Disclaimer: I don't own Teen Titans.

Author's Note: Not much to say, just want to write something on Season Five, while I still can. Stupid abrupt cancellation. Anyway, this is a pairing I challenged myself to on the Forbidden Love board.

Timeline: During Hide and Seek.

Beta: H.Moth strikes again, praise her and her odd slash pairings.

Ready Go!


The jetpack's turbines hastened her pace, as she flew over the canyon. All the coordinates were set, all was in place. 'Everything is set. All I have to do is mimic that insipid alien he likes, and I'll have him. Then the Brain will see that my way was the best approach after all.'

The Madame of Disguise—Brotherhood of Evil agent—Madame Rouge, allowed a smirk to grace her lips. Her torturous waiting for completion of the Brain's master plan had finally accelerated when she learned the Titans were to branching into separate missions, from the Communicator she'd absconded from Hot Spot. Robin and Beast Boy were near the Himalayas, ruining one of the Brain's back up bases; Monsieur Mallah currently tangled with Raven and the three metahuman children in Switzerland, which left the remaining two to be easily disposed of by her henchmen. Disguising herself as Starfire, she used the communicator to tell Robin that her mission had been completed, and that she would wait for him in the Himalayas.

'Almost there, I just wish I had time to research more of their interactions. Between the reports at the warehouse party, the roof of the Jump City Wayne Enterprises' building, and the cruiser where Cameron Van Cleer's daughter had her prom, I should have enough for him let down his guard. I just hope my tone is enough.'

She pressed a button on her control panel to cut the noise of the turbines, and turned on stealth mode.

'There we go.' She slowly descended into a lone valley, morphing into Starfire. '20 miles from the site they're in. Nice and isolated, perfect.' She landed and hid the jetpack behind a boulder and removed the backpack she had strapped to her waist. She zipped it open and rummaged.

'Got the full metal jacket. As long as I can restrain his arms and remove that belt, we won't have any problems.'

She pulled out a futuristic gun and tucked it behind her, on the rim of her mini skirt. She felt a slight breeze.

'How does she stand having these micro clothes? Unless it's for Earth's benefit—probably lives on a nudist planet.'

She exhaled a long breath. 'No time like the present.' "Starfire calling Robin. Starfire calling Robin."

"Robin's Communicator. May I be of assistance?" Beast Boy's visage appeared on the video receiver.

"Uh, Friend Beast Boy, I need to speak to Robin please. I need to inform him that I have completed my mission." Rouge hid her confusion.

"Sure." Beast Boy held his hand up to the screen and turned his head away from it. "Starfire told me to tell you that she's finished with her mission." He removed his hand and faced the screen once more.

"Robin says good work, and to meet at the rendezvous."

'Which I don't know where that is, besides which, it's moot with my plan.' "Yes, but I have uncovered something dire importance in my mission; something that should concern Robin, and I have need to tell him to his face, as it is quite of the importance." She said urgently.

"Well, it's just we're kinda, sorta, busy with the Brotherhood right now, and…"

"It is involving Slade." Rouge immediately regretted her word choice. 'At least it will get his attention but I didn't want this to be complicated.'

"Slade?" The emerald changeling sucked in a breath. "Oy…Alright. I'll give it to him."

'What do I know about him and Slade Wilson? Damn it, I should have said something less air-tight, full of holes to wiggle my way out of.' "Thank you."

Robin's countenance then appeared in Beast Boy's place. "Starfire, you heard something about Slade?" His normal grim tone almost perked up.

"Uh, yes, I found a communication between Slade and his butler, Wintergreen. In reference about his son." 'That should do the trick.' Rouge noted Slade's rarely seen lackey at the gathering the Brain did when the Brotherhood of Evil finally resurfaced.

"Slade has a son?" The Teen Wonder sounded like he was having an aneurysm.

"Yes, I have gathered some intelligence that has the coordinates of where Wintergreen was last sought. However, I have need to tell you face to face, as to avoid anyone doing the spying on this frequency." Rouge was amused by the irony. 'That would be true, if I wasn't using our communicator.'

He was silent for a minute. The possibility was too tempting; he hadn't been too thrilled about Slade's escape during the Trigon incident. "We haven't had anyone spy on this frequency before but…it's always a possibility. Hone in on my Communicator locator signal and you can fly in."

Rouge panicked. "I can not fly. In my mission, I was injured, in my…leg; I could not get any propulsion. I stole a backpack of propulsion to fly away but I was drained out of fuel before I could return to the rendezvous. I saw that I was close enough to your location and took a chance occurrence to land nearby. Please, Robin," she tried to sound as pathetic as possible, appealing to his hero-complex.

Robin was surprised by the vulnerable tone in her voice. "You mean a jetpack, right? Alright, but the medical equipment is on the T-Ship. Why didn't you say you were injured before?" His natural inquisitive nature began to take over.

"I did not want to confess that I was…weak and injured. I want to pull my height."

Robin's expression lightened. He knew how Starfire's warrior nature would prevent her from admitting such a weakness.

"That's 'weight,' but I understand. And…it happens to the best of us. We're okay, for the moment. Beast Boy and I can…"

'No! I need him alone.' "No. I need you, Robin, Beast Boy did mention that the two of you were busy with your mission, as thus you can not afford to abandon the mission. But I have witnessed that Beast Boy is now able enough to handle the mission by himself, so you could duplicate yourself to go, yes?"

Robin was about to counter, when he recalled observing Beast Boy's transformations since the return of his old family, the Doom Patrol, and how serious and determined the Titan had become.

He adjusted the Communicator's honing system. "Fair enough. You're not that far away, about 20 miles actually. And you're right, he can handle it; we got most of the robots anyway. I'll meet you there. Robin out." He switched off the Communicator.

Rouge grinned like a Cheshire cat. "And now I just have to set the stage." She brought out the jetpack and 'damaged' the fuel gage, and contorted her leg.

"The things I do with acting," she sneered as she laid down, and waited for Robin.


Robin trudged along the mountainside, musing on how much his climb to the True Master had paid off. 'Hard to believe that was a while ago—but then, everything feels like eternity since the Brotherhood entered our lives.' His mind drifted to Starfire, and their little talk on that forsaken planet. 'I wonder what she meant when she said "I need you." I wonder if this is her move to want to be my…I can't even say it. I am not ready for this, between Beast Boy's Brotherhood angst, and the fear of Slade's return—with a son, I don't want to deal with romantic…entanglements right now. Although with this intel, the issues should be enough to digress from such things, and she is capable of compartmentalizing like she did on Val-Yor's ship.'

His destination was close. 'Why am I dreading her bringing this up? Shouldn't I be happy that she wants to move on the next level? I don't know, and that's the problem. Forget it, suppress it for now—just focus on her, and the Brotherhood, and move on.'

The Teen Wonder walked down another rocky path, and found Starfire lying against a boulder.

"Robin!" She said, in her most honeyed voice.

"Starfire, are you alright? How are you bearing up?" He rushed to the fallen 'alien'.

"I am fine, Robin. I am just…enervated…"

He cradled her head and glanced to the damaged jetpack. "It's fine, you did good. Is that the jetpack?"

"Yes, it is from the Brotherhood of Evil. I nearly lost my life by the teeth of my skin."

"Skin of your teeth, Star." He was still amused by her misspeaking although after several years on Earth, he thought she would've lost the majority of such habits.

"Oh of course. Apologies, some of your phrases are still strange to me."

"Indeed. Some of them are." Rouge raised an eyebrow.

'I knew he would say that.' She remembered her correction of that word—back when she was trying to manipulate Hot Spot as Robin.

"Hold on, I'll try to check it. Maybe Cyborg can get something useful out of this."

Rouge debated her options as Robin went over to the jetpack. 'He still has that belt, just how to get him to remove it? Although…his back is turned, should I…?' She was about to slip her hand behind her when Robin turned.

"Rather hi-tech. Cyborg could make a meal out of this."

"I suppose it could be considered delicious." She said sheepishly.

He just smirked and lifted the device over his shoulder. "Right."

'He seems to like these bad jokes and misspeaking. Hmm…' He walked and assessed her condition. "Can you walk at all? I know you said you can't fly."

'This is too good.' "I am afraid not. What do you wish to perform?"

Robin sighed. "Well…I can't sling you over my back. So I guess I can…carry you." He nearly blushed at the statement.

She grinned. "Well…I would find that acceptable, but this tradition called 'carrying the bride over the threshold' is it not?"

He was ready to drop dead. "Sort of, that needs a staircase and a bedroom."

"Ideas for the future, yes?"

The Teen Wonder's pigmentation took on another shade of tomato. "Uh…uh, shouldn't we be going?"

Rouge hid her rising Cheshire grin. "Oh, yes. If you would please."

He blushed once again as he slowly picked her up. 'She's gotten a mite heavier. Of course, if I tell her that, I'll probably need another eye lens for the mask.'

Rouge almost purred at the Teen Wonder's strength. 'This side of things makes things different. Before, I didn't notice what…a strong young man he is. Hmm…' She nearly snapped her head to focus. 'Stop it, De Mille. Focus. You're supposed to kidnap him, not jump his bones.'

"Thank you, I do apologize, it is simply that of…I loathe my weaknesses." She fell back on the alien's warrior nature to digress. They began to walk up the rocky path.

"Well, weakness is still important to us, as we can use it to grow and be stronger." Robin ignored the personal irony of this statement while training initially with Batman, and his initial issues with Slade.

"I suppose, but we Tamaranians should be more enhanced than that, if we are to be respected." She remembered reading some of the Tamaranians' exploits and the respect they need to maintain with the other races, mentally grinning at the benefits of the Communicator, and her espionage skills into certain government databases.

Robin remembered their time from Val-Yor and his racism. "But you've proven that, you don't always need to appear to be so strong, like with Raven. She is one of the strongest people I know, but even she is not above weakness and needing help with her father, you saw that after the issues with the library of Scath."

'A pity I couldn't hack into their files so I know what the hell in he is talking about.' "Right, of course. I apologize, since there has been so much since then, with the Brotherhood of Evil." She said after a few seconds of silence.

Robin ignored her hesitation. "True, after the insanity with Trigon, thought we'd get a respite."

"Will it ever cease? One villain is…disposed of, and another supplicates their place, it would seem." Rouge couldn't ignore the irony.

He sucked in a breath. "I don't know, I guess it's the nature of evil. To counter that, it's the nature of good to take up the cause. I never much thought about it. Too many days as a soldier. You no doubt have that feeling too."

"It leaves and returns."

"I think it is 'comes and goes.'"


"Speaking of which, you said you found something about Slade and his…." He couldn't bring himself to say the word.

Rouge resumed her panic. 'Time to see how strong my B.S. skills are.' "Yes, I heardover a communication with Wintergreen at a Brotherhood outpost, he said he was…close to locating and capturing Slade's son, I could not discern the son's name." 'No sense spoiling all the details.'

He mimicked her pause. "All this time, I didn't know Slade had children. Once again, he proves that I still don't know anything about him." He felt one of his brooding moods enthralled him. 'And the fact he wanted me as a son, it just…what do I feel now?'

The spy sensed his rumination. "Robin, you should not blame your person, Slade is mysterious and all…encompassing. He did not become who he is without hiding himself within his deceptions within deceptions."

He snorted. "Something like that."

"So by natural course, he would hide the other aspects of his identity, such as offspring, it alludes to his deception, not your…sterling detective skills."

"I can't argue with that, but it still doesn't bode well with me. Do you know where the son is?"

"I believe he was in Florence of Italy. I heard that he has a handkerchiefing for Renaissance culture."

"Hankering, I think is the term."

"Right, of course."

They reached the start of the rocky path and gaped at the ominous valley.

"I have my work cut out for me." Robin sighed.

"You shall be fine, unless your arms are not strong enough." She said coyly.

'Is…is she baiting me? This sounds like typical human male-female stimulus. It isn't like her, although after what she said about the definition of a girlfriend, all bets are off.'

"I'll manage." He slowly hobbled down into the valley. "Anything else to the communication? Such as where Slade could be hiding?"

"No, I had a moment's respite to hear the communiqué and depart like a bat flying out of hell."

Robin arched an eyebrow. 'Star and profanity, that doesn't seem like her with her innocent dialogue approach.'

"Interesting word choice."

"It is? I thought a…colorful metaphor was needed."

"It is but it's not like you to pro…use colorful metaphors."

"I have been on Earth too long perhaps?"

He cracked a smile. "Perhaps."

'I forgot: the twit sounds too innocent. I have to tone it just right.' "I blame the magazines, since I no longer have time for the television." She almost sounded accusatory.

"I know, I know. Just you know what they say about the job…"

"That the monetary dispensation is not worth the troubles?"

He blinked in confusion. 'Okay, now I'm just confused.' "Not really, I meant "you knew the job was dangerous when you took it.""

Rouge almost smiled. 'Been so long since I heard that phrase.' "I heard that phrase somewhere before, who quoted that?"

"A wise and mystic scholar." He joked.

'And here I thought all his jokes were outdated.' "Wiser than the current milieu of thinking, yes?"

"Indeed, it beats cut and run."

"Are you making reference?"


'At least he's keeping abreast of the times. Despite being a throwback to the 40's.' "I sense that you are deceiving me."

"Just the current…milieu of Earth politics. Nothing to concern ourselves at the moment."

"Yet it sounds of future ordeals we will have to endure, yes?" She loved the irony, as it was feeding her bottom line.

"I don't think so, we're above the traditional petty squabbles of the world, and we're more of the specialty needed for specialty villains."

"Indeed, but surely we must note the ordinary criminals as they are the genesis for such specialty villains?"

The question gave Robin pause. "Well, that's why we have the local law enforcements, to handle such things."

'Political debating eh? Why not? I need the amusement.' "Yes, however, the local law enforcement is not always equipped as seen by the various rates of crime; why not permeate persons of unique abilities into the various populaces to assist the law enforcement and cease problems before they transform into larger problems?"

'This is a new side to her. Sociological debate isn't usually her.' "That would help but to create a monopoly of such a union could lead to corruption as it's absolute power, that is why the vigilantes are useful as they are an alternative, but I wouldn't place them above the police. It's just a call to a higher duty. And also, needless to say…law enforcement is a business and people need those jobs to pay the bills, feed their families. It's their living. We would declare the normal people obsolete. Sometimes…you need the normal criminals and normal enforcers to balance out the crazies and to maintain the system. That system needs to function to maintain civilization." 'Oh Bruce, if you could hear me now.'

"Interesting points of perspective, as you discussed yourself into obsolesence as you are a gratuity?"

'I did?' "Not necessary. I simply meant both groups should exist, just independently. Checks and balances, one group can override the other. If both are synergized, then they both are liable to just one set of corrections, as opposed to separate liability and thus separate punishment from each other."

"But is it not the various laws that govern the enforcement the one true law?"

"It is but it is the weak laws of pursuing that led us to vigilante, it's so we can go where they can't tread but our end result is the same. You're unusually inquisitive today. Especially about Earth sociology. Your normal range of questions aren't usually so in depth."

'Great, now I sound too smart.' "I thought I should enlarge my horizontal view of the planet. After all, this is my home now, is it not?"

He smiled at that. "Yeah, and we're all happy to have you here."

The spy wanted to arch an eyebrow. 'Some more than others, I'm sure. Let's test that.' "I am certain, however, I do wonder about specific persons."

"In what way?"

"In that how the impact of my being on those specific persons should be more…demonstrative?"

"Demonstrative?" 'Oh, please don't tell me where I think she's going.'

"If I wish to remain, I would not mind a proper incentive."


"Yes, and you need to stop answering answers with questions."

"It's not that, it's just…not sure what to say here." They reached the bottom of the path and glanced at the ominous valley ahead.

'I have a feeling I'm not going to be saying much for 19 more miles.' He trudged forward.

"The feline absconded with your tongue?"

"Something like that."

"So by that logic, I possess your tongue, as Tamaranians descended from felines." She gave him another sly look.

"I can't argue with that logic."

"So why don't you reveal what your thoughts are and bring to light the truth?"

"What truth would that be?" He didn't like where the conversation is going.

"That you conceal your real emotions."

"Didn't we already discuss this?"

"I believe the issue should be further discussed. That you withhold yourself, such as your face, your outlook, everything." 'Just have to talk generalities and lower his guard, hopefully. Enough to lower that belt.'

Robin sucked in another breath. 'I suppose I do still. I didn't even bother dropping some pretenses after Raven was in my head—just figured that she was enough, but then…I've been with Star all these years, and she still doesn't know much about me.' "It's part of the job description, Star, been at it for so long, that I don't know anything else. I don't quite know how to be a person."

'Perfect.' "I do not either for I can not be but I still want to manufacture a difference. Especially in specific people's lives." She nudged against him.

He blushed once again. "I know, but it takes time."

"But how much more time is there? It has taken long enough, yes?" She made her eyes look extremely innocent.

"Yeah, it has. I wouldn't know where to start."

"How about that sliver of a mask? What color are your eyes?"

He nearly whispered. "Blue."

'Interesting.' "May I take a glance at them?"

"I don't know. That's a loaded question."

"Robin. Who would I inform?" She adopted a stern tone.

'She probably would tell Raven, but that's moot anyway.' "I'm going to have to take a pass; the timing is not right away, not with the Brotherhood and us being away with the city for so long. I can't take time right now for such…" He couldn't finish the word.

"Alright, Robin but you and your mystery will unravel you if you prolong."

"I know, but I can't say I'm the only one either, you're the one would didn't tell me you were a princess on Tamaran."

Rouge slowly panicked. "You did not ask. Nor did I plan on returning. It was a boot point."

"Moot point."

"Exactly. But I would have told eventually, but perhaps we can indulge in this lesson and concede that it is disastrous on both sides, yes?"

"I'll concede that." He sighed.

"So how do we do engage this?"

"I'm not sure. I've always learned pain shared is pain halved."

"Indeed? You see this as pain?" She wondered.

"No, it's just my training speaking there."

'Hmm…I sense a fun opportunity.' "It is an extended path; perhaps we can share secrets, and questions, not the most explosives but microscopic ones." She looked away from him.

"Sure, I wouldn't mind that." He perked up.

"Who shall initiate?"

"Ladies first?"

"Why are you named Robin? Is there a particular reverence?"

Robin stopped in his tracks. "I…I…"

"Robin?" 'Perhaps I overtaxed him? He's quite neurotic. Although with that darkness that surrounds him, it's almost…delectable.'

"Many apologies, I did not know it was such a looming thread."

"It's not that, it's just been so long since I was asked that. I almost forgot." The sad fact being that it is the truth for the Teen Wonder.

"Robin, I…"

He stared into her innocent eyes. Rouge wasn't sure what his next action would be. "It's from my mother, she named me Robin."

'Tiens….' "I thought it was the Batman who gave you the nomenclature."

"No, he just gave Robin life." He adopted a somber tone.

"May I inquire why is it not you are with him?"

"You can but it's my turn to ask questions."

'Oh beep.' "Indeed it is, what is it do you wish to probe about me?" She hid the double-entendre.

"Just…back on Tamaran, when we found out you were a princess…why didn't you tell me before?" He ignored the irony.

"I…did not want things to alter with you and I, I did not want you to think differently of me, aware of my…royalty." Rouge did her best to sound maudlin.

"I would never think of you differently, but, being a princess…I guess I can see why you would want to omit that."


They reached the end of first valley in silence. The final valley loomed over them, and Robin spoke again. "To answer as best as I can for being away from him, it's just a clashing of philosophies—he wanted to catch this…petty criminal with a family and I couldn't stand what was happening to him, I couldn't take him anymore." 'It's a half truth, and that will do for the moment.' He resented lying to the alien.

"You were his…still small voice?"

"That's quite the obscure meaning for conscience but yes, I…suppose I was."

"Do you sense that he might need to avail himself of you again?" 'At least implant the idea in his head. I know that if he leaves the Titans, their strength will be fragmented and easy prey.'

"I…don't know, part of me wants to go back and resolve things with him, I left rather abruptly. But then…I am enjoying this new life here. With you guys, so I don't know. I've gone this far without him. I'm just not ready. How can you go back to your old life, that was filled with stagnation, untapped potential, and…well, more angst than you shake a stick at?"

Rouge actually thought about her life before she met the Brain and where her stage career as Laura De Mille. 'That's…a good question.' "I suppose you turn if there is something salvageable from your old life and…nurture and resurrect it?"

"Maybe, but what if there isn't anything there?"

"That is upside to you to discern that, I wish I can assist there but alas I…do not know the details." She felt the vigilante's discomfort. "However, you have endured this long without exploring; such matters can keep, yes?"

He visibly lightened up. "Indeed they can, it's just…time. And a place. If I were going to reveal myself here, I don't want it to be a dust filled road in the Himalayas."

"Some place more like the Rivera of French? Or the city of Cannes?" The French spy couldn't resist the shot at reference.

"Paris is romantic, although lately, not sure I want to go there." He couldn't suppress his blushing.

"But can you not imagine the bright joyous lights, twinkling in the background, illuminating you and I in the twilight?" She almost wondered of the romanticism of her character.

"Well…yeah, but I'm more a Monte Carlo kind of guy. Or more Vienna."

"Yes but they are not similar. A female should experience the City of Lights before she perishes."

"I can't argue with you there but of course, after the Brotherhood is stopped." He beamed to her.

"Of course."

"My turn, what would your parents think about your time on Earth?" He couldn't bring himself to ask the obvious question.

"I would believe that they would understand my time on Earth, and accept my decisions on the matter."

"Including your decision to stay?"

'Stay?' "Oh yes, they seem enamored by Earth and their customs."

"Sounds like a visit in the works, although hopefully, it won't be like it was when Blackfire first appeared."

'Blackfire, the alien's sister.' "No, that shall be not as disastrous. However, I do not have knowledge to if and when a vanguard from Tamaran would appear on Earth."

"Probably would just fall out of the sky. Or sneak in, like your sister did."

"Right. She is a treacherous one."

"We are all treacherous when we want to be." He suppressed Starfire's clandestine communications to her sister when Blackfire first arrived and later on in the future with the lying to his face about Silkie.

"I try to be as pristine as possible." She said innocently.

"That you do. Usually." He suddenly realized his slip.

"Usually? What do you mean by this?" 'I could use this, if he talks in generalities, and while we make up, I can get him to give me his belt.' She almost blinked twice.

'Was that a double-entendre?'

"You have your dark moments, just as I do. It's part of nature, part of the free will. It's just rubs certain things, perfectionism in my case, the wrong way." He maintained his best civil tone.

"Yes but I should follow by example, and it does seem humans do act on their more basic emotions, alas in my case, I have observed plenty of this behavior."

"As have I. The key is knowing what behavior you should follow and weigh against the greater good, and knowing if someone can be saved despite what they have done with their own…dark behavior."

"But what if they cannot be?" She was curious of his answer.

"I will concede that there is evil and it should be neutralized. It depends if the person is salvageable. Ones like Raven, despite all that was pre-destined for her, she could, and did. And then there are some like Blood and Trigon, who couldn't be. Slade…I couldn't even guess after the last time we saw him and now with the Brotherhood, I don't know either; the Brain, the gorilla, and the old man seem most…irredeemable."

"This is true and what of the daring spy that is Madame Rouge?" She couldn't resist the ego stroking.

"I don't know with her actually, I researched her somewhat in my little free time recently."

"You have?"

"Yes, she was a promising French actress named Laura De Mille, who could imitate anyone on stage, complete facsimile. Assume any persona; I watched some of her movies, interesting stuff. Good bohemian drama."

"I wished I had more of time to observe your moving pictures. Particularly the older ones."

He almost arched an eyebrow. "Indeed. Her movies were more 60's. Dated but quite entertaining. I should know, you know, at times, I feel like a throwback to another time myself."

"Oh no, Robin, not you. You seem far more…futuristic than most. With your mask and your boots but mostly your belt, the wonders your belt can do, still amazes me." She said with awe.

"Perhaps, but it isn't the parts, it's the performance. I prefer the old fashioned approach."

'Hmm…could that be why he didn't fight me with his weapons back in Morocco? He did hold back. I find this ironic, as I value my performance as well, more than the means at my disposable. And a throwback to another time, he seems…more similar to me than I thought.' "I have observed that in your battles, yes, you use more physical prowess than special types or deceptions."

"If I keep leaning on the one ability, then what I am doing here with a bunch of metahumans? A leader has to focus on everything he can use to be an effective fighter. Balance is essential there."

"Yes, it is. And you must be balanced to deal with the various miscreants that come across your path." She hoped to steer the conversation back to herself.

"I have to, and this time, it's…different than what I thought it could be."

"How so?"

"It's just with between the sheer fantasy of Mallah and Immortus, to the cold and calculating Brain and now with De Mille's sad twist of fate as I researched, I wonder how to gauge them. Just like it was when we discovered those brainwashed H.I.V.E. kids of Blood's. Who should I give my mercy to if any?"

"De Mille's sad twist of fate?"

"Yeah, she was in an auto accident and had a sharp blow to the head. And created a split personality from it, schizophrenia."

'How would he know such things?' "Curiouser and curiouser."

"Pathetic is more my word choice. Particularly with what I heard about the Brain regarding her."


"I read about specialists back in the day trying to help her and one in particular, with a unique surgery. So, she submitted herself to the treatment but it had a side effect. That her good side was completely suppressed, while her other side went rampant. And that it was the Brain or more accurately his henchmonkey that did the surgery."

"How are you aware of this?" Rouge was rocked to her core. 'No, no, no, that can't be right. I was always this way, wasn't I? Aren't I? No, he is a little boy, how would he know such things.'

"I still have my sources, back when I worked for Batman. You can know anything for the right price."

'That is true. I wonder what he paid for such information. Such actions demonstrate such daring and reckless behavior, interesting.' The Madame of subterfuge nearly purred. "I am certain of that, yes. Does this mean you will inhibit yourself against Rouge?"

Robin thought long and hard. "I don't know, before I thought she was an unrepentant psychopath, now I see she's not as such. But doesn't mean I'm going to give her a pass. I'd say treat her like I do with everyone else."

'He seems unsure, interesting. But how can I exploit this?' "And your argument returns in full orbit."

"Full swing and yes. But right now, that's another story for another time. We've got some ways to go before nightfall. Wish this jetpack worked." He glanced to the descending sun.

"Apologies. Options were depleted for me and I..."

"I'm sure they were, at least you made it in one piece."

"Yes, I only wished I was not damaged."

"You know what they say 'That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.'"

"Is it that one of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche's edicts?"

"Actually, yes. It's been a while since I researched on him. I particularly was amused by his Superman premise."

"I had time to glance and noticed his ubermench has practical applications, although I do not admire his downgrading of the female."

"How so?"

"In his epigrams and interludes, in Beyond Good and Evil, I observed some of his sex of ism passages. Such as "Comparing man and woman on the whole, one may say: woman would not have the genius for finery if she did not have an instinct for a secondary role." and dare I inquire about "In revenge and in love woman is more barbarous than man", and this phrase—"Buona feminine e mala femmina vuol bastone", doesn't that sound denigrating?"

Robin quirked an eyebrow, "Good and bad women want a stick, that's rather obscure, considering that from of old Florentine novels. I didn't know you knew all that."

Rouge panicked again. "I had to research the basis of his logic, did I not?"

"Yes, just…I never pictured you to be a nihilist. You seem far more too optimistic."

"Uh, yes. I learned some patterns from Friend Raven and her approach but also, well, another passage—"Heavy, heavy-spirited people become lighter precisely through what makes others heavier, through hatred and love, and for a time they surface." I learned that I need to understand the concept of life for some of the…darker denizens." She lowered her head down.

"You referring to me?"

"I am not; you are not similar as you were, neither am I. Life continues to evolve on."

"It does. And that French philosophy pops in my head. "What's the point in going on, for one day, we shall die?" Or something like that."

'How dare he slander one of the finest philosophies in the world…? Focus. Time to steer the conversation back to where we were.' "Indeed, it does not fit the archetype of being a hero. A definition that alters on this planet, I noticed. Like your past mentor?"

"Right. I think the definition of hero is more…helping those who can't help themselves. At least that's what I'm led to believe from Batman. I do believe what we're been doing lately has been more heroic in the classic sense. We've changed over the years. I wonder what he would think of all what we've done, stopping Brother Blood and his H.I.V.E. and Trigon."

'He omitted Slade, interesting.' "At least you are locating the ideal plane. But you have not lost reality in this search; you are keeping your appendages in both planes."

"Paraphrasing Plato now, are we? You're on a philosophical bent today."

"I thought I should extend my horizons after all this time."

"Expand but yeah." He grunted as he trudged ahead.

'She seems more cerebral than I thought. Nihilist philosophies, yet still as sunny as usual. What happened to her on that mission?'

"You know, with all that digression, we lost track of our arraignment. I believe it is your turn, Star. Although I wouldn't mind asking what happened to you on that mission, to make you so…enlightened. I don't find many quoting Nietzsche and Plato, particularly one as positive as you. That is something Raven would say."

"I thought it was time to collect up. You are quite the intellectual. I thought it time to alter." 'Men's egos are the same no matter what age.'

He gave her a lop-sided glance. "Well…I try to keep abreast. But you seemed your usual self when you left, what changed?"

"I…faced off against the deceptive General Immortus. His automatons nearly had me in the third time quadrant but I remembered one of your deceptions, I fooled them enough to escape. I remembered how caged I was as I thought one of the Titans East that was captured and it revealed to be a hologram. I realized that I could not be so easily fooled again. As I combated the droids, Immortus elaborated my weakness and exploited me and my personal core. I had a long thought process as I escaped. I remembered he quoted Mr. Nietzsche." She was almost in crocodile tears.

The monologue left the Teen Wonder speechless. "I'm sorry, Star. I didn't know it was that dangerous. It seemed like a simple mission."

"It is part of our mission, and I realized that my status of life could not remain if I could not understand the sociology of this planet. I learned more than possible with the General."

"Life is…funny like that. One day, you're innocent and carefree, next day, you're not. I just wish I could have helped you there." He felt his brooding catching up with him as the sun slowly descended.

'If he broods, perhaps, I can use this to get that belt, especially as the sun is lowering. I don't want to spend the night here, freezing.' "Intriguing that you phrase it like thus. You make it reverberate as if you have experience?"

"Something like that."

"I have an ending question to our prearrangement, were you manufactured at birth, to be Robin? Or were you a normal human and then converted? And…what is it like to be Robin?"

He sucked in a hard breath. "That's a loaded question."

"I apologize, you need not answer."

"No, for a long time I used to think that, but not anymore. After all this time, you deserve something more."

'Oh be still my heart and tell me he'll reveal his secret identity, the blackmail alone will be make me a rich Madame. Well, richer.' "Robin, please consume as much time as possible, I am here." She shifted herself and placed one of her hands over his heart, while tucking the other between the two, drifting to his belt.

"To answer your question, no, I was not born into Robin. I was a young boy, my parents were aerial entertainers, and they were very loving to me. They were approached, or extorted is a better word, by criminals, for protection money, and they refused. During their act one night, the criminals sabotaged it and they…fell to their deaths. Before I was to go into the system and foster care, a man stepped and offered me many things, a chance to avenge my parents, a chance to do some good, and I took it. And that's how…I become Robin."

Robin suppressed the replaying the horror of his past, into a dry monologue. Rouge suddenly wished she could peer into the oblique mask.

"For confiding, I am most honored." 'A pity he didn't trust her enough to spill his name. Oh well. I'll surmise the rest later.'

"I wish I said it sooner but I have my secrets, you know." He couldn't bear to look at her.

"Robin, I apologize for…"

"No, it had to be."

'Time for a different process.' "I…wish I can alleviate your anguish."

"You're doing fine."

"No, I wish I can do more to share the dumbbells on your shoulders."

"Weights, but I know what you mean."

"I wish I can remove your misery. I wish I…" She was leaning closer to his lips, her hand sneaking down to his belt. 'I have to work fast.'

'What is she doing?' "Well, first things first; we're almost there. Good thing too, the sun is going down." He shifted himself, repositioned one of his hands towards where her hand was. Rouge withdrew her hand in time.

'The perfect opportunity and he missed it? What is he? Gay?'

He looked ahead. "We have to get rid of your pain first." He said compassionately.

"Yes, of course." She hid his disappointment. 'Empathic. Especially before hormones. Interesting. Not like most males I've encountered.'

"Now knowledgeable of your alternative ego, this arrives me to request a question."

"Which is?"

"What is like to be Robin? I always wanted to inquire."

The Teen Wonder mused silently for a few minutes. "I never been asked that. Well, sometimes, it's a mix of a mile a minute heart racing action, to maintaining being a leader and caring about your charges vs. being a selfish in it for his gains, to wondering if a happy life will be in sight at the end of the day. It's one of those multiple choices."

"Your final quote, what would you desire out of existence?"

"I don't know. I have all I need really."

"You have all you need to possess?"

"More or less, got my friends, my health, my identity, although that's a little tricky but yeah."

"None of the pearls in a pig's ear for you, unlike the rest of your species?" She asked innocently.

Robin raised yet another eyebrow. 'Okay, that's really obscure, even for Starfire.' "No, can't say that. Nor can I say what would a pig do with…? That's a really antiquated phrase. More of your recent research?" He hinted an underlying tone of suspicion.

"Uh, yes. I have been locating the most obscure phrases; I have been reading my Olde Ye English Dictionary in my spare time."

'Well, that's the first thing I think she read when she arrived on Earth.' "Apparently. But can you explain that?"

Rouge thought fast. "After observing humans and our various opponents, I have witnessed a repulsive desire to acquire influence and possessions. Compared to yourself, it seems what they are after is worthless, yes?"


"Which is why I deemed the phrase of catch appropriate." She wanted to end his line of thought quickly before he finished the ensuing line of thought.

"Yes, but still, that's really obscure."

"I'll contemplate on utilizing more hip in my dialogue." 'Now shut up, little boy.'

He simply nodded as he began to think. 'The super obscure phrases, the swearing, the debating, and now…contractions, what's going on?' "At least your wording is being more of the times. That's the first time I ever heard you use a contraction before."

The French spy began to quickly panic. "I ruminated on it before but I was not certain if I would use it in correct forum."

"You know it wouldn't matter to us."

'Damn it, damn it, damn it, damn it.' "Indeed, but certain words can be interpreted to be slurs or misunderstandings. I believe I should point out the Tamaranean insult based of the word mudflat."

"True but your wording has been strange since I found you, the obscure even for you phrasing, the profanity, sociological debating and now contractions. You sound…like a different…" He widened his eyes in horror, promptly dropped Starfire on the ground and jumped back in a defensive position.

"You're not Starfire. I would say you sound like an alien but that's who you're mimicking. Who are you?"

'I have to pour on the waterworks.' "Robin, do you realize you are portraying paranoia? I merely graded up my spectrum of Earth knowledge, and you believe I am a false person?" She glanced at the teen like a doe eyed nymph.

'Dear God, I'm hope I'm right.' "I don't think so, although I have to admit, interesting, almost Shakespearean use of the word 'false'. No, I meant you quoting Nietzsche. No one would quote that beyond the clichés. Besides, Nietzsche had a quote for this occasion too. Care to guess what that was if you're so knowledgeable?"

"Well, I believe for you, you missed the incredulous obvious—"In the end one loves one's desire and not what is desired." You're as blind as a winged Murakami as you can not see that I'm trying to assist…" The alien spat out.

"Well, I was could say that "talking much about oneself can also be a means a conceal oneself", considering how you kept steering the conversation to me but instead I meant "Even when the mouth lies, the way it looks still tells the truth." Star might know Nietzsche, but not as well as you put it. That and your pearls in a pig ear line. That's too obscure, even for Starfire." He whipped out his trademark bo.

"Pardon me for extricating beyond my horizons and I…"

"And given all the nihilism, it smacks of European thinking almost. I should have known, Madame Rouge."

She sighed and stood up. "For such a smarty pants, you took forever to figure it out." She morphed back into her true form.

"I merely thought she was getting intellectual. Briefly."

"Indeed, it was a perfect way to placate your defenses. And then with the right mixture of hormones and desperate pleading, you would have revealed your real name in no time." She adopted the same position.

"Oh please, I wasn't fooled by that acting."

"Then why did you bother to ask me all those Starfire questions? If you knew who I was?" She elongated her fists at the Teen Wonder.

"To test your knowledge, to see how far I can bring you into enemy territory before you drop your sorry façade." He jumped out of the way. "Last time I made the mistake of fighting you hand to hand, not this time." He tossed his patented discs; Rouge stretched out of range.

"Didn't I already tell you your toys are nothing?"

"Don't worry, I'll improve, I'm a quick study." He chucked Birdarangs at the femme fatale.

"No doubt, to train under Batman, but I'm not like your freaks of Gotham." She expanded herself and the Birdarangs bounced off of her and launched back at Robin.

"No, I'll say I never met anyone French until you."

"French? At least your childish mind is expanding your horizons." She smirked as he dodged the projectiles.

"That may be but what have you done to Starfire? Where is she?" His pitch increased in ferocity.

"Your alien amour? She is lovingly detained. As are the other Titans, after I make the odds even." She pounded her fists into the ground. Robin jumped as he heard rumbling and whipped out his Communicator.

"You're just Plastic Man in drag, with his powers and still not even? Titans, come…" A fist rose from the earth and punched the Communicator out of his hand and fell to the ground. The other hand unearthed itself and grabbed the Communicator.

"Thank you, child. You just made things easier for me."

"Heaven forbid that." He pulled out another Birdarang and held it like a dagger and aimed for Rouge's head as she was withdrawing her hands.

"You're getting quite brutal. A by product from your time with Slade Wilson?" She smirked.

"No, just to distract you so I can do this." His other hand had another disc and flung it at point blank range at her chest. She screamed in pain and collapsed on the ground and dropped the Communicator.

"Deceptive, cunning, vicious. We're quite similar; pity I didn't met you when you were with Wilson. You'd be my kind of boy. As opposed to this moralistic do-gooder wannabe I see before me."

He focused his bo on her head. "I would not be your kind of anything. Don't forget, you are also a saboteur, a criminal, you are…"

"Just like me, or must we bring up the justice system debate?" She said coyly.

Robin was silent as he pulled out another disc. "I said all I could say in that."

"Spoken well, for a cog in the machine that drives this system in the first place." Rouge stretched her out for a headbutt on the Teen Wonder and jumped off.

"You and your brand of terrorism is what made the system in the first place." He shrugged off the damage and put down the slung over jetpack for more maneuverability.

"No, what brings your ballyhooed Slade Wilson or his employee, the H.I.V.E. to do what they do is because the system needs criminals to sustain itself, or it would be obsolete. Why else do they allow society to seed if it didn't need them to stay in business? But, enough talking shop. We discussed this nicely before." She lashed her arms like whips, slashing back and forth.

Robin agilely leaped back and forth. "You're right, we can talk about other things, you going to jail by me." He chucked several Birdarang at Rouge's head. She craned her head back; he took a chance and jumped kicked at the elongated spy's chest. She fell on the ground and reformatted.

"Well, apparently your empathy is a mile long and an inch deep. What happened to "before I thought she was an unrepentant psychopath, now I see she's not as such", hmm?" She mimicked his quote in his voice.

He grimaced. "Deceiving me by intimating a teammate of mine isn't going to give you points with me."

"Teammate? I didn't catch teammate in our exchange. I read of your closeness to her, I lead you to water and you gulped it down."

He became silent as he flung several discs at her. "No words? Interesting, you were talking a mile a minute before. Perhaps I have given the unkindest cut of all. Or would it be this?" She evaded the discs, turned her fingers into talons, and lunged at the Teen Wonder. He leapfrogged over her and slammed his foot against her back.

He tossed several more discs at her as she recouped, leaving her frozen solid. "Should have used this trick before. Worked for Plasmus."

He was about to activate his communicator when he heard a rattling from the ice block. A fist broke out and, again, punched the device out of his hand. Rouge ripped herself from the icy tomb. "You're not the first to try freezing me."

'Of course, it didn't work for Plasmus either.' "You're right, I should have used heat and baked you in a kiln like Hot Spot did. I thought the humane approach was to keep you intact." He jumped out of her reach.

'If only you knew.' "Humane? Don't speak of humane. You're a hypocrite. You spoke of me to your "friend," offering your compassion—and here you are trying to cook me. Don't tell me you're schizophrenic too." She sneered as she whipped around her arms.

"I wasn't trying to cook you per se. Just stop you from trying to kill me. As for calling me a hypocrite due to my empathy and compassion, you're doing your best trying to prove me right." He jumped in between the swinging arms and swung his bo at her.

"Child, it's part of the game; the distortions and proving who is right or wrong. You know that, you've been at it so long." Her head was twisted backwards.

"So have you. I read about you even while I was training with Batman."

"And you've been reading much more about me, how much do you know?" She twisted her neck into place, Robin nearly froze. 'Here I thought I was disturbed when Slade did that.'

"Just from what I said. You were a notable French actress and now you're working for the Brotherhood of Evil. It's just recently that I know why."

"Such information is classified, and not meant for most ears, I'm curious how you could extract that. Did you use blackmail, physical force, or planned to haunt them for the rest of their days if they didn't comply?" She outstretched her arms once again and tried to swat the Teen Wonder.

Robin jumped on one of her arms and ran to her. "You don't want to know." He threw another disc in her face. She screamed as it exploded.

"My face! My beautiful face!" As the smoke cleared, her face was scarred; she then twisted back into its original form. Robin stood his ground although he did tighten further as she screamed.

"Just kidding, child. My humor always was morbid. Couldn't resist the jab at Calendar Girl like that."

"Indeed, I particularly read some of the reports when they first diagnosed you. One minute you would be telling children stories, the next you'd be stomping on their toys. Morbid is an understatement for what you would do later on."

"Oh stop being so serious. Life is depressing enough without little amusements to pick up the day."

"And yet you sprout Nihilistic philosophy."

"I figured Nietzsche would get your attention, it always did with me." She coiled her fist to punch Robin, he easily dodged.

"You call that a punch?"

"No, I call that "distraction."" Her other hand came to where his Communicator had fallen and smashed it with her fist.

"There we go, just a private party."

"Sorry I didn't bring my black tie." He tossed several more discs at her stomach as she recalled her arms.

"That's fine; I'll bring the cake instead." She yowled in pain.

"A Marie Antoinette reference? How French." He swung the bo again.

"As if your outdated American bourgeois jokes would help you." She weaved and dodged the bo. She was about to send a tornado kick when Robin caught it.

"And quoting an old German philosopher makes you sound sophisticated when you're clearly are not."

"It fooled you, didn't it? And I did wonder how much I would need to say for you to break down and kiss me back there." She wiggled her thigh and used the recoil to strike at Robin.

"It will take a lot more than that, and you're not even in my class." He got back on his feet.

"Oh really? I wouldn't say that. I saw you suppressed your obvious feelings nicely. You'd ever thought to be an actor yourself?"

"Why would I, when I have such a busy social life? And besides, I don't go with women older than me." He clenched two Birdarangs as daggers and leaped at the French fatale.

"Truthfully, I don't care for children either but…I am intrigued." She held a defensive maneuver. 'Maybe I can tire him out or override his anger.'

"By what? I didn't think a French femme fatale nihilist would have any concern on anything beyond life is a meaningless existence. Let alone have a social life." He kept trying to slash away.

"I never said that, it's more—where on Earth can make life worth living again, or who in this case. I never had the chance to explore this in Morocco, now as I particularly know why you held back in your armaments. All this, your professionalism, your code of honor, your neurosis. You're a sick, dark, little boy." She kicked him high and sprung her arms. He launched the Birdarangs but one hand blocked one to her face and the other hand rested on his belt. She ignored the spike of pain as the other Birdarang landed on her chest but could not ignore an electric shock as she grabbed his belt.

"So much for that idea."

"It never hurts to be prepared." He brandied about his famous smirk as he descended.

"You are a throwback; you're sprouting dated Boy Scout clichés." She ripped out the embedded Birdarang from her chest. "A sick, dark, prepared for anything, little throwback Boy Scout. I'm more intrigued now than before."

"Well, I think you're a deranged, nihilist, superpowered femme fatale, with the bonus of being French. Double my pleasure." 'Need to immobilize her until I can get away for help.'

"Under the circumstances, I'll take that as a compliment." She nearly purred.

'I hope to God she's not flirting with me.' "I just want you go to jail or get help in jail, whichever." He was starting to tire.

"So you are compassionate after all. I'm touched, my dark little boy." She noticed his winded state.

He simply growled and used the bo as a pole-vault to give him propulsion to jump attack her, with discs in between his fingers. She coiled her legs into springs, and launched before he could connect.

'From the sublime to the ridiculous.'

"Agile too, you've got quite the frog legs." She admired them as she landed.

"Another French custom I can live without." He was hiding his disgust.

"Unsophisticated child. You Americans have not lived until you've had frog legs."

"Pass." 'Let's try a new tactic.'

"You'll see that I'm right."

"You'll excuse me if I have other priorities." He threw down a few smoke bombs. "Let's see if you can catch me if you can't see me."

Rouge coughed, elongated her arm and waved it about. "I'll find you yet, but I do admire your subterfuge, you're sharper than I give credit for. You intrigue me by the second."

"Stop using that word. I wouldn't know why you would be." He jumped kicked from the smoke and bounced off her face and disappeared.

"A sick neurotic child, full of darkness, almost grown to be a handsome man. Quite similar to myself. What's not to be intrigued about?" She sprung both fists into the direction of his voice.

"I am nothing like you." Birdarangs sliced through the air and jabbed her arms.

"Oh please, you hide behind your masks; your pretenses of honor and professionalisms, the last true believer in his work. Like I am with mine. And a depressing darkness that's delectable beyond anything, ironic for someone who dresses up like a traffic light. I usually loathe children but…the potential is too good to pass up. At least for later."

"You sound like you want to date me." He flung several discs at her direction but she ran off in time.

"Something like that. I normally wouldn't but I am intri—"

"Don't finish that word. But I fail to see why you'd want me. Besides, my dance card is filled."

"Oh please, are you always this passionate with that alien?" He lunged forth and tried to strike her, she blocked.

"Meaning what?"

"Meaning that a rock would be more passionate than you have been originally, until my own twists to the alien captivated you, after all, who directly quotes Nietzsche anymore in this mindless era of stagnation and intellectual milieu?"

"Starfire is more intellectual than she lets on." They were caught in a deathlock.

"Perhaps but you can't deny what you said about yourself as Robin and your issues with the Batman. She didn't know any hint of this before today, didn't she?"

He tried to force her down as hard as he could. "I'll take that as a yes." She twisted her body into a spring and coiled up and bounced off.

"You've been hiding yourself all this time, hiding within illusions; I have to applaud you for your efforts to keep them or her in the dark as long as possible. Tell me, why haven't you told her anything yet? That description, it was so generic. A few more minutes and you would have told me your real name. You can't keep secrets forever." She barbed as the smoke cleared.

"Said the woman who remolds her face daily to lie and connive and get what she wants." He stood his ground.

"Touché. More reasons to combine resources as it were, we're too similar, but unlike you, I accept the truth."

"Truth? There is no truth in your statement."

"You're in denial, child. Your pretenses hold you back, I have let go of mine, why else have I succeeded in my plans whereas you still haven't stopped the Brotherhood or even know what we're up to? Or, for more personal matters, your own feelings with someone you…fancy? We're both actors on the stage. I just know when to stop." Rouge pointed out.

Robin was silent. He was ready to attack when Rouge reached behind her back and dropped her weapon.

"I was going to use that to restrain you; I just want you to see that I'm not the devil, even though I'd look good in a blue dress."

"So then your trap failed. If you're not going to fight back…" Robin tightened further.

"I never said that, just now I have a different goal in mind instead. Tell me, if the alien was there in my place, would she have been able to elicit any of what you said tonight? Would she appeal to you and your cores as well as I seem to? You're the self proclaimed hero; be honest."

The Teen Wonder pondered long and hard while eyeing the French mistress of deception. "No. I can't say that."

"Exactly, she doesn't know how you think. Have any of the females you've met known?" The two were in a standoff.

'Raven, but that's because she was in my head—and I returned the favor. I would say her and Barbara as tie. Although now with De Mille and what I know of her, and tonight…'


"And why aren't you with them?"

"My reasons."

"Because they don't understand you either. Are they like the alien and exude an understanding for the dark neurosis that lies within you?"

"One does."

"And yet you're not with her, are you? Come on, Boy Scout; admit the truth, if not to me, then to yourself."

He had a hard sigh. "No."

"Do you know why?"

"None of your business."

She had a smirk grace her face. "I'd say because she can't handle what you have in you, can she?"

He remembered Raven's attempt with Malchior and then the library of Scath where she hid herself from him, and later when she resigned to her fate to return Trigon to the earthly plane. "More the reverse."

"Two emotional screwups, what a crazy pair."

He growled. "As if you're in a position to talk."

"True, but I know my flaws and, after researching human beings as well as I have, I know enough of my limitations and how I could correct them. If so I wished. After all, both our groups will go the way of Ozymandius one day; I have to have a hobby lined up when that happens. Besides, you gave me a nice jumping point with the Brain if what you say is true."

He was discomforted by the possibility that the Titans would be defunct. "I wouldn't be making that up, no. After all, I told it to someone I trust."

"Indeed. I thank you for that. Now all we have to do is how to sort out getting out here alive."

"I could always arrest you." He jabbed.

"You could but you're tired and low of toys, you won't last."

"Then why you don't try that and find out?" He said, embolden.

"All that and devil may care bravado as well, you're more like me every passing second."

"Stop that."

"No, I enjoy taunting you with the truth. Besides, the irony isn't lost on me either."

"I can imagine—you and the truth?"

"I'll ignore that but why don't you put that mouth to better use?" She said in a guttural tone.

"Like what?"

"I'm a fair woman; I'll walk away in two conditions: you admit how we're the same and…for the ultimate stakes, a kiss."

'She really is unbalanced.' "I am not going to kiss you."

"Then I'll drag you to the Brain. Do you think you'll last against me? You youths of today have no staying power." She had a Cheshire grin.

"You'd be surprised." He threw the rest of his Birdarangs at her.

She sighed. "Oh, child, your bravado will kill you. Although, thankfully that's why you have the detective skills and your over-analysis to balance. Think. Compare me to you, without your pretenses." She contorted her body to dodge the projectiles.

He had the remaining discs, at the ready when he reflected Rouge's words. 'She does hide within identities, like I do; she has a very dark streak, as I do. She plays for keeps, she's vicious; all traits I used to have, particularly at the time of…Red X. Not to mention quite sophisticated, for after all, who else knows Nietzsche and Ozymandius?'

Robin had sucked in a hard breath and withdrew his discs and staff.

"As much as I loathe admitting it, we are alike, although your traits are who I used to be, not now. I'm not that person anymore."

"I don't know, I'd say you simply hid that part away, or was that some other Boy Wonder using deception and viciousness in his attacks?"

"I said I admitted it, albeit referring to the past. Isn't that enough?" He folded his arms in a defensive position.

"Not yet." She walked over to him.

"I'm not kissing you."

"Why? Don't tell me that those rumors about you and Batman are true." She quipped.

"Not so fast, lady. I am not…"

"Then why don't you prove that and stop resisting? Or must I quote more Nietzsche?" She had him right where she wanted him.

"I am not kissing you."

"Well, then you could be tortured." She teased.

"Like what your employer did to the Doom Patrol?"

"Something like that. The price isn't as heavy, after all, what is in a kiss?"

"A kiss is supposed to have meaning. Relevance. A connection. I don't feel any of that with you." He said with conviction.

"Haven't you already admitted that?"

"That was personality traits, not like this."

"For someone who feels so apathetic on this, you're certainly taking your time to end it. Would it help your pedestrian mind if I was someone else? Someone light?" She morphed to Starfire. "Someone dark?" She then transformed into Raven.

"Stop it, it would compound the lie. And it's not apathy; it's antipathy. There is a difference."

Rouge went back to her true form. "Stop being so moralistic, we've both learned the complexities and simplicities of humanity, there are times when you have no choice but to declare a draw if you want to keep on living. Don't think it's all on you and your precious ethics, I loathe children and the young, but here I am."

"Trying to kiss a teenager. Why don't you go for someone more your age, like Mento?"

"I would rather call it 'sealing a possible future investment,' but you know that already. Now, to answer our final lesson on your end."

"Just kiss you and I can go? How do I know you won't trap me?"

She grinned with her Cheshire grin again. "You don't. That's part of the game. What do you have to lose?"

'I don't have the strength to resume fighting her; I just have to…do it on her terms. However...' He whipped out a disc. "You pull anything and I will detonate it."

She laughed. "Typical overcautious reaction. What happened to your devil may care approach?"

"I may be reckless but I'm not stupid either. Just…get on with it and leave me be."

"Fair enough." She came close and simply grabbed him; she passionately kissed him on the lips, her own lips sucking the energy out of the Teen Wonder, entrancing him to kiss back and return the favor. He felt his own soul being drained out, and as she stopped, she tried to peer into his mask, to stare into his eyes, before she kneed him on the stomach.

"Definite potential." She purred as she walked away from the collapsing vigilante.

"See? I may be a Machiavellian bitch but even I am true to my word." She walked over to the jetpack and reached over and grabbed the gun and tucked it in her belt.

Robin quickly stood up and tried to shrug off the pain. "So that's it? No threats about blackmail? No double cross?"

"You sound disappointed. Don't worry, there is always next time—but I'll be keeping my eye on you. And to answer about Mento, I have thought about it, but he only has eyes for the stretchy slut, and besides, he's too rigid and inflexible for my tastes. I'll be in touch." She barbed as she jetted off into the horizon.

Robin eyed her until she faded from view. 'What a strange night. So now I have Madame Rouge wanting me. Could I use this? Could I exploit this…affection she seems to have for me to take down the Brotherhood of Evil? What if she is thinking the same thing? Just how without arousing…oh God, I am thinking like her.' He sighed and walked back to whence he came.

'I don't know what is more confusing: the fact I realize that I am more similar to her than I thought or the future with this new wrinkle, or…the fact it might be more than just a game.'

He looked up again. 'For once, I almost wish that today was my last day on Earth for…I'm unsure of the next sunrise.'

Meanwhile, Madame Rouge jetted over the mountains and wetted her lips.

'So much for that mission, no matter, I found a much more interesting twist instead. The games to come from this, oh my, my, I'm going to bake a cake with so many layers. I wonder if this is love or infatuation or hormones.' She looked down to the moving ground.

'Either way, my games may catch up with me yet. I can't wait.' She rubbed her lips, feeling his strength, and had a whisper of a smile as she jetted off into the night.


My first real take on the Starfire characterization on top of everything else, as always, going for something different. It should be noted that my take on Rouge was written and mused on before I saw the French fatale shine in one of my top favorite episodes, Lightspeed.

Betanote: "tien" is, bascially, a French exclaimation similar to "well, well."

Leave a review if you wish, see you in the funny papers and have a Merry Christmas (despite the irony that this is not a Christmas fic).