A/N- I know some people wanted this to be a chapter about Richard and Kori's wedding, but I'm not very good at writing about weddings so I've decided not to do that. Sorry to disappoint... To make up for that, this chapter is longer than usual. :D
Disclaimer: I don't own the Teen Titans, Batman or any quotes included in this fanfic.
"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."
It was a quiet, calm winter evening, three days before Richard and Kori's wedding. The five former Titans—Richard, Kori, Garfield, Raven and Victor—and Victor's girlfriend Karen, once known as BumbleBee of Titans East were catching up with each other after a reunion dinner at Richard and Kori's new penthouse apartment. The apartment boasted a breathtaking 360-degree panoramic view of the city—mountains, beach, and the metropolis that lay in between. The apartment's living room was spacious and lavishly furbished, opening out onto a balcony directly overlooking the bay, where the cool sea breeze blew in from the Pacific Ocean beyond.
"So, Cyborg... um, Victor..." Richard decided to break the ice. Over dinner, he had told them about his activities in Gotham—except for a few things he'd mentioned only to Kori. Now, he still felt slightly awkward around his friends; they were all grown up and had all adopted civilian identities. But, as he was beginning to see, deep down inside they were still very much the same—Victor and Garfield never stopped arguing, and from the way Garfield and Raven behaved, you'd never guess that they were actually married. "...Victor, are you and Bee dating, or... engaged...?"
"Well, Sparky and I have been going steady for a while now, but he hasn't asked..."
"...Yet." Victor smiled at his girlfriend.
"So, Garfield," Richard asked, "you're... what, a comedian now?"
He cringed at the question. "Um... part-time comedian, yeah..."
"And part-time TV host," Raven and Kori reminded him in unison, exchanging sly grins. Garfield cringed even more.
"Really? What programme?" Karen was genuinely interested.
Garfield sighed. "Saturday Afternoon with Arnold the Dinosaur. He's supposed to be Barney's descendant," he explained. Richard almost choked on his drink.
"Hey Garfield, Raven, how long have you guys been married for?"
Raven sighed. "A whole year. Never thought I'd survive." For once, she wasn't being sarcastic.
"Hey, I'm not that bad!" Garfield protested. Having refused to sit on the leather couch like everyone else, he had been offered a chaise longue made of synthetic material instead, and was contentedly sipping a soda, pretending he was on holiday in Hawaii—a much-needed respite from the Jump City winter. Raven rolled her eyes in his general direction, and was surprised when he winked and blew her a kiss in response. She looked away, hiding her blush behind her hand.
"Uh... I'd hate to tell you now, Garfield, but... actually you are that bad," Richard chuckled.
Victor nodded in agreement. "I have to give you credit, Raven. I mean, how d'you get along with that little grass stain? I mean, I'm his best friend and I still can't stand him most of the time."
"Actually, we... don't get along. You should see him at home."
"What?! But Rae, we—ow," Garfield remarked. A circle of dark energy in the shape of a fist thumped him on the head, almost knocking the soda out of his hand. He gingerly rubbed the sore spot, knowing a red bump was likely to appear in the morning.
"...So Kori, you guys are going to Paris for your honeymoon, right?" Raven asked, completely ignoring her husband who was making immature noises in the background.
"Yes, Paris then Italy. For two whole weeks!" Kori affirmed cheerfully. The diamond on her engagement ring sparkled in the light of the crystal chandelier that hung suspended from the ceiling. Richard smiled and scooted a little closer to her on the couch.
"Gosh, you lucky thing," Karen chimed in, smiling at Kori. "You know what, honey, you'd better keep a close eye on your man, 'cause I just might steal him when you ain't looking. Just joking, of course," she added, patting Victor's hand, grasping the cold metal with her slender fingers.
Kori laughed as Richard slipped his arm around her waist and pulled her onto his lap, giving her a quick peck on the cheek. "Hmm... I don't think Victor will be too happy about that—Richard, don't—mmm..." Richard silenced her with an affectionate kiss, this time on the lips.
The others quickly looked away, politely. "Yo, Robin, I'm gonna go get some more cola from the kitchen!" Victor declared loudly and quickly disappeared, followed closely by Bee. The announcement went largely unnoticed by the host and hostess.
"Yeah..." Raven looked around nervously, "Since you guys are clearly unable to get a room yourselves, we'll just have to help you." With that, she grabbed an equally embarrassed-looking Garfield and dragged him—still clutching his drink in one hand—outside, leaving the two lovebirds on the couch to continue their own private business.
Leaning on the balustrade of the balcony, Raven and Garfield stared out at the beach, letting the cold wind whip up their hair and blow it in their faces. The ocean was calm and deep blue, sparkling silver in the moonlight, stretching as far as the eye could see in every direction. A little way out to sea, just before the bay bridge that linked together the two parts of the city, Titans Tower still stood upon its little rocky island, a permanent reminder of days gone by, even as the Titans themselves moved on in life. The Tower had once been a shining beacon, an icon of hope in dark and difficult times... but now, the glass windows simply stared back at them, blank and expressionless. The Titans themselves were now no more than a faded memory, honoured only by old, weathered statues that stood in the park, and overshadowed by the newer generation of heroes.
Garfield sighed, something he rarely did. "Raven... don't you ever miss being a Titan?"
She seemed almost surprised at the question, as if she'd never really considered it before. "...Well, sometimes, yes." Her facial expression was unreadable as she watched the waves break gently on the beach, spilling frothy foam and depositing sea debris onto the fine white sand, in a constant, rhythmic motion.
"Yeah... me too. I mean, I kinda miss being, well... a kid. Life was... so... different back then. Playing GameStation with the guys. Arguing with Cyborg over what to eat..." this brought a smile to his face, "... and all the fan-mail... the chicks really loved me, ya know?"
Raven glared at him.
"Oh, uh—I meant, I never cared about them of course," he amended hastily. "Jeez, I never even knew them. I don't care about them, I never really liked them anyway. Especially not now, 'cause I have you, and you know I love you, Rae. I wouldn't want anyone else..."
"I get the idea," Raven snapped, even though she was flattered. Who would have guessed that Garfield knew such words of love? This was hardly the same Beast Boy she had started dating all those years ago.
Garfield inched a little closer to Raven, wrapping his arm around her. "...My life just wouldn't be the same without you. I know we don't really get along that well, but I'll try not to make you mad anymore, 'cause I don't want to see you mad, I really don't, and..."
"I said, that's enough!" Raven growled, her voice dangerous and menacing. "Don't get any ideas, Gar. Just because Richard and Kori are making out, that does not mean we are going to follow their example. Understood?"
Garfield immediately backed away and regretfully removed his arm from around her waist, feeling the sweat trickling down from his forehead despite the frigid weather. "Hehe, sure. I mean, whoever said anything about making out?"
Snowflakes fell softly: exquisite petals of snow, each and every one unique in its crystalline beauty. It was a cold December night, and the city was mostly asleep. Vehicles still thundered along the motorway, tyres screeching and skidding along the icy road, but Jump City's Central Park was a silent haven amidst the urban jungle of crime and pollution. Snow blanketed the skeletal tree branches in the park, a fur-like winter dressing for the gnarled limbs. The artificial lake was frozen over with a thick layer of ice; snow-covered paths wound like labyrinthine white ribbons around the densely forested park.
Two silent figures, a dark-haired man and a redheaded woman, ambled silently along a deserted pathway, completely content to be alone, by themselves. So much had happened for Richard and Kori Grayson—formerly Kori Anders, as many still called her—in the space of the past month that they sometimes wondered if it was all a dream: After Richard and Bruce had come to an agreement, Bruce set up a charity with a proportion of the fortune, and left the rest to Richard. On top of all that, Kori and Richard had gotten married in a magnificent, grand ceremony—which Bruce had cordially attended.
All of it still seemed surreal to Kori, somehow. Perhaps she had been dreaming for too long, it was hard to tell apart fantasy and reality. Perhaps it seemed too good to be true after nine long years of separation that had seemed like a lifetime. Perhaps it had been a lifetime. A lifetime that belonged to a Teen Titan named Starfire. A lifetime that could be revisited through memories both wonderful and tragic.
But when Kori woke up every morning to find Richard's strong arms holding her close to his warm body, when she drifted off to sleep every night drowning in his sweet kisses… that was all too real for Kori to denounce as merely a pleasant dream... Or was it? What if that, too, was but a dream? What if everything she had ever known was actually only—
"What's wrong, baby?" Richard asked softly, startling Kori out of her brief reverie.
She hurriedly brushed away the tears that clung to her eyelashes like frozen crystals. "Nothing," she answered, feigning a bright smile. "There is absolutely nothing wrong. Everything is simply too wonderful…" Kori sighed, voice trailing off as she looked into Richard's clear cerulean eyes, unmasked whenever they were together alone. In his gentle, caring eyes, she saw an unspoken question. "I fear that it is simply too perfect to be true. We have been separated for so long… I fear that everything is merely a pleasant dream, and that when I wake up… I shall be all alone."
"Oh, Star…" he held her closer, pressing her slim frame against his body, feeling her strong, steady heartbeat beneath the layers of warm clothing. She buried her head in his chest, and he hugged her tightly, wanting never to let go. Sometimes Richard, too, in his darkest nightmares, would imagine that the happiness he had finally found would suddenly dissipate like mist on a hot summer's day, and he would be left as an empty shell, unloving, uncaring, unwanted. It was at times like these that he would wake up, forehead damp with sweat, heart hammering madly. Then he would see Kori, tranquil and silent, lying in his arms, and his pulse would eventually slow down again. He would lie down beside her, quietly watching the gentle rise and fall of her body as she breathed, until he fell asleep again. Richard never told Kori about these nightmares, to protect her from the unreal horrors of his imagination, but to hear that she dreamt of it too… it simply broke his heart to see her cry.
"You're not alone, Star," Richard murmured, his warm breath visible as it hit the cold winter air. "I'm here, and I won't leave you. I won't lose you again, I promise."
"I know. I really, really want to believe you, Richard. But—I apologise—sometimes I lose hope. I wish to believe that everything will turn out 'OK' in the end, but…"
"But when you're having nightmares, it becomes all too real, and then you lose the ability to tell the difference between what's real and what's not. … and your fear becomes alive," he prompted.
Kori nodded. She imagined the fear, smothering, choking her in its cold, dark embrace. She quickly turned to Richard again, "Then you have experienced this? And you, too, fear this—" she searched for an appropriate word, "this fear?"
"Yes." Richard nodded. "I didn't want to tell you, I thought it'd scare you…"
"We must believe in each other, Richard," she said earnestly. She looked into his eyes encouragingly and her voice was filled with hope. "We must know everything about each other if we are to overcome our fears together... then we can succeed in achieving true happiness. We must help each other to confront these terrors and to defeat these fears that plague our nightmares constantly. And we can only achieve this together."
Kori smiled again, emerald eyes shining brightly. "Remember, 'life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.' We must not dwell in the past anymore or grieve for our past losses. We must not yet worry about the future, for its joys and sorrows are yet to come. We have only the present for now, and we must make it beautiful… so beautiful that it will be worth remembering. We must make life worth living."
Richard took her hands in his own. "You are the reason that I live, Starfire. I live for you, I breathe for you… you are the reason that my life is worth living. You make me happier than anyone else ever could, and that's never going to change." He pulled her close, breathing in the sweet scent of her skin and hair, and then he leaned in and touched his lips to hers. In an instant, they were kissing each other with fiery passion. Their hands were entangled in each other's hair, their mouths hungrily devouring each other's love. It wasn't a soft, gentle kiss; it was an ardent, passionate kiss, and it certainly wasn't part of any dream, no matter how pleasant. Finally, they broke away, heartbeats racing madly.
"Score one," Richard grinned.
The two lovers walked down the silent wintry lane, arms wrapped around each other, gently murmuring words of love, occasionally stopping for another kiss. Their hearts were ablaze with love, a brilliant flame that would burn for as long as they lived, and forever after that... because the love that Robin and Starfire, Richard and Kori, shared, blazed with the brightest fire of all: the eternal flame of true love.
A/N- The inevitable cliche ending... I know it's ridiculously fluffy and happy, but I think I've put Robin and Starfire through enough drama already, so... yeah. About time they got together! Besides, this was intended to be a SHORT story in the first place. This story started out as a one-shot, and it ended up with nine chapters! WOOT. Anyway, I'd like to say a very big thank you to everyone who read and reviewed throughout... I hope you all enjoyed it, and thanks for all the support!
And don't forget... REVIEW please! Feel free to blab on about anything relevant to this story. Constructive criticism is much appreciated, for example:
1. Did you like it?
2. What could be improved upon?
3. Did the story improve or get worse as it progressed?
4. Were you expecting more drama?
5. Was it too 'fluffy', was there too much kissing, etc.?
6. Was the description lacking?
7. Were the characters way OOC?
8. Was the ending disappointing?
9. Was the story too long or too short?
10. What would you like to see in future stories? (Chances are, I won't write it, but it's good to know what my readers want to read!)
Stuff like that.
P.S. By the way, because I'm so nice and I know that your Saturdays will be so empty now without anything to 'look forward to' (note the sarcasm), I'm writing a Christmas-themed mini-story (it will be 3 chapters long). The pairing is KorixRich, like in this story, so if you liked this one, you can go check that one out and drop by a review... please? Hey, it's not like I'm advertising or anything. I mean, I wouldn't dream of it!