Disclaimer: Teen Titans, or any of its counterparts are not mine.
Author's Note: This story is the sequel to As the dust settles. Set just after the defeat of the Brotherhood of Evil (but before Terra returns from the rock).
I'm Australian, and coloured is spelt correctly for us. Be wary of other spelling differences, as well as slang.
Big Fat Warning: This story, although it contains light and fluffy moments, is also very dark in places. It contains violence, coarse language and adult situations. Rated M.
Edited - June 2010. The majority of author's notes have been removed. Review and changes of grammar and spelling. Several inconsistencies and minor plot holes fixed, as well as some character adjustments.
Kry's note 2013: This entire series is very old, outdated and is full of mistakes, plotwise, characterwise and story structure. Please don't offer critique. I have grown a great deal since this was written.
Jump City had been quietly celebrating.
Not only had their beloved Titans returned, but they had also banded together heroes from across the world to create what was now known as the Titans Network. They had then led said heroes into battle to defeat the Brotherhood of Evil. Jump City was grateful to Titans East for stepping up to the plate and protecting their glorious city with the Titans were away, but nothing could dampen their excitement at having their own back.
There was no great ticker-tape parade when the Titans returned home nearly a year after they had left. The Titans silently slipped into town and went straight back to work. So Jump City celebrated quietly too. Children whispered and pointed excitedly whenever a green animal streaked by or a purple shape flew through the sky. People went to work gossiping about the place that they saw the T-Car or the R-Cycle. The Goth's held several depressing poetry marathons.
Many people commented on the changes in the Titans. Beast Boy had grown considerably and now marginally taller than Raven, although his limbs and feet still seemed too big for him. Raven had been spotted coming out of a vegetarian shop carrying what appeared to be tofu. Cyborg had been seen sporting a goatee, but it vanished as fast as it had appeared.
The biggest change had been seen in Robin and Starfire. Robin had grown in stature, rivaling Starfire's height and was beginning to fill out. No one could say anything for certain but something seemed to have changed between the pair. When they appeared in public there seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary, they didn't hold hands, there was no kissing to be seen, there was no contact between them other than what was expected between good friends. But there were whisperings that the pair had been seen flying together at night, or the R-Cycle had been spotted near lover's lane, but nothing had ever been proven. Indeed, several fan girls had taken to staking out lover's lane in an attempt to catch the pair, but they never did. It seemed that any change between them romantically was simply wishful thinking.
And then there was the strange studded metal band that had appeared on Robin's arm. Several people theorized that it was the alien version of a wedding ring, while others claimed that the Titans were simply too young for that sort of thing so it must be merely ornamental. The Titans certainly weren't saying anything.
It was a brisk autumn day in early October, nearly three months since the Titans had returned. Trees in the park had already begun dropping their leaves, creating mounds of orange and gold leaves for children to play in. Clouds had begun to fatten with snow.
Somewhere a battle was being waged.
Robin blocked the strike.
He threw himself backward as another strike whooshed past his chin. One hand to the ground, he flipped his legs over his agile body. Planting his feet firmly on the ground he returned to a battle stance.
A figure stood still several paces before him, waiting for his next move. The figure was clothed in a white gi, its features hidden beneath a white ninja hood and mask. A long plait draped over its shoulder.
With a shout, Robin darted forward unleashing a volley of strikes at the figure's head and upper body only to be blocked at every turn. The figure dropped into a crouch to sweep his legs out from under him but Robin was ready. He leaped high into the air, somersaulting over the figure's head and aimed a kick to its back. The figure grunted as the kick struck before it rocked forward, to be narrowly missed by another kick that had been aimed at its head. It planted its hands on the ground, kicking back at him, before flipping its body over its head.
Robin twisted in the air, landing a small distance from the figure and rushed toward it once more. He aiming a flying kick to the figure's head only to find his ankle trapped between its hands.
He growled as it spun his ankle and used the momentum to bring his other leg up and smashing his shin into its shoulder. The force of the hit caused the figure to release Robin's ankle and stagger backward. Robin continued his spin, placing a hand on the ground to push himself back into a fighting position.
Robin breathed hard, noticing the figure in white's chest was also heaving. They had been hard at it for over an hour, thrusting and parrying, dodging and ducking, neither of them managing to get the upper hand, although Robin had managed to get a few good hits in. Robin was just thankful that none of the other Titans were here to witness this. His muscles were beginning to burn with overuse and his bones of arms throbbed with every block. Sweat trickled down his face and caused his hair to drip.
He wiped the sweat on his forehead away with the arm of his own white gi. He undid the belt and shrugging out of the sweaty gi jacket before casting it aside, leaving him with in a pale gray singlet, white gi pants and a band of studded metal wrapped around his arm.
The figure darted forward and swung a fist at him. He grabbed its wrist and twisted, forcing its whole arm forward, smacking the figure in the stomach with his elbow. It twisted its wrist and grabbed onto his hand, rotating its arm and tossed him over its hip. From the ground he kicked its leg behind the shins and knocked the figure to the ground.
Robin arched his back, rocking onto his shoulders and flung his legs in the air, using the leverage to flip himself back on his feet. He reached down and gripped the figure by the shoulders, yanking it to its feet. The figure struggled, before placing a foot onto his chest and pushed. He hissed and thrust the figure away causing it to overbalance and fall backward.
The figure slammed into the nearby wall and bounced, only to be forced back against the wall by Robin's body. One hand clamped its wrists together; the other ripped the hooded mask from its head. Robin froze, panting heavily, his face hovering only inches away.
Starfire's green eyes gazed into his blue ones, her chest heaving as she panted.
She made a small sound and he closed the distance between them, attaching his lips to hers. He released her wrists and yanked her hips toward him before he devoured her lips in frenzy. Her hands snaked around his neck. She rose to a hover and twined her legs around his hips.
His hands deftly tore at her belt stripping her of it and then hastily undid the ties of her jacket, before his hands clamped against her ribs. He tucked his thumbs underneath the singlet she wore beneath, helping it to ride upward so he could place his hands on her bare skin.
He shoved her up against the wall, releasing her lips so he could kiss and lick his way down her jaw. She arched her head back, lengthening her neck, allowing him to lick the salty sweat as he traveled downward. Starfire whimpered involuntarily at the touch of his lips on her damp skin. His hand crept up her singlet to cup her breast as he nibbled on her collarbone.
"GAH! My eyes! My eyes!" Beast Boy shrieked, and there was a dull thunk behind them.
Starfire forgot to fly and Robin lost his balance because of her sudden weight. They tumbled to the ground with a thump, Robin ending up sprawling on top of Starfire.
"No, really, don't stop on our account," Cyborg teased from the doorway of the training room. "Shall we get the popcorn, BB?"
Robin groaned and crawled off Starfire to sit on the floor beside her, drawing his legs to his chest to hide the bulge in his gi pants. Every single time he'd managed to get some alone time with Starfire, something had interrupted them. Titan alarms, a crime report from a Titan member stationed halfway across the world. Even Beast Boy and Cyborg seemed to just lie in wait for them to get in a compromising position and then interrupt. "Do you guys have nothing better to do than follow us around and make fun of us?" he asked, looking up at his teammates.
Starfire sat up, her back to the door, hastily fixing her ridden up singlet and redoing her gi. "Perhaps if they suffer the spareness of time, they should complete more sessions of training."
"Dudes!" Beast Boy complained, picking himself up off the floor. "You've been training in here for hours! It went quiet, so we thought you'd left."
Cyborg stabbed a thumb at Beast Boy. "BB's been begging me to time how long it takes for him to shift into a hundred animals. This is the best space for him to do it in."
Robin eyed Beast Boy. "Uh-huh. Sure he has."
"It's true," Beast Boy claimed. "We've even worked on an order of animals so I have to switch from big to small."
Robin groaned and ran a hand over his face. "All right fine. Whatever. Just give us a few minutes, then you can have the room."
"Why?" Beast Boy piped, curiously.
Cyborg grabbed the changeling by the head and dragged him out, closing the door behind him. "He's gonna need a moment to compose himself," Robin heard Cyborg explain through the door.
"Ooooooh," Beast Boy's voice sang as though he suddenly understood.
Robin buried his head in his knees, struggling to rein in his emotions. He briefly wondered if Starfire knew, or even understood what he was going through. He felt a soft touch on his shoulder and raised his head to look in Starfire's compassionate orbs. She smiled sweetly and took his hand in her own, intertwining their fingers.
He cleared his throat, feeling more in control of his own body. "You're getting much better at sparing, Star. I don't recall seeing you fly once. You just have to be a bit more careful; you overextended your reach a few times then and some of your landings leave you off balanced."
She smiled and ducked her head, her cheeks reddening. "I thank you, Robin. I will endeavor to improve my techniques."
He chuckled. "I guess it's difficult to land properly when you're also trying to remember not to fly and to pull your punches. It's brilliant just to have someone who could keep up with me. I don't think I've worked that hard in a while."
"I, too, found it quite enjoyable." She smiled at him, before sighing. "I fear I am very sticky, I shall need to travel to the bathroom to shower before I visit Raven. I promised her I would meditate with her and then we were planning to paint the nails."
Robin smiled. "Sounds like fun."
She raised her eyebrows at him. "I did not believe that boys like their nails painted." She narrowed her eyes. "Or were you speaking of the shower?
Robin reddened. "Maybe," he replied evasively. He liked this side of Starfire; the deliciously impish and slightly naughty side of her that only he ever got to see.
She whacked him lightly on the shoulder before getting to her feet, pulling him up as well. She bent to retrieve her hood and eyed it thoughtfully. "Must I continue to wear this when we spar? It is very cumbersome."
He looked at the hooded mask in her hand. He had originally asked her to wear it because it was difficult to focus on sparing with her when he could see her face. It was so hard to watch her bite her lip in concentration and not want to kiss the living daylights out of her. He claimed it was part of the uniform, but had since stopped wearing his own. Now it was starting to seem like a game, to try and see if he could corner her and deprive her of the mask. "I guess not," he replied, saddened to see it go. He sighed and ran a hand through his damp hair. "I'd better go, Star. I've still got a ton of paperwork from Titans East to go through."
"I understand," she said smiling, before leaning in for a quick kiss. "It would be nice to see you for dinner."
He smiled tiredly. "I'll try," he replied and watched her walk from the room, before retrieving his own gear and heading for the showers.
"Raven?" Starfire called as she knocked on her friend's door. She tossed her slightly damp hair over her shoulder and readjusted the skirt of her uniform. "I am ready to commence the meditations with you."
The door was enveloped in black energy, before it slid open. "I was beginning to wonder if I should send out a search party," Raven called from inside the dimly lit room.
Starfire entered, walking toward the center of the room. "I apologise for my delay, Robin and I were…"
Starfire felt a blush colour her cheeks. "Um… Yes."
"Nevermind," Raven said from her seat on her bed, a big black book on her lap. "I've been reading. At least you managed to coax him out of his office for a while."
"Yes," she replied. "I do not believe it is healthy for him to be locked away all day."
Raven shrugged and placed her book on the bed beside her. "Well, we were away for nearly a year. He probably still has weeks of catching up to do."
"He mentioned that he is getting numerous reports of criminal activity through the Titan Network. I know that he has an abundance of work to complete and I have tired to be understanding, I just wish…"
"That he'd spend more time with you," Raven finished with a small nod.
"Not just with me," Starfire explained hastily, wanting to be understood. "He rarely has time to train with Cyborg, or play games with Beast Boy, or discuss all manner of philosophy with you. He should let us assist him in the work of papers."
Raven shrugged again. "You know Robin," she said. "No paperwork we do would be good enough. He'll still be looking over our shoulder and redoing it when we are not looking. At least the Brotherhood of Evil has been defeated and the criminal activity lately has been reduced petty thieves. He'll be on top of the work soon." Raven got to her feet and drifted to the center of the room. "Shall we?"
Starfire floated over to hover beside her, copying Raven's meditative stance. "Please."
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos," the pair began to chant, their voices blending together.
Starfire felt her mind floating away as a sense of peace and tranquility swept over her. She truly enjoyed meditating with Raven and knew that Raven looked forward to it as well. She knew that the chant enabled Raven to retreat into the haven in her own mind, allowing worldly troubles to drop away, but it was a completely different experience for Starfire.
For Starfire, meditating was a way to return to her favorite place on Tamaran. She imagined herself floating on a tall rocky cliff overlooking a vast desert of orange sand, the bright sun of Tamaran setting on the horizon. She always felt truly at peace when she remembered her cliff top retreat. She could almost feel the wind blowing through her hair and could almost smell the hint of baking sand. She smiled quietly to herself as she continued to chant, looking out over the orange desert of her home.
… hate paper …
Starfire frowned, as Robin's voice seemed to arrive as though floating on the wind, weaving in and out of the air, only allowing her snippets of what he was saying. The vision of her cliff top dissolved as she blinked open her eyes, returning momentarily to Raven's room. She glanced around, but could not see him there. She shut her eyes resolutely and continued to chant along with Raven. Slowly her desert vision reappeared and she watched the sun sink lower.
… Bumblebee … information … report… don't want … much description...
Starfire faltered in her chanting, opening her eyes once more. Turning her head, she confirmed that they were alone in the room. She coughed, shifted slightly and returned to her chanting. Her desert was rebuilt slower this time as she was having trouble concentrating, but the instant it returned, so did Robin's disjointed voice.
… stayed … Starfire… needed … break … been neglect … she … to me… eyes… lips… breasts … delicious…
Starfire snapped open her eyes with a gasp, her mind reeling. She fell to the ground with a thump, forgetting for the second time that day to float. What was going on?
Raven stopped chanting and opened an eye. "What's wrong?"
Starfire lifted her head sheepishly. "I believe I am having the trouble concentrating today. I am hearing Robin's voice inside my head."
Raven opened both her eyes and looked at Starfire, her eyebrows drawn in thought. "It's probably just wishful thinking, seeing as you've barely spent any time together lately. Concentrate harder."
Starfire nodded and floated back up to Raven's side. "Azarath Metrion Zinthos."
The instant Starfire closed her eyes and cleared her mind, Robin's voice returned.
Gah … two pipsqueaks … report …never understand …
Starfire frowned, her forehead creasing in concentration. The picture of the orange Tamaranian desert slowly returned, Robin's voice continuing to echo through her meditation but Starfire was determined to ignore it.
… try this …Control Freak … appearance … tested …east … challenge … Starfire's …challenge … learning … fast … no concentrate … Freak …interesting … shark … detonators …same time … stopped … Speedy … arrow… … … … to go away again …
Starfire allowed Robin's voice to wash over her and tried not to concentrate on it, instead watching the sun setting over the desert. Gradually Robin's voice flittered away to a whisper, an ever present droning that Starfire was able to ignore until she heard her name again.
… Starfire … others … Wayne … Christmas … She … enjoyed … spent … more time …ourselves … no interruptions … alert … Boy … Cyborg … too busy …disturb … … be nice … all to myself … I miss her… … Dick … concentrate … work …
Starfire sighed and opened her eyes. Hearing Robin's voice inside her head made it very difficult to concentrate on remaining in a meditative state. It made no sense, it was almost as though he was having a conversation with himself, but he wasn't in the room. She checked her communicator, but it wasn't active. She floated down to the ground and put her head in her hands, letting her hair fall around her like a veil.
"That bad?" Raven asked quietly.
Starfire made a small noise of agreement.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Starfire raised her head and looked at Raven. "I do not understand. His voice is coming from a great distance and he is saying very strange things, only I cannot hear all of it. I cannot concentrate on my place of peace when he will not stop talking."
Raven frowned. "Has this happened before?"
"No, it has not."
Raven gave an enduring sigh. "Look, why don't I come with you? I may be able to help you block out whatever it is."
Starfire brightened. "I thank you, Raven. That would be most helpful."
"Yeah, that's me, helpfulness personified," Raven mumbled. She sighed and positioned herself opposite Starfire. She raised her cowl, her eyes blazing with power and placed a hand on either side of Starfire's head.
"Azarath Metrion Zinthos."
Starfire closed her eyes and let her mind float away once more, calling to her place of peace. The cliff top surveying the desert swirled into existence, with Raven and Starfire standing side by side, their hands clasped together.
"This is… pretty," Raven said diplomatically as she looked around. "It's certainly very orange."
"It is my favorite place on Tamaran," Starfire replied as she stared out onto the orange landscape.
… Aqualad … meticulous …
Raven swiveled her head from side to side as Robin's voice wafted through the air. "That's certainly something…" she began carefully, narrowing her eyes.
… Starfire … gorgeous …purple …
Starfire blushed. "He has said my name quite frequently."
"It's almost as if…" Raven trailed off in thought, as Robin's voice continued to drift between the pair.
A sudden blaring startled Starfire enough that she released Raven's hand and the pair immediately found themselves back in Raven's bedroom. They looked at each other before dashing toward the Titans common room.
Beast Boy and Cyborg were already in the common room when the girls arrived. Beast Boy stood still, staring up at the large screen in awe, while Cyborg was at the computer.
"Titans, report," Robin barked, coming up beside Starfire. He was clad in his uniform, mask back on his face. He rarely wore it anymore when they were in the Tower, but the instant an alarm went off, it was slapped back on. He stopped suddenly and stared at the screen.
Cyborg turned to face the group. "It's confirmed. It's him alright."