her laugh. And while she did manage to laugh; if only to reward his efforts, he could very well see that she was merely being polite to him.

His final effort had been to offer making a "huge pile of chocolate ice-cream, with sprinkles." She wished she could say yes, but she was not in the mood.

It had been a week since she told the other titans about her sister, and while this was the third time she had sat on a shift since Cyborg set up the program for the Blackfire Watch, she still felt somewhat depressed sitting there, praying that Blackfire would not do anything to prove her fears true.

Beast Boy gave a whine, slumping on the chair beside her. "Come on, Starfire. Don't look like that, or I'm going to start thinking that Robin and Raven are contagious, and that they should both be quarantined for spreading Syndromus Angstinomus."

Starfire processed Beast Boy's words and laughed several seconds later, when she understood it.

Beast Boy let loose a hyena-like giggle. "That was so delayed, but it was the first real laugh I got out of you. I think this is going to work. Why did the chicken?"

"Beast Boy, the chicken jokes, I still fail to understand. You must quit while you are ahead."

"Er, right. Say, Starfire. Wanna talk about it?"

She was confused. "About the chicken jokes?"

Beast Boy sighed. "I'm crap at this talking stuff, aren't I? I didn't mean the chicken jokes. I meant this. You and Blackfire and this Blackfire Watch. Every time I see you sitting here—well, you look like someone died… "

She contemplated telling him that she did feel like someone had died. Whether it was her or Blackfire, she couldn't yet tell for sure.

"I'm no shrink, but I've—you know—felt betrayal too…"

It gave Starfire pause; what he said. She had almost forgotten about Beast Boy and Terra. She had almost forgotten how Beast Boy had felt the brunt of Terra's betrayal most of all.

She hadn't considered her feelings for Blackfire as betrayal, but now that Beast Boy said it, she wondered why she hadn't thought of it that way. She had considered it a loss; a severing of blood ties; Blackfire's efforts to hurt her; to get her back for the time their parents had thought Blackfire dispensable because she, Starfire, had been proclaimed crown princess. She hadn't stopped to realize that in spite of all the blame Starfire was heaping on herself, she had feelings of betrayal as well.

Blackfire, the sister she had loved unconditionally for most of her life, didn't need her affection. Blackfire had tossed that love back to her repeatedly, had gone so far as framing her for a stolen diamond, trying to drive her away from her friends, and now, whatever Blackfire planned to do, it was because she hated Starfire enough to do it.

"When you found out about Terra's betrayal," she began slowly. "What was the first thought that came to your head?"

"Other than 'She betrayed me?'"

She smiled. "Yes."

"That I've lost her. I've lost her forever."

"Did you not hope that she would… come back to us?"

"Nah. Maybe later, when she was trying to atone for what she did, but even then I hadn't believed it… until she was—well, turned to stone."

Starfire nodded, sadly. "I have lost my sister."

Beast Boy sighed, the sympathy apparent in his voice. She felt his hand on her shoulder; his gesture of comfort and understanding. "Bummer."


"Are you sure you don't want that chocolate ice-cream"

She smiled. Perhaps a chocolate ice-cream would help…


Help, she had whispered. She wasn't sure in what language she said it. In the past few years, she had absorbed so many that maybe—just maybe, her mind had gone on overload.

She tried to re-orient herself. She was approximately twenty-six light years away from the Vegan Star System. Give or take another .0006073 light years. This was a system comprising of nine planets orbiting around a star they called "Sol".

Solar System.

If she remembered correctly, she was on the third planet from Sol. It was a planet comprising mostly of blue water. There was land mass above the water, but it only amounted to twenty percent of the planet. Later, she would learn that they called this planet Earth.

Some parts of the land were barren while others were thriving cities. She had first landed in a sector they called "France" and she was glad to note that obtaining their language posed little problem. She had searched for an affable individual; one who would seem least likely to turn her away. She found one, male, sitting in a booth, a line of females stretching several meters. Surely, one who called such attention wouldn't mind the extra attentions of an alien.

She fell in line and she tried to ignore the strange looks she was getting from everyone. She smiled at them shyly, hoping no one would speak to her until she could learn their language.

When she got to the head of the line, she was dismayed when the affable man began to speak to her. She was at a loss. He seemed amused and he gestured for her gently to come closer. She did and she felt his lips on her. His tongue soon followed and instantly, she caught the language.

She was mortified to be kissed so brazenly, though, so she pulled away, taking off as quickly as she came.

It was only later in her flight that she considered the possibility that the man was merely greeting her; that it was Earth custom to introduce one's self with a kiss. It then occurred to her that if Earth proved to be accepting of her, she would have to adapt to its customs, strange as they might be.

Embarrassed by her haste in France, she sought another sector, preferably one as far away from France as possible. There was a continent in the East. They had built a wall visible from space and it seemed far enough from France. But sometime during the trip, she had lost her way, stumbled into what was called a "storm" and crashed in a sector she was unfamiliar with. It couldn't have been that far away from France. She hadn't been flying long.

Help… she had said. Probably in French. She didn't know anymore.

She heard voices, the language of which was different. She wondered why Earth would have so many languages in one planet, but decided a few seconds later that the question was irrelevant.

Cautiously, she rose from the crater her crash had created, pushing herself off the soft, loamy soil. Clearing her head, she looked around her and found herself in what she could only describe as a yard of sorts. It had a perimeter gate, spanning several square meters all around, and beyond it were tall, vertical structures made of stone, steel and glass. It was fascinating to see them put so closely together, as if there was no other space to put them.

But the landscape held her attention for only a moment. The voices she had heard drew closer and she turned, realizing the sound was coming from behind.

Four Earthlings were standing behind her, just at the lip of her crater. They were saying something, and of course, she couldn't understand the words.

They were dressed strangely; so much more different from the other Earthlings she had seen. And the one speaking to her, one who looked like a leader of sorts by his manner and stance, wore a mask. Was there something wrong with his eyes?

There was a green one, and he transformed into a life-form that had a tail that wagged vigorously back and forth. Its tongue lolled out of the side of its maw, like it was thirsty, and then it barked pertly.

It startled her, and she wondered if all Earthlings could change shape. The leader said something stern and the green one returned to his original form, looking somewhat shame-faced.

The leader cautiously slid into the crater, approaching her with hands held up, like he was showing her that he was hiding nothing; possibly a gesture to show that he wasn't going to hurt her.

So long traveling in unfriendly territories, it was enough for her. Remembering the episode in France, she jumped to her feet, swooped into his arms and tried to kiss him. The contact of their skin was enough to teach her the language he spoke, and suddenly, there was meaning behind his words.

"Whoa! Hey" he yelled, stumbling back.

The force of their contact had sent both of them sprawling to the floor, but he recovered quickly, scrambling backwards and getting to his feet.

The Earthlings behind him tensed, going into what she could tell was a battle stance.

Starfire's broad grin disappeared and she watched them with growing confusion.

He stared at her behind his odd mask. He was wary and it made her confused. Did she not proffer the proper greeting? Perhaps she had done it wrong? It was best to wait for his response before she gave kisses to the rest of them. She wondered if she would have to make the same greeting to the female. The female certainly didn't look very friendly.

"Who are you?" His tone was not friendly. She could tell even then.

She was beginning to feel apprehensive about what she had done. She was now certain she had made some kind of mistake. "I—I am called Starfire. I am—I am sorry if I have offended you. Was that not a proper greeting for Earthlings? Please, I am new to this planet and I thought…" She began to feel ashamed and she shrank back, twiddling her fingers. Fitting in was never one of her strong points. She had offended enough cultures to know that leaving as soon as possible was the best option. She did not want to cause anyone any trouble. "I will go now."


Starfire was startled by the voice. It was deliberate; firm. It was from the female.

The female looked to the leader. "Robin, she's confused; will continue to be confused. We can't let her go like this."

Starfire looked at her with renewed fascination. There was no hint of compassion from the sullen woman, yet she was proposing to take Starfire in for the meantime. Perhaps the woman was friendlier than she first supposed.

"She won't hurt us" she continued. "I feel nothing in her to suggest that she's the type."

Robin nodded. "Starfire, my name is Robin. This is Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy. We're the Titans and we're not going to hurt you. Do you need help?"

She swallowed, startled by the unexpected turn of events.

Help? Did she need help?

They were the first words that past her lips when she landed and that seemed evidence enough. She nodded mutely.

"Then come with us. We could help you."

He extended a gloved hand. She looked at it, awed by the realization that it was the first welcoming gesture she had encountered in years…


… years go by so slowly when it was filled with pain.

She opened her eyes, noting the prickly hay beneath her.

Starfire saw booted feet; several of them; and with a sudden wave of panic, she realized that she had been found out.

Scrambling to get up, she sprung from her crudely constructed cot. She charged her hands and they glowed green. Her one thought was to get away and she cursed herself for having overslept.

Sleep hadn't completely left her, having been so rudely roused. So she was slow to react. She felt someone clamp a hand to the back of her neck then force her face down on the hay. She released her star bolts on pure instinct, but the direction they took did not help her in the least. The bolt shattered the gate of a nearby stall and the beast of burden behind it gave an agitated whine.

The person who caught her cursed, calling her a Tamaranian menace. He ordered his companions to tie her hands behind her back and she was dismayed at how strong they were. Few races in the Vegan Star System were stronger than Tamaranians, and while Kalapattian men weren't as strong as Tamaranian males, one on one, they were formidable enough against a Tamaranian female; overwhelming, three to one.

With her thus restrained, the one who held her by the neck turned her over.

She saw then that he was young. Not as young as she was, for she had only turned fourteen if she had counted the planetary cycles right. This man looked closer to nineteen, or twenty, but she could be wrong. He could be younger. He had long, curly brown hair and chiseled features. Even with her limited knowledge of Kalapattians, she could tell that this one was a superior specimen of his race; aesthetically pleasing and strong. His compassion, however, left little to be desired.

"Ugh" said the man. "She's filthy! Probably lice infested! Whose watch was it last night and how the hell did this little wench get past him?"

It grated at her, to be called a little wench. She had endured demeaning names for far too long. At last she was free from bondage and she did not have to put up with it any longer. She gritted her teeth and glared at him, tied as she was. "I am not a little wench!"

"Oh X'Hal, she talks! Talking little wenches are the worse."

His words and manner irked her even more. He need not treat her like a disease. She hadn't done anything particularly unsavory. Would it have hurt him to offer her a bit of common courtesy? She kicked and she caught him soundly between his legs.

He growled in pain and outrage, cursing his men for having forgotten to tie her ankles together, calling them and her all sorts of names.

She struggled to get free, but they were too strong, and her efforts were futile. Angry, frustrated and helpless, Starfire did the only thing she could do: She spat into her captor's face.

Things did not go well from there.

He was so angry that he told everyone that he would deal with her himself. Grabbing her by the scruff of her neck, he hauled her out of the strange, alien barn and stalked into another structure. The ground was abrasive against her behind as he dragged her, kicking and screaming.

He ignored her curses to his lineage as her voice echoed through out a dark hallway. When he got to the end of it, there was a strange door, ancient by the look of it, though she had little idea about Kalapattian architecture.

When the strange door opened, her senses were assaulted by various odors and sights. She had seen such a place before, and she marveled momentarily at the universal quality to dungeon keeping.

She kicked and screamed louder.

The man brought her to a cell. It was unoccupied, and it actually looked somewhat new. He slid the door to the cell open, hauled her to her feet then pushed her inside. She fell, of course, but at least he had aimed her towards the bunk bed. Her landing was relatively soft.

He went to her. "Don't give me any trouble, wench. I don't have to put up with your tantrums, and until I know what we should do with you, you're staying right here. Don't try to blast your way out because the walls have been proofed against little nuisances like you. Sit still! Do you hear me? No one's going to hurt you if you behave. Are you hungry?"

She was, but she wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of admitting it. She glared at him.

"Miserable wench," he hissed. "I'll send some food over, anyway. I'm going to cut you loose, but you have to promise me that you won't try to attack me again. Do you promise?"

Starfire considered being stubborn about this as well, but she was already feeling numb at the extremities. The ropes had been tied on too tight. Blood-flow was being cut. It would be nice to spend the rest of her wait at least with her hands and feet untied.

Warily, she nodded. "I promise" she said in a subdued tone.

The man whipped out a knife and he cut her loose with strangely fancy maneuvering. She stared at the quickness of his hands.

Probably noticing her awe, he cocked a smile. "Bet you never saw that before, huh?"

She recovered from her stupor and dealt him another glare. "I have seen better."

He snorted. "Ornery little bitch, aren't you? Well, sit tight. You're not going anywhere." He stood and turned to leave.

She watched him go, finally noticing that he had a way of carrying himself; that his clothes looked particularly expensive.

She knew, then, that she had just spat upon the face of nobility…


… nobility was in her blood, and while she did not look it when Karras so rudely discovered her in the barn, it might have shown in her bearing when she faced the Queen who had introduced herself as Salja. The queen, after all, did not look like the type to rescue decrepit slaves.

Queen Salja had crouched down to look at her pitifully dirty face. She showed no compassion, but she did not look hostile, either. She had swiped out a handkerchief and used it to take Starfire's wrists. The queen held her wrist up to the light. She sighed upon seeing the rope burns. "Well, you're quite the sorry sight, aren't you? Karras, what have you done to this girl?"

Karras, the same man who had caught Starfire sleeping in the barn, snorted. "I haven't done anything to her. If anything, she's the one who kicked up a fuss. Damn snipe…"

Queen Salja rolled her eyes before looking to Starfire again. "Young lady, what is your name?"

Starfire hadn't been thinking at the time; mesmerized by the grandeur and beauty of the queen. She told the truth, forgetting that they just might recognize her. "K-Koriand'r."

"A fine name. Better than Snipe, I must say. Do you wish to get clean, Koriand'r?"

"Y-Yes, Your Majesty."

"Hmm! Not quite as rude as Karras claimed you were! Have they fed you, Koriand'r?"

"Yes, Your Majesty."

"Then come with me. They don't have baths here at the dungeon."

Karras reacted quickly. "B-But mother!"

"Hush! I do not see this child being hostile unless provoked. I shudder at the handling you must have dealt her this morning."

"She was firing bolts!"

Queen Salja ignored her son. "Get up, child. You are filthy and you need cleaning. On our way up, touch nothing. Do not touch me; do not touch my robes. Until you are clean, keep your hands to yourself. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Your Majesty." While Starfire was aware that the queen was perhaps a bit snooty, she was gratefulfor the relatively kind gesture and she was relieved that she hadn't been recognized in the slightest. It also gave her a sense of satisfaction to see Karras so annoyed by the treatment his mother was giving her.

As Queen Salja led her out of the cell, Starfire looked over her shoulder at Karras. She flashed him a sneer.

It produced the desired effect. His nostrils flared in irritation. Starfire swore that if Karras had his way at that very minute, he would have grabbed her by the neck and throttled her…


…her time was up.

Six months was not a bad period. It was the most time she had spent in one place since she first got away from the Citadel, and while it had been years since the Tamaranian empire spoke of their princesses and what-not, someone was bound to find her out, sooner or later.

She felt that the easy life she was leading in Queen Salja's castle had been too good to be true, anyway, Karras' unpleasant disposition aside.

She served as one of the Queen's ladies in waiting, and while she got a small allowance for her efforts, she did not feel like a slave. She had decent living quarters; was made to sit at the table for meals; was given fine clothes to wear and was even allowed to entertain suitors in the receiving room. It was a nice existence, and she could see herself living it for quite some time.

Her relationship with the rough prince, however, had not improved in the slightest over the course of the last six months, but it wasn't as if she cared. She disliked him as much as he disliked her, and while they made every effort to stay out of each other's way, sometimes, encounters couldn't be helped. They were civil in the company of others, downright spiteful when they had to deal with each other in private. She haddiscovered that he was seventeen; young enough to be irritable with a fourteen year old like her and old enoughfor everything else.He was insufferable.

He continued to call her wench, but she had come up with a plethora of demeaning names for him and him alone.

Two months ago, their argument became terribly heated, and for some reason, weapons had been drawn. Truth be told, she drew first, knowing that he was capable enough to defend himself. She just needed to vent her frustration of him, and she had attacked with no intent to kill.

Surprisingly, he took the attack for what it was and while they were both spurned by anger, there was no murderous intent behind their strikes, blocks and parries. To insult her, he had clamped his hands where no self-respecting lady would allow, so she retaliated by tossing her weapon aside and biting him on the shoulder. His howl of outrage rang through out the castle, and pushing her away, he stormed off, leaving her supremely agitated.

Perhaps her skill in fighting had given him cause for suspicion. He, like many royal brats of the Vegan worlds, had been sent to the Warlords of Okaara. Likely, he had recognized her fighting style, bolts, blades and all. It was him, after all, who discovered that she was the missing crown princess of Tamaran.

Upon telling her, it was evident that his contempt of her hadn't been reduced in the slightest. Up until then, she thought he would have been much more polite if he had known about her status as crown princess. It was not the case. He still treated her like the dirt beneath his shoe and he unapologetically commented that the sooner she was out of his castle, the better. He told her he had sent a message to Tamaran, reporting her whereabouts.

She understood that it wasn't exactly spite that drove him to report her. It was only natural for him to believe that she would want to go back to her home planet. He had, in fact, told her that she could've just asked them to send her back to Tamaran, and they would have done it without question, whether or not she was a princess.

What he didn't know was that she didn't want to go back to Tamaran. She didn't want to go back to her parents, and it was nobody's business to know why.

Late that evening, exactly six months after she first set foot in Kalapatt, she left it.

She offered her thanks to the King and Queen, of course, for having taken care of her. She had expressed her thanks in a note, along with the one thing she had bought from her saved coffers: an elegant lady's knife. It was not much, but it was all she could afford.

With a heavy heart, she made her way to the nearest stargate. She wasn't sure where it led, but she was past caring. She just needed to get away.

After she emerged from the other end of the stargate, it would be another week through space, going from planet to planet, before she found the terrestrial planet of blue, white and green. She would later discover that it was called Earth; later still, she would be properly introduced to the Earthling named Robin…


…Robin chuckled softly.

She moved her fingers and let the pads of it run on the soft skin of his lips. Her hands were suddenly enveloped in his, pulling them over and behind his shoulders so that he could take her in a kiss.

She sank into his arms and the overwhelming feeling of being cherished swept through her. She did not know how he did it. Perhaps it was the firm way he held her. Perhaps it was the deep intimacy of the kiss, but she felt wanted, and loved.

When they separated, breathless, he didn't let her go.

It was just as well. She wanted to stay right where she was.

Foreheads touching, she smiled, her unseeing eyes blinking languorously. Her lips felt oddly numb, but it wasn't unpleasant. If possible, she would like for him to kiss her again.

"It is nice to be more than friends," she teased gently, tilting her face to rub noses with him.

He let her. "Yeah. Don't know what took me so long to figure it out."

She giggled softly. "Well…" She was about to say something more when he kissed her, perhaps to keep her from making any smart-ass comments. The kiss was quick, and she complained mildly when his touch left her.

He chuckled.



"Does this mean you will stop cruising for chickens?"

He laughed softly. "I never cruised for 'chicks'. I guess now I know why. Turns out the only 'chick' I wanted was in the tower, I just didn't know it at the time."

She blushed. She was always so easily embarrassed. "I'm glad. I know it is rather—possessive, but just so we are even, I promise not to 'cruise for boys', as Babs said we should…"

"I would appreciate it if you—you know—don't go out with other boys," he said in a matter-of-fact tone. "I'd really, really appreciate it if you don't kiss them either. So yeah, we're just about even on that."

She smiled, sidling closer to him. He pulled her closer, keeping her in his embrace…


His embrace always lent her comfort; a definite in all the uncertainties of her life, which was why she was a bit surprised when he pulled her out of it, however gently he did it.

"Kori," he said, his unease apparent in his voice. "I've been meaning to ask…"

She stifled a whine of complaint. "What is it?"

"You're a crown princess…"

She was surprised by the subject matter, but she supposed she should've expected it would come up again. Two days had gone by since she told him about Blackfire and the life she left behind in Tamaran, and until now, there had been no hint that he was even thinking about it. She didn't know why she even believed the subject of her royalty wouldn't be brought up again.

He paused, possibly searching for words. "I'm… I'm not royalty, Kori. I'm not even titled. I'm just a punk kid who got adopted by a billionaire…"

Starfire's jaw dropped at the sheer implications of what he was saying. She wanted to smack him for even thinking it. "Dick Grayson, what are you trying to say? That you are not worthy of me because I was royalty and you are not? I dare you to say such a ridiculous thing!"

He fidgeted. "It's not that, it's just…" He didn't go on.

She scowled. "It is true when I tell you that I am officially the crown princess of Tamaran, but I have all but denounced it. I am not going back to Tamaran to reclaim anything, Richard. Ryand'r could have that throne. I believe he would make a good ruler. Anyway, that is all beside the point. What is royal title? It is nothing. It does not make me any different from any Tamaranian; it does not make me better than anyone in the universe; and it most certainly does not make you unworthy, in any way, of being with me. I love you. That is all that matters."

Robin sighed, and he took her back in his embrace. She smiled, sinking happily against him.

"It's just—" he hesitated "—it's so overwhelming. It's not like you're just the princess of some country, or something. I mean, I spent my entire life laughing at rich snobs precisely because a lot of them thought they were better than everyone else, but you're—you're the crown princess of an entire planet. That makes the Windsors look like wannabes; it's wild; it's—my girlfriend is a princess of an entire world! That's crazy"

She frowned a bit. He was sounding a little "freaked out". Like suddenly, he didn't know what to do with her. "Have I changed at all since I told you about being a princess?"

"Well, of course not."

"Then what is it that has you so troubled?"

"I don't know. Maybe it is weird that it doesn't make a difference. Wouldn't it catch up on you, or something?" He gave a confused laugh. "I mean, you can't just leave an entire planet!"

"I can, and I have. You worry overmuch…"

He didn't give his standard reply of "It's my nature." He merely sighed, troubled as ever.

She did not disturb the silence. There would be time enough to discuss the matter again, when Robin was in a better disposition.


… better disposed, if only for him.

"You're in good hands, Kori. They're the best in their respective fields."

Starfire nodded.

He leaned over, so he could speak more softly. "You know, when they begin to put you to sleep, the last thought you have will be what you dream about, so you should think really nice thoughts."

She smiled mischievously, some of her fears easing off. "I will think of you then… and last night."

"Then I'd say that would be a very, very… very good dream."

A soft giggle escaped her.

Footsteps clopped from the door and she could make out that there was more than one stride.

"Good morning, Kori…"


"Kori? Can you hear me?"

It was an unfamiliar voice, and it was invading her slumber. She stirred, trying to open her eyes, but something held them close; something tight. Her thoughts were jumbled and by all rights, she had every reason to panic, but she was powerfully lethargic. She could barely lift an arm, much less cause a fuss.

She couldn't remember exactly where she was, but she knew she was on Earth. There was a smell to it, and it dawned on her that perhaps, there was no cause for her to panic.


That voice was familiar. She moaned a bit. Her tongue was feeling somewhat sluggish.

There was a soft chuckle, and she realized it was not Robin who had first spoken to her. "Welcome back, darling. I trust you slept well?"

It was Dr. Leeman.

Her thoughts began to solidify and she found that she was able to lift her hand. She brought it to her eyes and encountered a gauze-like covering. Tentatively, she tried to pick at it.

"Ah, ah," Dr. Leeman's gentle hands came upon hers to coax her curious fingers away. "Don't touch, deary. They're supposed to stay on, at least for another three days. Now tell Georgie how you feel. Hurt? Betrayed?"

"Georgie," came another voice. It was gently scolding, and Dr. Leeman laughed mildly. The other voice was familiar as well. A woman's.

"Oh, hush, Chase. I'm just teasing," said Dr. Leeman. "Kori, my love, do you feel any nausea? Is anything numb? Tell Dr. Georgie all about it."

She forced herself to form words, befuddled as she was. "R-Richard?"

"Okay, not the answer I was expecting, but hopefully, that's a good sign."

Dr. Meridian sighed. "Oh, Georgie, stop teasing. Dick, get on over here. Kori's looking for you. Georgie, let the man through."

"Fine, fine…"

Starfire felt a warm hand holding hers in a tender grip. There was still a faint wisp of his shampoo scent; perhaps in another hour or so, the hospital-scent would overwhelm it, but she was glad she could still recognize him.

"Hey," he said softly.

She smiled and it was an effort. The drugs were still in her system, she supposed, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant. It made her drowsy, yes, but she didn't feel nauseated and as far as she was concerned, she had sensation in all parts of her. In fact, she felt a little sore around the eyes. It didn't feel like they had cut her up. It felt more like someone had punched her, right where her sockets were. It wasn't all that painful, really, but maybe they had employed some kind of local anesthesia to it, and that it would hurt a bit more, later. "Is it over?"

"Yeah. It's done. The doctors said everything went very smoothly. Now all we have to do is allow you to heal and wait."

"I will… see again?"

She felt his thumb rubbing on the back of her hand.

"We won't know until the bandages are removed, but so far, the doctors are optimistic."

She nodded, understanding. "In three days, then. You will be here, won't you?" She was willing to be alone in the next two days. She understood that Robin had responsibilities in Jump City, but she couldn't bear the thought that he wouldn't be there come the third day. Whether or not she'd be able to see again, she needed him to be there.

"I'll be here. I promise."

She smiled, relieved. His promise would see her through, no matter what.

To be continued…

Closing notes: Welcome back, readers of Guiding Star! This is exciting. Wind Beneath Her Wings, I tried to take a breather, I really did! But my brain was in a tizzy and I had to get it out. Here it is! First chapter of part two! Let's get it on.