June 4th is said to be Starfire's birthday, at least according to some sources.
The basic premise is that it is the first time that Robin and Starfire have celebrated her birthday as a couple and it takes place a little under two months after Tokyo.
Disclaimer: Teen Titans are the property of DC Comics and the cartoon was produced through Warner Brothers for Cartoon Network. None of these entities are for sale within my price range.
Warning: Rated T for safety although there is threat to the well-being of animals, as well as teens in love. You are warned.
Adapted from Wikipedia: Fête is a French word that is used in English. While mostly used in the USA for a country fair or other such events, the original meaning of fête is party, festival or celebration.
The middle of May was a beautiful time in the greater Jump City area. It was warm and sunny most of the time, and the spring rains had left the area as green and lush as it ever was at any other time of the year in that part of California. But it wasn't the weather that was on the mind of Robin, the teenage leader of the group of heroes known as the Teen Titans - Starfire's birthday was June 4th and that was only a couple of weeks away and Robin wanted to make the day really special for his girlfriend. Yes, girlfriend. It was less than two months after that fateful trip to Japan and this would be the first time that they would get to celebrate as a couple.
Couple. He was still trying on the word for size.
Robin thought through a few scenarios for celebrating Starfire's birthday but none were good enough, or practical or, well, appropriate for their fledgling relationship. It shouldn't be that hard - almost any attention he gave her had always made her very happy. Tradition dictated a large party in the evening of course, either on the beach or the roof of the Tower, and more than likely the entire Titans Network would want to come. But Robin wanted to do something else, just the two of them, that showed he was paying attention, really paying attention to the things that delighted her. He simply wanted to make her birthday her best yet. She was always so thoughtful and considerate of others, and she deserved for someone to really put some thought into something special just for her.
Since their first real kiss - that one in Tokyo - they were barely getting used to being a couple. They were best friends and hopefully nothing would ever change that. Robin believed it hadn't effected anything yet. He did have to ask himself, was the kiss really the beginning, or just a milestone in an already blossoming relationship? Robin didn't think about it too long because it made him nervous and confused and a bit excited. In a good way. A good and distracting way. But there was the task at hand.
He admonished himself for over-analyzing everything again. He could not help but further consider their situation: he was grown up enough to live on his own for years now, lead a group of superheroes, but why was he worried he wasn't old enough to truly fall in love? He had told Starfire that he loved her only literally days before, but were they in love? Probably the doubts came from the thought that falling in love would be considered off limits for Robin, at least it was per the Batman. Bruce Wayne, his mentor and adoptive father, had drilled it into his brain from before he started noticing girls: the difficulties, the dangers, and so on that came with their unique lifestyle. And ever since the news footage of Robin and Starfire holding hands at the heroes welcome parade in Tokyo, not more than a few days went by without some communication from the Batman.
Maybe Dick Grayson could fall in love... no wait: he was in Jump City and he was Robin, leader of the Teen Titans, 24/7. Not only was it actually easier, he liked it that way. It was something he shared with the other four members of the Teen Titans: Beast Boy, Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire. The rules were different now and Batman was not the boss of him anymore.
After the mental gymnastics, he surmised that everything was all right and that he just needed to be with Star. No matter what. He was a better person, a better leader because of her. Oh he was so attracted to her, and just being close to her was overwhelming at times. So for the moment at least he pushed aside the concerns over the "big picture" and what Batman would say. He finally was able to concentrate on a much more important item: Star's birthday.
His goal for her birthday was to make her happy, and there was nothing more wonderful than being with a happy Starfire. Robin was concerned he wasn't showing her how he felt. Although he could never make up for every time he had pushed her away, he was trying very hard to show her he didn't do it to hurt her. Considering it more, he knew how often he upset her with his single-mindedness about being a hero. Things were improving since Tokyo, and he was determined that they were going to continue that way.
Brain storming and looking on the computer, Robin kept at his research for his "secret project". He was given wide berth and had allotted himself plenty of time to prepare but nothing was coming to him and he knew that he was continuing to over-think this. Mixed in with his lack of ideas was his concern over any future failure and he started to get out of sorts. Again. But not in a good way. His first thought was to go to the gym and get lost in endorphines, but that would just be running away. He had to get things moving, her birthday was only a little more than two weeks away.
Maybe more time with Starfire would help him figure something out. It could never hurt.
He really had to keep reminding himself about that little insight...
He walked into Ops and took a seat on the other edge of the couch to watch her. Sitting back and seeing her play with Silkie made him think of her love of animals. How the Beast Boy Kitty would always made her happy - well, almost always. A trip to the zoo or the marine animal park? No, too easy, too obvious and just not special enough. Oh, and not private enough. Although the citizens of Jump were used to the Titans and tended not to pester them when they were out at the mall or the pizza place, there has been a ground swell of interest in Robin and Starfire's budding romance. Yeah, a little privacy would be a key component to what he'd plan for the two of them, too.
Although he was thinking about her and was focused on her, Starfire was actually a little hurt that he did not sit next to her when he sat down. She looked up briefly and then back down. He had been gone for hours thinking about her and planning for her birthday, but she did not realize this. It took about six glances and two sighs before Robin realized he was doing it again, ignoring her when he had something on his mind, even when the something on his mind was her.
Robin got up and sat next to her and smiled at her, touching the back of her arm. Her entire persona changed: her eyes brightened as she smiled, she sat back and opened her shoulders. Even though they were in a common area, Robin leaned in and kissed lips and said, "Hey you, I've missed you today".
"You have? You have been doing the hard work and I was certain I would not see you until at least dinner," Starfire replied.
"I didn't mean to ignore you Star, but we were gone a while in Tokyo. Not that it wasn't worth being-"
"Framed for the murder of the Saico-Tek which was merely an ink creation?" Starfire said with a smirk.
"Among other things. I finally got a chance to kiss you, to admit that we could be 'more'."
"If we knew that was all it would have taken, perhaps something could have been arranged sooner-"
"Hey!" His protests were punctuated with a tickling assault to her ribs. Not a great diversionary tactic when your opponent is super strong and can fly away. And you are ticklish as well. Breaking away and then flitting back and forth in the air, Starfire became a tickling divebomber of sorts and Robin didn't stand a chance.
"Stop, you're killing me! Uncle!"
"Truce. I surrender."
"Very well. You yield too easily." She had a bit of a pout.
"Only to you."
"I am your Kryptonite?"
"Something like that," he chuckled. But I'm sorry I have to spend so much time going through all the paperwork and everything to get us caught up again".
"I admire your dedication to our work, Robin. You are a very strong and resourceful leader. On Tamaran, what you call the ethic of work would be of legend. A leader of your ability would be revered by many."
Robin smiled at the compliment. Yeah, she wasn't bad for his ego.
He grinned. "Thank you Starfire."
"I welcome you."
He kissed her nose and smiled, "The correct phasing would be, 'you're welcome'."
"Humph," she replied, feigning hurt feelings. "I compliment you and you do the mocking of me!"
A quick smile reassured him.
"Actually, Star, I know how smart you are. I think you might occasionally make errors in your English to make sure I'm paying attention."
"Well, Robin, if you were not the distracted so often, perhaps I would not need such strategies to ensure such attention," she said playfully.
They looked at each other intently, Starfire's smile leaving her face as another very different expression appeared. For a moment Robin was concerned that she would be able to figure out what was on his mind. In a way to deflect that, and because he really wanted to, he leaned in to kiss her again, and this time things were quite passionate between them. The deepening kiss ignited his desire for her, which he honestly found overwhelming, especially in the middle of the day.
He ended the kiss and hugged her very tightly and whispered in her ear, "Wow - that was, wow... We are still in Ops, by the way"
He pulled back to look in her eyes and gave her a wink.
"I agree," Starfire said in a husky tone with dreamy look in her eye, "that was definitely the 'wow'".
Robin made a mental note to pull the surveillance video. It was hardly a secret that Batman kept tabs on his protégé and it would be only more fodder for the barrage of "Don't Date a Teammate" correspondences from the Dark Knight.
"Hey Starfire, have you eaten?"
"No, I have not, Robin."
"It is getting on to 2 o'clock. Interested in joining me in a late lunch?"
Even though they were a couple, a simple invitation like that thrilled her.
"I would like that very much Robin! We should also get you outside, it is a glorious day!"
"That's probably a good idea".
Robin took a moment to flip through the channels. Never hurts to check the news outlets for the sign of trouble. Nothing interesting so he continued to go through, and came across ESPN. And then it clicked. Horses! Star would love seeing horses.
"Hey Star, have you ever seen a horse race?" he asked her casually.
"No, I have not. It does sound quite exciting!"
"Well, the Preakness is on this afternoon - we should watch it. Its one of the most competitive horse races there is. But it's not until 3:30 so we have a chance to get outside and also to eat something."
After some time down by the bay and a quick lunch it was time to watch the Preakness, and to gauge her reaction to horses.
"You know, they call Thoroughbred horse racing 'the Sport of Kings'," Robin added to the lengthy explanation he had given her of the sport. An explanation that of course was peppered with Starfire's many questions.
"But I am a princess and never heard of it..." She stopped there and her eyes locked on the screen, intent on viewing the horses in the Post Parade. "Wow the horses are beautiful!"
"They are..." But not as beautiful as you.
"You know, I have never been near one. It must be glorious to sit on such a magnificent beast!"
"It's a lot of fun."
"You have ridden a horse Robin?"
"Yeah Star, but when I was a lot younger. Not something I've had time for lately."
"And did you race?"
"Oh, no, nothing quite as fast as that."
He knew she would continue to have a million questions and his mind was reeling about how great it would be to have Star ride a horse on her birthday. He was so relieved that he had actually come up with a viable idea for a way to spend their birthday together. Not wanting to tip his hand, he changed the subject.
"Hey, its still really early - why don't we catch a five o'clock movie?"
"That would be wonderful! Can I pick the movie?"
"Of course, Star," he responded with a chuckle.
Over the following days, Star did bring up horses, well, a lot. It was interesting though - although she asked Robin questions, as she always did, she also did a great deal of research on her own, and just like so many girls (although most would be younger than she was), she fell madly in love with horses.
Robin had a good idea what to do, but how was he going to find someone with horses that Star could spend time with? He first thought about calling Batman, he - or rather Bruce Wayne - would knew people with horses out near Jump City. But there were two big problems, the first that although Robin was an accomplished rider as part of his Pentathlon training, he learned to ride as Dick Grayson and under the care of Bruce Wayne. He couldn't take Starfire to a date as Dick, and there is no way she could pull off being anyone but Starfire without a hologram ring and he really wanted to spend the day with Starfire, not a hologram. The additional issue with talking to Batman was bringing up why he was looking to spend time with horses and that would just lead to another entirely unwelcome discussion of his relationship with Starfire.
Then Robin remembered a case from over a year ago. It was easy to forget considering that it was soon after the end of the world with Trigon. It was a quick run really. Kitten - yes, that Kitten - had decided her life was incomplete and it was unfair because her daddy, Killer Moth, never got her a pony. So she and Fang went out to a horse farm in a secluded canyon out about an hour's drive from Jump. In the middle of her fit that none of the "nice horsies" were, well, being nice to her, she set the barn on fire. Luckily, the fire had just been set when the Titans arrived and they were able to get all the horses out before any of them were harmed. Starfire and Raven went into the burning stable and opened the stall doors, letting all of the horses out into the paddock and out of harms way.
"You and that Alien ruin all my fun, Robbie-Poo!" Kitten had said.
Robin responded, "Fang, I know it is bad luck to harm a spider, especially in a barn, but you're going down".
After some struggle, Starfire had subdued Kitten and Robin had tied up Fang with one of his quite a few BatZip ties. Things wrapped up quickly once fire and police arrived. Starfire was very concerned about the horses' safety, and Robin spent the trip back to the tower reassuring her that everything would be okay with them.
The owner of the property had sent two letters to the Tower to thank the Titans. The first was a regular thank you correspondence and an offer to contribute to the Titan's operating budget. It turned out that the owner had about twenty-five Warmbloods, mostly Dutch Warmbloods and Hanoverians, some imported from Europe. He had bred three horses that were successful in the Olympic Three Day Event and also owned a new import Dutch Stallion that was a rising star in the Jumper Ranks.
The second correspondence came while the team was in Tokyo, and included an invitation to the grand opening of the new barn to replace the one lost during Kitten's attack on the barn. It included a $25,000 check as a donation to the Titans (yet to be cashed) and Robin realized he had yet to thank the barn owner.
Robin called the owner, Mr. J.P. Davis, and asked to come out himself to personally thank him for the donation and to see the facility and set up an appointment to go out that afternoon. He took the R-cycle and was actually able to sneak out while the girls and BB were at the mall of shopping. Cy knew something was up and Robin actually felt it was safe to tell him he was scoping out a place to take Starfire for her birthday, as Cy had been working hard not to tease Robin about Starfire. Well, not to tease him too much.
The drive out to the farm was good for Robin. It was a nice break to be out on his own and on his bike, not able to worry about paperwork, training, or The Titan Network.
By the time he was twenty minutes or so out from Jump City, there was little traffic and Robin could open up a bit and speed down the road. The landscape continued to change to more barren, more arid as he headed toward the canyon.
Why the name Falling Leaves Farm? he wondered. As he pulled up the long and actually tree lined drive, he sort of got his answer, but he still made a mental note to ask where the name came from. He also noted how quiet it was there, not like the hum of activities that other barns he had been to had. Perfect...
Mr. Davis met him in the driveway. He was a man probably in his early 60's, about Robin's height and build and with an often seen farmer's ruddy complexion. He wore a baseball cap, a light blue oxford, jeans and worn jodphur boots.
They shook hands as Mr. Davis said, "We cannot thank you enough for everything you did for us last year."
"Thank you so much for your correspondences, and we're so sorry we missed the barn warming party," Robin replied.
"Why don't I show you the facilities now?" the owner asked with a warm smile.
"That would be great." As they walked down the road Robin continued, "Thank you for the generous donation and I do apologize again for not contacting you sooner."
"It is my pleasure. What an awful experience. We lost the barn of course, but all the horses survived and no one was harmed and that's the most important thing."
"All the horses were fine? None of them injured? That's good to hear," Robin replied. "How many horses are there here Mr. Davis?"
"Please, call me J.P., Robin. There are actually thirty-two right now. That includes five of the seven foals that we bred this year that are already on the ground now."
They walked over a ridge and looked down to a large barn. Further out there were double-lined fences broken up into smaller paddocks that contained a few horses each. It was a beautiful sight. Although there wasn't the lush blue grass of Kentucky or the bright green grass of the MidAtlantic countryside back East, the scene was breathtaking in its own right. The land was not completely devoid of grass and the ground's beige to red clay offset the white fences and the deep brown of the creosote-stained turn-out shelters.
There were a few chestnut and gray horses scattered throughout the population, but most of the horses were bays, brown horses with black manes, tails, and legs. They stood enjoying the California sunshine, nibbling at grass. A few of the foals were turned out with their mothers, taking awkward leaps, bounding about on their long wobbly legs.
Mr. Davis showed Robin his barn, and as they entered, Robin could see a beautiful bay mare and the two fuzzy little foal ears behind the stall doors.
"Is it okay if I reach in to pet them?" the Boy Wonder asked.
"Sure, but the little one can be a bit of a nipper, even though he barely has any teeth yet."
Robin reached in and scratch along the baby's neck, hitting the perfect spot as the colt leaned into his hand. "Hey little guy," Robin said to him quietly.
"You seem very comfortable around horses," JP observed.
"I actually rode a lot when I was younger, training for pentathlon." Robin said of modern version of the sport that combines swimming, running, fencing, shooting and riding.
"That's an interesting sport, not too common here."
"Nor is it really common anywhere, and I was competing in the under 12 age group, so there wasn't a lot of competition at all."
"Hey - quick question - with the shooting, isn't Batman anti-gun?"
"Yes he is," Robin replied with a chuckle, "but I was allowed to practice on the range. They use air rifles, but I know he still had some qualms about it."
The tour continued with JP pointing out some of the fine points of the barn, and also showed him pictures of some of the horses they had bred.
"Wow, you've bred some incredible horses," Robin said as they leafed through the standard 8" x 10" show photographer's shots from horse shows from all over the world.
"Thank you. We are very fortunate."
They walked outside, and came to the fence line.
"It's so peaceful here - it can't be always this quiet. Don't you have any help?"
"We are early risers. We have the work done early, my help goes home by noon, and then we settle into a quiet afternoon with just me and my wife. It's perfect."
Might as well just go ahead and ask, Robin thought. "This may be presumptuous, but may I ask for a favor?"
"Sure. Wait... you want to ride, don't you? Because I have the perfect horse you can get on..."
Robin shook his head 'no' and also waved him off, "No, but thank you. Actually, I was hoping I could bring my girlfriend Starfire to the farm on her birthday, just to pet the horses. She has never seen one in person."
"Well, she wasn't born here and they do not have horses or anything like them on Tamaran."
"Oh that's right, I know which one she is. She's beautiful by the way, you're a lucky man, Robin." Robin smiled, pleased he didn't blush like he used to and JP continued, "Of course you can come. Spend the day with us. I can even let you both ride."
"Really? You have quiet enough horses?"
"These guys are all broke to death, anyone can ride them using verbal commands. We'd be honored to have you, we owe so much to the Titans. It would be our pleasure."
"Great, perfect, I can't thank you enough," Robin said, shaking JP's hand, "Her birthday is June 4th."
"Perfect - it's a Monday - Horseman's day off and all - and I'll make sure that things won't be too busy that day. No visitors, all the help home early. I'll make sure you'll have your privacy. I imagine you get a lot of extra attention now that you too are a couple."
"We are beginning to," Robin said, trying not to roll his eyes, not that anyone we see it with his mask on. That was one thing about dating Starfire openly he could really do without. Not that she wasn't worth it. "I'm going to surprise her with this, she'll be thrilled. I really appreciate it, J.P. I think we would get here after lunch, maybe 1:30 or so. Can I call you to discuss he details?"
Robin was excited and a bit more animated than usual. J.P. laughed and said something about "young love."
Robin thanked him again hopped on the R-cycle for the ride home. He felt so accomplished - he had a plan for Star's perfect birthday and it was still over a week away.
To Be Continued...