A/N: wow, fun with formatting (especially at the very end, it gets dumb. arg!)! okay, the songs are pretty straightforward: one of them is italicized and one of them is underlined. actually, i think it looks kind of cool how they're run together, but i hope it isn't too hard to read. i wanted to use both of the songs, because if you haven't noticed, i've been doing that the entire time (using songs that reflect Starfire and/or Robin's feelings in general or in that specific chapter). and i use the whole songs this time around because i think they fit just perfectly into how they feel about each other in this final installment. Obviously, Robin's song is on the left and italicized and Star's is on the right and underlined. not too terribly confusing. and if you haven't noticed, i've done a whole theme about time. just felt like pointing that out. just for kicks.

A/N the second: i'd also like to (briefly) thank all my wonderful reviews, especially The Silver Phoenix, Dana-Fire, Rochelleteentitan, and plexus. you guys have really shown some serious loyalty to this story, and i couldn't be more grateful. and reviewers in general are totally awesome, so i thank all you past and future reviewers: you make stories like this possible.

A/N the third: now i'm all done. i hope you like it. and if you don't, please don't tell me. :D

How Long Is Never?

Chapter 13

I'm not a perfect person. He drowns in his dreams,
There's many things I wish I didn't do. An exquisite extreme, I know.
But I continue learning, He's as damned as he seems
I never meant to do those things to you. And more heaven than a heart could hold.
And so I have to say before I go And if I try to save him my whole world could cave in.
That I just want you to know: It just ain't right, no, it just ain't right.

Nightwing rushed into Titan's Tower, Beast Boy only a step and a half behind him. They impatiently rode yet another elevator, ascending to the infirmary, and nearly tripped over their feet in their haste down the final corridor. They burst through the doors, finding Raven hovering in meditation in the corner. She awakened instantly, however, upon their arrival, and glided over to the bed where Nightwing was laying the comatose Starfire.

"What happened to her?" Raven inquired, her voice trembling with poorly concealed emotion.

"I—I don't know," the leader confessed, straightening her head gently on the pillow. "I guess that she got caught in the explosion of the reactor. God, Raven, you have to be able to heal her." His eyes, though masked, fixed pleadingly on the half-demon. His voice cracked and he added huskily, "Please…I can't lose her…"

Raven lowered her hood, her chakra glinting in the bright overhead lamps, and she scrutinized the other Titan closely, her hands hovering over Starfire's frighteningly still form and emanating a soft white light. "There's actually not too much damage superficially." Her eyes closed in concentration and a small frown tugged at the corners of her pale lips. "Internally, though, it's worse. It's as if she slammed into a brick wall going sixty miles an hour. It's lucky she's Tamaranian; this probably would've killed a normal human," she concluded, her voice lowering throughout her diagnosis until she was barely whispering at the end.

Beast Boy gasped, all the vibrancy fading from his green skin, and he clapped a hand over his mouth. "But you can make her better, right? Answer me, Rae!" he demanded, his words thick with emotion.

Nightwing simply stood there, staring at Starfire as if he expected her to open her eyes and wink at him like it were all some grand joke. He was about to reach out and take her limp hand in his when Raven shoved them firmly but gently away.

"I need to get to work immediately if I'm going to save her," she said curtly, "and that means I can't have you two hovering over me." She paused, glancing between the two of them, between the obviously upset Beast Boy and the unnervingly expressionless Nightwing. "She's going to be okay," she added, and even though she was facing the changeling, her gaze fell on their leader, and it was he she was truly trying to reassure.

Beast Boy nodded, swallowing against the lump in his throat, and he grabbed Nightwing's arm and tugged, leading the shocked man away as Raven pulled the curtains around the bed. They trudged all the way down to the common room, stopping by Cyborg's room along the way and ascertaining that he was hooked up to his repair equipment. It seemed that he was well on his way to better health, and the pair continued until they slumped down on the crescent couch.

"She's gonna be okay," Beast Boy echoed Raven's words, but it didn't look like Nightwing even heard him. He was staring listlessly at the floor, or beyond the floor, and Beast Boy didn't think he had ever seen Nightwing—or Robin—look so weak in his entire life. Abruptly, it hit him: Nightwing hadn't wanted to ever hurt Starfire. While his real motives remained unclear and would until the leader himself shed light upon them, still, it was good to know that he cared deeply about her. Beast Boy clapped Nightwing on the shoulder. "Want me to get you anything?"

Nightwing blinked, as if pulled from a trance, and stared at Beast Boy like he was seeing him for the first time. He blinked again and then shook his head. "Oh…no. I don't…no."

Beast Boy nodded. "'Kay," he agreed and walked over to the kitchen, needing to devour some tofu to ease his nerves.


I've found a reason for me Oh, and I don't know, I don't know what he's after
To change who I used to be, But he's so beautiful, such a beautiful disaster.
A reason to start over new And if I could hold on
And the reason is you. Through the tears and the laughter
Would it be beautiful, or just a beautiful disaster?

Beast Boy had fallen asleep long ago, sprawled on the table by his empty plate, drool issuing from the corner of his mouth and pooling on the tabletop. Nightwing hadn't moved from his seat on the couch, although now he was staring out the gigantic windows as the blackness of the night softened into the hazy gray of dawn, the slightest traces of pink now visible.

Nightwing sighed. Sunrise always had been her favorite time of day, when all was new and perfect and just waiting to be discovered and enjoyed. He had always liked sunrise after she had come because it meant spending another twelve hours by her side. He blinked back one of his lingering tears. He hoped more desperately than anything that she would be able to see the sun rise again, and maybe, just maybe, that she would allow him to share it with her. One of his hands clenched briefly into a fist. He had done so much to her: broken her heart, forced her away, ignored her for years and years, and when she'd come back, done his level best to make her leave again. No one could possibly forgive anyone for doing that. No one except, perhaps, her.

He wasn't even startled when Raven materialized in front of him, her black energy's trademark shape fading away to reveal the petite empath. She stepped cautiously toward him, her hood still lowered, and her usual smile—small but definitely there—was gracing her face.

"I've managed to stabilize her," she informed him, and it was as if she had jolted him with a cattle prod. He practically leapt from his seat, his whole body quivering.

"Is she okay? Can I see her?" he blurted, his unseen eyes pleading again.

Raven nodded, still smiling. "Visiting hours are now until now again tomorrow. Just don't disturb her."

"I won't," he promised, and in a flash, he was gone, sprinting from the common room as if all the legions of hell and Slade were on his heels. He couldn't bear the elevator for the umpteenth time, so he forsook that for the stairs, and he finally came to a breathless halt in front of the infirmary door. He paused, staring at the cold metal, and quieted his breathing and slowed his heart rate before he opened the door. It slid open with a soft swish and he stepped over the threshold, his footfalls magnified in the silence. He approached the curtain apprehensively and took a fistful of the material in his hand, but he couldn't bring himself to push it aside.

Come on, Richard, it's just a curtain, he remonstrated himself inwardly, gathering his strength.

But what if she still looks so…terrible? he asked himself in return. He didn't know if he could take seeing her look so broken, so…dead. He bit back his fears and gently slid the curtain to one side, stepping to her side as he did so. He couldn't really see how badly she was still hurt, as the white sheet was pulled all the way up to her chin to keep her warm, but her face looked better, in any event. The blood had been removed and the scrapes healed, although he noticed a strange, almost gooey substance along her jaw on one side, which he presumed was a salve that was healing a burn. He checked her vitals on the computer, fingers clicking the keys, and, finally satisfied that she was indeed stable as Raven had said, he retrieved a chair and set it at her bedside.

Nightwing felt himself choking up again, and he fought it with all that he had. He had to stay strong for her. He carefully found her hand, clasping it tightly but not too tight. He attempted to swallow but discovered that he could not, and he bowed his head. He didn't know how long he had sat there, eyes shut fiercely to fight the tears, when he finally gathered the courage to look at her again. Her face was devoid of any expression and far too pale, and she seemed almost too serene. He reached over with his other hand and very carefully removed a few wayward auburn strands from her face.

"You have to wake up, Star," he said, barely audible. "I have to explain everything to you. I have to apologize for all that I've done. And I have to tell you that…that…God, Star, come back. You can't leave me. I know I'm not worth hanging around for, but Raven and BB and Cy all want you back, too. So if not for my sake, fight this for theirs, okay?" He bit his lower lip and a tear leaked free; he wiped it away quickly. "I can't lose you, Star. You have to know that. You have to…"

The door opened with a hiss behind and the metallic footfalls of Cyborg could be heard. "Sorry to disturb you, man, but the police want us down at TestCom. They said it shouldn't take long; we just need to hack the computers and they'll handle the rest."

Nightwing nodded and heard the half-android leave the infirmary again. He rose to his feet and replaced her hand beneath the sheet and stood there for a long moment before he bent down and kissed her softly on the forehead.

"Hang in there, Star," he told her as he straightened. "Hang in there."


I'm sorry that I hurt you. He's magic and myth, as strong as what I believe.
It's something I must live with everyday. A tragedy with more damage than a soul should see.
And all the pain I put you through And do I try to change him?
I wish that I could take it all away, So hard not to blame him.
And be the one who catches all your tears. Hold on tight, hold on tight.
That's why I need you to hear:

Nightwing and Cyborg arrived at TestCom in very little time, the T-Car executing a perfect parallel park along the curb. They climbed out quickly and went to the building, which was surrounded by police vehicles. As they entered the lobby, they found that it was no different: officers were swarming the place like crazed bees, and to the Titans, everything seemed to be a mass of blue uniforms. They glanced around the mob for a few clueless moments until one of the officers approached them.

"Captain Meyers," she introduced herself, tapping the brim of her hat in acknowledgment of the superheroes. "We needed you to get into the files because most of the computers downstairs are in pretty bad shape. We figured if anyone could hack them, you could."

Cyborg grinned. "You figured right, ma'am. Just lead the way."

Captain Meyers and the Titans weaved their way into the crowd of bustling police and into a crowded elevator. They descended quickly, the locks on the basement levels apparently disengaged, and soon arrived at B2, where the detonator was. She beckoned that they follow her to a cluster of officers, who were all hovering around the few whole computers left in the place after the firefight.

"I can hack these easily," Nightwing told Cyborg, "so you should probably start dismantling that detonator so no one else decides stopping time in Jump City forever is a good idea."

"Gotcha," Cyborg agreed, and his hand sprouted all sorts of tools as he went over to the detonator, a few officers tagging along in case he needed assistance.

Captain Meyers stood behind Nightwing as he fiddled with the computer that appeared to be in the best shape, and he had it running in the space of a few minutes. He brought it over to one of the tables that had been set up and plugged it into the police department's portable generator, booting it up. Soon a password screen appeared, but the leader of the Titans tackled it easily and entered into the mainframe.

"Okay…" he muttered as he set about calling up personnel files. "Here's the list of all the technicians…and then the head honchos," he added, highlighting a few of the names. "These are the guys we especially we want to hunt down, since they're most likely the masterminds behind the whole idea." He unhooked his communicator from his belt and plugged it into the computer's USB port much like one would plug in a flashdrive or memory stick. "I'm going to download these stats so I can follow up on this back at the Tower," he explained to Meyers. "These guys are technical wizards and clearly evil geniuses, but they shouldn't be too excellent at making themselves disappear."

True to Nightwing's statement, only a week had passed before all the culprits were assembled in the police station and confessing their guts out.

Nightwing stood impassively behind the two-way glass, watching the interrogation. He had to find out why they had done it, why they had gone through all this trouble and ruined his own and Starfire's lives along the way.

"So why did you do this?" Captain Meyers demanded, having just read the prisoner his rights.

"It's simple, don't you see?" he explained calmly, as if life in prison were the least of his worries at the moment. "Jump City is a terrible, terrible place. Criminals flock here, as if they just have to try to best the Teen Titans."

No longer "Teen", Nightwing corrected the criminal mentally.

"This has made the city horrible," the man continued smoothly. "Those superheroes don't fix problems; they only attract them. And since there are so many bad people in the city, we decided to take justice upon ourselves. We would freeze the city, destroy time here, so that others would be able to look upon it and tremble for fear going against justice and right. It would be like a museum exhibit: perfectly preserved for the observation and education of the masses."

Captain Meyers looked at the man disdainfully. "You're sick," she said curtly, gesturing to her lieutenant. "Cuff him, Blake, and get him out of my sight. The courts will deal with him now, and it won't be too hard of a decision, I should think."

Nightwing watched Blake haul the man off, and Meyers exited, walking over to the leader of the Titans. "I want to thank you for all your assistance," she said graciously. "We would have been doomed without you, as usual."

"Glad to be of service," he replied. "I have to get going now, though."

Meyers nodded. "Yes, you had a teammate down. I hope she gets better. The city wasn't the same without her."

"No," he agreed softly as he turned to leave. "It wasn't."


I've found a reason for me Oh 'cause I don't know, I don't know what he's after.
To change who I used to be, But he's so beautiful, such a beautiful disaster.
A reason to start over new, And if I could hold on,
And the reason is you. Through the tears and the laughter,
Would it be beautiful, or just a beautiful disaster?

Beast Boy frowned at Raven as the half-demon glided into the infirmary. "Why isn't she up yet, Rae? I thought you said that you had healed her. I thought you said that she was fine."

Raven double-checked the monitors. "Physically, Beast Boy, she is fine. If she wanted to, she would be able to wake up any minute now."

The changeling blanched. "You mean…she doesn't want to wake up?"

Raven sighed. "It's complicated," she finally allowed. "The matters of mind and spirit are far more complex than those of the corporeal form—I of all people should know that." She fell silent then, bustling around, straightening her friend's sheets.

Beast Boy looked back at Starfire. Her color had returned and she was, as Raven had said, entirely healed. She only appeared to be sleeping except for the sense of awful stillness that persistently hung about her motionless body. He held her hand gently, noting that it was warm.

"Is it because…Robin hasn't been here?" he ventured, squeezing her hand and searching her face for any sign of reaction, but he found none.

"It could be," Raven allowed, still fiddling uselessly with the sheet before she retired from the infirmary.

Beast Boy sat in Nightwing's vacated chair, as the leader was still helping the police track down the maniacs who had built the chronotron detonator, and studied his friend for a long, long moment. Suddenly struck by a stroke of genius, he leapt from his chair and dashed down the hallway to his leader's bedroom. He keyed in the password, which all the Titans knew in case of emergency (which Beast Boy felt this qualified as), and proceeded to raid Nightwing's closet. Behind the row of black uniforms were a few of the old, colorful ones.

"Just like old times," Beast Boy mumbled as he pulled on the Robin outfit, recalling that time Robin had gone to train under the True Master and all the other Titans had dressed up in his uniform. He affixed the mask to his face last and reviewed himself in the mirror. The uniform had never fit him well in the first place, and now that he had grown, it especially didn't fit him well. But he looked like Robin, albeit a seasick Robin, and he figured that might be enough.

Peering cautiously into the hallway, Beast Boy snuck back into the infirmary and sat down again at Starfire's bedside. This was one desperate gamble, but hey, it never hurt to try. He took her hand once more, now wearing the old green gloves, and faked his voice an octave lower.

"Hey, Star…it's me, Robin," he pretended, observing her closely for any sign of life. But she still refused to stir.

"Come on, Star…" he insisted, refusing to give up so easily. "We all want you back. Even me, your stubborn, blockheaded leader, Robin. You need to wake up, okay? You need to wake up so that you can make all your weird food again and torture us with it. We won't complain, promise! Cross my heart and swear to die, you can feed me anything you want that tastes like sushi and ice cream! In fact, I've never been so excited to eat anything made from a fungus! Although I do like mushrooms, so really that's not…" he trailed off with a sigh. "You just need to wake up. You're one of the best friends I've ever, ever had, and life is not the same without you. It's a lot less fun and a lot less happy. Come on. Wake up."

The door hissed open behind him and he could almost hear Raven's eyes bugging out of her head. "Beast Boy! What in Azar are you doing dressed like that?"

"You said emotional problems were keeping her out!" he whispered angrily. "I was just being Robin so she'd wake up. I don't think that's a crime."

"No," she agreed softly, "it's sweet. And completely ridiculous," she added to retain her image as the all-sarcastic and emotionless half-demon. "When Nightwing comes back, he probably won't like it too much."

"Ah, you ruin everything," Beast Boy muttered, though he did make a mental note that Raven thought he was sweet. "Can I at least keep the glove?"

"Sure, BB," she said as she glided away again, using his nickname for the first time.

The changeling punched the air. "Score one for Beast Boy!"


I'm not a perfect person. I'm longing for love and the logical,
I never meant to do those things to you. But he's only happy hysterical.
And so I have to say before I go I'm waiting for some kind of miracle.
That I just want you to know: Waited so long, so long.

The blackness slowly gave way to a glaring white light, and she squinted her eyes against the unfamiliar brightness, trying to get her bearings. As she glanced around, she realized that she was in the infirmary of the Tower, and that the light was the overhead lamp and that annoying little beeping sound her monitor. She felt a familiar texture covering the hand in hers, and she looked excitedly and found…Beast Boy.

Her brow wrinkled. Beast Boy? She glanced down at their hands and saw that he was wearing one of Robin's old gloves. What? She shifted a little, her entire body sore, but she couldn't quite remember why she was hurting. It had something to do with…something. She tried to speak but found she had no voice; she swallowed, cleared her throat, and tried again.

"BB?" she whispered a little huskily.

"Wha?" he blinked sleepily, jerking from his slumber, and looked at her. "What did ya say, Star?" He continued to look at her uncomprehendingly for a half second more before he leapt to his feet in ecstasy. "Star! You're awake! I would hug you but that would probably hurt! God, you're finally awake!"

"Finally?" she echoed, confused. "How long was I out?"

"Oh, a little more than a week," Beast Boy calculated. "A week and three days, to be exact. So ten days. Yeah. Ten days. But hey, you did almost get blown up, so I guess you weathered that rather well, didn't ya?"

"Oh, yeah, I guess I did," Starfire murmured, now recalling the reactor's explosion. She glanced around the infirmary again expectantly. "Where's…Robin?"

"He was just here, I swear," the changeling said. "He got up and left about five minutes ago, said there was something he wanted to do before you woke up."

"Something as in…?" she asked curiously, cocking a small eyebrow at the other.

Beast Boy shrugged. "How should I know? I can't read minds; I'm not Raven." He chuckled at his own joke. "But really, Star, he's been worried sick about you. He practically went psycho when we found you after the whole explosion. He's been here every minute of every day except when he was tracking down those baddies that made the detonator-thingy and just now." He paused and squeezed her hand reassuringly. "I think he really does care about you."

She smiled gratefully at his words and then turned a quizzical glance at his hand. "So…why are you wearing Robin's glove?"

Beast Boy grinned bashfully. "Long story. I'll tell it some other time. Can you get up? Do you feel okay?"

"A little sore, but that's to be expected," she replied, flexing her muscles experimentally. "But I seem to be in proper working order, so…" With Beast Boy's help, she scooted off the hospital bed and gained her feet. Once standing, she stretched tentatively but found herself to be in relatively good shape. "Yeah. I think it's high time I got some sleep in a more comfortable bed and maybe have some real food later."

"Glad you're up," Beast Boy said seriously.

"You're a good friend, BB," she told him.

"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked, furrowing his green brow.

"It means keep doing what you're doing," she replied with a little laugh as she walked somewhat stiffly from the infirmary and down the hall to her bedroom. She poked in the access code, amazed that she felt tired after being unconscious for ten days, although she supposed that being unconscious and sleeping weren't quite the same thing. It was dark in her room, and she glanced at her clock—no wonder, it was only 5:34 in the morning.

She flopped down on her soft bed and pulled her thick comforter around her body, hearing something rustle, something like paper. She sat up, still cocooned in the blankets, and peered around in the darkness for the culprit. There, lying on the plush carpet, was a piece of paper that was folded in half. She flung the blankets off and went to turn on the lights; returning to her bed, she lifted the paper and her heart lurched in her chest as she recognized the handwriting: a seemingly contradictory combination of neat script and messy scrawl.

The front read "Star" and she curiously, nervously opened it and smoothed out the crease before she began to read.


There's so much I have to tell you, I don't even know where to begin. I have so much to explain and so much to apologize for, I guess this could go on forever. But since I'm not too good at this, it probably won't. First of all, I never really wanted you to go. But you were in danger here, and I didn't want you to stay here where some mysterious sniper was threatening you. I couldn't protect you, you see. I felt awful because I hadn't been able to save you from that first bullet, like it was somehow my fault that I wasn't fast enough or intuitive enough. And then when you came to talk to me, I realized that I could keep you here, with me, with just one word. And I couldn't let that happen because then you'd be in danger, a danger I already learned I couldn't protect you from. So that's why I rejected you. I wanted you to leave and go somewhere you'd be safe. And even though you did and I knew you'd be okay, it still killed me to do that to you. But, you alive and hating me was better than you dead and loving me.

Second, when you returned, I was furious. Of course you knew that, but I was mad because you were willfully putting yourself in harm's way again. I thought for some reason that you would stay away until I'd figured this all out and solved the problem, and then I could hunt you down and grovel for a decade or two. But I guess it didn't happen that way, did it? No. You just showed up that day, and as glad as I was to see you—I really was happy—I was so mad that you were in that position again, that position I couldn't protect you in. I guess it's obvious now that I'm hyper-protective of the people I care about, and you are certainly no exception. I'm probably the most obsessive about you, actually. Anyway, I'm so, so, so, so, so sorry that I hurt you as much and as often as I did. If circumstances had been different, realize that this never would have happened. I never would have pushed you away. You're too important to me.

I would say more, except I can't find the words to put it all down. If you want to talk to me, and I hope you do, then come to the roof after you've read this. I'll be up there, waiting, for as long as it takes. I know you'll be awake when you're reading this, but since you aren't yet, I'll add this in the hope that you might somehow hear me: please wake up, Star. I can't lose you.


Starfire lowered the letter slowly to her lap, her gaze fixed on the glowing numerals of her Mumbo alarm clock. 5:40. She read the letter again after marshaling her thoughts, the words sinking in. And at 5:47, she walked out the door, her mind made up.


I've found a reason for me He's soft to the touch,
To change who I used to be, But frayed at the end he breaks.
A reason to start over new, He's never enough,
And the reason is you. And still he's more than I can take.

The sun was rising over Jump City and Titan's Tower as Starfire opened the door to the roof, the cool morning breeze chilling her exposed skin and toying with her hair. She lingered where she was in the doorway for a long moment, gazing across the roof toward the black-garbed figure seated at the far side. There he was, just as he promised he would be. She wondered if all he had said was true, if he had really done all that only to protect her. She wondered if now would be different. She wondered a thousand other things.

But at length she was able to move, and she closed the door silently behind her, folding her arms for warmth on her chest as she walked quietly across the roof. She had gotten halfway across before he turned around, and upon seeing her, he started to his feet, a broad smile appearing on his face. She didn't think that she'd ever seen him so happy before in her life.

"Star! You're awake!" he exclaimed, and he started toward her, as if he would envelope her in a hug, but he paused awkwardly and rubbed the back of his neck as she arrived at his side. "Er, would you like to…sit down?"

She nodded her acquiescence, and they both sat on the edge of the roof, their legs dangling, and every so often, she would kick hers childishly. She glanced at him sidelong, a few auburn hairs dancing across her vision, and asked quietly, "Is there something you wanted, Robin?"

He nodded and shifted his weight nervously. "Er…I guess you got my letter, right?"

"I did," she admitted, and she looked down at the ocean before glancing up at the pink tendrils venturing across the graying dawn sky. How she loved sunrise. "I didn't know you were so fond of writing."

"I'm not, really," he said quickly, his gloved hands gripping the concrete ledge they were seated on. "But…what did you think?"

She braced herself on her hands as well, crossing her legs comfortably. At length she remarked, "I wanted to know if it were all true. All of it. About my leaving and my return and everything else."

"Every word," he assured, practically before she had finished her last sentence. "I am so sorry for everything that happened," he continued. "If I could convince you any more, just tell me how so that you'll believe me. I don't know what else to do. I never…God, Star, I never wanted you to leave, really. I felt you had to because I felt myself inadequate, but I never wanted to see you go. I never wanted you gone from my life for five years." He swallowed and glanced at her. "You do understand that, right? Please, Star…"

She sighed, her exhale lost on the breeze. She had done so much thinking, so much pondering, on this matter, but now it all seemed useless because she'd known the answer, the end result all along. "I never thought I would be able to understand why you did what you did. But…" she shook her head slightly, "now I think I do. And Robin…"

"Yeah?" he prompted, looking squarely at her.

She cocked her head to one side. "Before I ask that question, let me do one thing," she told him, and before he could object, she had reached over and peeled off his mask. He squinted protectively, but once he relaxed, she could see his eyes clearly. They were a dark blue, and all they reminded her of was the ocean, possessing all its depth and its ability to stay the same and yet always change. "You have nice eyes," she commented, although she knew that was a severe understatement; she was quite convinced she had never seen more beautiful ones. "Why do you keep them covered?"

"Long story," he waved his hand dismissively. "I'll tell you later if you really want to know."

"I do," she agreed. "And before I ask the question I was going to ask, let me ask this…Beast Boy said you were worried sick about me…were you?"

His eyes went wide, as if he could not believe he was being asked that. "God, Star…you mean more to me than anything, and to think that I could lose you forever—that was tearing me up inside." He laughed mirthlessly. "I don't think I've ever been quite this open and chatty before, but I want you to understand so badly…"

"Understandable," she replied, glowing inwardly. He did care about her, and he was sorry, and she meant more to him than anything…time for the last question. "So, Robin…I must ask you one last thing."

"Anything you want to know, I'll tell you," he said sincerely, tentatively laying his hand on hers.

"How long is never?"

He bowed his head, and when he raised his eyes to hers again, navy meeting jade, he smiled slightly. "I'd say about five years. Five long, awful years."

"So…" she mused, grinning, "would you say that…oh, I don't know…that those five years are up about…well…now, shall we say? Wouldn't that be about five years?"

"Almost to the day," he agreed, shifting closer on the ledge. "I didn't really like never, and I don't ever want to deal with it again. I'd much rather deal with its opposite."

"Which is?" she asked, wanting him to come out and say it, confess it out loud.

"Which is forever," he whispered, and he tugged his glove off and cautiously touched her jaw with his fingers. "Could you grant me the honor?"

"The honor of what?" she continued coyly, hardly able to believe that any of this was happening.

"You and me. Forever. And I'll do my best to always be the man you need, so help me God," he answered huskily, inching ever closer.

"You and me, eh? I think I could handle that…" she trailed off, and she found herself wondering if it were humanly possible to be any closer and not kissing.

"One more thing, Star," he said, his breath warm.


He held her gaze steadily, smiling just at the corners of his lips. "I love you. Always have, always will."

She smiled in return. "Finally!" she said in mock exasperation right before he silenced her, kissing her softly, chastely on the lips. He pulled away, as if to determine her reaction, but she made it easy for him.

"Honestly, Robin, you call that a kiss? Come on…that was pathetic…"

He smirked at that and cradled her face in his hands and kissed her full on the mouth and there was hardly anything chaste about this one. She couldn't believe that she could be feeling this much bliss, especially after all they had gone through, but then she decided that she didn't care in the slightest at that moment and lost herself in him, her hands sliding up his chest and around his neck and into his hair. He held her tightly to his body, and it was a long, long time later that they separated, each trying to control their breathing.

"I love you, too, Robin," she said as they reclined on the roof, now facing the rising sun.

"It's good to know," he teased her, wrapping his arm around her as she rested her head on his shoulder. "You're beautiful, you know that, right?"

She glanced up at him and smiled. This moment, this one moment, made it all worthwhile. "So are you."

Time is a curious thing. Sometimes forever is bad. And sometimes it's just perfect.

I've found a reason to show Oh 'cause I don't know, I don't know what he's after.
A side of me you didn't know, But he's so beautiful, such a beautiful disaster.
A reason for all that I do, And if I could hold on,
And the reason is you. Through the tears and the laughter,

Would it be beautiful, or just a beautiful disaster?

He's beautiful, such a beautiful disaster.

--"The Reason", Hoobastank --"Beautiful Disaster", Kelly Clarkson

La Fin.

The End.

When there's trouble, you know who to call. Faye