In 2004, when I was still known to the fanfiction world as DragonBlond, I wrote a one-shot inspired by a single fanart sketch: an "evil" rendition of Robin and Starfire, drawn and shaded in pencil by an artist on deviantART by the name of ramhay.
Now, over four years later, I've returned. Briefly.
No matter how many years have passed, I still consider Teen Titans to be one of my most successful categories. 1000 Words and Playing With Fire remain two of the only stories I regularly go back and reread—which is saying something, as I seldom read my own work at all. My creative juices were flowing at an all-time. It was unbelievably easy to come up with these wildly imaginative alternatives to many of the episodes...even if I only ever posted a few of them. (Yes, I do have more on file, though only partially completed.)
At first, I considered doing another episode rewrite, but decided that I did not want to devote myself to any new, big-scale projects right now. That's when I remembered one of the more unique stories I had written, and how much fun I'd had in writing it. So I decided to write that sequel I originally said I wasn't going to write. Just 'cause.
Warnings: AU, OOC, with only slightly more plot than the first
Bonnie & Clyde II
The night sky was only a few phases shy of a full moon, though one would find it difficult to believe amidst the thick layer of fog that blanketed the city. Shadows, long and dark, offered shelter to the underworld alone; those that dared ventured out on such a night were met with an unsettling aura. One full of dread. Fear.
Even he was not fully immune to the feeling.
An unusual sense or urgency dictated his every move that evening, making quick work of the building's security system—a far cry from his cool, in-control manner. There was none of the usual grace and precision to his craft, hardly sparing a second glance as he dashed into the main storage complex. Nor did his eyes carry their usual glint of pride as he began hastily scanning wall upon wall of vials, each of untold values.
The large room reeked of sterilization; even the floor was a near spotless white, freshly waxed tiles glistening in the dim light that shone from the above windows. With such organization, it would have taken him a mere fraction of the time for him to locate his intended target...had his mind been clearer. In his current state, however, he wasted several precious moments searching, checking countless labels against the series of numbers he had committed to memory.
Eventually, he came upon a small shelf near the back. The numbers were an exact match—he had found what he came for.
"Red Robin!" No sooner had he wrapped his gloved fingers around the vial, than a sickeningly goody-two-shoe voice called out to him. "We'll give you just one chance to put it back and walk away."
The boy thief could not resist the urge to roll his eyes, circumstances aside; it was incredibly difficult, after all, to take such a threat seriously when the pre-pubescent who spoke was so obviously trying to deepen his voice in a vain effort to seem more imposing.
Turning in such a way as to convey his lack of intimidation, Red Robin found himself face to face with none other than Jump City's teenage bodyguards. They were in peak form, greeting him with expertly-coordinated, yet overly-dramatic poses. As if he even gave a damn about what formation patterns they executed at each meeting.
"Really, junior boy scout," he met eyes with Superboy, self-proclaimed leader of their pathetic group. "I would have thought you had learned better than that by now..." his voice, a rich (and far more impressive) baritone trailed off tauntingly.
Any other night—any other heist—he would have been delighted to serve the lot of them a sound beating. Though most of the Titans were the closest thing he considered to a challenge anymore, their two newest members were like nothing more than flies buzzing around his ear. Insignificant vermin not worthy of his valuable time or attention.
Superboy, clone of the renowned Man of Steel, possessed all the powers of his senior and about three times the annoying, self-righteous attitude. Had Red Robin cared about such a thing, he might have even questioned whether the ego-driven teen had actually been granted the position of leader by his peers, or if he was really just as bossy as he seemed. Egos had to be earned, after all.
Wondergirl, on the other hand, really was as bossy as she seemed. Nothing more than a bitchy, spoiled prima donna, what she lacked in legitimate Amazonian blood was more than compensated for in her attitude. Naturally, she had somehow managed to take on the role of Second-In-Command of the Titans and loved to remind everyone of the fact. The day Red Robin had first met her was, perhaps, the only time he had ever felt pity for the three original Titans.
They must have been desperate to let those two join, he had thought with a smug grin.
"Much as I would love to stay and serve you a beating you so rightfully deserve," Red Robin told them, twirling the single vial around in his fingers as a means of flaunting his prize, "I simply do not have the time to play this evening. So sorry, but I've got what I came for."
Superboy's face flushed red with anger. "We'll show you 'play'!" The muscles beneath his shirt tensed as he braced himself for battle. "Titans, g—"
Clasping the vial with one hand, Red Robin used the other to throw down a smoke bomb. The room quickly filled with a dense, grey cloud that offered him enough cover to slip away.
"Damn it, he escaped!" he heard Wondergirl screech in her ear-piercingly high tone. "Vic, you head for the fire escape. Rae, Gar, check any and all backdoor exits. Conner and I'll take the front and sides," she babbled on, oblivious to the fact that she was giving away their plan to the enemy.
The other female of the group heaved a quiet sigh. "For the last time...don't address us by our given names when we're in battle. What if the enemy hears you?"
"Please. He's way out of earshot by now."
From his hiding spot less than ten yards away, Red Robin rolled his eyes for the second time that evening.
He was patient, though. Despite the overwhelming desire to just grab and go, he knew that any hasty retreat would lead to his capture—or at least, another unnecessary confrontation. And that would waste even more precious time than the additional two minutes it took to lay low until he could be sure the coast was clear.
Once he was certain, he quietly slipped though the shadows towards the second-nearest exit; the closest would, no doubt, be the first place the Teen Thorns-in-His-Side checked. But there was a smaller door only a few yards away. Just a few quick turns, cautious to remain outside the spots of moonlight, and he would—
—come face to face with the last person he wanted to see, purposely standing in between him and his escape.
She remained as composed as ever, standing tall beneath her pure white cape. Her hood sat just barely atop her head, loosely billowing around her face in a manner that made her look almost ethereal. Ever since her soul had been purified a few years back, the empathetic sorceress had gained such a confidence within herself that even Red Robin could barely stand to be around her.
Moreover, there was a chance she would figure everything out.
"Move," he demanded.
Raven was hardly one for wit, though there had always been something to be said for the power of her words. As such, he braced himself for some calculated remark or comeback—anything to signify that this was no different from his usual heist.
When she said nothing, he grew even more tense.
Slowly, without taking her eyes off the boy thief, she pushed back her hood. Silky strands of indigo hair splayed across her shoulders, framing her exotic features. Her eyes were dark, pupils daring to gaze at him with a look of...
Was she pitying him?
"I know," came her reply after a moment, soft and low, as if to confirm his suspicions.
He flinched instinctively, mentally cursing her inherent powers of observation and telekinesis. How dare she address him as if he were a creature who needed the sympathy of others?
"You know nothing," he spat back. "I will not repeat myself again, Raven. Move."
She nodded once. "Very well."
And, to his great surprise, she stepped aside.
He did not allow himself the time to dwell on her questionable actions. Sparing only a wary glance, he brushed her aside and dashed out the door, into the freedom of night.
Raven watched him to with a look of sadness, until long after he had left her sight. She continued to stare after until Beast Boy arrived, morphing from his emerald panther form upon noticing her distress.
"What happened?" he asked, placing a hand on her shoulder in concern. It was only recently that she had even allowed herself the close proximity of his touch, and said nothing of it when he appeared before her.
"I let him go."
"Oh." He shrugged. "As long as—wait, what?"
She lifted her eyes to meet with his. He had grown so tall since they first met. "I let him go," she repeated.
Beast Boy opened his mouth to comment, but quickly closed it. The action repeated itself several times before he finally settled on a simple, "Why?"
"There were two things this evening completely out of character for him," she told the young changeling. He stood patiently, waiting for her to elaborate, telling her without words that he already trusted her judgement. "The first was that he—one of the most powerful villains in the city—had just broken into a small-time, organic-based pharmaceutical company and made off with nothing more than a single vial of experimental medicine."
"And the second?" He asked.
"The second," she began, turning her sight once more to the empty night sky. "...was that he did so alone."
His return was met with the slow, arhythmic beep of the machine monitoring her vitals. Each one sent a cold shiver down his spine as it echoed off the walls of the tiny room. There was absolutely no change in her condition from when he had last checked a few hours prior—he couldn't be sure anymore if this was a good or bad thing. Only the light from the computer screen beside her bed was ever left on anymore, a soft glow that barely illuminated her hair and face. He could barely stand to look at her otherwise.
The color of her skin, once a bright orange, had paled to an almost human-like peach. Yet there was a strange glow to her cheeks, flushed a rosy pink from fever. Her hair, which she had whimsically cut short just a few weeks before getting sick, had never been softer or silkier to the touch, with soft bangs that gently brushed against her forehead and willowy locks that fell to her shoulders. Each time, he had to resist the urge to run his fingers through them.
Starfire had never looked more beautiful to him than she did then...and he hated himself for it.
He approached her without sound, both out of habit and respect for her peace. She showed no initial signs of recognizing his presence, remaining still on her cot. Her eyes were closed, head rolled to one side. Sleep no longer welcomed her warmly, and it was only out of pure exhaustion that she was able to succumb to it at all. He longed desperately for those moments now, knowing they were the only times she remained free from pain.
The air was cold, unfeeling, with little more than the scent of failed medicinal treatments and antiseptic; it made him sick to his stomach to think he was there only to add yet another to the stale perfume.
As he screwed the vial into her IV drip, she stirred. Brief, quirky twitches signifying an agonizing awakening. He was beginning to think she would never know any other kind again.
"Ro...bin?" Her voice was as musical to his ears as ever, though slightly hoarse. In spite of her suffering, she opened her eyes and smiled at the sight of her love at her bedside. "You're here."
"I managed to get you a new treatment. It's a blend of organically-grown herbs and supplements used to treat the human liver." A hand reached up to gently stroke her cheek, easing her fears through simple physical contact.
"Then I am...jaundiced?"
"There's a chance." He bit his lip, feeling helpless in his lack of answers. "It would explain the change in your skin pigment."
She nodded her head once, eyes shutting tightly as another wave of pain shot through her system. Red Robin held her hand tightly, letting her squeeze his fingers as tightly as she could. The fact that she caused almost no damage to his phalanges told him just how weak she had become.
Tamaranean physiology was still so foreign to him, he could not even be sure that her symptoms mirrored those of normal (or even abnormal) human disease. It had been years since she had broken off all contact with her people, leaving him no way of contacting them for answers, and the Justice League would hardly be eager to take her on as a patient. That left him with pure guesswork.
Red Robin hated guessing.
The seconds passed, and as her pain subsided, Starfire grew aware that he had not spoken aloud for some time. She looked over, seeing him staring off into space. The mixture of anger and frustration displayed across his features worried her; from the angle he sat at, she could not see past his mask.
"Robin?" She called out, hesitantly.
"I have to go."
He stood up abruptly, not looking at her as he turned to exit the room.
She, too, turned her head away just as the sound of the door sliding open met her ears. Her eyes squeezed shut once more, this time in a vain attempt to hold her tears at bay. It had become a frequent occurrence as of late for him to walk out on her after only a few minutes, and his visits grew fewer and far in between. Even worse was his unwillingness to look at her, no matter how she begged. The unspoken implications were almost more than she could bear.
She was no fool. There was a very strong chance that she would die. And if her Red Robin continued to act in such a manner...there was a very strong chance she would die alone.
Logically, there was little reason for him to be there. He wasn't religious by any means, and even if were, there wasn't much left of the cathedral to speak of.
Scars from the fire that had devastated the building still remained, bits of ash and charcoal crumbling from the walls at even the slightest touch. The floor was discolored from overexposure to the elements, what remained of the wooden benches rotted close to the ground. Vandals had broken all but a select few of the stained glass windows, the rest covered by boarded planks and shredded police tape. Long abandoned, the structure itself was just shy of being condemned.
Perhaps that was why his feet had taken him there. If nothing else, it was peaceful.
His metal boots brushed against the cool marble steps as he approached the alter, eyes focused on the remains of what had once been a majestic cross. He halted just before reaching the top, falling to his knees as stray beams of moonlight shone peeked through the cracks in the ceiling. His head lowered, and it was all he could do not to lose himself to tears.
"I promised her I would do anything and everything to help her get better," he whispered to himself, voice strained with emotion. Clasping his hands together tightly, he lifted them to his chin. "If I don't pray...then I'm not doing everything."
The declaration was met with silence, save for a few cicadas that had made themselves a home of the destruction around them. Their songs were bittersweet, melancholy harmonies that drifted into the emptiness.
"I must confess," a familiar voice called to him from above, "This is the last place I would have expected to find you."
He was too worn, mentally and emotionally, to care that she had caught him in such a moment of vulnerability. "I could say the same for you."
When she did not immediately respond, he stood and turned to face her.
She sat on the sill of one of the few windows to remain intact, a shapely leg loosely hanging over the side. Her cloak had been pushed back, revealing the matching leotard she wore underneath. There was no hostility in her posture as she sat calmly, alert but with a softened expression. It was far too dark for him to tell the image behind her, though he could not help noting it was one of the brighter colored ones. An image of hope and light, no doubt.
"I'm not here to fight," Raven stated.
"Then what are you here for?" He folded his arms.
A faint glow of her eyes elevated her into the air, gracefully lowering her to the ground until she stood no more than a few feet from him. She did this without reciting her usual mantra, further emphasizing the growth in her powers over the years. Their eyes met and, as before, he saw no malice or hatred within hers.
"I am here to help," she told him simply. "Because I may be the only one who can."
Raven neither spoke to nor looked at him from the moment she entered Starfire's room.
This suited him just fine. He had no illusions of holding any semblance of conversation with her, and did not wish to distract her from her examination. Rather, he chose to remain off to the side, leaning against one wall while watching the procedure with great interest. He wanted to know every move Raven made, every seemingly insignificant detail she uncovered.
More than once did his eyes trail to Starfire's face, softening as they fell upon the peaceful expression. Part of him feared what might happen if his beloved should chose to wake up then and see one of their archenemies hovering over her. He bit his lip at the thought, drawing blood.
"I need to know every drug you've had her on since she fell ill," the sorceress stated without pause. Her hands glowed an iridescent black as she hovered them over the sickly girl's prone form.
He gave a nod in acknowledgement and, with a few quick strokes at the keyboard, pulled up a series of medical reports on a nearby monitor. Dates, times, changes in status or dosages—it was all there. Red Robin had never been so appreciative of his own meticulousness until that moment.
Raven's eyes scanned across the screen for several minutes, occasionally glancing back to the patient before returning to her reading. She said nothing during this time, allowing no hint of expression to betray her findings.
"...may I?" she finally asked after a lengthy pause, motioning to the keyboard controls.
As Raven repositioned herself to better access the machine, a small whimper passed through Starfire's lips. She stirred, eyelids wearily fluttering.
"Robin?" She called for him, head rolling from side to side. The movement was lazy, almost involuntary; this time, her eyelids fluttered but did not open.
"It's okay, Kori." He was at her bedside at once, taking a seat on the edge of the stiff cot. A hand went to her hair, gently smoothing it back and away from her face. "It's going to be alright. I brought someone who's going to look over you."
She remained still, eyes closed, and almost looked as if she had fallen back asleep. "You're...leaving?"
"No. Never." His voice cracked slightly as he leaned down, placing his forehead against hers. "I'll never leave you. I said I would do anything to get you better, and I meant it."
A single tear streaked down the the Tamaranean girl's cheek, and she smiled wearily for the first time in weeks.
Raven showed no signs of surprise at the tender moment, eyes only fleetingly glossing over the scene before returning to her research. After one last found of furious typing, however, she found what she was looking for. It confirmed her suspicions.
"Red Robin," she called to the boy thief. "I must speak with you. Outside, preferably."
She saw his head bob up and down, hear him whisper to the girl that he would be right back, and followed her out of the room. Once certain that Starfire was out of earshot, she turned to face him.
"I know what's causing her illness," she stated plainly.
"You do?" Red Robin's eyes went wide, and had to mentally restrain himself before speaking. "What is it? What does she have?"
"By human definition..." the girl began, "Nothing. She is technically not sick at all."
It took a moment for the boy to register this. "...come again?"
"I said, by human definition. This is why no Earth medicine will help; it is something completely unique to her people."
Red Robin felt his breath catch in his throat, a fear like he had never known before washing over him. Did that mean—?
"However, nor by Tamaranean definition is she sick, either," she continued. "At least...she's not supposed to be."
"Not...supposed to be?" He repeated, brain attempting to sort through the emotions that threatened to overwhelm him.
Raven nodded. "Has she ever told you of a Tamaranean rite of passage, so to speak, called 'transformation'?"
He shook his head, words failing him.
"My translation may be slightly off, as I believe there is no English or any other Earth language equivalent. But what it essentially equates to is a period in every Tamaranean's life where their bodies go through a series of...changes. Not unlike human puberty, though far more swiftly and drastically."
"Is it fatal?"
"Usually, no. Though every case is different, ranging from changes in skin pigmentation to temporary physical deformities, it is neither detrimental to a Tamaranean's health nor even a cause for concern." Here, she frowned. "Except hers."
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Is something interfering with her transformation?"
The girl hesitated for a moment, then lifted her eyes to meet with his. "Yes. You are."
Red Robin's throat went dry, eyes widening as he took a step back in shock. He opened his mouth to speak, but could not find his voice.
"Tamaraneans are a fierce warrior race. You know this well," Raven explained, showing no signs of pride or enjoyment at delivering such news. "They are also inherently good, with instinctively noble intentions and an inherent sense of justice. They do not fight without reason, and they do not live by deceiving others. You could say, in a sense, that they carry the spirit of yin within them."
Realization slowly began to dawn on the boy, and he felt his face grow pale. "You mean..."
"Your influence has tainted her very soul. Her body is essentially attacking itself because it does not recognize the changes within that should have come naturally." She paused for a single breath. "In short...the evil nature she adopted to remain by your side is killing her."
The girl's words echoing through his mind, he felt his knees go weak. His hands hung limply at his sides as he slid to the ground, staring blankly at the space in front of him. His whole body went numb.
...to remain by your side is killing her....
Tiny drops of liquid fell to the floor as his vision blurred, pooling on the dark tile. He felt his heart slow, then begin to speed up at a frighteningly rapid pace. Adrenaline flooded his system as his fists clenched together. Lifting them over his head, he let out a heart-wrenching scream as he brought them down with such ferocity as to leave a considerable dent. From here, he did not move, remaining in a hunched over position.
His tears flowed freely now.
The gentle swish of a cape alerted him to her continued presence then, and he only vaguely sensed the sorceress kneel in front of him.
"There is a way," she told him gently.
Slowly, as if every movement caused him agony, he lifted his head. "There is?"
"You won't like it."
"Will it save her?"
Raven hesitated. "It may."
"Then I want to hear it." He rose to a seated position, face eerily calm after the wave of raw emotion he had just displayed.
"As you are more than likely aware of, the Titans have monitored your sprees for years." She explained, kneeling down to better meet him at eye level. "Every last detail has been recorded, including specific actions and roles played in each heist."
"Go on," he told her when she paused.
"The counts attributed to you this year alone would be more than incriminating enough to warrant your immediate, unquestionable arrest. Were the government to legalize it, even the Death Penalty might one day be considered." She waited for any signs of reaction from him at this news. He seemed as of yet unfazed. "There is not a doubt within the minds and hearts of any member of Jump City that you are the most dangerous criminal mastermind to set foot within our borders in quite some time."
"Flattery will get you nowhere." He dryly stated, narrowing his eyes in impatience. "What does this all have to do with K—Starfire?"
"What I'm trying to say is that, while you have been labeled as irrefutably threatening...she remains, according to records, merely your willing and devoted accomplice."
His eyes narrowed further. "Why do I have the feeling I'm really not going to like what you're about to propose?"
"Because I already told you you wouldn't." She replied back, matter-of-factly. Had it been anyone other than Raven, he might have mistaken the tone for one of humor. "It's too late for you, for obvious reasons. But there is a chance—a slight chance, mind you—that she could be taken into Titans Tower for rehabilitation."
"Let me get this straight." His voice flattened. "You want to make Starfire a Teen Titan?"
"In a word, yes."
Red Robin was no longer certain if he wished to reenact his abuse of the floor beneath him, or direct his violent intentions on the raven-haired sorceress sitting before him.
Sensing his aura spike in a rapid amount of time, Raven quickly held up her hands in defense. "I will force nothing upon either of you. I cannot make her join the Titans anymore than I can make you agree to such an arrangement." She lowered them just enough to get her point across. "But exposing her to the side of good, surrounding her with the way of life her people were intended to live...it could very well save her."
The anger left him. "She would live?"
"She would thrive."
"And...she would fight crime?"
"She would be doing what comes natural to her spirit."
"So..." he swallowed. "She would fight me?"
Raven's shoulders slumped as she felt the weight of the boy's troubles. "She would have to."
For once, Starfire was conscious as the mechanical door slid open. Though she did not open her eyes, her other senses told her of the familiarity and comfort that approached. There was only one who had ever made her feel that way.
"Robin." This time, it was not a question.
He did not answer her immediately, but slowly made his way to his place at her side. From there, he gently cupped her face in his hands and brushed his lips against hers. The kiss was long and sweet, yet purer than any they had ever shared before. No lust controlled his actions, only the desire to hold her in his arms.
As he gently stroked her cheek with his thumb, however, she could feel him trembling. "What is it? What did she say?"
"She said..." his voice briefly trailed off, remaining at an intimate whisper as he touched foreheads with the girl. "She said that there is a way to cure you."
"Then...why do you sound so sad?" Even in her fever, she could sense that there should have been more happiness to the news than his tone conveyed.
"Because, Kori, I said I would do anything to get you better." A single drop of liquid fell upon her cheek, though she was sure she hadn't been crying. "...and I meant it."
Put this on my life
The air that I breathe in, all that I believe in
I promise I'll give my life,
My love, and my trust is you was my boyfriend
-Beyonce, '03 Bonnie and Clyde