A/N: Incoming chapter! Slow your heart, this is a real chapter and not some crumby author's note saying the story is cancelled. It's a little late but I think you'll be pleased with the results. I decided to make this chapter a deep interaction between Ben and Starfire, can't give them one of those generic relationships where all they ever do is stare longingly into each other's eyes and think about how beautiful/perfect the other is. This is purely character interaction.
Some of the DC history has been altered in accordance to the crossover but Starfire's back story is true. I did research this stuff.
Do you ever get that feeling when writing, where you suddenly just want to stop and ask yourself why you're spending so much time with a seemingly pointless thing? But then later you start back up again and wonder why you stopped writing when it's so much fun?
Four hours before trial:
After finally getting a newly revived and giddy Starfire to put him down Ben couldn't seem to get the smile off of his face, and every once in a while Starfire would let out a squeal or a laugh (she even started dancing once). The two friends were not just happy to see each other, they were overjoyed.
Ben realized how rare it was for him to feel this way, especially in recent times. Deciding he wanted the moment to last he sat himself on Starfire's bed and gestured for her to sit next to him. Although this may not have been the best chose of actions, as she was causing the bed to bounce with her.
"Hey Koriand'r," Ben asked looking at the wall ahead of them. "What's it like being with the Teen Titans?"
Starfire continued to bounce, which Ben was starting to think was a substitute for floating around. "It's wonderful! My friends and I are very close. There is Raven; she likes dark and mysterious things, reading, and even though she does not speak much she is very caring for us."
"How so?" Ben asked curiously.
"Well at first she did not seem to like me because I was "too loud" but later we had to work together to save our other friends and she has been like my sister ever since. She shows me how to meditate and master my powers in certain circumstances, and shares some of her secrets with me." She said the last part with a whisper. "She gives great advice to us when we are at our most vulnerable and once she tried to cook for us. I do not think the others liked her pancakes but I did." She said remembering the crunchy-runny "food." "And then there is Beast boy; he is very funny although I do not think his jokes amuse most people. He is very much like a brother to me, and he and I have had many fun adventures."
"Cyborg is like Beast Boy in many ways. They share similar interests but Cyborg is extremely intelligent and loves advanced technology, although I believe the things he makes are more advanced than the things he buys. He treats me very well and always tries to include Raven and I in the fun things he and Beast Boy do. He also loves his car, although I have no idea why he refers to it synonymously with human offspring."
Ben nodded in understanding. "Sounds like someone I know."
"And lastly is Robin; he is our leader and even though he does not have powers I believe he is the strongest out of all of us. He never hesitates to put his life on the line for us and I have seen him compromise everything about himself just to save one of us. Even when we fail, or if our problems do not affect anyone but ourselves he has always been there for us." Her attention seemed to drift back as she remembered all of the sacrifices and risks Robin took for her alone.
"He sounds like a good leader." Ben said in a quiet voice. "People who put others before themselves are hard to come by."
"You remind me a lot of him." Starfire said happily. "You are both strong willed and passionate. And you have risked a lot to help me Ben."
Ben rubbed his head nervously. "Heh-heh, yeah well I wouldn't call myself a great leader. I mean sure I'm a Majestar, and I've had to make some serious decisions, but I've always seen my Grandpa Max as the real leader." Ben said. "He's a Majestar too, and I learned most of what I know from him. He introduced me to this life after all. And from what you told me about Robin he seems like him in more ways than one."
"Friend Ben?" Asked Starfire. "What are your friends like? Surely you must know a lot of interesting people?"
"A few." He said in deep thought. "The first people I ever fought villainy with were my Grandpa Max and my twin cousin Gwen."
"Twin cousin, I was not aware such a thing was feasible."
Ben chuckled a bit. "We just call ourselves that because we were born on the same day, which is pretty weird."
"Oh I see!" She nearly shouted. "And what is she like? Does she have powers like yours?"
"Um no…kind of the opposite actually. I use advanced technology and she uses ancient magic." He said, not really seeing that way until now. "Our grandmother was an alien, called an Anodite,"
Starfire's eyes widened a bit.
"She came to Earth, met my Grandpa and years later my cousin inherits the ability to manipulate natural energy, called mana. Because of that she can now do magic. Kinda' weird how that turned out." He said putting a hand on his chin. "She and I used to get along about as well as two rabid dogs. We couldn't stand to have anything to do with each other and we fought all of the time. But eventually we learned to get along when we were stuck together on a cross country road trip for three months. Years later we're like brother and sister, I can't really see myself living without her there to guide me when I have my 'Ben moments.'" He said using air quotes.
"Ben moments?" Starfire asked.
"It's her word for whenever I go off and do something unintelligent. Like that time I tried to hack the Omnitrix, which went horribly wrong. My friend Kevin was mutated by the energy feedback."
"I believe Beast boy made a similar error when he downloaded a videogame into Cyborg. He tried to eat a satellite dish that would have disturbed the entire city's electrical system."
"I was quite amusing to see him act so silly though." She laughed at the memory. "And what is this Kevin like?"
"He's like my best friend. He and I had a bit of a troubled past, but we got over it and know he's the team tech nerd…don't tell him I told you that." He laughed. "He acts like one of those big tough guy types, but he's really just as weird as anyone else. You'd be surprised how many times I've seen him faint."
Neither of them was able to suppress laughter now, and the conversation carried on like this for what seemed like hours. Ben told Starfire of his many adventures as a Plumber, and Starfire shared various episodes of her life with Ben, going so far as to tell him about her siblings and her life on Tameran. But it was here that she began to slow her speech and she seemed less upbeat than before. Ben was beginning to realize how easily someone like Starfire, who wore their emotions on their sleeves, seemed to change the atmosphere of the room with their demeanor.
Two and One half hours before trial:
"Koriand'r, is something bothering you?" Ben asked.
Starfire looked away at the question and took a deep breath. "Ben…there is something that I…have never told anyone before. Not even my friends." She said, her voice becoming progressively quiet. The once radiant girl dimmed like a fading fire.
"Kory…what do mean?" Ben asked cautiously. The thought of Starfire not sharing something with her friends seemed odd to him.
"I don't know why I…I tried to let it go but it…I do not know if." Her eyes began to tear up.
"Kory, you don't have to tell me if it makes you uncomfortable."
"I know, I just feel like I should tell someone."
"But why me?"
"I do not know, being here, being in this situation, thinking about the past," She turned and looked at him, managing to smile a bit. "Meeting you, and being able to trust you…I cannot hold it in anymore." She said letting a few tears fall.
Ben nodded slowly. "I promise I won't tell anyone, and I won't judge you for it."
"I wish I could believe that part…"
"Really, I promi-"
"Do not promise me yet Ben." She said closing her eyes. "Let me tell you first."
"When I was a girl, around ten Earth years in age, I was announced to have exceeded my sister as next in line for the throne. She was born with a birth defect that prevented her from harnessing solar energy and she could not fly for many years. However, since she was still physically powerful she was allowed to train as a warrior with myself and our brother. During a sparring match she…tried to kill me."
Ben's face contorted in shock, his past relationship with Gwen seemed all the more petty.
"She was then banished from our planet, although she did swear to get revenge on our entire race. The revenge came a year later during the climax of the Dark-Sun wars, when she gave valuable information about Tameran's planetary defenses and I was taken prisoner for the first time, captured by The Citadel." She took another deep breath before continuing.
"I…became a slave." She said through a whimper.
Ben looked awestruck, he felt as though he should say something but Starfire held a hand up. Apparently she was not done. With tears still rolling down, and emotion barely contained she continued.
"I was…the labor was horrible. Because of my strength I was made to do nearly impossible tasks, and failure meant hours of torture and terrible beatings." She began to choke on her words now. "And…and…" The emotion seemed to be too much, she held her hands to her head and suppressed a scream.
Ben instinctively reached out and held her closer to him. "Kory, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
"I do have to!" she cried. "I have to because it hurts too much!" She gripped at his uniform and held him as close as possible, as if she were trying to hide her face.
" They experimented on me , and they made me…I…" She now had her face buried into his shoulder. She screamed into him, weeping loudly and heavily. "I did not even know what was going on! I could not carry it fast enough and I fell, they dragged me away and beat me with rods. I could barely even speak or breath!"
Ben held his breath in the tight grip, he'd never imagined himself in a situation like this. All he could do was hold her.
"I passed out, and when I woke up…I was in a room full of other girls…and *Guah!*" She could barely speak anymore.
"The men there…some of them were so inhuman! I am not even sure if some were sentient."
Ben felt himself becoming physically sick, he feared he may not even be able to endure the rest of the story. Starfire managed to pull herself from him and sit up on her own again still crying and holding her head.
"I managed to escape, but I had to…let myself be taken." She grunted. "I had to volunteer, because I knew he was a foreigner, and that he had a ship." She took a shaky breath. "S-so, when he turned his back, I-I…I killed him…and stole his ship. I almost made it back to Tameran, but my sister had taken over in my absence. She conveniently used me as a peace offering to the Gordanians, whom my people were fighting." She said with dark finality. "That is what happened right before I came to Earth."
She pulled her legs up to her body and buried her face in her legs. "Do you see now Ben?" She muttered. "Do you see why I could not say this before. I wasn't just some prisoner, I was less than alive. I was nothing, a Troq." She hissed through her teeth. "I could never tell my friends such things, what could anyone see in a being the rest of the universe sees as an object of lust and labor?"
They sat in silence for what couldn't have been longer than an hour, but it felt like ages. Neither of them saying a word. When Ben finally worked up the courage to speak, he placed a hand onto Starfire's back, causing her to look up at him.
"Koriand'r, there's no way I could ever understand what you went through. I realize that there is only so much I can say…but I…when I look at you, what I've seen of you. When I think about how much compassion you've shown and how selfless you are," He let a small smile form on his face. "I know we've only known each other for a few days, but I am so proud of you."
"Dispite everything you've been through, and everything you've been put through. The people that hurt you and the things you had to do to survive. Koriand'r, Starfire, you are a hero. You are the hero." He said facing her with both hands on her shoulders. "There are others who lose everything, who try and fail, who have everything taken away from them and they turn their backs on the world. They hold no sympathy and try to hurt others to ease their pain. They're villains and criminals. And the so called heroes who stop them only care about themselves," he said sadly. "Saving people becomes secondary and all that matters to them is the thrill of combat and the luxury of fame. But you're not like either of those types of people."
"I am not sure I understand." Starfire said, slightly nervous that Ben was so close to her, face to face.
"Koriand'r, why do you fight?"
Although surprised by the timing, Starfire always knew her answer to such questions. "I do not want innocents to be harmed. Dispite the faults of every race, no population deserves war and suffering. That is why I was happy to fight with the Titans. But many heroes fight for that purpose."
Ben could not stop the smile on his face from growing. "Koriand'r, the way you talk, the emotion you show, the innocence you've kept. Don't you get it? You have what I don't!"
"A deep secret?" She asked, somewhat confused. By now the tears she'd been shedding were dried against her face and her horse voice was becoming clearer.
"No, a purpose!" He exclaimed. "You don't just do your job, you care. It means something to you!"
Starfire seemed confused. "Is that not how all heroes feel?"
"No. That's just it. Some heroes do the 'do the right thing' because they don't like to watch bad things happen. Some only fight because it's right, and they don't want to be pulled into the corruption, and some only fight because they feel like they're too different to be a part of society so they become a protector so no one will fear them. Sure everyone cares to a degree, but that's what you are!" He nearly shouted in his own excitement, as he now realized why his Grandfather sent him on this mission with Starfire.
"Ever since you got here you've only thought about how this situation affected everyone else, not you. Your selflessness is…I…" His face reddened with embarrassment as he realized he'd run out of things to say in his excitement. "I'm…just so proud of you. Not for you, of you. You're incredible." He decided to finish, before he embarrassed himself further.
Starfire stared at him for a few seconds before, she burst into laughter…
Ben felt his face heat up as he feared he might have gotten too excited, until Starfire leaped up and wrapped him in another bone crushing hug. Although Ben was beginning to believe she might be too excited to speak because all she was doing was laughing.
"K-Koriand'r! I can't breathe!"
One hour before trial:
Knowing that everything was going to end in a few short minutes, the two heroes did their best to relax until the next half of the trial. Ben was lying down on the cell bed with Starfire lying next to him (Ben had taken off his armor of course and was lying in his black pants and t-shirt). They both stared at the ceiling as though it were a starry sky.
"Why does a device such as the Ultimatrix exist?" Asked Starfire turning herself towards him.
"Hm? Well, that's a tough question to answer." Ben said. "But I guess its main purpose is to give the wearer the chance to live the life of a different species. It renews and repairs genetic damage. And-"
"Repairs genetic damage?" Starfire asked excitedly. "Like cancers and tumors? And birth defects?"
"…Um…" Ben sort-of froze at that last question. "I'd…never even considered that…God I'm such an idiot!" He said face palming. "I could have-"
He froze when he felt her hand touch his face. "Ben, you could just do it when you get home, could you not?"
"Heh, um yeah I…I guess. But now I feel like…like…"
"Some kind of fart." He said chuckling.
Starfire laughed as well, although she did not actually get the joke. "How many creatures can you turn into?" She asked.
Ben put his hand to his chin, pretending to think. "Let me see, how many sentient species are in the Milky Way galaxy again?" He asked. "Cause it's about that much plus five." He smiled deviously.
Starfire's eyes literally looked like stars for a few seconds. "Amazing! I am not even sure I can count that high!"
"Me either actually." He laughed. "And what about you? What kind of powers do you have?"
Starfire sat up half way until she was almost leaning over him. "Oh! Well, like everyone in my race I absorb solar energy to fly!"
"We are taught when we are young that as long as we feel unbridled joy."She said clapping her hands together.
Ben raised his eyebrow a bit. "How do you manage to stay happy during a fight?"
"Not happiness, joy. Happiness is an emotion, it comes and goes. Joy is simply maintaining a positive and optimistic mindset." She said with great pride in her own knowledge. "I can remain this way because I have such a wonderful life!"
"Oh. I guess I never considered that."
"And to fire Starbolts, I must feel righteous fury. If my anger cannot be justified than my power will not work."
"Like if you were hypnotized or something?"
"I suppose." She said quickly. "And to use my strength I must have boundless confidence. I must know I can perform great feats of strength before I do them. That is why, when…"
"Kory, you don't have to say it." Ben said cautiously, trying to keep Starfire from getting upset.
"I know." She said quietly. "I know Ben." She said resting her head on his chest.
They lie in comfortable silence for a few minutes before Ben worked up the courage the courage to ask another question.
"You said we could be friends when we get back to Earth right?"
Starfire sat up quickly. "Are we not friends now!" She asked, suddenly fearful of the idea.
"Of course!" he said. "That's not what I meant. I mean," He paused. "What should we do first?" He asked finally.
"Like when we hang out and stuff. What should we do?" He asked.
Starfire gasped in happiness. "We could do the hanging out at the mall! Or see a leg ball game!"
"That too! I cannot wait! We are going to have so much fun!" She exclaimed. By this time she was nearly on top of him, shaking his shoulders in giddiness.
"Yeah, me either." He said smiling at her. He didn't realize he was leaning closer to her until their faces were about an inch apart. Starfire seemed to suddenly calm down as she looked into his nearly equally green eyes. "Kory, I-"
Her lips were on his before he could utter another word. Soon Ben came out of his shock and he found himself kissing her back. He out his hands on her waist and pulled her closer as she positioned herself directly over him.
"Ahem!" went a loud and obviously fake cough. The two teens jumped up at the sound, and turned their attention to the source. Surely enough there was Eunice, tapping her foot impatiently and giving them an annoyed look.
"Oh, um, hey Eunice." Ben said nervously. "How long have you been standing there?"
"Thirty seconds. Approximately." She said in a dead serious voice. "We need to prepare the witnesses Ben."
"Oh um…well let's get on that. Excuse me Koriand'r." He said pulling himself from the bed. As he was leaving he felt her grab his hand and kiss him again on the cheek.
"Goodbye Ben." She said smiling at him. He could help but smile back as he put on his discarded armor and exited the room.
Of course as he stepped out, Eunice was still glaring at him.
"Um, shall we go?" He said scratching the back of his head. She didn't even respond as she began walking out of the room. Ben followed behind closely. As they stepped into the hallway, she suddenly turned around and grabbed his collar, pinning him against the wall.
"What the, Eunice what are-?"
"What the heck was that Ben?" She asked through her teeth. "Do you realize what you've just done?"
"What? What'd I do?"
"If anyone else had seen what you were doing this whole case would be over."
"Do you realize how insane these politicians are? They will exploit everything she does Ben, especially that. That could have cost us everything!" She said throwing him to the side, not violently, but he did stumble. She placed her hands over her face and grunted loudly. "I can only do so much to help Ben, but you aren't helping like this."
She threw her arms down in frustration and Ben could see she was much more tired than angry. "Eunice I'm sorry, I didn't mean for it to go like that. I mean, I just wanted to protect her, but then we started talking and-." She held her hand up to his face.
"I get it, okay." She said with a huff. "You really like her and stuff, but we need to focus alright?"
He nodded. "Alright."
"Okay." They began walking again and heading for the lobby. "I managed to clear things up with the authorities and the incident with Vinter. Apparently it's being redirected as an attack on you specifically."
"But we know his goal was Koriand'r." Ben said with a frown. "How could they turn it around so quickly?"
"Politics Ben, none of these jerks wanted any sympathy for Koriand'r on this case, which is why it won't be brought up in this trial."
Ben growled through his teeth. "Jackasses."
"On a good note, we have three sound and cooperative witnesses for this little escapade." She said as they approached the door to the waiting room.
The door opened. "See for yourself."
Ten minutes before trial:
In the security chamber four guards lie sleeping in their chairs, their eyes rolled back into their heads, at the security monitor a cloaked white figure stood at a screen, replaying the sickening scene over and over, making sure he had a recording. Cocytus felt himself wretch at the sight of the Tameranian harlot throwing herself on the so called hero of the Universe.
"No matter who wins," He said to himself, pulling a computer chip from the dash board. "you lose Koriand'r."
A/N: I'm such a jerk.
And I'm totally new to writing this kind of fluff. Seriously I'm not sure if that's the deepest or corniest thing I've ever written. I hope you all enjoyed it. Please look forward to reading the next chapter.
Sadly, there was no fighting. On a good note, we're that much closer to the epic fight featuring Ben's Tameranian form.