The cold wind stung at Starfire's exposed skin... she silently berated herself for not bundling up before she left the tower, but then again, she didn't know she'd be standing out in the middle of the Jump City downtown skating rink for so long either. In front of her stood a beautiful evergreen nearly six stories high, its branches and needles strung with lights and peppered with countless ornaments and decorations, including a large, beautifully wrapped present placed just under the tree. Around her stood dozens of happy couples, ice skates on their feet, ready to have the time of their lives.
Starfire was lonely... it had been more than an hour since she'd arrived at the rink, and the person she was waiting for, the person she wanted to share this wonderful time with, hadn't even shown up.
"Robin," thought Starfire, the glow of the Christmas tree illuminating her orange face in the night. She sighed, and a small cloud of visible vapor emerged from her lips, sifting into the air and disappearing in a fraction of a second. "Why have you decided not to come? You said that you would be here when I arrived, but it has been far too long..."
As the feeling of abandonment began to sink in, Starfire tried to ease her pain by remembering the events earlier in the day... the events that led up to what Starfire was waiting for now.
A few hours earlier, Starfire had been at Titans Tower, which, in the week before Christmas, was ablaze with activity. While Beast Boy and Cyborg tried to find out amongst themselves which one of them could hang up the most popcorn strings, Raven was busily compiling a gift list that would ensure she'd be able to get her Christmas shopping done as quickly as possible... because Raven hated to shop.
Robin was taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the pre-Christmas activity, parking himself in the kitchen with a cup of hot chocolate. It was there, during his brief respite from decorating and wrapping presents, that he noticed Starfire pulling a tray of... something, since one couldn't really call the gossamer confections on the silver tray "cookies". They were shaped like random lumps of varying color and size, and had thin columns of smoke rising from their glazed tops.
"Since we do not have the... 'Christmas' on my planet, I am preparing a dish that I usually prepare for the celebration holiday of Geldmar, which is taking place on my planet as we speak," she said, a smile on her face as she set her tray down in front of Robin. "Please... partake of the sweet holiday norfgobs... I used one of the best royal recipes to make them!"
With a bit of hesitation, Robin reached out and took one of the lumps from the tray, popping it into his mouth and immediately gagging on its bitter flavor. He managed to swallow the norfgob, a smile appearing on his face.
"That was... really good," said Robin, reaching for another lump off of the tray. Before his hand could reach the second treat, however, Starfire gently grabbed his wrist, holding his hand back.
"I saw that you did not enjoy the first one... please, do not eat something you like just to make me feel better," said Starfire. "Besides, I usually just give most of the food I make to Silkie."
With a slight giggle, Starfire set down the tray. She then sat down in the stool next to Robin, her arms resting on the table next to his.
"Christmas is... very hectic, is it not?" said Starfire, her fingers beginning to twitch. "I enjoy the holiday very much... it brings happiness to everyone, and it will be so fun to see all of your faces when you open your gifts, but..."
"Something bothering you?" Robin could see Starfire's smile start to disappear, and he could tell immediately that all was not quite right with the beautiful Tamaranian seated next to him. "Are you homesick, or-"
"It is not that," said Starfire, "it is just... everyone is so focused on Christmas that there are many times... times when I am cooking, or decorating, or buying gifts... times when I feel alone. Perhaps it is just me, but... everyone seems to be going off and doing their own thing. If I am here at the Tower, everyone is out shopping... if I am out shopping, everyone else is decorating at the Tower."
"If you want to help me with anything, Star, all you have to do is ask," said Robin, his gloved palm resting on Starfire's left hand. "Actually, I could use a bit of help lifting up some of the heavier decorations... we've got a lot of stuff here I still haven't put up, and-"
Instantly the smile returned to Starfire's face. Excitement filled her voice, and she had to restrain herself from leaping upon Robin and crushing his midsection in her powerful arms. Instead, she gripped his hands in hers and gave an excited squeal.
"Robin, thank you... it will be wonderful assisting you, I promise I will not let you down!"
Of course, Starfire knew it wouldn't be difficult at all to lift a few ceramic reindeer into place... but the sense of duty she recieved from working with Robin was enough to fill her heart with pride. But while Starfire was frantically talking, an idea had entered Robin's head.
"Actually... instead of staying here and decorating tonight, how about you and I do something special? The 'Rink Under The Lights' downtown is opening up for skaters tonight..."
An even better idea, especially since Starfire already knew how to ice skate, having been taught by Beast Boy last winter. Not only would it be something she could do without feeling awkward, but she'd be doing it with Robin... under the lights, an evening together... an entire evening with Robin...
She accepted his offer in an instant.
Now, thousands of instants, or more specifically, ninety minutes had passed with no sign of Robin. The wind had picked up, and Starfire shivered, the energy within her body barely providing enough heat to keep her from getting hypothermia. That didn't stop the cold from stinging, but Robin's apparent rejection stung Starfire a whole lot more.
"Robin... why have you decided not to come...?"
The temperature hit zero as soon as Starfire's first tear began to fall.
Then, out of the night, a high-pitched, annoying squeal entered Starfire's ear. It was the LAST sound she wanted to hear.
Starfire turned to the source of the sound, just in front of the enormous tree overlooking the rink. There, clad in a blue parka, wearing a white scarf around her neck and a pair of flawless white ice skates on her feet was Kitten, her hands triumphantly placed on her hips. The blonde girl had a wide smile on her face, looking as if she'd just robbed Santa's sleigh and taken all the gifts for herself. Starfire's eyes flashed green with rage.
"Why are you here and what do you want?" Starfire's clenched fists and teeth disguised the distress she had been feeling that entire evening over Robin's absence.
"I want this rink! DAAAAAAAAAAAADDYYYYY!"
At the top of the enormous tree, displacing the golden star was Killer Moth, snow coating his gray and purple fur. He leapt down from the tree and into the middle of a large crowd of skaters, knocking several of them to the ground. The couples who had gathered on the rink screamed at the sight of Killer Moth, fleeing in terror, with some of them tripping over their skates as they desperately attempted to escape.
The mayor, who had just arrived in his car and was getting ready to declare the rink open for skating, decided that it would probably be in his best judgment to have his chauffeur turn the car around and floor the gas pedal. Within less than a minute, the only three living beings that remained in the area were Killer Moth, Kitten, and an ENRAGED Starfire.
"That goes for you too!" Kitten shouted, pointing at the orange alien. "Get the heck outta here!"
Kitten's screeching voice only served to anger Starfire even more, and she prepared a Starbolt in her left hand.
"Didn't you hear my daughter? This just became a closed skate!" Killer Moth said, walking slowly and menacingly toward Starfire. "Don't make me tell you again..."
Killer Moth raised his hand and fired several small strands of sticky webbing, which quickly looped around Starfire, binding her arms to her sides. With a chuckle, he began walking toward the seemingly incapacitated superheroine, his other arm raised for the finishing blow. He didn't see Starfire's feet begin to lift off the ground.
"Dad, knock her out!" shrieked Kitten, her arms across her chest. "I WANNA SKATE WITH ROBBIE-POO!"
Within a second, Starfire had broken her bonds and was halfway to where Killer Moth was standing.
"What the-" was all the villain was able to utter before a barrage of Starbolts engulfed him, throwing up an enormous explosion that knocked Kitten to the ground. She gasped in terror, watching as the smoke cleared to reveal a KO'ed Killer Moth and a furious Starfire, her eyes still aglow, her chest heaving up and down with every angry breath. Her eyes were locked on Kitten's own.
"Oh crap... oh crap..." Kitten scrambled to her feet, her skates rapidly carrying her toward the Christmas tree at the end of the rink. Starfire flew toward her, tackling her hard to the ground, her face cracking the ice. Kitten was now pinned under Starfire, unable to move her arms or her legs. "GET OFF ME!"
"WHERE IS ROBIN?" shouted Starfire, keeping Kitten pinned to the ice. "What have you done with-"
Weakly, Kitten managed to pull one of her arms free. Her finger trembling, she pointed to the large wrapped present under the Christmas tree. Starfire hopped up and flew over to the package, ripping off the wrapping paper and tearing open the six-foot long white cardboard box. Inside was Robin, wrapped from his ankles all the way up to his mouth in Killer Moth's sticky webbing. After offering a loud, muffled shout, Robin was ripped free of the webbing by Starfire, who immediately wrapped him up in her arms. Robin gasped for breath, and Starfire quickly released him, a worried expression on her face.
"Only had... enough air... for two hours..." gasped Robin, glaring over at Kitten, who was weakly trying to slink away from the rink. Starfire raised her arm and fired a single Starbolt, hitting Kitten in the back and knocking her unconscious. "I... I was ambushed... on the way to the rink..."
"It is okay, Robin, you are safe now..." said Starfire, again taking Robin into her arms, which draped gently across his back. "I am just... glad you did not..."
Starfire took a step back, hanging her head.
"I thought... I thought you had... I am sorry to-"
"It's understandable," said Robin, reaching over and taking Starfire's hand. "Don't worry about it... I'm the one who should be sorry."
"But you were captured by Kitten and her horrible father... that was not your fault," said Starfire, sighing. "I should have found you earlier... now our evening is-"
"Ruined?" said Robin, shaking his head. "Actually, it's better... we have the whole rink to ourself."
Starfire turned around and looked out across the ice, sparkling in a multitude of colors as the lights from the tree shined down upon it. Robin was right... except for an unconscious Kitten and Killer Moth, the rink was completely empty.
"I had my skates on when I was taken," said Robin, looking down at his feet. Sure enough, the skates were still there. "I had yours... I bought them this afternoon... they were the most beautiful white skates in the store, they-"
"These?" asked Starfire, holding up a pair of skates she'd taken off of Kitten's feet. With a giggle, she removed her shoes and put on the skates... they fit perfectly. "Now I believe we are ready..."
With the light of the moon and the beautiful Christmas tree providing a dazzling illumination on the flawless ice below, Robin and Starfire skated out into the middle of the rink, their magical evening having only just begun.