Summary: Just when Red X thought Starfire was all he wanted, he gives her something he wants even more: A challenge.
A sequel to Game
Something's not right; he could feel it.
Not that the Boy Wonder ever assumed anything. He was mostly the kind of person who based his decisions on logic, if not hard facts. He observed where he couldn't act; he planned when the time to act came and he acted carefully when he did what he had to do. It was seldom he fell prey to emotion, and when he did, it was in pursuit of his responsibilities and duties. Oddly enough, he did not feel that this was a great flaw in his character. He did not realize how many mistakes he could make letting his emotions have sway, even by just a little.
Maybe others wouldn't know it for what it was because he was good at hiding behind that mask. The mask rendered his face impassive when the emotions became intense, but he couldn't hide anything from me. I knew him; knew him more than he knew himself. He was not like Raven who could control her feelings; who knew how to let her anger and fear melt away. Unlike her, he was only human. He had no such powers of control. He was an acrobat; an adopted ward. It was a mere detail that he was a leader of a team of superheroes. He was just a young boy, barely a man, who had a heart beneath all his supposed objectivity and a beautiful Tamaranean girl crawling under his skin.
What a weakness she was to him.
He had noticed how distracted she was. Had felt how she glanced warily over her shoulder when there wasn't anybody there; how her gaze was distant, apart from the rest of them, even when he spoke. How, as the days wore on, her attentions for him grew less and less because I, Red X, had successfully crept into her life, though only briefly as of yet, and left an impression.
I watched her still, of course. Since that time she brought me to my lair, I had watched her. I kept my distance because I needed to learn more of her; find out how to conquer her. I had underestimated her the first time. I will make no mistakes again.
In the meantime, the Boy Wonder grows suspicious; maybe not of her, for he was blinded by his unspoken desire of her. He was suspicious of something, and knowing the Boy Wonder like I did, he would be taking matters into his own hands soon. He was going to find out what was wrong and take care of it, because it was his nature, neurotic freak that he is.
I am not afraid of him. He cannot hurt me because he doesn't know what I am. I know. I have the power of this knowledge in my hands. I just have to know how to use it.
He was not my concern.
My focus remains on my deepest obsession: Starfire.
I hate her; yet I want her. What I can't have, I must have. What she doesn't know drives me to educate her: She will want me, and when she does, she will discover the exhilaration of pain mixed with pleasure. She will know how it is to want something so badly that she would accept morsels as hands full of gold, craving for more yet enjoying the thrill of getting all of it in one fell swoop.
Soon, I will find a way to win this game.
I sat in the shadows, hidden behind crates and barges, the sound of slapping water, birdcalls and the occasional horn masking any sound I may have made. It was an easy stakeout. Observing the team as they converged on the docks, Robin ordered them to split into two teams. Cyborg, Raven and Beast Boy would take one side of the docks while he and Starfire took the other.
He did that constantly. When he split the team, he would always group himself with Starfire. Maybe he was as much of a junkie as I was when it came to wanting what we can't have. Maybe he already knew the value of morsels and the thrill of anticipation. Surely, he knew that deep down, he was hoping something would happen when he had Starfire with him alone.
The team split. Starfire and Robin disappeared in the darkness. I followed.
I crept, soundlessly, but old wood was undependable. It creaked under my weight.
Starfire whipped around in mid-air, searching in my general direction. I hid, keeping still. She knew she was being watched. Had probably known it for weeks, but it was for me to decide when I would reveal myself to her. It would not be this night.
"Starfire? What's wrong?" asked Robin.
For a few seconds, she made no reply. When she finally did, her tone was as chipper as usual. "Oh, it was nothing! These docks are full of the creeps and I seem to be getting most of it." She didn't want to tell him about me. I was her secret. Good girl.
"You've been acting kind of weird lately. You're unfocused and you're always looking over your shoulder."
"Oh? I am doing that? I did not notice."
"Yes, you're doing that. I've been meaning to talk about it with you for weeks, but I didn't know if I was imagining things. You've been like this since that night I saw you flying in from outside the tower late at night."
"I was not—"
"You were. I saw you. You sneaked back into the tower and I waited for you to tell me about it the next day, but you never did. When I hinted at it, you lied to me. I should've insisted, but I told myself it might be something personal; something you didn't want to talk about, so I shut up about it. But then you started to act this way, and now I'm asking you, outright: What's wrong, Starfire? What are you hiding?"
I gave a cautious peek. Her attention was on him now. She wasn't going to discover me.
She lowered herself to the floorboards, standing several feet from the Boy Wonder. The energy within me pulsed; I could have licked my lips. Suspense. Anticipation. What was she going to say?
"There is someone who follows me."
That was as much of a surprise to me as it was to the Boy Wonder. I didn't think she was going to say it outright. Something thunked in my belly.
Was it disappointment? Was my promising conquest giving in so early in the game?
"Who's following you, Starfire?"
"You need not know who."
My eyebrow lifted. My disappointment ebbed. This was most interesting.
Her response did not sit well with the Boy Wonder. I saw his hand curling into a fist. He'd been given a peak and then he had been shut out just as abruptly. It was enough to trigger Robin's need to know; to gain control. Perhaps in that, we were alike. "Who, Starfire?"
"This does not concern you," she said, calmly.
The energy in my core surged as I realized exactly what she was doing. I almost laughed.
"This does not concern you," she had said. Oh, you vicious bitch! Of course it concerns him! He is the reason I could draw you in, in the first place! But she knew this. She knew this like she knew I followed her; knew that at this very moment, I was listening. She baits him, and she baits me. She is bringing him into the game because it was unfair to have him play when he didn't know he was playing it in the first place.
He went to her, grabbing her arm somewhat roughly. She did not pull away and her gaze stayed on him. For a moment, they stood there, looking at each other. She twitched, as if to take her arm back. He twitched in return, keeping his grip firm. It was a stand-off. Who was going to win this round?
"What will you do if I told you?" she asked.
"I'll get rid of him for you."
"How do you know it's a him?"
His gaze on her narrowed. "Isn't it? A him?"
She draws him in so beautifully that if I was capable of love, I'd have loved her that moment with searing, intense passion. But it was an alien emotion to me. What was it, anyway? At this moment, it was just a four letter word to me.
Her eyes grew wide, brimming with innocence. How much of that innocence was true? How much of it was affected? "Why would you want to get rid of him?"
"He's bothering you, isn't he?"
She was silent, as if weighing her own answer. When she spoke, my excitement crackled explosively in my nerves. "Not necessarily, Robin. I think… I think I just wish to see him again. Tell him to stop hiding so he and I could—"
She gasped after that. His grip on her had tightened.
"So he and you could what?"
"R-Robin… you are hurting me."
He let her go and he stepped back, but his face remained set. "So he and you could what, Starfire?"
She frowned. "He cannot harm me, Robin, so what do you care?"
"I just—" He stopped himself.
Tsk, tsk, tsk! Was that going to be a confession, Robin? Were you going to tell your lady love that the thought of another man jumping into the picture set your nerves on end? Do I threaten you, Boy Wonder? I don't blame you in the least, Robin. If someone wanted to take her away from me, I'd want to break him, too.
I almost chuckled. It was all going better than I expected. I had to have this woman.
"If he does anything unsavory, Robin, to me or to others, I will destroy him myself. But right now he is merely a presence that I wish to confront. I will have my time with him. You need not worry."
"To hell I won't. What does he want from you?"
It is gnawing at him! This idea that she is looking to someone else! Oh, I am vastly entertained.
What she said next… they were so powerful, so awe-inspiring, that it made my insides boil with need.
She kept her gaze steadily on him as she said the words. "He wants me, Robin. That is all."
That is all, she says! You devalue yourself, Starfire. Or maybe she knows her power. Maybe she says it to taunt him. Whatever her intentions, its effect on Robin was instantaneous.
Confused. Shocked. Betrayed?
These were Robin's feelings. That last bit almost made me rub my hands together in anticipation. Until now, he had been secure about the feelings of the Tamaranean bitch. But now… it dawned on him what I already learned: She wasn't as easy as we thought.
"I will deal with him myself, Robin," she said in a lilting tone, as if she were telling him that she would walk the dog this time; that it was no big deal.
She turned, to continue where they first left off, before she opened the gates of the game to him. Her part in the initiation rites was over; now it was all up to him.
Robin did not move for several seconds, and I thought, for a split heartbeat, that he wasn't as ready to play the game as I first thought he might be. But something in his posture changed.
His shoulders tightened; the muscles in his arms tensed. He took one step forward, and then two. His face had taken on a different, menacing glow. His gaze on Starfire's retreating figure was intense; passionate, and when he was done watching; when she had disappeared into the darkness, he turned his gaze to the shadows, where Starfire had looked earlier.
This time, I did not hide. I wanted him to see me.
I smiled with predatory glee.
Our gazes met. His eyes narrowed to slits. I was enjoying this immensely.
"Stay away from her," he said.
I wasn't sure if he knew who he was talking to. It hardly mattered to him, or to me; he knew he was talking to the competition.
I liked that word: Competition.
I grinned. "I won't."
"I'm not going to let you have her."
I chuckled. "She's not yours, you know."
If looks could kill, he would have slain me on the spot. "No, but I saw her first."
I couldn't ask for anything more.
The challenge was set. The game was going down. He was going to play, and he would do it with everything he had.
Just the way I like it.
He kept his gaze on me as he walked after her.
I had nothing to prove to him. I turned and left.
We were going to meet again and it would be one hell of a game.
Part third: Match
Author's note: I hate love triangles, so I'm telling you now, baby: This ain't about love.