"Welcome home!" Starfire cried the moment Bruce stepped over the threshold and gave him a hug. "It is very nice to see you again!"
Bruce gave Dick an is-this-normal-behavior-for-her look over Starfire's shoulder. Dick just smiled and shrugged.
"Same here, Kori," Bruce replied once she had let him out of her embrace. "Had a nice time, Dick?"
"Yeah, it was great." Dick said with a grin.
Starfire noticed Tim and Alfred coming up the manor stairs and flew out to greet them, giving both enthusiastic hugs and chatting merrily with them as she accompanied them up the stairs. Unheeding to Alfred's protests, she carried both of their suitcases with ease.
"She looks happy," Bruce remarked to Dick as both watched the small group.
"I know," Dick replied, having eyes only for Starfire's laughing face.
As Starfire, Tim and Alfred came closer, Bruce and Dick could hear Starfire's voice float towards them.
"…it was all such fun, but Dick was very worried that you would become angry."
Alfred's face blanched slightly. Starfire noticed this and rushed on, "But he need not have worried, for I am more than capable of clearing such messes. At Titans Tower, we have much worse messes, usually created by friend Beastboy. I do not think it totally his fault, as he is naturally untidy."
They had finally arrived at the open door framing the two men.
"Good evening, Master Dick. I trust you have kept things under control during our absence?" Alfred asked him, a hidden glint in his eyes.
"Uh, sure!" Dick answered, his voice unnecessarily loud. Alfred knowingly smiled at him before passing inside with one of the suitcases.
"Hiya, Dick! So-oh, what's going on between you and Kori? Ow!" Tim cried as Dick gave him a mild cuff on the ears.
"Never you mind." Dick grinned at him, and after a moment's sour expression, Tim grinned back. He took the other suitcase from Starfire's hand before lugging it inside the house after Alfred. Starfire closed the door as the remaining three people entered the manor.
"We'll call you down when dinner's ready. We can talk then. How does that sound?" Bruce asked, picking up his own suitcase that he had dropped when Starfire gave him the surprise hug. Starfire nodded, and glanced at Dick; he gave his ascent as well.
"Good. See you both then."
He slipped into the shadows of the large house towards the direction of the master bedroom as Dick and Starfire climbed the stairs, hand in hand.
"Thanks for the great dinner, Alfred." chorused three male voices.
"Yes, it was most enjoyable to the senses!" chirruped one female voice.
Alfred began to clear out the dishes, replying, "It was nothing."
Starfire jumped up to help him carry them to the kitchen, floating off with a stack before Alfred could so much as say "It is fine."
After their exit, the remaining three could hear Alfred's objecting voice and Starfire's cheery tone of her reply.
"She's quite something, isn't she?"
Bruce's voice seemed to come out of nowhere. When Dick didn't answer back, Bruce continued on quietly, "Don't lose her."
"I don't plan to," Dick said coolly, though he was inwardly surprised that he would even care. Tim took a quick look at Bruce as if worried for his sanity.
Starfire entered with a bucket of ice cream and five spoons. "Desserts, anyone?" she asked. Tim eagerly reached for a spoon, stating, "I get the first dip."
"Nah, I'm getting it!" Dick retorted, grabbing his own and taking the tub of ice cream from Starfire's hands. As the two struggled over the dessert, Starfire turned Bruce, who was shaking his head muttering, "Immature."
"I thank you for your hospitality, Mr. Wayne."
"It was nothing. I wasn't about to let you wander around looking for Robin when I already knew where he was."
"Yes, and I thank you for that too." She glanced at the two boys raucously digging into the ice cream and Alfred looking more than slightly irked at their behavior. "I do realize you went to a business trip so that we could get a chance to be alone with each other."
Bruce gave a long nod. "I expected as much. So, is everything sorted out with you two?"
Starfire's eyes were still on Dick, but somehow seemed to be gazing farther away. "Mostly."
Bruce turned to look at Tim and Dick too. "I suppose that's the closest anyone gets to solving their problems."
"Thank you, for everything."
"No, I thank you for making my son see the error of his ways."
"Hey, Star, come have some! I know you like this flavor," Dick called out to them, waving his spoon.
Starfire glanced questioningly at Bruce. "Would you like to join us?"
"Sure, why not?" he said, allowing a smile to creep into his features. He then shouted at his sons, "You two, leave some for Kori and me!"
"So, you want me to go?"
Starfire stood in front of the fridge with her arms adamantly crossed across her chest.
"Yes, I want you to spend some time with your former friends here before we leave. You have not done the hanging out with any because of my presence."
Dick crossed his own arms. "That was my decision to make, and I enjoyed being with you!"
Starfire wasn't one to back down. "Still, I wish for you to at least show your face to them before we fly to Jump City."
Dick's eyes narrowed characteristically. "Bruce told you to do this, didn't he?"
"I told him that I wished to speak with him. And I do wish you'd spend time with your other friends, Richard."
Her eyes widened at him, pleading, reasoning with him. Dick sighed. He'd never been able to defend himself against her eyes.
Starfire's eyes lit up with happiness. "Oh, thank you, Robin! I truly wish you happiness on your excursion today with Barbara. I myself will speak to k'norfka Bruce, then journey to the mall of shopping."
"Only for your happiness, Star." Dick said, slightly smiling. "But, next time I come around here, the world's going to know you're my girlfriend."
"I think we are out of mustard."
Starfire shook her head, laughing at their randomness, Dick joining her not long after.
The doorbell began to ring.
"Do I have to?" Dick whined.
Starfire gave him a sharp look.
"Okay, okay, no backing out, I got it," he said, raising both his arms in surrender.
"I shall see you soon, Robin," she sang towards his retreating back.
"Yeah, soon." he muttered under his breath as he approached the door.
"How was your day?" Starfire asked him over dinner that evening.
Dick poked at his steak and potatoes before looking up. "It was…fun."
Starfire's grin could only be described as triumphant. "See?" she said smilingly.
"But I missed you every single moment," Dick said huskily, his voice low.
The couple gazed lovingly at each other, their emotions acute and intense, yet clouding all senses.
"Ahem," Tim cleared his throat, bringing the twosome back to earth and its earthly problems, like the short, black-haired kid that had just interrupted their moment. "You can do that when you get back to the Tower."
"Did you have to do that?" Dick groused, picking up his fork and knife again and tackling the meat.
"Of course," Tim said cheerily before spooning the rest of his remaining potatoes into his mouth.
Dick finished the rest of his steak before saying, "So, Bruce already out?"
Starfire nodded affirmative. "Tim is not able to accompany him because he has not finished his algebra homework yet."
"Yeah. What she said." Tim grumbled before pushing his empty plate away. "I suppose I should go finish before Bruce gives me another lecture when he gets back."
He left, leaving Starfire and Dick there with the empty plates.
"I guess it's just you and me, Star."
"If I remember rightly, we have a soul-conversation to complete."
"That sounds wondrous."
Taking her hand, Prince Charming led the beautiful princess away to his castle chambers.
"Good bye, k'norfka Bruce." Starfire gave Bruce a hug, which he returned rather awkwardly. "I hope we will see each other again soon."
"I think we will. We have another charity ball here around June."
"To which Kori will be coming as my date," Dick cut in, dragging two suitcases behind him as he arrived at the terminal. He stared defiantly at Bruce as if to challenging him to disagree.
Bruce just shrugged. "Since you listened to me, or more like you listened to Kori," Dick blushed against his own will, "I'll let you."
Dick inwardly gave a very relieved sigh; he really hadn't been looking forward to arguing over this.
"Thank you." Starfire flashed a grateful smile at Bruce. "I know how much this means to you."
"Thanks, Bruce. You know, for everything."
Bruce crossed his arms in mock anger. "Finally he appreciates what I've been doing."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." muttered a flustered Boy Wonder.
The speakers announced that the plane to Jump City would be leaving soon. Dick and Starfire got in line. The moment before they entered the passageway, both turned around and waved at Bruce, who smiled and waved back. He stood there until Dick's dark head and Kori's fiery ponytail bobbed out of sight.
Beastboy ducked behind a car and winced as the all the windows shattered with a loud crash, showering him with bits of glass.
"Beastboy!" cried Raven, her voice slightly harsh.
Beastboy shook himself to get rid of the shards. "I'm okay!" he shouted, "But I'm getting tired of this!"
"Amen to that," Cyborg said as he aimed his sonic cannon at the cackling Mumbo from behind another car. His shot missed the rogue magician, who spun away, throwing spells at them.
"When did Mumbo give us such trouble?" Raven asked no one in particular, trying to get a decent shot at Mumbo through all the dust and trash the magician's spells had kicked up.
Cyborg shot his cannon again, with no luck. "Ever since he left, and Star went after him. Oof!"
A large chunk of asphalt had landed right next to him. The three titans gazed dazedly at the piece of street that had fallen from the sky. Then they heard a loud war cry through the hazy atmosphere, followed by a similar cry with a feminine voice. This was followed by a series of loud thumps accompanied by more husky shouts and the shriek of Mumbo's spells. They squinted through the dust, trying to get visuals on the new arrivals.
Before they could get a good sighting, they saw three green starbolts whiz though the air and hit something squarely in the chest, making it fall back on the ground, unable to run as it was dazed at the impact.
Someone wearing a billowing cape was crouching next to the fallen Mumbo, deftly handcuffing the captured thief. As he straightened up, the dust cleared to reveal two heroes standing proudly on the partially demolished road, a semi-conscious Mumbo at their feet.
"Hi guys," Robin called, a slightly sheepish grin on his face. "We're back."
Starfire waved at them, one hand around Robin's shoulders. "Hello friends! We have missed you!"
All of them, even Raven, ran up and tackled both prodigal friends clean off their feet in a colossal hug.
Starfire picked up the last photograph and pasted it in her scrapbook. Lovingly, she smoothed it down with her fingertips. After leaning over and scribbling something underneath it, she held it out at arm's length and gazed at it with a satisfied sigh.
The photograph was of the whole team, gathered around the coffee table, the ocean scenery spread out behind them through the vast window of the Ops room. Robin sat in the middle, with a cone shaped birthday hat perched haphazardly on his head. He was grinning widely, his right arm draped over Starfire's shoulder. Her smile was so bright that it would have outshined the very sun.
Even Raven was sporting a gentle smile, standing next to Robin. Beastboy was hanging on her shoulder, goofy grin fixed firmly in place. He seemed glad that Raven wasn't glowering at him for once. Cyborg was standing over them all, and if the photo could record sound, he would have been shouting, "Booyah!"
It has been a perfect day. Robin is here once more with the team …with me. There is so much to be thankful for. The party of birthdays was simply splendid, and all were so joyful that I did not wish for the day to end.
And I know now that Robin still loves me. But now I also have the love of Dick Grayson as well. And I love him most ardently in return, both Starfire and Koriand'r.
Confused I am no more.
"You know, Robin," Batman said, "What on earth is a k'norfka??"
And that's it, everyone. This chapter is the end of Confused. It's sad, I know.
I thank everyone who has read this story. Special thanks to all those who reviewed this story and urged me to write this; I couldn't have finished this without all your love!!
Also thank you for all the faves! I never imagined this story would be so well recieved. I apologize if it wasn't as good as you hoped...
I'll be back with more stories, I promise you that. Well, when I finish Happily Ever After? that is.
For you readers of Happily Ever After?, this story is actually in the same timeline. Which means Robin/Nightwing deserted his team twice. I'm not sure he should be the leader sometimes... First he's RedX, then he's Slade's apprentice...(shakes head) But then again, he's the only one who can remain so task-orientated.
Another tidbit; the "prodigal friends" part is referring to the well-known "prodigal son" proverb from the Bible. Just so you know.
Well, I guess it's good bye...for now. I'll miss you all!!
Hope to see you soon, everyone!!
(Tell me if the ending was satisfactory, please. All feedback is welcome...your contribution will make future stories better. How'd you enjoy the story? Any ideas for future stories?)