The Next Day
In the hot and sunny California summers, Starfire's natural body temperature – several degrees higher than that of the average human – was considered a burden. Not by Star, who was even less sensitive towards heat than she was to cold, but by the people around her. It was like sitting next to a furnace.
However, in the chilly New England winter, Robin was learning to appreciate Starfire to no end. He had never had a better morning.
He first stirred when he felt her move underneath his arm, which he had thrown over her, his hand tucked underneath her head to act as a pillow. "Robin?" he heard, music to his ears.
"Mmm…" he mumbled into her hair.
He felt her turn her head to try and look at him behind her, but she was rather tightly hampered by his grip on her.
"Why am I in your bed?"
She sighed and settled back down, choosing the perfect time not to ask a lot of questions, which was her normal reaction to things.
After an hour or so more of blissful half-sleep, he felt Starfire slide out from underneath him. He groaned and groped for her tiredly, but with a giggle she was gone. He decided to get up and go to breakfast.
Robin could tell Alfred was thoroughly unimpressed by Starfire's dress having been desecrated. He was even less amused by her having given the dress to Mrs Lancelyn, who's cleaning skills he didn't particularly trust. Bruce was, surprisingly, less upset. In fact he was in high spirits – as high as his ever got, anyway. Lancelyn, it seemed, was smitten, and instead of soothing his wife's temper had spent the rest of the evening asking Bruce what he knew about the young superhero he had brought as his guest. Bruce had obviously denied knowing anything at all, other than that she was very sweet. Lancelyn had agreed. Robin had sulked.
Starfire hadn't been present in the dining room, so Robin went seeking her.
He found her in the sitting room that contained their personal tree and presents, curled up on the sofa reading something. She had on a lilac turtleneck with a pattern of white diamonds and stars in a stripe across her chest, and skin-tight white jeans. It takes a certain body type to pull off white jeans. Starfire had it to the extreme.
"Hi Star," Robin leant over the back of the sofa and smiled fondly when she gave a start.
"Robin!" she smiled in return.
"What are you reading?"
"Oh," she giggled and turned red, as did Robin when he peered over her shoulder, saw, and was rather mortified. "It is the album of the photographed memories. Alfred gave it to me to entertain myself."
"Heh…" he was now looking at himself, age twelve, wearing a little blue suit, a big smile, and a really bad hairstyle.
"You look so cute, Richard," the switch of names surprised him, and he wasn't really sure why she had done it. Glancing at her, he could tell she hadn't even noticed.
"Thanks… I think dorky is a better word."
"I do not know what that means, but I hope it is good, because this picture is delightful! I must ask Alfred if I can make a copy of it to take home, for I am sure all our friends would like to see."
Robin groaned. "Er.. why don't you just give that here, I'll copy it for you…" he reached out to take it but she yanked her hands away and he almost grabbed her knee. That would have been awkward…
"Do not be embarrassed, Richard! You should be happy that there are people who love you and wish to preserve souvenirs of your youth."
Three things crossed his mind – one, that she was right. Two, that had she meant herself as one of those people? And three, that there was a hint of melancholy to her voice.
"There are people who want to preserve souvenirs of you, too," he said softly, and she looked up at him in surprise.
"Oh," she tittered nervously, her cheeks glowing. "Yes, I – I am very grateful that I have found people who love me."
Had he said he loved her? He couldn't remember and started growing slightly hot under the collar. It didn't matter anyway because she carried on:
"I am simply regretful that I have none of these pictures to remember my childhood by."
It seemed there was a Tamaranian recipe for humble pie, and he was getting a large slice. And it was bitterer than the Earthly version.
"But then," she smiled bravely, "perhaps it is a good thing, yes? It makes it easier to forget the times I do not want to recall."
This was not the way he had envisioned their few days together before they had to get back to work. For one thing, she was wearing clothes. But – ahem – that wasn't the point. It was time to take a leaf out of Beast Boy's book, and change the subject.
However, the day Robin takes a leaf out of Beast Boy's book may be the day the world implodes, and fortunately t'was not this day. Starfire's blues were replaced by confusion before he could open his mouth, when the painting of some guy on a horse over the fireplace suddenly disappeared into the wall. In its place was the less aesthetic face of Silkie, extremely close up.
"Silkie!" cried Starfire, leaping up off her seat and almost knocking Robin over backwards. She darted over to the newly-materialised plasma screen and hovered in front of it.
"That's right!" came Beast Boy's voice, and his own green head popped up as he brought Silkie away from the camera. "Say 'hello' Silkie! Say 'Merry Christmas Mommy!'" He took one of Silkie's tiny little legs between his fingers and made him 'wave.' Starfire cooed and giggled, and the worm gurgled happily.
"If we can move the animals out of the way," Beast Boy and Silkie were swiftly shoved aside with an 'Oi!' and Raven appeared in view. "We were going to ask how your mission is going."
"It's… progressing," Robin muttered as Starfire landed beside him.
"Yes, we travelled to a part-ay last night and it was quite an experience! Friend Speedy was there and I did the flirting with an old man and Robin's face was purple and then a woman attacked me so I took off my dress and Robin's face turned red, then we came home and slept together!" Starfire said all this very fast, without taking a breath, and with a large smile on her face. The rest of the Titans – and Silkie, just stared at her, and then Robin.
"…It's a long story, and no, it's not what you're thinking," said Robin lamely. "How are things in Jump?"
"Well, you know winter," shrugged Cyborg.
"People trying to commit suicide, dark enough so people can get mugged at five in the afternoon… don't you just love the holidays?" Raven drawled.
"Yes!" said Starfire, somehow missing the point entirely. She probably hadn't heard what Raven had said and had been distracted by Silkie in the corner of the screen trying to get her attention.
"Well, we won't keep you any longer. I'm sure you didn't get much sleep last night," Cyborg winked.
"No," lamented Starfire, "but we compensated this morning–" Robin hastily barged her to the side, eager to get her away from the screen, and plastered a false smile on his face.
"We have to go now! Lots of mission planning and boring paperwork to do, so bye, and merry Christmas!" With a flick of the candlestick on the mantelpiece (he knew how Wayne Manor worked) the Titans were swiftly replaced by the man on the horse.
"Goodbye, friends," said Starfire confusedly, long after they had vanished. She turned to Robin. "What work are we to do, Robin? Perhaps researching Mr Lancelyn?"
"Work?" he repeated. "Oh, yes, well. Now I think about it, there's not much we have to do. Nothing."
"You know what we need to do!" He clicked his fingers, feigning sudden inspiration.
He took her hand and led her to the door. "Sledding."
"Richard, I dislike to sound doubtful, but this looks awfully unsafe."
"Nah," he waved his gloved hand at her dismissively. "Not if you know what you're doing."
"But we are quite high."
That was true. Robin had brought Starfire to the top of the tallest hill in Gotham Central Park, which was refreshingly empty due to the weather. There were the occasional dog-walkers and kids throwing snowballs, but no one seemed intent on bothering them. In all likeliness, buried under their winter coats, hats and scarves (purely decoration in Starfire's case) they probably looked like your average teenage couple having some fun, and not the 'celebrities' they were.
"Star, you've flown spaceships before. And you're afraid of a sled?" he teased, hoping to get a rise out of her.
The cheeks that were visible between her purple scarf and hat turned redder than they already were from the cold. "Spaceships have brakes," she said stiffly.
He laughed and gestured to the sled. "You'll be fine. Get on."
"You must have been possessed by the grelnarp, for you are insane if you think I shall," she turned her back on him and folded her arms, but he would bet that she really wanted to have a go.
"Fine," he rolled his eyes and plopped down onto the wooden body of his faithful old sled. She looked over her shoulder, as he had known she would. He patted the space in front of him invitingly. "Still room. Any takers?" She turned fully and eyed him with suspicion. "Don't you trust me?" he asked innocently.
"Hmph," said Starfire, but climbed on all the same.
With a silly grin, he placed his arms around her to take the reins, and as he did, leant in close to her ear.
"I made this sled myself, you know."
"You whaaaaAAAA!" her horrified question turned into a horrified scream as he kicked off with all the strength in his legs, which was a lot.
As they began their descent at breakneck speed, the icy wind slapped him in the face, though not as hard as Starfire's hair did. He saw red, literally, and spluttered as strands found their way to his mouth.
"Starfire, I can't see…!" As if that wasn't the worst of it, Starfire had twisted around in her seat and grabbed onto the lapels of his coat. Her legs latched around his waist and her face buried itself in his shoulder.
The sled had long ago veered out of control, and then there was a resounding thump that took all the breath from Robin's lungs and made his very brain vibrate, as they slammed into an evergreen tree. The force of it shook the branches with such vigour that they were soon buried in a drift of snow.
When Robin fought his way back to the surface and emerged into the sunlight, warm and bright by comparison, all he saw of Starfire was one purple snow boot protruding a few metres to his right. He pulled himself to his feet and hauled her out.
She dangled from his hold, suspended upside-down by her ankle, wearing an astonished expression.
"Was that supposed to happen?" she gasped.
He laughed as well as he could with lungs full of snow, and sat down heavily. She righted herself and crawled towards him.
"I fear I was not the model of composure and may have caused that mishap," she knelt in front of him and crossed her hands apologetically.
"It was your first time – er – sledding," he patting her shoulder awkwardly. "Maybe I should have started you off with something smaller. I recommend Christmas cookies."
… … …
It's been too long, and no excuse this time! Kay jolyn came back and I still was lazy. But I buckled down and forced this chapter out, I hope y'all liked it, even though I didn't. I guess I'm still trying to get back into the whole writing malarkey, I'm rather rusty.
I got an email from warning me against posting review replies in my chapters any more :( Sorry you guys, reviews are still majorly appreciated!