"Penalty For Passion"

Chapter Three, "Catastrophe"

Several days passed by, and the five permanent residents of Titans Tower went about their normal hectic lives as best they could, fighting dastardly villains and trying hard to ignore the disruption to their collective homeostasis that was Blackfire. The visiting alien, affectionately dubbed "Anti-Starfire" by Beast Boy, spent her days doing what she wished about the Tower, occupying herself by whatever means tickled her fancy at any given time while "the kids" trained or went on missions.

Unfortunately the Titans quickly realized that Blackfire was a bit of a spendthrift when bored. They also eventually realized, much to their chagrin, that Blackfire's source of funding for her mall treks was nothing other than the Titans' emergency fund. Cyborg just about had kittens when he discovered that she had hacked into their banking system too, but by that time the damage had been done. Worse, thanks to Starfire's longsuffering compassion and Blackfire's sharp ability to contrive creative excuses, Blackfire received little more than dirty looks when her scam was unearthed.

Anyway, thanks to the sizable chunk of change that Blackfire had claimed during her "time of emergency," one could be sure that upon walking into the common room at any given time of the day, they would discover shopping bags and purchases strewn across the furniture and floor, and the stereo or television cranked up to max volume and spewing forth whatever Blackfire deemed acceptable to her entertainment palate.

Only a mere four days, twenty three hours, and eleven minutes had passed by since Blackfire arrived at the Tower (but honestly, who was keeping track?), and already the alien seemed perfectly at home. Only the Titans' wallets were worse for the wear. And as if Blackfire's eagerness to take their money wasn't bad enough, it quickly became copiously clear to the Titans that their guest also did not uphold the same standards of neatness and order that they personally held for their own living establishment.

As a result of all this, nerves were frayed and fuses were clipped very short indeed. But of course, the Titans had the decency to keep most of their grumbling to themselves, or at least to a bare minimum, seeing as Starfire's saint-like pity had been successfully evoked on the behalf of her sister, and risking Starfire's anger was worse than learning to ignore Blackfire.

And after all, it was only temporary. That was the sole consolation of the protectors of Jump City while they weathered the time spent with Starfire's sister. Soon enough Blackfire would be on her merry way, on to another planet or at least another part of this one in which they did not have to foot the bills for all of her living expenses.

This particular evening found Blackfire off with the Titans as they journeyed to the park downtown. Robin had escaped very early on and had returned alone to the Tower. He fully intended to make the most of his evening alone, and so he did.

It was a little after nine in the evening as Robin tiredly moved through the hallways of Titans Tower, his footfalls rhythmically sounding through the otherwise silent space. God, he was tired. He dragged the back of his hand across his forehead, wiping away the perspiration that had beaded up on his skin. After two and a half solid hours of working out, he wanted nothing more than a quick hot shower and some clean sheets to crash on. He stifled a yawn as he plodded on, legs feeling like hunks of lead that threatened to give out with every step. His white t-shirt and gray sweatpants clung to his sweaty skin in a most uncomfortable way as he walked. He had taken to wearing these clothes of late while working out, because spandex was simply not his material of choice while performing certain activities, especially those that required profuse sweating.

He hadn't meant to spend so much time in the gym. It wasn't a good idea to make himself as weary as he was now, seeing as criminals never seemed to care if one was feeling a touch under the weather or not. No sir, there was no amnesty for a tired hero. Normally he held to that principle religiously, but ever since a certain pure evil relation to his girlfriend showed up, getting a little time alone was hard. He had to ditch his team early at the park and skip their movie night just to fit in a little personal training time, but it was a sacrifice he was very glad he made. After all, when his whole mind was occupied with fighting off fatigue and pushing just a little bit harder than his body was prepared to, he didn't have to think. It was like his own special meditation, he supposed. A way to restore his chi. And you better believe that having Blackfire around the Tower did a number to one's chi, especially when one found them self the unwilling subject of much of her attention, as he had become.

Blackfire puzzled him. She really, really did. She must have changed quite a bit during her time away, because she had never expressed such an interest in him before. Every time they had had any contact previously she always seemed just slightly aloof and haughty with him, just as she still was when regarding every other person she came into contact with. But lately, for some reason totally outside of his comprehension, whenever she turned her gaze upon him, and only him, Blackfire took on a whole new demeanor. Even if it was only a split second glance, her expression would change and suddenly become darkly playful, or something like that which he couldn't quite pin down. It was unnerving when she would suddenly give him her full attention like that, and it always seemed to throw him off just a little bit. It was especially bad when she would find some innocent excuse to touch him, such as to remove a piece of invisible lint from his shirt or to straighten his cape.

He was supremely thankful for his mask when he encountered Blackfire's unnerving attention. Hopefully it allowed him to keep up an expression of indifference, no matter how much his traitorous stomach began turning. There was just something about the alien's expression that reminded him of a cat peering at a bird in a cage. It was smug and sinister and seemed to ooze that "I've got a secret" vibe, as if the cat happened to know how to open the bird's cage door and was simply biding its time until dinner.

As far as Robin could tell, he had given her no motivation to treat him like this. He hadn't asked for it, and he didn't want it. Her playful, rapt attention, even when expressed in the briefest of flirtatious looks or remarks, always made him squirm a little. And something told him that that was exactly what she wanted.

But what could he do but try to ignore Blackfire's looks, just as they all tried to ignore her carelessness for order and complete lack of respect? It would humiliate Robin to confess to someone the mental games Blackfire seemed to be playing with him. Surely his teammates had noticed Blackfire's odd attitude concerning him, right? But what was he supposed to do about it? Call a team meeting to discuss how Blackfire's attention reduced him to a stammering lump of masked mush? Yeah right. It was embarrassing enough that he couldn't comfortably return her looks with cool detachment.

Besides his embarrassment at his own lack of self-control was his fear that Starfire would think less of him for being so weak if he were to divulge his dilemma. Knowing her kind nature, Starfire would probably never voice her displeasure, but he knew she would feel betrayed that her boyfriend was so easily manipulated by any female who knew the art of seduction... or whatever it was that Blackfire was so good at.

He just hoped that Blackfire would find a job or whatever and move out of the Tower before he slipped up. Robin didn't think that it was humanly possible to become mentally impervious to the likes of her. The best he could do was ignore her for now and think of Starfire. After all, she was the one that he loved, and the reason that they were putting up with her evil sister at all.

These were the thoughts that weighed on his mind as Robin traveled through the quiet halls of Titans Tower. He took a deep breath and shook his head, trying to dislodge the disquieting thoughts of Blackfire that seemed to forever tickle at the back of his head. He wiped away the sweat on his brow again. Was it just him or were these halls stifling? He had been intending to make a trip to his bedroom to grab a fresh uniform to change into after his shower, but maybe he would just make a beeline for the bathroom now. Robin didn't think he could stand another minute of having his mussed hair hanging over his sweaty face like this.

He didn't need any more motivation. Robin changed his course and set out for the bathroom. He could already feel the warm shower water on his body, washing away the soreness and perspiration from his labor. He could hardly wait to strip out of his oppressive, sweat soaked clothes. Gosh that would feel fantastic.

Finally, after what felt like millions of steps to his sore feet, Robin emerged from the stairway and was on the floor on which the bathroom was located. He began the long, laborious trek down the hall, his all-encompassing desire to sink into a nice, hot shower blocking out everything else. In his eagerness to be released from his unbearably damp and dirty clothes and into the wonderfully clean spray of the shower, Robin's fumbling fingers found the hem of his shirt. He was just steps away from the bathroom and only a second from pulling off his shirt when the sound of the bathroom door opening on its own accord made him jump. His gaze snapped up, and the sight that met his eyes next practically gave him a heart attack.

Blackfire, in all of her ethereal glory, emerged unabashedly from the steamy bathroom, clad in only a white towel. The fabric dipped across her chest and barely billowed down to her mid-thigh. It was secured loosely by one mere tucked edge, but the comfortable air that she seemed to exude, even after noticing his presence, never faltered. Trails of water trickled down her exquisitely tanned arms and legs, and she shook back her damp hair with a perfect, coy smile.

"Robin," she crooned gently in surprise, her face tilting upward and giving him a better look at her flawlessly tanned neck and chest, right up to where the white towel began. A droplet of water chased down her collarbone and disappeared beneath the hem of the towel. "What a surprise. Were you looking for me?"

All the Boy Wonder could do was stare dumbly, jaw slightly slackened, as he struggled to comprehend the situation and resisted the urge to turn and run away. Finally it registered to him that his fingers were still clutching at the material of his shirt, and he deliberately smoothed it back into place. A blush bloomed up from his neck and he futilely attempted to hide it by dropping his gaze to the floor. Alarm bells were sounding clearly in his head, but somehow he couldn't bring himself to come up with an excuse to flee. His throat felt painfully constricted and he swallowed heavily.

"No, of course not," he stammered quietly, trying hard to look everywhere but at the girl who stood in front of the bathroom entrance, a mere few feet from himself.

Blackfire laughed, a throaty sound that made his heart rate speed up in spite of himself.

"What's the matter?" she inquired gently, "Cat got your tongue?"

Robin's gaze snapped up to meet her own. He mentally shook himself, reminding himself that there was no reason to feel this awkward and scared. After all, this was only Blackfire… with that ridiculously perfect body… wrapped only in that towel that seemed to be slipping lower with every moment…

Scratch that. There was most definitely a reason to get out of that situation as soon as possible.

"No," he replied again, clearing his throat, "No, I was just going for a shower." There. That wasn't so bad. He stepped closer to the door, expecting Blackfire to move out of his way to grant him entrance. Unfortunately she didn't budge. In fact, she appeared to lean into his direction as he neared, cocking her head to one side and letting a smirk slip onto her face. Ah crap, this couldn't be good.

"Can't you wait just a minute?" she asked coyly, and that damned towel appeared to slide just a touch lower as she leaned toward him. "I think we should talk."

"Why are you back from the movies so soon?" Robin demanded, refusing to take his eyes from hers.

Blackfire rolled her eyes and sighed. "I find your friends' choice of movies lacking, Robin," she replied chastisingly, as if he was responsible for type of movies that his friends chose to watch. "And that's why I'd so much rather spend my time around you."

Robin looked at her for a moment and then shook his head with a start, squaring his shoulders resolutely. His head was swimming, but he struggled to ignore it.

"Blackfire, please move," he said evenly. "I need a shower now."

Blackfire looked him square in the eye and her smirked widened. "No," she stated lightly, returning his frown with an easy laugh. "I think we ought to talk, and I feel like talking right now."

Robin set his jaw as Blackfire took a step closer to him, fighting the urge to step backwards. She was beginning her mind games with him again, trying to force him onto the defensive and hold him there until he cried uncle. He just knew it. And he was not about to let her walk over him that easily.

"What do you want to talk about, Blackfire?" he sighed, crossing his arms over his chest. His legs still shook from exhaustion but he forced himself to stand tall.

The alien regarded him coolly and took her precious time deciding how to reply. Finally she uttered a light sigh and leaned against the frame of the bathroom door, seductively allowing the towel hem to ride up her thigh as she propped her foot against the frame. Still, God help him, Robin refused to let his gaze slip from Blackfire's own.

"I'll never understand what you see in my baby sister," Blackfire gently remarked, running a hand up her towel and resting it on her shoulder. She sent him a smoldering look that Robin tried hard to ignore. This was becoming ridiculous, like some sort of ludicrous high school movie in which the incredibly talented, handsome protagonist was assaulted by that weird girl who always seemed to wear fishnet stockings and chew pink bubble gum. He wanted to get out of there bad. He had no clue what Blackfire was trying to accomplish, and he hadn't the faintest idea why she was dragging her sister into the conversation at a time like this, but he knew that he didn't like it.

"It's none of your business," he said in irritation.

Blackfire laughed, obviously unperturbed. "Fine. I'll strike you a deal," she offered. "You tell me why you can stomach being the boyfriend of my little Starfire, when you have this galaxy and thousands beyond to select someone far better from, and I'll let you take your shower in peace."

Robin looked at her in disbelief, anger mounting by the second. Who the hell did she think she was, ordering him around like that? This was his home, his bathroom, and his darned decision who he decided to date! He took several deep breaths, forcing himself to remain cool. After all, he really wanted to take his shower and get away from Blackfire. He was almost willing to stoop to appease Blackfire and avoid an altercation, and he was weakening by the second. Mind games be damned, a hot shower and a long, long sleep were almost worth giving Blackfire the satisfaction of seeing him break his composure and giving her a piece of his mind.

"Starfire is a wonderful person," he replied firmly, but his weariness showed through like sunlight through wax paper. "I've never met anyone so loyal and upbeat, or anyone so patient and caring, no matter the situation. She's braver than any of us, and I know that I can always trust her. Always." He considered the girl before him for a moment and then added as an afterthought, "And she doesn't stop me in the hallway for pointless discussions when I need a shower."

Blackfire appeared to take this in for a moment, peering at him condescendingly all the while, and Robin hoped beyond hope that she would keep her word and simply step aside. When that cat-like smirk appeared on her face again, however, his heart sank.

"It's a shame my sister has been able to confuse you like this," Blackfire simpered, shaking her head in pity. "You'd have to be an idiot to think that Starfire can offer you more than a naïve little smile and a plate of Pudding of Happiness."

Fury began to well up inside Robin's stomach, and he began to feel sick. How dare Blackfire say anything against his girlfriend, especially since Starfire's compassion was the only reason that Blackfire hadn't been booted from Titans Tower thirty seconds after they found her there in the first place!

"Who the hell do you think you are?" Robin ground out in disbelief, shaking his head. "Why do you think I'll put up with this nonsense? Give me one good reason that I shouldn't order you from the Tower immediately!"

Blackfire had the audacity to calmly look down her nose at him as he pointed a gloved finger at her in anger, teetering on the edge of forcing her to leave. She was silent for a minute, however, regarding the Boy Wonder with cool superiority as rage slowly drained from his face. Robin suddenly felt more aware of the silent Tower around them, the cool, vacant halls that seemed to hold their breath as painful silence stretched on between the two.

"One good reason?" Blackfire finally sighed, speaking slowly and letting her voice take on an air of lamentation. She pushed off from the wall and stood facing him for a moment, before taking a confident, measured step towards him. "Simple. Because I know potential when I come across it, and I know that you're wasting your time and energy on our precious little Star," she whispered. "You deserve someone better, someone who can take you places and make you better than you ever dreamed you could be."

By this time Blackfire was only a step away from Robin. He knew that he needed to get away from her very, very quickly, but somehow he couldn't get his legs to respond. His feet might as well have been glued to the floor. He swallowed as Blackfire laid a hand gently on his shoulder.

"You deserve someone who cares for you more than you could possibly know, and certainly more than you deserve," Blackfire continued, her voice so low that Robin could barely make out her words, even at their extremely close proximity. "Someone like me."

Robin never knew what happened, or who moved first. All he knew was that suddenly the space between himself and Blackfire was gone, and the dark alien had draped herself heatedly over his body. His knees threatened to buckle as their lips crashed together almost violently, Blackfire claiming his mouth for her own and melding her body to his in ways that he had never experienced before. The pressure of her hot, damp flesh made every other sensation fade to gray, the feeling of her body writhing to cling closer to his locked out everything else. Suddenly her tongue had pushed into his mouth and was wrestling his for dominance of the space, filling him with her incredible scent: she smelled terribly like Starfire, only smokier and somehow sharper. Her hands clutched around his neck, her towel held up only by their bodies pressed together. His own hands remained rigid at his sides until Blackfire pulled them to her hips, and then he held on to her tightly, unmoving and disbelieving, reacting instinctively as Blackfire heatedly continued her expert ministrations.

A cold thrill shot up his spine and he shivered as Blackfire's tongue torturously traced the roof of his mouth, her hips pressing mercilessly to his own. Without his recollection Blackfire's back ended up thumping against the wall and she gasped, suddenly held up only by the feverish boy before her. Her legs wrapped around his torso, pulling him as close as humanly possible, their mouths never separating as the kiss became deeper with every passing second.

And somewhere in the distance, far, far, beyond the pleasure and shock of his contact with Blackfire, Robin was vaguely aware of the hard click of a door sliding open, and the sound of footsteps as they jolted to a halt with a gasp. His head turned as if on its own accord towards the noise, breaking the kiss even as Blackfire struggled to steal his mouth with another, and his brain furiously tried to clear itself enough to register the sight that met him. When he did manage to realize what was happening, however, he would have given anything to be able to drop dead.

Starfire, more stunned than he had ever seen her before, stood stock still at the opposite end of the hallway, eyes opened impossibly wide. Suddenly the world moved in slow motion as he watched her call out his name, full of horror and confusion, and it occurred to him that he was, in fact, locked amorously against the panting body of her traitorous sister, unable to hide his reaction to the physical pleasure lavished upon him. And then Starfire was turning away. He tried to pull himself from Blackfire, to yell out for Starfire to stop, that this was not what it looked like at all, but he might as well have been paralyzed. He could not speak, and he could not move.

Eternities seemed to pass until he could no longer see Starfire, and immediately life seemed to return to him. Amassing more strength than he felt capable of, Robin yanked himself free from Blackfire, who was disheveled and clutching at her slackened towel, a look of wild triumph in her eyes as her quick, panting breaths came out as laughter. This absolutely had to be a dream. What had he done? He turned and stumbled toward the bathroom without a word, pitching himself inside and somehow closing the door behind him.

Shaking hard he sank to the floor and closed his eyes. He felt sick enough to vomit.

--

And there ya have it. I know that this story is moving fast, but I never intended it to be long or particularly deep. This chapter was also a touch more serious than I would have liked, but I'll try to keep all the others a bit more lighthearted. I promise.

If you have any ideas as to what you would like to see happen next, please don't hesitate to share.

Thanks for reading.