I make absolutely no apologies for the absurdity of this story. It's the reason I love it so much. It's weird, it's pointless; and I'm proud. I know some of you don't like my fics involving food, so…sorry about this. I just like writing them, I guess. I have one more really short one about ice cream that I might post one day.
Disclaimer: I own none of these things: Teen Titans, artificially-flavored macaroni and cheese, Cheetos, frozen peas.
"Robin! Come to the kitchen, quickly! Lunch has initiated an attack sequence!"
Robin was positive that he must have misheard Starfire. There were just so many things wrong with that sentence, the least of which being that Starfire wasn't allowed to cook by herself. Nevertheless, he snapped his laptop shut and rushed into the kitchen, knowing that there was no one else in the tower to help Star if something really was wrong. The others had gone out for lunch, but he had been too busy with the crime files, and Starfire had said that she wasn't feeling well. He wondered, if that was the case, what she was doing in the kitchen. He doubled his speed when he thought he head a yelp of pain from Starfire.
Robin ran through the common room into the kitchen, grabbing the countertop and swinging around it in an arc, his feet sliding on the floor. He stopped short when he caught sight of her, and almost toppled forward as a result. Starfire was pressing herself flat against the wall, armed with a half-melted plastic spatula. On the stove was a deep pan, filled to the brim with what looked like oil and some frozen peas – and the stove was turned up to full heat. Droplets of oil rocketed from the pan, scalding anything within a ten-foot radius – including Starfire. She yelped and made a futile attempt to shield her face with the spatula as tiny frozen pea bullets launched themselves out of the pan. Robin dropped to his stomach and crawled across the floor under the constant barrage of hot oil and peas. When he reached Starfire, he pulled her down by her wrist and placed her gently behind him. Carefully reaching up, he turned the heat all the way down and used his bo-staff to nudge the pan off the stove. Within seconds, the spattering had died down completely. He turned around to find Starfire looking ashamed and nursing a small burn on her elbow. He watched adoringly for a moment, his concern warring with amusement as she tried to twist her elbow to get a look at it. His concern won out, however, when he saw the painful-looking welt on her soft, tan-orange skin from what must have been either a large splash of boiling oil or a sudden burst of steam. She was biting her lip, and her eyes were welling up with tears. Robin gathered her gently in his arms, stroking her hair soothingly. He smiled when noticed that there were frozen peas stuck all through her hair, and tried to pull them out for her without her noticing. "It's ok, Star, it's not a deep burn…I don't think it will last long; we just need to get some ice on it before it gets worse…" Starfire was shaking her head.
"Oh, it is not the burn, Robin. I have received far worse from combat practices on Tamaran," Starfire assured him, blinking back her tears. "It is just that…I stayed home today just so that I could surprise you with lunch, and now –"
Robin blinked. "You said you were sick today."
She blushed. "I may have…misled you all a bit," she admitted, pulling back from his embrace and glancing at the floor. "I merely wished to remain behind…with you. You have been so busy lately and I thought that…well…"
Robin's heart fluttered at the admission. Then he chuckled, realizing something. "Star, I think this afternoon was the first time I ever saw you lie." She looked ashamed. "No, Star, I mean…thanks. I'm flattered. Brilliant sick act, too. Beast Boy never does half as well with his act when he wants to get out of a battle." She giggled and brightened, giving Robin a spontaneous squeeze. She let go a second later, and they both stared at the floor for a moment. "Uh, Star…in case we're ever alone again – I mean, in case you're ever alone again, do you want to know how to make something simple? Like macaroni and cheese, or something?"
Starfire's face lit up. "Wonderful! I shall be able to avoid future kitchen-related injuries!"
And so began Star's basic culinary education. Robin showed her the proper amount of water to boil, and made her promise never to boil anything in the fryer again. He had given her an ice pack wrapped in a cloth, so it wouldn't be too cold, and she was holding it awkwardly against her burned elbow. She hovered eagerly as he opened the box, nodding when he explained that she would have to remove the packet of cheese before pouring the pasta into the saucepan. Once he had dumped the pasta in, he took the ice pack from her, gave her a wooden spoon, and positioned her behind the stove, reminding her to stir once in a while. Robin leaned on the counter and watched her as she stirred with intense concentration, an affectionate grin pulling at the corners of his mouth. He had seen Starfire solve quadratic equations in her head, but Earth cooking methods were still a little beyond her. On one occasion, when they had inadvertently stayed up all night talking, she had admitted that she couldn't cook all that well by Tamaranian standards, either.
Robin wouldn't let her drain the pasta herself, afraid that she might suffer a more serious burn in the process. He gave her the cheese packet and instructed her to open it, which she did…a bit too enthusiastically. Starfire grasped the opposite corners of the packet and pulled, tearing it raggedly down the middle and spraying orange cheese powder in all directions. Star squeaked and dropped the packet as if it had bitten her. She stared at it for a moment, finally mustering enough courage to look up at Robin. When she did, however, she burst out laughing.
The cheese powder had coated most of his glossy black hair, making it a dull orange. "Robin – your hair is nearly the same color as mine!" she informed him between gasps of laughter.
Robin grinned, trying and failing to brush the powder from his face as he observed his reflection in the saucepan lid. "You look like a Cheeto," he told her fondly, holding the lid for her so she could see herself.
It took them twenty minutes to clean the kitchen, because they would double over laughing whenever they caught sight of each other. They tried to get the cheese off of their clothing and faces, but the powder stuck, and they resolved to wait for a shower. Robin retrieved a new cheese packet from another box and emptied it into the pot of macaroni. He watched Star carefully as she added milk and butter according to his instruction, managing to stop her before she added the marshmallows she had found in the cupboard.
When she finished stirring, Starfire gathered a few noodles onto the wooden spoon, tasting them carefully. "Mmmm…" She closed her eyes in enjoyment. "Wonderful!" She looked thrilled with herself, until she suddenly remembered how the others usually reacted to food she liked. She nervously held out the spoon to Robin. "I am almost afraid to ask, Robin, but…do you find this edible?" She screwed her eyes shut and scrunched her nose, as if preparing for the worst. Robin smiled at her expression before taking a bite, hoping that she hadn't managed to sneak in any extra ingredients while his back was turned. His smile widened.
"Star, it's…good!" he said, smiling proudly at her as he scooped some more out of the pot. "See, what did I tell you?" he said with his mouth full. "If you just stick to the recipe, there's no reason why you can't—"
Star threw her arms around him.
"Cook," he finished, wobbling and dropping the spoon onto the clean floor in shock. She held him around the neck, tightly, but not too tight for him to breathe. He was very aware of her body pressed against his, and tried not to think about how well she seemed to fit there. She rested her head on his shoulder, tilting it so that her warm breath grazed his ear.
"I am so glad that I am now able to cook for you, Robin," she whispered happily, spontaneously kissing his neck.
Robin froze. He knew she didn't mean anything by it; they kissed each other's cheeks sometimes (Robin had accidentally initiated the custom during a post-battle celebration: he had picked her up, spun her around, and, caught in the moment, kissed her cheek. He covered his mistake by telling her that all best friends did it, and since then, to Robin's delight, she had taken to kissing his cheek often in moments of joy or gratitude). She just meant to say thank you, and the way her head was positioned made it more convenient to kiss his neck, rather than to change positions so that her mouth could reach his cheek. She didn't differentiate between the friendly gesture and the intimate one. Robin, however, felt the difference, and after she had pulled away her could still feel her lips burning through the sensitive skin on his neck.
Star leaned back far enough to look at him with a curious expression on her face, which quickly broke into a bright smile. "You taste like the delicious macaroni-cheese," she told him. He was confused, until he remembered that his face and neck were still covered in the cheese powder.
"Yeah, well, you—" He lost his train of thought when she leaned forward again and licked the spot on his neck that she had kissed. Noticing that Robin also had cheese on his face, she tasted his cheek as well. She continued that way, down across his jaw, too intent on tasting the cheese to realize what she was doing. Robin knew that yet again, the intimate contact was unintentional; he clenched his fists at his sides and breathed deeply, hoping she wouldn't notice how tense he was. 'I should really stop her,' he thought faintly. 'She should know this isn't one of the things best friends should do…I should stop her...' But of course, he didn't; and since Star wasn't paying much attention to her direction, she ended up landing by accident on his lips. Robin might have turned his head slightly at just the right moment…but it was mostly by accident…
Starfire felt a sudden jolt go through her before she pulled back, realizing what had happened. She only thought it over for a second before leaning in to kiss him on purpose, the wonderful artificially-colored powered cheese forgotten as the taste of Robin took over her senses. She felt him let out a long-held breath as he brought his arms around her, pulling her against him. She giggled when she heard him murmur something dreamily against her mouth:
"Thanks for lunch; it's delicious."