Me: OK, there's been somewhat of a kink in the works of "This Star made my wish come true," so—
Oneshot Plot Bunny: I'm taking advantage of her spell of "writer's block" to add to her Oneshot collection with total disregard to the growing impatient-ness of "This Star" readers!!!
Me: (miserably) What she said.
OSPB: (through a mouthful of crumbs) Syler dun't own Teen Ti-ans, but 'e does own an awesome reshipy fer 'and Tartsh (gets another mouthful)
Me: HEY!!! THOSE WERE MINE!!
PB: (sweatdrops and hold out platter) Croogie?
(By the way, Trouble in Tokyo had never happened)
Nightwing jumped, startled, as the sound of a loud frustrated yell followed by an even louder splat broke the uncommon silence of the Common Room. Against one wall of said room, a rather large yellow stain stood proudly next to a rather exploded bottle of mustard.
A masked eyebrow was raised, "Something the matter Star?"
The redhead seated next to him drummed her fingers against the couch testily. "Yes. Or no, well…I'M BORED! Aren't you bored Nightwing?"
Eyebrow still raised, he nodded obviously. It had been a rather boring day; not a single baddie doing anything illegal anywhere. In an attempt at curing his boredom, Nightwing had already trained in the gym, alphabetized his crime files, and cleaned up his already spotless room. Now stuck reading an old issue of "Reader's Digest" with the jokes long grown old, the 22 year-old hero was eager for any sort of distraction.
And a Tamaranian bored to the point of hurling her favorite drink into a wall seemed like a good place to start. "Have any suggestions?"
His teammate groaned, "No. I've already walked Silkie, cleaned the blue food from our refrigerator, watched reruns of "World of Fungus" and finished the crossword puzzle in the Tamaranian Daily. In pen. I'm dying to go out and do something." She threw her head back against the couch and slouched down. A green iris turned to him, "What do Earth people do for fun that doesn't involve malls or pizza?"
"Well there's lots of things," Nightwing started, always ready to instruct in the ways of all things human. "Going to arcades, or bowling, or something. Head out to the clubs, explore the city, go out on dates, stay in and do board games, ritualistically slaughter-"
"Go out on dates," Star interrupted thoughtfully, "That's it." She sat up and fixed him with gleeful eyes, "I want you to take me out on a date."
If Slade had come in the room with a sombrero and a trumpet, belting out "Hips Don't Lie" by Shakira, Nightwing would not have been more surprised.
…Ugh, now there's an image for ya.
"I," She pointed to herself , "Want you," she pointed to him, "To take me," she made her hand 'walk' across her palm, "On a date." Realizing there was no real motion for 'date,' she continued the walking motion, then struck with inspiration, her hand 'sat' and 'crossed its legs', thumb acting like it was lifting a cup, and a small starbolt winked to life, looking like a little candle. Noticing that she was acting ridiculous, she looked back to her friend and leader.
Who had one eye squinted almost shut while the other widened under a raised eyebrow. "Why?"
Starfire shrugged, "I'm bored, and I realized that I've never been on a date with you before. And if what they say is true, dates with you are worth going on."
Both eyes popped wide in shock, "Who's they?!"
The Tamaranian's face dulled, and envy flickered across it, "Every female you've gone out with."
Guilt clamped unforgiving hands onto Nightwing's shoulders. Four years ago, Bruce Wayne had hosted a series of charitable events for the rich and the snotty. Richard Grayson, as his ward, was required to be there…with a date. And since Barbara had gotten seriously involved with a guy, the 6-foot tall, black haired, blue eyed young man had to find another escort.
As could be imagined, this wasn't hard to do. Once the girls of Gotham, Jump, and the Titan's Network got wind of this, he had to all but fight them off with a bo staff. Finally, he had agreed to take Bumblebee, otherwise known as Karen Beecher, to one of the events, mainly because the leader of the Titans East was to the point of killing her male teammates and needed a little down-time. Also, she had mentioned that she had never been to an event like that before.
So, Richard had put on his tuxedo, and Karen donned a gorgeous black dress with a swirling gold design on it, leaving a crying and teeth-gnashing Cyborg behind.
Unfortunately though, Bruce encouraged a "healthy playboy lifestyle" to keep up appearances; meaning not sticking with just one date. Then there was the matter of Bee shamelessly bragging on how much fun she had, how Richard had acted the perfect gentleman, he was a born charmer, and that any woman would be very fortunate to be his escort.
Oh how the offers poured in.
To date, Richard/Nightwing had gone out with a quarter of the eligible females of Gotham, half of Jump City, quite a few from Metropolis, Steel, and Star City, and every single heroine we know.
Except for Starfire.
But Nightwing had a reason for not taking out the one girl he wanted to take out the most. He didn't want her to be "just another date for the evening." Starfire was too special for that. What he felt for her was too special for that. When he finally would take her out, he wanted it to be because they both wanted to, not had to. He wanted their first date to be…magical, for lack of a better term.
Unfortunately, he still had doubts about the depth of her feelings for him, and that can be a real magic killer. Plus she had never asked, or even hinted at wanting to go out. He grimaced as he remembered all the times that she helped him prepare for a date, she even gave him tips once about what Argent's favorite flower was (blue orchids, go figure).
But there were times when she would fix his tie, or tuck in that lock of hair that fell into his eye and annoyed him, or brushed lint off his jacket, she would get a sad sort of longing look in her eye that was too quick to latch onto, but visible enough to give him hope
Which was why there was now a practiced flirty smile on his face as he smoothly asked, "So when should I pick you up?"
As the masked hero—now unmasked and normal—got ready for his date, a strange ping went through him as he thought about how much his best friend had changed.
Starfire, now 21, had resided for six years on Earth now, and those years had matured her in three ways. One was her manner of speaking; after years of embarrassing—albeit amusing—confusions of the idiomic English language, Star had finally gotten comfortable with the native tongue and all its phrases (including all the swears, which Nightwing had not provided but Cyborg had been more than happy to supply).
This milestone had brought about the second change: her persona. With the mastery of English accomplished, the alien had developed a new confidence that had been missing back when she hadn't known when people were and were not talking about shovels. She was less nervous, no longer worried about making a fool of herself or having people dislike her; she was less preoccupied with how others saw her.
But the changes weren't as drastic as they sounded, in fact, they were really only visible to those that knew her well. She still was as kind and upbeat as she was as a teenager; friendly and eager to make friends. But she had learned to ask a person about where they came from, how did they get here, what was there favorite color, and whether or not they wanted to be her friend at a much less overwhelming pace. Other than that, Star remained the same optimistic person with a soft spot for cute cuddly things and an affinity for Disney Movies.
The third way, however, was far more noticeable. Starfire had lost the pretty teen youthfulness, and was now a more sophisticated beautiful young woman. A couple more inches were added to her height, and her hair had lengthened, including her bangs, although it still was the shining scarlet mass of follicles that would have a Pantene Pro-V model go insane with envy. Her face lost what little baby fat it had, throwing her cheekbones into prominence, and somewhat narrowing her large round eyes, although they were as green as ever. Her body had filled out wonderfully, once minor curves becoming more apparent. Constant training and battles had kept her strong and toned, though not overly so, and her glorious tan had remained.
If boys had drooled over Starfire before, they practically hyperventilated when they saw her now. A fact Nightwing was all too aware of.
But the Tamaranian wasn't the only one to undergo some adjustments. All of the Titans were obviously no longer teen.
Beast Boy, almost twenty and now called Changeling, had gained some height, finally proportioned to his oversized hands and feet. He was still skinny and wiry, and his face still held its baby-like cuteness, but the superhero business had done him a world of good. He had filled out somewhat, developing definite muscle tone, although he stayed lean instead of buff. His persona had barely changed, he would always be the comic relief of the team, and practical jokes—as well as video games and mopeds—still held their appeal. But he had grown up a little, with a longer attention span, and he could actually sit still and be serious for longer than three minutes.
Not that there was much call for it.
Raven, barely 20, had also changed for the better. Control over her emotions had become easier, and while she wasn't dressed in white, her robe was a much lighter blue, much like it had been in the middle stages of when she had associated with Malchior.
But there was no one deceiving her now. She had also let her hair grow out and had reversed the style from going in an A-line from the base of her head to her chin, to a V-line from her chin to the midway point of her neck as it's lowest point. Then, she had decided to dye the bottom two inches blue black, which suited her very well. She had stayed short, keeping her petite figure, which didn't bother her at all, although she had become much more curvaceous, gaining an hourglass figure. Her eyes though, were probably the most changed. While they stayed the same deep purple, there was a little spark of life in them now, brightening her once-dull orbs into a dark amethyst. And when she smiled, it made her look strikingly beautiful.
Not that this was an everyday occurrence. But it was no longer unheard of either.
And no, she still doesn't laugh at Changeling's jokes, but he was still trying his darndest to change that. Don't get your hopes up.
24 year-old Cyborg had probably changed the least out of all of them, both physically and mentally, save a couple modifications on his systems. And though he had gained a little more of a mature outlook on his being different, it wasn't near as dramatic as when he took on Blood for a final time. The T-car, on the other hand, had undergone much change and upgrades, and was close to being on the same level as the Batmobile.
Maybe. In a few more years. Or decades.
Nightwing had probably changed the most physically. At seventeen, a long-awaited growth spurt kicked in, and he was the butt of short jokes no longer. Around the same time, the Robin suit had been retired in favor of Nightwing's, the design of which owed itself to Starfire, who had been more than happy to help. Also true to what had been seen in the future, the hero started to grow out his hair, rebelling against the stereotype for male heroes, making him sexier than Aqualad, and thrilling girls very much. Turns out, Nightwing was one of those guys who had been unfairly blessed with hair nicer than a girl's. This had pretty much caused the fangirls to develop a healthy hatred for the handsome vigilante to balance out their "love."
Not that it had stopped them from trying to touch his hair when they had the chance. And during one of these times, when Nightwing was busy being mobbed, Changeling got to say what his future self had sulkingly stated, "Dude, that is so unfair."
He smirked as he remembered this, running his hand through the inky black locks, deliberately messing them in a way that, had any members of the "Nightwing Fan Club" been present, would've sent them into full faint mode.
Laughing at his own ridiculous vanity, he instead focused on his date, and his laughter grew more genuine. He had everything planned, and had every intention to make this evening one to remember.
The First National Bank of Reserved Charm for Starfire had been gathering deposits and interest for six years, and by God, he was going to make a full withdrawal tonight.
And with that, Richard Grayson made sure he had everything, then left his room.
Starfire stood in front of the mirror, examining every aspect about her appearance, searching for any flaw to be fixed. A hair was out of place, she smoothed it down and studied some more.
She had waited for this day for a long time, and by X'hal, she was going to look perfect.
She had succeeded too. The Tamaranian heroine had donned a shirt that the designer had created with one goal in mind: to make men extremely nervous in a tasteful way. The square neckline was low enough to do just that, and its long, loose sleeves were connected to the body by mere sections of material at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. The fabric was soft and looked it as it embraced her upper body gently, and was a deep foggy ocean green, giving her eyes a smokey hue. Her skirt was pitch black, made of shining silk that had been styled to look like its wearer had wrapped it around herself. With that said, the garment was edged with a wide ruffle that came from the left side of the waist, all the way down, around the base, and back up to the slit. Said slit came just above the knees and angled to flare out like a trumpet, revealing long, tanned legs that bore black satin sandals with high wedge heels and ballerina lacing hitting midcalf. She wore jade and onyx earrings and necklace, the two stones interlocking in a yin-yang way, except without the dots, lightly applied glistening silver eyeshadow, and had done absolutely nothing to her hair besides pulling a brush through it.
She sat on her circular purple bed and crossed her legs, giving herself an approving look before grinning broadly. She was ready.
A knock sounded on Starfire's door at 7:30 on the dot. She slid it open to reveal Richard Grayson, leaning against the doorjamb and looking more handsome and casual than he had any right to be in simple black slacks and shoes shined to a mirror hue. His favorite black suede suit jacket, which Starfire knew had been tailored to perfectly fit on his broad shoulders, was worn over a pearl white long-sleeved shirt that was untucked, had the top button undone, and almost seemed to glow against his tan. His shoulder length hair was pulled back into a low, loose ponytail, with that one strand, as usual, stubbornly falling into his face, which he continuously flicked back with annoyance. A long stemmed red rose dangled carelessly from his fingers.
She had to physically stop herself from going glaze-eyed and open-mouthed. For the first time, she envied the psychotic Nightwing Fangirls; free to scream and faint and foam at the mouth with no one to judge them.
Things weren't much better for the other end. Richard was struck dumb, his brain cells weren't firing, and his eyes wanted nothing more than to open as wide as they could go, to see as much of the goddess in front of him as possible. His jaw itched to fall.
Before he knew it though, his body moved into the well-accustomed rhythm of date greeting.
"Good evening Ms. Anders," Richard charmed, taking her hand and bowing, bestowing the lightest of kisses on her knuckles, before straightening up and clasped his other hand over hers, efficiently placing the rose into her grip. "You look absolutely divine," the tenor voice complimented, cerulean eyes soaking in every aspect of her appearance with praise.
Stepping back and to the side, he released her, although the fingers of his right hand trailed maddeningly up her arm, stopping lightly at her shoulder. "Do you have everything?" His thumb lightly brushed over her sleeved arm as he voiced the question. When she nodded, he extended his arm our invitingly, "Then shall we go out?" His hand never quite left her back as they left Titan's Tower, the five digits gently pressuring her along, as if to protect her from any wrong move.
Starfire had to be vigilant, or she would've been caught looking like a cat presented with a bowl of thick cream.
But even so, anyone would've been able to see that she was feelin' pretty happy. Changeling was one such person. Forest green eyes focused on the couple as they walked past, both seemingly oblivious to his presence.
Now it's a well-known fact that animals are able to tell what you are feeling, by either scent or sense. And equipped with such gifts, the shapeshifter was able to pick up on the emotions of the two. Nervousness, anticipation, and excitement rolled off in waves.
As he paused in the hallway and looked back at them, he suddenly noticed how nicely they were dressed. But he hadn't heard anything about some fancy event, were they going on some undercover mission? No, Nightwing wouldnt've looked so calm if it was. And their adrenaline didn't smell like they were getting ready to fight. So what're they doing? And why didn't they tell us? He thought for a little bit, Raven, she'll know.
He dashed to the common room, where Cyborg reading his new issue of "Souped Up Automotives Monthly" and Raven was whooping global butt at online chess.
"Guys!" yelled the green hero, "I saw Nightwing and Star leave just then and they were all dressed up! What's going on?"
"Calm down Garfield," said Raven, an annoyed tinge to her voice, "Richard's just finally taking Starfire on a date."
She didn't notice Cyborg dropping his magazine and Changeling dropping his mouth. But she did notice when a loud terrified scream emitted from both.
"The sign! THE SIGN!!!" screeched Changeling, running around in circles, clutching at his green hair.
"Were all gonna die!" Cyborg bellowed mournfully, dropping to his knees, Changeling soon joining him on the ground.
The two friends hugged each other, tears streaming down, "WHYYYY?!" they wailed in unison.
Raven was at a loss. She didn't know whether to be frightened, angered, annoyed, indifferent, or amused with the boys before her. Having emotions could sometimes be so problematic.
She decided on a small chuckle, before, reaching out with her powers and slapping both across the face. "Snap out of it! What's wrong with you?"
Changeling crawled on his knees to her, taking hold of her cape, "Raven don't you see? Nightwing asking Star out all of a sudden after six years of having a crush on her? This can only mean the Apocalypse is coming!"
She raised an eyebrow, "Why?"
He stood up abruptly, grabbing her shoulders, face more serious than she had ever seen it as he looked down at her. She felt their height difference for the first time.
"Raven," he said lowly, "The last time something this big happened to us…you made breakfast."
Big purple eyes stared at the green ones above her. And slowly, they widened.
"You're right," she whispered, "I mean…with all…You're right Gar." The Azarathian looked stunned. "I guess…then…there's no reason for me not to do this anymore."
And with that, she tiptoed, and softly pressed her lips to his. Gar stiffened, then the hands on her shoulders relaxed, and his eyes rolled back before closing.
After a second, she pulled back, then walked to the door. At which she paused. "You know?" her voice was low and thoughtful, "It's a shame that wasn't a joke Gar; it would've been really funny." She continued to the hall, the doors closing behind her with a whoosh.
"OH MY GOD!!" screeched Cyborg, "She kissed you! And said that joke was funny! Raven said your joke was funny!!! NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE!! WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE!!!"
On the other side of the Common Room door, Raven listened for Changeling's response. Either it was too low to be heard, or he was still too shocked to make one. She bet on the latter.
Leaning against the door, Raven chuckled. Screwing with their minds is so much fun. Standing there, she basked in her victory, then started walking.
A few steps later, however, she paused, and raised her hand to her lips. She frowned, but it was a strange frown…in fact, it might have been a smile.
She continued to her room.
Completely and totally unaware of the events that had just taken place within their own Tower, the two Titans walked down the hall, took the elevator, then went down another hall.
This had given Starfire enough time to get her composure back once they reached the garage and saw their mode of transportation.
Basically, it was an exact replica of "Bumblebee" from the movie "Transformers." A golden yellow Chevrolet Camaro with black racing stripes, a car that would have even the most uninterested-in-all-things-automotive person sit up and appreciate.
Starfire loved that car for two reasons. One was obvious, the ride was flippin sweet. The other, though, was that she was the only person Richard would ever let ride in it. She took especial pleasure in the fact that he had never even mentioned that he had this car to his other dates, let alone took them to the movies with it.
No, the black Eclipse was for the public. Yellow Camaros are for VIP use only.
The Tamaranian softly let her hand glide along the roof, a crime deserving a full scholarship to Mad Mod's wacked up school had anyone else done it. She smiled into the hood, which showed her reflection perfectly. It turned to a grin as she looked at the license plate: U W1SH.
"This is going to be so much fun," she declared, face lighting up the garage.
Richard grinned back as he approached, "Of course," he assured and opened the door gallantly and held out his hand. "Your chariot awaits Ms. And'r."
She nodded regally, took his offered hand, and carefully placed herself into the car. "Thank you Mr. Grayson," she simpered, folding her hands daintily, the effect ruined by her cheeky grin.
Richard shut her door and all but ran to his, leaping inside, for once not giving a hoot about the leather being scratched. "Buckled in?" he asked with a smirk and a raised eyebrow.
Starfire knew why too. Once, he had asked her that very question one too many times, which had forced Star—a veteran safety restraint wearer—to launch into a peeved 5-minute rant about how she was no stranger to the consequences of not wearing seat belts, she always put it on, and she didn't need him to remind her every time they entered a vehicle.
So now, he did it just to annoy her.
"Yes," she replied tartly, although somewhat less vehemently than usual.
Richard grinned and with a turn of a key, the car roared to life. "We're off then," and with no other warning, they blasted away at a "mash you into the seat" speed.
Starfire squealed with exhilaration, anger forgotten as the quiet but powerful sound of the motor filled her ears. As they exited the underwater tunnel and blazed onto the highway, Star turned to her date (she squealed at that too, mentally of course). "So, where are we going?"
She waited, but he offered no other information. Raising her eyebrows, leaning over, and gazing intently at him in the classic "Helloo I'm waiting!" position.
Which she had to hold for about 30 seconds before he noticed. "Yes?"
"Care to tell me where dinner is?"
Richard grinned, "What's the fun in that?"
Her eyes narrowed, "Do you always treat your dates this way?"
He shook his head, "Just you. But that's because you're special to me." Star huffed and settled back into her seat, although she smiled only slightly as she thought about the other side of the two-edged compliment he gave her.
After a few minutes of her pouting, he turned onto the highway and finally gave in, "Celadon."
"That's where we're going."
She blinked; she had never heard of the restaurant, and said as much.
"Probably not, never been any need to know. But trust me, you'll love it."
He refused to say any more.
Celadon was a popular restaurant on the northwest side of the city, where from a high spot, you had a wonderful view of said city. This was no problem for the two-and-a-half story building with a balcony on one side, the side that happened to have the best outlook of the caliginous skyscrapers peppered with countless lights. It was a treacherous mockery of the natural beauty of the bedarkened heavens and the stars in them, which were already tainted and dimmed by pollution.
It was, however, still a pretty spectacle to behold.
But, Starfire discovered—when exiting the car and looking to the upper level's windows—if you wanted to behold it, you'd have to get a table on the balcony, for the windows were covered with film of black plastic.
She turned back to Richard, who was currently making sure his car was securely locked and the alarm was set. Having accomplished this, he turned to a tense valet and threatened him within an inch of his life if anything happened to the automobile.
Well, maybe not "threatened within an inch of his life," more like fixed a piercing glare on the poor young man, clapped a firm hand onto his shoulder, and handed him a Grant to seal the deal.
Wringing his hands, the valet—otherwise known as Caleb—nodded eagerly, not quickly forgetting the little "talking to" he had gotten when had made two fatal mistakes. The first was asking if Richard wanted to valet it and had actually placed a hand on the door. The second was checking out Starfire, and going so far as to even smile with the most furtive of eyebrow bobbing.
Caleb thanked his lucky light-polluted stars that Richard Grayson hadn't decked him or gotten him fired.
Starfire giggled somewhat at this, but still felt bad, which she made known with a small but dazzling apologetic smile surreptitiously given behind her date's back. He returned with a professional respectful nod, the safest response he could think of, although he was melting on the inside.
The exchange was finalized when Richard lightly touched the small of Starfire's back to encourage her inside.
The valet watched them go, then looked right, left, behind to make sure no one was watching. Once he was positive the coast was clear, Caleb leapt onto the car, planting himself firmly on the hood before wiggling to make himself comfortable, a defiant, maniacal smile on his face.
He kissed the small cigarette box-sized remote he held. It was an alarm jammer, something his cousin had whipped up, and he used it especially for the snottier customers.
Caleb threw his head back, soaking in the moment. Ahh the sweet thrill of bein' bad.
Which really only proved how pathetic and boring his life was if this was supposed to be a thrill, but lets not dwell on that.
He sat back and watched the moon-illuminated smog.
The interior design of Celadon was as well thought out as it's outside. From the warm red-brown walls, to the dimmed lights, throbbing music, candlelit tables, and stylish modern art, it effectively conveyed a comfortable, semi-formal atmosphere.
The servers mirrored this by wearing comfortable but classy attire.
The waitress playing as temporary seating hostess—Holly—for instance, was wearing black gauchos, silver moccasins, and a trendy black shirt with swirling silver and white designs with velveteen patches of heart-shaped green and red plaid. White blonde hair was pulled into a messy bun next to square silver hoops and a tastefully made-up face.
Starfire's large green eyes had missed none of this, and she felt herself feeling very happy that she had been bored that afternoon.
Richard saw how her face lit up in the muted lighting that complimented her very well before echoing her sentiments.
Holly, on the other hand, was secretly face palming herself on her choice of attire as she led the couple to the second floor, wishing she had worn looser pants, or better yet, was behind Richard.
You don't always get what you want though, so she directed them to a booth next to a darkened window, the small candle in a bowl giving off the only immediate illumination.
Star stepped up into the raised booth and got comfortable, while Richard pouted somewhat that he wasn't able to "be a gentleman" and push her seat in.
"What would you like to drink?"
"Red Zeppelin," answered Richard promptly, the soda composed of Big Red and Cherry Coke with a shot of cranberry syrup being his favorite of the wide array of drinks Celadon offered.
Holly wrote it down and turned to Starfire, "And for you?"
With her mustard quota filled for the day, and not wanting to go with plain jane sprite, Starfire decided to get some outside help. "What other drinks do you have like his?"
"Oh we have tons," she took a deep breath, gathering the ones she knew, "Whirlwind, Neptune's delight, Fountain of Youth, Ocean Water, Cherry Quite Contrary—"
"Ocean Water," she decided, the name intriguing her.
"Nice choice," Holly stated as she wrote it down, thankful that she hadn't had to list every drink they served.
As she left, Richard stared at Starfire. It wasn't often that he ever got to see her in the flame-produced light; probably the only time he had was when they were stuck in the cave, and he had been too confused then nervous to really appreciate what the flickering fire did to her visage.
It did wonders.
Star, who had been looking around with interest, suddenly glanced back at her date…who was staring at her. On being found out, however, he didn't refrain from his unblinking marathon, instead, he caught her gaze and skillfully held it.
"You look beautiful," he said with a serious awe.
She smiled, "You've already said that," she pointed out.
"Well a little repetition never hurt now did it?"
Star wanted to look down at her fiddling hands, but Richard's cerulean eyes forbade that. "No," she answered, hoping the candlelight hid her blush.
He smiled slowly, deep blue eyes becoming half-lidded. Darn, that made breathing so much harder. "Good, because I plan on reminding you of how spectacular you look all throughout the evening."
She wanted to thank him. She wanted to ask him if he made all of his dates feel this wonderful. She wanted to take his hand. She wanted him to tell her how he felt. She wanted to tell him how she felt. She wanted to kiss him, feel his arms tighten around her in no platonic way.
Holly, however, just wanted to give them their drinks, this made evident by the cup holders followed by the ordered beverages being set on the table.
No Starfire, the Tamaranian chided herself, she didn't mean to do it. Don't break her hand…
Rather, she smiled appreciatively as she sipped from the black straw, drawing the light blue liquid into her mouth.
"Mmm!" she hummed in delight. And rightly so, Ocean Water tasted like the name stated, without the salt. Sprite, coconut, pineapple, And something else, she thought as she sipped again. Blueberries, but only slightly.
"This is wonderful! Thank you for the recommendation!" she exclaimed while beaming at Holly, who, warmed at the prospect of a nice customer (which undoubtedly meant nice tips), grinned back.
"Glad you like it," she said honestly, and handed them their menus.
Richard thanked the server, affectionately glancing at Star, who looked giddy while she drank her drink slowly, wanting the flavor to last as long as possible.
Starfire also expressed her gratitude as she took the folder and opened it. And was promptly stumped on what to get. There was so much variety, the part about the tacos actually declared that if you were to try a different taco combination every day, it would take 3 months before you could try them all.
It didn't help that everything on the menu sounded delicious either.
Richard noticed her dilemma, "How about some fried Calamari for an appetizer?"
Holly nodded and disappeared.
Starfire cocked her head, "Richard? What is Calamari?"
He took a deep, somewhat uncomfortable breath, "Ah, its best if you find out after you try it. But trust me Star, knowing your…taste in food, you'll love this."
Star somehow managed to simultaneously look suspicious, intrigued, embarrassed, and amused at herself. No matter what people may think of her, she still thought that pickle, banana, and mint frosting pizza sounded incredibly appetizing. She strengthened her resolve to someday find out if it did.
And Terra hadn't been the only one to like her glorg. Kid Flash (though no longer "Kid") routinely dropped by to stock up, much to Jinx's repugnance. She still refused tasting the sushi/ice cream flavored fungus, although Flash still kept up encouragement to break her resolve.
It was proving harder that it had been to get her to change sides and become a hero.
"So are you having fun yet?" her eyes snapped back to Richard, before looking around the restaurant, a smile creeping across her face at what she saw, foot tapping to the music's beat.
Richard grinned. She sensed the beginning of silence, something that had been happening way too much so far on the date, and decided to stop it before it started.
"So what normally happens at this point on you regular dates?"
A brief pause and an eyebrow raise later, he answered, "Well, normally I ask about themselves, where the grew up, what they like, stuff like that, try to get them to relax."
It was Star's turn to raise a tiny eyebrow, "Why would they need your help to relax?" she queried.
He spread his hands helplessly, "Well, there's the inescapable discomfort of being on a first date. But the thought of being on a date with the Richard Grayson can be pretty unnerving" he explained, trying not to sound cocky.
It didn't work. The eyebrow raised higher.
"So going on a date with you is a big deal, or going on a date with you is a big deal?"
He winced at the incredulous emphasis she used and suddenly wished she wasn't so street smart anymore. "Um, it's a little of both."
"How so?" Her natural curiosity was added to the list of things he wished she didn't have, seeing as they got him into situations like this…on a regular basis.
"…Well, you know me right?" She nodded. "Both sides of me?" Another nod. "Well what do you know?"
"You're name is Richard John Grayson, you are 22 years old, you are the adoptive son of the multimillionaire Bruce Wayne…" understanding began to dawn in her eyes, "you are heir to his fortune, single, and attractive, therefore making you the most eligible bachelor in Gotham as well as Jump City. You also like pizza black olives and onions."
Richard smiled somewhat, grateful for the dim light hiding the red in his face, "Who else am I?" he asked in a whisper.
Starfire lowered her voice, though it wasn't really necessary, the loud music obliterated any chance of them being heard. "You are Nightwing, leader of The Titans, formerly the sidekick of Batman, one of the most well known heroes in the world. You are intelligent, strong, and posses a wide knowledge of many martial arts, and have exemplary leadership skills. You also wear an outfit that is even sexier than your old one."
She said the last sentence with a cheeky sort of pride, and Richard felt himself flush once more. "So," he cleared his throat, "can you see why I would need to help my date relax? Heroes or civilians, I intimidate women, even if I don't mean to."
Star nodded, then cocked her head, "But Richard, neither you nor Nightwing intimidate me, I know everything about the both of you. I like what I know too."
Words couldn't really describe how Richard felt. It hit so close to home, it was practically on his front doorstep. Nothing he had ever known made him experience joy and humiliation, warmth and insignificance, as Starfire's statement just had.
Starfire was the only person in his life who would never be intimidated by him, who he would only ever see as an equal. She was also the only person who had such absolute power over him. The only one who, with a single look or spoken word, could incite fear or ecstasy or shame or cheer or sanity within him. With a girl like that, how could he not love her?
He reached across the table, and took her hand, "You're the only one who does," he said quietly, locking her into his gaze.
The flickering candle was reflected in her eyes, and they shimmered more than usual as she interlaced their fingers, a slow warm smile on her face.
Holly cursed her timing as she stood next to the table, its occupants obviously having a moment. Hoping to be unseen, she softly slid the appetizer onto the clean surface. They didn't even look up.
Silently patting herself on the back, she took the marinara and avocado-ranch dips, surreptitiously lowering them beside the plate, leaving the couple undisturbed.
Unfortunately, some raucous patrons had other plans, one of them involved bumping roughly into the waitress, startling her forward, with the condiment bowls falling to the table with a crash.
Holly viciously prayed that Caleb had dented one of the groups' cars when he sat on it.
"I'm so sorry!" she squeaked when Richard Grayson and his date (she looked like a Starfire wannabe) turned to her, looking startled.
Immediately recognizing true remorse when she saw it, Starfire smiled comfortingly, "Do not worry," she giggled, "I was famished anyway." Don't hurt her Don't hurt her Don't hurt her…
Soothed but still red-faced, the waitress smiled, "Well I hope you like it then," she said with a cheerful gusto. "Don't hesitate to call if you need something," she offered as an afterthought.
"Thank you Holly, we'll be sure to do that," replied Richard, a handsome but platonic smile on his face.
She briefly wondered how he knew her name, but shoved the question aside as she caught his hint. "Have a good evening," she concluded, even giving a small respectful nod as she left.
However, the look on her face when the man who crashed into her "accidentally" got a half-eaten plate of tacos, rice, and beans dumped on him was anything but respectful. In fact, one would even go far as to say it was smug.
Star stared cautiously at the Calamari. They didn't look bad, rather like thick onion rings. Nor did they smell bad; they actually smelled delicious.
Richard watched with amusement.
She carefully picked a ring up and dipped it into the avocado-ranch dip. Closing her eyes, she brought the ring to her lips and bit down.
Green eyes popped wide with delight and Tamaranian table manners kicked in. Richard's hand darted quickly and snatched one of the rings, knowing if he didn't, he probably wouldn't get any.
This was justified by the speed in which she was consuming the rings.
However, Starfire was at a dilemma. It wasn't about the Calamari itself, because that tasted wonderful. And beneath the crunchy surface was a chewy slice of something that seemed familiar but couldn't place. But the appetizer's origin wasn't the problem either.
He predicament lied in the dips. She couldn't decide what she liked better! The marinara was sweet and tomato-y, while the avocado ranch was thick and tangy. And both complimented the fried food gloriously. While alternating between the condiments, agonizing over which was the better choice, she picked up a piece of the food that differed from the others.
It wasn't ring-like, not in the least. Rather it had a star-like appearance. Like arms, with a head on top. In fact…that was exactly what it looked like.
Suddenly Starfire realized what that "chewy slice of something" was.
Her jaw dropped as she stared at the one that ordered the plate, who was looking simultaneously apprehensive and amused. But mostly amused.
"Squid actually, but no need to split hairs."
"We're eating something that Changeling has turned into a number of occasions to save out lives?"
"We eat hamburgers too."
"Cows are one thing; I actually eat them with somewhat of a vengeance towards the Cow-people of Garlon Prime for their resentment of Tamaranians, but octopi have done nothing to me or my people!"
"Does it taste good?"
"The Calamari, did you enjoy it?"
She stared shame-faced at the little fried squid she held, "Yes," she admitted.
"Do you think that your not eating it will benefit squid everywhere?" Believe it or not, he had said that in all seriousness, no sarcasm whatsoever.
"No," she sighed, "because they will continue to kill the creatures and serve them to others regardless of what I do."
"Well then." He took the squid from her, dunked it in ranch (after a small debate of his own), and popped it into his mouth.
She stared at the half-eaten plate. Smelled the aroma. Remembered the flavor. Picked one up. Tried to pick one dip. Made her decision and chose marinara. Ate it slowly. Felt the fried part come off. Thought about how there was a tentacle sitting on her tongue. Noticed the ridges where the suckers used to be…
"Blegh!" she swallowed the piece whole and gagged, taking a long drag on her Ocean Water.
"Its better if you don't think about it," Richard advised belatedly. Star shot him a "Gee, thanks" look as she coughed.
"I think I've eaten enough tonight," decided the alien as she recovered and pushed the plate away, pointedly looking out the tinted window to the moon and barely visible stars.
"Really?" asked Richard in a regretful tone, "That's too bad, because they have this killer mint chocolate brownie dessert with vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce on top."
Still facing the window, the redhead glanced at her friend from the corner of her eye, eyebrows raised.
Five minutes later, the two were eating the savory dessert at a rapid pace, trying to consume as much of the mint-chocolate-vanilla goodness as rapidly as they could.
Holly as well as nearby patrons and servers resisted the urge to start chanting, "Go! Go! Go! Go!" as they watched the couple down the confectionery treat.
Unfortunately, however, there was only one bite of said treat left. And since Star still had her fork in her mouth, Richard snagged the sweet prize. A panicked, somewhat heartbroken look came over the young woman's face as she stared at the last piece of brownie and ice cream poised on her date's fork. With a wink, he brought it to his lips…
…only for Starfire to grab his arm and clamp her teeth down on the morsel at the last second.
She smiled sweetly around the fork, only for it to fade as she realized how close she had come to him in her antics. Pulling slowly from the utensil, she stared at Richard, caressing his hand, noting with a vague amusement that chocolate was smeared across his lips. She suddenly wondered if she could taste them.
Richard was wondering the same thing as he stared at the chocolate covered mouth. He felt himself drawing closer.
To have a muffled scream interrupt them. Instantly enraged at another interruption, they turned slowly to the source of the interruption, livid expressions on their faces.
Holly had told Freddie specifically not to bring the check to that particular table until they asked for it, but as usual, he hadn't listened. Spotting him heading over in the nick of time, she had all but leapt over the table she was waiting on, managing to clamp her hand around his mouth, no easy feat since he was a good deal taller than she. However, the startled indignant scream still got the unwilling attention of the raven-haired man and ruby-haired woman.
"I warned you," she hissed, letting go and taking cover, recognizing total frustration when she saw it.
Freddie, on the other hand, was not so insightful. He shrugged off Holly's odd comment. "Here's your check," he announced cheerfully. Then promptly wilted under the glare of furiously blazing blue and green eyes.
"We would've called for it when we were ready," Richard said with menace.
"But thank you anyway," added Starfire, voice quivering with rage, eyes on the borderline of glowing.
"N-no problem," he stuttered, backing away. "Enjoy the rest of your evening." Turning tail, he scurried to the kitchen, where Holly popped him upside the head.
"Idiot!" she rampaged, "you just cost me 5 percent of my tip!"
Outside, Caleb all but bowed as he presented the Camaro to Mr. Grayson, praying he didn't notice anything amiss.
As he helped his date into the car, he walked around to Caleb and handed him another Grant. "Thanks for watching it," he said, "Sorry for coming down so hard on you, I'm a little temperamental when it comes to her," the Prince of Jump City explained, looking much friendlier.
"I understand completely," Caleb agreed, "I would be too if I had a car that nice."
Richard blinked, "I was talking about my date."
The valet instantly felt stupid, "Oh. Sorry," he apologized uncomfortably.
Richard laughed, "Don't worry about it," was the assurance, and with that, he got into the car and roared away.
Caleb breathed a sigh of relief, then looked to the entrance. A purple Nissan 350Z was making its way in.
The look on the valet's face could be comparable only to Martin Short's evil grin on Clifford."
"So where to now?" queried Star, still somewhat miffed that she didn't get her chocolate kiss. And not of the candy variety.
Richard suddenly grinned, "You tell me," he chuckled, "Because I have nothing planned right now."
Starfire was at a loss. Nightwing, leader of The Titans, king of schedules, precise paranoid plan maker, embodiment of efficiency, hadn't planned the whole evening to the end?
He noticed her expression, and his chuckling grew. "We weren't at the restaurant for long, we went to the movies last Tuesday, and I'm not on the mood to go clubbing. You were the one who suggested the date, why not decide what we do on it?"
The alien princess thought up many things that they could "do," but regretfully destroyed the whims. She was pretty sure that making out was not on his mind.
Then it hit her. "I heard they have a wonderful ice skating rink on the North Side," she exclaimed.
Richard glanced at her incredulously, then at the turn off, one for North, one for East, up ahead. "You want to go ice skating in a skirt?"
It was her turn to look incredulous, "Richard, I fight crime in a miniskirt."
He looked intrigued for a moment, realizing this to be true, then, wondering exactly how she managed to do that. But he cleared the thought away as he signaled and smoothly turned onto the Northern Loop, setting his GPS to locate the ice rink in question.
Isaac stood in the back room—sharpening skates, looking extremely bored. He pulled the shoe from the grinder and inspected it, lightly running his thumb over the blade, wincing only slightly as he cut himself.
He stared at the small line of blood welling on his digit and shrugged—he had long since gotten used to the small injuries that came with the job.
He looked back up as a familiar ring sounded at the front counter. "IsAAC!" yelled Ginny, his coworker and secret crush.
"Yeah?" he called back, placing the skate in its slot and picking up its twin.
"Can you get that? I'm tied up back here!"
"My dream come true," he mumbled with a grin. "Sure thing Gin!" he said louder as he made his way to the front to see…an angel. Who was Gin again?
The some-teen year old skate issuer at the Jump Nothside Ice Rink looked nothing less than dazzled as he looked into the brilliant green eyes of Starfire, Jump City's alien protector.
This was rather odd, since he had always thought Raven was the more appealing Titan due to her darkly beautiful mystique, and even more so now that she was coming out of her shell, but now he was starting to seriously rethink his membership at the "Raven Fan Club."
Hmm, I wonder if they'll let me join the "SFC" and still stay at "RFC." Hey… now I get what Gin was laughing about! Kid Flash Club, "KFC." Haha, that's funny…Ugh, I can't believe it took me that long to figure that out. I'm a to—a gasp and something grabbing his hand broke his stream of thought.
"What happened to your hand?" asked Starfire, examining his wounded thumb with concern.
Biting his lip to keep from squealing like the members of the "NWFC"; he shrugged, hopefully nonchalantly. "It's OK, happens all the time. When you're sharpening skates, accidents are bound to happen." She didn't seem to notice how he lightly ran his fingers over her forearm, marveling at how soft they were under the gauntlets she normally wore.
The Tamaranian reluctantly loosened her grip, "Very well," she conceded, "but you should at least wrap that in a band aid."
"I'll do it later," he waved off, the beautiful worry on her face becoming too much to bear. "What can I do for ya now?"
"We would like to rent some skates, think you can help us out?" rumbled a deep voice.
The teen's eyes popped as he suddenly noticed the tall broad shouldered man standing next to the alien who bore an expression that suggested he wished nothing more than to take a dull skate and cut Isaac's hand off.
He jerked away from the alien like she had just lit up her starbolts.
"Uh, sure," Isaac gulped, resisting the urge to wave a white napkin in surrender, "What size?"
"Eight," supplied Starfire, smiling at Isaac while glancing at Richard.
He hesitantly turned to the man and swallowed to keep from squeaking. "And for you?"
"Guess." The lanky blonde skate renter was in and out of the back room in seconds, handing over the footwear, accidentally brushing his fingers against Star's palm.
Richard's hand shot out and he jumped back. But he didn't deck the renter, instead he was handing over a fistful of dollars.
"Keep the change," he said lowly, then took Star's arm and all but dragged her away.
Isaac let out an audible sigh of relief, just before a very audible SLAP rang from his skull, courtesy of a seething Gin.
"What was that for?!" he yelled, rubbing his poor cranium.
"For being a dumb butt! You all but drooled on that lady, in front of her date. I mean, I thought you liked Raven, not Starfire; much less a look-a-like! And not even a good look-a-like either; like Starfire would ever wear that outfit anyway!"
He stared at her for a moment, then let a huge grin spread over his face.
"Are you jealous?" he inquired, taking a step forward, leaning his lanky form against the wall and looking down at her, smirking.
Gin stared up into his smug teal eyes and cursed him for being so tall. She was about to roar in indignity about how he could possibly think she was jealous about him, when an evil thought took root.
And suddenly she moved forward, head tilted up and to the side; body just a hair's width away from him, seductively smiling with challenge. "Do you want me to be?"
She would've jumped when his hands encircled her waist, but he held her against him, forbidding movement.
"Yes," he said plainly before kissing her.
The nerve of that guy! Hitting on Star when I'm right there! Don't people have respect for dates anymore?
Richard would've continued brooding had he not felt a bizarre shaking from his date. "Star? You OK?" as he turned to her, she turned further away, still shaking.
"Starfire," his words were sharper now, "Did that guy say something that bothered you?" I'll kill him if he did.
A wordless sob involuntarily escaped her throat.
Hearing her distressed call sent Richard's protective hero instincts into overdrive. He whirled her around, taking hold of her shoulders, demanding an explanation.
Starfire was laughing. So hard she was crying. Huge tears streamed down her mirthful face as she tried desperately to keep quiet.
But there was no need now that Richard caught her. An explosive guffaw followed by insane giggling made him jump.
"Oh X'hal!" she chortled, "That poor guy, flirting with me, not knowing you were there…then you practically had him pee his pants with that Clint Eastwood routine…Guess…that was the funniest thing I ever saw in my life!"
He stared at her, then his face grew bland. "Glad to know I entertained you," he deadpanned, feeling idiotic.
"Oh yes," she laughed, "It is true: jealousy is a riot to watch. Tell me, did I look that funny when Kitten was flinging herself at you?"
Richard was in a predicament. How does one tell his crush that she actually hadn't looked at all funny in the way she meant? That she had actually looked funny in a terrifying sort of way?
He still remembered how she looked in the instant before she had flung the blonde prima donna down the refreshment table. Furious of course, with that white stuff still falling from her hair, an unsettling evil grin as she carefully had placed a hand on the brat's shoulder, eyes smoldering. She had looked drop dead sexy.
But how do you explain that to a girl?
The biggest problem, however, was what Starfire had unwittingly admitted. She had been jealous…over him. She had been so bothered that another girl was getting his attention—albeit involuntarily—she had all but torn the girl limb from limb.
The flattery was intoxicating.
Unfortunately, these things could not be brought to light without incredible discomfort.
"You looked hilarious," was the alternative answer.
Satisfied with this, Starfire sat down and pulled off her shoes, then reached down to put on her skates.
And suddenly Richard was kneeling at her feet, doing it for her. Slipping the creamy white shoe bottomed with shiny sharpened silver blades onto her foot like Prince Charming had placed the glass slipper on Cinderella, he then laced up the skates with practiced ease; loose at the toes, tight at the ankle, then loose once more at the top.
"I would think of a reason why you should not put my own skates on me, but I cannot at the moment," she said finally. Richard grinned.
"Well, while you figure that out, I'm going to ask the lovely redhead in front of me if she would like to skate sometime."
She stuck her tongue out at him, but made no protest as he slipped rubber guards onto the blades so she could walk without slipping, then led her out to the ice, where she removed them herself.
Only to slip and fall the instant she hit the rink. Fortunately, flight has its advantages, and she managed to keep herself from sprawling on the ice without Richard noticing. Ice and the ways of ice had always been a little beyond her.
Richard, on the other hand, was as dexterous when balancing on thin blades as he was when wearing his steel toed boots. He glided smoothly along, though at a snail's pace for the sake of his date, but said date could see his restlessness.
"Go on," coaxed Starfire like she was speaking to a child, and Richard lost no time flashing a grateful smile, then streaking off, leaving Starfire desperately trying to keep her balance. Eventually, she simply floated the slightest bit, steadying herself as she glided along sedately, watching Richard show off.
It was a beautiful spectacle to behold. At first, he simply placed one foot in front of the other and skated with no real propulsion, occasionally making wide lazy serpentines, arms folded behind his back, as if he was strolling in the park.
Then he broke into motion. He became a black blur as he shot around the rink a few times, gaining as much speed as possible. Halfway through his fourth lap, he went into a spiral with no warning, leaning forward while lifting one foot into the air, spinning around so fast he looked like a helicopter blade. Breaking from the spiral, he skated forward, gaining more speed, then did an Arabian Cartwheel; which was basically a cartwheel executed with no hands. This went into a flying camel, where he spun on one foot, then abruptly leapt onto the other, landing in a backwards glide.
Star wondered if he had noticed all the attention he was getting. It didn't seem like it when he was doing perfectly timed and accomplished, but still rather unexciting, figure eights, outside figure eights, hops, and ballet jumps. But then there was when he went from spirals to salchows to axles to sit spins in such rapid succession it was a wonder that he didn't get sick.
It was then that it seemed like he was showing off to impress the crowd. Or maybe it was to tick his date—the one normally known for grace—off.
As if to seal his own fate, the absurdly handsome playboy billionaire/superhero fell out of a double axle and summoned an extra burst of speed, completing yet another Arabian Cartwheel, only to come to a snowplow stop inches away from Starfire, then fluid into a slow backwards slide, mindlessly flicking a lock of perfect raven hair from his face amongst thunderous applause.
Starfire made no effort to hide her contempt. Or admiration.
Richard grinned, oblivious to the now dissipating crowd, focused only on the redhead before him, "Impressed?"
"I hate you."
"And I you honey." She continued glaring, wishing desperately for some snow. Unlike ice, snow never presented problems for her, and she was itching for a snowball to pelt him with. Unbearable, cocky, gorgeous, over confident…sm'xner!
Said sm'xner was laughing to himself as he watched the mental tirade parading along her face. I wonder if she even realizes that she's been skating, and a lot better than she was last time. He mentally chuckled at the memory; she had spent more time on her back or bottom than on her skates.
Now she glided along like she had been born on the ice. Maybe I should show off and make her mad more often. He grinned at the prospect. But for now, I should probably snap her out of it. An idea struck him. He grinned at this too.
Before Star knew quite what he was up to, Richard had whipped around in a semicircle, placed his hands on both sides of her waist, and started to pick up speed.
"Richard!" she squawked, "What're you doing!?"
He paid her no mind, only picked up the pace, grinning madly. Her screaming took on a whole new pitch, too scared/aggravated to notice that she was still skating well. In fact, she was in perfect sync with Richard's movements.
He went still faster, a group of three ahead. Swerving firmly to the right, not terribly surprised when Starfire slid smoothly with him, the duo navigated around the trio swiftly.
But not silently, Star was still screeching her disapproval, though her cries seemed much less vehement as they were before. To be honest, they were almost like laughter.
Richard took this as a good sign, and he drew forward, placing his chin on her shoulder, whispering into her ear, "Now its my turn to show you flight." No sooner had he said this than his hands moved to her hips, and lifted her into the air, somehow managing to stay at their speed without falling.
Starfire heard the slice as blades cut into the ice, tasted the cold air, felt the gapes of other skaters and hands secure around her as they rushed by. Her hair blew back from the speed, her eyes teared from the icy air, and her cheeks grew warm from the heat of Richard's hands on her hips.
This was so much better than flying herself. To not be the one giving the ride, but the one receiving it; to relinquish control to another, to accept the thrill of having no idea what was going to happen next…was for lack of a better word, glorious.
Ice and the ways of ice now seemed much more inviting.
Alas though, Richard's arms were getting tired, and he set her back down, though he made up for it when he grabbed her hand and spun her around rapidly. But he forgot that she wasn't that skilled on ice skates, and so her feet got tangled, and it was only due to quick reflexes on Richard's part that kept her from taking an icy seat. Recovering, they loosened their grips; hers on his shirt, his on her shoulders, and they looked at each other for a moment. Then burst out laughing.
"Sorry Star," Richard chuckled, "I got too caught up in the moment—forgot you didn't know that move."
"Don't worry about it Richard," replied Starfire, eyes twinkling. "That was…exhilarating." She giggled, leaning her head on his chest as they laughed together.
As they quieted, they looked at each other. But they didn't grow tense and shallow breathed or do any of the things one does in "to kiss or not to kiss" mode. Instead, they simply held each other's gaze, and felt nothing more than friendship and content.
So neither were disappointed when Richard held out his hand for Star to take, and both skated around the rink. Initiated conversations flowed, silences were golden, and they still skated around the rink.
Hand in hand.
Only when a clerk skated up, informing them that it was closing time, did they notice that over an hour had passed.
Richard and Starfire stared. Looked at each other. Then stared again.
The alien bit her lip, then turned to Richard. "Do…you think we should…?"
"Do what it says?" finished Richard. "…I guess."
Exchanging glances again, they followed the sign's instructions, then left the rink.
For at the skate-renting booth, the metal door was pulled down to the counter, and a hastily scribbled message was taped to it.
It read: "Just leave the skates by the counter. Thanks."
Isaac and Ginny were a little preoccupied.
Back in the Camaro, driving on the border of the Western businesses and residentials, Richard drummed his fingers against the wheel of his car to no tune.
Star watched for a while, then spoke up, "What would you like to do now Richard? The night is still young."
Indeed it was, the clock revealed that it was only 9:37.
Richard frowned in thought, then shrugged. "I'm not sure. I know I want to do something fun, because I didn't really use up all of my energy on the ice; but I can't think of any place that's still open. I just…have you ever felt like going out and just burning off some adrenaline?"
Star grinned, "Yes I do. And do you know what I do to burn it?"
He paused at a stop sign, then looked at her, "What?"
"I go for a flight."
Richard chuckled wryly then drove on, "Must be nice."
"Richard, do you wish to go flying with me?"
He turned back to her, mildly amazed, "Really?"
"Well, we've never really gone before."
"You've never really asked."
Defeated, he almost agreed, then he saw a problem, "What do we do with S—the car?"
Star grinned cheekily, knowing he couldn't see her expression in the darkness. No one but the Tamaranian knew what Richard called his car, and even then it was by an accident he didn't know about. It was by pure chance that he hadn't noticed her floating about the garage in search for a ratchet, and heard him speaking to his vehicle as he washed it.
He had called the car, "Sunny."
Still wanting the secret for herself, she decided to spare him, "We can leave it at a parking garage."
He looked at her like she had shaved her head, "Leave my car in a garage? On the West Side? I won't get it back if I do that!"
She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, even though he wouldn't have seen it, then she noticed how dark the street they were on was.
"Pull over," she ordered.
"Just do it."
After a confused glance, he did as he was told. Starfire unbuckled her belt and reached for the door handle. Richard was about to mimic her actions when Star placed her hand over his, stopping him. "Stay in the car," she told him. She sensed, rather then saw, him start to open his mouth to question, but she curled her fingers around the hand beneath it, "Trust me," she encouraged.
Slowly, his hands gathered themselves into his lap. Smiling, Star exited the vehicle and made her way to the back of it.
Richard watched her from the rearview mirror, What is she—? He was cut off with a jolt. Literally; when a car is lifted into the air, chances are it's going to be a shaky thing. He let out a startled yell as his date lifted his most valued inanimate object up and towards bedarkened buildings. As they began their decent onto a particularly tall one, he again looked in the mirror and found the alien grinning at him, glowing eyes sparkling with mischief.
Sunny settled on the roof with a small thud. Richard was out of the car inspecting it before Star could let go.
"Could've given me a little waning ya know!" he shouted as he made sure there were no scratches or dents. Starfire looked genuinely surprised at his reaction.
"I'm sorry, I did not think it would be that big of a deal."
He stared at her, "Star, you picked up a car. With me in it. It's the definition of a big deal!"
Her hands came to her hips, and she gave him a look that suggested that he was too stupid to live (probably picked it up from Jinx). "Richard, I picked up a car not much smaller than this with my foot when we first met. Don't you remember?"
He did remember, very vividly. It was in that moment that she stunned him for the first time, gained his respect for the first time.
Things that she made happen very frequently now.
"Hmm, stronger than she looks." Richard wondered if she knew how much weight that statement had carried; the last person to receive a comment like that was The Joker.
He sighed in defeat and uttered another statement that carried enormous weight, "You win." Regardless, he still turned on the car alarm.
Starfire grinned; Richard just wouldn't be Richard if he didn't do ridiculous things like that. Turning from him, she walked to the end of the roof, leaping onto the raised edge, looking down at the street below her. It was one of the busier intersections in town, where Saratoga met S.P.I.D. (San Paulo Inland Drive). They didn't have cars and streets on Tamaran. With a race of people gifted with flight who lived in a city surrounded by desert, why would they? But she enjoyed looking at the Earthen mode of transportation, the primary one anyway. Especially from high up above. The world seemed so peaceful when you looked down at it from great height.
Richard stood on the ledge beside her, "It looks so peaceful down there doesn't it?" he asked softly, looking down, a small smile on his face.
Star suppressed her giggle at the similarities of their thoughts and simply nodded.
"Its times like this, when I'm on some skyscraper, looking down at those people down there, that I remember why I do this."
Star looked over at him, "Do what?"
"Be a hero," he stated simply, "Look at them," her green eyes watched the cars slow to a stop at a red light, people walking on the crosswalk, "they look so small from up here, they need someone to take care of them."
Once more her head turned in his direction, only to find that he was already looking at her, that same small smile on his face.
"It is a good thing you're here then," she murmured serenely.
His smile widened, "You and me both." The moment lasted, lingered like a snowflake on an outstretched tongue, then dissolved and was forgotten. "So, ready to go flying?" Richard asked as the flake melted.
Star straightened up and nodded, "Yes I am," she agreed, but her eyes held something in them, a mischievous glow that didn't quite match what Richard had in mind.
But he had no time to dwell or ask on it, for a small strong orange hand pressed between his shoulder blades and pushed him off the roof.
He yelped aloud, and Star giggled before somersaulting off the roof and dove after him, reveling in the moment of free fall.
And a few feet from the ground, she grabbed him by the arms and shot away with a loud whooshing sound, startling many a streetwalker. Richard overcame his fright in an instant, and he took hold of the alien's wrists, grinning up at her, assuring her he wasn't mad.
She smiled back, then as her eyes took on a deeper green, she took off into the middle of the busy city street.
Thrilling was the only word for it. With the speed and reflexes of a born aviator, Starfire maneuvered around the countless cars scattered along S.P.I.D. She went up, she went down, navigated from side to side, occasionally throwing in a spin. Richard loved it. He wondered why they had never gone flying before, but endeavored to do it more often.
They lifted slightly, skimming just above the roofs of the vehicles below, so close, he could reach down and run his fingers along their surface. Things passed by in a dizzying array, lights and colours and sounds melded together, and he wondered if Star always felt this when she flew.
Over everything, he heard the exhilarated throb of his pulse in his ears, heightened by the screaming wind, and felt the hands that held his life within them. And he couldn't feel safer.
Then S.P.I.D. ran out, and a large mirrored building loomed ahead, never slowing, Star made an impossible ninety-degree angle, and suddenly the mirror-like windows, reflecting the light of the moon and the city, flashed by.
They were on the roof in seconds, and Starfire slowed, though she continued to weave about along the top, coming up to circle the long spire that rose from the center of the skyscraper.
"Do you wish to stop?" asked his chauffeur, a smile in her voice.
Richard did what most feared to do from a great height; he looked down, and took in all the sights below.
The city lights shone like a million tiny fireflies, the buildings loomed and squatted, and cars, buses, and cabs moved like ants around them.
It was a beautiful view, but Richard only saw it as a potential obstacle course. "No way."
She breathed in relief, and he only had enough time to grin before she planted her feet onto the spire, and catapulted them at a speed that made his head snap back.
"Wooo-HOOO!" he yelled, throwing his arms wide, laughing in elation, at the rush, at gravity, at the world. Adrenaline coursed tantalizing waves through his veins, and he couldn't remember ever being so happy.
And then Star let go of his shoulders.
But instantly, her hands were under his arms, around his chest drawing him nearer, closer to her. Her body was pressed against his back, her cheek rested dangerously close to his temple, and he could feel her breath tickle his ear.
Happiness no longer described the feeling. Ecstasy was more like it. Heroin addicts' got nothin on me.
He was brought back from his high, somewhat, when they turned more towards the earth. A glance down revealed their destination, a large unfinished construction complex. Girders and machines, bolts and cranes, all lay before them, and it seemed like Star was about to drop them down into the middle of it.
Richard grinned in anticipation, and almost sensing it, Starfire started to spiral, as if to corkscrew their way in the midst of the fun.
And what fun they had. They swooped and dived, looped and spun, dodged and ducked throughout the enormous steel playground they were in. On occasion, Star would even let go of her precious cargo, letting him relive his days as an acrobat, performing tumbles and somersaults that he hadn't had a real opportunity to do under peaceful circumstances for years.
If he had had some doubts about loving her previously, he was absolutely positive now.
Later, the two alighted on one of the cranes, leaning back side by side, looking at the stars that looked just a little bit brighter, or maybe it was because of the incredible contentment that wrapped the two in an embrace.
Green eyes traced constellations, Tamaranian and Earthen, mentally sighing at the beauty. A warm, callused hand suddenly weighed onto hers, and she looked over.
Richard had wanted to burn off adrenaline, and that wish had been granted. His blue eyes, only a few shades lighter than the sky above them, seemed to burn in the darkness. But it was a quiet burning, like twin sapphire coals, banked amongst the ashes of what had once been a roaring bonfire.
They warmed her through and through. "Thank you," said Richard, taking every emotion he wanted to express to her, mixing it together, and summed it up in that one word.
Starfire beamed, gladdened that he was finally there, with her, after waiting and wanting for so long.
"I welcome you," she answered, and their fingers wove together.
Still caught in the sleepy sort of daze belonging to the aftermath of a happy thrill, Starfire stared at the glowing numbers of Sunny's clock; 11:12.
Her vision shifted to Richard, and as if sensing her gaze, he looked over at her, holding it, until the need to drive forced his eyes back to the road.
"How come your hair stays perfect when you fly?"
Her focus became clearer, and she sat up in her seat, unaware that she had been lounging. "Hmm?"
"When you fly, your hair never gets messy. In fact, when you do anything, it never gets messy. The only times I've ever seen any hair remotely out of place was when you got a hair cut from that Xenothium cannon."
She giggled softly before grimacing; that smell of burnt hair had lingered for days. Then her expression turned thoughtful, "Richard, your hair is perfect when you were Robin, and now as Nightwing, even though its longer."
"That was compliments of a jar of hair gel, and now is compliments to a can of 'Got 2b: Glued'. And besides, do you remember how it looked when we landed on that crane?"
Indeed she did, because she had never seen it so disheveled before, and he had looked so cute because of it. Having long since escaped its ponytail, his black hair had gotten a distinctly rumpled appearance, that annoying little lock making friends, all uniting together to hang in his face and bother him.
She giggled again, harder this time, then composed herself once more, "Do you truly wish to know?"
"Yes. And whatever it is, I want some. You could mass-produce it if you wanted, there are more girls than I care to count who'd love to have it. Not to mention the female Titans, heck, they'd love you forever."
More giggles erupted, "I'm sorry Richard, I cannot help, I use nothing on my hair."
"I only use my shampoo and conditioning treatments, nothing more. I'm sorry Richard."
He visibly deflated, "Sad."
"Of course, they are both of Tamaranian origin."
His head snapped over to look at her in shock, only to see her cheeky grinning face.
"You did that on purpose!" he accused, having the sudden urge to blow a raspberry at her.
"Yes," she affirmed before bursting into peals of laughter.
Richard huffed, but couldn't hold it for long, and a grin spread across his face. One of the benefits of Starfire becoming adapted to Earth culture is that jokes took on a whole new potential. He could tease her without worrying she wouldn't get it, and she would tease him back. It would make her get a pouting look, while bearing a warmed smile for the former, or a sassy little grin with a cheeky twinkle in her eyes for the latter, like now.
Both expressions did wonderful things to her appearance. It drove him to distraction sometimes, but he didn't mind…on some days, when he wasn't doing things where he couldn't afford to be distracted.
Like driving at high speeds.
"Richard! LEFT!" Instinct told him to do as she shrieked. Turning the wheel sharply, they jerked to the left in time to see a large Hummer coming off the access ramp in the space they had occupied not a second ago.
A loud honk filled his senses and a thousand images flashed in his brain, countless stomach turning, traumatizing, gill greening scenarios of what could have happened. Body ripping, bones mangling, heads injured; all of that could have gone down if Starfire hadn't spoken up.
Starfire! He looked over frantically.
She looked frozen: eyes wide, jaw gaping, lips inert in the last syllable that had left them.
Richard signaled and prepared to pull over, "Star! Are you OK?"
He swallowed hard as he waited for a white Honda to get out of the way, "I don't know," he rasped, moving smoothly over, hand mindlessly flicking a wave to the Honda. "That guy came up so quick, and I was distracted—"
"Distracted?" he had never heard Starfire's voice sound so angry. Or scared. In a flash, he knew why. Had that car hit them, she would've died. The thought stopped him cold, before more horrific images, this time focused on the girl next to him. Her soft skin cut wide, body crushed beneath plastic and metal, head dripping blood, staining her shirt, turning her glorious hair a darker red. Green eyes closed. Or worse, open, unseeing, devoid of that sparkle he loved. Lifeless.
Oh God, he had to pull over, right now.
Meanwhile, Starfire was dealing with the fear she felt in the only way she could: yelling. "How could you have possibly been distracted Richard?! When you were teaching me how to drive automobiles, you taught me that a driver should always keep his or her entire concentration on the road and those on it!" She noticed how pale his face was as they pulled over. It only fueled her anger, which was more hysteria now,
"What if we had been hit?" she demanded as he put the car in park, "Have you thought about that!? You would have been grievous—eep!" She was cut off when Richard reached over and, throwing all social standards out the window, yanked her into his lap in a desperate hug.
"I know exactly what would've happened Star," he choked, burying his face in her soft hair, "I would've been hurt bad, but you…you would've died Starfire. You would've died and it would've been all my fault. I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Star." His voice caught and he could go no further.
Starfire eyes widened as she heard the choked off sob, and wasted no time in returning the hug before reassuring him that it was all right.
He couldn't understand what she was saying, but it didn't matter, what did was who was saying it, the owner of the soft melodious voice as she crooned unintelligible but comforting things into his ear.
Neither noticed when she stopped, but still continued to hug, consoling one another without a word.
Then Richard decided to break the silence, "But do you know what would've been the worst thing of all?"
Starfire raised her head, "What?"
He had a haunted look on his face, "My car. It would've been destroyed! I would've never been able to recover from that!"
The sound of a playful but forceful POP followed by laughter echoed in the car.
It was a sober ride down the highway. Starfire had broken down not long after the car had pulled back onto the road, sobbing quietly in her seat, using her sleeve as a handkerchief. The thought of what had happened, and what could have, echoed through her mind. It wasn't the thought of death that made her cry, her experiences in life had taught her not to fear expiration. But it was the simple idea of what she would leave behind, who she would leave behind. It broke her heart.
Richard, however, focused on the highway, determined that nothing like that would ever happen again. Later on, in the solitude of his office or room, he would think about it, let the horrific scenarios play like a movie in his head 'til he couldn't think of another one. It was his way of healing, for once he was finished, he would find incredible gratitude that it had not happened, and a new appreciation; for life, for friends, and for the young woman beside him would grow.
However, he remained unable to refrain from physical contact with said woman, and his hand remained on her, from her hand to caress, her shoulder to comfort, and to her face to wipe away the constantly occurring tears.
Nothing was said, there was no need. They understood one another enough to know.
Then Richard got off on Leopard Boulevard. Knowing this wasn't their exit, Star turned to Richard in confusion.
"I uh," he started, breaking the silence, "ordered something after the flight, and I need to go pick it up. Normally I would've blown it off after…that, but I owe them money, and I kinda doubt they'd be able to sell it to anyone else."
That last bit intrigued her, "What did you order?"
He grinned suddenly, looking much less tense, and Starfire could feel her own tension begin to cease at the sight of his mischief filled eyes.
"You'll see. Well, technically you wont, since you'll be blindfolded."
Her eyes widened, "What?"
"This surprise requires you to be blind for it. Here," he tossed a black strip of material to her, "put that on."
She held it in her hands for a moment, running her fingers lightly across the material, "Can't I simply close my eyes?"
"No," was the instant answer as he looked at her darkly, "you'll cheat."
" 'You'll cheat'," she mocked with a huff a few minutes later, arms crossing as she waited in the idling car, waiting for Richard to get his "surprise" while resisting the urge to remove her blindfold. But those words kept her from doing it, and she stubbornly kept the blindfold on.
Not much later, she heard the door being opened, and a smell assaulted her senses. Bread, subtle but there, under a mixture of something sweet, and something else sour. A small bell of memory chimed at the first and last of the scents, but she found herself unable to identify it.
"May I take this off now?" she asked when she heard Richard buckle in and felt Sunny move into reverse.
"No," came the adamant reply, "I don't want that in my car for any longer than it has to be."
Once again interested and confused, she knew better than to argue, and an indignant "Hmph!" sounded.
Richard's chuckle reached her ears, and the car started to slow to a stop once more.
"That was quick," she commented in surprise.
"I counted on that," was the reply and the sound of a seat belt disengaging was heard, "You can get out now," he added, and she knew that the statement was accompanied by a smirk. Stepping out of the car, Starfire wished for sight so she could knock it off his face.
But she forgot about her irritation when she smelled something different. Grass, charcoal ash, and trees. "The park?"
"Yeah, it's the only out of the way place I know of that has tables." With that said, he took her arm, and led her to one such table, then seated her, which earned a rolling of the eyes from beneath her blinder.
Which was removed next. To see a white box staring up at her, a logo printed on it that she knew well. Brows furrowed, she looked at her date, who made his way to the other side of the table, and gestured for her to open the pizza box as he sat down.
The cover was lifted, and she gasped. There, in the box, was a pizza, topped with bananas, pickles, and mint frosting. Slowly, she shifted her gaze to Richard.
"You remembered?" she breathed, recalling that she had asked for this kind of pizza only once.
Richard looked surprised at her question, "Of course I did Star."
It was just a pizza, one of the stupidest things to get choked up over, but Starfire knew it was way more than "just a pizza."
"Now eat it before it gets cold."
Smiling softly, she picked up a slice, knowing better than to offer one to him. Her teeth closed around the tip.
"WLEGH!" she coughed, retraining herself from spitting it out, forcing herself to swallow it down. The remainder of the slice thumped back into the box as she swallowed again and again, urging the almost whole piece down, getting rid of the aftertaste. "That was…terrible," she gagged, eyes watering.
The irony was too much. Richard clamped an iron fist on his emotions as he gathered up the now useless pizza and put it aside, desperate not to burst out laughing.
But as the hilarity of the situation forced its way into Starfire's mind, giggles began to well.
One look at Richard, lips bitten, face puckered with effort, they exploded.
Laughter now rang across the park.
"I'm sorry," Starfire repeated for the umpteenth time. Despite her giggles, she managed to sound completely sincere.
"Quit apologizing," Richard pleaded as he and Star exited the car, now parked in the garage at Titan's Tower. "Neither of us could've predicted what happened, and you can't help what you do and don't like."
"But you went to all that effort—"
"Because I wanted to Starfire. I did that as a surprise, for you. It just," He shrugged and pressed the up button for the elevator, "had a different outcome than I thought."
She blushed, "I'm so—"
"If you say you're sorry again I'm not taking you out on a date again," he threatened, knowing he would never do that. In fact, he knew that he would never take anyone but her on a date again; playboy appearances and Bruce be damned. He loved her! And that should be enough.
Starfire's eyes widened and a hand went to her mouth, "Oh yes, I don't know what I would do if I couldn't go on dates with you!"
Richard straightened up and lifted his nose in the air, eyes almost closed in his act of haughtiness, "Yes, because dates with me are worth going on."
Star's next actions confused Richard. Her mouth pursed, her eyes lidded, and she shrugged her shoulders with a nasal "Hmn."
"What was that?" The elevator opened its doors with a muted ding.
She walked in before glancing over, "What was what?"
"That shrug and 'hm' you just did after I said dates with me were worth going on," he paused, "Did you have a bad time?" he asked almost fearfully, melancholy worming its way into his voice and across his face.
Starfire was in instant denial, "NO! No Richard, I loved tonight! Trust me, this was the best date I have ever been on. It's just…"
Richard made a small mental memo to ask who else she had been on dates with before prompting, "Just what?"
"You…" she threw her hands up with a sigh, "You were hesitant."
"You act differently when you go on dates with other girls. With me, you behaved like you did when you went out with Raven that one time."
It took all his strength not to shudder, "Lord, don't remind me. I mean, it wasn't bad or anything, but it was like taking out my sister."
"Exactly. When you are with the other female Titans, you do not have to worry about feeling awkward when you see them the next day, so you conduct yourself differently." The elevator shook to a halt and the doors opened.
"Way-way-wait," he cut her off, hands waving before him, "How would you know how I act on dates anyway?"
She threw him a look that told him he was a poor deluded fool and had her sympathy, "Richard, what do you think we girls talk about when we have slumber parties or the Girls Night Out? I have been given play-by-play descriptions of a date with you, right down to the last detail. You act differently with the other Titans."
The elevator ran out of patience and the doors closed. Neither noticed.
"Oh really?" Richard's arms crossed in a very Nightwing-ish way, "How do I act? Tell me."
"You're more aggressive."
"What?!" the arms dropped, "I am not!"
"Oh really?" she drawled, copying his arm motions of not a minute earlier, "So you kissing Argent in front of a room full of business associates is not aggressive?"
He paled, "How did you find out?"
"There was a fair sized picture of it in the 'Daily Planet.' I must say, Jimmy Oleson knows how to get a shot."
He blurted out the first, and only, argument he had. "It was at the New Years Eve Gala! I was expected to kiss her!"
"You could have informed her Richard, instead, you had taken her by the shoulders and engaged in lip contact with no warning." If her soft tone of voice wasn't a hint that she was angry, then her reversion to her old way of speaking and green eyes beginning to take on a brilliant green color certainly was.
Richard nearly shrunk back, ready to apologize, when a notion hit him. "Wait, why are you angry? Because I was aggressive with Argent? Or because I wasn't aggressive with you?"
Instead of becoming immediately flustered, like he expected, the Tamaranian shrugged, though the anger did leave her eyes.
"A little of both," she stated, "I had just hoped that maybe you thought of me as a real date, instead of…'your sister'." Suddenly depressed, she crossed the small space to the button panel, intent on pushing the "Door Open" button.
But her finger had barely grazed the surface when large hands found her shoulders and whirled her around. Instantly, Richard had her against the wall, him looming over her, one arm resting against the wall, the other gripping her bicep firmly.
Her only sane thought before sinking into a warm weak state comparable to a cradled rag doll was, Thank X'hal these elevators don't have handrails.
And then Richard spoke. A deep, rumbling tenor, with a husky undertone. "You could never be a sister to me Star. And you are way more than 'just another date for the evening'. I want you to be the date for the evening. And I was gonna ask you to be my permanent escort later on, probably after a couple more dates." His hand drifted from her arm to her waist, "But you've prompted me to be more…" he drew so close their noses were almost touching, "Aggressive." She shivered as his warm breath rumbled against her skin, and his hand started to caress her side, startling a gasp.
And then he was kissing her, soft and slow and gentle, letting her discover him, savoring her unhurriedly, like he had all the time in the world. The hand that rested on the wall came down to a new resting-place: her neck; and long fingers drifted along her skin 'til they found a pulse point. His other hand started to massage her hip, and she moaned into his mouth.
Richard stilled at the sound, and he pulled away slowly. She whimpered at the loss, then opened her eyes. To see his eyes looking back, an intensity in their blue depths that scared and excited her. She stared back with the same intensity, and she ran the tip of her tongue along her lip in anticipation.
In an instant, his hand moved from her hip to looping around her waist, eliminating any space between them. His other hand remained on her pulse point, and was pleased to find it leap beneath his touch. Her own arms shot around his neck, and she pulled him into a kiss that was all fast and fire and hunger. Small orange fingers drew themselves through lengthy black hair, something she had always wished to do. She felt him instantly asking, and she opened her mouth to let him take.
They lost themselves in each other, and had no desire to retrieve. Both superheroes had denied themselves what they had wanted the most, what they had needed the most. But now, happiness had them within its grip, and restraint was a thing of the past. They openly accepted the emotions coursing through them; the love, the passion, the need…for each other.
Neither noticed when the elevator began moving again, nor did they hear the "ding" as it arrived at its destination, and they took no notice of the half robotic man standing on the other side of the now open doors.
Cyborg was sure he felt a few systems short circuit at the sight before him, and he began to back away. "Uhh, I'll just take the stairs."
Me: (Rubs aching fingers) Ugh! That was sooo long. And stressful! Never. Again. NEVER. AGAIN!!
PB: Oh come on! I thought you liked this one!
Me: Yeah…I do like this one…maybe again.
PB: Great! Because I have this possible assi—
PS: Oh, and the Sand Tarts that the Plot Bunny was eating earlier are real cookies. Ask if ya want the recipe, its pretty easy