Disclaimer: Titans ain't mine, I just use them as a playground. Weeee.
This particular story… well… it's a drabble really… reared its fluffy head and bit me yesterday. I tried to ignore it, didn't work.
And the fluff… it burns… why is everything I'm writing lately so damn fluffy? Must… do… death… fic…-twitch-
Broken record moment: -sigh- Aussie, spelling, slang, word usage is all different.
Big Fat Warning: Burning fluff… some minor language issues, boy thoughts…
Robin's guide to Tamaranian affection.
"Dudes!" Beast Boy exclaimed, bursting into the common room. "I found it!"
"Found what?" Raven asked, looking up from her book as the excited changeling leapt over the back of the sofa and sat down beside her.
Beast Boy plunked the item down on the coffee table. "Robin's tape recorder, now I can-"
"Beast Boy," Raven said sternly, marking her place in her book and putting it aside. "Did you just take that from Robin's room?"
Beast Boy eyed her. "Yeah, so?"
"Don't you think Robin might need it?" Cyborg said, from the kitchen where he was preparing a sandwich.
"He's out, he's not gonna care."
"Doesn't mean you should just take it without asking," Raven retorted.
"But I need it!" the changeling whined. "There's a competition for a voice actor for the new Mega Monkey's game and it requires you to send a tape of your voice and I soooo wanna win! And Robin wouldn't mind, I mean, he just left it sitting there on his desk." He shoved a paper at her. "Look, there's even a script!"
Raven frowned at the paper. "Beast Boy… this is just a monkey talking. Put it back."
"No way," Beast Boy blurted with a shake of his head. "I can imitate a monkey really well!"
"You are a monkey, grass stain."
Raven rolled her eyes and reached for the tape recorder. Beast Boy pounced on it, desperate to get it away from her. There was a brief scuffle followed by a click.
Beast Boy and Raven froze as Robin's voice spoke through the recorder's speakers. "Starfire rocks my world, but lately… I dunno… something's changed between us and I'm not sure it's for the better-"
Raven clicked the recorder off, her eyes wide, looking up to meet Cyborg's dinner plated eyes as he leaned over the back of the sofa, sandwich forgotten, staring at the tape recorder.
"Dude," Beast Boy breathed, aghast, his hands to his mouth.
Without a word, Cyborg reached down and took the tape recorder off Raven and pressed the rewind button.
"We shouldn't do that," Raven said, offering up a token protest.
Cyborg nodded absently. "Point noted."
"It's an invasion of privacy," Raven pointed out.
"He left it on his desk," Beast Boy protested. "Right out in the open."
"Maybe it was an accident."
"Don't care," said Cyborg, sternly. "If he's gonna hurt Starfire, I wanna know why. Maybe we can stop him doing something stupid."
The tape recorder clicked, indicating it had finished rewinding.
Cyborg took a deep breath, leaned over the back of the sofa so that the tape recorder was between Raven and Beast Boy and pressed the play button.
There was a series of clicks, before Robin's voice sounded through the small speaker. "Um… Okay… God I feel stupid for doing this, but Batman always said, sometimes it better to just talk things through and maybe you'll be able to work shit out. And… it's not like I can actually talk to anyone here about this… So anyway… Robin's guide to Tamaranian affection… yeah, yeah I know, stupid title, gotta think of a better one. God, I hope Beast Boy never finds this… I'll never live it down."
Cyborg and Beast Boy exchanged a teasing glance while Raven just rolled her eyes.
"So… Star and I have been going out a while now, well over two years. It's been a long time since Tokyo… we've come a long way from those two bumbling idiots…" He chuckled. "Okay, one bumbling idiot and Tamaranian that's always known what she wanted… anyway, something she said made me think. And for some reason, I'm thinking about it more and more… it's got me all confused… hence this, I suppose."
"Robin? Confused? That's a first," Cyborg said, only to be hushed by Raven.
"Well… here goes… Tamaranians don't kiss, right? She said it's just a transfer of knowledge, but she knows how much it means to us which is why she does it. So… okay… kissing is platonic for her, which you know, kinda bites cause I really, really… really like kissing her-"
Beast Boy snickered, waggling his ears cheekily at Cyborg, who smirked in response.
"So, with kissing being a platonic action, what do Tamaranians do to show affection? I think I've figured it out… well, I thought I'd figured it out but… I'm getting ahead of myself… so… um… right, Tamaranian signs of affection… Well, to start with, there's the hugs. She has an assortment of hugs, you know? Like, the 'tackle' hug, where she jumps on you and squeezes you really, really tight and you feel like all your bones have broken and your insides are all smooshed together and you can't breathe. She gives those when she's incredibly excited or happy about something. There's the 'friendship' hug, where she puts her arms over the top of yours and gives you a squeeze. It's usually very brief, followed by a excited exclamation of 'friend'."
"I get those," Beast Boy said happily and Cyborg nodded in agreement.
"There's the hug she gives Raven, the 'you're my best friend' hug. It's like the friendship hug, only she leans into Raven more, and it's a little longer, although sometimes I think it's actually shorter than it's meant to be cause Star knows that Raven doesn't like contact, but Star just wants to express herself."
Raven blushed and couldn't quite look at the boys.
"There's the, 'you've done something nice' hug, and the 'we are victorious' hug, the 'hello new friend' hug and the spontaneous, 'just cause I felt like it' hug…" Robin laughed. "I feel a little silly naming the hugs… but… they're just so Star… um… Hugs are not to be confused with the cuddles that she gives me. Those are special, and I'll kill Cyborg and Beast Boy if she ever gives them one of those."
Cyborg snorted and rolled his eye while Beast Boy scoffed.
"The nicest one is the movie cuddle, where I put my arm on the back of the sofa and my feet up on the coffee table and she snuggles right into the crock of my arm and puts her head on my chest and we stay that way for the whole movie… that always makes me feel wonderful… er… There's the 'I'm happy to see you' cuddle, where she puts her arms around my waist, under my arms and squeezes me. There is the 'I was worried' cuddle, I usually get those after a battle. There's the 'Robin, you are working too hard' cuddle… which technically, is not a cuddle, more of a 'I'm gonna hold you in my arms until you agree to come out of your office and spend some time with me and our friends'."
It was Raven's turn to smile now; she'd always wondered how Starfire got Robin out of the office at times.
"And then there's my favourite, the 'I just wanna be close' cuddle. She puts her arms under mine, her head rests on my shoulder and her hands run up and down my back and we just hold each other… it's so nice…" Robin's voice trailed off wistfully.
"Yeah, right… nice," Beast Boy mocked.
"You so know he's coppin' a feel," Cyborg included.
They all looked back at the recorder as Robin cleared his throat several times.
"Um… okay… next is the touches…"
"Ooh the good stuff," Beast Boy crowed, only to receive a solid whack in the chest from Raven.
"She has a bunch of them too. There's a heap of platonic type ones, hands to the shoulder, hand on the elbow… actually, the whole arm is pretty much fair game. Anywhere along there is just Star being Star… um… but… a touch to the face is very special for her. I can see it in her eyes. She loves it when I cup her face before I kiss her, she gets a lot more outta the kiss then. She's a lot more… relaxed and dreamy after that. There's been more than one time where she's got this… glazed look and rubbed our cheeks softly together after a kiss and kinda nuzzled a bit, and I think this is the Tamaranian version of a kiss…um…"
"Hmm," Cyborg said thoughtfully. "That would explain why she got very jumpy and flustered after I tried to wipe grease off her cheek. Interesting."
"She likes the small of her back being touched too, like when we're walking, she much prefers it when I have a hand on her back, rather than holding her hand… and it's kinda nice, cause… it makes me feel all possessive, you know? I can give her a half cuddle while we walk and she can lean into me… and it just screams to the world that she's mine."
Raven snickered. "Possessive… right…"
"Comes hand in hand with being obsessive, doesn't it, Rae?" Beast Boy asked cheekily.
"Shh, you two," Cyborg chided, pointing back at the recorder.
"- signals with how she touches you as well. A hand to the leg while we're sitting is more of a sign that she wants me to scoot a little closer to her so our legs are touching. A hand on my chest means that she would like me to stop and listen to her, because she has something important to say. Two hands means it's nothing important, but she's feeling melancholy or sad or something, and spending time with her would cheer her up a bit. That one usually leads into the 'I just wanna be close' cuddle, and I can hold her for a while and she'll be alright again."
"I can't believe he's thought about this so much," Beast Boy said. "I don't think I would've noticed."
"Robin notices everything," Cyborg said. "Especially where Starfire's concerned."
"I'm sure he'd notice how she touches him," Beast Boy grinned, waggling his eyebrows.
"He'd be lovin' the fact that she's touchy-feely," Cyborg said with a knowing nod and a grin.
"What do you suppose she puts her hands on, Cy? Where do you think Robin would-"
"Shut it," Raven hissed.
"- ches when we kiss too. If we're in a public place, or somewhere that the others might walk in on us, she won't let me touch anywhere that's covered in clothes-"
"Huh?" Beast Boy asked curiously.
"Breasts and butt," Raven said, amused when Beast Boy went red and Cyborg cleared his throat several times.
"Um… but she can't get enough of it if we're in my room or her room. She invites me to touch there, insists on it…like she'll direct my hands if I'm being too slow. Not that… I mind or anything…"
Cyborg snickered. "Yeah, of course he doesn't mind."
"- my upper body is fair game whenever we kiss in private, too. She'll touch me all over, never below the belt though, which is good, cause we're not… … um… Oh yeah, she doesn't like to be kissed anywhere that has clothes normally either, even when they are… you know… not on anymore."
"Go Robin!" Beast Boy crowed, punching the air.
"Pervert," Raven said darkly. "Maybe we shouldn't be listening to this."
"Not that we've actually done anything… like indecent or anything. She doesn't like her neck kissed, but I can nuzzle it… and she's loosening up to the… chest area…God, I can't believe I'm talking about this… maybe I should just ask her… but… it's kind of weird, you know?" They heard Robin sigh before he dropped into silence.
"Cultural differences can be so hard sometimes," Robin continued eventually. "She's asked me a couple of times whether something was alright, for example, sometimes Tamaranians will pinch each other… And I did have to explain to her what I was doing before we… ahh… tried kissing with the tongue… and why I'm so fascinated with her… er… chest… and it just makes it a little awkward, at times…"
"Poor Robin," Cyborg said sympathetically.
"God, this is embarrassing, why am I doing this again? Oh right, working out my thoughts… Okay then, moving along… looks…" Robin gave a cheeky chuckle. "Well, she's got those, she's completely gorgeous, those legs, that hair, the way she walks and moves and talks… she's just beautiful…but that's not what I'm talking about. It's her eyes. You know how people talk about windows to the soul? That's what's looking into Star's eyes is like. I can see everything she's feeling, everything she's thinking… at least I thought I could. I'm so glad she doesn't wear a mask like me, that I can see her eyes all the time. I mean, I know she likes mine-"
"Dude! She got to see his eyes!" Beast Boy exclaimed, crossing his arms and slumping against the back of the sofa. "Unfair."
"- pretty ordinary, but hers, they're just so expressive. I'd hate it if she covered them up. She has a million different looks and facial expressions to match. There's the 'playful' look, the 'devious' look, the 'deep in thought' look, the 'I'm curious' look, the 'I'm not as innocent as you think I am' look… There's the 'I'm gonna kick your ass' look, God, that's a sexy look, as long as it's not directed at me. There's the 'Silkie did something cute', there's that annoying pleading look accompanied by my name that I can never seem to resist. There is the most incredible 'come and get me' look she gets when she's lying half-naked on my bed, and I just can't help but touch her-" Robin coughed nervously.
Cyborg and Beast Boy crowed and high-fived each other.
"Gutter mind, Dick," Robin muttered. "Keep it clean…"
"Yes, please," Raven murmured.
"Starfire rocks my world, but lately… I dunno… something's changed between us and I'm not sure it's for the better…"
The three Titans exchanged glances and leaned in closer so they could hear what came next. This was the reason they started listening in the first place.
Robin's voice came slowly, thoughtfully. "There's this look I've been getting recently… she gets this glazed, half lidded look, a sort of dreamy expression… and her lips curve up into a smile… a really soft and sweet smile… She could be doing anything, talking about anything, and she gets this look… and suddenly my heart's pounding and my knees are weak and I forget what I was talking about… And she just smiles and looks at me…"
Cyborg and Beast Boy shared a confused glance and then looked at Raven, who shrugged and shook her head, concentrating on the tape recorder.
"I don't understand. I thought I was getting so good at reading her… what does this look mean?" Robin sighed, before his voice took on a wistful tone. "You know, sometimes I can almost… tell… what I think that look is…and I think that's because… I think I give it back to her… but she can't… I mean… we're too young… she's seventeen, I'm eighteen… how do you know for certain -"
"What the fuck are you doing?" a voice yelled.
The three of them leapt apart as Robin's green gloved hand suddenly snaked between them and snatched the tape recorder away, pressing the stop button. He glared murderously at them. "That's private stuff! Personal! How the hell did you get a hold of that?"
"Dude," Beast Boy squeaked, cowering away so that he could hide behind Raven. "I'm sorry, I was just gonna borrow it for a contest and then-"
"How much did you hear?" Robin snarled, his face red and contorted with anger.
"All of it," Raven said remorsefully.
Robin narrowed his eyes at her. "I'm disappointed in you, Raven," he sneered, stabbing his finger at her. "I can expect these sorts of things from Beast Boy and Cyborg, but you? I thought you had more sense than that."
"It wasn't Raven's fault, man," Cyborg said protectively, drawing Robin's anger to him. "It's mine, Raven wanted us to put the recorder back, but we heard the bit about things not being right lately… and I wanted to make sure you weren't going to hurt Starfire."
Robin threw up his hands in despair. "Fucking hell! I would never hurt Starfire!" He shook the recorder at them. "This my personal stuff! How dare the lot of you go through my stuff! And to sit and listen to that tape! I bet you were snickering and jeering at each other through the whole fucking thing. Those were private thoughts, my thoughts. I never wanted anyone to hear that, not Starfire, and certainly not you. What were you thinking? That this would be good blackmail? You guys are sooo fucking lucky she's not here!"
"Robin," Starfire said softly.
Everyone froze and blood completely drained from Robin's face as Starfire slowly stood from the place she'd been hiding in the kitchen.
"Oh shit," Cyborg said quietly.
Robin swallowed anxiously several times, his hands clenched nervously around the recorder. "How… how much did you hear?"
Starfire's face was strangely pale, her body stiff. "I entered the room just as your voice said 'Robin's guide to Tamaranian affection' on the recorder."
Robin leant heavily against the back of the sofa. "All of it," he mumbled. "Goddamn it. You heard every word."
"We're sorry, Star," Beast Boy said timidly. "We didn't know what was on that tape… or we never would've-"
Starfire held up the palm of her hand, and Beast Boy dipped into silence, looking at the ground. She walked noiselessly across the room and held out her hand to Robin. "The tape, please."
Robin gulped. "Star-"
"Just the tape, please."
His hands shaking, Robin handed her the tape.
She looked at each of them, her eyes calculating, before turning and striding from the room.
"Fuck," Robin swore, slumping heavily on the back of the sofa as the door swished shut behind her. He hung his head, holding it in his hands. "I'm so dead. She's gonna kill me."
"I'm sorry, dude," Beast Boy said timidly, placing his hand on Robin's shoulder. "I never meant-"
"I have to go," Robin said absently, not really hearing what Beast Boy said. "I never should've done that… I have to talk to her, explain things… before she hears the rest of it…" He pushed away from the sofa, hurrying after Starfire, leaving three confused and remorseful Titans in his wake.
"That went well," Raven droned as the door slid shut behind Robin.
Robin hurried through the hallways of the Titan's Tower, rushing toward Starfire's room.
He burst into her room, seeing her standing in the middle, tape recorder in hand, waiting for him.
"Star!" he blurted, before the words tumbled out of him in a rush. "I never meant- I didn't know that- no one was ever supposed to listen to that, it was just my thoughts and I was rambling and I thought it would help me figure things out and I was gonna get rid of it and I'm so sor-"
Starfire's lips were pressed into a straight line. "Robin," she said sternly.
Robin clamped his lips tight.
She looked down at the recorder, turning it slowly with her fingers. "I did not know you analysed how I acted around you."
Robin cringed at how bad that sounded and cleared his throat. "Ahh… not analysed… I'm trained to notice things… and I'm… just so aware of you when you're around. I didn't even realise I'd seen that much until I… said it…"
"Hmm," she replied with a nod, seemingly accepting what he said.
She looked up at him. "Kissing is not a platonic activity for me," Starfire stated firmly.
Robin frowned. "It's not? But you said-"
"In the beginning, yes," Starfire replied, her face guarded. "Kissing did not mean much to me other than the fact that it meant a lot to you. But I have grown to cherish it. Indeed when we kiss, it is like the joyousness of flight has filled me, my stomachs tingle and my heart flutters and I cannot think of anything else but you."
He grinned, relieved. "Me too."
"Tamaranians express ourselves with our hands," she said quietly, still watching him carefully, "through touch. But we are also warriors and we can use our teeth as a weapon. It is far easier to see a blow from a hand coming than it is to see a bite, especially when we are so intimate. That is why I am uncomfortable with having you kiss my neck and… chest… I know you would never hurt me and I know this is a human sign of affection and have tried to relax and you are always very gentle… I did not think it was so noticeable."
"It's not…" he rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "Not really… just… you know me, Star… everything's a clue, and… my mind just works things out that's all…" He sighed sadly, looking at the floor. "But if it really makes you that uncomfortable, I'll stop-"
"I do not believe I said I wanted you to stop," she interrupted, her voice mild. "It is like kissing, something that I have begun to cherish."
"Really?" he asked, looking up at her hopefully.
"Did you mean it?"
He swallowed. "Mean what?"
"What you said at the end of the recording."
Now he gulped heavily. "You've… already… listened to the rest of it?"
Starfire nodded, rewinding the tape slightly and Robin hoped she wasn't going to play it again. It was embarrassing enough as it was.
"Er… I… um…" Searching her face, Robin found he couldn't read her expression. It was just… blank… empty… her eyes looked flat. Not the reaction he was hoping for. Why wasn't she reacting? He would've have thought that she would've had a huge response from hearing the rest of the tape, fear, anger, scorn, happiness… something… anything… just… not blankness. It was unnerving.
Her face went hard, her arms folded on her chest and he cringed. "I do not like the fact that you chose to reveal your most intimate feelings to a recorder of tape, I had always thought we could tell each other anything. And then to leave it in a place where Beast Boy could find it. Are you making with the 'fun' with me? Am I a conquest? Someone that you can do the bragging about your exploits to your friends? Because I did hear their comments as well." She waved the recorder at him. "Is this the joke?"
He couldn't believe she would think that. "Never, Star! God, I'd never do that to you. I meant it. Of course I meant it! I meant every word. I just wanted to tell you myself!"
The frown slipped from her face, her demeanor changing completely. That dreamy expression appeared, the light filling her eyes becoming that irresistible one he'd been having trouble explaining, her lips curving up into a soft, sweet and utterly entrancing smile. "Good," she said softly.
"Good?" he asked stupidly, his heart pounding, his knees weak.
"Good," she repeated, stepping up to him, her arms going around his waist to roam along his back as she pressed herself against his chest. "Because that is exactly what the look meant."
Relief swept through him and he couldn't stop himself from closing the distance between them to capture her lips in a fierce, passionate kiss, one hand clutching at the small of her back to drag her closer, the other cupping her face.
She gripped at him almost frantically and she made a small whimpering noise as he tilted back her head to kiss her more fully, deeper, his tongue running along her lips as it sought entrance. Her fingers dug into the back of his shoulders, the tape recorder clunking to the floor.
Neither of them heard Robin's voice playing through the recorder, they were so caught up in each other.
"-how do you know for certain that you love someone? … That you're in love with them? There's no magical test or anything that you can do to know for sure. You have to feel it, I think… I don't think you ever know for certain…not until you admit it. And I do… I love Starfire. I am in love with her. I love her so much it hurts… I feel it every day, and if this look is what I think it is… what I hope it is, what I want it to be… she feels it too…I think… you just have to take the plunge and… I think- I think I'm going to have to tell her… and hope for the best… even if I'm wrong and she doesn't feel the same… she deserves to know how I feel about her… I should just tell her… yeah… that's what I'll do."