Disclaimer: Teen Titans, or any of its counterparts are not mine.
Authors Note: This is the first in a universe I've called E'ara. It begins just after the Episode "Revved Up". As the dust settles is a very basic introduction to that universe and I've improved greatly since it was written.
I am Australian, so there will be differences in spelling and slang terms. Examples include learnt, burnt, instead of learned and burned, also most spellings that have a z in it will contain an s, such as realise.
Re-edited May 2010.
Starfire rapped lightly on the blue door of Robin's motel room. "Robin?" she called again, listening for sounds of movement from within the room. She could dimly hear running water from inside the room.
She knocked again, louder this time. There was a muffled yelp from inside and the sound of water disappeared before footsteps approached the door.
"It is I," she replied hesitantly. "I wish to speak with you."
There was a momentary silence from the other side of the door, before she heard the lock snap and a jangle of chain. "Yeah, sure," he replied as his voice drifted away. "Come in, I'll just be a sec."
Grasping the handle, she opened the door and entered quickly, closing the door softly behind her. She was startled to find the room empty.
"Robin?" she called again, confused as to why the small room would be empty. The double bed was covered in a soft green blanket, the bedside table partially covered in newspaper clippings and manila folders. Robin's laptop computer was set up on small wooden dining table against the far wall. A small television perched on the miniature refrigerator opposite the bed. It was one of the three best and only rooms they could find in this small, misbegotten town that they'd been forced to stay while the T-car was being repairs.
Her eyes traveled to the suitcase rack and landed on the small silver briefcase that meant so much to Robin.
Robin poked his head out of the bathroom at the back of the room, his hair slicked flat and dripping with water, a white towel draped across bare shoulders, the ever-present mask hiding his eyes. "You caught me in the shower Star," he said, a faint blush spreading a cross his cheeks. "I'll, erm... be out in a minute."
Starfire felt a similar blush creeping across her cheeks as she averted her eyes, suddenly noticing bits of his uniform strewn around the room. His cape hung on a chair next to the round dining table, gloves and utility belt flung upon the table's wooden surface, boots sprawled on the floor, and his fiery red shirt draped on the open door handle of the bathroom. "Perhaps it is inappropriate that I be here while you are unclothed. I shall return later," she replied, turning toward the door.
"Star, it's okay, really," he replied, stalling her and reached for his shirt. "I'm wearing pants. It's not like you haven't seen me without a shirt on before."
Starfire sensed the blush spread down her neck and she fought not to gawk at his semi naked state. "I did like the swimming at the beach. The water was most enjoyable."
"Yeah," Robin replied from inside the bathroom once more. "We'll have to take you back someday. What are the others up to?"
Starfire floated further into the room, before hovering next to the bed, doing her best not to peek through the open bathroom door. "Beast Boy was regaling Raven with the tale of his 'taking of the wheel', and Cyborg is in the park of cars working on the T-car. I have asked if he requires my assistance but he refused. I do not believe he wants anyone to touch his 'baby' in its current condition. There were many curse words involving Ding Dong Daddy being emitted from underneath the car."
Robin chuckled as he stepped from the bathroom and reached from his boots, his hair now drier and set into its spikes. He dumped his boots next to a dining chair and turned to rummage around in his suitcase. Socks in hand, he flopped down on a chair and yanked them onto his feet. "Yeah, well, we'll be in this town for a while so he can rebuild, unless he needs to head back to Titan's Tower for gear. So, what's up, Star?"
"I am confused."
"About what?" Robin replied offhandedly, snapping his belt around his waist, before pulling on his boots.
Starfire gently floated over to Robin and sat on the chair opposite him, her eyes resting on Robin's briefcase. She fidgeted momentarily. "On my planet, we carry the memory of those who have departed with us always. I have seen the family photographs of Cyborg, and Beast Boy's infant pictures, even Raven has a likeness of the one called Arella in her room. But I have never seen any of your family. Why hide the keepsakes of your family away?"
Robin froze in the action of reaching for his gloves. He sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "It's difficult to explain, Star…"
She cocked her head. "It is part of the 'secret identity', yes?"
"That's part of it," he replied carefully, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Must it always be secret? May we not share in this identity of you?"
"It's not that simple, Star. It's not just my secret."
Starfire's forehead creased slightly and she looked down at her fidgeting hands. "Do you not trust us? There are times in the past when you have not done so. Have we failed to earn it somehow?"
Robin leapt from his chair so fast that it fell backwards to the ground with a thump. Two strides and then he was kneeling before Starfire, taking her hands in his own. "Don't you even think that, Star." He put a finger to her chin and raised her head so he could look into her eyes. "There is no one on earth that I trust more than you… I trust you with my life… you and the other Titans," he added as an after thought. "If anything, I should be the one earning your trust."
Starfire smiled, clutching at his hand. "But you already have that, Robin, there's no need to earn it."
"It's just…. Well... Look at me," he said, breaking from her grasp and standing up abruptly. He spread his arms wide. "I'm human. Completely. I have no superpower, no alien strength, cybernetic implants, magic or shapeshifting ability. What you see is what you get. I have nothing but my skills, my gadgets and this mask." He began to pace. "If I take it off, I could back to being who I was before I became Robin. I could walk down the street and no one would know who I was. No, don't frown at me, it's not ego talking, I promise. It's not like I want or need to recognized. But there's no way for you to stop being who you are, Star. If you walked down the street, people would know who you are simply by your eyes, and skin. It's the same with Raven and Beast Boy. If I walk down the street, it would just be another person. I couldn't do that to you guys. I decided at the beginning that since there wasn't a way for you to stop being the superhero you were, then I wasn't going to stop either. And that meant never being out of uniform."
Robin stopped pacing and stood still. "And then there's Batman," he said, a pensive look on his face. "My father, I could never measure up to him, I could never do anything right by his standards. He trained me in almost every martial art known, and I still wasn't good enough. I got tired of living in his shadow so I left, and went to Jump city. And I'm still living under his web of secrecy. Robin's so closely tied to Batman, that to let anyone know my identify, my name even, would give his away too."
He let out a huff and slumped on the edge of the bed, head in his hands. "I'll never be good enough for that man, never be anything more than a stupid little kid that..." he sighed. "And you know what?" he asked as he raised his head to look at Starfire. "I'd be by his side in a heartbeat if he ever actually needed me."
Starfire smiled at him sadly, and lent forward on her chair to place a hand on his shoulder. "We all love our norfs, Robin." She frowned again and turned her head toward the confusing briefcase once more. "But, if Batman is your father, who are the people in the pictures? They looked like a Robin."
Robin followed her gaze, and sighed. He should have known she'd be the only one to notice it.
He stood up and fetched the small silver briefcase before placing it on the bed. Scooting over to the middle of the bed, he propped up a pillow behind his back and lent against the headboard. Reaching for the other pillow, he placed it against the headboard next to him. Patting the space beside him, Robin smiled at Starfire before beckoning her to join him.
With a shy smile, Starfire floated off her chair and over to the bed. Copying Robin's position, she stretched her legs out on the bed and leaned into the pillow. Robin snapped open the locks on the briefcase and eased open the lid. Reaching inside, he pulled out a worn yellow photograph album. 'The Flying Graysons' was splashed across the top and beneath was a picture of three people clothed in red, yellow and green acrobatic gear. He barely glanced at the picture before passing the album to Starfire.
She had noticed the small picture album inside the briefcase after Robin had rescued it from Ding Dong Daddy, but never in any detail. Cyborg and Beast Boy had been too excited about the old style uniform within and the Scrapbook of old newspaper clippings of Batman and Robin to notice the small frayed book tucked away in the corner. But Starfire had instinctively known the instance that she'd seen it, this simple little book was the reason why Robin had fought so long and hard to get his property back.
She handled it delicately, carefully examining the picture of the cover. There was a tall man with spiky black hair and dark eyes, a woman with sparkling blue eyes and black hair cascading over her shoulder, and a small boy who shared the spiky hair and the sparkling blue eyes of his parents. The man stood with his arm around the woman's waist and his hand on the boy's shoulder. All three of them wore simple uniforms, a red and yellow shirt and green tights.
Below the trio, Starfire read. "John and Mary Grayson, and their son Dick. 'The Flying Graysons'." Sucking in a breath of surprise, Starfire glanced up at Robin's impassive face before looking back down to the boy.
Rereading the blurb underneath the photograph, she frowned. "Then Cyborg and Beast Boy already know your true name?"
"Huh?" Robin replied, confused. "No. Why would you say that?"
"I have heard them call you 'Dick' on a number of occasions."
"Really?" he drawled, getting a slight lopsided grin on his face. "I see. And when exactly have they called me that?"
"It is usually uttered softly after they have finished a hard session of training. I must confess, I had always thought of it to be a mean word, like torglof."
He chuckled softly. "Richard. My name is Richard, Dick is a nickname."
She brightened, clapping her hands and bouncing on the bed. "Richard! What a glorious name." She frowned again. "But how does one get Dick from Richard?"
Robin gave a throaty chuckle, his cheeks reddening. "I do love your use of English sometimes, Star, it is very… refreshing."
"I am getting better," she retorted with a blush. "Never twice do I make the same mistake."
"That's 'I never make the same mistake twice', Star," he replied playfully.
She looked at him sideways, sure he'd just made fun of her, before her eyes drifted back down to the photograph. "I like Robin better," she replied as she opened the album, revealing picture after picture of a happy and smiling Robin and his parents. "Your mother is very beautiful."
Robin stilled beside her. "Was," he replied softly, swallowing hard. "They died. The Flying Graysons were a trapeze act in a circus. We used to soar through the air performing tumbling tricks for a crowd. Their equipment was sabotaged and they fell to their deaths." His voice broke. "I watched them fall."
"Oh, Robin," Starfire breathed , tears welling in her eyes. She reached out and clutched his hand in sympathy.
Robin looked away and stared off into the distance, giving her hand a squeeze. "I remember silly things, you know? Mum smelled of honeysuckle and lilacs. Dad was always there to catch me when I missed a tumble or a hold. I remember her hugs always made me feel safe and that he used to read to me at nighttime. She used to call me her 'little Robin'," he coughed, trying to hide his voice breaking. "Because I was born on the first day of Spring. It seemed only natural that when Batman adopted me, I took that name and the uniform colours to be closer to my family. As a remembrance."
"I am sorry for the loss off your norfs, Robin." She closed the album with her free hand, bowed her head and gently rubbed her thumb over the miniature picture of Robin. "And then k'norfka Batman came?" she asked hesitantly after a time raising her head, placing the album on the bed beside her.
Robin swallowed and turned to face her once more. "Yeah, then k'norfka Batman came."
Starfire sensed that Robin was not going to say anything more on the subject. She let go of his hand, bounced to her knees and spun on the bed to face him. "Ooh," she smiled. "I have a gift for you!"
Robin raised an eyebrow at her and she smiled secretively before reaching for her ever-present armband. As her hand neared, a small silver button materialized causing Robin to blink in surprise.
"On my planet," she said as she pushed the button, causing the armband to hiss before falling away from her arm. "We carry the memory of our loved ones with us always. This is a Tamaranian e'ara." She scratched her ear with her free hand. "I am unsure of how to explain it correctly, it takes mind pictures and plays it back."
"Plays it back?" Robin asked, raising his eyebrows.
Starfire smiled. "Watch," she replied stretching out her arm and holding the e'ara flat on her palm. The device gave a little shudder, before morphing into a flat circle of metal on her palm. A small cone of light beamed upward from the center of the circle.
Robin watched in amazement as a miniature version of a much younger Starfire and her k'norfka Galfore appeared within the beam of light. Galfore appeared to be tickling a giggling Starfire. The image shifted and Robin saw Starfire surrounded by four other people. Recognizing a younger version of Blackfire, Robin guessed that this was her family. He'd never known she'd also had a younger brother.
The image shifted again to the Titans laughing and playing a game of football in a park. He remembered that day well, it was one of the first outings they had taken as Titans, and where Starfire had developed a taste for mustard.
The image shifted once more and Robin was surprised to see himself dancing with Starfire, on the night of the Prom that he'd been forced to attend with Kitten. Starfire eeped and dropped the circle, the image immediately disappearing.
Starfire coughed and retrieved the circle, a soft blush spreading across her cheeks.
"That's amazing Star!" Robin exclaimed. "Everyone on your planet has one of those?"
"Almost everyone, Robin," she replied carefully. "Some do not wish to carry the e'ara." Placing the circle back on her palm, she pressed another magically materializing button, waited for it to return to its previous form and snapped the armband back in its proper place. "This is the female e'ara," she said quietly. "It is worn on our right arms, males on the left."
Starfire reached into her skirt pocket and pulled out a similar metal circle. "This is the male e'ara," she said placing it in Robin's hands. "It is my gift to you, so you can carry your family with you always."
"Starfire," Robin breathed, speechless.
Starfire blushed and bobbed her head. "Push the button in the center of the e'ara," she began, pointing toward the center of the circle. "That will attune it to you, and only to you. No one else may access it."
Robin did as she bade, depressing the small button. He felt a prick of pain, and drew his finger back sharply. "Ouch," he muttered, glancing at the small pinprick of blood that welled from his finger.
"I apologize, I should have mentioned that. It takes a small amount of your blood to activate it the first time. Now it is yours forever."
"How do I play the memories?"
"Think about what you wish to remember and the e'ara will show it to you."
Robin watched in amazement as the e'ara flashed and an image of Starfire flying appeared within its band of light. Robin instinctively clenched his fist around the e'ara, and the image disappeared.
Starfire felt herself reddening once more.
Robin coughed to hide his embarrassment. "I think I'll play with this later. How do you turn it into an armband?"
"Press the button again."
Robin pushed the button and watched as the metal circle morphed into an armband. It was different to Starfire's, instead of being smooth, his had circular mounds spaced around the band, and a raised stripe along each edge. "It looks like Galfore's," he murmured quietly, remembering the band he had seen on the Tamaranian's arm.
"Indeed," Starfire replied. "Male e'ara go on the left arm."
Robin carefully snapped the armband onto his left arm. "Thank you Starfire," he replied softly. "It's the best gift I've ever had."
"You need not wear it openly, Robin. It will resize further up your arm under your sleeve if you wish."
"I think I'll leave it right where it is, thanks Star."
Starfire glanced up at Robin's face. He was watching her expressionlessly, but seemed to be waiting for some sort of response from her.
Carefully Starfire reached up toward Robin's mask. He flinched and moved backward instinctively. Starfire held her hand steady and gave him a gentle smile. "Please, I will not harm you," she whispered. She was determined to see what lay beneath the mask, but would wait until he was comfortable. Biting his lower lip he gave her a short nod of affirmation, wiping suddenly sweaty palms on his pants.
Cocking her head slightly in concentration she reached once more for his mask. Grasping the edge in her fingers she slowly peeled it back from his face, before tossing it gently on the bed. She smiled slightly at his closed eyes; he was obviously trying to delay the moment. She reached for his chin and gave it a little shake.
"Robin," she breathed and he blinked open his eyes.
They were a dazzling blue.
Starfire beamed. "They are glorious, Robin."
He descended on her in an instant.
One moment she was admiring his glorious blue eyes, then next he'd pressed his lips on hers. She let out a muffled squeak of surprise before melting against him. Her eyes drifted closed as he sighed against her lips, hand on her hip, gently kneading the fabric of her skirt with his fingers.
Robin deepened the kiss, parting his lips and coaxing her to do the same, before tasting her with the tip of his tongue. His other hand wandered up her back before he wove his fingers into her rich luxurious hair that tumbled down.
He pushed against her gently, and she found herself lying on her back on the bed with Robin's weight settling over her.
There was a loud bang and Robin's weight was gone as he sat up on three limbs, his bo staff in hand, covering Starfire protectively.
"Yo Robin!" Cyborg's loud voice barked through the door as his fist hammered away. "I thought you were gonna be helpin' me with the T-Car! Or at least keeping Raven from murdering BB. Get your masked ass out here!"
Robin chuckled, retracted his bo staff and rested his forehead on Starfire's. "He has absolutely the worst timing ever," he murmured to her before raising his voice. "I'll be out in a minute."
"Dude," Beast Boy's voice wailed through the door. "Have you seen Starfire? I wanna tell her about my driving!"
"What driving BB?" Cyborg retorted, laughing . "All you did was hold the wheel!"
"She's in here with me," Robin bellowed, turning his head back toward the door. "Now go away!"
"Oooooh," Cyborg and Beast Boy both sang at once. "Making out with your girlfriend."
Robin gave Starfire a wicked smile. "Yes, now go away!"
Starfire covered her mouth to control her giggles.
There was stunned silence on the other side of the door, followed by "Dude! Did he just say what I think he said?"
"Go away now please," called Starfire gleefully. "I wish to continue the making out."
Robin smiled and descended toward her again. Starfire caught a movement at the door out of the corner of her eye and suppressed a giggle. A green gecko tried to stealthily climb the back of the door after emerging from the gap underneath the door.
There was a splat as Robin flung a small package back at the gecko without breaking Starfire's gaze. Beast Boy morphed back into his original shape to find he'd been covered in pink adhesive goo and stuck face first to the door. "Dude!" he whined wiggling.
Robin gently kissed the tip of Starfire's nose. "Don't move," he whispered, before crawling off the bed and stalking toward the door. Starfire propped herself up on her elbows to watch.
Grabbing Beast Boy by the back of the neck, Robin peeled the green changeling roughly from the door, flung the door open and tossed the disheveled and sticky boy outside. Beast Boy collided with a flabbergasted Cyborg and an unusually astonished Raven, coating all three of them in the sticky pink substance. "Five minutes!" he bellowed to his astounded and trapped team and slammed the door shut, locking it behind him.
With a cheeky grin at Starfire, Robin walked across the room, grabbed his cape and stuffed it in the crack under the door. "That'll keep them," he muttered as Starfire laughed.
"He wasn't wearing a mask," Raven's monotone voice drifted from beyond the door, sounding mildly surprised.
"Yo, BB! Get your feet outta my face!"
"Cant… move…" the green changeling grunted.
Chuckling, Robin dusted his hands off and returned to the giggling Starfire.
He crawled along her length and settled on her again. She smiled up at him, wrapping her arms around his neck. Robin smiled and captured her lips once more.