Hi everyone! Not that I meant to take a break from my other stories but I couldn't resist the opportunity to write this little one shot. It's actually a contest entry for the group #Robstarluvrs over at deviantArt, with the Summer theme of swimsuit to involve Robin and Starfire.
So this is my take on Robin's plight: As Starfire grows older, her swimsuits get smaller.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Teen Titans. Not Now. Not Ever.
A huge shout out to my sister Jenny, Gamine here at fanfiction, for the Beta read. I have to say that I learned more than I could have imagined than I would have about writing over the past few hours. Amazing.
A Titans Tale of Swimwear, Sunlight, Skin and MiScommunication
Robin sighed, rubbing his forehead with his fingers for the ninth time in as many minutes. It had all started with that kiss in Tokyo, he reflected sourly. One kiss, one earth-shattering, world-building kiss, and his whole life had changed. And that was three years ago.
By and large, things were great. Their relationship was happily moving along – at least he was happy. And he'd thought Starfire was, too. Certainly she'd given him every indication… on the other hand, that was by Earth girl standards, and he wasn't sure how qualified he was to judge those anyway, given that he'd had next-to-no interactions of the kind. Mostly. Which was not to say that he had no standards. Quite the reverse, actually, as pretty much every female he knew had some sort of super powers and wore spandex really, really well.
But Starfire was in a class by herself.
He growled softly to himself. This was the time of year he both dreaded and loved, and for the same reason. And wasn't that just messed up and conflicted of him. (Which reminded him, he owed Bruce an email. Encrypted, naturally.)
It was early summer, a glorious time of year in sunny California by anybody's standards, unless one was judging by how hot one's girlfriend appeared to the general public. And that was what was really bugging Robin. Because as great as things were between the two of them, and as much as he'd realized he cared for her, and as they got closer... Starfire's bathing suits got smaller.
He pounded his head lightly on his desk. He was well past the age of legal adulthood, old enough to vote and nearly old enough to drink – heck, he'd been old enough to throw himself in the line of supervillain fire since he was eight (he really needed to email Bruce); and Starfire was well on her way past anything like a normal bikini. Last year's had consisted of some kind of shiny, liquid-metal looking stuff and what might have been ruffles, Robin wasn't sure. His brain had pretty much gone dead at that point.
So this left Robin in something of a quandary in this, his twentieth year. The thing was, during their relationship the happy couple had become friendly. Very friendly. As in running-up-the-cold-water-bill-in-the-Tower friendly, but they hadn't taken The Plunge. And on some level, Robin couldn't figure out why the heck not.
They were old enough. They were, conversely, young enough. It wasn't that he didn't want to. He did. Boy, did he. Yep. He did. Robin shifted slightly in his seat and huffed out a breath. Enough already, hormones. Point made.
The truth was, he loved her. Really loved her. Which meant that this particular step meant a heck of a lot more than it might otherwise. Because she wasn't just his girlfriend. Robin was pretty sure she was also the love of his life. She was his Starfire: sweet, innocent, altogether captivating. And one simple kiss, their first (well, the first one that counted as a kiss), had rocked his world. Was he ready for the next phase? Was she?
And yet there were those swimsuits. Gah. He wondered if this behavior was in any way meant to entice him. If so, highly successful. Yes indeedy. Color him enticed. But you never knew with Star, and that was the thing he kept tripping over. Because what if… it wasn't?
This kind of circular thinking gets to a guy after a while, even a superhero. Robin rubbed his forehead again. Salient fact: the weather was warming, and Robin knew it was just a matter of time before Starfire would showcase this year's swimwear choice. If the trend that she set had continued… he found himself gritting his teeth. All that golden skin… holy cocoa butter.
Not that it would necessarily be a bad thing...
The thermometer reached an inarguable eighty degrees Fahrenheit; no point in putting things off any longer. With a sense of impending disaster that rivaled anything he faced on the battlefield, Robin took a deep breath and notched up his chin before reaching out to tuck a stray lock of russet hair behind his girlfriend's ear. "Hey Star, it's finally warm enough to go to the beach, so I was thinking maybe..."
She clapped and bounced up and down a bit, which in itself made Robin go a bit cross-eyed. "Glorious! When do you wish to participate in the ritual of the first day at the beach?"
He rubbed the back of his neck, willing the blush that was rising to subside. "Well, would this afternoon be too soon? I'm sure you have your bathing suit from last year and…" Last year's will be fine, I mean I got used to you wearing it in public... after a while...
A look in her eye said last year's wasn't what she had in mind. It was wonderful to know her so well, he thought ironically. He sucked it up, knowing his inevitable fate. "…Or, I imagine there's still time for you to run out and get a new bathing suit this morning," he finished resignedly.
"There is no need," Starfire explained. "I went to the Mall of Shopping right before my birthday and purchased the suit of the swimming on the same day I purchased the special dress for the dinner to celebrate the nineteenth anniversary of the day of my birth."
Robin's jaw dropped a little. Oh, that dress. He knew that dress. The one that made Beast Boy drop his sandwich when he saw her. The one that made Cyborg leave the room after one startled one that made Raven actually snort. That incredible dress that revealed as much as it concealed, clinging to her skin as lovingly as Robin wanted to all night, making his mouth water and go dry all at the same time. That one.
He shook himself. "Sorry."
"It was a most lovely time and I did enjoy the dancing afterward. The dancing in the room of balls is glorious, is it not?" she said as she inched closer. Her voice dropped to a low purr. "I like it better than the dancing of the clubs."
His voice, on the other hand, broke. "I'll have to remember that." He attempted to swallow. Twice. And then gave up. "So if you already have your bathing suit, why don't I pack lunch so we can head out early?" he said valiantly, still hanging in there.
Starfire squealed in delight, "Robin! Thank you so much, I cannot wait!" She reached for him and Robin braced himself for one of her enthusiastic, bone-crushing hugs; instead, though, she merely… pressed herself against him. All of her. Against all of him. Robin wondered what had happened to the oxygen in the Tower.
Star kissed him gently on the cheek. "You are thoughtful, Robin. You will always be my very best friend."
For once the villains of Jump City seemed to be on a break. Somehow the moon, the planets, the stars, and one particularly heavenly body had aligned, and Robin and Starfire made it without interruption to the beach via the R-cycle.
Starfire's bathing suit had remained a mystery, thanks to a minidress in peacock colors that somehow didn't cover Star up as much as it just put Robin on tenterhooks, waiting for the other figurative shoe to drop.
They settled into an area that was flanked by large black rocks and settled down their towels. Robin sat back, trying not to be too obvious as he watched Starfire from the corner of his eyes. When she pulled it over her head in one sweeping motion, he forgot to breathe.
Unbelievable. Robin no longer cared if he looked obvious; he wasn't sure if he cared about anything just then apart from his incredible, beautiful Starfire. Triangles, he thought, his synapses misfiring. Strategic triangles, covering the essentials and absolutely nothing more. He stalked around her, inspecting every luscious angle, his senses on overload.
And once again, conflict raged through him.
Titans always drew crowds. It was part of the job description – although lately for some reason Robin had been having a different sort of trouble with his female fans than he'd been used to. Still, it went with the territory. No big deal. Today he'd gone out of his way to fit in – dark Ray Bans hid his mask, his suit was plain black. It hadn't worked, especially. The beach was a popular place to be, and they were by way of being minor celebrities, so Robin wasn't particularly fazed by the growing crowd of ogling passersby.
But once Starfire revealed her bathing suit, the beach might as well have been empty. Even the gulls went temporarily silent, especially the green one… with the fang… Robin frowned, threw a well-placed bird-a-rang and the gull went headfirst into the surf with a squawk.
He suppressed a grin. Not that he blamed his friend, not really. Robin himself loved looking at Starfire like this. What he didn't love was how much other guys were loving the exact same thing.
In spite of it all, they'd had a wonderful day, better than ever; and they got along so well, not just as a couple, but as best friends. They fit.
But Robin kept thinking about how amazing she looked... and did she look that way for him? He really needed to know and yet... Robin was no chicken. He'd fought psychotic villains, robot commandos, and giant oozing monsters; but asking that question? That would require more cojones than he could muster on his own.
And being who he was, a hero, a leader, and the Batman's first protégé, liquid courage was out of the question, even if he'd been legal. Not caffeine, not even too much sugar would be acceptable. No sneaking off with any of Beast Boy's Ritalin - or even his catnip.
Endorphines wouldn't help either. Robin was immune to endorphines. He regularly jumped off buildings and then figured out how he wasn't going to go splat on the pavement below on the way down.
Then, in the wee hours of the morning, opportunity knocked.
Starfire was awake, curled beside him on the bed while he pored over his laptop, notes from the Titans' most recent case only partly occupying his mind. Most of his awareness was focused on the languid golden girl beside him, though he tried to be cool about letting her know it. Gently, almost absently, he stroked her arm as they lay in bed together, causing her to purr, a throwback from her evolutionary line that traced back to felines and something that really made him lose his mind if he thought about it too much.
So the mood was set, and Robin decided to shoot for the moon. "I have to ask you, Star," he began, hesitantly, "and I've been wondering for a while, you've been wearing, uh," How to put this? "Clothes that cover you… less. I mean, you look so amazing, and, well, that swimsuit the other day… why the change?" Smooth, Robin. Real smooth.
She looked at him from exotic green eyes and cocked her head slightly. "How do I explain?" she started thoughtfully, tapping her index finger to her chin, one of her latest 'Earth-isms'.
A smile started at the corners of Robin's mouth. "I'm listening." Please say for me, please say for me.
"You remember my Transformation, correct?"
Oh, yes. (YES!) "Of course." His caresses continued, as did the purring.
"Well, Tamaraneans have a second Transformation, where we reach," she blushed, "an even more mature state, the peak of their desirability and abilities."
Robin blinked. (OHMYGODYES!) He cleared his throat. "Go on."
The purring intensified.
"By exposing more of my skin during this time of my life to your sun's rays, I absorb the most energy possible, thus obtaining the ability to emit special pheromones. This ensures that I maximize my entire potential, so that when my second Transformation occurs, I am able to attract the perfect mate to fight by my side so that together we may do great and glorious things." She paused and added thoughtfully, "And further down the road, if X'hal sees fit, my selected mate and I can produce the next generation of healthy children, who will become strong warriors, great leaders and who will contribute to the good of all people."
The speech was compelling, the mental images mind-bending, and in his sleep-deprived trance he said in awe, "That's amazing, Star." Their lips met in a sweet, lingering kiss.
Starfire smiled at him. "I am so pleased you think so, Robin. Since I have come to Earth, you have been my very dearest friend and have tried so hard to understand me." She reached up a slim hand and traced his brow and cheek with graceful fingers, and he smiled back, knowing that this time, at least, she could see his eyes. "We will speak more of this soon, but for now let us get some sleep. You must be exhausted. You work harder than any other Earthling I have ever met."
They shared another gentle kiss and then Starfire turned, cuddling into him while he wrapped his arms around her. Spooned against her soft shape, Robin continued to absently caress her arm, listening to her purr drift away as she fell asleep.
Robin smiled for a moment as he replayed the conversation in his head… and then fought to not bolt upright.
DENIED! The clothing changes had nothing to do with him! She was trying to attract her perfect mate! They'd been together for three years and he'd been repressing his baser urges out of respect and love, and there she was, thinking that he was her very best FRIEND. Super.
He sighed, resting his forehead against the nape of her neck, pretending his body wasn't on full alert. He wasn't angry – he could never really be angry with her. The bottom line was, he'd tried, but he just wasn't enough.
Someday, however, she'd find someone who was. And that would be the day he'd consider that the next time he jumped off a building, it might hurt less to let himself hit the pavement.
In the morning Starfire awoke, her joy absolute. She had finally spoken with Robin about the next phase of her life cycle, and he had not rejected her! Perhaps he found her to be a suitable mate after all!
She rolled over, eager to embrace him, but though his pillow retained the warmth of his body, Robin was not there. Perhaps, she thought, he had grown hungry. No matter. She swung her legs out of bed and padded toward the kitchen. She would find him and converse joyously upon the topic of their eventual mating, and perhaps he too would find excitement in the idea.
He was not in the kitchen. Starfire persevered, and eventually found him in OPS. Her joy evaporated after a few moments with him; she could easily tell that he was not pleased, though she did not understand why. Had she judged him incorrectly?
She had been so certain that by doing what she could to attain the pinnacle of her desirability, she would make Robin happy. Her thought was that at her best she might become an adequate partner for Robin, an asset to him in leading the Titans or any other of the many endeavors that he would take on. He had achieved so much at such a young age and he was destined for so much more. And she loved him dearly.
Perhaps she had overestimated herself, Starfire considered sadly. She was royalty, yes, but only from a little planet like Tamaran. She was also one of her planet's strongest warriors, but perhaps she was not worthy of one of Earth's mightiest superheroes. She had noted that most Earth women did not have the skills of war – did this make her unattractive in some way? Or had it to do with her physical being? She knew she did not look like most women of this world, but she thought perhaps Robin had found a way to look past that.
Her lip trembled as she faced the most difficult possibility of all. Perhaps Robin simply did not love her the way a mate should.
Perhaps this was as good a time as any to leave, much as she had at the time of her first Transformation. But this time she would not return.
After brooding over the matter for a while (and firing off an email to Bruce), Robin decided to pull himself together. If Starfire was readying herself for a future mate, then why not put it all out there and audition for the role – even if he thought he had been all along. Maybe she had somehow overlooked him after all these years, a feat that should have been difficult, considering he was dressed like a stop light.
If it was her way to attract a mate through skin and sun and bathing suits... well, he could do that. If he had to he'd be in the sun with her, and withstand the humiliation of a Speedo or (shudder) a thong (after confiscating all BB and Cy's camera equipment).
But first he'd try it his way. Robin would pull out all the stops – hadn't she mentioned dancing?
In his best handwriting, painstakingly taught by the inimitable Alfred Pennyworth, Robin had a note delivered to Starfire's room along with a single red rose. Beast Boy was not his first choice in delivery boys, but he'd have to do on short notice – and after the gull incident, he owed Robin one.
That was the easy part. Swallowing his pride wasn't easy, but Starfire was more important than everything, and he'd do whatever it took to make her his. In the end what it took was a shot of Cyborg's brandy and a long-distance telecomm to Galfore to ask if there was an appropriate way to throw his hat, or rather mask, into the ring for Starfire's future. Facing Galfore wasn't easy but as Robin saw it, his options were limited. He could hardly go to Blackfire.
Starfire was thrilled to see the invitation. It was the opportunity she had been hoping for. What did the humans call it? – she was given the inch so she would take the mile?
Long ago Robin had agreed with her that things would be easier if Earth boys came with a manual – perhaps she had grown too complacent in assuming that she understood him. She pulled out one of the presents that Robin had gotten her for her birthday: a small purple laptop. She decided to research the subject thoroughly...
At precisely 7:30 PM, Robin knocked at Starfire's door, and although he was expecting it, he was still winded by her when she promptly opened the door. She greeted him with a nervous smile, and for some reason, that made him all the more confident, though he knew better than to take anything for granted where this particular Tamaranean beauty was concerned.
She wore the colors of the sky and sea he loved on her so much, and once again the fabric of her simple dress hugged every line of her body like it never wanted to let her go. Robin knew how that felt, and the thought made him grin. The neckline was single shoulder, a look he had never seen on her before, and with her hair down in endless soft touchable curls, she was a goddess. His goddess.
"Koriand'r, you look so gorgeous tonight," he said, taking her hand and lifting it to gently kiss the back of it, his eyes never leaving hers.
"Thank you, Robin."
"You're very welcome," he said, pulling her closer, drawing her into his arms, "but you don't have to call me Robin tonight. We are just like any other couple. No uniforms, no Titans, just you and me. Okay?"
She smiled, blushing slightly. "Okay."
With a grin he reached into his pocket and made a show of flicking open his favorite pair of sunglasses and putting them on over his ever-present mask.
In an uncharacteristic show of modesty, Kory took a moment to cover her shoulders with a silky shawl. It was thin and didn't really hide anything, but it struck Robin that this extra element of reserve was unique to the evening. As they exited the Tower, he found himself more than pleased by her gasp of surprise at the waiting limousine (thanks, Bruce). Alfred opened the back door for them with a smile and gave Robin a pat on the shoulder as he followed Kory into the limo's spacious interior.
Dinner was delicious; to preserve their privacy and his identity, Robin – no, tonight he was Richard – Richard had engaged the entire restaurant, and faithful Alfred was on hand as waiter as well as chauffeur. The selection of music was impeccable, the candles perfectly glowing, and before Richard held Kory in his arms he removed his mask with a courtly bow. He wouldn't hide from her, not tonight. He'd promised her, and he'd promised himself.
She swayed in his arms in time to the dreamy music, and Richard knew the time would never be better. He took a deep breath. "Kory, we need to talk."
She stared at him with round green eyes. "That is what the people on the operas of soap say to one another before terrible tragedies occur."
He chuckled. "Okay, let me start again. Kory, love, I think I've been a big idiot."
"Oh." She seemed to think about that, and then her face lit up with unmistakable joy, and she giggled. "Perhaps you have," she answered, lips quirking in a small smile, and Richard felt a huge weight lift from the region of his heart.
"I liked your swimsuit," he began.
"You did? I thought perhaps you did not, for you did not say anything, and many people were staring. Although, in fairness," Kory bit her lip, drawing his gaze, "many of the women were staring at you. I did not like that," she added, and he laughed.
"I like this dress too." He ghosted his fingertips over her bare shoulder.
She gave him a demure look. "Thus far, Richard, you do not strike me as a big idiot. In what way have you demonstrated your idiocy?"
He shook his head. "This second Transformation of yours… how about we head back home and discuss it in the Tower?"
"I have given you my heart, not loaned it to you. I am Tamaranean, my love is eternal. But I know that your culture sees these things differently, and I did not want to force a decision upon you for which you were not yet ready." Kory blushed; Richard was enchanted. "Our kisses excite me and I want more, but you have held yourself back from me, and I do not know why.
"I want you to be my mate, but you must understand this, Richard: for me there is only you. There will ever be only you."
He was floored. Stunned. Speechless. Talk about the wrong impression… "Kory, I – I…" he stuttered.
She laid a gentle hand on his arm. "It is all right if you do not love me, Richard."
"But I do!" he all but shouted. "You know I do, don't you? More than anything."
Her eyes grew huge. "Then why –"
"It's because I love you, because…" Richard shook himself, gathering his thoughts. Eloquence never came easily to him, but he had to say this right. "Kory, I do love you. And I want to be your eternal mate, your husband, whatever you want to call it. I held back because I didn't want to take you lightly. You mean too much to me. We mean too much to me." He sighed, leaning his forehead against hers. "I took things slow because I didn't want to mess anything up." Her soft laughter drifted across his cheek, and he smiled. "I guess I did that anyway, huh?"
Slender fingers curled into the lapel of his dinner jacket. "Richard?"
"I think you do not yet fully understand what I am saying."
"I love you, Star. I can wait."
She giggled. "Richard, pay attention. I may not have all the instincts of a fully mature Tamaranean, nor can I yet conceive," she said softly. "But I am fully capable of being with you, and of enjoying the experience as much as any human woman."
Stunned again. He was surprised, this time, that she didn't have to pick him up off the floor. "Star? Are you – do you…?"
"And I am equally certain that I could make the experience enjoyable for you, as well. The Google is most informative." Richard gaped. Kory's voice was full of mischief and he grasped her upper arms, holding her back from him to look at her full in the face.
"Star, what did you Google?" He didn't know whether to be relieved or more worried when she laughed. "Are you… teasing me?"
"I believe so, yes. Am I successful?"
Richard shook his head. "I don't believe this."
Kory traced his mouth with her finger. "You should always believe what is in front of you, my love."
There wasn't anything to say after that. He bent his head to kiss her, and the second their lips touched, his world was shattered and rebuilt again, this time for good.
Thank you for reading and please review! I hope you enjoyed this little one shot for the summer season. As opposed to most of my 'in universe' Teen Titans writing, I took little from the Comic-verse, other than the current storyline of Kory dealing with the eternal love she has for Dick Grayson, so for this piece things are right out of the cartoon.
Thank being said, I have gotten a lot of questions about a second Transformation. Just to be clear: I made it up. And as I sit here a few hours after the initial posting, I can't recall any from the Kingdom Animaliae that had a second stage into adulthood. (And no hypermetamorphosis of insects doesn't count. Getting to be a larva and then a grub in your pupae stage is not sexy but I did apprectiate the input from my reviewer Omegian, and the Latin roots of the word work).
So yes I made it up. Not sure why beyond pure comedic effect. It seemed like it would just freak poor Robin out further in the contest of this story if Starfire could grow up even more...
I will be updating my other stories soon, most have the next chapters at least started.
Thanks again to Gamine for the Beta read! Love Ya!