Hello, everyone! No, I was not dead. Simply resting. But it was good to start writing again.
kori-chick-47, darling, I have not forgotten you. I would have written to you immediately about the shrine, but, e-mails don't fully show up on reviews, and you had no e-mail posted on your profile. So, I hope you read this (and other RobStar fans best listen up as well):
The Robin and Starfire Shrine, which I write all these oneshots for as "romantic125," is a veritable oasis for fans like us. So, for anyone who's ever asked me where it is: s4 . invisionfree . com / randsshrine (I put the spaces in just in case websites don't show up on either).
So anyway... a while back, someone suggested I write about a concert. In my mind, "concert" became "opera," and this is what came out. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. Blah blah blah. Everyone go see Phantom of the Opera.
Dedicated to Princess Starfire of Tameran, who is really nice, and also has a whole bunch of awesome stories I never even knew about. Everyone should go read them. Right now! (well, you can read mine first, if you like...)
"So, this concept of 'op-er-a…' It is classified as one of the dramatic arts, yes?"
Starfire was shouting questions through her bedroom door to Robin, who was waiting in the hall for her to finish getting dressed.
"Yeah, it's a lot like theater. Except everything is sung, instead of spoken."
Star laughed, and Robin could picture her shaking her head incredulously. "I often wonder at the odd forms of expression the people of Earth have developed… if everything is communicated through song, will it not be difficult to understand the words?"
"Well, I doubt you're going to understand most of the words anyway, Star… Madame Butterfly is actually in Italian."
There was a pause. "All of it?" she asked, her voice slightly higher than normal.
"Yeah," Robin confirmed with a smile, absently tracing the letters of her name on her door. "All of it."
She made a tiny indignant sound, and he heard what sounded like a hairbrush being dropped on the floor. "But I have only recently begun to grasp the subtleties of the English language! How am I to be expected to master this Italian within the next two hours?"
Robin laughed silently, leaning against her door. "You don't have to understand the words to understand the story," he explained, trying his best to reassure her. "Bruce – Mr. Wayne, the man who invited us tonight, used to drag me to these things all the time. You can sort of… 'feel' the story, I guess. In the music. You know?"
"I do not," Star admitted, "but I am sure that I will understand soon. All right, Robin, I am finished!"
He heard bedsprings creaking as she stood up, and a faint whooshing sound as she glided swiftly to her door. Robin had barely enough time to quit leaning against her door before it slid open; and, as a result, he was only a few inches away when Star emerged and she nearly collided with him. They both backpedaled a bit and Star tripped in her heels, grabbing the doorframe for support and grinning up at him sheepishly. Robin caught his balance and grinned back, but his smile faded into slack-jawed astonishment as he took a good look at her, framed in the doorway by the soft light coming from her room.
She was dressed in a gown she had chosen herself, as soon as Robin had told her about Bruce's invitation two weeks earlier. It was a deep green satin halter dress, with a square neckline just low enough to make Robin extremely nervous. A wide, cream-colored satin sash wrapped diagonally around her small waist, tying in a bow against her right hip. Robin's eyes automatically scanned the dress several times, following down the length of the skirt, which fit snugly over her hips and thighs and flared like a trumpet at her knees, flowing out over the tops of her black stilettos.
He looked up, dazzled anew by the breathtaking effect a little green eye-shadow and gold-tinted lip gloss could have on his best friend's already gorgeous face. She had pulled half of her hair back, braiding the sides into a sort of crown with green ribbon woven through it, and curled the ends slightly. She wore an elegant set of emerald-and-gold jewelry, part of the expensive selection that Bruce had sent over for the girls in spite of Robin's protests. Star had been delighted when she saw the jewels, however; and the way the teardrop pendent sparkled from the hollow above her delicate collarbone made Robin feel differently about the extravagant gifts.
Star smiled nervously and gave an awkward little twirl for him, and he caught the scent of orange blossoms as she moved.
"Is it acceptable? I have never prepared for an Earth event of this elegance before, and the 'making up' of my eyes was rather difficult—"
"You're perfect," he said abruptly, his voice strangely low. "I… uh, that is…"
She smiled, her cheeks turning pink. "You look very nice, Robin," she said shyly, indicating his tuxedo.
"Well, uh…" He was blushing too.
"Can we move it already?" Raven groaned, appearing next to them suddenly in a maroon-and-black corset dress. She was tapping her high-heeled foot impatiently under her voluminous skirt. "We've been waiting in the living room for nearly an hour. Those two idiots have made it to Level 7 on 'Mega-Dragon Warfare 13.' Do you know how many irritating sound effects there are on Level 7?" She took a calming breath and looked them over briefly. "You both look very nice," she added grumpily, trying her best to smile soothingly at the obviously nervous Starfire. Robin thanked her distractedly, and Star gushed over her dress, as they headed to the living room to collect Cyborg and Beast Boy and start the drive into Gotham.
"Quiet, Beast Boy. Watch the opera."
Beast Boy grunted and turned to his other side. "Pssst. Cyborg."
"Not now, man. People are starting to look irritated."
Undeterred, Beast Boy leaned over Cyborg and tried again. "Hey, Rae—"
"Beast Boy, I am not going to explain every scene of this opera for you. I narrated practically the entire first act. You're on your own," Raven said firmly, surreptitiously smirking behind her program.
"The Madame Butterfly has given birth to a son, the conception of whom she owes to the Colonel Pinkerton," summarized Starfire, to everyone's astonishment. "Never having taken their vows of commitment seriously, the Colonel Pinkerton has left her before learning of the child, and never realizing the depth of the Butterfly's devotion to him."
Beast Boy looked amazed. Cyborg and Raven looked impressed, but tactfully hid their surprise at Starfire's successful interpretation. Robin just looked pleased, and rather proud of her.
Beast Boy looked over at Starfire, who was sitting on the other side of Robin. "But… that's so sad!" he protested, looking downcast.
She laughed softly, brushing away the tears that had already made their way down her cheeks. "Yes," she agreed, "it is very sad. And I expect it will only become sadder."
"What do you mean?" Beast Boy's head snapped back forward toward the stage, as if he was afraid to miss something. "What's gonna happen to her? He'll come back, right?"
Starfire pointed to the singer playing Madame Butterfly. "See – she is holding a dagger. And listen to her singing to her son. She is… saying goodbye. Can you not hear the despair in her voice? She has…" Star paused, dabbing at a new barrage of tears with the tissue Robin had given her a half hour earlier. "The Butterfly has… lost all hope of her beloved ever returning for her. And if he returns in body, she cannot be sure that his heart belongs to her, and her heart belongs to him…" Her shoulders shook slightly as the tears became more continuous. "Oh, it is wonderful… and awful…"
Robin reached over and patted her arm. She looked at him and smiled gratefully; but when he smiled back, for some reason, she began crying worse than ever. Alarmed, Robin took her hand in both of his, squeezing it gently when Madame Butterfly killed herself with the dagger and Starfire's tears started afresh. She leaned into him, clutching the front of his shirt with one hand and clasping him around the neck with the other. He stroked her back dreamily, and struggled to remember through his scrambled thoughts and confused sensations how they had gotten in that position.
Hearing the sounds of someone crying much more loudly than Starfire, Robin glanced to his left, smirking at the sight of Beast Boy leaning over Cyborg's lap and trying to muffle his sobs in Raven's shoulder.
Later than night, when the other Titans had gone off to bed, Robin headed to the roof. Starfire had disappeared with no explanation when they had gotten home, looking distracted and pensive. Robin had not followed her, but his respect for her desire to be alone was being overcome by his concern for her. Besides, he knew she had gone to the roof; he'd heard her enter the elevator. She knew perfectly well that whenever she went to the roof to "be alone," he ultimately ended up "being alone" with her. It was just the way things worked in their relationship.
Sure enough, she was still there, sitting on the edge of the roof and watching the few bright stars that were visible between the clouds. She didn't look as comfortable as usual, because she was still wearing her gown (which restricted the movement of her legs quite a bit). He sat down beside her without prelude, as usual.
"Hey, Star. Wanna tell me what's wrong?" He tried hard to keep the insistence out of his voice.
She sighed, avoiding his gaze. "The Butterfly in the story… she perished because her love was not returned, yes?"
Robin was taken aback. "Well… yeah, I guess so."
"Why, do you suppose?"
Robin furrowed his brow in thought. Philosophy had never been his strong point. "Maybe… maybe she had so much love for him, that she had none left for herself."
He thought it sounded stupid once he heard it out loud, but Starfire considered it thoughtfully. "Yes. Yes, I believe you are correct." She sighed again, fiddling with the bow on her dress. "Imagine… caring so deeply for others, and so little for your own welfare."
Robin glanced at her. "It's not so hard to imagine. In fact, it sounds kind of familiar."
The implication was not lost on Starfire, and she giggled sheepishly. "I suppose I have been known to disregard the importance of my own safety in favor of others. Is that bad?"
He shook his head. "No. It's pretty noble, actually. Just as long as you don't get hurt," he added, placing his hand over hers for emphasis. She beamed at him and he looked away shyly, but did not remove his hand.
Starfire broke the silence. "So, perhaps you would like to call me 'Madame Butterfly' now?" she asked playfully.
He laughed. "No, not Butterfly. Firefly."
"Firefly?" She wrinkled her nose. "They are not very pretty."
"Hey, I happen to think fireflies are beautiful," he joked back. A second later, he realized the inference he had made and coughed embarrassedly. "They're… more interesting than butterflies," he added lamely. "And more resilient. Butterflies are sort of… delicate. And wimpy."
She giggled. "In that case, I agree that I do not resemble a butterfly." Suddenly, she became serious again. "Robin?"
"Might a firefly also die from the same infliction as the Butterfly?"
"What do you mean?" He turned to face her fully, bending one leg under him and dangling the other over the ledge.
"Butterfly's infliction… unreciprocated love," she clarified. "Might a firefly die from this as well?"
"Star, I…" He studied her face, shocked by the sadness and anxiety he perceived there. "I don't know, Star. It's just a story." Suddenly, as he looked over her pained features, something clicked. "You're talking about yourself?"
"Yes," she muttered, in a whisper so soft that it took a few seconds to work out what she'd said.
"You're worried he doesn't love you?" Robin asked with great difficulty. He would talk to her like a best friend was supposed to. He wasn't upset that Star was in love. It was fine that Star was in love. Just wonderful. He tried to keep his expression free of agitation as he watched her.
"I can live without his love," she said, looking down with an odd expression on her face. "But… I cannot stand to think of him going away from me forever."
"Well, then…" Robin's voice was strained. He swallowed the lump in his throat and tried again. "Well, then, you should just make sure he never leaves you. If he's near you long enough, he's sure to fall in love with you anyway."
Robin sincerely hoped he had managed to keep the bitterness out of that little speech.
Starfire looked as though she was seriously considering his advice. "You are right," she agreed, nodding. "I must simply make sure he never leaves me." And with that, she promptly pushed him onto his back and laid across him sideways, pinning him to the rooftop with her arms.
It took a good minute before Robin was able to regain his voice. "Uh... Star?"
"Yes, Robin?" she answered, looking as if she was doing nothing out of the ordinary. He wondered if she realized that she was playing with his hair.
"What are you doing?"
"I am making sure you are not able to leave," she explained matter-of-factly. "Although, logically, this cannot be a permanent solution. I suppose I did not really think this detainment plan all the way through…"
"It's all right," he assured her. His brain was still quite foggy, but a single realization was working its way to the foreground of his thoughts. He grinned as it fully dawned on him. "Not many people think clearly when they're in love."
"Oh…" She flushed and seemed to shake a little, her determined air gone as she suddenly remembered what her actions had revealed. "I had forgotten that I said… but of course now you realize… why are you grinning at me that way?" She looked indignant. "Please do not ridicule me—"
"Sorry, Firefly," he said, grinning wider than ever. He brushed his hand through her hair, laughing out loud for sheer happiness. "I just can't seem to stop smiling… You were talking about me, right?"
"Oh…" she covered her face, murmuring Tameranian curses and looking thoroughly humiliated. Somehow, she had forgotten to hoist herself off of Robin. And that was fine with him.
"What's the matter, Star? It's ok; I love you back, of course."
He'd assumed she'd already known. Judging from the way she froze and stared down at him with wide eyes, he knew he'd been mistaken.
He had to laugh. "Truly," he assured her, propping him self up on his elbows and smiling brilliantly at her.
He wanted desperately to kiss her. He was planning on it. But, Starfire was quicker. She had her lips pressed ardently against his before he'd even begun to calculate his move. He was so shocked that he let his elbows slide from under him, his head landing hard on the cement as a result. He supposed it would have hurt a great deal, if his sensations had not been completely wrapped up in Starfire. Finally, he gathered himself together enough to kiss her back, bringing his arms around her. It was easy to ignore his skinned elbows and throbbing head, because here was Starfire, gorgeous, perfect, unreachable, best-friend Starfire, actually lying in his arms and kissing him as if she would die if she stopped.
However, they did have to stop eventually. Robin pulled away first, needing air. Starfire whimpered a bit in complaint, but giggled when she looked down and saw how out of breath he was.
"You will not leave me, then," she said contentedly, leaning over his chest with an uncharacteristically sly grin.
"No," he agreed. "Never." He stared at her in wonder. "I bet a butterfly couldn't kiss like that…" he commented inanely.
Starfire scoffed. "That is ridiculous," she informed him. And then she kissed him again.
(giggles) Goodness, that was pointless...