A.N. I really ought to be working on the eighth chapter of Like It or Not, but the idea for this fic has been buzzing around my head for the longest time. The story came to me while I was listening to "Hallelujah" by Allison Crowe, and this fic may be based loosely (quite loosely) off of that lovely song. The main pairing is a triangle (gasp!) between Starfire, Robin, and Blackfire, and there will be a slight Raven/Beast Boy arc as well. Do enjoy the story.
"Penalty For Passion"
Chapter One, "Arrival"
Robin couldn't help but sigh to himself when he beheld his situation. The life of a superhero was rarely this contenting, but this was one of those rare days that kept him sane.
It was a cloudy summer morning in Jump City. The air outside was remarkably cool and still, and the Tower was silent, except for the movie that played on the common room's massive television screen. Cyborg and Beast Boy, the dastardly duo, were off causing ruckus downtown in the arcade near their favorite pizza joint, and after a little pleading on Robin's part, Raven had consented to chaperone her two rather childish teammates while they went about their antics. This, of course, left Robin and Starfire alone at the Tower, for what promised to be a blissful day of alone time.
It had been one year since their mission in Tokyo had taken place, and to say that Robin and Starfire had grown closer during that year would be quite an understatement. Not to sound proud, but Robin felt quite accomplished at the balance he had been able to find between being a hero and maintaining his relationship with Starfire. Far from being the distraction to crime fighting he had thought their dating would be, Starfire's constant affection and support did much to ground him. It was awfully difficult to obsess about criminals and whatnot while he was the object of her doting, and Robin gradually began to forget how he had gotten by without her (clichéd as that may sound).
Upon returning to the States, it hadn't taken long for Robin and Starfire to get over their blushing embarrassment over expressing their affection, even in the presence of their teammates, much to the other Titans' chagrin. In the passing year Robin and Starfire were constantly in each other's company, and displays of affection between the two had become so commonplace in the Tower that Cyborg and Beast Boy had practically run out of new ways to say "get a room".
On this lazy summer day Starfire had picked out some Disney flick or another to pass the time, and Robin had agreed to watch it with her. For all he cared she could have picked out a My Little Pony tape; it wasn't like he was interested in what was happening on the screen anyway.
They had settled in for the movie on the big couch in the common room, shoulders brushing and Starfire's head resting against his. Some time into the feature Starfire had grabbed his hand, and their intertwined fingers had been resting between them ever since.
Yes, quiet days like these were few and far between, and their scarcity had taught Robin to cherish them as much as possible. A far cry from the peacefulness that one would expect after years of the Titans' presence in Jump City, the crime rate had only picked up over time as more criminals stepped up to the challenge of besting the illustrious Titans. Daily disturbances in the city had become routine, which really kept the Titans on their toes. They constantly had to be operating at full power, which was unbelievably taxing for the team, all of whose members were still minors in the government's eyes. Even when they managed to get one crook to stay put in prison, it seemed like another two villains popped up in the city. Sure, the city people were glad for their efforts, but being unable to actually rid the city of crime took its toll on Robin. After all, if there was one thing about him that would never change, it was his perfectionist mentality, and not being able to keep baddies where he sent them was irritating to say the least.
Luckily for his health, however, his focus on stopping crime had shifted from strictly the call of duty to accommodate another focus: his girlfriend, the only one who could bring a smile to his face when yet another criminal escaped from jail or managed to get out scot-free due to a technicality during a trial.
But despite all the effort he put into his relationship with Starfire, Robin knew he was far from the ideal boyfriend. He had lost his head at her on more than one occasion for being just so frustratingly naïve, despite their years of service in one of the grimmest professions possible. Her inability to understand his fixation on his role as a hero was bittersweet; there were both days that he regarded her as a goddess for her blithe character and days that he screamed at her for not understanding why he couldn't take a break while criminals still stalked the streets. But despite his shortcomings Starfire still put up with him, and he didn't know what he would do without her patience and loyalty. He would be a fool to ever consider giving up the one thing that kept him from going insane, and, quite frankly, he couldn't imagine getting by without her again.
Robin's eyes flicked up to the television screen just in time to see the camera pan slowly across a dark cityscape as dramatic music echoed out their last strains. To his dismay, the credits began to scroll slowly across the screen, and with them came the end of his reverie.
Starfire heaved a gentle sigh from beside him and stretched.
"Was that not the most beautiful movie?" the Tamaranean asked her boyfriend, a content smile gracing her lips and making her eyes sparkle in that adorable, sincere way that Robin had come to love.
"Yeah, it was," Robin agreed, returning the grin on reflex. He rose to switch off the television, where the credits were still rolling to the theme music of the film. He turned off the screen, plunging the common room into silence.
"So, what now?" he asked, returning to the couch and casually taking his girlfriend's hand again. "The others probably won't be home for another couple of hours."
"Perhaps you have some paperwork to finish?" Starfire offered. "I wouldn't want you to fall behind in your work because of me."
Robin smirked. "Nah, that stuff can wait a little longer. Besides, I can think of quite a few things I'd rather do."
Starfire giggled. "Well what did you have in mind?" she inquired innocently.
"I was thinking of something more like this," said Robin as he moved closer to his girlfriend, looping an arm casually around her shoulders and kissing her upturned lips gently. Starfire accepted his gesture willingly, thrilling him further by leaning into his embrace.
"Yep, this is way better than paperwork," Robin remarked, pulling away for a moment to settle into a more comfortable position beside her.
"Far better," Starfire agreed, moving in for a second kiss, which Robin eagerly welcomed.
"I don't see why they kicked us outta the arcade," Beast Boy whined, kicking a pebble along the sidewalk ahead of him as he trudged along.
"You broke the steering wheel off of that driving game," Raven ground out as she marched steadily onward, in front of the two idiots she was babysitting.
"It totally just fell off, I swear," Beast Boy insisted. "Besides, Cyborg fixed it in like ten seconds."
"But then you broke the change machine," Raven sighed.
"Dude! How was I supposed to know it would fall over like that when I shook it? Darned thing gypped me outta five bucks in the first place."
"Ooh, great justification for destroying private property," the empath shot back.
"She's got a point, B," Cyborg spoke up.
"Hey, at least I'm not the one who hogged that DDR machine for two hours and made that little boy cry when I accidentally stomped on his foot," Beast Boy retorted, poking his bionic friend's massive metal shoulder with a gloved finger.
"First off, that guy was like fifteen," Cyborg replied, "And I was gunna take a break once I beat the high score."
"Well that doesn't matter now 'cause you got us kicked out!" the changeling cried.
"Would you two shut up," Raven called over her shoulder, her warning tone not lost on the bickering boys.
"Where're we going now anyway?" Beast Boy asked, changing the subject. "It's after noon and I'm starving. We should've stopped at that pizza place by the arcade."
"Why?" Raven asked. "So I could lend you another ten dollars for food that you will inevitably 'forget' to pay me back?"
"I'd have money for lunch if that change machine hadn't eaten my five!" Beast Boy insisted.
Raven shook her head and plodded onward. "We're going to the park," she said finally. "After the insanity you two made me suffer through this morning I deserve some time to meditate."
"But what're we supposed to do there?" Beast Boy whined.
"Would you rather go home and watch Robin and Starfire make out in the common room?" Cyborg offered sarcastically.
Beast Boy pretended to wretch. "Ew, good point. Oh well, there're usually at least a couple babes at the park around this time."
"And I'm sure today will be the day that your scrawny green body and uncouth mannerisms will attract them like flies," Raven remarked derisively.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Beast Boy demanded. "The chicks dig–"
"The pointy ears," Raven finished coolly, "Just because you say that constantly doesn't make it true."
In lieu of offering a verbal reply, the changeling made due with sticking his tongue out at the back of Raven's head. After all, it wasn't his fault that all those girls were too shy to confront him in all his green awesomeness.
The sun was sinking low in the sky by the time Raven and her charges returned to the Tower. Raven had gotten in a few solid hours of undisturbed meditation time while the boys played Frisbee with a disc they claimed to have found on one of the park benches.
It was the dinner hour when they arrived back, and sure enough, Robin and Starfire occupied the couch in the common room.
"Hey Cyborg," Beast Boy called loudly upon entering the room, "What do you call two people making out on a public couch?"
"I dunno, B, what?" Cyborg replied, booming voice just as exaggeratedly loud.
"Frickin' annoying, that's what!" Beast Boy practically yelled in the direction of Robin and Starfire.
Starfire quickly rose up off the couch and floated over to her friends.
"Friends! You have returned!" she exclaimed, smoothing out her hair, straightening her armbands, and apparently not noticing her friends' irritation. "How was your excursion to the arcade of games?"
"Fine, 'til Cyborg got us kicked out," Beast Boy responded, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Me?" Cyborg began in defense, "I'm not the one who–"
"Oh no," Raven cut in, "You two are not starting that again."
Cyborg looked at her sheepishly. "Fine," he wisely acquiesced. "Hey, did we miss anything while we were out?" he asked Robin, who had adjusted his gloves and made his way over to where the rest of his team was congregated near the entranceway to the common room.
"Not much," the Boy Wonder replied, "It's been a quiet day, for once."
A loud rumbling came from Beast Boy's stomach, and the rest of the Titans turned to look at their shortest teammate.
"What?" the changeling asked innocently, "Rae made us skip lunch."
"I do believe that it is nearing the hour of supper," Starfire spoke up. "Perhaps I shall cook a wonderful Tamaranean meal for us to all enjoy together."
Her teammates exchanged worried glances.
"Uh, I don't mind calling for takeout," Cyborg offered.
"We've had takeout for dinner every day for the last week," Robin reasoned. "I don't think that's very healthy."
"C'mon! This is not the time to become a health nut, Robin," Beast Boy said desperately. "Besides, pizza's got like every food group. Cheese, tomato sauce, bread; how much healthier can you get?"
"Remember, this is coming from the guy who spent the first sixteen years of his life convinced that cholera was in the broccoli family," Raven remarked.
"Will you let that go!" Beast Boy whined. He exhaled loudly. "Fine. How 'bout this. We'll go get Chinese food, Robin's treat."
"Excuse me?" Robin protested, "And why do I need to pay?"
"Either Chinese food, your treat, or Starfire can cook us all something delicious," Cyborg said amiably, casting Robin a significant look.
Robin glanced at Starfire. "I have been craving lo mein," he offered halfheartedly, shrugging apologetically to his girlfriend.
"…And that's how they get the meat that they use in the General Tso's chicken," Beast Boy concluded happily, finishing off his rather grotesque explanation. He crossed his arms behind his head and leaned back, inadvertently sticking his elbow in Raven's face.
The Titans had finished eating their supper and were heading back to the Tower in the T-Car. The night was just as silent and still as the day had been; the quiet din of the city and the chirping of insects were the only noises as the T-Car sped onward. The layer of fluffy clouds had thickened considerably as evening had come, blocking the moon and stars completely from sight.
"Thanks for sharing, Beast Boy," Robin said sarcastically from the shotgun, leaning back against the headrest and staring forward.
"I was unaware that such violence with chickens is practiced on your planet," Starfire said in awe, eyes wide as she stared at the green teen to her immediate right.
"He made most of that up, Starfire," Raven spoke up in boredom, pushing Beast Boy's elbow away from her, "Or exaggerating severely at least."
"You can't prove it," Beast Boy retorted, refusing to budge his arm, just to annoy the empath.
"Giant chicken vacuums?" Robin snorted, still not deigning to glance behind him as he spoke.
"You're losing it, Beast Boy," Cyborg asked, voice laced with mirth.
"Mock me if you want," Beast Boy said, "But when the chickens rebel and destroy those who afflicted them we'll see who's laughing."
Cyborg slowed the T-Car to as stop as they finally arrived back at Titans Island. He shifted his baby into park.
The bionic hero shook his head slowly. "Forget losing it, Beast Boy," he sighed, "I think it's already gone."
"I resent that," Beast Boy muttered as he jumped out of the car after Raven.
"I still can't get over how quiet today was," Robin said thoughtfully, obviously too preoccupied to follow his teammates' banter as he led them toward the Tower. "We didn't get called out once."
"Uh, normal people would be happy about that," Beast Boy pointed out.
"Do not despair," Starfire said kindly, laying a comforting hand on Robin's shoulder as they walked. "I am sure that a temporary lull in criminal activity is nothing to become apprehensive about."
Raven glanced up at the Tower in front of them as Cyborg typed in the pass code to unlock the building. The huge metal doors audibly unbolted and hissed open.
"I'm sure the respite won't last much longer, in case you're worried," the empath said evenly, eyes narrowing slightly.
The Titans stepped inside the Tower. Suddenly Beast Boy's ears pricked and he stopped dead in his tracks near the entrance.
"Beast Boy?" Starfire said in concern, withdrawing her hand from Robin's shoulder, "Is something wrong?"
The changeling continued to stand still and motioned for his team to do the same. He cocked his head to the right.
"There's someone in the Tower," Beast Boy announced quietly but with confidence. He glanced at Raven, who nodded once in silent agreement.
"What?" Robin immediately replied, snapping back into hero mode. "Who is it? Slade?"
"Can't tell," Beast Boy admitted, eyes scanning the foyer nervously. "I hear a heartbeat, and somebody moving somewhere."
"The Tower's security system was never breached," Cyborg said, scratching his head and looking quizzically at the control panel built into his arm. "You sure someone's in here?"
"Dude, of course I am," Beast Boy replied. "Raven feels it too." He started walking further into the Tower again, towards the doors that opened into the rest of the Tower. His team followed suit, all the while preparing for what might lay ahead. Robin's fingers twitched to his utility belt and he cautiously withdrew a birdarang. Cyborg's sonic cannon was drawn and charged, and both girls had taken to the air. Beast Boy led the way silently through the halls, finally stopping in front of the common room.
"In there?" Robin whispered.
"I'd bet my life on it," Beast Boy nodded.
Robin moved in front of the changeling, hesitating for a split second before pushing the button to open the hydraulic doors. From the time that the doorway was opened, it took the Titans mere seconds to move in and assume battle stances.
"Whoever is in here, show yourself," Robin demanded, eyes scanning the room.
"Whoa," Raven whispered in amazement, looking to her right.
Robin followed the gaze of his teammate and his grip on his birdarang slackened slightly in his surprise.
There, casually seated at the breakfast table with legs crossed, was none other than Blackfire. The black-haired girl's eyes scanned over the Titans calmly before falling to meet Robin's deadly gaze. She smirked and stood up from the table with perfect composure, flipping her long hair over her shoulder.
"Hello, Titans," she said smoothly, sauntering over to the five teens, apparently not fazed by the fact that they had not dropped their combat stances. "It has been far too long."
And so it begins. I do hope that you enjoyed reading this first installment. Be sure to drop me a review or a PM if you have any questions or comments. I would love feedback on what you would like to see in chapters to come, speculations, and whatever else you feel like throwing my way.
Thank you for reading.