A/N: My first non-anime fic, my first try on Teen Titans series. Let's see what I can come up with. This greenhorn will welcome any kind of OOC complaints or constructive reviews.
"Screwed, screwed…man, I am -so- screwed." Beast Boy was huffing and puffing out of the house where they were staying for that afternoon as their team leader, Robin, was nursing his injuries. They had gone into yet another of their impromptu hero missions, which was, for today, house-sitting for the city mayor. It should have been amazingly easy for people like them who had battled the worst of the scums in their city. Clean a little, kill time, watch SpongeBob Squarepants…
But no, Robin had to be an undomesticated little klutz who, while cleaning the floor and grumbling on how infantile this activity was for all of them, stepped on the wet strips of cloth of the mop and slipped down the stairs from the second floor of the house.
"Majorly uncool," burbled the green-skinned boy under his breath. Well, that explained the guy's injuries.
Now as for the future injuries that Raven would DEFINITELY give him when he lets her catch his ass…well, how was an innocent and cute little guy like him to know that the scary psychokinetic girl would be in the kitchen as he was doing an ocular inspection of the refrigerator? How was he to know that Raven –the Raven—would actually hold a spatula and try her hand at a field of endeavor that no Titan in his sane mind would think possible, namely cooking? Cooking, as in not thinking up of weird mantras and meditating and levitating, but as in cooking with spices, spatula, and one bad-looking soup?
AND how was he to know that when she kind-of-nervously (because she would never ever be nervous. No, not Raven, no siree!) offered him to taste it, and then asked him to rate it (to which he obliged by saying it was the worst thing to pass his taste buds since two-weeks-old broccoli and that he wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot fork even if it was the last dish on earth), it would turn out that it was actually her specialty dish (or so she says), and that he was the first guy she actually allowed to taste it?
Worse, she took his critique rather very deeply. At that moment, in her usual deadly calm voice, she uttered his death omen.
"You are a very dead organism when I get my pinkie finger on you."
So here he was, running for his very dear life. He was young, he was cool, he had a life to live and an entire female population to make happy… it couldn't be cut short by a crazy death-ray-shooting wacko who couldn't cook edible soup to save her life, for pete's sake!
But he could feel her aura…he could feel her gaining on him…
He shut his eyes tight, wanting to whimper. Women, PMS-ing or not, were downright dangerous. They should be kept away in cages, away from the civilization, away from clinically sane and functioning guys like him…
She was getting closer.
Man, had he known that today was his last day on earth, the least he should have done is eat his favorite sundae instead of saving it for tonight while watching movies in the VCD player.
The sun was shining, the breeze was fresh and good to the skin, the birds were chirping happily…
Oh great, even Mother Nature would not sympathize with his soon-to-be funeral.
Wait a minute… The sound of the chirping made the practically dormant light bulb inside his head light up unexpectedly. I could still save my skin…
Starfire tiptoed and inhaled the fresh earth breeze into her lungs. It was a little different from her own world's, but the air still felt familiar and close to her heart.
Just as how the rest of the whole planet Earth was to her.
Smilingly, she tipped her gardener's hat—something she claimed ownership on for this day's being upon finding it very cute, lying all by itself on the dusty broom closet—down, shielding her eyes from the sunshine. Having accomplished her share of task in cleansing the physical body of the house, she had found it only fair to reward her much-toiled efforts with a relaxing stroll in the lovely lush garden of the mayor's palace…er, house. She laughed quietly. It was still a long way to go for her to fully master the manner of living of the earthlings, indeed.
Just then, a bird landed on her shoulder, warbling in high-pitched tone. What caught her attention though was the orange-red coloring of its feathers that was evident on its throat, face, and breast. Her eyes melted—it was very pleasant to look at, that was for sure.
"Hello friend bird," she greeted warmly. "I am glad you have dropped by my shoulder to greet me 'hello'." She received a series of chirps in response, making her chuckle in glee. "Do you wish to accompany me for my afternoon walk? Robin has sent me out awhile ago from his room when I inquired about his health. I have no one else to share this afternoon with."
"You're taking a robin out for a walk?"
"No, I'm not," she replied absent-mindedly, setting her gaze on the window of the room where the injured young man was resting right now. "Friend Robin is resting, which should serve him best. Fatigue is making his moods most unsettled."
"Is that so?" Now the voice was amused.
"Yes." She blinked, startled. She quickly looked at the animal, astounded and wide-eyed. "Y-You are a talking creature, friend bird?"
The sound of rich laughter made her pause and look around.
Their esteemed team leader was standing before her, supported by a cane. His hair was slightly disheveled—probably from the brief bed rest—and his clothes were slightly crumpled. Yet it only made him look all the more striking—less strict, less distant, but more forthcoming. The thought suddenly made her heart palpitate strongly, making her blush. Acknowledging the effect of this certain boy on her was always making her feel this…uncomfortable.
He mistook that for embarrassment. "Oh, sorry. It's just that…it's my first time to see someone talk to a bird." He eyed the animal on her shoulder. "Do you know what is that bird's name?"
"I-I have not given it a name yet," she admitted.
"Er, we have a name for that already," he said, walking towards her. "It's called a robin."
"It is?" She looked at the animal, fascinated. "Are you that famous to have a creature as magnificent as this to be named after you?"
He sweatdropped. "Well… it was already called a robin even before I was born. Maybe it was the other way around—it may have been me who was named after it."
"Robin," she said softly, patting the plump white and brown animal with her finger. "I wish I can have something like this to take home to my planet. It's very cute, and its chirps are lyrical."
He shrugged. "They are one of the most common songbirds around."
"Maybe you were named after this creature because you can sing," she guessed, clapping her hands together.
He grimaced. He grew up an honest young man, even if it meant having to admit his own weaknesses. Carrying a tune was one of them.
And so, before she could think of asking him to sing and having to struggle turning her down (never easy when she bats her eyelashes at him, as the mischievous Beast Boy taught her oh-so-malevolently), he quickly diverted her attention.
Sitting on the gnarled tree roots and steadying his hands against his walking stick, he spoke, "Actually, those small creatures, although they may look harmless…when their territories get invaded by fellow robins or other songbirds, they morph into relentless defenders."
She sat down beside him, as if listening to a grandma reading out a fairy tale.
"Especially during winter months," he continued. "Their astuteness or the harshness of the weather will not stop them from guarding their terrain."
"They do not look so…dangerous," she said, quietly inspecting the animal.
"Because they're not," he laughed. "They are usually shy creatures that would rather be in the woodlands." He inched over to pat the bird's head. "They can be so tame that you will see them taking a walk on the lawns, or maybe following a gardener, waiting for a chance to grab the worms that the gardener may be able to come upon while digging."
"I see." Starfire's eyes crinkled into the familiar warm smile that he had learned to appreciate far more than he would admit. "Maybe you were indeed named after this bird. You share the same qualities."
His brow raised. "Uh, Star? Really, I -can' t- sing."
She shook her head vehemently, the scarlet silk tresses following her vigorous head movement. "No, no, Robin. I mean, you bear resemblance with the bird robin! I-In terms of bravery…" Her eyes shook in a sincere twinkle. "No adversary can deter you from protecting your city…and us, your friends. The most cruel of blizzards cannot blow you down, you know. Even when wounded, even with only a flicker of hope…you never give up! In fact, they only change you into a more determined fighter." She looked down shyly. "In our planet, soldiers like that are very much admired by the women."
He weighed what she said, refusing to believe that she was complimenting him. After all, the way her mind worked was still different from his, right? She didn't mean to say that she…admired him, right?
For some reason, a stab of disappointment came into him.
Starfire, on the other hand, interpreted his silence as meditation. She allowed him some moments of stillness as she recalled his words.
…when their territories get invaded by fellow robins or other songbirds, they morph into relentless defenders.
Once more, she remembered how he dissuaded her against the arranged marriage for her back in her planet. If she would just indulge her childish fantasies, she would have considered that their team leader was convincing her outside his duty as their commander, but as a guy who didn't want to lose an important girl.
But pooh, she knew Robin only too well. His life was a whole program of missions, missions, and more missions.
She silently punched her head. She must not think ill of her friend! It was improper, and it went against her nanny's instructions for an apposite lady of royalty. Besides, he would not ever consider her a territory to defend! She was his teammate in his fight for justice, and she knew it would always remain that way. He had way too much concerns right now, and her confusion as to her feelings for him should not be added to his headaches.
"Uh, Star, as your team leader, I cannot allow you to hurt yourself," he said lightly. "It strains the health budget."
"W-Was I hurting…oh." She laughed uneasily. "M-My apologies, Robin." Her eyes went to his cane when she recalled the word 'health'. "Oh my! How rude of me! I-I have forgotten to ask how your leg is doing."
"Huh?" She understood he meant, 'What injury?'. She could only shake her head in amused exasperation. Making him admit his injuries hurt more than he gives it credit for was a lost cause every time.
"I'm sorry if I threw you out of the room awhile ago," he said sheepishly. "Beast Boy was starting again."
"Starting what?" Her forehead creased.
He sighed when he recalled their teammate teasing him about her "wifely" concern for him. "Not much."
"If you say so." She stole a glance at him sideways, and he easily caught her.
A heartbeat of scarlet cheeks, but she quickly regained her composure. "You mentioned something about the robin being shy." She glanced at the bird on her shoulder. "Yet very tame. It's like you in a way."
"I'm tame?" he exclaimed in disbelief.
She laughed. "Ah no! I mean, you are…I could not explain it accurately, but the closest human term I could give you is…elusive. It is like you are in front of us and yet we can't touch you." Her gaze returned on the ground. "You don't tell us what you feel at all."
He fell silent.
"However, I could feel at times how gentle you are," she said softly. "You make me forget sometimes that you are our team leader. L-Like today…talking with you…feels very warm and nice."
"Forgive me if that offended you, but…" She blushed. "I-I am not very good with stringing words together. I-I need more practice."
He watched her get up, saying something about getting him a glass of juice, and then walking back to the house. All the while, he could only gape at her, unable to trust himself to speak. Starfire's every word felt like blows on his chest. But they were all true, and he knew those words would carve something within him, as her every word has always did.
Finally, a broad smile plastered on his face.
"Gentle…I am gentle, huh?" He laughed quietly. The first girl to tell him that. Uh-huh. Starfire and her disarming ways.
Chirping made him look down beside him. The robin was looking up at him in a way he could only explain as leering.
Just then, Raven appeared, her aura darker than usual. "Have you seen—" Her gaze went to the bird.
"Yes?" he asked.
"Never mind." She stooped down and in one fluid movement, caught the robin by its neck. "You may want to start sending out invites to Beast Boy's grand funeral party." Ignoring the frantic noise-making that the bird was doing, she proceeded back into the house.
He wasn't sure, but he thought he detected an evil smile on the sorceress' face. It was only then that realizations flooded him.
Colorful profanities ensued.
The next morning…
"Beast boy, why are you painted brown and white with patches of orange and red?" Starfire asked upon meeting him on the hallway. "You are like a—"
"Don't say it," the beast-morphing boy hissed, his eyes crying for mercy. It was only then that she noticed his bandages. "Who did this? Was I not awakened when your foes attacked you?" she asked.
He looked around uneasily, and then grinned. "You may never believe who did this to me—"
"Raven?" she guessed.
"Oh come on, she assaults me everyday!" he said. "It's no shocker anymore!"
"Who is it then?"
"Someone verrrrryyyyy gentle—"
An encyclopedia landed all of a sudden on the boy's head. Robin was standing behind them, grinning.
"Oops, my hand slipped," he said, picking up the book.
"Am I suppose to believe that it's an apology?" mumbled the bandaged boy, rubbing his head.
"Good morning, Robin!" she greeted.
He paused momentarily, then his grin blossomed into a full-hearted smile. "Good morning, Star."
A smile he knew he was only capable giving to her and only her.