Twinkle Twinkle Little Starfire


Starfire picked herself up off the ground with a grimace, thankful that she hadn't been sent crashing into any innocent bystanders by the explosion. She still wasn't entirely sure about many social norms on Earth, but even she was fairly certain that bank robbers didn't traditionally carry bazookas. Another rocket came her way, and even as her eyes went wide her battle instincts allowed her to roll up into the air and to one side. One fist carefully knocked the rocket upwards, letting it detonate harmlessly in the air. That had bee risky, but to let the rocket simply miss and hit the shop of hats behind her would have been unforgivable. For all she knew, there were mothers and children looking for hats to shade their heads from the sun's heat in there!

The criminals were hastily trying to reload their weapon, but were not particularly good at it, and opted to argue over the correct procedure in the middle of their escape. This was a mistake that Starfire exploited to the fullest, rushing forward in a whistle of wind to grab the bazooka and break it in half. Appropriately unnerved with pale and sweaty faces to match, the trio of robbers turned to flee, but it was too late. Turning their backs to her only made them easier to subdue, and Starfire had plenty of handily available scrap metal to twist delicately into restraints. She beamed at her captives with great satisfaction. Now she could hurry back to the rest of the team in case they required help dealing with Killer Moth's new swarm. They likely would have called had things been truly dire, but she worried anyway, and there was no such thing as excessive backup.


Starfire blinked and smiled at the tearful woman who was clinging to her ankles, one of the many who had scattered during the confusion of the initial act of holding up. Then she worriedly thought that perhaps the woman's legs had been injured and the clinging was for support. Closer inspection revealed this was not the case, and Starfire relaxed.

"And I welcome you equally much! Umm... I do not mean to damage your emotions, but could you release me, please?" She was eager to get back to her friends, but regretted the words almost instantly, as the woman whipped back, long skirt practically hissing in the air with the force of the motion.

"I'm so so sorry, I didn't mean to... it was just, I'm from the suburbs, and I've never seen you heroes up close, and I didn't, I didn't know... that rocket was coming right at me! It could have HIT me! You saved my life!"

"I am certain you would have performed a successful evasion of the projectile," Starfire said soothingly, trying to calm her with a pat on the shoulder. "It is not necessary to make a large bargain out of this unfortunate occurrence." Police sirens began to make their way to Starfire's ears, the pleasing sound of the planet's own much less noticed but no less brave heroes, according to her way of thought. "The police are able to do the wrapping upwards of things from here. I wish you a pleasant day!"

Even while departing, Starfire glanced downwards, to make sure everything was truly secure. The woman was still staring up at her, chestnut hair concealing much of her face in the wind. The eyes were still very visible however, tiny though they were from the height. Quite wide and unblinking. Starfire smiled again and waved before turning sharply and flying south, to where more urgent problems with moths awaited her intervention.

While Killer Moth put up quite the fight, ultimately the team was able to buy Cyborg the time to formulate a new nanite mutant moth pesticide that transformed his killer insect minions into perfectly normal, harmless moths. Victory would ordinarily have been celebrated at their favorite pizza parlor, but it was closed on Sundays, and so after significant debate they all agreed on taken out Chinese instead. Starfire did not approve of the lack of tangy condiment beverages, but found the sweet and sour sauce a satisfactory replacement. And since the others had been given far too much sauce for their chicken, there was even enough leftover for her to have for a midnight drink later. Robin didn't obsess over Slade, Cyborg didn't find any reasons to yell, and Raven refrained from asserting dominance over Beast Boy by means of physical aggression. Such a day was as pleasant and fulfilling as she could have hoped for.

Robin spent the late evening at the computer, doing the research he didn't want to ask Cyborg to do. Starfire refrained from telling him he was working too hard, and was in fact rather grateful that he at least wasn't in the gymn or at the training course again. He wasn't pushing himself quite so hard, and she wasn't feeling as overly conscious about how hard he did push himself, and that was what a relationship ought to be, she hoped. She did give him a light kiss on the forehead before floating to bed, though, just to remind him that he shouldn't stay up too late.

"Goodnight, dearest Robin."

"Night, Starfire."

"I love you," she put in low and sly, just to see if she could trick him into saying it back spontaneously.

"I love you too," he said automatically, toneless, eyes still fixed to the monitor. Then he jerked, suddenly realizing what he'd just said, and started looking around to see if anyone else had heard. Giggling, Starfire left him to his emotionally stunted paranoia and went up to her room.

Such a day did not prepare her for the day that was to immediately follow it. Not even a little bit.

She came downstairs, stretching and interested in a breakfast of radish of the horse, eggs, fried processed wheat slices, and fish heads when she saw the rest of her heroic family with their eyes affixed to the television and their jaws agape.

"-and what are your plans now?" the reporter on tv asked to someone off to one side. The camera moved right to show the very same brown-haired woman Starfire had seen at the robbery yesterday.

"I intend to start what will hopefully be the first of many Church of Starfire branches in this God-blessed country," the woman replied. "I know that it will probably take a while to get official tax-exemption status, but I'm willing to work for it. And just in the short few hours since the event, I've met dozens of others who want this just as much as I do."

"Wh-why are you starting a church of me?" Starfire asked the television, as though it could respond, overcome with astonishment, feeling her jaw slowly reach the same level of slackness as her fellow's jaws were already at.

"Well, we here at Channel Five wish you the best of luck. Do you have any final words before we sign off?"

"Yes." The brunette's eyes were like daggers of ice, firm and unyielding. They reminded her uncomfortably of Slade, despite the fact that the woman around the eyes was rather ordinary and unintimidating, with a lumpy body and fashion sense even Starfire could recognize as unlikely to be up to date. "I'd just like to remind everyone that like the good book says, no one respects a prophet in his hometown. Or hers! Starfire's an angel, plain as day, but you just couldn't see it because it was there in front of you for so long you got used to it. The Church of Starfire will change that so that you all see the blessing before you and thank God for it." Then she smiled, a warm, not very sinister smile at all, and that was the image left in Starfire's mind as the news switched to something else, and someone turned off the tv set.

And then everyone turned to everyone else, and most of them said something that started with 'What' all at the same time.

"-is going on?"

"-was that?"

"-did you do?"

"-is an angel?" Starfire asked meekly into the barrage, trying to be a brave warrior and not shrink. They weren't accusing her of anything, they were her friends! But she could see Robin's forehead vein throbbing, and Cyborg completely oblivious to the smear of hot sauce on his mouth, and Raven with her eyes narrowed very suspiciously.

The only one who wasn't upset in some way was Beast Boy. Now that the tv was off, he had shifted over to one side, and just looked at her, grinning hugely and bobbing his head in a way she found almost perverse. She didn't like it when she didn't understand jokes. She liked it even less when Beast Boy found a joke that no one else realized was there. It was often his fault and led to bad things, but in this case, she had done it. Somehow.

"I feel that perhaps I should provide what little context I am able to offer," she started over again, ignoring Beast Boy's annoying grin to concentrate on the three friends she had who were taking this with all due solemnity. She swallowed. "Yesterday, that woman was one of several bystanders during the theft of money from the bank. She suffered no injuries but appeared to attach great importance to the event for reasons I still do not understand. We interacted briefly, I said goodbye, and... and..."

"And now you're your own religion," Raven said flatly. "Congratulations."

"Actually the lady made it sound like it wasn't a full religion," Cyborg put in as the atmosphere started to cool. "More like just another Christian denomination. You know, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian..."

"I do not know what any of those things are any more than I know what an angel is!" Starfire half-yelled, frustration taking control briefly. "I am sorry, friends, but I do not understand why this woman has chosen to do what she did any more than you do. I do not think I did anything to provoke it."

"You didn't, Star." Robin sighed and put a hand on her shoulder. "Sometimes people can be... unpredictable. But we need to stop this. It could snowball into something big and troublesome, and change the legal status of the Titans in ways we don't want. More importantly, it could change how people feel about us in ways we don't want. You're a great teammate and, um, girlfriend," Of course that last bit had to be stammered out shifty-eyed with a blush, but at least he was getting there. "But you're not an angel, metaphors aside!"

"Is anyone going to tell me what that is or must I look at the Wikipedia again?" she demanded irritably, crossing her arms.

"An angel's just a flying person with a white dress and white wings and a harp," Beast Boy said, still the most relaxed of everyone in the room. "Dudette said you were all... beautiful and holy and stuff, and you save people, and you're from space, so you're an angel. I dunno, I think she's too kooky, no one's gonna believe that."

"An angel is a messenger of GOD, man," Cyborg said with annoyance, rubbing his forehead. He turned to Starfire. "The big deal is that she thinks that she should treat you like some perfect being sent from God to tell us humans what to do. And that ain't gonna fly. I mean, I know YOU can fly," he added, seeing her confusion, "I just mean it's not a good idea because you're as, uh, human as the rest of us. Metaphorically."

"There are way too many metaphors in this conversation. Let idiots be idiots. At least they're not calling me a demon."

"How long before they do, though, if we let them make Star an angel?" Cyborg argued. "Robin's right. We've got to put our foot down on this."

"The bottom line is that, no matter what any of us believe or don't, religion is a powerful tool. We can't become accessories to abuse of it, even if it's just by not preventing that abuse."

Feeling that she lacked the knowledge to be productive part of the conversation despite being the cause of it, Starfire quieted and contented herself mostly with listening to the team argue about the proper course of action. No one agreed exactly on what to do. Robin wanted to maintain authoritative distance and send a polite legal representative. Cyborg thought it better to ignore the woman herself for an unwinnable cause, and to instead focus on speaking with anyone who chose to follow her, using social pressure to prevent her church from growing. Beast Boy openly said he wanted to just wait and see how much funnier it got, because having a goddess for a teammate would be really cool. Raven, after correcting Beast Boy that an angel was not the same as a goddess, opined that the best response would be to go to the woman personally and tell her to stop, and be frightening about it. Yet throughout the rather confusing and vague debate, there was a common theme. A feeling that Starfire had felt for a long time, but been unable to find a way to articulate it. In this conversation about whether it was right for a woman to believe she was part of a religious belief system in some special ranked way or not, there was almost no talk at all about actual religion. And Starfire realized very strongly that she had never spoken with any of the others about what she believed spiritually, or heard expressions of faith or even the lack of it from the others.

In the middle of the full-raging debate, she raised her hand politely. With the obedient politeness of the well-trained, all four teammates quieted and looked at her. It was better than her yelling at them, for everyone involved.

"Yes, Starfire?" Robin asked exceedingly warily.

"Friends, would we not argue less about the best course of action if we had a better idea of what this woman believes in faith, and what we all believe in faith, so that we may make proper comparisons as well as contrasts? How can we assume that what she is doing is bad, when I still do not know what purpose or duties an angel serves in her faith, or how she intends to express that belief? I do not even know what all of you believe! And I think we should all know what we believe, because right now you are arguing very much from standards that remain unstated."

At this point she was puzzled to see Beast Boy, Cyborg, and Robin cough and look around, at anything except her. Perhaps there were some Earth social dynamics that she once again not understanding about boys and faith. She turned to Raven, hoping that it would relieve the boys of whatever odd anxieties they felt at the inquiry.

"For example, Raven, we have meditated together, but I do not know how that operates with regards to your faith. Do you merely use it as a mechanism to control your emotions and powers, or is there a deeper ritual meaning behind it that you have not explained to me?"

Raven was undisconcerted, but she took a few moments before responding, the faintest of wry smiles quirking her gray lips. "I have to admit, I never really thought about gods and higher meanings and the purpose of life much. Unlike most people, I knew exactly why I existed and what purpose I had in life. Frankly I'm still surprised I'm even alive. Most of my life I anticipated being turned into a portal for my demonic father, with possibly my soul being chewed on like bubblegum for all eternity afterwards."

"Bummer," Beast Boy said into the bleak silence following that gloomy statement. Starfire felt very sorry for asking.

"But I'm alive and have my own purpose to decide on now," Raven said a little more cheerfully, insofar as she was ever cheerful. "I should start thinking about these things. I don't have the excuse not to anymore. Thanks for the reminder, Starfire. What about YOU, furball?" she put to Beast Boy with a smirk. "Let me guess, you're a totemist."

Beast Boy blinked. "Dude, I don't even know what that word means." Starfire bit her lip to avoid giggling. "I'm not big on organized religion," he said with a superior wave of his hand. "All that churches and donations and stuff just takes you further away from nature. Like, I believe in a God, but it's personal with me. Everyone's gotta find their own way, you know?"

Raven rolled her eyes. "Typical. We don't know anything about your religion because you can't commit to one, just to vague feelings in your bird brain."

"Hey, it's still more than you've got!"

"He has a point," Cyborg noted despite Raven's grumpy glower. "Surprisingly." As he saw the attention was focused on him, he gave a big grin. "Aright, aright. I'm Christian. Just didn't wanna get up in anyone's faces about it. Uh, Star, Christianity is that religion with the big cross symbol," he explained. "Probably what that crazy lady believes in, there's a bunch of different groups so we get all kinds. Long story short, man wasn't cool with God, God became a guy, God died, and that made everything cool again. Um, that didn't really come out right, but it's kind of hard to sum up so I'll save the details for later."

That left Robin.

"There is no God," he said flatly, uncompromisingly as death itself, as everyone looked at him.

"Dude, you can't say that! Quick, everybody clap your hands!"

"Yeah, man, that's an awfully big conclusion to jump to."

"It's also working under the misassumption of a necessarily monotheistic theology. Faith encompasses more possibilities than that."

"I have faith in you guys," Robin insisted stubbornly. "That's all I need."

"Is that very different from the woman I saved yesterday having faith in us?" Starfire asked, feeling that she was once again having difficulty keeping up with the conversation. The silence was like that of a library, only more so, as everyone looked at everyone else and couldn't think of a response to that. Starfire beamed a bit, feeling that she'd done very well for herself, considering the near total ignorance of Earth theology she was operating under. "And I, dear friends, worship many gods and goddesses of my people, foremost among them X'Hal, the Tamaranian Bringer of Victory in Battle." Everyone else nodded vaguely, not looking very surprised. "I would love to share with you all my feelings on faith later, but for now I feel it is crucial that we learn more of what this woman who thinks I am an angel believes. Let us go to her place of worship and allow her to share her feelings with us. Then we may reach a peaceful accord with as little damage done to Earth society or the Titans as possible. Is that agreeable with you all?"

"Starfire," Cyborg asked carefully, his fleshly eye narrowing, "you're not askin' us to..."

"Titans," she said firmly, using the voice Robin would have used, "we must go to church!"

"Oh God," Robin moaned, clutching his face.

"Exactly," said Raven.